Assassin

May 30, 2009

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One of my best basketball buddies says to me this morning, “Kobe looked good last night.”  My response was simply, “He knew what time it was.”

The best closer in the game stepped it up to finish the Western Conference Finals against a game Denver Nuggets team.  A night after LeBron willed the Cavaliers to stay alive, Kobe put Carmelo Anthony and Denver to rest.  Kobe has that Jordan-esque quality of hammering the nail when the job needs to be done.   Like blood in the water, Kobe will hit the jumper, silence the crowd with a ferocious dunk, even block a shot or two.

No, Kobe is not Michael Jordan for various reasons.  2 of the most glaring are that Mike would routinely guard the best offensive player on the other team and Kobe has lost 2 NBA Finals (1 with Shaq), not Jumpman23 at all.

But currently, the NBA is fantastic and Kobe is definitely carrying the flag.  I think he will win his 4th tittle, but more importantly, his 1st title as “the guy”


Kentucky Basketball

May 20, 2009

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John Wall is going to Kentucky.  The dynamic Point Guard who stormed onto the recruiting scene in the past few months is a monumental grab for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.  Wall is perfect for the Dribble-Drive offense or as Calipari calls it, “Princeton on Steroids”.  Along side DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and maybe Jodi Meeks, the Wildcats will be the team to beat in the SEC and in the Top-15 of the country. 

Its’ never been a question of if Calipari would bring back Kentucky to the promised land, but it is surprising how quick this happened.  Coach Calipari has longed to be at the head table in the College Coaching ranks, but at Memphis he couldn’t even get into the room to be with the Kansas’, North Carolina’s, and Duke’s.  Now, not only is he at the table, he has the head chair.

Wall’s signing with Kentucky signifies more then a good Wildcat team in 2009-2010, it also is sending shock waves throughout the College Basketball world that the dormant giant is finally awake, and not too happy.  Separated by the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina and Kentucky have always had a healthy rivalry based on tradition and success.  For a while it was easy for Roy Williams to fly into whatever high school gym had the talent with his Tar Heels gear on and walk away knowing he could get whomever he wants. 

Now the slicked back hair of Coach Cal and the embroidered blazers with UK on them will follow North Carolina to Mt. Zion Academy to Word of God School and so on, making the recruiting process and college basketball world a nuclear arms race once again.  But now with the superpowers back where they should be.


USA Olympic Basketball

May 19, 2009

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The 2008 “Redeem Team” was a refocus to the fundamentals and talents of the normal US Basketball player.  Coach K was brought in and taught defense and teamwork.  Team CEO Jerry Colangelo brought a sense of importance and value to being part of the team.  The players are now regarded as the cream of the crop and the next generation of superstars in the world of basketball.  Now as we are down to the Final 4 of the NBA playoffs, all 4 teams are led by an Olympian.  Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers, Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.  All 4 players were vital parts of the Gold Medal Team.

Now the US Olympic Team has begun the process of its next batch of National Team players.  I believe that out of the 2008 Gold Medal Team, Kobe and Jason Kidd are probably 2 guarenteed players that won’t return.  The nucleus of LeBron, Melo, and DWade should stick around to win another gold medal.  

One player that I believe should be invited to the camp is Rajon Rondo.  The exciting Celtics’ Point Guard is the perfect choice as a replacement for Jason Kidd  and is comparable to what Chris Paul or Deron Williams bring to the table.  Rondo knows how to lead a team of superstars, spread the ball, and fill in where he can.  Arguably the best defensive point guard, Rondo will lock down Patty Mills of Austrailia and Ricky Rubio of Spain.  This year, Rondo added his ability to finish around the rim to make him a complete team player.  Not a complete offensive basketball player yet, but with all that scoring on the Olympic Team, he won’t need to.

LeBron James signs his Olympic Jersey #6 more then his NBA jersey and has been quoted as saying that the Olympic Medal is his most important accomplishment.  Once again the refocus of the USA on the Olympic Basketball Tournament will make the World’s other powers better, so the USA team can not rest.  Rondo will help keep the momentum.


Barcelona – Chelsea

May 7, 2009

There is nothing better then a Champions League match-up.  Let alone, a semi-final match between Chelsea and Barcelona that is tied at 0 after a scoreless draw in Spain 2 weeks ago.  Dubbed “Beauty and the Beast”, for the contrasting styles of play the outcome could of been decided by a coin flip and it pretty much was.

In the UEFA Champions League, you are rewarded for away goals.  This meant, that if Barcelona scored 1 goal in London at Chelsea’s home turf, it essentially counts for 2.  So if the score ended 1-1 or 2-2, Barcelona would of went through on away goals.  The Federation does this to try to bribe away sides from packing it in and playing for the 0-0 draw.  It usually works.  

