Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Last Days Of The NHL

This NHL thing is a mess.

And both sides are to blame.  Yes....the players make more money than the means of the league are.  But, the owners are the ones who gave them those contracts. 

CONTRACTION.  The NHL has been living off all this expansion money.  Money gained from expansion in San Jose, Miami, Tampa, Ottawa, Columbus, Atlanta, St. Paul, Nashville and Anaheim.  Also money gained in franchise relocations in Phoenix, Denver, Dallas and Raleigh.  That money is dried up.  And it is obvious that expansion may have killed the league.  The "sun-belt" boom that hockey felt when Wayne Gretzky made Los Angeles into a hockey town ushered in these teams.  These cities will support winning hockey [see 2004 Lightning and 2002 Hurricanes].  But if it isn't the place to be....the no one wants to come.  There are half-empty arenas all over the league.  Two teams were on the verge of going out of business.  Recently, Winnipeg asked if it could buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and move them up to Canada.  They were told NO.....but then Sun Belt teams started inquiring about Winnipeg's interest.  It is rumored that Nashville would sell it's franchise for $40M.....half of the expansion fee paid by each of the 4 newest teams. 

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.  The problem with some NHL clubs is they cannot compete for the almighty sports dollar.  Going to a hockey game is pretty expensive.  So casual fans probably are priced out.  And when you are #4 of the Four Major Sports need to find ways to gain new fans.  If you live in would rather save your money and get a Falcons ducat.  Or Braves.  Or G-Tech.  If you live in would rather have Marlins, Dolphins or Heat tix before the Panthers.  Yeah, the Original Six towns will always adore their teams.  But these newer franchises don't own a firm fanbase.  One thing the NBA did SOOOO well was incorporate non-professional cities into the mix.  Cities like Orlando, Portland, Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Memphis, New Orleans, Sacramento, Indianapolis and, San Antonio either have just the NBA franchise or maybe one other pro sports team [usually NFL].  So those cities tend to embrace their clubs.  But the NHL has abandoned that theory by letting Hartford, Quebec City and Winnipeg leave.  They did make a turn by netting Raleigh, Nashville and Columbus....but it may be too little too late.  Maybe move teams to Seattle, Portland, Boise, the Dakotas, Providence or back to Hartford would help.

CANADA.  The problem with dumping clubs is that the Canadian teams may all go.   Only the Toronto Maple Leafs stand to lie in the wake.  I mean, how can cities like Edmonton and Calgary compete if cities like Quebec and Winnipeg couldn't keep their teams.  Even the Mighty Montreal Canadiens are struggling.  That's like saying the Yankees, Celtics or Cowboys may fold due to low revenue.  Impossible to fathom!

POPULARITY.  Honestly....the Arena Football League enjoys more popularity than the NHL.  That is sad.  We all know that hockey isn't a great TV sport.  But, neither is baseball....but it still chugs along.  If you blame the fact that there aren't many well known Americans in the may have a point.  We don't care about a bunch of Euros and Canadians.  But, how many kids have Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks jerseys??  Or Peja Stojakovic??  Or Steve Nash??  Yao Ming??  Exactly.  And there is a lack of name recognition.  Who are the teams shown most frequently??  The Red Wings, Rangers and Penguins.  Why?  Offense, New York and Mario.  That's all most people know about the NHL. 

RULES CHANGES.  We all know that the NHL has turned defensive.  Basically, players are bigger and faster....but the ice size has stayed the same.  So, in turn, areas of the ice are choked and cluttered so it becomes unwatchable. 

GET RID OF TIES.  Look, there is nothing stupider in sports than a tie.  The entire concept of pro sport is to determine a winner and loser.  So if you must sit thru 65 minutes to watch a meaningless game....why go back to the arena??  The ol' saying "A tie is like kissing your sister" I guess would hold true.  Get rid of the ties!!  Have a sudden death like the playoffs [which is what makes hockey great] or just hold a shootout. 

REALIZE YOUR PLACE.  No offense, but the NHL is not at the level the NBA, NFL or MLB enjoys.  So they cannot ask for the same amount of money per ticket.  The NHL isn't as down as the other pro sports leagues [MLS, WNBA, AFL]....but they aren't as high as the Big Three. 


It seems that every year....a new team comes along and makes noise in the NFL.  Last year it was the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers.  But, the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears also were nice stories. 

So who could be the prime candidates for this year's surprise team??

1-Atlanta Falcons.  Unfair, I know...but the Falcons still were a last place team in 2003.  But, when Michael Vick was healthy, Atlanta was VERY good.  Look for more of the same in 2004.  If Vick stays on the field, and new coach Jim Mora, Jr can get his defense right so Vick has more opportunities......then the Falcons could be the next NFC South team to go to the Super Bowl

2-New York Jets.  Laugh all you want, but the Jets do have one of the most efficent QBs in the league.  Curtis Martin is a workhorse, McCareins and Moss are okay WRs.  The defense is young....but fast.  And, as teams have add a solid, mistake-free QB with a tough runner and a fast aggressive can get to and win the Super Bowl. 

