Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How The Sacramento Kings Beat The Seattle Supersonics

I promised my dad I would wait until I had calmed down a bit to blog about Chris Hansen's failed attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle, but who knows if and when that will happen.  I might as well delve right into the proceedings and get all the hatred and frustration off my chest.  THE NBA OWNERS ARE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES!!!  THEY SMILE IN YOUR FACE THEN THEY RIP YOUR TONGUE OUT YOUR MOUTH AND STAB THAT SH*T WITH A RUSTY SCREW DRIVER!!!  I warned of this possibility weeks ago and now it seems my greatest fears have become reality.  The NBA owners have developed a conscience.

I was hoping the NBA owners would evaluate the sale of the Sacramento Kings with the same approach they've always adopted.  The Gordon Gecko mentality (greed is good) has served them well in the past.  Get as much money as you can for a franchise so the league as a whole can prosper.  The higher the value of each individual franchise the more money everybody makes in the long run.  For whatever reason the NBA owners decided to deviate from the original blueprint with regards to the Sacramento situation.  Suddenly Microsoft money is no good.  Nordstrom money is no good.  Hedge fund money is no good.  In short, the owners have found a moral compass and decided ripping a basketball team from a community that supports and loves the team is wrong.

Ironically, the compassion these owners feel for the city of Sacramento and their fans is in direct correlation to what the city of Seattle and its fans have gone through.  "Sonicgate" serves as an example of what can happen if your city doesn't take precautionary measures to keep the team from relocating.  In their arrogance NBA owners have mandated who the Maloofs can and can't sell their team to by an overwhelming majority.  Unreal.

What this all boils down to is the ineptitude of ownership and politicians in the 206.  An irresponsible owner (Howard Schultz) and a douche nozzle of a Mayor (Greg Nickels) caused Seattle to lose their basketball franchise and it doesn't look very likely it will get another one in the near future.  Everyone knows that the threat of moving a team if ownership demands aren't made is no longer a threat, but a promise.  Seattle has the resources, the master plan, and the desire to overpay if necessary to get a team to come to the Pacific Northwest.  A power struggle with NBA owners will prove to be a losing proposition in the future.  That's all for now.  If I expound on the subject any further I fear my spitting migraine may come back.  Yesterday was a sad day for the 206 and it will take mne a while (if ever) to get over it.  Football season can't get here soon enough!

Blake Griffin B3TZ

Los Angeles vs. Memphis

As expected the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies is a slugfest.  Both teams have held serve at home while struggling to find answers on the road.  It seems like the first team to break through with a road win will come out of the series victorious.  Thus far Blake Griffin has shown flashes of brilliance, but this is the playoffs and more consistent play is needed if the Clippers want to advance to the next round.  On the other side Zach Randolph is doing his part to keep the Grizzlies competitive by establishing his presence in the low post.  So far he has been the MVP of this series.  The wild card in all this of course is Chris Paul.  As he goes so go the Clippers.  When he's on his game getting everyone involved and hitting open shots LA is a dangerous team.  When he's lethargic and passive they lose direction and focus.  Tonight is a bigger game for Memphis than it is for LA and I think they will win tonight to make the series even more dramatic.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Observations

On Saturday I made the cardinal sin of a true sports fan.  With the Brooklyn Nets up 14 in the 4th quarter I assumed the game was over and walked out on the game.  I did some odd chores, talked on the phone, and when I came back the score was tied.  What made this even worse is the performance of 206 native Nate Robinson.  He single handedly brought the Bulls back and I missed a large portion of his heroics.  I learned my lesson during the Knicks game when Ray Felton was "en fuego", but the feeling wasn't the same.  Those kind of performances always have more meaning when you have an affinity for the player that is in the zone.  The moral of this story is don't turn away from NBA playoff basketball.  Amazing can happen at any time.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Jon "Bones" Jones is a BEAST!  Not sure if you saw the fight (or the highlights) of the beatdown Chael Sonnen received, but Jones is lethal with his knees and elbows.  I feel sorry for the a$$ kicking Sonnen was exposed to.  I'm starting to think Anderson Silva may not want to get in the octagon with him after all.

The NFL draft was incredibly boring.  No big names, no dynamic running backs, and no franchise quarterbacks were taken with significant picks.  It's hard to get excited about lineman after lineman being selected.  Hopefully these teams know what they're doing.  I guess it's better to draft a sure thing than it is to reach on a player with potential that put up big numbers in college. 

Nepotism has surfaced in the NFL.  The son of Chris Carter will get a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings and the son of Joe Montana will get a look from the San Francisco 49ers.  Who says the name on the back of your jersey doesn't mean anything!  I seriously doubt either player would get a tryout if their name was Smith or Johnson.  We'll see if they pan out.

