Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celtics-Lakers, In One Way, Is Rarer Than You'd Think

The Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals not only match up the two most storied franchises in the league, but it pits two championship teams against each other. These Celtics won a title back in 2008. These Lakers are defending champions. It's rare that we see two teams (not franchises -- teams) with rings facing off for another one.

It hasn't happened in the NBA since 2005. That year, the San Antonio Spurs (who won titles in 1999 and 2003) faced off with the Detroit Pistons (who won the previous year, 2004). Before that year, you'd have to go back to those epic Lakers-Celtics battles in 1984, 1985 and 1987 to see two title teams facing off.

It isn't just rare in the NBA. In baseball, the last World Series that had two championship teams battling for it all was back in 1963 when the Dodgers (who won back in 1959) and Yankees faced off (defending two-time champion). The last time the two defending champions faced off against each other in the World Series was back in 1943 when the Cardinals and Yankees met.

The last time the Super Bowl pitted two champions against each other was back in 1984. The Los Angeles Raiders (who won in Oakland in 1981) pummelled the defending champion Redskins. The last time the last two NFL champions faced off in the next title game was way back in ... 1943 again. The Bears (1941) and Redskins (1942) faced off in 1943.

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the last meeting of champions was 2001. The defending champion New Jersey Devils lost to the Colorado Avalanche (1996 champions). The last time the two defending champions faced off was back in 1976. The two-time defending champion Philadelphia Flyers faced off against the Montreal Canadians, who won in the year before that in 1973.

The point is that we rarely get to see two teams who know what it feels like to win a title actually play each other for the right to win another one. So even if you hate the Lakers and Celtics, you should watch. You don't know when you'll see two champions play again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wade, LeBron, Bosh and Joe Johnson (?) Walk Into a Bar ...

Lookie, lookie! It's making the rounds that Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson will be in contact over their free agency futures. One can only imagine some smokey basement with one light dangling over a card table and those four going over their plans to loot the NBA.

Of course it won't happen like that. This is 2010 and there will be texts exchanged, emails sent and tweets tweeted. For anyone naive enough to believe that those four will all go to the top bidder is moronic. What it will be is Wade trying to talk LeBron or Bosh or Johnson to go to Miami and join his Heat. LeBron will be trying to get either Wade or Bosh of Johnson to join him in Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles or New Jersey. Bosh and Johnson won't be the commanding forces in free agency, but they will really tip the scales wherever they go.

I think Wade stays in Miami. He loves playing there, it's a great city and a nice organization. He won a title there and could solidify his legacy as one of South Florida's biggest heroes. I have no idea about LeBron. He should go to Miami and join Wade or stay in Cleveland and try to recruit somebody to join him. Those are his best chances to (a) get paid and (b) be on a winner.

Bosh has a lot going for him. Obviously Wade would love him in Miami. LeBron would love him in Cleveland or Chicago. He and Joe Johnson could head off to New York or New Jersey. Or he could convince the Lakers to do a sign and trade deal with the Raptors that would most likely send Andrew Bynum to Toronto. I think Bosh is more likely to see where the first dominoes fall before committing to anything. Whomever loses in the Bosh sweepstakes will then look to Amare Stoudamire or Carlos Boozer.

Johnson is the odd man in this. He doesn't really fit on a team with Wade or LeBron. Johnson would be better off going somewhere that needs a scoring wingman. Which is exactly what teams like the Clippers, Nets and Knicks need. He could end up as a sub-max player that could put an already good team over the edge via a sign-and-trade. (read: Dallas). But I think he heads to Chicago ... provided LeBron isn't already going there.

These are very uneducated guesses so excuse me if I don't punish myself for getting this wrong. This will be the most interesting free agency period since 1999.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

McNabb, Strasburg, Wall or Ovechkin. Who Will Be Washington Sports Biggest Star?

Washington sports have had a tough time of late. The Redskins went through a horrible and embarassing 4-12 season. The Nationals have had the worst record in baseball the last two years. The Wizards saw their star get popped for bringing guns in the workplace and then preceeded to sell off all their players. The one team that performed well, the President's Trophy winning Caps, were unceremoniously ousted in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But things are looking up. Three new stars are about the come to D.C. and should raise hopes for fans in that area.