3-Washington Redskins.  My beloved Skins.  I know....over the last 5 seasons, they've underachieved more than any franchise in history.  But, we have a real coach now.  Gibbs will pull together what Spurrier tore apart.....and close knit family franchise.  Brunell is the best QB the Skins have had since the Brad Johnson days [and he wasn't too good either].  He has a stable of solid receivers....led by Laveraneus Coles.  Oh, but the #1 option is to turn around and hand it to Clinton Portis.  Portis should GREATLY improve an offense that looked confused last year.  As for defense...the talent is there.  Well, not on the line.  But excellent backers like Arrington and Washington and a revamped secondary led by Springs, Smoot and Taylor.....they have speed to compete. 


Guess what, gang?  It is almost time for Tour De France!!!!  I know I can't wait.  Of course, if Lance Armstrong doesn't win it for the 6th straight year.....then I'm not going to be interested.

And so it goes with these "fairweather sports".  These are sports and games we care nothing about.....not even care to watch....but are intrigued by the outcome nonetheless.

Who really watches cycling?  I mean, does anyone really get a beer and sit down to watch the "Tour De France Highlight Show" on ESPN at midnight??  Nope.  We'll watch the 90 second package that ESPNews will have....and that's to see how Lance did.  If Lance does well....then we'll care about it for at least another day.  If he, or any American, is out of the mix....then it might as well be an infomercial for a get-rich-quick scheme.

The Tour De Lance isn't the only sport that deals with this. 

Even some of the most niche sports tend to get this treatment.  Tennis and horse racing have their enthusiasts.  They have their own fans and experts.  But EVERYONE gets into the Kentucky Derby.  Even if you don't plan to watch the actual'll check to see who won or you put in a few bucks at the office pool.  From there, you get the Preakness and Belmont Stakes....where, God forbid, a Triple Crown winner could occur.  We all get hysterical and cannot WAIT for that 2 minute race.  After the Belmont....I won't care, or even remember, horse racing until I start seeing KY Derby merchandise floating around.

And Wimbledon.  I used to watch tennis when Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, a hairy Agassi and a young Pete Sampars were roaming the courts.  But, tennis to me is so boring to watch.....especially men's tennis.  Wow....a big serve with no return.  Wow....another one.  Women's tennis has turned into the "I didn't win because I didn't try/was hurt/bad calls/it was hot" excuse tour.  I just can't get into it.  But, during Wimbledon and US Open....I do admit to keeping an eye on who is doing well.  Heck, I have no idea who is #1 in the World right now.

Or one of the biggest tournaments in the world....the World Cup.  I hate soccer.  I understand its relevance in youth sports today.  Anykid, no matter how un-coordinated, slow and un-athletic, can play without fear of (a) getting hurt or (b) looking stupid in front of everyone.  But, when the World Cup came around and good ol' USA advanced into the 2nd round....we broke our arms patting each other on the back.  But, after....whoever won that damn thing.....won, we went back to being true Americans and forgetting about soccer.   Oh, unless Freddy Adu is playing.

Yeah, that would make me the "fringe fan".  Ya know, those people that only watch golf on Sundays if, and only if, Tiger Woods is in the hunt for the trophy.  Or people that only watch boxing if Mike Tyson is on the card.  Or the Indy 500.....just because we are told that it is important.  America's Cup Yachting.  Westminter Dog Show.

The MOTHER of all Fairweather Sporting Event comes up pretty soon.  The Olympic Games.  We will sit there and watch every freaking event [that Americans do well in] and know the names of the top contenders.  When the Games are over....we'll all know the names of all the 12-year olds on the womens gymnastics team.....yet right now, you couldn't name one.  There will be the one guy that fought all of the odds to get to the we root for him [note: who has had more of a difficulty getting to the Games than the Iraqi soccer team?].  We'll know all of the track and field guys....and wonder who is juiced up.  All of the swimmers, divers, water polo, fencing, badmitten and the rest.  Then when the torch gets extinguished....we'll go back to loving our highly paid athletes in sports we actually CARE about. 

Anyway.....go Lance in France!!!!   July is my birthday month....and I always start it up with some good cycling parties!!! 

By the way....why is it the "yellow" jersey???

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Let me start my Journal Entry by saying this.....YES, most of these high school guys are ill-equipped for the NBA mentally and physically. 

Having said that....there should NOT be an age limit in the NBA. 

I've done a 180 on the subject over the last few years.  My main point would be that it is hard to deny a job to someone if they are a high-school graduate....and the job doesn't require a college degree.  I wouldn't think basketball is one of those.   They may not be ready....but that is the fault of the employer for giving him a job.....not the employee that took the job. 

Possible solution.....DUMP THE INJURED RESERVE!!!!  The injured reserve roster space is one of the most absurd and abused parts of the CBA.  Why did Jamaal Sampson have to show up on the sidelines of Laker games when he never played??  It is stupid. 

If the NBA wanted its NBDL to be effective....they should deal with it like they do the Summer Leagues.  Look at letting teams have a 16 man roster....with 12 active.  The extra 4 would be used to play in the NBDL.  Now, if an injury arose....the team can "call-up" one of its 4 NBDLers.  This is pretty much akin to MLB's 40-man roster of the NFL's 8 man practice team.  What it could do is allow these young cats out there to actually get on the court and play.....rather than be relegated to sitting and watching. 

Be strict with it.  Don't let NBA teams sign free agents of they have a full 15 or 16 man roster.  Heck, I wouldn't be so opposed to filing down the active roster from 12 to 10 players.   This would actually allow more of an opportunity for the HSers to play in the "minors".  If you only get 10 men on your're not going to waste it on a project.  So maybe Darko would have been playing somewhere in the NBDL rather than just modeling a warm-up suit.  And while he's sitting there.....Charles Oakley, and many other, are looking for a job. 

