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Hotard- 10 Best Athletes I have ever seen

As I was driving home from work, an idea popped in my head. I began thinking about the best athletes I have seen during my 24 years in this world and I decided to put together a list of the top 10.
My brainstorming came to 20 total athletes ranging from four different sports: basketball, baseball, football and soccer.
While soccer, baseball and football have always been in my wheelhouse from the time I was a young child, basketball really began to come into the mix around 2009-10. I always followed it, just not as in depth as I do now.
After much self debate and narrowing down, I finally have it. I can confidently say that performing surgery might have been easier.
Before reading ahead, please make notes that I set several ground rules for myself before coming up with the list…
-The athlete must play in a team sport. That means superstars like Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods are ineligible. Trust me, both of them would be on the list otherwise.
-You had to watch the athlete with your own two eyes and understand what you were seeing. Sorry to the people my age who will complain that my list doesn’t have the great Michael Jordan. Why you ask? Because I was 7 when he won his last title. The only recollection I have from Michael Jordan is Space Jam, which trolls may say is reason enough for him to make the list.
-The athlete may not have translated to the professional realm, but perhaps you loved watching them so much in college and it is two to four years you wish you could have back.
The parameters are set. Let’s do it!

Honorable Mention

fullycoveredsports.com

Ken Griffey Jr, Outfielder, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox
Career Stats: .284, 630 Home Runs, 1,836 RBIs

Junior will be the only honorable mention for my list because I feel dirty leaving him off. He was THE GUY growing up in the late 1990’s. Let’s be honest, who didn’t love Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on Nintendo 64? He was truly a transcendent star because of his “I am here to have fun” kind of attitude. He also had one of the smoothest swings I have ever seen to go along with his smooth demeanor. Unfortunately, the second half of his career was injury-plagued. I always wonder how good his numbers could have been if he stayed healthy? Either way, the Kid will always be one of the greats that I will never forget.

10- Randy Moss, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers
Career Stats: 982 rec, 15,292 yards, 156 TDs

It did not take Moss long to show his talent. The first round pick from Marshall caught 17 touchdowns in his rookie season. From 1998 to 2004, Moss only had one season where he didn’t reach double digits in touchdowns and under 1,200 yards. Everyone thought his career was dead when he joined the Oakland Raiders (Rightfully so). After two long seasons, he returned to form and set the bar for receiving touchdowns in a season with 23 when he jumped ship to the New England Patriots. How many times have you heard someone scream that a defender got “Mossed” in a pick up game? There is a reason for that. Personally, I am glad he revitalized his career when he joined the Patriots because people began to forget how good he really was because of his off the field antics and his two years in limbo.

kobe-bryant-2419- Kobe Bryant, Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Career Stats: 25.4 points per game, 4.8 assists per game, 5.4 rebounds per game

Unfortunately, basketball was not a top priority for me when he and Shaq three-peated and tore up the league. However, the black mamba has had enough in the tank to sustain greatness for the last 18 years. The last two or three have been rough though. I started to really get into a basketball around the time of Kobe’s second run with Pau Gasol. Bryant has that “killer instinct” you always hear about. He is also one of the most gifted scorers in the history of the league. Unlike some of the elite scorers of today, like the Houston Rocket’s James Harden, Bryant gave the Lakers both ends of the floor. Because of his scoring ability, I feel like a lot of fans forget that he has accolades for his defensive prowess, like 9 time All-NBA defensive team. Much like Moss, when people shoot turn around jumpers, there’s a reason they yell “Kobe” in your local recreation leagues. He is a true transcendent star of the NBA.

ladainian_tomlinson-3638- LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, San Diego Chargers and New York Jets
Career Stats: 13,684 rush yards, 145 rush TDs, 4,772 rec yards, 17 TDs

Size, speed, power, the total package for a running back. LT was a blessing to watch through the early 2000’s. The three-time first team all-pro running back played in a time where the backfield fueled the offenses. He currently sits at fifth for most rushing yards and third in total touchdowns for a career. He also holds the record for touchdowns scored in a single season with 31. In 2003, he became the first and only running back to have over 1,000 yards rushing and catch 100 passes. I am just not sure there will ever be another running back who has a 9 year stretch of dominance the way LT did.

soc_g_wambacha_5767- Abby Wambach, United States Forward
Career Stats: 183 international goals, World Cup Champion, Three-time Gold Medalist

The girl has a knack for scoring goals as she holds the international record for women. Not only did she score, she scored when it mattered most. I saw it happen time and time again. The header she sailed in the net during the 122nd minute against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal match will always be a play I remember. It sent the game to a shootout, which the United States went on to win. I remember when Wambach first stormed onto the scene, she garnered comparisons to the great Mia Hamm. Wambach certainly lived up to all of the hype and it was amazing to see her finally get her first and only World Cup as a player.

