Friday, May 28, 2004

Name That Stadium

You know, I don't mind when a new arena or stadium gets built...and a corporate sponsor throws their name up there.  Most of the time, the name sounds okay.  Like when Charlotte [where I am from] got the Panthers and the new Ericsson Stadium.  "Ericsson" sounds pretty cool....and you tend to forget that it is a cell-phone company.  But, their lease ran out....and now it is the "Bank Of America Stadium".  I don't care, I'll still call it Ericsson. 

And that brings me to some horrific stadium re-names that have really gotten on my nerves.  Kicking it off is my favorite NFL team....the Redskins.  They now play in FedEx Field.  Doesn't sound too bad....except for the fact that my entire lifetime we played at "RFK".  Then moved to "JKC"...or Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.  Classy.  Then Snyder buys the Skins and sells the naming rights.  Great.

I mean, "Comerica Park" is fine.  "Tropicana Field"  "Great American Ballpark"....fine.  Hey, most people don't realize that Wrigley Field was one of the original stadium naming rights.  Now, Miller Park and Coors Field sound pretty normal.  Pepsi Center, Target Center, Staples Center, etc......okay.

Of course, some are just ridiculous to me.  Edison International Field of Anaheim will always be "the Big A" to me.  US Cellular Field is always "Comisky"...even if the Jr. isn't as nice as the first one.  "Minute Maid Park"???  PETCO Park??  Fleet Center??  TD Waterhouse??  C'mon!

There's American West Center, Delta Center, United Center, Continental Airlines Arena and Air Canada Centre in the NBA.  You have American Airlines Center in Dallas and American Airlines Arena in Miami.  Whatever happened to the Omni, Reunion Arena, Summit, HemisFair, Richfield, Market Square, the Cap Center or the Chicago and Boston Gardens??  Lord, how many "Memorial Stadiums/Arenas" were there??  </FONT><FONT size=2>Target Center, Office Depot Center, Staples Center, Lowe's Motor Speedway.  Ford Field, Toyota Center, GM Place.  Coors Field, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Molsen Center [since changed].

An oddity is the fact that you don't find that many restraunts sponsoring stadiums.  No McDonald's Field, Burger King Stadium orThe Olive Gardens.  Rumor had it that if the Hornets moved to Louisville...they'd play in KFC Arena which would be nicknamed "The Bucket". 

I love the "People Named" stadiums.  Ralph Wilson, Paul Brown, Curley Lambeau, Hubert Humphery, Kauffman, Ted Turner, Shea, Gordon Gund and Joe Louis got them. 

Again, many times you do not realize the stadium's name is actually a sponsor.  Like with Wrigley [gum] or Great American Ballpark [insurance].  But, Heinz Field?  Gillette Stadium??  Bank Of America Stadium??  Yeah, yeah....those are big corporations based out of those cities.  Of course, you have Pro Player Stadium in Miami [formerly Joe Robbie Stadium].  Pro Player has been out of business for years....but the stadium retains the name.  Hell, how many names has the Ravens [fairly] new stadium had??? 

Yet, there are still Giants Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Oriole Park and Yankee Stadium.  But how sacred can those be??  After all, Riverfront Stadium turned into Cinergy Field after 25 years.  Jack Murphy turned to Qualcomm.  Candlestick Park turned to 3Com Park....then back to Candlestick.  Gator Bowl is now Altell Stadium.  The HooiserDome is now RCA Dome.  What if they decided to rename Yankee Stadium...."Cablevision Stadium"?? 

-Written by "DirecTV" Assassin

Cleveland Doesn't Rock

I had a post about Red Sox fans that got quite a response.  It basically just took Red Sox fans to task about how "cursed" they were about their beloved franchise.

Well....this post isn't about a certain team.  It's about certain cities.

Yes, Red Sox fans have been made to suffer.  But Bostonians haven't had it so bad.  Remember, their Patriots have won 2 of the last 3 Super Bowls.  Their Celtics have won 16 NBA Championships [though none recently].  But, the Bruins passed the 30 year mark since their last Stanley Cup.  They are still looking for the 6th Cup....just as the Red Sox are looking for their 6th World Series title.

Still....there is some success there.  Twenty-eight titles.  Well, the Boston Braves won a Series.  So 29.

But not in Philly or Cleveland. 

Neither city is known for having too many championship parades. 

Philadelphia is one of the greatest sports town in America.  They love their team so much....they'll threaten opponents.  But, a championship city, they are not.  Their last major pro title was over 20 years ago.....the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers.  The Sixers only other title [in Philly] was in of the best teams in NBA history.  In 1956, the Philadelphia Warriors did win an NBA championship.  So, 3 NBA titles. 

The Phillies have ONE championship in over 130 years.  1980.  They've only been to the World Series three times since 1950.  Their 1980 title.  The 1983 drubbing at the hands of the Orioles.  And the 1993 series.  All ya gotta say is "Mitch Williams".  </FONT><FONT size=2>The Flyers have won 2 Stanley back to back seasons.  1974-1975.  They've lost 5 Stanley Cup Finals since then.

Then there is the Eagles.  One Super Bowl rings.  In fact, they've LOST three straight NFC Championship Games....with the last 2 at home.  The Eagles last title was 1960.  Over 40 years since a title.  Their other two NFL Championships were in 1948-1949. 

So, Philly does have 9 titles....but only 2 in the last 25 years.  So, what about Cleveland?

Cleveland came into the NFL as a solid franchise.  They won 3 titles in their first 6 NFL seasons.  Their last title came in 1964.  No Super Bowl appearances.  And just like Bostonians have "Boone and Bucky", Clevelanders have "The Drive".

The Indians aren't much better.  Their last World Series title was in 1948.  Their other one was in 1920.  And that is it.  And don't even look at the Cavaliers.  Sure, LeBron is there....but they still haven't won a NBA title ever.  In fact, they've never even gotten to the Finals.  In fact, they've never won a playoff series in which they weren't the team with the home-court advantage.  Their NHL life only lasted two seasons....1977 and 1978.

So Cleveland chimes in with 6 championships. 

And you could add Atlanta's only championship of 1995.  The Falcons, Thrashers/Flames and Hawks have done nothing in Hotlanta.  And, though they are a relatively young multi-sports town, Phoenix boasts just the 2001 Diamondbacks title. 



Thursday, May 20, 2004

Give Johnson's Perfection Attention

Think about this.

