Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Lot To Talk About...

After quite possibly two of the most boring rounds in NBA playoff history, things are starting to get pretty exciting for the NBA, at just the right time. Four topics are leading the headlines: Lakers-Suns, the Magic flirting with history, a possible Kendrick Perkins suspension, and Lebron, D-Wade, Joe Johnson & Chris Bosh are talking!

1. Lakers-Suns
The series that looked pretty much over in LA has changed courses completely. After a trip to Phoenix, the Suns now have the upper hand with the Lakers on their toes. Led by three-point shooting, zone defense, and the recent resurgence of bench play, the Suns look geared for a possible upset. The Lakers have completely steered away from their comfort zone and winning formula, settling as a predominantly jump shot and three-point shooting team in Games 3 & 4. This would be okay if a) Ron Artest was Trevor Ariza (I said it once and I'll say it a thousand times: "Terrible trade Lakers! Let's take an almost equally good defender, lights out from 3, came up so clutch in our championship run last year with game-changing steals and threes, and replace him with a maayyybee marginally better defender, out of his prime, can't shoot for [expletive], and has never been a winner! It's the perfect trade! For the Rockets."). Or b) If the Lakers didn't have the best front court in basketball (Odom 6'10", Gasol 7'0", Bynum 8'11"). It's like playing the Mon-Stars for goodness sake. Without MJ, Bill Murray, or Newman running the show, the Suns shouldn't be able to compete with that front court. But instead, the Lakers are settling for jump shots, playing at the Suns pace, and running their almost unbeatable team into the ground. I don't see Jackson being fooled three times by Alvin Gentry, I don't see Gasol being a non-factor again, and I don't see the Lakers losing at home in the playoffs, well, ever. So I'll still give the Lakers an upper hand on this one. Especially since we all know David Stern will do whatever it takes to get a Lakers-Celtics Final again. But it would be nice to see the Suns put the pressure on LA and take Game 5 tonight. It would sure make Lebron's puppet happy.
P.s. Robin Lopez has established himself as the second biggest d-bag in the NBA this series, only trailing his brother Brook for the title. His histrionics on the bench make me wish someone would miss clipping Steve Nash in the face with an elbow for once and hit Lopez. He's so overdramatic, and I'm still befuddled how he road his brother into the NBA like that. Granted he's played really well this year, but that doesn't change the fact that him and his brother are still huge d-bags. And so is J.J. Redick. No relevance, he just is.

2. Magic climbing their way back
I will probably never live down, nor forgive the Yankees for blowing a 3-0 lead to the Boston Red Sox in 2004. I think the only thing that could ever make up for that would be for us (the Yankees, yes I pretend I'm apart of the organization) to do it to them twice. Or us just sweeping them for the rest of eternity. But until that happens, I gotta admit, it would feel pretty good right now to see Boston blow a 3-0 series lead after two weeks ago, the Boston Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers. Can you imagine? Something that's happened only four times in sport history, never once in basketball, happening twice in the same month to Boston?! The Magic have all the momentum in the world too. Not only did they outplay them in Boston, grinding out an overtime victory. They also dominated them at home where they would play Game 7. And, in the real tough challenge, Game 6, Glen "Big Baby" Davis most likely won't play after going down like Frazier last night, and...

3. Kendrick Perkins is facing a suspension for Game 6 right now.
Well, actually, not anymore. I just learned that the NBA rescinded the second technical foul Perkins picked up last night, dropping his total for the playoffs to 6. This means Perkins won't be suspended for Game 6 and the Celtics can breathe a sigh of relief. Don't be mistaken, the loss of Big Baby, who's been playing great this series, will exceptionally hurt the C's chances of winning the game. But having Perkins is huge. He's one of the few people in the league that can disrupt Dwight Howard's offensive game, and without Perkins, the Celtics' Finals hopes would be in the hands of Rasheed Wallace. Nobody wants that responsibility in Rasheed's hands. Rasheed doesn't even want it. He'd much rather prefer drifting from three-point line to three-point line, keeping those legs fresh for the occasional open look, as opposed to battling Howard on every possession. Dropping one of the two questionable T's on Perkins may save the Celtics season. Unless he picks up another one tonight.

And lastly, in news completely unrelated to the playoffs that most people probably care more about...

4. Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson & now Chris Bosh plan to talk about free agency...
That's right. The "Axis of Powers" in this summer's free agency group plan to talk before they make their respective commitments. What has the NBA come to? It's literally run by Lebron, Wade, and David Stern's referees these days. This is collusion. It should be illegal. Unless of course, they all decide to come to the Knicks. One thing is for sure. The Bulls are kind of screwed. It seems D-Wade wants no part in that franchise, and he's really pushing for Miami. I could see Lebron in Miami, but I think it's a little far-fetched at this point. I can't imagine there's any way all four of these players can land on the same team, nor if it would make any sense for them all to be on the same team. But it should be really interesting to see what fate they decide for the NBA this summer. If they wanted to, they could basically say, "Ya know what? I think the Clippers should win the next 8 championships." Then, the most cursed franchise ever, could instantly have 8 titles - no thanks in part to Blake Griffin. Obviously, I'm pulling for the Knicks to get all four of these guys, throw in Danilo Gallinari and his hair gel, and the team I've seen fail so many times throughout my lifetime has 5-8 titles (assuming there's no injuries). My second vote would be for them to go to Dallas. Let's examine the lineup:
C - Dirk Nowitzki (not really because he'll be out on the perimeter the whole game, but whatever he's 7'0''). 2009-10 stats: 25.0 ppg 7.7 rpg
PF - Chris Bosh 2009-10 stats: 24.0 ppg 10.8 rpg (in Canada)
SF/PG - Lebron James 2009-10 stats: 29.7 ppg 7.3 rpg 8.6 apg 2.4 sttapg (Sportscenter Top Ten Appearances per game), MVP
SG/PG - Dwyane Wade 2009-10 stats: 26.6 ppg 6.5 apg 1.84 spg
PG/SG - Joe Johnson - 21.3 ppg 4.9 apg
This team would go 81-1. They would fool around so much they'd be bound to have one let down. Sure, they'd have to take enormous pay cuts, but I'm sure Mark Cuban could work something out under the table. Plus do they really need $15 million a year? That's chump change when it comes to their endorsements. I'm not saying it's gonna happen. But how ridiculous would it be if that happened? Maybe it could too. They are all talking. Let's hope they just don't fight about the decision and all go separate ways. Then the NBA would be competitive again.

Oh no wait.

Image taken from

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meadow-Lands the Super Bowl...

Today was a monumental day for the National Football League. The owners of all 32 NFL teams met and decided that in 2014, New York-New Jersey will host the Super Bowl at Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ - home to the New York Football Giants and some other team in the AFC that likes to call the Giants' home their home as well, even though its been named Giants Stadium for the last 34 years. But I digress.

The NFL waived its rule that the Super Bowl must be played in a stadium who's temperature averages weather above 50 degrees in the month the Super Bowl takes place, to allow for the Giants to enter the running (Oh, and the Jets too). The vote wasn't unanimous, taking four ballots to come to a final decision.

While I'm not sure allowing NY-NJ to enter the running was the greatest idea for the NFL, I'm excited to see how the experiment turns out. The NFL is taking a huge risk, and one snow storm could discount the chances of a Super Bowl ever being played at a cold-weather site again. Hopefully this Super Bowl will generate some revenue for the state that spent $1.6 billion on a new stadium in the troubled economic times, and bring us back to the days of old, when champions were decided in epic battles on the frozen tundra.

As a Giants season ticket holder, I can say a few things.
1. It gets really, really cold at the Meadowlands in January and February. Blistering cold.
Helpful Tip: Purchasing hand and feet warmers is a must. I'd also recommend a scarf, the sweatshirt and winter jacket combo, a nice thermal, some pajama pants to wear under the jeans, and of course, a vintage Giants snow cap for the ears. Throw a jersey on top of the sweatshirt and you're golden.
2. The Giants will be at a disadvantage if they make the Super Bowl that year. Have you seen Eli throw in the wind at that Stadium? It ain't pretty.
3. New York City will be colder than the Meadowlands. You will lose your toes waiting to see Hairspray if the winds are swirling in the city that week.
4. New York has great food and, from what I hear, great night life as well. I had a wonderful time gracing the open bar scene one night last winter, but I haven't been able to afford the non-open bar scene on my college salary of $0. People tell me it's something else though.
5. Hoboken is a cheap alternative with a nice young crowd for those of you recently eclipsing the age of 21. I'd recommend catching a live cover band at Willie McBrides.
6. I won't get a ticket for my seat even though I bought the personal seat license. Thousands of dollars to license a seat to my name and I don't even get to sit in it for the Super Bowl. Remind me again why I purchased that thing?
7. If you're looking for some food to hold you over during the game, DON'T go with the hot pretzel. At the Giants-Panthers game two years ago in December, I ordered a hot pretzel during the third quarter. There was only one left when I got to the front of the line. I spent 10 minutes sweating it out over whether or not I'd get one as I waited in line. As I was ordering, someone from the back came up front and put a bunch of new pretzels in the heated holder. The concession worker picked one from the batch, which I brought back to my seat. As I bit down into the so-called "hot pretzel", I learned a few things. For one, the hot pretzel had just come from the freezer in the back. Secondly, it was a cheese pretzel. And lastly, there were ice crystals in it. A frozen cheese pretzel in 15 degree weather was exactly what I needed to get me through the rest of the game. I felt the need to throw up more with each bite. I ate all of it. I was that hungry. But I may never order a hot pretzel at Giants Stadium again. Don't make the same mistake I did.