Thunder B3TZ

Oklahoma City vs. Houston

The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets have been playing a series that is much closer than the series score would indicate.  Although the Thunder have a commanding 3-0 lead the last two games were tough battles that could have very easily gone the other way.  Kevin Durant has stepped up big with the absence of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin is making the most out of his increased playing time.  On the other side James Harden is doing his best to keep the Rockets competitive while Jeremy Lin fights through nagging injuries.  The Rockets have too much pride to get swept out of the playoffs so look for Houston to pull out a close one tonight.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pacer B3TZ

Indiana vs. Atlanta

The Indiana Pacers and The Atlanta Hawks don't have a lot of marquee names on their squads and subsequently the series between these two hasn't drawn a lot of interest.  Still and yet these are two playoff teams with pride and someone has to win it right?  The Pacers are having their way in the middle with Roy Hibbert and Paul George is looking like a legitimate all star.  The Hawks are still hoping Josh Smith can turn his game up another notch and Al Horford can contribute more than just rebounds and solid defense.  The Pacers will dominate  tonight and the Hawks will struggle to find and identity. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Warrior B3TZ

Golden St vs. Denver

The Golden St. Warriors and the Denver Nuggets are all tied up at a game a piece with the series going back to the Bay Area.  If it weren't for Andre Miller doing his best Uncle Drew impersonation in game one the Nuggets could very well be down 0-2.  As I predicted George Karl wasn't able to make the necessary adjustments to stop the bleeding in game two and now the Nuggets could be in a world of trouble if they don't find a way to slow down the Warriors potent offense.  The only thing Denver has going for them right now are the tender ankles of Steph Curry.  Steph is listed as questionable for tonight's game, but I think the son of a former NBA all star and the undisputed leader of the team will suck it up and do whatever it takes to get on the court.  He may not be his usual dominating self, but his presence will give his teammates energy and he can always be used as a decoy.  Plus the injury might give Klay Thompson more touches which isn't a good thing for Denver either.  I see the Warriors blowing out the Nuggets to take a 2-1 lead in the series and Klay will continue his hot shooting.

Russell Pippen

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have the potential to become one of the greatest tandems in the history of the NBA.  Like LeBron and D Wade, Shaq and Kobe, Isaiah and Dumars, Stockton and Malone, or Jordan and Pippen they have the chance to win multiple championships.  The caveat to their success is one of these players needs to learn their role and stay in their lane.  That player is Russell Westbrook.

Without question Russell Westbrook is one of the top 5 point guards in the league.  He is an Olympian, an NBA finalist, and on most teams he would be the focal point of the offense.  The problem is he plays with Kevin Durant.  In this dynamic KD is the big dog and Westbrook should play 2nd fiddle.  There's no shame in being the 2nd option behind the 3 time scoring champion and the 2nd coming of George Gervin. 

The thing Russell Westbrook needs to understand is that he and Kevin Durant are not equals.  Durant draws more attention and has physical attributes that give him an advantage over his defenders in nearly every game he plays.  He's got length, an unbelievable jumper, and abuses the free throw line with 90% accuracy.  Westbrook on the other hand is explosive and can get to the rim, but he's most effective when he's playing a complementary role as opposed to jacking up 3's and dominating the basketball.  Sometimes he forgets he's not the best player on his team.  Until he realizes this the Thunder will not achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship.

I don't know how many of you have seen Spike Lee's movie Mo Better Blues, but Westbrook and Durant remind me of Bleek Gilliam (Denzel Washington) and Shadow Henderson (Wesley Snipes).  Shadow always wanted to be the main guy and let his pride and ego get in the way of the overall success of the group while Bleek had to constantly remind him how his bread got buttered.  It was his group and their success or failure was predicated on his performance.  Such is the case with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  As long as Russell Westbrook thinks he shouldn't have to defer to KD and continues to freestyle on the court the Thunder will come up short when it really counts.  I think he should have a cup of coffee with Scottie Pippen.  Maybe Jordan's #1 henchman can teach him a thing or two about riding shotgun and drinking from the cup of victory.  Your thoughts?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Clipper B3TZ

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies played a close game in their last meeting and by all acoounts this will be the trend for the series.  The two teams are evenly matched and their contrasting styles make for interesting playoff basketball.  Chris Paul is the catalyst for the Clippers and if he can get LA to play an up tempo pace it will give the Grizzlies problems.  Memphis is not a great shooting team and they lack 3 point capability.  That being said if they can pound the ball down low to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol they have an advantage.  Look for Memphis to win at home by a few and draw ever closer to tying the series at two games a piece.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Seahawks Road To The Super Bowl

If you're asking yourself why I'm talking about football in April it's because I live in a city where the football team has Super Bowl aspirations.  When you have that distinction it's football season all year round!  The draft is coming up tomorrow, but the Hawks don't have a 1st round pick so the excitement isn't quite the same as in years past.  Of course they did pick up a franchise quarterback in the 3rd round last year so maybe I should pay closer attention.  At least the Hawks were able to lock up strong safety Cam Chancellor for a few more years on Tuesday which is an important piece if you're talking dynasty (which I am).  The other pieces will have to wait patiently to be rewarded for their stellar play.