There have been 7 perfect games in National League history.  Two of those happened in 1880.  Sandy Koufax, Cy Young and Catfish Hunter have done it.  Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemons, Warren Spahn and Bob Gibson haven't.  Yet Tom Browning, Dennis Martinez, Mike Witt and Don Larsen did.  And no one has done it over the age of 38.  Randy Johnson is 40.

What Randy Johnson did Tuesday is, simply, historical.  We are so quick to move on to the next big thing that we tend not to dwell on what we just saw.  In an age of small ballparks, 'roided up players [allegedly], and maple bats, it is quite a feat to not allow a hit, walk or even the opportunity for an error in a game.  Not to mention that it took place in Hotlanta....which is known for their "launching pads". 

The Big Unit pitched the first perfect game in 5 years....and first in the NL since 1991.  There have only been FOUR more perfect games than unassisted triple plays.  He has now pitched no hitters in each league.  Only Nolan Ryan, Hideo Nomo and Cy Young have done that. 

Simply amazing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Why Care About The Red Sox [revisited]

I'll take some time out to respond to your takes:

Pork:  You are right about the teams being cursed with "stupidity and choke artists".  Buckner's mishap aside....the rest of the curse has been nothing more than the other team stepping up.  I mean, did Fisher's shot against the Spurs last week mean there is a curse against the Spurs now??  No.  I just means a guy who is off the radar made a big play at a big moment that will keep him in fans hearts forever. 

Jawalt:  If the Red Sox failure to close the deal in the playoffs is a curse, then what exactly is happening to the Braves.  Twelve straight division titles and just the one World Series title.  And that was over another down-trodden team.  I mean, didn't they have the Jim Leyritz shot in Game 4?  Lonnie Smith's baserunning error in Game 7 against the Twins that would assuredly given the Braves the title??  How about Kirby Puckett's catch the game before?  Dave Winfield's big hit against Charlie Leibrandt that gave the Jays the title?  Livan Hernandez looking like Roger Clemmons in 1997.  But, they've had some great clutch moments too.  Like Francisco Cabrera. 

PatriotsChamp:  You said that the attention may have to do with the fact that the Cubs and Red Sox play in Wrigley and Fenway and sell it out.  Both parks are beautiful and hold under 40,000 seats.  The ChiSox used to play in a classic ballpark....and the Giants currently play in a jewel of a park.  I think the reason for the media love for them is the fact that their fans seem to be in love with the team, no matter how hard times can be.  And that's hard to say for the Indians, Brewers, etc.  As for last season's playoffs....a fan tried to catch a foul ball, a starting pitcher was left in too long, and a guy turned on a knuckleball that didn't knuckle.  Doesn't seem to cosmic to me.  I mean, you could say the same thing about the Giants.  They lost a 5-0 lead late in their would-be title clinching game.  And, hell, they had a freaking earthquake right before a World Series game!!! lol

And1515:  I never said I am tired of "curses"...but tired of hearing about how one entire franchise is doomed to never win the big trophy when their is many other teams who haven't done nearly the things the Red Sox have accomplished.  And, for your comment of now "hating the White Sox"...go right ahead.  I'm a Reds fan.

TeenageTimeBomb:  Great comments.  Every team does lose.  I mean, when the Yankees have won 25% of the championships....its hard to gobble up the other ones.  Heck, even the mighty Yankees had Mariano Rivera lose a 9th inning lead to the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of 2001.  They also paid $200M to lose to a team that paid $30M for its guys.  As for teams losing players that go on to great teams....well, everyone has that too.  The Reds dealt Frank Robinson.  The A's dealt Mark McGwire.  The Pirates let Bonds walk.  The White Sox and Rangers let Sosa go.  The Mariners had A-Rod, Junior and The Big Unit.  The Cubs had Mark Grace and Luis Gonzalez, who won a title with Arizona.  The Indians had Jim Thome, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez.  The Bucks traded Kareem.  Every team makes a bad decision with its just don't stomach letting Ruth and Clemons go.

Steve:  One interesting thing about a "Red Sox Curse" is that everyone seems to forget that it was the Angels who choked the 1986 ALCS which enabled the Red Sox [and all that went after that] to get to the World Series.  They were up 3-1 in the series, and had a lead in the 9th.  The pitcher who ended up being the goat, would up committing suicide.  The Angels were a sad-sacked franchise until the Rally Monkey-ed their title in 2002.

Just look at it this way, Red Sox fans.  Maybe you'll dominate the next 100 years.  I mean, after all, the Celtics won 16 NBA titles from 1957-1986.  Over half of those seasons, Boston won the title.  But, in the 18 years since...they've won zero.  The Bulls won 6, the Lakers won 5, the Pistons and Rockets have won 2 each.  And so have the ex-ABA franchise, the San Antonio Spurs. 

The BS of The BCS pt 2

I have read and listened to people and their comments about my entry on the BCS.

And I still don't like it.  Let's take each issue:

EVERY GAME COUNTS:  Actually, you could make a case that the opposite is true.  Most of the games don't count.  Yeah, every game my count for the undefeated teams...and SOME of the 1-loss teams.  But for everyone else, it is just bowl position.  And, you should know, bowl position is determined by which conference you are in.  And that is determined by how well you did in conference against your conference opponents.  So, strength-of-schedule has no bearing here.  But "aha", you say.  "What about getting into a BCS Bowl?"  Yeah, try telling TCU about their chances of getting into a BCS bowl.  Even if they did finish the season undefeated, they would have been shut out of the BCS. 

By the way, you'd think a little game like the BIG XII CHAMPIONSHIP GAME would be pretty meaningful.  Yeah.  So meaningful that Oklahoma could lose it badly and still play in the National Championship Game. 