And if this seems like a naive idea.....think again.  Just look at this past draft.  Look at how many foreign players were taken.  Why??  Most of them will stay overseas and keep playing....developing their games.  All the while, they aren't taking a rosterspot away from anyone.  So everyone wins.  Many of the Euros would rather play a year or two before coming over to their NBA squad.  Some do come over anyways [like Darko].  American players don't have that option.

Think about it.  The NBA is the lone major sport that drafts guys....then don't play them in an effort to "develop them"???  Why have people on the bench if you aren't willing to use them??  The only other place that occurs is at NFL QB.  In the NFL, they may elect to have the rookie QB hold the clipboard for a season while a veteran starts.  This lets the QB learn the plays.  That isn't as difficult in the NBA.  So why have Darko Milicic sitting on the bench all season long???  What did he gain by this??  I'll bet they just "worked with him during practice".  To quote A.I......."we're talkin' 'bout practice!"  Could Darko learn these things playing for the Ashville Flight?? 

When the MLB drafts guys....they go immediately to the minor leagues and started working with their positional coaches.  Same thing in hockey.  Tennis playes start young.  As do gymmnsts.  Freddie Adu is a 14-yr old MLS player.  And, like I said about the NFL, the only position you could really just sit and not play is backup QB.  Any other roster spot will either get playing time at that position or special teams duty. 

And there are great examples all around.  Like, Jermaine O'Neal.  He barely played in Portland.  Hardly ever.  He goes to Indiana....starts.....and is one the NBA's elite players.  What if Portland could have sent him to a minor league team and he got the court time needed to improve his game??? 

Where would the Blazers be now?


It's hard to believe a guy named Dwight Howard, a person who most of us have never seen play, ends up as the #1 overall pick in the draft.  Oh, he could be great.....but when you are used to hearing familar names with familiar games like LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Shaq, Chris Webber and the's really hard to fathom that some guy we don't know is the top pick.

Again.....that doesn't mean much nowadays as the NBA Draft has moved from asking the question of "can this college kid build his game" to "will he be the guy that everyone wished they took 5 years ago". 

It really started in 1998 when the LA Clippers went against conventional wisdom and went for the project pick in Michael Olowokandi.  Kandi was a collegian.....played at Pacific.  But even college fans had barely heard much from him.  But, he was "the best big man in the draft" so the Clipps took him.  Look at some of these other names in the 1998 lottery:  #2 Mike Bibby, #4 Antawn Jamison, #5 Vince Carter, #9 Dirk Nowitzki, #10 Paul Pierce, #11 Bonzi Wells.  All pretty good players, right???  Heck, J-Will, Larry Hughes and Raef LaFrentz were also in that lottery.  But this darkhorse got so hot in the pre-draft murmurring that the Clips took the bait.

In the past 4 have been the top overall picks.  Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Yao Ming and Kwame Brown.  None stepped on a college court.  All were under 20 when drafted.  Of course, Yao is an All Star and LeBron will be one starting next year.  But, all of these people just dominated inferior competition on their way to the top pick.  And, besides LeBron, they all had questionmarks if they could actually play like a "overall #1 should".  This is where the word "up-side" comes to play. 

You don't want to be the one to miss out.  You don't want to be Milwaukee....who traded the draft rights of Dirk Nowitzki to Dallas for the rights to Tractor Traylor.  You don't want to be Golden State, who drafted Adonal Foyle the pick before T-Mac.  You don't want to be the ones who drafted Lorenzen Wright, Samaki Walker, Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller or Vitaly Potepenko.....all ahead of Kobe Bryant. 

So, that's why the Jonathan Benders, Darius Miles, Eddy Currys, Ty Chandlers and Kwame Browns get drafted so high.  We know what guys like Jameer Nelson can do.  But these guys could be sooooooo much better.  Right?

When I think of all of this....I think of Randy Livingston.  I think many guys think of Randy Livingston.  Randy was Mr. Everything coming out of high school.  Went to LSU....blew out his knees.  He's had a few cups of coffee in the League....but nothing to celebrate.  I'm sure agents use that imagery to get this kids jumping.  Heck, wouldn't Felipe Lopez been a lottery pick right out of high school??  He had a solid, not spectacular college career at St. John's.  He's had minor success in the NBA. 

And there have been horrible college picks too [read my other entry].  But I find the NBA Draft is just missing something when it is filled with faces no one knows......from places no one has heard of. 

It might as well have been the NHL Draft.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The 1994 NBA Draft

Tonight is the 2004 NBA Draft.  I'd thought it'd be fun to go back 10 years and look how the 1994 draft went down and what has become of the guys picked.  BTW, that was also the year of the Lakers lone lottery pick.....Eddie Jones at #10.

#1-Glen Robinson.  What a career this guy has had so far.  Just like his college one.  Yeah, he can score.  But he has no substance beyond that.  He was to be the cornerstone on a Bucks team that would eventually get Vin Baker, Terrell Brandon and Ray Allen.  Now they have none of that.....and the Big Dog has moved around a bit.

