Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brandon Jennings Is a Breath of Fresh Air

This Brandon Jennings story is one of my favorite little dust-ups on the web. It just shows how things have changed over the years.

For most of Jennings' recent controversial conversations with rapper Joe Budden, get up to speed here.

A couple of things before I start up: I don't agree with Jennings assessment of a lot of what he said in his coversation. I do think Jennings runs his mouth just to run his mouth. That's what he does. And like he says about Rubio, Jennings is also all hype. He's done nothing in anyone's eyes other than showing up late to the NBA Draft (which I don't know why people are pissing on that) and his beef with Rubio.

However, don't hate on the man for telling you how he really feels. Oliver Stone brought this up to Bill Maher the other night (yeah, I'm a Republican that watches Maher) that people thirst for public figures to say what they really feel instead of the persona they want to portray. However, when we get the raw, uncut view ... we lash out.

While I don't really agree with Jennings, I'm fine with what he said. He doesn't lack confidence and should expect to be the starter for Milwaukee next season. That's his swagger. Also, I'm fine with how he dogs Rubio to a degree. I think he's wrong, but Jennings has a perspective that many other people don't -- he actually played against the cat in a game and carved him up. I can understand Jennings' ego when it comes to this (would anyone fault DeJuan Blair if he came out and said "how is Hasheem Thabeet the No. 2 pick in the draft when I owned his butt twice?").

Jennings just needs to know that what he says can make people turn on you. When you are willing to be raw, there may be people out there that won't like it. And in 2009 and beyond, you have absolutely nothing under radar. I mean, this was a web show from a rapper ... not ESPN. You would think that it wouldn't get out much but this is a different time where idiots like me can feel like part of the "media".

However, if Jennings doesn't care what people say (judging by his hiding from the Draft until after he was drafted, he does), he can just be that guy who says what he feels and to hell with anyone who doesn't like it.

Sixers Display Their New Old Logo

One of the things that kind of went under the radar happened when the Sixers selected Jrue Holiday with the 17th pick. When the pick was made, the graphic at the bottom of ESPN had the Philadelphia 76ers new logo.

As you can see, it really isn't a new logo. Instead, they brought back the Sixers' best logo from the past. From 1997, they have had the logo of the gold "Sixers" writing. Before that was the logo you see above. I love it!

USA's Upset of Brazil Falls Short ... and I Still Don't Care

I'm not going to front: I don't like soccer. Yeah, I can watch it from time to time when the World Cup rolls around. Maybe a minute here or there, but not much more. I don't like soccer.

So I'm kind of glad that the USA didn't beat Brazil today in the Something-something Final. If we won, everyone would have predicted that this is the time that soccer starts to get some roots in the States.


They said that in 1994 when the World Cup was held in the United States and it didn't happen. They said it after the 1999 women's World Cup when Brandi Chastain threw off her shirt in victory and it didn't happen. They said that when David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy and it didn't happen. And it won't happen now.

We, as a nation, don't give a crap about soccer ... and that's fine.

Most of the world doesn't care about baseball. None of the world really cares about football. And there are a few countries out there that could care less about basketball. It's fine. I don't care about cricket, either.

That isn't to say that soccer has no place here. It certainly does. There are plenty of Americans that love the game and plenty of people of foreign decent that live for the game. But that's where it will stay regardless of what the United States soccer team does on the national stage.

Timberwolves Should Hold Onto Their Guns With Rubio

I'm a big Ricky Rubio fan and have said on this blog that I think he will become the biggest star of the 2009 NBA Draft. However, I've lost some respect for him in the way he's handling the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him.

Okay, I get that foreign players wanna go to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami. Those are America's sexy NBA cities. But if Rubio actually checked out the draft order, he would have known that none of those destinations would occur for him.

When the lottery order was announced, the No. 1 pick went to the LA Clippers. Now, who really wants to be a Clipper? Okay, it still is Los Angeles but you are second class citizens there. And even if you are cool with that, you knew that they wanted Blake Griffin all along and you knew that that opportunity wouldn't happen.

Here are the next teams selecting: Memphis, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. All those are smaller than Minneapolis. If you really thought you were a top five pick, you probably figured that one of these teams were going to take you. Yet you still put your name in the draft.

Maybe you figured that Washington wanted you. Washington is a cool city that can get you some pub. But did you really think the Wizards would've taken you at that No. 5 spot? They've only spent a gazillion dollars on Agent Zero and actually feel that they have a shot at making some noise this season.

Of course, the Wizards dealt the pick to Minnesota ... all but assuring that Rubio wouldn't last past either of the Wolves' No. 5 or No. 6 picks.

People look at what the Wolves did as dumb. They drafted Rubio despite knowing that he'd pull this crap. They then drafted Jonny Flynn who plays the same position as Rubio. Later, the drafted a third point guard in Ty Lawson. In the second round, they took yet another point guard in Nick Calathas. Both Lawson and Calathas were dealt for future picks.

I like Minnesota's draft. They get Flynn to be their point guard of the future, Rubio as a trading chip, Wayne Ellington as their sharp-shooter and they basically deferred a first round and second round pick until next year ... which will be a much deeper draft.

So I want them to stand firm on Rubio. They'll listen to offers but ... with the selection of Flynn ... they aren't pressured into getting Rubio in camp. Rubio knew that there was a good chance to pull this crap of "I don't wanna go to a small market", but that's not Minnesota's problem. We don't need this to get like baseball and having teams scared to select players that may not want to be there.

Eventually, the Wolves will deal Rubio away to New York or Houston or Dallas for a player and/or some draft picks. But I would hope they'll get very fair value.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ranking the No. 3 Picks in the Lottery Era

We all know who was the greatest No. 3 pick ever was: Michael Jordan. But that was 1984 in the pre-lottery era. So who were the top No. 3 picks in the last 24 years?

24-Chris Washburn, Warriors (1986)
23-Darius Miles, Clippers (2000)
22-Adam Morrison, Bobcats (2006)
21-Dennis Hopson, Nets (1987)
20-Raef LaFrentz, Nuggets (1998)
19-Charles Smith, Clippers (1988)
18-Benoit Benjamin, Clippers (1985)
17-Mike Dunleavy, Warriors (2002)
16-Chris Jackson, Nuggets (1990)
15-Billy Owens, Kings (1991)
14-Al Horford, Hawks (2007)
13-Christian Laettner, Wolves (1992)
12-Shareef Abdur Rahim, Grizzlies (1996)
11-Ben Gordon, Bulls (2004)
10-Jerry Stackhouse, Sixers (1995)
9-Sean Elliot, Spurs (1989)
8-O.J. Mayo, Timberwolves (2008)
7-Penny Hardaway, Warriors (1993)
6-Baron Davis, Hornets (1999)
5-Grant Hill, Pistons (1994)
4-Chauncey Billups, Celtics (1997)
3-Pau Gasol, Hawks (2001)
2-Deron Williams, Jazz (2005)
1-Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets (2003)

This was a difficult list. For one, my top two selection haven't won a ring. But Gasol and Billups have. But Melo is the best player on this list. He came in the league on fire and has kept it there. He was the leading scorer on the redeem team and has turned the Nuggets into a perennial playoff team.

None of these players have won an MVP award. Billups did win a Finals MVP and has been the model of professionalism over the past couple of years. But dude didn't come in the league like that and kinda was an afterthought.

And like all my lists thus far, it's hard to gauge the newer picks across history. I know O.J. Mayo hasn't done anything more than Sean Elliot or Jerry Stackhouse, but I think that the actual selection will be better in the long run.

NBA Early Entrants That Should Have Stayed In School

The NBA Draft has come and gone and everyone is assessing the damage. Who are the winners? Who are the losers? Who fits well and who could surprise?

Well, there was also the guys who weren't selected in either round of the draft. Some of those cats left school early and saw their dreams dashed. Here is a list of some of the ones who should've stayed on campus for at least one more year:

-Brandon Costner, NC State: No one believed he was NBA-ready but he was tired of getting mis-used at State. So much so that he rather toil in Europe than go through his senior season. Well, he'll get that chance.

-Eric Devendorf, Syracuse: Devendorf had worn out his welcome at the 'Cuse but he still could have come back for a last hurrah before his stint in the lower level leagues.

-Paul Harris, Syracuse: Another pre-mature entrant from Syracuse.

-Terrence Roderick, UAB: Um, why did he leap to the NBA?

-Nate Miles, So. Idaho: Remember that Miles got in some trouble at UConn because of his ties with an agent. He ended up in Idaho for his freshman season. Interesting that no one was even thinking of drafting Miles ... yet dude had an agent all these years.

-Kareem Cooper, UTEP: Another guy that either overvalued himself or just hated going to class.

Now, I know that people are putting DeJuan Blair in this category. Yeah, he dropped in the draft like a rock but I wouldn't say that him leaving was a complete mistake. He'll have a good shot to latch on with the Spurs (who drafted him in the 2nd round) and get his payday a lot earlier than he would if he was a first rounder. Also, do you think any of the concerns teams had about him would have gone away if he played another year or two at Pitt?