LET THE POLLS PICK THE WINNER:  Just really think about this.  Look at the BCS as a whole....then look at the two human polls and the computer polls seperately.  First, the computer.  The computer has never watched a game.  It just compiles stats.  It doesn't take into any consideration any intangibles.  And now, they are eliminating all kinds of stats from the that the computer poll isn't really effective.  Now, look at the media poll [AP].  Are you to tell me that members of the media have a perfect understanding of all 120 teams and where the stack against everyone else.  They only watch the big games, games in their journalistic area....and the boxscores.  I live on the East Coast...and the 1st USC game I watched last season was against UCLA.  Then the coaches poll.  Two things about that.  First, the LAST people that need to have a poll is the coaches.  Think about it.  Aside from his team and the teams he has played and will be playing....what does a coach know about what is going on in the country??  All week, he's preparing his team for a game....then Saturday they play.  DAMN NEAR EVERYONE IS PLAYING SATURDAY.  So, if a coach is doing the job he is paid for, he can't be paying attention to what is happening in another game thousands of miles away.  And then there is the conflict of interest.  If I am a Big Ten coach...then I would want my Big Ten brethern to rankhigher.  It gives MY team a better strength-of-schedule.  It gives MY conference more exposure.  It could lead to MY conference picking up an extra at-large birth into a BCS game....which gets MY school more money.  Also, isn't this the "ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll"???  And who has the cushy deal with the BCS???  Oh, ABC.  And ABC owns ESPN.  So, if ABC really, really, really wanted to....couldn't it show better and more dominant highlights on ESPN's SportsCenter to prop up a team that would be a "better match up" in their BCS games???  I mean, all these coaches have to go on is SportsCenter.  Remember, in NCAA Hoops, Rick Majerus let his team manager fill out his voting form for him.  Are you to say that these coaches actually sit down after their own games, research every game in the country, the honestly make a conscience decision of where everyone ranks.  Or do they just "copy-and-paste"??

THE CHAMPION IN A TOURNAMENT MAY NOT BE "THE BEST TEAM":  Yeah...and that has been a bad thing for the NFL and the NCAA Men's Basketball...which are the TWO biggest events in the sports field.  News flash, but usually, the winner of the Super Bowl does not have the best record in the league during the regular season [although this year they did].  If the Hoops tourny felt this way, the NC State doesn't beat Houston on a tip in at the buzzer.  Villanova doesn't play "the perfect game".  Melo doesn't run his team to a title with Syracuse.  Arizona doesn't beat three #1 seeds en route to a title.  Great moments that are few and far between in college football.  Think about it.  What are the great moments in NCAA football history??  Very rarely is it in the bowl game of the National Champion.  They are usually regular season games.  Cal-Stanford's The Play.  Colorado/Michigan.  BC/Miami.  The biggest moments that a "National Championship" college football game may have been Michael Vick putting up a hell of a fight against Florida State.....or the pass interference called in the Miami/Ohio State game a few years ago.  Classic moments, huh.  But everyone has vivid Super Bowl and Final Four memories they can just roll out there. 

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Why Care About The Red Sox?

You know, every year all we hear is about the "Curse Of The Bambino" and how sad the history of the Red Sox is.  HBO even had a documentary about their "long suffering fans". 

To be frank, to hell with the Red Sox.  For a team that hasn't won anything in 86 years...they sure do get a lot of TV pub.  I mean, you can't watch Baseball Tonight without a Pete Gammons take about Pedro and the Bunch.  And they get almost as many games as the Yankees on national TV.

But why should I, a non-Red Sox fan, give a damn about that? 

What about the Chicago White Sox?  Those Pale Hose have won TWO World Series in their history [Boston has won 5] with their last title the year BEFORE the Red Sox last title.  So, they've suffered a year longer.  And those White Sox have been in ONE World Series since 1919.....the year they THREW the World Series to the Reds.  No one talks about that curse.  Their last World Series appearance was back in 1959.  That means a 44 year old man has never seen the ChiSox in the World Series.  Granted, you don't see memorable ChiSox hearbreaks like Bucky, Buckner and Boone....but they did have Disco Night.

Oh, and we know about the Cubs.  They haven't won a World Series since 1908.  They haven't even BEEN to the WS since 1945.  But, ask Steve Bartman if those fans are bitter.  This team, though, hasn't had consecutive winning seasons since the early 70s.

What about some teams you don't normally think about when it comes to heartbreak and misery?

How about the Atlanta Braves?  Unlike the Red Sox, these Braves have won 13 straight division titles.  THIRTEEN straight playoff appearances.....and 1 World Series title to show for it.  In fact, THREE times have they seen the team that finished behind them get to the Series ahead of them [Marlins '97 and '03, Mets '00].  Hell, the Florida Marlins....who played their first game in franchise history the season the Braves won their 3rd straight division title....have won TWO World Series rings.  Then, they watch the Arizona Diamondbacks in their 4th season win a title. 

How about the Cleveland Indians?  They haven't won a World Series since 1948, and since then were the punchline of theMLB.  And, you want about blowing a 9th inning lead in GAME 7 OF THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!  That happened in 1997. 

How about the Philadelphia Phillies?  In 120 years of Phillie baseball...they have one World Series ring.  One.  And, just like the Red Sox, they blew a Game 6 that they had won.  RememberJoe Carter? 

How about the Houston Astros?  They've been around since 1962 and have never won a playoff series.  Ever.  Oh, and neither has the Texas Rangers...and they became a franchise in 1961.  So, 74 seasons of Texas baseball and they have ZERO playoff series wins.  In fact, the Astros have lost 19 of their 25 playoff games.  The Rangers have lost 9 of 10 playoff games in franchise history.  A robust 7-28.

What about the Milwaukee Brewers?  They've had 12 straight losing seasons.

What about the San Francisco Giants?  They've had Barry Bonds and Willie Mays.  And the Giants haven't won a title since moving to the West Coast.  Pssst....they also had the heartbreak of relinquishing a lead late in the WS winning game.

What about the Montreal Expos?  They've only had Randy Johnson, Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Carter, Andres Galaragga and Andre Dawson.  And the season they held the best record in the majors, the strike ended the season.

So while the media believes the Red Sox to be the "loser darlings" every year....find a little space in your heart for some of the other teams who have had travesty filled moments in their histories.


Friday, May 14, 2004

How Did You Celebrate?

With the Lakers/Spurs epic finish Thursday night, I asked about your stories of where you were, how you celebrated, and how you felt about those final minutes.  Here are some stories:

GYPSYSLV:  I was watching the game alone.  I can't watch a Laker game with anyone but my ex.  I get too involved.

So about 5 minutes left and my ex calls me from South Carolina.  We see the lead slipping and we are sweating bullets. Then Duncan makes his go ahead shot.  There is absolute quiet on both sides of the coast.  My heart practically stops and I grimace watching the Spurs celebrate.