The NFL schedule came out last week and as you might expect I've already mapped out the road to the Super Bowl.  It's a simple plan so long as the Hawks are who I think they are.  Here is my prediction on how the season will pan out.

Week 1 At Carolina:  Sets the tone for the whole season.  We go across the country and smash up Superman.  WIN

Week 2 San Francisco:  The Hawks let the 49ers know real early who's the favorite in the NFC West.  WIN

Week 3  Jacksonville:  A flawless victory Mortal Combat Style.  Russell Wilson might throw for 300 and rush for 200.  WIN

Week 4  At Houston:  Not the easiest game in the world, but not impossible either.  Hopefully the Hawks defense can slow down Arian Foster.  WIN

Week 5 At Indianapolis:  The Colts have no running game, but they were a playoff team last year and Lucas Oil Stadium is a tough place to play.  ROUGH

Week 6 Tennessee:  Jake Locker is going to have an embarrassing homecoming.  The Hawks might score 50 points in this game.  WIN

Week 7 At Arizona:  Carson Palmer?  I don't think so.  Hawks in a rout.  WIN

Week 8 At St. Louis:  The Rams are an improved team, but without Steven Jackson they won't have much of an identity and Sam Bradford hasn't proved he's big time yet.  WIN

Week 9 Tampa Bay:  What are the chances of the Bucs (even with Darrelle Revis) traveling across the country and coming up with a win at the CLINK?  Hawks in a rout.  WIN

Week 10 At Atlanta:  Deep down I think the Hawks will have their vengeance for last year's playoff game loss, but I'll stay conservative.  This will be a difficult game.  ROUGH

Week 11 Minnesota:  Adrian Peterson runs over us consistently, but Cristian Ponder throws the ball right back to us.  Plus they no longer have Percy Harvin.  WIN

Week 12 BYE:  A little late in the season, but maybe that's a good thing

Week 13 New Orleans:  Our Defense will hold them to 20, but our offense will score 40.  WIN

Week 14 At San Francisco:  The 49ers will feel uncomfortable about looking up at the Seahawks atop the NFC West and the Bay Area fans will try their best to will their team to victory.  ROUGH

Week 15 At New York Giants:  Traveling across the country and probably playing a desperate Giants team.  Can't say for sure how this one will turn out.  ROUGH

Week 16  Arizona:  Carson Palmer?  Hawks in a rout.  WIN

Week 17  St. Louis:  It's quite possible we will need this game to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  The Rams will put up a good fight, but not good enough to win.  WIN

There you have it, a 12 win season.  Most years that's good enough to get at least a first round bye if not home field advantage all the way to the Super Bowl.  That will be a key element in determining whether or not the Hawks will achieve their ultimate goal.  Of course if anything happens to Russell Wilson all bets are off.

Laker B3TZ

San Antonio vs Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs have been bitter rivals since 2000, but in 2013 the scales are overwhelmingly unbalanced in the Spurs favor.  The Lakers don't have the Black Mamba around to take over games in the 4th quarter and Dwight Howard has been exposed during his brief stint in LA.  His inability to shoot free throws and rely on a go to move has the Lakers looking for stability in the middle.  Meanwhile Tim Duncan continues to drink from the fountain of youth and establish himself as the greatest power forward to ever play the game.  This series will not linger on too much longer and truth be told the Lakers will be lucky to win a game.  With every loss it becomes more and more obvious what a mistake the Lakers made hiring Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson.  The Spurs will win big tonight and Tim Duncan will outplay Dwight Howard.  We'll see if the rim can handle all the bricks Dwight throws up from the charity stripe.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Knick B3TZ

New York vs. Boston

When the Boston Celtics take on the New York Knicks this evening they find themselves in unfamiliar territory.  Since Boston assembled the original big 3 5 years ago they were considered the prohibitive favorites in 1st round match ups.  This year is much different.  There is no Ray Allen to lean on, Kevin Garnett is not 100%, and Paul Pierce isn't the instant offense he once was.  Given the current set of circumstances Boston will probably lose this series. 