Ranking the No. 2 Picks in the Lottery Era

24-Len Bias, Celtics (1986)
23-Jay Williams, Bulls (2002)
22-Stromile Swift, Grizzlies (2000)
21-Darko Milicic, Pistons (2003)
20-Shawn Bradley, Sixers (1993)
19-Danny Ferry, Clippers (1989)
18-Michael Beasley, Heat (2008)
17-Marvin Williams, Hawks (2005)
16-Keith Van Horn, Sixers (1997)
15-Kenny Anderson, Nets (1991)
14-Antonio McDyess, Clippers (1995)
13-LaMarcus Aldridge, Bulls (2006)
12-Tyson Chandler, Clippers (2001)
11-Armon Gilliam, Suns (1987)
10-Emeka Okafor, Bobcats (2005)
9-Mike Bibby, Grizzlies (1998)
8-Wayman Tisdale, Pacers (1985)
7-Steve Francis, Grizzlies (1999)
6-Rik Smits, Pacers (1988)
5-Marcus Camby, Raptors (1996)
4-Kevin Durant, Sonics (2007)
3-Alonzo Mourning, Hornets (1992)
2-Gary Payton, Sonics (1990)
1-Jason Kidd, Mavericks (1994)

Ranking the Overall No. 1 Picks in the Lottery Era

24-Michael Olowokandi, Clippers (1998): To me, he's the worst top pick in the history of the draft. No one heard of him until just before the draft and no one has heard from him since.

23-Pervis Ellison, Kings (1989): He was Olowokandi a decade earlier.

22-Kwame Brown, Wizards (2001): The main reason why there is an age limit now.

21-Andrew Bogut, Bucks (2005): Has potential but no one sees him play.

20-Andrea Bargnani, Raptors (2006): Still a bit raw.

19-Greg Oden, Blazers (2007): Hasn't lived up to the hype, but he still is young and just finished his rookie season after having microfracture surgery.

18-Joe Smith, Warriors (1995): He never was a star, but he is still in the league as a role player.

17-Danny Manning, Clippers (1988): Injuries derailed his career.

16-Kenyon Martin, Nets (2000): K-Mart was a force before his knees gave out on him.

15-Derrick Rose, Bulls (2008): Just one year in but he looks like he can be a mega star.

14-Elton Brand, Bulls (1999): The Bulls' other top pick has had his moments but hasn't been able to be a winner yet.

13-Larry Johnson, Hornets (1991): His career only lasted a decade but he was a big part of the Hornets surge and a Knicks Finals team.

12-Glen Robinson, Bucks (1994): People forget that he averaged 20 ppg for his career.

11-Derrick Coleman, Nets (1990): That's Coleman for ya. He'd be up a bit farther if he actually cared to.

10-Brad Daugherty, Cavaliers (1986): Another short career due to back problems. Still, he led the Cavs during their pre-LeBron hey-day.

9-Chris Webber, Warriors (1993): We are reaching the borderline Hall of Fame players now.

8-Dwight Howard, Magic (2004): He has a lot to learn, but he is extremely young and seems to be on the right path.

7-Yao Ming, Rockets (2002): Injuries have killed him but his importance has been on the globalization of the game.

6-Patrick Ewing, Knicks (1985): The first definite Hall of Famer. The O.G. of lottery picks.

5-David Robinson, Spurs (1987): He dominated the league like few players have.

4-Allen Iverson, Sixers (1996): He may be pound for pound the best scorer in league history.

3-LeBron James, Cavaliers (2003): His ceiling places him above some of the others.

2-Tim Duncan, Spurs (1997): Four rings, two MVPs.

1-Shaquille O'Neal, Magic (1992): He may be the best player selected in the lottery era.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Which Draft Pick Could Be Traded Soon?

The draft isn't even 24 hours old and there are already as many trade rumors today as there were during the draft. So who could be on the move?

RICKY RUBIO, TIMBERWOLVES: Now Rubio says he may just stay in Spain instead of going to Minnesota, yah? Not cool. If you apply for the draft, deal with who picks you. However, it appears that the Wolves knew this could happen which makes drafting Jonny Flynn much more sensible. Rubio wants to go to a big market, but none of them (aside from the Knicks) need him. Maybe they think that Boston would be willing to talk trade for Rondo and some change?

STEPHEN CURRY, WARRIORS: Everyone said that G-State loved Curry, but it doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. Still, rumors are swirling that Curry could be part of a package sent to Phoenix for Amare Stoudamire. After all, Curry never worked out for the Warriors and didn't plan on being there.

TYLER HANSBROUGH, PACERS: It was a surprise to many that Indiana took Psycho T. Larry Bird admits that several teams have contacted him about dealing for him. It could make sense since Chicago really likes him and has another Roy Williams guy, Kirk Hinrich, to dangle at them. Still, Bird also said that he plans on keeping Hansbrough.

Chad Ochocinco on MJ's Death: "Sad as 9/11"

I don't do Twitter because I accept the fact that no one really gives a crap about what I'm doing hour to hour. Needless to say, I don't value the opinions of too many other people that I feel the need to subscribe to their tweets.

The reasoning is this: Chad Ochocinco.

Chad tweeted that the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett "is just as sad as 9/11." Um, what? It isn't even on the realm of being as sad as 9/11. See, everyone dies at some point and while it's sad that Jackson and Fawcett have both succumbed to illnesses it doesn't even register to the thousands of people who lost their lives when planes were crashing in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

To Chad's credit, he did back off that a bit: "The 9/11 was a bit over the top, i am just in an emotional state right now, bare with me while i regroup people, be back in 10 minutes." But Chad should know that with the reach of Twitter, those kinds of emotional comments can really sting.

What a Wild NBA Draft Day!

I love the NBA Draft more than any other sport's draft. It moves swiftly, the guys are recognizable and it's rarely watered down.

The 2009 NBA Draft day may not be best remembered for the 60 guys who were actually drafted but for the span of major stars moving in deals. Vince Carter to Orlando? Shaq to Cleveland? Maybe Amare Stoudamire to Golden State? Those deals may amount to more than what actually happened inside Madison Square Garden.

Still, there are things to talk about.

A SUBDUED NIGHT: With Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both dying earlier in the day, the draft had a weirder feel than usual. None of the draftees were around with "Thriller" ran the world and most may remember the gloved one more like "Wacko Jacko" than the "King of Pop". But for the players, coaches, fans and personnel who were old enough to remember when Jackson was on top, this was a very, very sad day.

TIMBERWOLVES GET THE POINT: As I predicted in my mock draft, Ricky Rubio would be available to Minnesota at that No. 5 spot. There was no surprise that he went there, but it was a mild shock that they also grabbed Johnny Flynn. If you were going for a second point guard, why not Stephen Curry? Later on in the first round, they shocked everyone by picking Ty Lawson. The jaws that were dropped found their way back off the mat when it was revealed that Lawson would be heading to the Denver Nuggets.

SPEAKING OF CAROLINA GUYS ... : I'm proud that four UNC Tar Heels were drafted -- three in the first round. I was mildly shocked that the Indiana Pacers selected Tyler Hansbrough. Psycho T will bring his work ethic to the Pacers and won't be relied on to be more than a role player at first. I was extremely shocked when the Wolves took Ty Lawson. Since he's being sent to Denver, I love that opportunity for him. Denver likes the fast pace that Lawson provides. Minnesota did keep Wayne Ellington. Ellington isn't Mike Miller, but since Miller was dealt earlier it opens up a spot for Ellington. And Danny Green takes his jack-of-all-trades game to Cleveland. Happy days!

DAVID STERN IS A PIMP: I know people love to smack on David Stern, but he's the one commish who actually gets it. He knows how to market his league and he knows his place in it. He's like the ringmaster at the circus who loves being the guy who MCs the show. He genuinely seems to really care about these kids' huge moment and wants them to have the best time possible.

BUT HE'S NOT TOO BIG OF A PIMP: Sorry, but I have no respect for anyone that still lives by those NBA conspiracy theories. Has this been a downer couple of months for the NBA marketing team? First they don't get the Kobe-LeBron Finals they craved, they also didn't get Kevin Garnett and lost Yao Ming along the way. Now they watch the overwhelming best player of the draft get stuck with the Clippers, the buzzworthy Ricky Rubio stuck up in Minnesota and Stephen Curry to Golden State and not New York.

RICKY RUBIO: I'm in that camp that thinks Rubio will be an NBA star. But I guess this is the first time I've heard him speak. Dude sounds like a 14-year old kid with a peach fuzz stache and growing pains.

NEW YORK CROWD: I really didn't appreciate the crowd this year. I know that NYC is a tough place, but I think they really made the draft uncomfortable to watch. Stephen Curry's moment was ruined when the crowd booed the pick ... because it wasn't their Knicks picking him. Of course New York picked next and selected Jordan Hill. Hill, I think, will be a nice player and it was messed up that they ruined his moment by booing him. When the Pacers selected Tyler Hansbrough, the crowd chanted "over-rated". More on that in a second.

TYLER HANSBROUGH'S NOT "OVER-RATED": Like I was telling a buddy of mine the other day, what all-time ACC player wouldn't want to trade college careers with Hansbrough? The only name that came to mind was Christian Laettner. Maybe he won't have an All-Star NBA career but he should be a solid player for 12-15 years.

NORTH CAROLINA (THE STATE) DID WELL TOO: The state of North Carolina flexed its hoops muscle on Thursday night. Not only did four UNC players (Hansbrough, Lawson, Ellington and Green) get drafted, but Davidson's Stephen Curry, Duke's Gerald Henderson, Wake Forest's James Johnson and Jeff Teague and VCU guard, Fayetteville native and unabashed Duke hater Eric Maynor.

HENDERSON TO CHARLOTTE: This is just funny. I mean, it's a good pick, but Henderson better pay off! Charlotte is a Carolina blue town and the Bobcats are where Tar Heels go to retire. The managing partner, Michael Jordan, went to UNC. So did head coach Larry Brown and a couple of his assistants. Raymond Felton and Sean May went to UNC. And every single Tar Heel fan out there knows that Henderson was the guy that cheap shotted Hansbrough. You think those practices won't be intense?