Then Fish makes his miracle shot.  Now, I spend my evenings either au natural or in a T-shirt only.  Last night - I had on my Laker shirt (of course) and nothing else.  The shot dropped through the basket and I jumped off the couch and started screaming at the top of my lungs while my ex is doing the same.  I am running around the coffee table and screaming like a banshee.  After what seemed like 5 minites, we calmed down and I started laughing realizing I had peed on my carpet.  <g>

And yea - I'm steam cleaning tomorrow!!  I know I'll never live this one down but as long as the Lakers rip that trophy out of the Spurs hands, I'll live with it.

SPORTZ:  I was at work.  I missed most of the Spurs comeback...but caught Parker's layup to give the Spurs the 3 pt lead.  Obviously pissed, I stayed in the breakroom to catch the final 2 minutes of the game [which lasted about 30].  When Duncan hit that stomach just knotted up.  To have such a big game in hand then let it go like that was sickening.  I just saw in my mind Game 6 last year and the egg the Lakers layed.  Though I though the Lakers have a shot to win was a small shot.  Whoops.  I mean, a BIG shot.  When Fisher hit hands went skyward and I yelled out an "Holy [expletive]" in glee.  As I nervously watched the replays to see if it would stand, my eloquent statement was repeated as I danced out the door back to my job [I was to be leaving at 11pm anyways, which is when the game pretty much ended].  As I walked back to my area, my hands were completely sore from clapping as I told everyone [even those who had no idea what I was talking about] about Fish's shot.  I even came home and told my wife about it...and she was like "so they won the championship?"  Ah....the innocence of your woman not knowing the complexities of sport.  I explained that they haven't technically won the went a long way to getting it.

RANCID:  One of the best celebrations ever...seriously.  When Fisher hit that shot, I jumped in my pool with all my clothes joke.  After that, I lit off an M3000 bottle rocket that shook my entire neighborhood.  I woke up the next morning with an empty bottle of Jack next to my bed...the rest is history.

ENDORA:  1) I did something I've only ever done once before: I clapped and cheered. (My husband came in and asked what'd happened and was very surprised when I explained I was cheering over basketball.) The only other time I've done that was Stockton's buzzer beater to send the Jazz to the Finals for the first time.

2) When Duncan made his unbelievable shot, I moaned a little and said some really unladylike things. I knew we were toast--for this game and probably the series.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Sportz Talk 5/12/4

*Ahhh, Kings fans.  Who could possibly see this coming??  I mean, who'd know that all you'd hear from Cow Town is whining and moaning about Peja kicking his leg out to get a foul.  Yet, KG was totally molested when he hit his shot seconds earlier...but nothing was called.

*Well, the only thing worth noting in the Eastern Conference playoffs is the war of words between the Nets and Pistons.  I mean, the games themselves aren't interesting.  But Larry Brown attacks Nets GM Rod Thorn about the dismissal of FUTURE LAKER COACH Byron Scott.  Then, he attacks the refs.  The Sheed says the Nets Game 3 win needs an asterick next to it because he was in foul trouble.  Then K-Mart goes after Sheed.  With the love fest going on in the Heavyweight battles out West, its nice to see the East is actually talking tough.

*If I was an NBA player, there'd be no well in hell I'd attend the Summer Olympics in Athens.  Not the Olympic part....but the Athens.  This city has the worst airport security in the world.  And if we can't even get it right here, then how in the hell is Athens going to be ready??  After all, they can't even get their venues built.

*God, now the Hawks are looking at hiring 66-yr old John McLeod to be their next head coach.  GEEZ!  Is this the new NBA trend??  Well, anything to keep Mike Fratello's "slow ball" from coming back to the NBA.

*Syracuse announced that it is changing its name from "Orangemen" to "Orange".  What is that?  I mean, I understand all the Native American nicknames being changed, but "Orangemen"??  If you are going to change your name, do it something better than a color....or a fruit.  By the way, UMass needs to change its name from the "Minutemen" because all of the men with sexual dysfunctions [read: Kings fans] are being offended.  

*I don't understand the NY Giants at all.  First, you trade for the #1 overall draft pick in Eli Manning.  Then, pissing off Kerry Collins, you announce you'll release him.  Then, you are chatting with Kurt Warner about signing with you.  All the meanwhile, the guy that was starting games down the stretch for you is "The Bachelor".  Oh, and you also got guys complaining about new coach Tom Coughlin's mini camp.  The 2004 season has gotten off to a great stop.

*Michael Jordan is visiting China for the first time....sponsored by Nike.  I guess he wants to see where his $200 shoes are being made.



Those Choking Kings

I know.  It's odd using the word "choke" when describing the Kings, huh?  It feels almost as weird as saying Chris Webber runs away from pressure situations.  And it's odd that in this series, "choke" isn't being used in any takes involving Sprewell. 

Kings fan.  The only way you can possibly shake this moniker of choking is....well, stop choking. 

First off, I'll give you TONS of credit getting back into that Game 3 against the Wolves.  That game was over.  It was 100-87 with, what, 3 minutes left?  You came back and sent it to overtime.  But, a loss is still a loss.

Sacramento should be up 3-0 right now.  But, two heartbreaking losses have them down 2-1...and surrendered the homecourt advantage back to the Wolves.  The moment from that game that I will remember most [aside from that clutch shot from KG] is Bibby throwing his headband into the seats as he was assessed a foul, his 6th, and then getting T'd up.  Nothing says "knowing the situation" better than getting a technical foul as you are walking off the court in overtime.  C'mon.  I mean, what in the hell is that about??  Luckily for the Kings, Da Mayor missed the FT and it ended up not costing them anything.  But that one point could have loomed big.

Those things can happen.  But the Kings shouldn't even BE in this position.  With about a week or so left in the regular season, they had the #1 seed in the West locked up.  Crapped that away.  But, at least you had your 2004 Pacific Title Banner ready to hoist up into the rafters with those other 2 Division Title banners and your.......uh......Mitch Richmond jersey and your......uh.....6th Man jersey.  Well, a banner is a banner.  All you gotta do is beat a Warriors team that had it's top guys already with their lockers cleaned out.  Loss.  Meanwhile up the coast, Kobe Bryant was doing the antithesis of the Kings and making not one....but TWO clutch shots to give the Lakers the Pacific Division title.  If the Lakers hung such a banner up, they'd buy it off of you guys.  I mean, it is purple. 