Donovan McNabb will be the new Redskins' quarterback and has the personality to really make an impact on the fanbase. Of course, winning would make everyone forget that they hated him for a decade in Philly. But he has (a) the biggest star power right now as well as (b) the added bonus that lifting the Redskins would mean more to the people of the area.

At some point, Stephen Strasburg will make his Major League debut with the Nationals. It has been a long time since we've had a pitching prospect with this much buzz. He is the guy that will be counted on the lift the Nationals to any kind of relevance. Nats fans can't wait for this kid to arrive to the show.

The Washington Wizards did gain some luck by nabbing the No. 1 pick in next month's NBA Draft. The Wizards will most likely select Kentucky's John Wall with that pick. Wall has the personality and game to really change the bad vibes around this franchise and allow them to lop off Gilbert Arenas. Wall could be the next Derrick Rose and could be attractive to one of the prized free agents.

The only one that's actually played a game for the hometown team is Alex Ovechkin. Ovie may be the most popular hockey player in the world. If he could only get on hockey's biggest stage of the Stanley Cup Finals.

So who will be the biggest star in the DC area in the coming year? Ovie? Wall? Donovan? Strasburg?

My pick is McNabb. The Redskins are THE team in the capital and if he can get things turned around, then he will be instantly beloved. In the long term, though, Wall and Strasburg will be quite strong.

Why Would Anyone Think That Phil Jackson Would Go to Bulls Or Nets?

Lakers coach Phil Jackson did his best to squash recent rumors that he'd be open to coaching either the New Jersey Nets or Chicago Bulls next season. Phil's contract expires after the season so he's free to go wherever he wants.

But why anyone would think that he'd go to either Jersey or Chicago is beyond me.

Sure, you can point to a few things that sound great ... like going back to the beginning in Chicago, getting paid by a gazillionaire Russian guy, getting to coach in the New York area and, of course, coaching LeBron James.

But is any of that better than what he has now?

THE CITIES: The Los Angeles lifestyle fits Phil more than Chicago or even Metro New York. He has roots in the Windy City, but he has some really good roots set in Los Angeles. It can't be about "the stage" since these are the three largest metro areas in the NBA. The Lakers are the NBA's glamor franchise that plays in front of movie, television and singing stars. Sure, the Nets would get some more star love if that team gets to a championship level, but nothing like Hollywood.

WINNING: The Lakers could be on the verge of winning their fifth NBA title with Phil at the helm (which would give him 11 overall). Chicago was the 8th seed in the East last year. The Nets barely got past having the worst record in NBA history. Sure, both the Bulls and Nets have tons of cap space (and Jersey has the #3 draft pick) and some young talent to turn that around quickly. The sealing point would be if they could add LeBron James to their franchise ... or else Phil won't have any interest. In fact, he may have no interest if the team that does sign LeBron doesn't bring another star player in.

LEGACY: Really, the only legacy that Phil can gain by moving on to another team would be that he coached Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Pretty strong. Winning a title with LeBron would be the icing on a Hall of Fame career. But you know what else would be pretty darn special? The ability to go after FOUR three-peats. FOUR. Let me say that again. FOUR. He three-peated with the Bulls in 1991-1993 then again from 1996-1998. He skipped a season before leading the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000-2002. With the Lakers winning the title last year and two wins away from the Finals this year, he could have a shot at yet another three straight titles. That would also mean he would most certainly become the best coach in Lakers history if he isn't already.

THE TEAM: In Chicago or New Jersey, not only would Phil be inheriting a team filled with players he doesn't know, both teams will be totally revamped from last year and have no cohesion. Sure, you'd have LeBron but you have no idea what patchwork players may be surrounding them. In Los Angeles, he'll be helming pretty much the exact same team as this year. A team he knows. Guys, as quirky as they may be, he has a good grasp on already. Plus his girlfriend just happens to be the daughter of the owner. Whenever he decides to hang 'em up, he will most certainly have a consultant-type position with the Lakers.

HIS FUTURE: Which brings me to his future. This isn't a guy with a ton of years left in him as far as coaching goes. Heck, he could call it quits after this season. It isn't about needing to coach with him as much as it is wanting to coach. He's got everything established in LA. He's got the team he's built and the culture ready to win. If he goes anywhere else, he won't be taking over any of that. As I said, he'll take over a team that hasn't played together and a superstar that he doesn't know very well. Jordan and Bryant are two of the most driven players in the history of the NBA ... but we still don't know if that's LeBron's focus. Heck, if LeBron was truly about winning then he'd sign on with the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Mavericks or Spurs.