#2-Jason Kidd and #3 Grant Hill.  These were your co-Rookies Of The Year.  Both guys have taken different paths since then.  Kidd couldn't turn either the Dallas Mavericks or Phoenix Suns around.  But, once in Jersey....he's been to 2 of the past 3 NBA Finals.  Hill's story is well know.  The "next Jordan" did get his Pistons team back into the playoffs.  He left, via free agency, to go to Orlando where he was to join Tracy McGrady for the East's new dynasty.  But, injuries have pretty much ended his career.

LOTTERY DUDS.  Donyell Marshall, Sharone Wright, Eric Montross and Carlos Rogers.  Marshall still has an NBA career....but nothing of any note.  The rest all rode, quietly, into the sunset. 

#13-Jalen Rose, #15 Eric Piatkowski, #17 Aaron McKie, #18 Eric Mobley, #23 Wesley Person, #26 Charlie Ward.  All of these guys have had, at least, a solid NBA career.  Heck, Rose, Ward and McKie have all been in the NBA Finals.

#14 Yinka Dare.  Dare had 3 assists in his 3-year NBA career.  A project when drafted....he was dumped unceremoniously.  He passed away earlier this year. 

FIRST ROUNDERS WHO????  Cliff Rozier, Tony Dumas, BJ Tyler, Greg Minor and Brooks Thompson. 

AT LEAST THEY HAD SOME PT.  Monty Williams, Dickey Simpkins, Bill Curley,

SECOND ROUND GEMS.  #30 Howard Eisley, #46 Voshon Leonard, #51 Lawrence Funderburke.  All have lasted in the NBA.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Now, I know most of you have never heard of most of these guys in tomorrow's draft.  So here is a cliff notes version of these guys and who their games resemble....

Emeka Okafur - Ben Wallace with more offense

Dwight Howard - Kwame Brown [good or bad]

Luol Deng - Grant Hill with power

Shaun Livingston - Jason Kidd

Andre Iguodala - Paul Pierce's game and Sammy Sosa's face

Ben Gordon - Joe Dumars

Pavel Podkolzine - more athletic Gheorge Muresan

Devin Harris - Steve Francis

Andris Biedrins - Chris Bosh

Josh Childress - Antoine Walker who can defend

Josh Smith - Vince Carter

Sergei Monya - Dan Marjele

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Reports have it that the Orlando Magic will trade Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Andrew Declerq and Tyronn Lue to the Houston Rockets for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato.

Exactly, why would Orlando do this? 

Granted, talent wise this isn't a bad deal.  Orlando gets a nice backcourt and an pretty good defensive center.  They give up T-Mac [who didn't want to be there], Howard [which lets Gooden and their #1 selection have more minutes], Declerq and Lue.

For Houston....they still will have a great guard.  A bigger guard who can score from everywhere on the court.  He, also, won't have a problem dumping it into Yao Ming.  McGrady will get out of Orlando and all the trimmings of being on the NBA's worst team.

And they may stay that way.  After all....aren't the Magic just getting a version of the 2000 Rockets??  I mean, what exactly did Francis and Mobley do before Yao, or even Van Gundy, got there??  Sure, they could win the Southeast division....but only Miami is really any threat.  And they could lose some pieces to their puzzle.  Francis will give them scoring.....but can't get the numbers McGrady put up over the past 2 seasons as the NBA's leading scorer.  Oh, yeah.....and he's said that he's not thrilled to be going to Orlando.  That's always a plus.  Just ask the Grizzlies about that. 

By the way.  Don't underestimate the little deal that went down today between the Bobcats and Clippers.  The Clippers traded down to the #4 spot and gave Charlotte the #2 spot.....if Charlotte agrees to take Drobnjak in the expansion draft.  What this deal down is create money in an effort to lure Kobe Bryant to the other Staples Center dressing room.  Not just does Drobjnak's contract go off the Clipper books......but the money used to spend on the #2 pick in the draft will go away.  Not much....because the Clipps have the #4 pick.  But, look for LA to make yet another deal.  They guys they are targeting could still be around in the 7-10 range.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Re-do This Interleague Play Thing

I sorta, kinda like interleague play a little bit. 

I mean, it is neat to see certain historic teams go at it.  It is neat to see the Dodgers-Yankees play.  I like the regional matchups.  I liked to see what Bonds could do staring at Pesky's Pole.

But, of course you also get Royals-Pirates series as well.  Also, with players switching leagues so freely.....there isn't much luster to certain players in certain ballparks.  And, aside from stuff like LA-NY....we've seen all of this before.

So let's move on.

Okay.  Let's keep these territorial games.  New York.  Chicago.  LA area.  Ohio.  Missouri.  Just get rid of all of the other crap.   Also, I've never understood why all of the interleague games needed to be held all at once? 

Here ya go.  Take one of the NL teams back to the AL....and have six 5-team divisions.  Yeah, that's 15 teams per league.   So one team gets left out every series.  Well, match up the interleague rivals so that they have their series when they are "left out" of their league games.  That means, twice a week.....there would be a different interleague series.  That series would get the "interleague stage" all to itself....and you'd guarantee something special pretty much every week.

EAST:  Mets, Braves, Marlins, Phillies and Washington
CENTRAL:  Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates
WEST:  Dodgers, Giants, Astros, Rockies and Padres

EAST:  Red Sox, Yankees, Devil Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles
CENTRAL:  Twins, Indians, Tigers, Royals and White Sox
WEST:  Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Athletics and Angels

Mets-Yankees, Braves-Red Sox, Marlins-Devil Rays, Washington-Orioles, Phills-Blue Jays, Cubs-Cardinals, Reds-Indians, Astros-Rangers, Cardinals-Royals, Pirates-Tigers, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-Athletics, Rockies-Mariners, Brewers-Twins and Diamondbacks-Padres.