15556320-mmmain6. Derek Jeter, Shortstop, New York Yankees
Career Stats: .310, 3,465 hits, 260 Home Runs, 1,311 RBIs

Loyalty. Honor. Respect. Jeter epitomizes the type of athlete you want your favorite organization to have. Spending his entire career with the New York Yankees, he helped them claim five World Series Titles. He was probably the most consistent athlete I have seen in my lifetime thus far. I mean, how many times did we see him poke a ball into right field for a base hit? His last at bat EVER was a freaking walk-off hit through the gap between first and second base. I have only seen one Major League Baseball game, which was in Tampa for Jeter’s last season. The second he announced 2014 would be his last year, I knew I had to go see the captain play. In that game, he made the same game winning RBI single he had made his entire career.

FBL-ESP-CUP-BARCELONA-GETAFE5- Lionel Messi, Forward, Barcelona and Argentina
Career Stats: 286 Club Goals, 46 International Goals, Four-Time Footballer of the Year

Messi is the biggest football/soccer star in the world right now. Messi is a god with a soccer ball. How is he so fast, yet so effective in keeping the ball attached to his feet? I have gone on Youtube binges in awe of his highlights. He knows how to slice defenders like butter and then finish at the goal. Despite the Argentine not winning a World Cup, he still receives recognition for arguably being the greatest of all time. He certainly is the best player that I have ever seen.

cnbc_sports_defectors_bonds24- Barry Bonds, Outfield, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants
Career Stats: .298, 762 Home Runs, 1,996 RBIs, 514 Stolen Bases

To all the baseball purists who would scoff that I have Bonds on this list, stop. He was great before he started taking PEDs and he was great after. Baseball was infested with doping and I am tired of the argument so save it. Although I think Bonds is an arrogant jerk, good God he was talented. People forget that before his head and body swelled like a balloon from all the steroids, he was a 30 home run and 30 steal kind of player. On top of the that, he was a phenomenal defender. In 2001, he finished the season with 156 hits, 73 were Home Runs. People can try to erase what he did in his career, but my eyes and mind will always have vivid memories of Bonds crushing the crap out of the ball at the most pitcher-friendly ball park in the MLB.

bloody-tebow3- Tim Tebow, Quarterback ,Florida Gators
Career Stats: 8,927 passing yards, 83 TDs/16 Ints, 2,947 rushing yards, 57 Rush TDs, Heisman Trophy Winner, Three-time Heisman finalist, Two-time National Champion

He is the greatest college football player that I have ever seen, period. Look above to the accolades and it is fairly easy to see why I believe that. His NFL career may not have panned out, but you can’t take away what he did at the college level. Urban Meyer knew he had a special talent in Tebow, which is why he used his QB as his main running back as well. At 6’3 and 240 plus pounds, Tebow is a monster and tough to bring down. If you stacked the box, he had weapons such as Riley Cooper, Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez to throw to. Tebow made it damn near impossible to stop Florida’s offense. I always loved his spirit and competitive nature. There will always be a spot in my memory bank for number 15.

peyton-manning2- Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos
Career Stats: 69,691 Passing Yards, 530 TDs/234 INTs, Five-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl Champion

Peyton Manning was the face of the NFL growing up. You could find him on every other commercial on NFL Sundays. There is a good reason for it, he helped change the game into what the quarterback position is now. Quarterbacks now need a greater understanding for the position before a snap is even taken. They now have to control the line of scrimmage and make pre-snap reads and audible if need be. Still to this day, I don’t believe there is a quarterback in the league who is nearly as good at the line of scrimmage. Towards the end of the season, Manning underperforms due to his age. If the latter for him is 35+ touchdowns and 4,600+ yards, most guys can’t do that in their best season. That’s not too shabby.