THE ACC (AND ROY WILLIAMS) HAD A BIG NIGHT: The ACC cranked out 7 of the 30 first round picks. Roy Williams looked the best as potential recruits sat and watched four of his Heels get drafted. Coach K got the first ACC pick of the night in Henderson. And let's see how Wake Forest keeps going after watching Johnson and Teague go.

NO MORE VITALE: I don't know why ESPN goes on with this charade of Dick Vitale at the NBA Draft. Who cares about his opinion? Yeah, he knows a ton of college basketball stuff, but he doesn't understand what NBA teams are looking for. I lost a lot of respect for him a few years ago when he kept on and on about how J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison were going to be NBA stars and we were all foolish not to think so. Mmmmkay.

THEY MAY AS WELL JUST PICKED FROM A HAT: The weird thing about this draft is that it was deemed very weak. By "weak" it means that there really aren't going to be too many stars from this class and there will be more guys who flame out. So it really seems as if this would have gone better if they just had every team pull a name out of a hat and that was the guy you drafted.

ALLOW TRADES!!!: The NBA puts a gag order of sorts on trades during the draft. So instead of us seeing this trades before the picks, we have to try to sort through the parade of deals that clutter the draft. I mean, who went where for what? The second round looks like stereo instructions with all the deals.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My NBA Mock Draft

#1-CLIPPERS: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma. A no brainer since they've wanted him from the get-go.

#2-GRIZZLIES: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wolves trade up to take either Thabeet or Rubio. Thabeet gives Memphis a legit center and will form a tough frontcourt with Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay.

#3-THUNDER: James Harden, Arizona State. I'm pretty sure that Rubio may get picked here, but I think the Thunder will surprise us with Harden as the pick. Drafting Rubio doesn't make sense when they already have Russell Westbrook. Harden, along with Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green form a very nice nucleus of talent.

#4-KINGS: Stephen Curry, Davidson. Another semi-surprise. The Kings need a point guard badly and while there may be better pure points out there (Rubio), none have the star power of Curry. And right now, Sacramento needs to get butts in the seats.

#5-WOLVES: Ricky Rubio, Spain. Minnesota wants Rubio and many think they may package this pick along with the No. 6 pick to Memphis for the No. 2 and select the young point guard. I'm not so sure that's a good idea because Rubio could easily fall in their laps at No. 5. Even if he didn't, there is plenty to look at.

#6-WOLVES: Tyreke Evans, Memphis. Yeah, Evans is technically a point guard and I just had Minnesota drafting Rubio. But Evans is more of a scoring guard and could be used as such.

#7-WARRIORS: Jordan Hill, Arizona. Golden State needs some help inside and Hill fits that perfectly. He's athletic enough to keep with Don Nelson's philosophy.

#8-KNICKS: Jrue Holiday, UCLA. This one is tough since the Knicks never do what you think they will do. With no Curry here, Holiday seems to be the choice. An exciting combo type guard.

#9-RAPTORS: DeMar DeRozan, USC. He's a gifted wing player and fills a huge need for Toronto. He still needs to learn, but he showed last year at USC that he's willing to work hard and get results.

#10-BUCKS: Johnny Flynn, Syracuse. This is a wildcard pick. Milwaukee has a lot of roster decisions still. Flynn could fill a need if Milwaukee doesn't think they can re-sign Ramon Sessions.

#11-NETS: Terrence Williams, Louisville. Williams is moving up the draft boards after some impressive workouts in Charlotte. Williams gives the Nets a smooth shooter and a guy that can do so much on the court. It also allows them to ship Vince Carter out of town.

#12-BOBCATS: Gerald Henderson, Duke. I love Henderson's athleticsm, but he isn't as consistent as I'd like him to be. Still, he fills a big gap in Charlotte.

#13-PACERS: Brandon Jennings, Italy. Indiana needs point guard help badly. It's a toss up between Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague and Eric Maynor. Jennings seems to have the most upside to him and I'll make him the pick here.

#14-SUNS: James Johnson, Wake Forest. If Phoenix is serious about dealing Amare Stoudamire, they may elect to take Johnson to be his replacement.

#15-PISTONS: Earl Clark, Louisville. Detroit may go after the Lakers' Lamar Odom. Or they could just draft a guy who plays like L.O.

#16-BULLS: DeJuan Blair, Pitt. Blair gives the Bulls some nastiness down low. They have tons of guards and athletic forwards. Now they get the big dog in the paint.

#17-SIXERS: Ty Lawson, North Carolina. Andre Miller is probably gone so Philly needs to find a replacement. Of the top point guard left, Lawson is the better fit. He can get the Sixers running and is tough enough to be a Philly favorite.

#18-WOLVES: Austin Daye, Gonzaga. With the Wolves addressing their frontcourt with their earlier picks, they can now concentrate on the frontcourt. Daye gives Minnesota an athletic wing-man with size. With Daye, Rubio, Evans along with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, the Timberwolves are on to something.

#19-HAWKS: Eric Maynor, VCU. This one is tough. Atlanta forever needs a point guard but they also would like to have a center that could move Horford back to the power forward spot. I think they go with Maynor who may be the most NBA-ready point guard in this draft.

#20-JAZZ: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina. If Psycho T falls this far, Utah will snatch him up. He fits Jerry Sloan's physically and mentally tough style. Utah could use some big men as well.

#21-HORNETS: Chase Budinger, Arizona. Budinger is a perfect fit for N'Awlins. He's got a ton of range and a ton of hops. Chris Paul will love him!

#22-MAVERICKS: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest. Dallas needs a point guard with Jason Kidd leaving town. Teague is more of a combo guard but he seems a lot like former Maverick Devin Harris.

#23-KINGS: Omri Casspi, Spain. Sacramento loves those foreign born players (see: Peja, Hedo, Nocioni). Casspi may not be available right away, so that could help Sacto down the line.

#24-BLAZERS: Sam Young, Pitt. Young would be an outstanding fit in Portland. They need some help at the small forward position and Young is NBA ready. He also has shown the ability to keep improving his game, something that should make Nate McMillian salivate.

#25-THUNDER: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State. Oklahoma City needs a center and Mullens fits that bill.

#26-BULLS: Toney Douglas, Florida State. Chicago could lose Ben Gordon. So why not draft his clone?

#27-GRIZZLIES: DaJuan Summers, Georgetown. First off, it is amazing how many teams have multiple first round picks. Summers would most likely replace Hakim Warrick as a guy that can come in and play small/power forward.

#28-WOLVES: Jonas Jerebko, Sweden. Minnesota will almost assuredly go for a overseas guy here. They are already young and they just drafted three guys already. Jerebko can marinate for a while.

#29-LAKERS: DeMarre Carroll, Missouri. Carroll is a perfect Phil Jackson type player. He's a hard worker that really doesn't have a definable position. His flexibility is a must in the triangle offense (think: Trevor Ariza). And like Ariza, Carroll gets after it on defense.

#30-CAVALIERS: Derrick Brown, Xavier. Brown could go a bit higher, but I think he falls into Cleveland's laps. They need a guy like Brown -- a versatile power forward that can guard a guy like Rashard Lewis.

I won't bother mocking the second round since pretty much every pick will be traded or something. It will be worth watching as there are several big names still out there. Guys like Wayne Ellington, Patty Mills, Jodie Meeks, Taj Gibson, Jack McClinton and A.J. Abrams.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amazing Shot By Middle Schooler

Sports TV Is Better Than Actually Being There

I was listening to Colin Cowherd on the radio today when the discussion of the dwindling fan attendance at baseball games came up. Cowherd went on a rant about how going to games just isn't as fun anymore as just sitting at home and watching them there.

I agree with him.

Oh sure, I still like to get out to the ol' ballpark now and then. I also enjoy seeing the Lakers and Redskins play nearby. But I really don't think I'm missing anything by not going to the games.

With HDTV, flat screens and theater quality surround sound, you have the best seat in the house at home. The food is much cheaper, the beers aren't as expensive and there is no cut off point. Parking is free, the lines at the bathroom aren't nearly as long and if you need to do something that pause button on your DVR will keep you from missing any of the action.

DVR? Heck, I love being able to rewind and slow-motion a questionable play or call. Did he catch the pass? Did he step on the line? Was it a foul? I can see all of that even when the league tells the networks not to replay it.

Again, I still like going to the games but it feels like more of a hassle now. I have to overpay for my tickets (my satellite bill hits hard too but I get more for my money), find and pay for somewhere to park, walk a few blocks to the stadium/arena, have to deal with people who I swear were put on this earth just to stand in your way, pay $20 for a couple of hot dogs and some drinks, step over a bunch of people's legs just to get to my seat, hold my pee in because I don't wanna be that guy who spends all game walking over people nor do I want to stand around for 20 minutes waiting to get in the bathroom and missing some action and almost any seat there doesn't give you a good enough view as you would at home. Somewhere in there, I buy some keepsake that will forever remind me that I was actually there that day. When the game ends, I have to get up with the tens of thousands of people as all of us try to walk out the same door. I then have to walk back to my car (trying to remember where I parked since the door you exit is never the same door you came in on) then sit in my car as traffic in the parking deck is at a stand still.

And I have to find a friend or two that is willing to do all of that with me.