The shame of it is moving Arizona to the American League.....especially after they've already won a World Series.  But, it has been talked about since the D-Backs came into the league.  For interleague's sake [and seniority], I moved Arizona over to the AL so they'd have yet another western team...which they are short on.  The other problem was moving Houston to the West.  Well, remember, from 1969-1993 the Astros WERE in the National League West with the Dodgers, Padres, Giants and Rockies.  Not only that, but with Texas in the AL doesn't do too much damamge to the MLB map. 

And if you still must have those Yankees-Dodgers matchups here in there.....then they could still have a few series per year on a rotating basis.  Maybe two other teams every year??  That way, every NL team will play every AL team every 7 years.  Enough time for it to seem nostalgic....yet not to long where generations go by without seeing those teams.

I mean, in the NFL, John Elway and Dan Marino never battled each other in a game....yet they were in the same conference. 

So, maybe this new interleague process could take place....and we'd still all have those rabid rivals....and then a few teams stop in every once in a while.

Now....on to the Twins-Expos series..............

LAKER FANS: We're Not Used To This!!!

This goes out to all us Laker fans.....and those smacking us around for going berserk during this offseason [which is only a week old].

We are not used to this.  We're not.  I'm not talking about retooling the team.....which we are vaguely familiar with.  I'm talking about our SUPERSTARS leaving.  This just doesn't happen.

Think about it.  Magic Johnson retired a Laker.  Yeah, it was sudden in 1991....but we've never seen him in another NBA uniform.

James Worthy retired a Laker.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former Buck, never left the Lakers once he became one. 

Hell, Wilt Chamberlain retired a Laker.  Well traveled, he never left LA for another team.  Jerry West retired a Laker.  Elgin Baylor retired as a Laker.  Happy Hairston retired a Laker. 

Really, the last Laker great to leave LA was Gail Goodrich.....and he left twice. 

So, why wouldn't most Laker fans assume that Shaq and Kobe would be around in purple and gold forever??  Sure, it is very naive.....but that was the way we did business around here.  I mean.....players just don't "want" to leave.

So forgive some of us who don't know how to react to the recent news of possible defections.    Heck, I still can't imagine Shaq or Kobe anywhere else but as forgive me too.

LAKERS: Easy Directions....Tough Traveling

One of the great questions during the 2003-2004 Laker season was what would happen during the offseason.  Well, we all knew there would be changes.  We all knew that it could get ugly.  We all knew that the Lakers as we know them are that form. 

But, what the Lakers are going to do is actually pretty easy to map out.  But, there are so many forks in the road that you can get lost.  Here is how I figure it will all should occur:

If Phil stays...then Shaq is happy and Kobe is gone.  As much as we make of the Kobe/Shaq is the Kobe/Phil battle that really had quite the impact on the team.  Well, we know now that Phil will either move to the front office or sit a year then coach the Mavericks or Knicks in '05.  Now, this works in the favor of Kobe staying.  It also works against Shaq.  Shaq loved Phil because Phil's offensive philosophy of everything runs thru Shaq.  Now he is angry.  Well, the three names that are thrown around are Pat Riley, Herny Bibby and Rudy T.  Honestly, I think Rudy T is the perfect coach here....especially in a Kobe-led Laker franchise.  The last 4 coaches to win an NBA title are Larry Brown [just now], Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich and Rudy he should get the players' respect pretty quickly.

Obviously, Laker management believe it is Kobe.  I am a Shaq guy.....but I see the point of view here.  Kobe is much younger.  Kobe seems to have the hunger and make-up of a determined player.  Kobe, though expensive, is cheaper.  Shaq is in the downswing of his career.  Shaq is lazy.  And, most importantly, Shaq wants $30M a he is supposed to get next season.  Now, don't get me wrong, Shaq still is one HELL of a player and easily the toughest matchup in the NBA.  But, if the franchise is to move forward.......they cannot pay Shaq that kind of money down the road.  And it seems like that is something he has to have to stay in LA.

If Kobe is now "da man"....then the Lakers will now have to staff the roster accordingly.  And, if Shaq is to be traded, then he must be traded for something of value.  Don't dump Shaq for the heck of it.  Get something.  I know it is impossible to get full market value....but get something worth while. 

Fish, Payton and Malone can all opt out.  Payton will most likely stay.  Why?  Well, no one is going to give him the $5M that he will make nest year after his horrible playoff.  For Malone, it is a question of health.  For Fisher, it is a question of winning.  If the Lakers end up rebuilding and retooling their entire lineup and offense....then Fisher most likely will go elsewhere.

Again, it all seems pretty simple......but the road to get there will be very dark, bumpy and with many cliffs.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Great Laker Debate that the NBA season is over....the one thing that we Lakers fans didn't want to have to face is about to happen.

The offseason.

All year long, we knew that this offseason could get messy for our beloved Laker organization.  The entire roster could, in reality, change. 

Now, I'm not one to say that I am "in the know" and what I say will hold true.  But I think there are some pretty interesting theories to what could happen in LakerLand.