AP_lebron3_ml_140711_16x9_9921- LeBron James, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat
Career Stats: 27.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.9 apg, Four-time NBA MVP, Two-time NBA Champion

Since being drafted in 2003, he has been the most decorated player since Michael Jordan. He has also been the most criticized athlete I have ever seen. He has reached the finals five straight years, which is incredible. It is mesmerizing watching him play every year. There isn’t a single athlete who I have enjoyed more than LeBron. At 6’8 and 260+ pounds, he is a mammoth of a man. The fact he can dribble and pass the basketball like a point guard is amazing. There is no weakness in his overall game. He can score, rebound, pass and defend. He can literally do it all. Because of his size, speed and overall athleticism, he can defend a team’s best player regardless of position. That is sick. Even though Cleveland lost this past year’s NBA finals, watching LeBron do what he did during that run is something I don’t think we will ever see again. For all those who hate on him because you worship Michael Jordan, stop and enjoy the show. Put your fists away for a minute and enjoy the talent. There will never be a greater specimen than LeBron James.

BONUS…

While a lot of thought went into my top 10, I started thinking about the top 5 athletes of tomorrow. I will give you a short list of five young stars who I think could make their way onto this top 10 by the time their career is finished.

neymar-may-not-score-as-many-goals-for-barcelona-as-messi-but-he-might-end-up-a-better-international-star-than-even-pele5- Neymar, 23, Forward, Brazil and Barcelona
Career Stats: 44 International Goals, 31 Club Goals

He is one of the brightest young stars in soccer at just 23. Neymar helped lead Brazil all the way to the 2014 Fifa World Cup Finals where they were demolished by Germany in his absence. The fact he is playing alongside Messi on Barcelona will only help him long term.

MLB: NLDS-San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals4- Bryce Harper, 22, Outfield, Washington Nationals
Career: .284, 82 Home Runs, 211 RBIs

I have been following Harper since he was in high school. Hype always surrounded him because of his ability to hit the long ball. So far, he has not been a disappointment. Harper is having a magnificent season in 2015 with a .330 average, 27 home runs and 64 RBIs.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks3- Russell Wilson, 26, Quarterback Seattle Seahawks
Career Stats: 9.950 Pass yards, 72 TDs/26 INTs, 1,877 Rush yds, 11 rush TDs, Super Bowl Champion

Since coming to Seattle in 2012, he has been to two Super Bowls. I understand he has a great running back in Marshawn Lynch and one of the best defenses of all-time. I seem to remember a young guy by the name of Patriots Tom Brady having a similar set up early in his career, so let’s not use that as a write off to how good Wilson is. The 5’11 quarterback knows how to manipulate the pocket and make plays on the run. I see it about four or five times a game where makes a throw 25-30 yards downfield placing it in a perfect spot to where only the receiver can get to it. I am excited to see what he does with a legitimate go-to guy in Jimmy Graham.

anthony-davis-nba-boston-celtics-new-orleans-pelicans-850x5602- Anthony Davis, 22, Forward, New Orleans Pelicans
Career: 19.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg

Davis is coming off of a fantastic 2015 campaign where he finished with 24 ppg, 10 rpg and nearly 3 bpg. With new head coach, Alvin Gentry, Davis is about to be milked into an even bigger star now that a high octane offense is coming to the Big Easy and I can’t wait to watch.

Andrew-Luck_crop_north1- Andrew Luck, 25, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Career Stats: 12,957 Pass yards, 86 TDs/43 INTs

When Luck was drafted three years ago, I believed all the hype that he was destined to be a Hall of Fame QB and maybe the greatest to ever play. He took a 3-13 Colts team and made them a playoff contender. In his first three seasons, the Colts have yet to miss the playoffs and he has improved each year working with limited weapons and an abysmal offensive line. No signal caller has been pressured or hit more since Luck has entered the league. Luck has been knocked down or sacked 352 times in three years. Yet, he has not missed the playoffs and also managed to throw 40 touchdowns last season. Yep, I am still believing he could be the greatest of all time 10 years from now.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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10 storylines heading into NBA Free Agency

It seems as if the 2015 free agency period has the potential to flip the league on its axis. Some teams with restricted players will have to dish out some serious cash to keep a key player. While some playoff teams will no longer be playoff teams after major subtractions.