The funny thing is that when I get home, I turn on SportsCenter to see the highlights of the game I was just at. Needless to say, there are plays that I see that I don't remember at the game. I'm also a bit thrown back by the stats that I didn't figure out while watching it.

Again, at home I don't have to get dressed, don't have to drive anywhere, don't have to pay for my drinks and food (other than hitting the store before the fact), don't have to wait in a bathroom line and I didn't waste any of my disposable income on crap. I can watch the game in peace, not have anyone walking all over me and actually get insight about what's going on in the game I'm watching.

As as Cowherd pointed out, if the game sucks I can just turn the channel. If you are at the game, you can't leave or else you feel you wasted your time and money.

That isn't to say that going to the game is meaningless. There is nothing like the eyes of a child when he goes to his first ballgame. Something always happens that you will remember (I've seen Kobe go for 58 one against the Bobcats and hit a buzzer beater against the Hornets. I've seen Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Johnny Bench, Bruce Smith, Nolan Ryan and many other greats play in person) and those memories are hard to replicate.

However, I watched Kobe's 81 point game at home as well as the last 30-something Super Bowls, NBA Finals, NCAA Tournaments and World Series in the comforts of my home. And let me tell you, one of my most favorite memories was when North Carolina won the 2005 NCAA championship, I grabbed my wife and hugged her like I hadn't seen here in a year.

Prepare Yourself For the Wildest Fantasy Football Draft Season In Recent Memory

It is nearing July which means people are gearing up for their football seasons. Their fantasy football seasons. Publications are cranking out their Fantasy Football guides and websites are slotting players. Draft day is one of the best days in all of fantasy sports.

But the 2009 season will be of the toughest to figure out in recent memory. So much is changing and so much is unknown.

Let's start with Tom Brady. Last year, many people went against the norm and drafted Brady very, very early in their drafts. Then he plays just one half of one game and your pick was shot. He'll be back but how effective will he be? You can't expect him to just waltz right back into being Tom Terrific again, can you?

Speaking of quarterbacks, how will Peyton Manning fare under new coaches and no Marvin Harrison? Can you count on Drew Brees having another historic season? Tony Romo doesn't have T.O. anymore; Kurt Warner is 107 years old; Jay Cutler is in Chicago; and teams are loving this Wildcat Offense. Not to mention that nearly half the league really isn't sold on the guy they may be starting in Week 1. Buyers beware.

Oh, and let's not forget that Brett Favre and Michael Vick could end up back in the league at some point this season.

Of course running backs are the cream of the draft crop but for the first time in a while there really isn't the depth of sure things. Adrian Peterson is many people's clear cut No. 1, but will his stats go down if Favre arrives in Minnesota? If not Peterson, than it is Michael Turner. But can Turner hold up under another huge workload?

Speaking of workloads, can Maurice Jones-Drew handle being the featured back all season long? How about Brandon Jacobs workload? Does anyone believe that DeAngelo Williams can have another brilliant fantasy season? Will Marion Barber get enough touches with Felix Jones returning from injury and the acension of Tashard Choice?

Then there are those "old guys". Brian Westbrook and LaDainian Tomlinson ... two fantasy icons over the past four years ... are dropping like flies on the draft board. Both seem to have injury issues and both are hitting the dreaded age of 30. Thomas Jones turns 31 and (probably) has a rookie QB. Clinton Portis is as tough as they come, but he seems to always have something aching.

Add into the mix all these young guys: Chris Johnson, Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith, Pierre Thomas, Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Beanie Wells and Knowshon Moreno. Will any or all turn into top level running backs? Odds are that a couple of them will.

Finally comes the wackiest position of them all: wide receivers. When one of the top players at this position (Calvin Johnson) plays on a team that was 0-16 last year and will sport a rookie quarterback this year ... well that says something about this position.

Terrell Owens is now in Buffalo of all places. Who knows where Plaxico Burress will play, if at all. Same goes for Brandon Marshall. No more Marvin Harrison or Donte Stallworth. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is now in Seattle; Chad Johnson is now Chad Ochocinco; Dwayne Bowe is a freakin' Chief!

Roy Williams gets all the heat in Dallas now. Lee Evans loses some of his heat. Benard Berrian's stock will rise and fall with the daily Farve watch. Plus there were a ton of receivers picked early in the NFL Draft.

There is some good. Randy Moss and Wes Welker get Tom Brady back. Larry Fitzgerald keeps Anquan Boldin on the other side of him. Marques Colston still has Drew Brees throwing it to him.

The thing is that this year's fantasy drafts will have more busts than the Hall of Fame in Canton. There also may be more reaches than I can ever remember.

Good luck out there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Remembering That Awesome 1996 NBA Draft

If you've been reading this blog recently, you'd know that I've been all over NBATV's replays of old drafts. It's cool to see where the mistakes were made, how young these kids were and just the overall feel of the league again.

So the 1996 Draft comes on and I am reminded how amazing of a draft it really was.

#1-Allen Iverson. Probably a Hall of Fame player and is one of the freakiest talents we have ever seen in this league. He has an MVP award and an NBA Finals apperance to go with one of the best career scoring averages anyone has ever had [27.1 ppg].

#2-Marcus Camby. Camby may not have been the second best player to come out of this draft, but he is still a nice role player. He's been a defensive MVP and went to the Finals with the Knicks. He's a walking double-double with career averages of 10 ppg and 10 rpg.

#3-Shareef Abdur Rahim: The shame of Reef's career was that it was spent on bad teams. Still, he made one all star game and was one of those "great players on poor teams". An 18.1 ppg career average.

#4-Stephon Marbury: Say what you want about him right now, but Starbury has been one of the most exciting players in the league. His problem is that he wears out his welcome at every one of his stops and his fighting with the Knicks has completely derailed his career. Still, he's averaged nearly 20 ppg for his career.

#5-Ray Allen: One of the purest shooters the NBA has ever seen. He won a title with the Celtics last year and has been a 9-time All Star. Another 20 ppg career average.

#6-Antoine Walker: Our second NBA Champion drafte so far has a career scoring average of 17.5 ppg. People forget that when he was in Boston, he was routinely among the league leaders in scoring.

#7-Lorenzen Wright: Not a bad player, but he was mainly a role player on some bad teams. His best years came when he was with Atlanta and Memphis in the early 2000s. He wasn't a bust, but this is the first selection that didn't really make it huge.

#8-Kerry Kittles: Nice player who averaged 14.1 ppg for his career. A major knee injury ended his career a couple of years ago. Still, he was a very productive player for the Nets.

#9-Samaki Walker: Our 3rd champion. He may be the first true bust of this draft. He averaged just 5 ppg for his career but was on the Lakers' 2002 title team.

#10-Erik Dampier: Like Wright, Dampier isn't a star [7 ppg] but he isn't a bum, either. He's still doin' work as a defensive presence and a shot blocker.

#11-Todd Fuller. Bust. The one thing I remember about Fuller was that I went to high school with him. My sophomore year at Independence High School in Charlotte was his junior season.

#12-Vitaly Potepenko: He was nothing more than a journeyman.

#13-Kobe Bryant: Probably has the greatest resume in the draft. Four-time NBA Champion, MVP award, Finals MVP, 81 points and a couple of scoring titles. Needless to say that if they did this draft over again, Kobe would have been the top pick in the draft to his native Philadelphia.

#14-Peja Stojakovic: He's had a solid NBA career [17 ppg] including three All Star apperances and the runner-up in the scoring race one year. Injuries have slowed him down recently.

#15-Steve Nash: Another MVP winner (two times). Those two awards probably gets him into the Hall of Fame.

#16-Tony Delk: A classic journeyman. He was too small and wasn't more than a change-of-pace guard.

#17-Jermaine O'Neal: He was one of the top players in the league when he got the opportunity to play in Indiana. Injuries have slowed him down too.

#18-John Wallace, #19-Walter McCarty: Neither guy did much of anything. The only thing either did of note was the Celtics announcer Tom Heinsoln's "I love Walter" comments.

#20-Zydrunas Ilgauskas: He could have been one of the league's top centers if he could stay healthy. Still, he is a skilled big man who started for the Cavaliers this past season.

#21-Dontae Jones, #22-Roy Rogers: Neither player amounted to anything.

#23-Efthimios Rentzias: Neither did he. Effy averaged just 1.5 ppg in his lone NBA season.

#24-Derek Fisher: Another four-time champion. He's best known for hitting some of the biggest clutch shots in postseason history. Still is one of the most respected players in the NBA.

#25-Martin Muursepp: Just three seasons where he did nothing.

#26-Jerome Williams: The "Junkyard Dog" wasn't flashy by any means but he brought a ton of effort every night.

After that, there aren't too many good finds (Malik Rose and Jeff McInnis weren't bad). What is interesting is some of the names that didn't get drafted. Ben Wallace went undrafted. So did Chucky Atkins and Adrian Griffin.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lawyer Gets $510K From Oakland A's Because He Proves He's a 'Mother'

I hate lawyers (update: it was advised that I say I love lawyers) because of stuff like this.

A lawyer attending an Oakland Athletics game on Mothers Day sued the ballclub for sexual discrimination because he didn't receive a pink, breast cancer awareness hat that the team was giving women entering the gates.

Apparently one hat is worth $510K.

What makes this even more horrible is that the $510K that he was awarded all but wiped out all the fundraising the team did to help fight breast cancer.

What makes him even more of a douche is that he has tried the same ploy at Padres and Angels games. Most people believe that he only went to the A's game because he knew they wouldn't give him a hat and he could, in turn, sue.