First off, there is a 99.99999% chance that Phil Jackson is gone.  The lone chance would be if the entire team, Kobe, Karl and Shaq, decide to go for it one last time to get Phil #10.  Yeah, I know.....fat chance.  The door is closed.....but it isn't locked.

The exodous of Phil seems to greatly improve the chances of Kobe Bryant staying in LA.  Not only would a new coach make Kobe happy......but a coach that Kobe Bryant will get a chance to help choose.  Dr. Buss wants Kobe back....and, I think, would be willing to let Kobe in on some of the personnel decisions.

One of those will be Shaq's extention.  Common sense says that if the Lakers sign Shaq long term to a big contract....then Kobe is gone.  Kobe knows that with both he and Shaq making big bucks that it will be difficult for the Lakers to sign anyone to help them out...which was painfully obvious this year.  If anything has been shown, it is the limited opportunities for the Lakers to actually make a move during the season. 

But if they don't sign Shaq to an extention....then it looks as if the organization chose Kobe over Shaq.....which is sure to anger the Big Diesel.  I think Shaq has the Magic on standby if something goes down that he doesn't like. 

One of which is Karl Malone retiring.  I think Shaq loved have the Mailman along side him in the front court.  A nice break from having to deal with guys liike Dunacn, Yao, etc all game. 

Well, look at it this way, guys.  The Lakers got over the Minneapolis era.  The got over the the losses of Elgin, Wilt, West, Kareem and Magic.  Not all were smooth transitions....but at least it wasn't long before they were on top again.

Just ask the Hawks, Nets, Wizards, Magic, Heat, Raptors, Pacers, Bucks, Cavs, Mavs, Rockets, Hornets, Grizzlies, Blazers, Sonics, Jazz, Nuggets, Wolves, Suns, Kings, Clippers and Warriors how hard it is to get to the top of the mountain.  Then ask the Bulls and Celtics how easy it is to get back there.


ESPN's 25th Birthday

I will turn 29 years old in a month.  So, I pretty much have lived my entire life in a world where ESPN was the "worldwide leader" in sports coverage. 

I remember Chris Berman on SportsCenter all of the time.  I remember Pete Axhelm [RIP] on NFL Game Day.  Back then, Barry Melrose was coaching and the face of the NHL on ESPN was Tom Mees [RIP]. 

I remember the days that ESPN 2 and ESPNews launched.  Jim Rome was on UpClose and Keith Olbermann was wearing a leather jacket.  I remember when they bought out Classic Sports Network and became ESPN Classic. 

I remember all of these things and much, much more.  But, with ESPN celebrating 25 is putting on a "Best Of...." everything you can possibly think of.  Oh,

Thank God I work 2nd shift.  Television pretty much is made up of reality series and ranking/nostagia shows.  VH1 has built it's network on "I Love The 80s", "100 Worst Songs" and the like.  Food Network has it's "Top 5".  And the Travel Channel has it's "World Best" [which, I'll admit, does draw my wife and I in on occassion].  Well, now ESPN is throwing its hat into the ring.

I don't mind going back and taking a look at the biggest moments in sports over the past 25 years.  But, do we need them ranked??  I mean, what was important to me may not be important to many other people.  I'm a Lakers obviously Laker Championships mean more to me than anything else in the NBA.

I saw the "Best 25 Teams" show tonight....and the 1998 Yankees were #1.  Great.  But, based on what??  Their record 125-50 season??  I mean, to me, the 1992 Dream Team was the best TEAM in sports over the past 25 years.  The best and most talent....dominant play....and an undefeated record.  The greatest moment in sports to me was the Miracle On Ice [I was only 4 when that happened....yet I get chills watching replays of it].  The point is in the eye of the beholder.

Don't get me wrong.  It is pretty neat and interesting to see stories and headlines from the past.  Heck, I forgot about some of them.  But saying the 1990 UNLV team was better than the Iowa Wrestling team does nothing for me.  Just run down the 25 teams that your people deem "the greatest"...just to give us a nostalgic look. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Disappointed At My Lakers [originally written prior to Game 5 with Detroit] could be the last day of the NBA season....and of our Lakers as we know them.  And that kind of relieves me.

I'm so disappointed with this team.  Even if they win the next 3 games, though I'd celebrate the championship like hell, this team still disappointed me.

First is painfully obvious that the additions made in the offseason have really done nothing.  Sure, there have been moments.  But last year, we were a team who couldn't guard at the PG and PF spots.  This year, we are a team who can't guard the PG and PF spots.  We cannot guard the pick and roll to save our life.  Our bench and role players have pretty much abandoned us.  So, what exactly changed from last year??

I'm disappointed with this entire season.  I'm not insanely upset about losing in the Finals.  The Pistons have whipped us bad.  They are a hell of a team.  You can't get upset when you are beaten.    But, the Lakers have done NOTHING to help themselves this year. 

You have the Kobe scandal which has put this HUGE cloud over the entire season.  Yeah, we won the games in which he had to go to Colorado first......but all that crap had to be distracting.  Not to mention his announcement to "test the free agent waters" after the season.

We've had that Kobe/Shaq "Star Wars" flame-up at the beginning of the season.  Gary Payton's sulking. 