I know, those things can happen.  Just like Game 7 of the Mavs series last year.  Oh, lost by 13.  Well, then the last time you played in a "winner advances game".  Oh, that Laker win in SacTown in 2002.  Okay, then the time before that.  Oh, another Laker beating in 2000.  Okay, the time before that.  Oh, the loss to the Jazz in 1999.  That's right.  This awesome elite Kings-era team is 0-4 in "winner advances game." 

Well, I better put that "no #4 seed has ever made it to the Conference Finals" stat up there. 

Sunday, May 9, 2004

NBA's Trash Into Treasure

One thing I love about the NBA is the fact that you can be fired from one job, and be so highly sought after for another.

Take the NBA's current coaching changes.  The Boston Celtics hired Doc Rivers, who was fired by the worst team in the NBA earlier in the year.  The N'Awlins Hornets are reportedly looking to nab former Nets coach Byron Scott to fill their vacancy [which I'd be surprised if it happened before the Lakers and Phil Jackson decide what they are going to do].  Also, rumor has it that the Atlanta Hawks are looking at Mavs assistant coach Del Harris for their head gig.  Delmer's job in Dallas is in jeopardy...if the rumors of Cuban's ultimatum to Don Nelson about firing his coaching staff are true.  Jim O'Brien, who "resigned" mid-season from the Celtics, was hired as the Sixers new coach. 

This comes off the heels of a season where Mike Dunleavy, Tim Floyd, Scott Skiles and Eddie Jordan got spankin' new jobs.  Heck, the Pistons fired Rick Carlisle just to be able to get Larry Brown.....then the Pacers fired Isiah Thomas just to be able to get Carlisle....then the Knicks fire Scott Layden just to be able to get Isiah Thomas. 

Think about this.  Phil Jackson may not be asked back next year.  Don Nelson is in a bit of a jam in Dallas.  Jeff Bzedlik, who took the Nuggs to the playoff for the first time in a decade, may be canned sometime.  Hubie Brown may decide not to come back next year.  I find it doubtful that Lenny Wilkens will be back in NYC.  Carroll wasn't given a chance to keep his job full-time in Boston.  Tim Floyd was just fired in N'Awlins.  All of these coaches led their teams to the playoffs.

Yet, Johnny Davis will be back in Orlando.  Scott Skiles will remain in Chicago.  Dunleavy in LA.  Eddie Jordan in D.C.  Nate McMillian in Seattle.  Mo Cheeks in Portland.  None of these coaches made the playoffs.  Some weren't close at doing so. 

This is NHL-esque.  Remember the Devils firing their coach with about 3 games left in the season a few years back??  Jersey was only the #1 seed in the East.  There is NO coach in the NBA's Eastern Conference that has been on their job more than a year.  Oh, wait a minute....there is one.  The Bobcats' Bernie Bickerstaff.  But he has 0 games coached as Bobcats' coach. 

The firing of Terry Stotts really irked me.  The Hawks never really gave this guy a chance.  The left the "interim" tag on his job title for most of the summer of 2003.  When all the top candidates took other jobs....the Hawks made him the full-time coach, only to trade everyone they had on an already horrid roster for cap space.  Yet he loses his job.  Of course, they will get a name coach in place as soon as they can so they can lure free agents into their cap-friendly confines.  No FA wants to come to a team where the coach is Stotts and is holding on to his job by a thread [I will have a Tim Floyd take in a future Journal Entry].

Maybe this Hawks' trash will turn into someone else's treasure.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Seeing The BS of the BCS

With the NCAA and the BCS stumbling all over themselves to try to correct the "problems" occured when the #1 and #2 teams DIDN'T meet for the championship last season, they are pretty much just giving us the greenlight to condemn this system.

It doesn't work.

At least not like it was promised.  In the 6 years since the BCS first began, half of the seasons ended with controversy.  The wrong teams meeting for the title.  I mean, who could forget Nebraska, who didn't even win their DIVISION of the Big XII, getting to the National Championship game?  So they tweaked that.  Then, something that we all knew was bound to happen did.  Three 1-loss teams and a computer left to figure which two should battle for the title.  And what do we get??  A split national championship.  So why, again, do we need the BCS?? 

The BCS just slammed thru the historical pageantry of the bowl system and just created more problems than it was supposed to solve.  So now, the Rose Bowl DOESN'T match up the champs of the Pac 10 and Big 10.  Why?  So that what happened this year occurs?? 

Hell, even selecting the BCS schools has become a problem.  Everyone should know this about the NCAA and it's post-season tournaments:  someone will gripe.  If you opened up the NCAA Hoops tournament to 256 teams....then there will be the 257th and 258th schools that will cry and moan that they should be included as well.  It wouldn't stop.  I mean, what was the last time a school that barely made the tournament on the bubble actually made a great run in the tourny??  Exactly.

And this makes it all the bigger deal in NCAA Football.  Oklahoma was one of the top teams last season.  The "at large" BCS bids were designed to keep teams like Oklahoma in mind.  A team that won all of its regular season games, but had to play a title game which teams in the ACC, Big East and Pac 10 didn't.  That's fine.  I see where they are coming from that.  But, when you are deciding which "at large" teams get to go....that's where it gets dicey.  I mean, unlike the NCAA tournament, being left out of the BCS could be very, very costly.  Like quite a few million dollars costly. 

Just look at the ACC [whichI am a fan of].  The ACC realizes all of this coming and has worked out a brilliant concept. First off, the stole away BCS darling Miami-FL to go grab money for the conference.  In doing so, they qualified to hold a conference title game.  Money.  And if you look at the division format, it follows NO geographic lines.  They pretty much split the conference into 2 BCS-calibar programs in each division; 3 solid programs in each division; and 1 bottom feeder to pump up the records.  In doing this, they've almost assured of having two BCS teams each season.

Now there are lawsuits and posturing and mega conference movements....just to set everyone up for the renewal of the BCS contract next season.  So the BCS has responded by offering up a 5th BCS game.  But, *aha*, what is this game for??  Is it another opportunity for a 9th and 10th school from one of the six major conferences to get in on the major money?  Is it a new opportunity for schools from the Mountain West, MAC, WAC and Conference USA to get a shot at that money?  Or is it a post-bowl game...that would matchup the two best teams after the bowls are done?

The latter is laughable.  If they could pick those teams correctly after the bowls....then why can't they do it after an entire body of work called the "regular season"??  And you'll STILL get somebody whining. 