Thanks, man. Let me thank you on behalf of all the volunteers who worked hard to try to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause. Let me thank you on behalf of all the women and their families whose lives will be devestated because of this disease. Thanks, man.

Hat tip: NBC Philly.

HBO Needs to Reconsider Artie Lange Ban

It seems that HBO has banned Artie Lange from appearing on their shows. No word if this means that the movies Dirty Work and Beer League are included in that ban.

I don't like it. Yeah, he was a bit over the line during his appearance on the Joe Buck Show. But how can HBO get so bent about it. Didn't they know who Lange was? Didn't they know what he would probably go, uh, Artie Lange on them?

If anything, HBO should offer Lange a gig on the show. He could be the guy who talks about the tough stuff as Buck lobs softball questions. I turned the channel a few times during the show but I stayed glued to the TV during the segment Artie was on.

Trust me: I'm not a big fan of Lange or of his Howard Stern cast of characters. I'm all for vulgarity, but in smaller doses than they typically give. But if Lange could limit his outbursts a tad, I think the "Buck and Artie Show" would be a hit! Buck can play the part of the wholesome angel as Artie takes on the sinister devil.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rating the #1 Overall Picks in the 2000s NBA Drafts

A few years ago, I ranked the No. 1 overall picks of the 1990s (check it out here) Now I plan on doing the same with the 00s ... even though much of it deserves an incomplete.

#10-Kwame Brown, Wizards: Brown is the poster boy for the NBA's age limit. Brown was a physical specimen but he just didn't seem to have the desire. It didn't help that boss-turned-teammate Michael Jordan broke him down. His biggest contribution to winning was being traded for Pau Gasol.

#9-Andrew Bogut, Bucks: I do think this is a bit low for Bogut since he is one of the NBA's better rebounders. Still, he hasn't really done anything that has turned Milwaukee into a winner. What also hurts him is that Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum and Danny Granger were picked after him. He may be the least remembered top pick this decade.

#8-Andrea Bargnani, Raptors: If he isn't, Bargnani is. Aside from Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo, this wasn't a very good draft. Bargnani's point production is getting better but he doesn't rebound like a guy his size should.

#7-Blake Griffin, Clippers: This is assuming he is the Clips' pick. It's hard to rate him since he hasn't played a game yet ... but I slotted him as if he was better than Bargnani, Bogut and Kwame but won't quite be the guy that Oden or K-Mart was/can be. Still, I think Griffin can come in next year and help on the boards a bit as he develops his offensive skills.

#6-Greg Oden, Blazers: Oden hasn't really done anything yet but he did miss his rookie season with microfracture surgery. He gets a huge incomplete so far. But I think he will be a very good pro once he gets fully healthy. He already can rebound and block shots. His offense will come at some point. At worst, he's the next Dikembe Mutombo and that is pretty darn good.

#5-Kenyon Martin, Nets: Speaking of microfracture. K-Mart has had it twice and it took a lot of his leaping ability that made him so tough to deal with during his Nets years.

#4-Derrick Rose, Bulls: Yeah, he's played just one season but methinks Rose will be a star in this league. Heck, he may already be.

#3-Dwight Howard, Magic: Howard is unbelievable on the defensive end of the floor. He is also tough to deal with on offense ... from 5 feet on in. He was exposed a bit in the Finals but he has plenty of time to get that worked out. If he figures out some post moves and any kind of shot outside the paint, he will move up to No. 2 on this list.

#2-Yao Ming, Rockets: Yao is the second best scorer of the bunch and has made, arguably, the biggest global impact on the NBA. He has helped get the NBA into China's lucrative market. He also has made Houston into a team to be reckoned with. If only he could stay healthy.

#1-LeBron James, Cavaliers: Pretty simple.

The interesting thing about all these No. 1 picks is that many of them are so raw still. In the 1990s, Derrick Coleman, Larry Johnson, Shaq, Webber, Duncan, Iverson and Glen Robinson all came into the league and fared very well pretty quickly. That isn't really happening from the 2000 kids.

There is only 10 years of college experience from the No. 1 picks last decade with only Kenyon Martin playing for more than two years. You had five guys who didn't even play college ball (oddly, three of them top my list).

Sammy Sosa Should Be Official Face of Steroid Era

When history looks back on the Steroid Era in baseball, most likely Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez will be the main topics of conversation.

To me, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire deserve to be the faces of the Steroid Era. They are the perfect symbols for the embarrassment that the past 15 years or so has brought to a game that I like ... and used to love.

See, Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod all were on top of the world when their alleged steroid use began. They just wanted to stay there and reach bigger heights. McGwire and Sosa were looking at just resurrecting their moribund careers. Ones that have flamed out.

Yeah, McGwire passed Roger Maris first and hit the 70-mark before anyone else. And his "I touched Roger's bat with my heart" speech he gave sounds stupid now. All this came after a few years where Big Mac couldn't stay on the field and when he did, he couldn't hit the ball anywhere aside from the bleachers.

But Sosa deserves to be the one we remember this era by. Sosa hit just 37 home runs in his first four major league seasons. He then hit 33 jacks in 1993. He would hit 40 in 1996 and 36 in 1997. Then, somehow, he belted 66 in 1998. He would hit 63 the next season. His 64 home runs in 2001 made him the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons.

Magically, this test that Sosa allegedly tested positive for, marked an interesting cliff for Sammy's stats. His home run total went to just 35 the season after the test. He would hit just 35 more home runs from 2005-2007 ... his last major league seasons.

But it isn't just the obvious boost to his numbers. It was the way that we all were sold on Sammy. Sosa was a lovable character that captured the nation. We all loved Sammy! The way he says things in broken English? Hilarious! The way he was always smiling? Loved it! Even the way he tried to explain his corked bat was a thing of beauty.

But all that is the reason Sosa is the face for roids. He ... just like baseball as a whole ... put on this show despite it all being fake. Sosa, like baseball, loved the attention. Sosa was now a star. Baseball, who was reeling from the PR nightmare of a cancelled World Series and who was watching the NBA and NFL gaining tons of fan attention, loved being the talk of the country. Just like a hot dog -- we all have a good time with them, we just don't need to know how they were made -- baseball wanted you to pay attention to the on the field miracles and not how this is suddenly happening.

When baseball was finally found out and were called to testify in front of Congress, Sosa, like baseball, decided to play dumb and act like nothing was going on. Sosa forgot how to speak English even though he had no problem with it when cameras were in his face.

Sosa, more than any other of the roided stars, was full of crap. They all denied using performance enhancers, but none acted like Sosa. If Sosa was indeed one of the 104 players who tested positive in 2003, why did he have his interpreter say that he has never taken roids? Why would he say two weeks ago that he is just waiting for the Hall of Fame to welcome him in with open arms?

Sosa has it all. He has A-Rod's lust for public attention. He has Bonds lust for getting to baseball's highest peaks. He has McGwire's ability to shrink in front of Congress. He has Palmeiro's ability to lie to our faces. He has Clemens ability to keep arguing even though everyone thinks you are lying. He is the face of steroids.

And of any of the superstars that were linked to roids, Sosa seems the only one who really became a superstar because of them. Sosa was a relative nobody who was thrust on the national scene in an instant. The rest of them just got caught up along the way.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Addicted to NBATV's Draft Marathon!

I know that I may be in the minority on this, but I much rather watch the NBA Draft instead of the NFL Draft. I can remember NBA Drafts much, much, much better than the NFL ones.

NBATV is doing their best to remind me of that as they replay pretty much every draft from 1981 to 2008. There was the awesome 1984 draft of Hakeem, Jordan, Perkins, Barkley and Stockton. There was the sad 1986 draft where Rick Barry told Len Bias during an interview "you'll have plenty of time" for his hobbies. Bias, of course, died two days later of a drug overdose.

There was the 1988 draft which was the first in Charlotte Hornets history. It was exciting to see the city that I was living in having a team and Rex Chapman was the first player. I remember the 1991 draft because I spent most of the time in Driver's Ed discussing the virtues of the Hornets drafting Dikembe Mutombo. 1995, 1996 and 2003 were also great drafts.

One thing that got me was USA's coverage of the draft in the early 1980s. St. John's head coach Lou Carnesecca was the lone analyst for the draft. I was amazed that a college coach (who at the time helmed one of the top programs in the country) had a pulse on what NBA teams were doing. I also found it refreshing that Carnesecca didn't poo-poo any picks and instead offered insight into why teams may have selected the guy the did. Nowadays, draft analysts want to talk about what these teams should have done instead.

Also, those early drafts in the Felt Forum looked like a crappy telethon. There were fans seated in the arena, but the "draft floor" looked like some rec center was holding a bake sale. It also seemed informal. From Larry O'Brien's chatting to David Stern's porn-stache, the commishes just gave the news with a simple "the Clippers pick Terry Cummings, DePaul". Nowadays, Stern gets up with his smile and says "with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select ... (pause) ... Blake Griffin, Oklahoma."

But the best part are the guys getting drafted. The hindsight involved. Of course everyone in Portland when Sam Bowie was taken ahead of Michael Jordan, but it didn't seem like that stupid of a move then. However, it is the little interviews with these guys that are the best. Seeing and hearing these cats as young adults with their careers in front of them. From Charles Barkley admitting that he couldn't play defense to Chuck Person's tuxedo because he just married his sweetheart, it was cool to see these guys again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's Been 15 Years Since the White Ford Bronco Chase

Hard to believe that it has been 15 years since this moment. On June 17th, 1994, the country was captivated by the white Ford Bronco containing a suicidal O.J. Simpson being chased through Los Angeles by the police.