I truly believe this will turn out to be a great thing for the game. January weather is football. There's a reason the Super Bowl doesn't take place in August. Championships were meant to be fierce battles with bone-chilling hits that were only amplified by the frigid cold weather on the field. Bad weather has brought us "The Ice Bowl", "The Fog Bowl", "The Tuck Rule Game", and my personal favorite, "The Brett Favre chokes in his last game at Lambeau in 25 degrees below zero weather against the New York Giants Game!". Trust me people. This is good for the sport. It's a chance to mix things up for once. A chance to unite the game of old with the game of new.

Then again, the way Global Warming has affected the weather the last few years, by 2014, it might be 86 degrees in New Jersey and 15 degrees below in Tampa come February. Only time will tell.

Image taken from

Monday, May 24, 2010

Whatever It Takes...

Today the Cleveland Cavaliers cut ties with fifth year coach Mike Brown. Brown led Cleveland to the playoffs in all five seasons with the team, amounting a record of 272-138 (.663). During his tenure, the Cavs had four 50-win seasons, including back-to-back 60-win seasons in the last two years.

The firing shows just how desperate the Cavs and owner Dan Gilbert are to retain Lebron James next season. Brown, last year's Coach of the Year, lead the team to the NBA's best record the last two seasons. But the regular season means nothing when a team fails time and time again in the playoffs. With Lebron's contract being done, someone needed to take the fall. The Cavs needed to show Lebron they would do anything for him to stay. And by the looks of it, they would.

It was a smart move by Cleveland. Brown needed the ax anyway. Forget the accolades, there's probably 10 coaches in the NBA right now that could have done the same, if not better, with that team. Brown was supposedly a great "players' coach", which is great and all, but being liked by your players isn't what Brown gets paid to do. He's paid to win titles, and was asked to kick-start the Lebron legacy of NBA titles in Cleveland. He had five years to do so, was favored to do so, and still didn't come through. If the Cavs can manage to keep Lebron, which seems far from likely at this point, it's someone else's turn to try and launch Lebron's title spring.

You can argue that Brown wasn't given the components to win a championship and that he did a great job turning Lebron from a high school phenom into the NBA star he is today, but the Mike Brown I came to know didn't have what it takes to lead Cleveland to the title. He poorly managed his lineups, didn't see obvious mismatches, relied too heavily on Lebron, and didn't bring the best out in his team as a whole. During the playoffs, while the likes of Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy effectively coached beside him, Brown looked dumbfounded, at a loss, and over-matched. "Give the ball to Lebron" wasn't the answer to everything. It certainly wasn't the answer to the question, "How do I win an NBA championship?"

Cleveland's only answer might be to give Lebron total control this offseason. Let him conduct the head coaching interviews, let him manage the cap, let him decide his own salary, let him set concession prices. Cleveland hasn't given Lebron any reason to stay. Their desperation for him to give them one more shot is almost pathetic. Yet, it seems necessary. I think for a while Lebron did want to stay and give back to the place he came from. But I think he's ready to explore an even greater spotlight in a bigger market. In the Boston series, we didn't see a Lebron with an unquestionable desire to win, or a Lebron who had more fun playing the game and joking around with teammates than any other player in the league. Instead, we saw a Lebron that looked like he thought, "Maybe I can't win with this group. Maybe it is time to move on. Away from Cleveland".

Maybe firing Mike Brown, trying to hire Coach K, and giving an arm and a leg for Lebron will minimally increase the chances Lebron comes back to Cleveland. But as far as I'm concerned, Lebron is already gone.

Image taken from Google Images

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Watching Paint Dry....

Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan once saved the NBA. Then the NBA died. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony then resurrected the NBA. And now the NBA is dying a slow and painful death.