And, geez....what a year Malone has had.  Not only did he make a big decision to take the pay-cut and come to LA......but he lost his mother, suffered the biggest injury of his career, had to deal with the crap that surrounds the Lakers, guard Yao Ming, Duncan, Garnett and Wallace in the playoffs,  and when the Finals come around.....the whole point of him being here.....he cannot play effectively due to an injury.

And these Finals???  If Fisher had not hit that shot.....the Lakers probably aren't here.  If Cassell plays in the WCF.....the Lakers are probably not here. 

I've been in this board for, something like 4 years.  I've been on AOL since 1994.  Heck I was on Prodigy when I was in college.  So, I've had those great battles defending my Lakers.  Those bad Threat/Ceballos/Van Exel teams.  Those growing Shaq/Kobe teams.  The 3-peat.  And now.  I'll defend my love for my team anytime.  But, love 'em.......I also am ashamed by them.  This team has acted like a spoiled brat all year.  And now, in the Finals, they are imploding by bickering with the referees and each other. 

And, no, I'm not saying this because they are down 3-1 in the Finals.  Again, there is no shame in getting beaten by a better team.  Heck, the fact that they are in the Finals is amazing with all the barriers the Lakers have built for themselves.  How in the heck did this team even win the Pacific Division???  How did we get out of the Western Playoffs?? 

If the Lakers can win the next 3 games......they will have been the antithesis of what Spurs fans were mouthing off about last year -  that the good guys get rewarded.  And don't give me that crap about "yeah, thats why the Pistons are winning".  The Pistons are made up of "good guys" either.  I mean, c'mon, the team started surging when they traded for Rasheed Wallace.  Billups once settled out of court with a woman who alleged he raped her.  Elden Campbell went thru the same ordeal.  But, all that is the past.  At least they are stepping up with their opportunity and taking what, seems like, has been their's all along.

End The "Dream Team"

Since its inception....I have always been in favor of the "Dream Team".  If other countries can send their professional players to the Olympics....we should too. 

But, the whole concept is being screwed.  No prominent American NBA players want anything to do with the Olympics.  Of course, unless they are played here. 

The best the USA has would include Shaq, Kobe, Garnett, Duncan, Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal, Jason Kidd and T-Mac.  Instead, Carlos Boozer is going to represent the red-white and blue. 

This is ridiculous.  Why even have basketball in the Olympics??  The whole concept has passed its prime.  Keep the Olympics to those sports no one cares about until the Games come around.  Track and field.  Swimming.  Diving.  Fencing.  Greco Roman wrestling.  Water polo.  Rowing. 

Why have tennis as an Olympic sport?  What is the difference in that and any other tournament??  Oh, aside from the paycheck.  No one gives a damn about Olympic soccer.  It is the World Cup that matters.

Which brings me to this.  Just have a World Cup for basketball.   I know we have the World Championships.  Well, expand that out and make it the "World Cup".  Make a huge deal out of it.  Get all the countries you can to participate.  The one neat thing about soccer's World how it celebrates the game of soccer.  I hate soccer....yet I get a little caught up in it when the World Cup comes around. 

Baseball is attempting to have a World Cup....which would be brilliant if they could stage it in the offseason.  Yeah, I know......offseason is winter-time.  Well, aren't there enough domed stadiums in the USA to still have this??  Plus, you can still play ball in Miami, Phoenix and Los Angeles during the winter. 

Just have these NBAers play in a hoops World Cup.  And make sure everyone shows up.  Make it worth their while.  Then let the "amatuers" form every country battle in the Olympics.

Or else we'll start seeing guys on NBA's injured reserve on the "Dream Team".


I want to throw out a congrats to the Pistons fans for their complete domination of my beloved Lakers.  I had has been a good while since I've seen a team just rip apart the Lakers in the playoffs.

Billups deserves the MVP.  He affected everything that was happening on the floor.  His defense.  His pushing the ball up on the break.  His shooting.  His ability to know when to hurry and when to slow it up.  He was a matchup nightmare for the Lakers. 

Congrats to Larry Brown....a Carolina guy.....who totally outcoached Phil Jackson.  Brown prepared his team to the fullest....and kept working on their confidence.  The mere choice to let Shaq do whatever he wanted and concentrate on stopping Kobe was pretty much genius....and TOTALLY against the grain of what most teams choose to do.  He figured that the Laker role players aren't good enough to get their own all he really wanted to do was make sure Kobe didn't go off.  The one time Kobe did....the Lakers came back then won in overtime. 

Congrats to Ben of the best stories in the NBA.  In a league where guys who haven't done anything get mega-huge contracts and publicity......Ben worked his way into the league and worked his way into an All Star player. 

Congrats to Rip Hamilton.  It is obvious why Jordan would choose to deal him...since he impeded on Jordan's ability to get minutes.  Heck, didn't the Wizards/Bullets have Sheed, Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton in their franchise??? 

Congrats to Sheed....another Carolina guy.  Before this series, Sheed has had to most history against the Lakers.  And, for once, he got the better of them. 

Congrats to Elden Campbell.  A former Laker and Charlotte was nice to see Easy get a ring. 

Again, that was one HECK of a beat-down.  Congrats to the Champions!

Monday, June 14, 2004

All Star Games

I have always been one to defend the fans voting for the All Star Game.  It's supposed to be a "dream game" for the fans to see their favorite players compete in an exhibition game.

I'm starting to change my stance.