Imagine using this formula for the NBA.  Imagine if I said, "pick 4 teams that would compete in two seperate series".  Match the two best against each other....and the winner would be the NBA Champions.  Match the #3 and #4 against each other...with the winner just being happy.  Who would you pick?  I'm sure everyone reading this has 4 different teams in mind.  Or maybe different matchups.  Some have Spurs-Pacers, Kings-Wolves.  Some may have Spurs-Wolves, Pistons-Kings.  Well, the Lakers could say "hey, we won the Pacific Division and the Spurs didn't even win their division.  We should get the title shot!"  Pretty fair arguement.  Or Nets fans could say "we won our division too!"  I know it is a reach, but this does show how silly this all can be.

Look, I am one of the people that are in favor of a playoff system for football.  But, if they aren't going to do that....then at least have something solid set in place.  Not something that didn't work, then gets tweaked during the offseason.  The funniest rumor was that the BCS is putting even LESS emphasis on the computer polls and relying on the human polls to select the matchups.  They've taken a little of the computer's power away every season.  But, in doing this....isn't the BCS just moving toward the way things USED to be??  Where the human polls pretty much steered the bowls to get a #1 v. #2 matchup?? 

Go away BCS.  Hold a 8 or 12 team tournament that lasts 3 or 4 weekends.  Let the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big XII, SEC and Pac 10 in.  Then give 2-6 at large spots to fill in the blanks. 

Or just keep having split national champions.  Honestly, I've never seen anyone cry to much about that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Sports Reporting

Back in the summer of 2000, I became a DirecTV subscriber.  And, of course, I got the sports package.  That included NBATV [ TV now], the Golf Network and the plethora of Fox Sports Net regional networks.  Being a Laker fan, I caught on to Fox Sports West.  The Lakers were defending champs and looking good for a repeat.  I bought the NBA League Pass and watched Laker games all season long and FINALLY getting to hear Chick Hearn on more of a consistent basis. 

After Laker wins [or losses], you'd get the post game interviews and what not.  One of those locker-room reporters was a gal by the name of Lisa Guerrero.  Of course I noticed that Lisa was a "bad mamma jamma".  She asked her questions....kicked it back to the studio.  Job done.  But, damn was she fine!

Then she jumped up to the Best Damn Sports Show Period [which it isn't] where she manned the "update desk".  When I heard that little chime, I'd make sure to hold my bathroom break for a sec just to see if Lisa was as smashing as she usually is.  Oh yeah.  She threw out some hi-lights and smiled really big.  Great.  But then, they let her SIT with the guys in their opening segment before ushering her off [read: letting the men see her lower body as she sit in a chair then walks off set] to do her updates.

In fact, you could say that was the only reason to watch "Best Damn".  The show pretty much sucks without her.  And the fact that all of them try so hard to dis ESPN by claiming to be for real guys is laughable.  Especially since when ESPN or ABC calls, guys like Stephen A. Smith, John Kruk and, yes, Lisa Guerrero, come running. 

Then, as ABC renovated Monday Night Football after a string of bad decisions [Dennis Miller, Eric Dickerson], they let Lisa Guerrero....a relatively novice in the sideline reporter for the biggest stage of the NFL weekend.  And she failed.  She stuttered during questions.  She lost her place in the sentence.  And she lofted softball questions like "tell me how big of a game this was" and "how does it feel to have a game like this".  Now, she doesn't need to get Jim Grey-esque....but a 10-year old child could ask that.  And anyone who's watched sports more than a week could see the answer coming.  Maybe, with time, she could've become better.  I am not saying she was just a good-looking chick with no knowledge whatsoever.  But that's pretty much what she was portrayed as. 

Lisa was canned this week as MNF sideline gal for Michelle Tafoya....argueably one of the best in her business at that craft.  Tafoya always has her info ready on demand, delivers in precisely and in a manner that is easy to digest. 

Here is where I'm going with this.  I'm tired of the entertainment business of sports reporting.  I'm not saying that Walter Cronkite needs to give me my sports news....but I'm tired of people that shouldn't be on TV giving me insight not knowing more than I do.  I don't know about you, but I like watching a game and hearing the commentator mull over the options a team has, why they did what they did, etc. etc.  Say what you want about Doug Collins the coach....but Doug Collins the analyst is one of the best.  I honestly learn something pretty much every time I watch a game he's telecasting.  Jack Givens is another.  Too bad he is stuck in Orlando [and bad cable games] that no one gets to hear how great he is. is the Bill Waltons and Snapper Jones that get on my TV.  And all you Portland fans know this.....the Snapper Jones on NBC is NOT the same Snapper Jones on local Portland telecasts. 

Yeah, Tim McCarver can get annoying at times....but that man knows every situation that comes up in baseball.  He is on the ball.  Everything he says seems to turn out to be correct.  I guess that's why that when MLB moves from CBS to NBC to Fox....he moves along with it.  Tim Ryan is a damn good one for the NFL of Fox. 

Speaking of the NFL on Fox, it sure would be nice if the studio guys actually make some kind of analysis between jokes.  All of them make good points during the telecast.  But we must sit thru a BS "picks segment" and Jillian shakin' that salt shaker in front of a weather map...making all of those meterologists across America thankful that she and Al Roker are the headliners for their profession. 

Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with being entertaining.  As we all know, Chick Hearn was one of the greatest wordsmiths put on Earth.  But he knew what he was saying and he didn't upstage the entire reason we were watching......the actual game.  And I enjoy the joking around that desk guys have during pregame and highlight shows.  But, I usually watch information shows [which is what they really are] for information.  But, hey....that's just me.  Apparantly, this is what America proven by the ratings.

And that brings me to print guys on TV.  This is the dumbest idea in history.  And, if you give a newspaper guy his own TV show....he's not a newspaper guy anymore.  Hell, Tony Kornheiser has PTI on ESPN and his own radio show on ESPN Radio.  Oh yeah....he has a column in the Washington Post, Times whatever.  Well, HEY....I now have my own column on an AOL Journal.  These are my opinions.  But since I don't have my own one will care.

I have always genuinely liked "The Sports Reporters", even back to the days where Dick Shapp was hosting and Bill Conlin and Frank DeFord were on the panel.  There is nothing wrong with having a TV show with print guys discussions about the world of sports.  All of us do that to.  But shows like Around The Horn with people just trying to out yell each other as the means to solidify their points is just getting absurd. 