Chelsea is an athletic, powerful, physical team.  A kind of 3 yards and a cloud of dust team.  Love to smash volleys, head in restarts, and score on quick, aggressive counterattacks.  Barcelona is “The Beautiful Game” or “Total Football” in a nutshell.  Barca loves to thread the needle, possess the ball until the defense gets lazy, and then combination pass behind and for a goal.  The Catalans were coming off putting 6 goals up against bitter rival Real Madrid last Saturday.

With the contrasting styles of play, it would be foolish to bet on this game.  It would come down to whoever could impose their will on the other for the entire 90+ minutes.  Chelsea, true to form, raced up and down the pitch from the opening whistle.  Micael Essien volleyed home one of the best goals you will ever see.  Boosting Chelsea to a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.  

Chelsea then retreated to their own half, often with 9 or 10 men behind the ball.  Barcelona controlled, actually dominated, possesion but lacked a real scoring chance.  The giant Chelsea defenders made life a living hell for exciting Barca forwards’ Eto’o and Messi.  

Chelsea crowed for a few penalty kicks after counterattacks were chased down and thrawted by defenders and Barcelona got a terrible red card after the referee mis-judged a Chelsea player tripping over his own legs.  While the London side complained heavily about the officiating, it, like always, balanced out.

Then, out of nowhere, Barcelona scored in the final minute of extra time, setting off an amazing celebration that bordered on delirious.  I was shocked and happy to have watched this.  Now it is on to Rome where Barcelona will face Manchester United for the big game on May 27th.  It has a lot to live up to, but after today anything is possible!


Renardo Sidney

May 4, 2009

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One of the top prospects in the College Basketball World has been told by traditional powers USC and UCLA that his services are no longer wanted in Southern California.  Reports are surfacing that USC and UCLA have researched the family’s financial background and were less then thrilled on what they found.  USC, tired from the OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush investigations, parted ways from the superstar and UCLA followed suit, probably worried about the baggage that this young man could bring.

It was found that Sidney’s family has moved into higher-class neighborhoods then their paychecks could afford.  Also, Renardo’s Stepfather ran a Basketball Club that had a modest shoe sponsorship.  

So Renardo will take his baggage and game to Starkville, MS where he will suit up for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.  So what is the problem here?  I think that the 2 institutions are right in avoiding this situation; if the suspicions come to fruition it would set the 2 programs back.  BUT, the NCAA and the NBA again are holding back young men trying to get a job and do what’s best for their families.

It’s that simple.  Why are these 2 mega-corporations holding back 17, 18, and 19 year-olds from achieving their life-long goal of playing professionally?  It is so ludicrous, I am beginning to believe it is bordering on discrimination.  These 2 monopolies are holding back the lives and well-being of people that will in the long run benefit their game.  I am disgusted.

College should not keep bringing in the benefits of the student-athletes, while judging what these families are doing in a downward-spiraling economy.

The Answer?  No age requirement for the NBA Draft.  Even if the top tier of High School Players went directly to the NBA, North Carolina vs. Duke would still be worth watching.

Your Thoughts?


NBA 2nd Round

May 4, 2009

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It has been a minute since I posted.  My folks were in town and I was just on a trip to San Francisco, killin’ it with the crew.  What a time of year it is!  Both the Second Rounds of the NHL and NBA playoffs are set and the NHL’s second round is in full swing, with every series 2 games deep. 

The first round of the NBA was highlighted by the Chicago-Boston series, as it should have been!  A million overtimes, big shots by the UCONN guys and intensity for the ages.  I thought the Celtics would win, but it was vital for the C’s to get out in front, because I didn’t believe the Bulls could come back against Boston, they had to keep it close.  Cleveland looks great, Orlando looks good, and Atlanta won its first series in 10 years.  LA rolled, Dallas shocked my second favorite team, the Spurs, Denver looks great, and Houston got out of the 1st Round, finally. 

As for the Second Round, I see another sweep for LeBron James and the Cavaliers, they are so deep and so committed to defense, I don’t know how the streaky Hawks will keep it close.  Maybe they will steal one game.  Orlando and Boston may have the best match-up, Kendrick Perkins must stay out of foul trouble against Dwight Howard, I see Orlando winning in 7 games.

The West, I can see a Los Angeles – Denver Conference Final match-up.  Both teams are far superior to their Texas Counterparts.  Kobe vs. Ron Artest is a good match-up, but I don’t think that the Rockets can score enough points.  Denver has too much energy, scoring, and finally defense for Dirk and the Mavericks.

Can’t Wait!