There's a Lot Of People Counting On This New York Super Bowl Working

Didja here!?!? The 2014 Super Bowl is in New York.

I've been on the fence on this for years. I don't mind a Super Bowl in a cold weather city at all. It will be 72 degrees in my house no matter if the Super Bowl is in Alaska or Hawaii. Will the play suffer in a cold weather city? I don't think so unless it is a snowy game. There have been many good NFC and AFC Championship games in freezing conditions. Still, there should be concerns about how this will go over.

Naysayers point to the fact that the people who went to the Super Bowls in Minneapolis and the Detroit area (three Super Bowls in all) weren't glowing of the stuff surrounding the game. Remember, most of the people visiting the Super Bowl city won't be actually going to the game. They will go to sell stuff, go to the parties and events and just take part of the entire Super Bowl experience. New York certainly has the ability to pull that off despite the weather. Again, this ain't Minneapolis or Detroit.

So who, besides New York and the NFL, will benefit from a successful Super Bowl?

Well, it opens up a ton of possibilities if this is pulled off. The NFL could then look at putting a Super Bowl in Washington, DC. Not only is it the nation's capital, but it is the second largest stadium in the NFL and a football hotbed. The NFL could look at Philadelphia, which has a lovely stadium and a great city to visit. Maybe the NFL takes a shot at Chicago, one of the oldest franchises in the league as well as a historic stadium in a great city. The NFL would love that. Then there is the interesting Foxboro/Boston market.

Next in line will be those cities who aren't necessarily "cold weather" cities, but ones who aren't in the warm zones or in domes. Cities like Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville and the Bay Area. If the game in New York is pulled off, then the concerns over weather in those cities will be minimized.

It will certainly be an interesting moment for New York and the NFL. Here's hoping it goes well!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big East Will Eliminate Double-Byes From Tournament

At first I thought that being a 16-team conference was a bad idea (now it seems that everyone will want to do it). Then I really hated the Big East's decision to have a funky basketball tournament that afforded double-byes and made teams playing in the first round have to win five games to get into the tournament.

Now, according to my old stomping grounds at FanHouse, they may be looking to get rid of it. Thank god.

It really isn't wise to drag this thing out like that. Sure, the proposed format (a normal 16-team bracket) would mean that the tournament would still last five days (you cannot hold 8 first round games on the same day at MSG) but it would be fairer to everyone in the league.

Of course, the Big East could go back to the 12-team tournament era and have the same structured tournament as the SEC, ACC, Big XII, etc have. The problem here is that the coaches don't want it since it means that four programs won't even qualify for the trip to New York. That means shaky job security and having Seton Hall or St. John's missing out on the hometown love. The new way would force whomever wins the tournament to have to win four games to do so (not unheard of at all).

What has also fueled this is the fact that in the two years of this double-bye tournament, five of the eight teams that received those double-byes have lost their first game. That gives the league double-trouble. One, their marquee (read: best) teams in a given year are losing so early in the tournament that it affects their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. It also means that whomever won the tournament just won four or five games in consecutive nights. Get them to the dance the next week and those teams are just worn out.

Granted, making everyone have to win four games to win the Big East tournament would also wear the champion and the runner-up out. But aside from going back to the 12-team format ... which they don't want to do ... they'll have to take this alternative.

Floyd Landis: Whistleblower Or Snitch?

Last night's The Office featured the storyline of Kathy Bates investigating a media leak that the company's printers can catch on fire. This came hours after news that Floyd Landis decided to both admit that he used PEDs and decided to name names of other cyclists that were involved.

While both deal with the same subject matter, they couldn't be any different. In The Office, the faulty printers could be disasterous for both the customers, obviously, but the PR of the company. Sure, telling company secrets is the ultimate no-no, but this one may have saved lives.

Landis isn't doing that. Landis is doing the ol' I-was-caught-and-now-I'm-telling-everyone-else's-business line. It is Canseco-esque. While what Canseco did proved to help baseball confront this issue, it still was nothing more than sour grapes. Feeling as if he's been blackballed from baseball, Canseco then tried to take down the biggest names. He was right in his information, but he was a sort of tattletale.

Same thing with Landis. He got popped for PEDs and now ... for some reason ... decided to own up to it, which is somewhat noble. However, he went further and implicated Lance Armstrong and various others that either did PEDs or were the people who knew about it. Is that noble or just snitchy.