  1. What will happen in Cleveland? Coach LeBron James is now using the “wait-and –see” approach as if he doesn’t know what he will do. James will stay with the team and he will put his general manager cap. He obviously wants David Blatt gone and more depth added to the team. It doesn’t look like James wants to team up with Kevin Love anymore as the experiment did not work. (Sidebar: Love is capable of getting 20 points and 20 boards each night. He cannot do that by playing on the wing. Just because he can shoot from the perimeter, inaccurately, does mean you should put him there.) James has gone on the record saying that he wants to see Tristan Thompson come back and be a Cavalier for live. For the record, LeBron has not been a Cavalier for life. It is Cleveland after all. That city can screw up a 911 call dialing 119. BTW we will be previewing all 32 NFL teams in 31 days. The first team up is the Cleveland Browns. There are so many great things to not say about this franchise.
  1. Jimmy Butler has singlehandedly carried the Chicago Bulls in the absence of Derrick Rose. Butler is developing into a superstar shooting guard who will have the ability to make another team an instant threat if he were to leave the Windy City. Most likely he will be offered a max salary that Chicago should match. The Bulls would be placed in a tough position if he were to leave. They already are in need of shooters. This team could go from a championship contender to a middle of the pack team. It is the East where a .500 record can get you in the playoffs.
  2. In the past two seasons Portland has had its best record since the Nate McMillan days. The Blazers will lose at least one star. LaMarcus Aldridge has already put his home up for sale and informed the team he won’t be returning. He will become a max player early in free agency. Wesley Matthews is also an unrestricted free agent who happens to be recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. If he is 100% healthy he can make a team better over night. The only notable player that may be left in Portland is Damien Lillard who happens to be going into his final year of his contract.
  3. The Los Angeles Lakers will be spending George Steinbrenner money this offseason. Rumor has it that they will be making a serious push for Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, amongst others. Can they become ShowTime again? Who knows? Expect Kobe to still put 40 shots a night.
  4. My favorite NBA owner, Mark Cuban, will also be looking to spend some dineros this offseason as he is still trying to win another championship for Dirk Nowitzki. It is rumored that they also want Aldridge, C DeAndre Jordan and PG Goran Dragic. It is safe to say the Rajon Rondo will not be returning to the team as he was a bud Rick Carlisle was happy to nip (People thought the Rondo addition would guarantee them a title. Silly rabbit). The team will most likely not get Monta Ellis back.
  5. Then there are the New York Knickabockers. I, like everyone else, have no clue as to what this team/Phil Jackson is attempting to do. It’s clear Carmelo Anthony does not care about winning. He proved that last year when he decided to resign. It was no surprise to see the team perform to horrifically. It appears as if Greg Monroe is going to join the team and continue to be a part of a below .500 team. It’s a shame to see a team with such a good fan base be so irresponsible.
  6. The Spurs will be resigning Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan and hoping that they have enough left over to go after Aldridge. Remember Kawhi Leonard is a restricted free agent. It’s not often San Antonio has to make salary and personnel decisions during the offseason.
  7. Boston is going to look to get bigger. Last season they tried unsuccessfully to get Kevin Love. Expect them to land a big name person to go in the post. Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge have done a great job thus far of putting this team together. They came a long way in such a short period of time.
  8. I want to see the Charlotte Hornets pick up someone. Anyone. This team was the biggest disappointment last season. There is a lot of talent, but they can’t put it together. When Michael Jordan, THE GREATEST NBA PLAYER OF ALL-TIME, at age 52 says that he can beat every player on his team there is a serious problem.
  9. Will Dwayne Wade stay in Miami? It would be hard to see him a different jersey next season. Would it matter if he left though? Yes, if Chris Bosh would have been healthy at the end of the season the Heat would have been a playoff team. However, Wade will be one year older this season and if healthy he can give a team a maximum 50-60 games? D-Wade should leave to try to win another title. He should join a team where he would need to play about 30 minutes a night.

Bonus: The Philadelphia 76ers will be looking to add Slava Medvedenko, Nick Young, Mark Madson, Brad Miller, and Kwame Brown. You can never have to many centers and other worthless players, right?

Other bloggers talking about free agency:

Instant Sports Net 

Off My Podium

Pistons Nation

The Athletes Hub

Hoops of America

Blues of Nine

Smirfitts Speech

Photo: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

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Conference Semi-Final Preview

We come into the second round of the playoffs after seeing one of the best NBA series’ in the past decade. What a series between the San Antonio and LA! That series showed exactly what playoff basketball is. It’s about three things: the team must play defense, the must get rebounds especially offensive ones, and the team must play as a TEAM. Individual players get their teams to the playoffs, but I’m sure you notice they never win it all. You may want to go ask Allen Iverson or the LeBron in his first trip to Cleveland.

Three teams in the first round earned my respect and have me excited to see them next year. New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Boston have all made strides that frankly no one thought was possible.