New York is not the greatest team, but when you have the 2013 NBA scoring champion in a zone you don't have to be that good.  Just give the ball to Carmelo Anthony and wait for good things to happen.  The Knicks will win easy and Melo will continue with his hot hand, but the truth (Paul Pierce) is going to do his best to keep the Celtics close.  It just won't be enough to stop the streaking Knicks.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Observations

the first weekend of the NBA playoffs has proven to be uneventful.  The Heat are on cruise control as they steamroll the Bucks, San Antonio will have no problem with the Lakers without the Black Mamba, Memphis and Los Angeles will go 7 as expected, Atlanta is outmatched against Indiana, OKC doesn't miss James Harden (in this round), Brooklyn has too many shooters for the Bulls, and Carmelo Anthony is a scoring machine that Boston can't handle right now.  The only series in question other than Memphis/Los Angeles is the series between Golden St. and Denver.  Golden St. let a "golden" opportunity slip through their fingers on Saturday and without David Lee for the rest of the playoffs their future looks bleak.  In all honesty I expected Steph Curry to step up more than he did, but he looked overwhelmed turning the ball over like an AAU 8th grade point guard.  Perhaps we were giving him too much credit too early.  The playoffs have a way of exposing player for who they really are.  Still and yet the Warriors are going up against a George Karl coached team which means one slight adjustment could tip the scales back in their favor.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Revis Island has moved to the Bay area.  Thank goodness it's not San Francisco, but the signing of Darrelle Revis by Tampa is going to pose a problem for the Seahawks in years to come.  Richard Sherman thinks he's better than Revis and with the bar set at $16,000,000 per season it's hard to believe the Seahawks will be able to keep him long term.  Stay tuned.

What do Jason Terry, Nate Robinson, Avery Bradley, and Jamal Crawford all have in common?  They're all major contributors to playoff teams this year.  Oh yeah, and they're all from the 206.  It may rain a lot in Seattle, but that just gives hoopers more time to work on their game.

Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal is the new rivalry in men's tennis.  It used to be Nadal/Federer, but those days are gone.  Djokovic put an end to Nadal's dominance on clay over the weekend and barring injury these two will probably meet for the 2013 French Open title.  I give a slight edge to Nadal.

How cool was it to have Neil Diamond come out and sing Sweet Caroline for the Boston Red Sox fans on Saturday.  Even if the sound was a little off it was truly a heart felt gesture and you could tell the fans appreciated it.  As for Big Papi?  It was interesting to see him stand up and claim the city of Boston as his own.  Looks like he wants to retire in a Red Sox uniform.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Miami B3TZ

Miami vs. Milwaukee

When the Miami Heat take on the Milwaukee Bucks today they start their quest to repeat as back to back NBA champions.  Most experts see this series as a mere formality and a means to an end.  Nobody really gives Milwaukee a chance to win this series and unless some unforeseen catastrophe occurs this series probably won't go 5 games.  LeBron James and D Wade are simply too much for an undersized and undermanned Bucks squad to handle.  Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis might show flashes of brilliance, but won't be able to sustain a high level of play long enough to to be a major threat to the Heat's plans.  Miami will win this game in a rout and LeBron will establish his presence of authority early.  He might not have 30, but he'll get at least 25.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

College Basketball Has No Meaning

It's not very often I give my friend's credit using their real name (I try to respect their privacy), but Dexter Mitchell hit the nail on the head with his assessment of the Nerlens Noel situation.  As we were watching the Final Four he posed the question will Nerlens Noel go pro this year.  I told him there was NO WAY an NBA team would draft a player with a torn ligament in their knee.  Maybe a broken bone, but not a torn ligament. 

In his infinite wisdom Dexter pointed out, "What if he's a top 5 pick, doesn't he have to go pro?"  I agreed with the scenario, but balked at the notion anybody would take a gamble that risky.  Now news has surfaced that not only will Nerlens Noel be a top 5 pick, there's a good chance he will be the overall number one pick.  I saw Noel play this year and I can't say I was overly impressed.  Sure he's an athletic big man, but his game is raw and unpolished.  Searching for reasons as to how this could happen I looked up the 2013 college basketball All American team.  Surprisingly the list put things into perspective for me.  The All Americans this year are as follows:

Trey Burke
Doug McDermott
Victor Olapido
Kelly Olynyk
Otto Porter

Only Trey Burke has a legitimate shot at contributing on the next level.  To say this draft is shallow is like calling the Titanic a small boating accident.  Doesn't really do it justice.  If somebody on one leg can usurp the best players in the country then there's an obvious lack of talent.

The bigger question is what does this do for Kentucky recruiting?  Now the John Calipari pitch is more persuasive than ever.  He can tell potential recruits they don't even have to be healthy to get drafted in the top 5 if they become a Wildcat.  With that kind of impact other schools will be left fighting over scraps.

I think the amazing recovery of Adrian Peterson has people thinking ACL tears aren't that serious.  He is the exception, not the rule.  In reality it usually takes 12 to 18 months to recover from such an injury.  Look no further than Derrick Rose if you need proof.  The fact of the matter is college basketball is a joke right now.  They might as well go back to drafting kids out of high school if they're going to pick players that show flashes of brilliance and no consistency with the 1st pick.  I guess the Kwame Brown experiment has been forgotten.  Get your money Nerlens.  If someone will give it to you you'd be a fool not to take it.