Snitching has always been a healthy debate in society. Some feel that it is your duty to point out any wrong doing. Others feel that everyone should mind their own business. And then there are others who live in the middle and feel that people should mind their own business unless they see that their is a victim of the wrong-doing.

It's a personal thing. If you get in trouble somewhere, do you point out all your friends that were also doing it or do you shut up and take your punishment? I'm not talking about some heinous crime or anything ... just a normal incident. Say, at work, you get caught taking unauthorized smoke breaks, do you throw the other people breaking the rule under the bus or just deal with the consequences of you getting caught.

Perfect example of this just broke today. Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs made comments to ESPN the Magazine that teammates had set-up female companionships that were outside of their marriages. Is that out of bounds? Should you point out a co-worker cheating on their spouse or should you just let it go and feel that they "are on their own."

Again, if you saw a crime was committed and you come forward, most won't see that as snitching -- though that's been frowned on a bit in some communities. But a misguided soul that is trying to get away with something? That's a tough call.

Most would feel that The Office whistleblower was justified, Landis and Bowe are snitches. Or course, the people affected by the actions Landis and Bowe would feel that they did them a service by bringing up the problem. Others will feel that minding your own business and letting these other people hang themselves by their actions is the more proper thing to do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wizards Need to Switch Name Back to 'Bullets'

With the Washington Wizards winning the first pick in the draft ... which most likely will be John Wall ... there seems to be some life into a franchise that was ravaged with bad luck this year. From the passing of the owner to the entire Agent Zero gun thing to the dumping of their talent, this was a tough year in D.C.

Wall should step in and be the Wiz's star. His star power could eclipse Arenas' and allow the team to move him (highly unlikely, still). It could help add pieces around Wall and make this team a contender in a couple of years. By the way, the Wizards' wikipedia page already has Wall on their roster.

So while we are on the subject of changes in our nation's capital, how about a name change. Dump 'Wizards' and bring back the 'Bullets'!!!!

Abe Pollin changed the name to Wizards because he felt Bullets was a bit too violent. While I get that, I never really thought their name was about actual bullets. But why wizards? I mean, a wizard is someone who delves in black magic ... or a high ranking official of the Klan. Either way you look at it, the new name doesn't do much better than the Bullets.

And how fitting it is that a team whose highest paid player was nabbed for bringing guns into the Phone Company Center would be renamed the Bullets??? Don't get me started on why they could never stoop so low to go back to that name since the franchise has no problem wearing the Bullets throwback jerseys or waving the Bullets NBA Championship banner. If you really want to get "Bullets" away from your franchise, erase any mention of "Bullets" from your history. Since you won't, embrace it and move on.

Screw the meaning of the names for a second and just look at the franchise. When I think of the Washington Bullets, I think of Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, Walt Bellamy and Moses Malone. When I think of the Washington Wizards, I think of a fat Michael Jordan, Kwame Brown, Gilbert Arenas and not much else. The Bullets went to three NBA Finals, winning one. The Wizards have made the playoffs just four times and winning just one postseason series.

Please go back to the 'Bullets' name! Puhleeeeze! It was an awesome name ... and in a city like Washington, you know that there's another team in town with a nickname that's more controversial. So go back to it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

There's Much On the Line In the NBA Draft Lottery

Tomorrow night is the NBA Draft Lottery. For at least one night, NBA fans will forget all about LeBron's future (barely) and the Conference Finals and focus on those teams who didn't have great years.

John Wall is the perceived prize of this lottery. Interestingly enough, Wall may not actually be the biggest fish for the lottery winner. If a team like the Nets or Clippers get that top pick and draft Wall, it could also lead to netting LeBron James. Sure, it seems rather dumb that he'd bolt the winningest franchise of the last two years to play for two of the perennial also-rans.

But both could be very attractive. They both are in the two biggest markets in America (albeit the "other" team in their respective markets). Both have some nice young talent already. Just imagine if the Clippers won the lottery again. They already have Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan, Craig Smith and Blake Griffin. Add John Wall to that mix and it could be extremely attractive for LeBron. The Nets don't have the same amount of talent, but Brook Lopez is a keeper and Devin Harris is an All Star. Sure, Harris may have to be moved if they bring in Wall, but that could net some nice talent.