Jason Kidd has had both a coaching turnaround and has led his team to one as well. Though the Bucks were under .500, they did make the playoffs after finishing without their best player, Jabari Parker. The squad was able to push the Bulls to six games before being destroyed. This team showed spunk and tenacity that I expect will linger into next season.

I, like most people, thought that the Celtics were beginning to tank once the trade of Rajon Rondo happened, but in reality they cut out a cancer. They got rid of a very talented plaayer that ruined his career in Dallas. Brad Stevens is already making his mark in only his second season. They also finished under .500 but in the final three games they pushed Cleveland to the brink. Next season expect them to finish above .500 but not much more. The East should be more respectable as the Indiana Pacers will be healthy and the Charlotte Hornets will be back off of their year long vacation.

The New Orleans Pelicans have a nucleus that will soon be tough to contend with. Anthony Davis is already the best big man in the game that can play around the basket and make jump shots. He also has talented players around him. Jrue Holiday has been a great addition to the team. If you pair them with Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson the team will sure be a top tier team in the loaded West.

Enough of the past, let’s look at the teams that will be playing in the second round.

Washington v Atlanta

Let’s be blunt, Washington killed Toronto. Now we do not know if the Wizards are just that good or if the Raptors played that bad. John Wall continues to lead this team. I must say that I thought he was an overrated player his first few years in the league, but he has grown into being one of the best point guards in the league.

Atlanta comes into the series hobbling after just getting past the Nets. It is clear that the Hawks are not as good as their record indicates. However, in the second round they will have to come out with more energy than they displayed in Brooklyn.

Chicago v Cleveland

Will this be the best matchup of the semi-finals? No, but these two teams will throw down.

Chicago proved how good they were when in game 6 they defeated the Bucks 120-66. The Bulls showed they could be dominant if they play within themselves. They have to limit their turnovers and exploit the depth of the team. They will need to steal one of the first couple of games on the road.

The Cavaliers have all but said that Kevin Love has been no help to them all season. Now they will get a chance to prove themselves. This is why LeBron went back home. Can he lead this team to the Conference Final? We will have to see, but they will have to play the first couple of games without the pain in the arse, JR Smith.

Memphis v Golden State 

The Grizzlies took advantage of the hurt Trail Blazers and will now have to play the best team in the league. Frankly, it will be tough for them to defeat the Warriors, but they will have to utilize their height inside and prevent GS from getting into a shooting groove, which is nearly impossible.

Golden State was challenged in the final three games of their first round series against the Pels. Steph Curry played like the MVP. Like all season long, the team was able to make jump shots from everywhere. However, the old phrase is you live by the jump shot and you die by it.

Los Angeles v Houston

This will be the best series. The Clippers are coming off of a franchise defining series. They were able to defeat the defeat the defending champs back to back to clinch the series. They also had to win two games in San Antonio, which does not always happen. We do not know about Chris Paul’s hamstring, as he was able to play after appearing to pull it. De’Andre Jordan will have to stay away from the line if the Clips want to win.

Should the Hack-A-_____ be outlawed?

The Rockets took advantage of the old and depressing Mavericks. James Harden continues perform at a high level. Josh Smith showed up and has become a phenomenal sixth man and spark off of the bench. Dwight Howard averaged a double double in the first round and will have to resume his great play.

Regis Mike
Washington v Atlanta Was 4-1

WAS 4-3

Chicago v Cleveland

Chi 4-2

CLE 4-2

Memphis v Golden State

GS 4-1

GS 4-1

Los Angeles v Houston Hou 4-2

LA 4-2

Photo: Reuters

Thoughts from other bloggers

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GrindGrindRambleGrind

ICGower

Winners Win On Sports

Time for the NBA to make a change

It is about time that the National Basketball Association does something about player eligibility.

It is clear that undergraduates do not want to be apart of a dynasty and play all four years in college. Instead, they would rather play one year and then turn pro as the current eligibility rules require them to do.

Why can’t players just turn pro after graduating from high school? The athletes would have the opportunity to sink or swim at the professional level, while the players who actually want to play college basketball and get an education will be able to play at a more prestigious school in a better conference and in front of more people.

There have been success stories for players who opted to go pro.