This solidified many people's mind that O.J. was the one who murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. As you see a much younger Larry King (he looks only 100!) wonder about O.J.'s guilt.

I remember that I was watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals when NBC split the screen to show both the Rockets-Knicks game and this chase. It was weird since O.J. was currently employed by NBC for their NFL coverage when this all broke. I was 18 years old and just started working at my first "real job" of my life. Just unreal.

UPDATE: ESPN just did a piece on this and it blew me away. I didn't remember that on this very same day, Arnold Palmer played his final career round in the U.S. Open. Also, the New York Rangers were having their parade that morning. It was also the first day of the 1994 World Cup which was being held here in the United States.

Bud Selig Still Doesn't Get It

First it was Joe Buck, then it was Dan Shaughnessy and now Bud Selig gets my crankiness.

I was listening the Selig on the Dan Patrick Show on my radio today when he went into his schtick about the steroid era. When Dan Patrick asked if there should be a steroid wing of the Hall of Fame, Selig belted out "should we have a cocaine wing, too?"

Yeah, the coke era of baseball was a dark moment but it didn't piss off the public like these steroids do. I don't have the research here in front of me, but I'm not sure if the yeyo is a performance enhancer. I haven't heard anyone go, "dude, this cocaine has put a few more mphs on my fastball". Remember that when ballplayers were on the blow, guys were leading the majors with 36 home runs.

Mind you, this interview took place hours before the news that Sammy Sosa was on that 2003 list of steroid/PED users broke. I don't remember any list of players who tested positive for the nose candy that sat on a desk for six years because ... well ... why is it there? Why not just release that list all at once, get this crap over with instead of acting like it is ancient history ... yet seeing names get leaked every few months.

And that, above all, pisses me off! Selig's big thing is "we have drug testing now and we're only looking forward." Puh-lease. Baseball loves talking about their history. We have the old timers throw out the first pitch at games. Baseball invented the throwback jersey. Pretty much every stadium in the majors has an ode to the golden era of baseball. They love thinking about the good ol' days. Most of them actually believe that the guys who played 50 years ago are better than the cats playing today.

The NFL doesn't. The NFL moves forward. I would bet you that the 0-16 Detroit Lions of 2008 would beat the 17-0 Miami Dolphins of 1972. Guys now are bigger, faster and stronger. The NBA and NHL knows that their best is today. Baseball lives in the past. Because of that, that's why fans are harder on baseball on steroids than the other sports.

Is it fair? Probably not. But I will admit that I care less if an NFL player gets caught juicing than a baseball player. Feel proud that we do hold your players to a higher standard, Mr. Selig.

Dan Shaughnessy Hates Winners

The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy hates Los Angeles. He has said as much with his most recent whining about how Lakers fans are loving their champion Lakers.

I'm not going into everything he said (click the link to read it yourself), but dude just seems like a hater. He's currently in L.A. and he's been on ESPN's "Jim Rome Is Burning" this week. When the Southern California native Rome talked about the Lakers championship on the show's forum, Shaughnessy blew the title off as if it meant nothing.

The fact that Shaughnessy went with the "would the Lakers be champions if Boston had a healthy Kevin Garnett" comment shows a lack of class. Yeah, the C's chances would have increased with a functional KG ... but the Lakers did beat Boston twice this year and KG played in both games (the flip side of that is that the Orlando Magic swept the Lakers in the regular season, so we all see how that means nothing).

Also, how many seasons in the NBA have seen some team's great player out for an extended period of time? Remember 1989 when the Lakers didn't have Byron Scott for the entire series and lost Magic Johnson during Game 2? Hell, would Boston have won it last year if the Lakers had a healthy Andrew Bynum? It goes both ways, sir.

Of course, this is a Boston guy and for ANYONE to bitch about another city's fan base going nuts for their team, it can't be Beantown. Lest he forget that we have had the freakin' Red Sox crammed down our throats. You would think that their two titles this decade were the only titles ever won in the history of baseball. Not just that, but we had to hear about this pissing and moaning about how they couldn't win for 86 years. Funny, but the White Sox and Cubs have waited longer and I haven't heard a fraction of the whining as I did with Boston fans.

And how about the Patriots? This was a joke of a franchise for so many years. Remember, Mr. Shaughnessy, that the Pats won their first Super Bowl on a bull-corn play against the Raiders. You won your first Super Bowl when Kurt Warner decided to be mortal, your second Super Bowl when the Panthers gave you the ball at midfield and your third Super Bowl when Donovan McNabb threw up down the stretch. You won those games by a grand total of 9 points.

And you threw the "the Patriots almost won another one" crap up there. Can the Rams, Panthers and Eagles say the same thing then? Do we give the Arizona Cardinals an "almost Super Bowl ring" for having a lead going into the closing seconds only to lose it on a great play? I could see you working if your team DIDN'T ENTER THE GAME WITH A 18-0 RECORD and you just played the Giants in the regular season finale. "Almost championships" don't exist.

I mean, the Boston Celtics won the 1981 NBA Finals over the Houston Rockets ... who finished the season 40-42!!!! You giving that one back?

You said that you'd "give props" to the Lakers if they beat the Boston Celtics in the Finals next year. I know that people in Boston aren't too fond of any other team, but the Lakers did beat the team that eliminated you.

The Lakers are the 2009 champs. LA deserves to celebrate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'Joe Buck Live' Buzzworthy, But Not Very Good

I actually watched most of the first ever "Joe Buck Live" on HBO last night. I turned it on for the curiosity, stayed to watch the Brett Favre interview, wanted to stay for the Chad Ochocinco interview but a bad storm blew through the area that screwed up my satellite. I did catch the rest of it on a later showing.

The show has created a lot of buzz this morning ... but not all of it good. I like Buck's interview with Favre because he actually asked the questions I wanted to know. Is he coming back? What's the deal with the Vikings? Does he hate Green Bay? Favre was, I think, honest but didn't really reveal anything new. Still, to actually hear him talk about his future is more refreshing than hearing updates every other day.

There was also the Chad Ochocinco interview that really never happened. For some stupid reason, they had he and Michael Irvin on at the same time. Chad didn't really get to say much because Irvin kept interrupting him. And the two don't match. I agree with Chad that he hasn't had any legal issues like all these other players in the league. He's just an ass the wants to have fun. Meanwhile, Irvin has some baggage in his past that he doesn't need to act like it's the media's fault.

The other buzzworthy part of the night was Artie Lang. Now, I'm not sure where I fall on this whole deal. The show was about athletes being celebrities and, for some reason, Buck brought on three guys who are more C-list sidekicks than anything else. SNL's Jason Sudekis, actor Paul Rudd and Howard Stern's Artie Lange came on to talk about the celebrity aspect of the athletes (as if they would truly know).

Lange, as you may know, took the opportunity to make some funnies. He called Tony Romo gay and called Jessica Simpson a "fat chick" (I think two Jessicas would equal one Artie, by the way). He also spent most of the segment making fun of Buck. Still, he was the most refreshing part of the show.

I think Buck has promise, but he doesn't really have that style yet. He has a dry sarcastic humor that I like in moderation, but it doesn't work with the athletes. He did the one thing I hate in interviewers in that he talked too much and didn't allow that extra time to the people he was asking questions to. His jokes came off cheesy. He wanted to show everyone that he isn't this uptight guy who chastised Randy Moss but a fun guy to be around.

That all went out the window when Lange showed up with his schtick. Buck spent the first 45 minutes with his mild humor setting up the show and then Lange just tramples over it. Look, it's HBO and I'm fine with comedians doing there thing. You invite Artie Lange on the show for a reason, so don't be pissed if he acts like Artie Lange. I love comedy and I'm not a big fan of Howard Stern's show ... but you wanted that edgy guy for your first show. You got him.

Since this show is only on four times a year (the next episode is in September), it gives Buck ample opportunity to figure out what works for him and what didn't. Bob Costas, who previously had the show, played his role well and carried the show well. Yeah, he was grumpy at times and always seemed to wax poetic about the good ol' days (which there are no "good ol' days") but he kept the show at a level where even if the guests got out of hand, it didn't feel that uncomfortable. This was Buck's Buzz Bissinger and he didn't take it very well.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shaq to Cleveland Makes Sense ... Today

There are two parts to the perception of NBA trades. What happens right after it and what happens down the road. There is no better example of that when the Lakers dealt Shaquille O'Neal to Miami.

The Heat got the best of it in the immediate. They won a title in Shaq's second season there while the Lakers missed the postseason in 2005 and exited the first round in 2006 and 2007. Now, it looks as if the Lakers did okay. The deal meant they could keep Kobe Bryant, the deal brought Lamar Odom and Caron Butler (who turned into Kwame Brown who turned into Pau Gasol).

That's how I'd see any deal Cleveland may make to get Shaq. It seems like a good idea but it has a lot of risk.

First off, this would look like a must-win-title season for the Cavaliers. Shaq's contract has just one more year on it and LeBron can opt out next summer. Both could be gone for nothing in 2010, so that means it is do-or-die in Cleveland. Plus, Shaq's $21M deal with LeBron's nearly $16M deal means that the Cavs don't have a ton of money to play with for other parts. Anderson Varejao will probably opt out of his contract to get paid somewhere else (he signed an offer sheet with Charlotte a couple years ago that the Cavs matched) while Ilgauskas will most likely not opt out of his remaining season that will pay him $11.5M.