That is all a long shot. Why wouldn't LeBron just stay in Cleveland or move on to the Knicks or Bulls (by the way, the Knicks traded away their lottery pick to the Jazz)? And even if those teams don't win the lottery, there are some nice prospects out there to fall back on.

Oh My God! The Yankees and Red Sox Are Playing Again!!!!

Oh my god!! Didja here!?!?!? The Yankees and Red Sox are playing again!!!! Oh my god!!!!! Can you believe it!!?!?!

I mean, we've waited nearly two weeks for these two to get paired up again. You cannot keep us from seeing the two greatest professional franchises battle each other for that long!!!

I know that in the grand scheme of things, 18 games doesn't seem like it's that much during a 162-game schedule. Well, it is. That's 11% of the BoSox and Yanks schedules. That's akin to having the Celtics and Knicks meeting nine times during an NBA season. And while I would hesitate to say that 18 games against each other is too much, it does get rather tiresome when you keep getting bombarded with this by ESPN every couple of weeks. At least Duke-UNC and Lakers-Celtics happens just twice a year ... and Michigan-Ohio State happens only in November.

Of course, the reprieve I need comes soon. After this quick two-game set at Yankee Stadium, these two franchises won't meet again until August. It will be nearly three months before we get bombarded by this again. Thank god!

Friday, May 14, 2010

We Will Soon Be Entering the SUPERCONFERENCE Era in College Sports

With the Big Ten looking to expand, the theory that we will soon have a bunch of superconferences is starting to gain traction. I'm not sure that it will get to this any time soon, but it is an interesting concept.The school of thought is that the Big Ten will loot the Big XII and Big East to get to 16 teams ... which will open those conferences up to get looted by the ACC, SEC and Pac-10.

NORTH: Boston College, Louisville, Maryland, Syracuse, UConn, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
SOUTH: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest

I think the ACC won't get raided by anyone. There are thoughts that the SEC could come after Clemson, FSU, Miami or Georgia Tech. That doesn't make sense to me (more on that later). So the ACC finishes off the Big East by taking Louisville, UConn, Syracuse and West Virginia. That's a nice addition to the football side of things and would re-enter the ACC as the premiere basketball conference. I mean, a conference with North Carolina, Duke, UConn, Syracuse, West Virginia and Louisville??? Sure, L'ville may not fit as well as, say, a South Florida but it helps reach out the ACC's geography a bit. It would also add the UConn's women's team to the already powerful ACC lineup.

BIG TEN (16 teams)
EAST: Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers
WEST: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin

The Big Ten starts the free for all by adding Rutgers, Missouri, Nebraska and Notre Dame into the fold ... as well as Pitt. This makes sense for the Big Ten as it adds the New York market (Rutgers), the glamor of Notre Dame, the traditional power in Nebraska and two nice competitive programs in Missouri and Pitt.

PAC-10 CONFERENCE (16 teams)
EAST: Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Utah
WEST: Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State

The Pac-10 will sort through the scraps of the Big XII by adding the two Kansas schools as well as Colorado, Baylor and Texas Tech. It puts the conference among the powers, adds Kansas basketball to the already elite UCLA.

EAST: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
WEST: Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, Miss State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M

Like I said before, it doesn't make sense to me that the SEC would go after Clemson, FSU, Miami or Ga Tech. The SEC and ACC have pretty good relations and adding those teams ... aside from the actual programs themselves ... is pointless. The SEC is already in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, so I think they'll have their sights set west a bit. Texas is the cash cow in any expansion and the SEC is the perfect partner. With Texas comes Texas A&M. And you may as well add Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Those four schools bring powerhouse programs who are steeped in tradition (remember that T. Boone Pickens backs OSU). It puts the reach of the SEC into Texas and Oklahoma which gives the SEC two of the most fertile grounds for recruiting (Texas and Florida).

The biggest losers are obviously the Big XII and Big East which will pretty much not exist. In that, the individual losers would be Iowa State, Cincinnati and South Florida ... as well as the basketball-only schools of the Big East. Those three schools are left out of any realignment and will most likely have to go fishing in a smaller than BCS conference. So I have those three globbing on to the Conference USA ... along with Charlotte ... to form their own 16-team league. Charlotte is planning to have a football program in a couple of years and should be ready to step in when all this breaks open.