I can honestly say that I'd rather watch the History Channel than a Magic-Hawks game right now. How can there be so little parity in the NBA? I get it. The economy is killing any chance some teams have of competing this year. But we've only got 8 teams left people. This should be the point when competition is at an all-time high. Instead, as an audience, we've witnessed a 43-point blow out and a round who's games have been decided by an average of 17 points! Nothing like a TNT triple-header that offers games that don't go back and forth, are decided in the second quarter and feature fourth quarter's with the likes of Tony Allen, Shelden Williams and Randolph Morris. Right now you're all asking yourself: Who the f is Randolph Morris? Why would I want to see Lebron go shot for shot with Paul Pierce when I could see Randolph Morris back down Marcin Gortat and battle for boards with Ryan Anderson? Morris' +/- was -8 in two minutes last game. It's hard to be that bad on defense. I feel like the Hawks had to put work into that.

Fellow blogger jeskeets tweeted this earlier today:

Breaking news: #NBA Commissioner David Stern cancels Game 4 of the Hawks-Magic series. His statement: "Honestly, there's no point."

I honestly wish this was actually true. The only thing the Hawks have done for me this series, is guarantee Joe Johnson's arrival in New York next fall. No wait, let me rephrase that. The only thing the Hawks have done for me this series is guarantee the Knicks will somehow f up getting a departing Joe Johnson from Atlanta, and he'll help another organization win basketball games. Thanks a lot Atlanta. I would rather have seen an exciting young Hawks team stick together than have to hate the Knicks even more for failing to get any relevant free agents this summer. At least if he stuck with the Hawks I could say, "Well, that one wasn't the Knicks fault".

As it stands right now, three of the four Conference Semifinals are 3 games to none. In basketball terms, that means that three of the four Conference Semifinals have already been decided and are thus, over. The Lakers and Jazz offered us the lone riveting game of the round tonight. But a jumper by Deron Williams that clanked off the iron, followed by a failed Wesley Matthews tip-in ruined any hope of an exciting series between the two foes.

For now, we can only hope both Cleveland and Boston's best efforts show up on the same night. Only problem is, that might have to involve Rasheed Wallace showing any indication he cares about the outcome of the series. Which is highly, highly unlikely.

When did we ever have to hope teams would bring their best efforts to a playoff game? What kind of world do we live in right now?

Thanks a lot Bin Laden.

Image taken from

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mo Money? Mo Problems for the Celtics...

I can't remember the last time I watched a Cavs game and someone other than Lebron James left me saying "Wow, did he really just do that?" Until tonight. The Cavs are up 1-0 in the Eastern Conference semi for one reason and one reason only: Mo Williams. His third quarter outburst of scoring carried a sluggish Cleveland team to victory tonight.

Where was Lebron the whole time? Watching Mo go to work. The NBA's MVP played a very quiet role in the first three quarters of play. He wasn't the dominate force he's been all season, leaving all of Cleveland concerned about that right elbow. LBJ seemed to be going through the motions, lacking aggression and intensity. The same could be said for all the Cavs too.

Early in the third quarter, I began to think of the implications a series loss to the Celtics might have on Lebron's upcoming free agency decision. I can't stand Boston, but I thought to myself, "Wait, if the Celtics upset the Cavs, might he go to the Knicks? Should I be rooting for the Celtics?" Then Mo Williams said, "If proving to Lebron he can win a title with us is going to keep him in Cleveland, I'm going to prove to Lebron he can win a title with us". That's when Mo did his best impression of Lebron's "no regard for human life!" dunk over KG two years ago.

The best part about that dunk wasn't the emphatic thrown down over a wincing Pierce's face. It wasn't the fact that it was Mo's first dunk as a Cleveland Cavalier. It was the glare he gave Pierce as he hopped in celebration after the slam. His eyes basically took Pierce's wife out to a seafood dinner, and dipped out on the bill when she went to use the restroom. They said, "I'm about to go off, don't even bother trying to guard me". And he did. For 10 straight Cleveland points, which set up the buzzer-beating layup James made to give the Cavs the lead going into the fourth.

Mo single-handedly won them the game. You can say Lebron's 12-point fourth quarter performance was the difference, especially since his team stood around and watched him the last 12 minutes of the game. But it was Mo's efforts that won the Cavs that game. For once, someone made Lebron stop and watch somebody else go to work.

The Cavs were out of that game, already looking onto Game 2. They had me thinking Lebron in blue and orange next year. But Mo Williams wasn't out of that game. He was locked and loaded, ready to take on the Celtics all by himself. And he did.

Funny how James and his elbow is the story catching sports headlines.

Image taken from

Coming Soon...

A sign of life that this blog actually still exists. I lost the sponsors, but I'm not discouraged. This blog is free anyways. Talbot Talks Sports has a new fresh look, and I'm working on some new fresh writing material. So stay tuned.