Laker B3TZ

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston

The Los Angeles Lakers play the Houston Rockets in the final game of the season and it's win or go home for LA.  The Lakers pulled out a gutsy win against San Antonio on Sunday and must duplicate those efforts if they want to be part of the playoff picture.  Although everyone is saying the right things it will be impossible to fill the shoes of the Black Mamba.  His injury was a devastating blow to the team that they simply won't be able to recover from.  Dwight Howard is not the superstar we thought he was and this kind of pressure is more than he can handle.  Without Kobe's intensity, determination, and ability to take over a game the Lakers will be gone fishing by tonight's end.  Look for Houston to play the spoiler role.  It's time for Laker Nation to regroup.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Has My Sympahty

I wasn't going to blog today.  I didn't think my grandiose, trash talking, know it all personality was appropriate given the tragic events of yesterday.  Although I like to pretend that the sports world is the center of the universe I am very cognizant of its actual importance in the grand scheme of things.  Jumpers, home runs, draft status, failed drug tests, and submission holds lose their significance when parents lose their 8 year old son watching a race.  Even I'm not that self absorbed.

It's hard to put into perspective how I feel when something like this happens.  Emotions range from anger to sadness to fear to vengeance.  You want to know who did this so they can be punished Pulp Fiction medieval style.  You want to know what was the motivation behind this cowardly act.  You then realize the justice you desire may never come to fruition and the long term effects will be substantial.

Most people feel safe at sporting events, but I wonder if that will change.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility that this kind of terrorism ends up sparking the brain of some lunatic wanting his 15 minutes of fame by causing a similar situation.  As a society there are few things that bring as many people together at the same time as a sporting event.

I won't dwell on the dangerous possibilities that face the country, but it would be irresponsible not to acknowledge them.  It's easy to live in fear, but much more difficult to have faith the powers that be will control the environment.  Hopefully the peace of mind we all share attending sporting events isn't gone forever.  I'll get back to the light stuff tomorrow, but today everyone (if they haven't already) should take a moment to think about the innocent victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

8th Spot B3TZ

Utah vs. Minnesota

When the Utah Jazz take on the Minnesota Timberwolves it will be for the 2nd time in 3 days.  In the last meeting Al Jefferson exploded on Minnesota for 40 points keeping the jazz playoff hopes alive.  Everyone knows the door is wide open now that Laker superstar Kobe Bryant is on crutches for the remainder of the season so it's time for Utah to seize the time.  Minnesota has been decimated with injuries all season and are waiting for this season to mercifully end so they can regroup.  With no vested interest in the outcome of this game I think Minnesota will mail it in giving Utah hope they can make the playoffs.  Look for the Jazz to win a close one on the road.

Weekend Observations

I was hoping the Lakers victory over the San Antonio Spurs would make me feel better about the events of Friday night, but the victory did nothing for me.  I'm still hella pissed the Black Mamba will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.  For those of you that read my blog on a regular basis you know I've been saying for weeks Kobe was playing too many minutes.  As recently as Friday (before the game) I told you guys Kobe is getting tired and questioned how long he could carry a bunch of scrubs trying to make the playoffs.

Unfortunately no one paid attention to my warnings and now we're faced with a worst case scenario.  Because of weak management and absentee ownership Kobe Bryant may have played his last game as a Laker.  Mike D'Antoni ran Kobe into the ground like a rented mule then left him on the side of the road to be picked apart by blood sucking vultures.  D'Antoni has been a bad fit for this team since the beginning and clearly doesn't know what the hell he's doing.  Ride it till the wheels fall off doesn't apply to every situation.  Because of his carelessness and inability to establish any kind of authority with his players the Lakers will be without the services of one of the top 10 greatest players of all time if they reach the playoffs.  Personally I don't know how the guy sleeps at night.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Tiger Woods almost made the leaders at Augusta defecate on themselves on the back 9 yesterday.  Imagine what could have been if some random snitch didn't call in to the PGA on Friday costing him two strokes.

What do you call that swinging contest rich people get into when they really want something?  The term escapes me right now, but whatever you call it The Hansen group and the Kevin Johnson group are smack dab in the middle of one.  How else would you explain a team with no all stars and less than 30 wins entertaining offers north of $550,000,000?  We'll see who blinks first.

The Seattle Mariners started their first homestand of the season losing 4 out of 7 games with the reigning American league champs coming to town.  I don't have time for this kind of aggravation.  Call me in June when the weather heats up, otherwise there's really no reason to go to Safeco Field.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mamba B3TZ

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden St.