EAST: Central Florida, Charlotte, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Marshall, South Florida, Southern Miss, UAB
WEST: Houston, Iowa State, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP

Then, let's just merge the Mountain West and WAC together (sans Idaho).

EAST: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico, New Mexico State, TCU, Wyoming
WEST: BYU, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State

BIG EAST (basketball only)
DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova

To be honest, I would hope the Atlantic 10 and Big East could work something out and we could add Xavier, Temple, Rhode Island, UMass and Dayton to the mix to make a very, very good basketball conference.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

LeBron Needs to Prove He Is "King James" ... Or Just Sign On With a Winner

This is LeBron James' moment.

His Cleveland Cavaliers ... owners of the best record in the regular season ... face the Celtics in Boston tonight. They must win that game and then a Game 7 back in Cleveland or else their season is over. What was such a promising and exciting season a week ago has now turned into tense nerves. That's what a 32-point loss at home can do to ya.

While the Lakers, Magic and Suns are all enjoying some time off after their sweeps, the Cavs and Celtics are clawing at each other for that final spot.

Game 5 was a bad one for LeBron. Game 6 is huge. For those people who continue to try to convince me that LeBron is the best player in the NBA ... I want to see how he performs tonight. With his back against the wall and his season (and possibly Cavs career) on the line, I want to see what this cat will bring to Beantown. I expect to see the dominating LeBron attacking the basket and not one that settles for jump shots.

The last time LeBron was put in this position, he stormed off the floor in Orlando last May. The Magic disposed of the Cavaliers in six game and LeBron huffed and puffed and went home. When he did finally emerge, he complained that shaking your opponents' hands in a loss makes you a loser. Well, LeBron ... you are.

The Cavaliers have never won anything. Not before you got there and not the King James version. Sure, these are the best times in the franchise's life but if you want to be considered among the greatest of all time, you might want to win a title. Yes, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley are fondly remembered. But Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are beloved.

Which brings me to his impending free agency. The one thing we will hear from these mega-star free agents is "it isn't about the money -- it's about winning." Bullcrap. Bullcrap! Stop selling us that baloney. If it was "all about winning", then LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson would all take less money and join forces to win a title. Win some titles that way. Who cares if you overloaded a team to win it all?? Most of the Celtics championship teams were filled with Hall Of Famers. So were the Lakers teams of the 1980s.

My outside the box scenario is that LeBron goes to Los Angeles and joins the Lakers. It actually is a perfect scenario. LeBron could be the Magic Johnson-esque point guard to replace Derek Fisher in the starting lineup (keep Fish around for those big shots he provides). Imagine the defensive possibilities with a backcourt of LeBron and Kobe Bryant with Ron Artest on the wing and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum patrolling the paint. LeBron's game is perfect for the triangle offense and his ability and willingness to pass the ball will allow him to fit in.

Sure, that means the Lakers signed him for the mid-level exception (about $5M per) and that he'd be giving up three or four times that on the open market ... but it's about winning, right? And the marketing opportunities that await LeBron in New York are pretty much available in Los Angeles. The Lakers are the glamor franchise of the NBA and LeBron would be the eventual heir to that organization's reign. From Kareem to Magic to Shaq to Kobe to LeBron.

Why not? It's about winning championships, right? Well, if you signed a smaller deal with LA this summer, you will be in a great chance to start your ring collection. After all, this team won one last year without you and Kobe is sitting on four rings right now (and counting).

Don't think of it as you riding Kobe's coattails to a title. Again, you could become the man in LA once Kobe's done and you know that organization has the pull to keep you among the elite. This is a franchise that dismantled a three-time championship team ... only to go to the Finals four years later.

So either shut up and ball you balls off tonight in Boston. Or put your money where your mouth is and truly find the place that is best for winning a title.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

JaMarcus Russell to Bengals Is Perfect Idea

JaMarcus Russell may not have a criminal record or several court cases coming up, but he's about as rancid as any player in the league. The man was the top overall pick in the draft four years ago and now nobody wants anything to do with him.

Which makes Russell to the Cincinnati Bengals perfect sense.

This is the franchise that has given second chances to ... well ... everyone. Two years ago, Cedric Benson was jobless in Texas before the Bengals snatched him up. No one wanted Larry Johnson last year and they picked him up. In this offseason, the ostracized Matt Jones and Pacman Jones ... neither of which played last season ... signed with Cincy. They are willing to draft guys that other teams ban from their draft boards.