Add in Mo Williams' $8.8M salary for next season and the Cavaliers already have $57M invested in just four players. They would have the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exemption to bring in guys, but it will be a hard sell for someone to make that plunge if they don't know if LeBron will stick around in Cleveland.

Still, the 2010 season could be special. The Celtics and Magic would have a tough time dealing with Shaq and LeBron and it could be the missing piece that puts Cleveland in the NBA Finals and, possibly, a championship. I think LeBron needs somebody who has been there before and teach him how to be the winner he thinks he already is. Also, I don't think Shaq will cow-tow to LeBron as much as everyone else (*cough* Mike Brown) does.

But what if there is no championship? Will LeBron figure that the franchise has maxed out its potential and decide it's time to move on? Yeah, Shaq's albatross contract will go away in the offseason and allow the Cavs to go after a Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudamire or Dirk Nowitzki. But none of those will come if LeBron leaves.

For the Suns, this will facilitate their rebuilding phase so it makes all the sense in the world. They'll save money on fielding a team that has no immediate title prospects. Something Cleveland could be facing in 2010.

Sportz' Finals Bullet Points

DWIGHT HOWARD: I have never ... NEVER ... seen a player built up and crushed down so quickly. During the Magic's series with the Cavaliers, everyone was on the Howard bandwagon. He was deemed the most dominant center in the NBA and placed in that super-duper-star status. During the Finals, his flaws were exposed and, apparently, numerous. He has no moves, he has no shot, he misses free throws, he struggles to make plays out of double teams, he brings the ball down too much, etc.

I still think Howard can be a super-duper-star. Dude is just 23 years old and seems to be a guy who can be coached up. Sometimes you need to be shown your flaws in order to fix them.

PHIL JACKSON: I hope he comes back, but I understand if he didn't. It's a sweet ending to a career. His record 10th title and his greatness solidified. But I hope he comes back for another year or two to see if he can keep adding to it.

MITCH KUPCHAK: One guy that isn't getting his due in all this is Kupchak. When Jerry West ran this organization, he was great at making the right moves and willing to take chances. Well Kupchak, who assisted West for many years, has done the same thing. Everyone knows that he robbed the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. He also robbed the Magic for Trevor Ariza. He got Derek Fisher back and drafted Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar. And in his most defining moment -- trading away Shaq -- he didn't get chopped liver. Lamar Odom was a key component on this title team. They also got Caron Butler ... who they dealt for Kwame Brown ... who they dealt for Gasol.

He also had two trades he didn't make. He didn't trade Andrew Bynum, despite the demand from Kobe Bryant. He also didn't trade Kobe when he demanded one for himself, either.

KOBE BRYANT: Four titles, MVP award, NBA Finals MVP, 81 points. He needs to be placed among the greats. While he isn't Michael Jordan, it isn't stupid to at least debate that he is up in that realm.

RIOTS: I've never understood why fans riot after the city's team wins a title. I know that it is just knuckleheads who find an easy opportunity to act a fool, but it makes no sense.

STAN VAN GUNDY: I still don't know how I feel about him. He made some great adjustments in this series. He also made some colassal mistakes. His own players tune him out from time to time ... but he did just take them to the NBA Finals. And if not for a missed layup and missed free throws (things out of SVG's control), this series would still be going.

ORLANDO FANS: I get that a smallish NBA city getting thrust to the big time is an exciting deal. But they've made some mistakes, too. Chanting "M-V-P" while Dwight Howard is shooting those critical free throws in Game 4 was stupid. Also in Game 4, that chick who fell when trying to sit down was hilarious! Sorry, I don't understand why bringing Nick Anderson on the court during your first NBA Finals appearance since "Nick the Brick" melted down in 1995 was a good idea. And while you see these long time super stars in LA, Orlando bumps out Hulk Hogan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lakers 2009 Champions!

Shaq to Cleveland?

You knew this was coming back up. Apparently the trade talks between Cleveland and Phoenix involving Shaquille O'Neal are heating up. The two talked a bit before the trade deadline without getting anything done.

Since then, the Cavaliers flamed out because they had no inside precense to counter Orlando's Dwight Howard (and even if they got past the Magic, they'd have some issues with the Lakers' Gasol, Bynum and Odom). The Suns want to get their payroll a lot leaner.

So a Shaq-to-Cavs deal seems to make sense. Cleveland would get a big man down low who can still score and board and keep opponents from focusing all their attention on LeBron James. All they'd be giving up would probably be Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic -- two guys that didn't really fit into the plans next season anyways.

Phoenix gets to unload Shaq's final year of his contract worth $21M. They'd get back Ben Wallace ($14M) and Sasha Pavlovic ($4.5M). Wallace has already pondered retirement (something that would seem more likely if he is traded). The Suns could work out a buyout for Wallace to save them some money now and they will save $4M by just making the trade ($2M each for the difference in salaries and the luxury tax implications).

Smart trade for all parties involved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gasol Wasn't Only Key Laker Addition Last Year

Everyone knew immediately that the Lakers hosed the Memphis Grizzlies when they dealt Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittendon for Pau Gasol. Gasol has been the perfect compliment to Kobe Bryant and has the team on the verge of their 15th title.

But that wasn't the only hose job the Lakers pulled during last season. A move that was made way under the radar was, ironically, a deal they made with the Orlando Magic. The Lakers dealt Brian Cook and Mo Evans to the Magic for Trevor Ariza.

So the Lakers essentially dealt Kwame, Crittendon, Cook and Evans for Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza. Four bench guys for two starters that are making a huge difference in these NBA Finals. Mitch Kupchak should get some sort of retroactive award for the larceny he pulled off last year.

Add that to bringing Derek Fisher back before last season ... and they didn't even have to trade for him. All Fish has done is hit two humongous shots in Game 4 of the Finals. And while Shannon Brown isn't a huge member of this championship run, he has had his moments during the postseason (that dunk against Denver keyed a win in the WCF).

If you feel like stretching this out a bit ... that Shaq deal doesn't look all that one-sided either. Yeah, Shaq would win a title in Miami and had some pretty good seasons. But that trade brought Lamar Odom to the Lakers. Odom has showed up and been a huge part of this Finals run. Also, the Shaq trade brought in Caron Butler ... who was dealt for Kwame Brown ... who was dealt for Gasol.

Kupchak also DIDN'T trade Andrew Bynum ... despite a lot of grumblings from fans and Kobe Bryant to do so. And he didn't trade Kobe Bryant despite his demands out of town. In the two seasons since his trade demand didn't get honored, he has had an MVP season and possibly another NBA championship and likely Finals MVP. Kobe also gets an all important jolt to his legacy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Blow For Detroit

Detroit has become the symbol for the current economic crisis we are all going through. It's a shame since the city has also been at the forefront of the sports world over the past few years. They've hosted the Super Bowl, World Series, Final Four, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.

That doesn't mean there hasn't been some sporting heartbreak going on in Motown.

-The Detroit Red Wings just lost Game 7 ... at home ... of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

-Earlier today, Detroit-based GM announced that it is pulling some of its funding to the various NASCAR series.

-In April, Michigan State ended an inspirational run in the NCAA Tournament by getting creamed by North Carolina in the title game (which was in Detroit).

-The Detroit Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16.

-The Michigan Wolverines football team is coming off a 3-9 record, the most losses in program history and their first losing season since 1967.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paul Westphal??? Really, Sacramento???

Some things I just don't understand. Ya know, like hiring a head coach that hadn't been one in the NBA since 2000. One whose last head coaching job netted a 7-20 record at Pepperdine.

We all know what's going on. The Sacramento Kings have gone cheap. Word is that they didn't want to pay much money for a head coach and they were giving only a two-year deal. What coach worth a crap would take that on? Especially when the team you are taking over is more than two years away from doing anything.

That's what Westphal is: a babysitter. The SacKings were one of the nice rising young franchises in the early 2000s. They had charismatic owners who seemed to love winning more than anything else (well, aside from self-publicity). Things were going well in the basketball and business lives that it was all fun and games.

That is until the economy went south. The men who made their living off others' disposable income (via casinos or NBA games) aren't seeing the cash flow like they were. Plus, they play in a barn that needs to be replaced. That can't happen when the state of California is seemingly bankrupt. How can any politician agree to fork over that kind of money to guys who flaunted their riches for most of the past decade?

It still could happen, just the timing is off. The Kings are a shell of what they were a few years ago. It seems that they know this and just want a guy who can just watch these guys on the cheap for a couple of seasons until they ripen.

If they ever do.

I can get with going cheap if you go after some new young blood. A guy who wants to make a name for himself (*cough* Reggie Theus). But it comes back to the ol' saying: You get what you pay for.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some Other Un-Clutch Moments in Championship History

Courtney Lee is the talk of the NBA Finals, which is a shame. I hope no one pins the Magic's fortunes on that missed layup but it will be shown over and over and over again for a long time.

But he's not the only one who has nutted under the pressure. In no particular order, here are some other memorable mishaps:

CHRIS WEBBER'S TIMEOUT: I'm sorry, but how do you not know you are out of time outs?

JOSH HOWARD'S TIMEOUT: Forget about this one? In the all important Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals, Dallas' Howard called their final timeout after Dwyane Wade's first free throw attempt (for whatever reason). Because it was their last timeout, the Mavericks couldn't advance the ball to half court to attempt a game winning play. Instead, a desperation heave.

FRED BROWN TO JAMES WORTHY: Another Carolina classic! I don't know what is more memorable: Jordan's gutsy shot to take a 63-62 lead with seconds remaining in the 1982 NCAA title game or Brown's pass to Worthy right after it.