The Los Angeles Lakers have played with a sense of urgency in their last 2 games.  Perhaps it's starting to sink in they may not make the playoffs if they don't come up with a heroic effort down the stretch.  Kobe Bryant is carrying the Lakers on his back like a camel in the desert right now, but how long can this last?  I know he's one of the 10 greatest players of all time, but even legends run out of steam.  It's unrealistic to expect someone that has logged as many minutes as Kobe to continue pulling rabbits out of a hat.  33 points here, 47 points there, and eventually the magic wears off.  Unfortunately his so called teammates haven't picked up the slack and that may be the Lakers downfall.  The good news is they catch Golden St. coming off a game last night (you know how I feel about that) so it's quite possible the Warriors won't have much fight left in them.  The bad news is Kobe needs a rest from his one man show.  I think the Lakers lose tonight and Kobe has a decent, but not a great game.  He'll score in the mid 20's, but nothing spectacular.  At least not by Kobe Bryant standards.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Carmelo B3TZ

New York vs. Chicago

The New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls are two teams going in opposite directions.  The Knicks are winners of 12 straight while the Bulls are limping into the playoffs.  The absence of Derrick Rose is starting to take its toll on the team offensively and although Nate Robinson (Mr. 206) has filled in admirably he's not an MVP caliber player.  The most interesting thing about tonight's game is the point total Carmelo Anthony will end up with.  Anthony is in a battle for the scoring title with Kevin Durant and I don't think the winner will be decided until the final game.  If I was handicapping the race (which I am) I'd give a slight advantage to Durant.  He gets his shot easier and he's deadly from the free throw line.  As for the overall result of the game?  New York will in a close one.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jay-Z Sells Brooklyn (Again)

I have to admit I was a bit confused when I heard the news Jay-Z would be representing Robinson Cano in his next contract negotiation.  Is Jay-Z really a better agent than Scott Boras?  Doesn't Jay-Z have enough irons in the fire?  How is it not a conflict of interest for an owner to represent players?  With today's announcement Jay-Z is selling his interest in the Brooklyn Nets it all makes much more sense.

From the beginning Jay-Z's involvement with the Nets has been more as a figure head than anything else.  1/15 of 1 percent ownership doesn't really give you a say when it comes to making major decisions.  You are not involved in the day to day operations or the long term direction of the team and as Kanye West found out the hard way you have no control over personnel moves. 

Jay-Z's transition to the agent side of the sports world is a better fit.  He can use his influence and iconic persona more productively and leverage his relationships to his benefit.  Before he's even had a cup of coffee in the business he's already representing one of the top 5 players in baseball.  Before long all the superstars will sign with Jay-Z just to be the subject of a song or appear in a music video.  He could become David Falk, Scott Boras, and Leigh Steinberg all rolled into one.

In the end it's just another revenue stream for Jay-Z, but it may change the way business is conducted from here on out.  Rap Moguls getting involved in sports is nothing new (50 Ccent, P. Diddy, Master P), but this most recent collaboration has the potential to be something special.  If Jay-Z's negotiating skills can match his popularity the game will never be the same.  Your thoughts?

Laker B3TZ

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland

The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe Bryant so they're always a threat to win big games.  The Black Mamba came through in a big way last night with 30 points to help LA regain the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western conference.  The problem is Kobe is logging too many minutes and his supporting cast isn't doing enough to keep other teams from focusing all their attention his direction.  The Portland Trailblazers are the next big test for the Lakers and they should be able to pull out a victory.  The problem is the Lakers are old and this is a back to back game.  You know how I feel about those.  Although the Lakers need this win desperately something tells me Portland will play the spoiler tonight.  It wouldn't be LA without the drama right?  Portland wins a tight one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jazz B3TZ

Oklahoma City vs. Utah

The Utah jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder have a lot to play for tonight.  The Jazz are currently 1/2 game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western conference while the Thunder trail San Antonio by a game for the #1 seed.  OKC was embarrassed by New York on Sunday and I'm sure they will come out in full force to re-establish their presence of authority.  Western conference giants don't like to lose to Eastern conference teams unless it's Miami.  Utah on the other hand would like to keep their foot on the throats of the Lakers and make them re-evaluate their entire situation going forward.  Although the game is more important to the Jazz I think the talent level of the Thunder will be too much for them to overcome.  The Thunder will win a close one.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekend Observations

I don't know anyone that attends the University of Louisville, but I have a sneaking suspicion attendance will be minimal on campus this week.  The Cardinal men and women both reached the national championship game with impressive victories over Wichita St. and California.  The Shockers gave the Louisville men a run for their money, but in the end the Pitino press was too much to handle.  The Cardinal women were playing with house money after taking down the great Brittney Griner so the Golden Bears seemed like child's play in comparison.  Louisville is trying to do their best UConn impersonation so let's see if they sweep both titles Huskies style.

As for the Michigan men?  they have no chance of beating Louisville tonight because they play scared.  During their game against Syracuse they went to a keep away offense with 3 minutes left.  I guess no one told them that strategy is a recipe for disaster in the shot clock era.  In fact that cowardly strategy is the very reason a shot clock exists at the college level.  Syracuse didn't have enough shooters to make Michigan pay, but Louisville certainly does.  A national championship and induction into the Hall of Fame is probably the best Monday Rick Pitino will ever have.  Congrats.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Carmelo Anthony has found a way to channel his inner Bernard King and the Knicks are on a roll winning 12 straight.  With wins over Miami and OKC during the streak New York is out to prove they belong in the conversation with the NBA's elite.  Unfortunately LeBron and D Wade will be waiting in the Eastern conference finals to shut that conversation down.