So why not Russell? The Bengals sure could use a backup to Carson Palmer. Russell could use a job with no pressure. He could also use an owner who isn't concerned by what people think about him to take a chance on him. Al Davis did it -- now it's Mike Brown's turn. He is the perfect reclamation project for Brown and could actually be his legendary moment. If he can get Russell to be a capable quarterback in this league, it might be a steal. Of course, that probably won't happen ... but it could very well be a low risk/high reward kind of a deal.

The difference is that these other "projects" were decent players who had outside issues keeping them out of the league. Russell is far from a decent player and who honestly believes that the Bengals have the coaching to make him into a serviceable QB?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Will Farrell Shows Up as Rojo Johnson and ... Well Just Watch

Today (May 7th) Is Epic Day in NBA History

Today is May 7th. So is it wrong to expect a great moment or two tonight? I mean, in the past decades, some of the most iconic moments in NBA history happened on this day.

1989: "Shot over Ehlo ... good! Bulls win!" In a career filled with great moments and shots, Jordan may be known most for this one. His 18-footer beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the series-deciding Game 5 (at the Cavs' place) and put them on the track to vault the Celtics and Pistons as the eventual beasts of the east.

1994: Denver beats Seattle: This is one of the greatest postseason upsets in NBA history. The Seattle SuperSonics had the best regular season record (63-19) in the league that year. Denver was a bunch of young cats that squeaked into the playoffs with a 42-40 mark. In the first two games in Seattle, the Sonics cruised to easy victories and the thought of advancing was a mere formality. Even when the Nuggs blew out Seattle in Game 3, we knew that this was just a blip. But then came a gutty overtime win by Denver in Game 4 and it set up a deciding Game 5 back in Seattle. That game was on May 7th ... and the Nuggets again took the Sonics into overtime. And ... again ... they won. Denver became the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in NBA postseason history. The scene of Dikembe Mutombo laying on the floor with an ear-to-ear grin defines that upset.

1995: Reggie lights up New York: Reggie Miller's epic 8-point explosion in the 8.9 seconds of the fourth quarter of Indiana Pacers playoff game against the New York Knicks defines this future Hall Of Famer's career.

Saturday, May 1, 2010 Turns Six Years Old!

Hard to believe that just turned 6 years old. It all started back on May 1st, 2004 with a modest post about the NBA Playoffs. From there, it has been quite a ride.

I parlayed that to "Pigskin Bloggers" and the "Pigskin Bloggers Live" internet radio show on AOL. That got my blog featured on ESPN's Cold Pizza three times as well as being on air along side great athletes and columnists. I had Seth Davis call me an idiot because I said that J.J. Redick chokes in the biggest games (which he did) and that will be Duke's downfall in the tournament (it was). I debated Scoop Jackson about where Phil Jackson would end up (Scoop picked the Knicks; I picked the Lakers). It was an awesome time for the empire.

All of that was tossed aside when AOL decided to start I was one of the original bloggers on that site ... mainly specializing in fantasy football. From there, I was added on to the college basketball section (where I eventually became a lead blogger) and then the NFL. I covered the Washington Redskins (my favorite team), Carolina Panthers (my hometown team), Cincinnati Bengals (where I live now), Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

I worked with some great people over the years at FanHouse and SportzAssassin as well as working for some outstanding visionaries (The Mottrams, Alana G, John Ness). I would leave FanHouse in April 2009 due to the site's switch from a sports blog to a sports magazine. With all the sports writers losing jobs in the dying newspaper industry, I cannot blame AOL for deciding to snatch these guys up and reimagining the blog. Since I'm just some "basement blogger", I was asked to leave.

The three years I spent there were great and taught me a lot about the business side of sports blogging as well as being on the front side of the sports blogging explosion. That's been what I've been proud of most. The fact that this site began before anyone even knew about sports blogs and the fact that I was part of its skyrocketing popularity is something I'll always treasure.

Since leaving FanHouse, I now work for where I'm an editor and contributor (thanks to the aforementioned Alana). My SportzAssassin site is being seen more now than it ever has. Again, I'm just some small blog written by one man who has no aspirations about being a sportswriter or media personality. I just love sports and love writing my opinions. The fact that anyone even reads what I write still amazes me.

So thank you to all of you guys who bother to come to the site as well as all of the people who helped me along the way.