BILL BUCKNER: We all know it.

JOHN KASAY KICKS OFF OUT OF BOUNDS: Super Bowl XXXVIII was amazing. The Panthers made a valiant comeback against the Patriots -- tying the game with about a minute left. We were moments away from another great Tom Brady drive or the first overtime in Super Bowl history. Instead, Kasay kicks off and the ball lands out of bounds. That gave New England the ball at their own 40 and a much easier task to get into field goal range. And they did.

ATHENS RELAY: The heavily favored women's 4x100 relay team dropped the ball in the Athens Games in 2004. Well, dropped the baton, actually. Marion Jones and Lauren Williams fumbled the baton exchange in the relay, disqualifying them from the race.

LINDSEY JACOBELLIS: The American snowboarder had a huge lead in the Snowboard Cross event in the 1996 Torino Games. So she decided to do this cool celebratory move before she finished, busted her butt and lost to Swiss boarder Tanja Frieden.

BERNARD LANGER'S MISSED PUTT: Langer needed to sink a 3-foot put to send the 1991 Ryder Cup into extra holes. It was the last hole of the last match and Langer missed it. Missed it.

DON DENKINGER'S BAD CALL: This isn't an athlete screw-up. No, the first base ump Denkinger altered the 1985 World Series by calling the Royals' Jorge Orta safe at first when he was clearly out. The Royals would win that game and the series.

SCOTT NORWOOD: Again, a 47-yard field goal attempt is never a gimmie. But with the Super Bowl on the line, Norwood kicked it wide right and the Bills began their legenday four-game Super Bowl losing streak.

All Three Previous 0-2 Winners Have a (Sorta) Lakers Connection

The Orlando Magic currently trail 0-2 in the NBA Finals. Only three teams have ever come back from down 0-2 to win the title series.

All three have (sort of) a connection with the Lakers.

In 1969, the LA Lakers won the first two games of the Finals against the Boston Celtics. The C's would go on to win 4 of the remaining 5 games ... including Game 7 in Los Angeles ... to capture the title.

In 1977, the Philadelphia 76ers won the first two games of the Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers would stomp the Sixers in the next four games to win the series. Kobe Bryant's dad played for Philly in that series.

In 2006, the Dallas Mavericks won the first two games of the Finals against the Miami Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade went off in the next four games to bring the championship to South Florida. The center of the Heat in that series???? Former 3-time Finals MVP with the Lakers, Shaquille O'Neal. Also, current Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy was the head coach of that Miami team for the first 21 games of that season.

The Redick-Morrison Finals

Remember three years ago? The year was 2006 and we had one of those magical cross-country rivalries between two great players.

Duke had J.J. Redick. Gonzaga had Adam Morrison. They would split up all those Player of the Year awards as everyone compared the two players from afar. Redick was better. No, Adam was. Redick had better teammates! But Adam played in a much weaker conference!

So it makes sense that the two are seeing their teams in the 2009 NBA Finals. Adam's Lakers currently hold a 2-0 lead over J.J.'s Magic. Not that those guys had anything to do with that.

See, these former college greats just haven't found their way in the NBA. Morrison has played in just eight games for the Lakers since a mid-season trade (meanwhile the guy who came over from Charlotte with Morrison, Shannon Brown, has been a important part of the Lakers' rotation during the postseason). Morrison scored a grand total of 10 points in those games and hasn't sniffed the court during the Lakers' playoff run.

Morrison did average 11.8 ppg in his rookie season. But he missed all of 2007-2008 with an injury and has been slow to return to form this year.

Redick has actually been playing for Orlando this postseason. He actually started in all seven games against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He followed that up by playing in just one game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. He has played in both Finals games thus far, scoring 8 points and was on the court during crunch time last night.

Redick hasn't made much of a splash, though. The former ACC scoring champ is averaging just 6 ppg this season and 5.5 ppg for his career.

Not that anyone really expected either of these two to be NBA stars (well, some did. I mean, Michael Jordan did waste the No. 3 pick in the draft on Morrison). In a draft where Brandon Roy has become the only All-Star, Redick and Morrison can say that they are still playing on the NBA's biggest stage (by the way, Shannon Brown was also drafted in 2006).

Despite all the hate, jabs and jokes ... one of them will have an NBA Championship ring.

Orlando's Worse Nightmare: Nick Anderson or Courtney Lee?

Last night, the Orlando Magic lost their sixth straight NBA Finals game ... and they've only played six in their history. The sixth one is about as heartbreaking as the first one. With the game on the line late, the Orlando Magic clutched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Last night with 0.5 seconds left in regulation of a tie game, Courtney Lee caught an alley-oop on an inbounds pass and missed the layup. The game would go into overtime where the Lakers would end up winning.

In Game 1 of the 1995 Finals, Nick Anderson toed the line with a three point lead and would miss four straight free throws. Four. The Rockets' Kenny Smith would dump a three-pointer to tie the game. It went to overtime where Houston would go on to win.

So which was more heartbreaking? That's easy.

You can debate which shot was tougher ... a wide open layup or free throws. To me, it is the layup. I've never seen Lee make that play all season long (I've seen Dwight Howard do it) and with 0.5 seconds left, Lee had no time for any adjustment. That was his only shot.

Anderson had four shots. If he hit any of them, Orlando would have won that game and who knows what would happen after that? Anderson shot that shot 266 times during the 1994-1995 regular and post season. He had four chances at a 10-foot shot with no one guarding him and making whatever adjustments he needed.

It is no solace, however. Lee must now know what Anderson felt like.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Orlando's Worse Nightmare: Nick Anderson or Courtney Lee?

Last night, the Orlando Magic lost their sixth straight NBA Finals game ... and they've only played six in their history. The sixth one is about as heartbreaking as the first one. With the game on the line late, the Orlando Magic clutched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Last night with 0.5 seconds left in regulation of a tie game, Courtney Lee caught an alley-oop on an inbounds pass and missed the layup. The game would go into overtime where the Lakers would end up winning.

In Game 1 of the 1995 Finals, Nick Anderson toed the line with a three point lead and would miss four straight free throws. Four. The Rockets' Kenny Smith would dump a three-pointer to tie the game. It went to overtime where Houston would go on to win.

So which was more heartbreaking? That's easy.

You can debate which shot was tougher ... a wide open layup or free throws. To me, it is the layup. I've never seen Lee make that play all season long (I've seen Dwight Howard do it) and with 0.5 seconds left, Lee had no time for any adjustment. That was his only shot.

Anderson had four shots. If he hit any of them, Orlando would have won that game and who knows what would happen after that? Anderson shot that shot 266 times during the 1994-1995 regular and post season. He had four chances at a 10-foot shot with no one guarding him and making whatever adjustments he needed.

It is no solace, however. Lee must now know what Anderson felt like.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

History Of Game 1 Losers Who Go On to Win NBA Finals

The Orlando Magic are right. Just because you lose the first game on an NBA Finals doesn't mean that you are already done. The loser of that first game has gone on to win the series before (but it doesn't happen very often and not to teams who don't have the home court advantage).

Here is the times it has happened in my lifetime.

2006: Mavericks beat Heat. This was one Finals that really didn't act like many others. Dallas won the first two games at home in fairly impressive fashion. The series changed when it moved to Miami when the Mavs choked away Game 3 (with a little help from the refs). Miami would win the next two in Miami, becoming only the second team to ever win the middle three games at home. Miami closed out Dallas in Texas for Game 6.

2001: Sixers beat Lakers. This one was a bit different than the 2006 series. Philly surprised the Lakers in their building in overtime when Allen Iverson dumped 48 points. That was the only time all postseason long that the Lakers would lose a game. LA ran off four straight wins for their second of three consecutive titles.

1998: Jazz beat Bulls. Utah had the home court in this series and many people felt that they were destined to end Michael Jordan's run of titles. Utah won the first game at home when Scottie Pippen bricked a three at the buzzer. Chicago would win the next three games, however, and set up that memorable shot by Jordan in Game 6.

1991: Lakers beat Bulls. Sam Perkins popped a three in the closing seconds to give the Lakers the upset victory over the Bulls. Jordan didn't like that. Not. One. Bit. So, he and the Bulls bulldozed their way through the rest of the series and winning it in five.

1988: Pistons beat Lakers. Detroit finally got to the Finals and jumped all over the Lakers. They won Game 1 by 12 points and made the Lakers look tired. This is still my favorite NBA Finals of all time. Great games, great emotion and a tough, hard fought seven-game series. The Lakers would win Games 6 and 7 to claim their back-to-back title.

1985: Celtics beat Lakers. This is the most relevant so far. The Lakers were completely spanked in Boston in the Memorial Day Massacre. 148-114. Yet, the Lakers would stun Boston in Game 2. They would win four of the next five games (the only Boston win was on a Dennis Johnson buzzer-beater) and the title.

1984: Lakers beat Celtics. Same thing, different year. Lakers went into Boston and beat the Celtics. Yet the Celtics would go on to win the series in seven games.

1979: Bullets beat Sonics. Washington won Game 1 at home. Seattle would win the next four and avenge their loss to the Bullets in the previous Finals.

1978: Sonics beat Bullets. Seattle won Game 1 in Washington. That's not as historical as them also winning Game 7 in Washington for the championship.

1977: Sixers beat Blazers. Pretty much like the 2006 series. Philly won the first two at home. Then Portland went home in front of their rabid fans and took the next two in blowouts. They would go back to Philly and blow out the Sixers in Game 5. Dr. J tried to keep them in Game 6, but the Sixers bowed out.