Monday, May 3, 2004

NBA Talkables

*Gotta love the LeBron v. Carmelo debate for the Rookie Award.  But, the Detroit Free Press chimed in with this stat:  The Pistons were 31-4 when Darko Milicic plays and only 24-24 when he doesn't.

*How odd is it that Terry Stotts of the Atlanta Hawks has the East's longest tenure.  The second longest??  Well, in terms of calendar time, it would be the expansion Charlotte Bobcats' Bernie Bickerstaff.  He's been on the job longer than 14 of the 15 head guys.

*Speaking of the Hawks, I pray to God they don't win the draft lottery.  Nothing against Atlanta...I just hope they aren't "pressured" into drafting HS player Dwight Howard, from SW Atlanta Christian Academy, first overall.  I'm sure they'd perfer Okafur instead.

*And speaking of the NBA Draft Lottery, this will be the first lottery pick in Utah Jazz history.

*With the #3 Spurs having the homecourt advantage over the #2 Lakers this week, it brings up an interesting predicement next season.  It could realistically happen that the #6 seed will have a better record than a #3 seed.  Imagine a 42-40 Miami Heat team winning the Southeast Division and the New York Knicks claim the 6th seed with a 45-37 record.  Under current NBA rules, the Knicks would own the home court for that series.

*This stat courtesy of ESPN Magazine:  The five-man unit that spent the most time on the court together this season is the Kings Peja, Miller, Divac, Bibby and Christie.  They played 27% of the total minutes played in Kings games together on the floor.  Kind of amazing that a team's starting five only really stays on the floor together an average of 9.5 minutes a game.

*Remember this name of draft day [and that I said it back in 2004 when he's a star in 2007]...........Al Jefferson.

*OT:  With the recent news that Pat Tillman was killed in combat, doesn't Kellen Winslow II's comments that he was "a [expletive] soldier" after a football game seem a little weak.  Especially from a guy that is the son of an NFL Hall Of Famer.

*After KG's touching comments that the Wolves playoff series victory was for guys like Pooh Richardson, Isiah Rider and Christie Laettner.....shouldn't [us] Laker fans say that the recent success is for guys like Sedale Threatt, Ced Ceballos, Vlade Divac and Elden Campbell....the guys that held it down between the Magic and Shaq eras?

*Well, Don Nelson has been given the noose.  Does he hang up the 25 members of his coaching staff with it [as Cuban wants] or will he use it on himself [as he should do]?  By the way, if he stays on as coach, he should pass Pat Riley into 2nd place in all time victories.  But Nelson has never been to the NBA Finals as a head coach.

*Speaking of that, of the top 13 coaches who have the most all-time win, they've got a combined 26 NBA Championships between them.  Well, 22 of them are divided up between 3 guys:  Phil Jackson (9), Red Auerbach (9) and Pat Riley (4).  Lenny Wilkens, Bill Fitch, Dick Motta and Jack Ramsey have one apiece.  Don Nelson, Jerry Sloan, Larry Brown, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Gene Shue and George Karl have none.

*I played PG in rec leagues and I loved the theory that you need a great PG to win the title.  I'd still like to believe it.  But here are the starting PGs for the last 13 championships: Tony Parker, Derek Fisher, Ron Harper, Avery Johnson, Kenny Smith and BJ Armstrong.  The last time a season's assist leader also won the title was in 1987, the Lakers' Magic Johnson.

*Tim Duncan is only the SIXTH man in NBA history to win multiple NBA titles and multiple MVPs with 2 of each.  But, the other five have gone onto to win quite a few more.  The others are Michael Jordan (5 MVPs, 6 Titles), Magic Johnson (3, 5), Larry Bird (3, 3), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6, 6), Wilt Chamberlain (4, 2) and Bill Russell (5, 11).

*Nine of the 29 players to lead their teams in scoring last season, didn't finish with those same teams this season.  Those nine are Glenn Robinson, Jalen Rose, Ricky Davis, Juwan Howard, Antawn Jamison, Gary Payton, Stephon Marbury, Rasheed Wallace and Karl Malone.

*Kevin Garnett will win the 2004 NBA MVP award.  This marks the 5th time in the last 6 seasons the MVP has been from the Western Conference.  It also marks the 17th time in the last 18 years that the MVP wasn't from a team in the Eastern Time Zone.  The lone winner was Philly's Allen Iverson in 2001.


Sunday, May 2, 2004

Some Conference Semifinal Stats

*The Kings are 0-2 in Conference Semis when they don't have the home court advantage.  They won the only Semis in which they did have that advantage.

*The Pacers are 5-0 lifetime in the Conference Semis.

*The Hornets are 0-4 lifetime in the Conference Semis.

*The Pistons and Lakers both will get to play the teams that eliminated them last season.

*Of course, this is the Minnesota Timberwolves first experience in the Semis.

*The Nets have won 8 of their last 9 Conference Semifinal games.

NBA Building Blocks

There is an adage in the NBA that if you "pay your dues" then your team can build and advance to finally claim your ring.  Lose in the Conference Finals; get over that hurdle the next season.  Well, that really isn't the case.

The last NBA Finalist to win the title the year after losing the title was the 1989 Detroit Pistons.  The Pistons lost one of the best Finals in 7 games the year earlier.  Since then, no "runner-up" has gone on to finish the job next season.  Aside from the Lakers...any season after.

Since that '89 Pistons team, the Blazers, Lakers, Suns, Knicks, Magic, Sonics, Jazz, Pacers, Sixers and Nets have gone on to lose in the Finals.  Of those teams, only the Suns, Magic, Sonics and Pacers didn't even get back to the Finals [Pacers may this season, however].  Only the Lakers have won a title since....and it wasn't anywhere near the same team.  In '91 it was Vlade, Worthy and Magic with Mike Dunleavy as the coach.  In the 2000s it is Shaq and Kobe. 

In fact, losing in the Conference Finals guarantees nothing either.  Last years Conference Championship losers were the Pistons and Mavericks.  The Mavs are already gone...and the Pistons have the Nets and Pacers on the horizon.  Here are the losers of the Conference Finals since 1991.

2002: Kings, Celtics......2001: Spurs, Bucks......2000: Blazers, Knicks......1999: Blazers, Pacers.....1998: Lakers, Pacers....1997: Rockets, Heat....1996: Jazz, Magic.....1995: Spurs, Pacers......1994: Jazz, Pacers.....1993: Sonics, Knicks.....1992: Jazz, Cavaliers.....1991: Blazers, Pistons

Only the 1999 Pacers, 1996 Jazz, 1993 Knicks and 1991 Blazers went on to the NBA Finals the next season.  All of them lost when they got there. 