The Los Angeles Lakers will pay for their apathetic attitude they've had all season by missing the playoffs.  After getting handled by the Clippers yesterday the Lakers trail the Utah Jazz by a 1/2 game for the 8th and final spot.  There's only 5 games left and the Jazz hold the tie breaker.  Sucks to be Jim Buss right about now.

Is it just me or does it seem like San Francisco and Seattle are preparing for an all out war this season.  After the Niners make a big splash in the off season the Seahawks counter with an explosive move of their own and the bad blood continues to boil.  Without question this has become the biggest rivalry in the NFL right now.  A word of advice for sports fans:  Don't wear Niners gear to Century Link field and don't wear Seahawks gear to Candlestick Park.  It's not worth your health and safety trying to make a point and represent.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rocket B3TZ

Houston vs. Denver

The Denver Nuggets suffered a crushing blow when Danilo Gallinari went down with a torn ACL.  The Nuggets were having one of the best seasons in the NBA before the injury and it's hard to tell how the team will respond going down the stretch.  The Rockets on the other hand are playing inspired ball behind the play of James Harden winning 7 of their last 10 games and trail Golden St. by 1 game for the 6th spot in the conference.  Although Houston played last night (you know how I feel about back to back games) I still think they can squeak one out tonight as the Nuggets attempt to re-invent themselves in the absence of Gallinari.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Los Angeles B3TZ

Memphis vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies are both currently in the playoffs, but LA is on thin ice.  The Lakers lead Utah by a 1/2 game for the 8th and final position while Memphis has clinched a playoff berth.  Kobe bryant will certainly do his part to make sure the Lakers stay in the hunt, but without the services of Steve Nash the outlook is questionable at best.  It doesn't help that Memphis is coming to town having won 4 straight behind the stellar play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.  I don't foresee the Lakers having enough fire power to hold off the Grizzlies.  The Lakers are in desperation mode (at least I hope they are), but tonight is not their night.  The Grizz will win easily.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Western Conference B3TZ

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio

The Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in all likelihood meet in the Western conference finals this year for a trip to the NBA championship.  Only 1 1/2 games separate the two teams, but I feel San Antonio has a psychological advantage over the Thunder.  Although OKC reached the NBA finals for the first time last year the Spurs still have the hardware and have established themselves as the standard in the conference.  It's like the little brother trying to beat up on big brother at this point.  Look for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to have big games as they get ready for the playoffs in 3 weeks while the Spurs try to get healthy and pace themselves for the grind.  The Thunder will win by a comfortable margin.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

California B3TZ

Golden St. vs. New Orleans

When the Golden St. Warriors take on the New Orleans Hornets tonight they find themselves in unfamiliar territory.  The Warriors are clinging to the 6trh spot in the Western conference trying to fend off Houston for that position in the playoffs.  In years past Golden St. has been nothing more than an interested observer at this point of the season, but now they are a legitimate factor.  Meanwhile New Orleans is on auto pilot hoping the ping pong ball gods bring them good luck in June so they can build around their franchise center of the future.  Anthony Davis is a star in the making, but to be fair he should be a sophomore at Kentucky and he needs help to be successful at this level.  As for the game?  The Hornets go to Oakland and get beat down Too Short style.  Golden St. in a rout.

Shaq Is All About Shaq

Watching Shaq get his number retired last night was like watching a dysfunctional family trying to be civil at Thanksgiving dinner.  Although the ceremony was supposed to be a festive occasion you could cut the tension with a knife.  There were so many storylines and subplots I would have sworn I was watching an episode of The Young and the Restless.

First there was Jerry West, the logo of the NBA and the architect of several Laker championships.  He is the man responsible for trading for Kobe Bryant and signing Shaq in free agency yet his departure from the Lakers was rather auspicious.  He left because the Buss family wouldn't give him part ownership in the team, but you can tell in his heart he will always be a Laker.  His presence was rather awkward.

Then there was Phil Jackson.  Even though he hasn't coached the Lakers in 2 years the fans and the players still have the utmost respect for what he helped the team accomplish and he is still as beloved in LA as when he coached the team to 5 championships.  The applause for him was almost as loud as it was for Shaq.  I can imagine Mike D'Antoni felt pretty uncomfortable as the chants of "We want Phil" went on for almost 30 seconds.

And what about Jeannie Buss?  She's engaged to Phil, but her brother is so envious of his power and popularity he refused to hire him earlier this year in an attempt to establish his own legacy.  With the Lakers in a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the Western conference it is obvious his plan has blown up in his face.  Don't think I saw him last night.