Nomar Garciaparra is the leading vote-getter for shortstop in the American League.  His current stat line is 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 hits, 2 runs.....and he just started his season a monthe before the All Star Game.

Normally, I'm like, "whatever...that is just the quirks of the system".   Well, now Games 1 and 7 of the World Series are decided by this game.  So we don't need the fans to vote for squat.

FAN #! votes for everyone on his team.  What in the hell is the point?  Go to one of your team's games if you want to see them play. 

FAN #2 votes for the famous players.  You know, like in the Nomar case.  A lot of these people have never heard of Michael Young to care to vote for him.

Again, I used to not have a problem with any of that.  But, with 16 National League cannot afford to have dumb selections on there.  Since every team must be represented, 16 slots are already taken.  Nomar's election to the AL team would mean that a spot that went to another player is gone.  Because there HAS to be a Devil Ray, a Royal and a Mariner on that team.......there is 3 more spots gone.

*Here is an easy solution.  Instead of having EVERYONE on the ballot [and handing them out after one week of play].....hand out the ballot at the beginning of June.  Figure the top 5 guys at each position [15 for outfield]......and have the fans vote from there.  That way, the starters would be picked from a much smaller pile.  Plus that would elimintate the "Ralph Nader votes" [people who vote for the hometown team instead of actually using it correctly] and make the real contenders have a nice voting race.

*Or, keep the voting as is.  But, the fans only voted these guys on the team.  After the coaches select the rest of the players....then the manager can look over his roster, and choose his starting lineup. 

*Just have the winning league in the "Home Run Derby" get the home Game 7 of the World Series. 

Either way, it could help eliminate a relief pitcher from the Brewers deciding where Game 7 of the Series will be played.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Game 7 Of The Stanley Cup Finals

Tonight is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  Watch it.

I know hockey fans will watch it.  But everyone should watch it.  There are few things better in sports than a Game 7 in the championship round.  And there are few Game 7s better than a hockey one.

I'm one of those "fringe" hockey fans.  I cannot stand the regular season.  To me, it is meaningless.  You got to wade thru ties and overtime losses and all of that crap.  But I love playoff hockey.  The defense really clamps down.  The goalies really clamp down.  And you can ride a hot goalie a long way in the playoffs [just ask the 2003 Ducks]. 

But Game 7 is the ultimate.  One little mistake can cost you.  A turnover in the neutral zone.  Slipping on the ice.  Getting caught to deep on the offensive end.  Bumping into your own guy.  Anything could give the other team just enough of an opening to score.  And you may not be able to recover.

Sure, a bad pitch can end your season quickly in baseball [right, Wakefield?].  And overtime rules in football may not allow you an offensive try in overtime.  But in hockey, a dumb penalty early in the game could lose it for you.  Again, ask the Flames in Game 4.  And early penalty lead to a power play goal...which turned out to be the lone goal of the game. 

I remember a playoff game in....i don't know....1995??  Some year.  Anyway, it was the Red Wings and Blues.  Game 7.  Three overtimes.  And there were some great chances during the game.  Great scoring opportunities that were denied by stellar goal tending plays.  Steve Yzerman had the puck approaching the blue line....and the Wings were going to make a line change.  He just fired a shot in to buy some time....and it snuck thru.  The Wings advanced...and just like that...the Blues season was over.

And my love for playoff hockey began.

Watch this game.

Thursday, June 3, 2004


The Los Angeles Lakers are in the NBA Finals.....and are odds on favorites to win the NBA title.

So, of course, fans of the other 28 NBA teams cry about the NBA "wants" the Lakers to win because of ratings....which equal sponsorhips....which equal big TV contracts....which equal money for the NBA.  The NBA, apparantly, is a big puppet show with David Stern pushing the strings.

The great complaint is that David Stern loves the big markets and steps on "the little guy".  Please, guys, stop being so blind. 

Before Stern took over...the same teams were in the Finals every year.  From 1980-1987....these teams were in the Finals:  Celtics, Lakers, Rockets and Sixers.  That is it.  Four teams ate up all 16 of the Finals births in that time frame.  

In 1988....the NBA expanded to small market Charlotte and a sketchy sports market in Miami.  Remember, at that time, the only Miami sport was football [Phins and Canes].  The next season, Minneapolis and Orlando got teams.  The NBA expanded into Canada 6 years later.....Toronto and Vancouver.  And since Stern took over, Memphis, New Orleans and Sacramento all gained relocated franchises. 

Also, cities like Orlando, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, San Antonio and Portland all made it to the NBA Finals.  Former ABA teams [Nets, Pacers and Spurs] have been in the Finals in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.    Sure, sure....cities like Los Angeles and Chicago have won 9 of the last 13 NBA championships...but those teams also had the NBA's premier player at that time. 

So, if Stern was manipulating the playoffs....wouldn't the Knicks have done a little better than a 1st round sweep??  And wouldn't Stern have found a way to sneak LeBron in the playoffs??  Wouldn't the Clippers have a little better luck?  Wouldn't Chicago's turnaround....already happened??  Wouldn't the first round been stretched out a little better?? 

Yeah, a Minnesota-Indiana Finals wouldn't do much rating-wise.  Heck, just look at the Stanley Cup Finals with Calgary and Tampa.  Nowadays, you can't make people watch two other teams battle for the ring while theirs sits at home.  For them, it's baseball season or gearing up for football season.  If the Lakers would have missed the intrest would wane as well.