In fact, here is where the last 13 champions were ousted the season before:  2002 Spurs-Conference Semis....2001 Lakers- Champions....2000 Lakers- Champions.....1999 Lakers- Conference Semis.....1998 Spurs-Conference Semis.....1997 Bulls- Champions....1996 Bulls- Champions.....1995 Bulls- Conference Semis.....1994 Rockets- Champions....1993 Rockets- Conference Semis....1992 Bulls- Champions....1991 Bulls- Champions.....1990 Bulls- Conference Finals

You see that 7 of the 13 were defending champions.  Five of the remaining 6 lost in the Conference Semis.  The last NBA Champion to lose beyond the Conference Semifinals the year prior was the 1991 Chicago Bulls. 

Hmm.  Looks good for the Spurs-Lakers series winner this season.  Of course, the loser of that series will look good for the 2005 NBA Title.  Or it looks good for the Sacramento Kings...the only other Conference Semifinal loser from a year ago still in the playoffs [the Sixers and Celtics were the East's teams].

Odd Stat For Kings Fans

Here is a stat that I came across that I personally found amazing.

No #4 seed has been to the Conference Finals. 

The NBA began seeding teams for the 1984 postseason.  Yet no #4 seed has made it to the third round.  Amazing.

Amazing since in 1995, the Houston Rockets, a 6th seed, won the NBA Finals.

Amazing since in 1999, the New York Knicks, an 8th seed, went to the NBA Finals.

Amazing since in in 1994 and 1999, the #1 seed was upset in the first round.  In 1994, the #8 seeded Nuggets, who upset the top seeded Sonics, met the #5 seeded Utah Jazz in the 2nd round.  Utah beat the #4 Spurs in the first round.  In 1999, the #8 seed Knicks did meet the #4 Hawks in the 2nd round.  The Knicks ended up SWEEPING the Hawks.

Just remember that stat, Kings and Heat fans, when the next round occurs.  And, Miami, you still haven't punched your ticket for the next round.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Don't Cry Grizz Fan

I know it is sad to be ousted from the playoffs.  But it is just part of the learning curve. 

Toronto was swept 3-0 by New York in their first playoff run in 2000.

Minnesota was swept 3-0 by Houston in their first playoff run in 1997.

Orlando was swept 3-0 by Indiana in their first playoff run in 1994.

Miami was swept 3-0 by Chicago in their first playoff run in 1992.

Charlotte did win its first playoff series, 3-1 over Boston, in 1993.  They went on to lose to the Knicks 4-1.

But combined, the last 6 expansion teams were 4-20 in their first playoff seasons.  Keep ya chin up!!

Barry Bonds Asterick

With Barry Bonds climbing the HR charts, there has been a lot of talk about putting an * by his name due to rumblings of steriod abuse.  That his numbers are meaningless.  Well, for once, I'll take to his defense and say there should be no * by his name.

*He hasn't been found guilty of doing anything wrong.  Yet.  You cannot "convict" him of doing something when he has not been found to do anything wrong.  Sure, we may never find out.  And until we do, his numbers still matter.

*If we are to stick astericks by people's names...then lets do it to everyone.  Hank Aaron played during the "expansion era".  The NL grew from 8 to 12 teams in this time frame.  And the AL added 4 teams as well.  That means pitching thinned out from 16 teams of 24 teams.  33% of the pitchers would have been there before.  Maybe this accounts for Aaron great production later in his career.  Also, people make a bid stink over the fact that there are bandboxes all over the majors today.  Well, didn't Aaron play out his career in a stadium dubbed "The Launching Pad"??  Babe Ruth played in an all-white era.  No black or latino players were allowed to play.  Mark McGwire admitted to taking a suppliment that has since been made illegal in MLB. 

*If Bonds, using steriods, is doing this....then why isn't Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti also putting up these kind of numbers??  Both are admitted steriod users...yet both bowed out of the majors ungracefully. 

Sure, if it is found that Barry Bonds is using [or has used] steriods during his will taint everything he ever done.  But don't convict the man until it has been shown that he cheated.

2004 NBA Playoffs-Second Round Preview

Aside from the Heat-Hornets barnburning series which decides the Pacers' next victim....the 2nd round is set.  Already, there are 3 heavy weight bouts on the card.  None bigger than the matchup of the two teams that have won the past 5 NBA Titles....the Spurs and Lakers. 

SPURS V LAKERS:  These teams will meet in the playoffs for the 5th time in the last 6 seasons.  Both teams have won twice, with the winner going on to win the championship.  Of all the previous matchups....this one seems to really feel like the biggest.  Can the Lakers defend the Spurs' pick and roll?  Can Tony Parker keep Gary Payton from posting him up and actually contributing?  Who will miss the bigger FT, Shaq or Duncan?  Will Kobe take his matchup with Bowen personally as he did a year ago?  My take is Spurs in 7.

WOLVES V KINGS:  The Wolves struggled at times with the Nuggs, but got the job done.  The Kings struggled with the Mavs, but won the series in surprising quickness.  The biggest matchup is obviously.....Cassell v Bibby.  What, did you think I'd say Webber/KG??  KG should get his 25 pts, 14 rbs and 6 ast.  But it is what Cassell and Bibby do, or don't do, that will get their respective teams into the WCF.  What about Peja v Spree.  Injuries are also a factor, with Wally World and Bobby Jackson both currently on the sidelines.  Wolves in 6.

PISTONS V NETS:  A great defense against a fast breaking offense.  The Pistons did a pretty good job slowing down the Bucks in Rnd 1.  And I expect them to do the same with the Nets.  It's not so much they will shut the Nets down, as much as they will limit their transition hoops, which Jersey lives off of.  The rebounding of the Pistons will GREATLY limit those opportunities.  Also, what a great matchup of K-Mart and Ben Wallace.  Also, I'm running a pool of who will get T'd first, Martin or Sheed.  Also, hard will Wallace knock Jefferson down as he tries to receive an alley-oop?  Pistons in, yes, 5.

PACERS V HEAT/HORNETS: Indiana has been off for, what, a month now?  The Heat/Hornets series has all the makings of going the I don't see any way they can be any competition to the Pacers.  Indiana sweep.