And sadly, the number 34 was retired without the late great Jerry Buss being present.  He was the foundation of the Laker dynasty and the man most responsible (other than the players) for the success of the team.  The whole ceremony seemed incomplete without him around.

The most unusual thing about the whole evening was the speech Shaq gave after his number went into the rafters.  He thanked his children, his mother, his father, Jerry West, Dr. Jerry Buss, Phil Jackson, Penny Marshall, Diane Cannon, Jack Nicholson, and the guy that wears the funny hats (can't remember his name), but no mention of Kobe Bryant or any of the teammates he played with for 10 years in Los Angeles.  Are we to believe they were not major contributors to his success and ultimately his legacy?

  I understand what it's like to hold grudges (I'm a Scorpio), but not to acknowledge any of your teammates does a disservice to their contributions.  Even when you are the most dominant player of your era you don't win championships by yourself.  Even if you don't want to mention your arch nemesis (the 4th leading scorer in the history of basketball) at least mention someone other than your family and management when your number gets retired.  I'm a Shaq fan, but I think he could've handled the situation with a little more finesse.  Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Knicks B3TZ

New York vs. Miami

The New York Knicks and the Miami Heat have both been playing incredible basketball as of late.  The Knicks have won eight straight behind the stellar play of Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith while the Heat have only lost one game since February 2nd.  Tonight's match up between these streaking teams has no playoff implications for Miami, but the Knicks trail the Indiana Pacers by a 1/2 game for the #2 seed in the Eastern conference.  Although home court in the playoffs doesn't guarantee a series win it is a nice advantage to have a potential game 7 in your building.  Look for New York to come out playing inspired ball trying to send a message to the champs, but they will come up a bit short.  LeBron, D Wade, and Mario Chalmers are rested and New York doesn't have enough presence inside to take advantage of the Heat inside.  Miami will win by a handful.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekend Observations

The Final Four has shaped up just they way I predicted except there is no Michigan St., Indiana, or Kansas.  Other than that it looks perfect!  At least the team I picked to win it all (Louisville) is still in the mix.  They are playing with a heavy heart however after the gruesome injury to Kevin Ware.  I didn't see the fracture to his leg, but from what I hear I'm better off without that image in my mental Rolodex.  You know it's bad when Joe Theismann tweets his condolences and can relate to what that young man is going through.  You have to feel for for what Kevin Ware is dealing with emotionally and psychologically.  He's supposedly in good spirits after the surgery and that may help the Cardinals get re-focused on the task at hand which is winning a championship and helping me save face.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

The college career of Brittney Griner came to an abrupt end with a stunning defeat to Louisville last night and from what I saw the Cardinals basically wrapped her up like a new born baby.  The 3 time player of the year only took 10 shots and had to wrestle 3 or 4 girls on every possession.  Not to make excuses for Griner (she hardly needs my protection), but the Cardinal women would be arrested for assault if they did that on a public street.  Only Shaq and Wilt know what that kind of treatment is like.

Sidney Crosby is an injury waiting to happen.  After battling back from his issues with concussions Crosby got hit in the face with a puck on Saturday and broke his jaw.  The injury comes just as the Penguins were on the verge of breaking the NHL record for consecutive wins (17).  Of course anything that happens this hockey season has to be taken with a grain of salt because they're only playing a handful of games and no one is really paying attention.

As the Big East goes through its transformation next season it's important to note they had 3 teams in the Elite 8 and 2 teams in the Final Four this year.  Never has a power conference been dismantled  after experiencing so much success.  If a Big East team wins the national championship (which they will) won't it be hard to justify the massive re-alignment that's taking place?

The Seattle Seahawks have traded Matt Flynn to the Oakland Raiders for a 5th round pick in 2014 and a conditional pick in 2015.  Although I understand the deal was made to give the team more financial flexibility in the future I was getting used to the idea of having a Lloyd's of London type insurance policy if anything happened to Russell Wilson.  In a year where the Seahawks will reach the Super Bowl it's not out of the realm of possibility that Wilson may miss a game or two.  Now instead of having Flynn to fall back on it might be Matt Leinart or Tyler Thigpen.  I'm a little concerned.   

Memphis B3TZ

San Antonio vs. Memphis

The San Antonio Spurs were embarrassed yesterday losing to a Miami Heat team that played without LeBron James, D Wade, or Mario Chalmers.  When the Spurs take on the Memphis Grizzlies tonight they are only 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western conference.  Memphis on the other hand is only 1/2 away from jumping from 5th to 3rd in the playoff standings.  Memphis has always played the Spurs tough including a surprise upset in the playoffs 2 years ago.  Without Manu Ginobili the Spurs have been struggling to score points and maintain their defensive rotations.  The Grizz have moved on since trading Rudy Gay and are suddenly the team nobody wants to play.  The Spurs are playing back to back games (you know how I feel about that) without their full compliment of players so look for Memphis to take advantage at home.  Grizz by a few.