Players that skipped college

Year Drafted Player Career Stats
1974 (ABA) Moses Malone 20 PPG; 12 RPG
1995 Kevin Garnett 18 PPG; 6 RPG
1996 Kobe Bryant 25 PPG; 5 RPG; 5 APG
2003 LeBron James 27 PPG; 7 RPG; 7 APG

There have also been some disasters. Though some of the flops played many seasons in the NBA, they never quite prospered like they were supposed to.

Players that flopped

Year Drafted Player Career Stats
2000 Darius Miles 8 Seasons; 10 PPG
2001 Kwame Brown 13 Seasons; 6 PPG; 5 RPG
2004 Robert Swift 4 Seasons; 10 PPG; 4 RPG
2004 Sebastian Telfair 12 Seasons; 7 PPG; 3 APG

*Stats courtesy Basketball-Reference.com 

If players decide to play for the NCAA, they should be required to play for at least three years like in the NFL.

If the NBA did this all parties involved would benefit from the change.

  • The NBA would be able to draft franchise players at a much younger age if players come out of HS.
  • Players that go to college will get a chance to learn from another quality coach before going to the pros.
  • The NCAA would be able to exploit players for more than one season.
  • The men’s college game would become even more competitive thus creating a better product.

Respected college head coaches opinions:

“College is not for everybody. So if a kid doesn’t want to go to college, let him go to the pros. Let him go into the [D-League]. And if someone does want to go to college, let them go. We’re still going to have great basketball teams,” Rick Pitino said.

“Major League Baseball has the best idea of all. Three years before they’ll take a kid out of college, then they have a minor league system that they put the kids in. I’m sure that if the NBA followed the same thing, there would be a lot of kids in a minor league system that still were not good enough to play in the major NBA,” Bobby Knight.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed seeing Kentucky season. I believe that John Calipari is a creative virtuoso in the field of recruiting. You deserve to go to the Final Four every year whenever you can build a new program with that high of a turnover. Conversely, wasn’t college basketball better with group of recognizable players? You will never forget the Fab Five or Phi Slama Jama.

There are arguments for both side of this issue, but any system has to better than the one they are currently operating under.

Photo: Getty Images

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Hack-A-Jordan gets old quickly

It is no surprise that DeAndre Jordan absolutely sucks at the free throw line, and San Antonio is taking advantage of it. That’s just something that they are supposed to do as competitors.

In the regular season he shot 39%.

This scheme is boring and it lengthens the game far too much. Seeing a fast paced first half get slowed down near intermission is depressing. Especially, if you our on the east coast and the clock has already struck midnight. Not to mention those watching internationally.

The method has worked through half time of game one, as Jordan is 5/12 from the charity stripe.

Overall, I believe in “Hack-A-_____ method. You cannot punish a team for intentionally fouling someone who is a bad free throw shooter. The best way to eliminate this problem is to teach said player how to shoot a free throw.

Photo: (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

NBA 1st Round Series Predictions

I have to say that I have not been this excited about the NBA playoffs in a long time. No one knows who is going to take the title home.

The Eastern Conference seems to be more chalk as compared to the West.

The teams out west are so comparable any team can represent the side in the championship series.

Western Conference:

8 New Orleans v 1 Golden State

The Pels may have saved Monty Williams’ job by making it to the postseason for the first time in four years, but I’m sure they did not want to go against the best team in the NBA in the first round (record). New Orleans is young and they have a great nucleus, but it is not enough to defeat the Warriors.

(Photo: Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports)
                                                (Photo: Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports)

7 Dallas v                         2 Houston

Earlier this season, Dallas put all of their eggs in one basket so that they could win a title this year, but the experiment flopped. Rajon Rondo never became that spark plug that was going to distribute to Dirk, Parsons, and Ellis.

James Harden has had to lead the Rockets past a lot of people’s expectations. No one thought that they would get home court advantage and the number two seed with Dwight Howard only playing in 41 games. This series will be highly contested as both teams want to make the claim as being the “Best in Texas”.

6 San Antonio v 3 LA Clippers

The defending champs will have to start each round on the road if they want to repeat. The Spurs would have had the number two seed if they had beaten the Pelicans in the regular season finale. This team is experienced and rested enough to make a push this postseason.

The Clippers have solidified their position as being the best team in LA and will try to make it to the second round. Chris Paul played in all 82 games this season for the first time in his career. This team will be seen as a failure if they can not get over the hurdle once again.

4 Portland v 5 Memphis

I believe this will be the most compelling series in the Western Conference. Though Portland is the higher seed, they will not have home-court advantage as Memphis won their division.

The Blazers will need to have a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge to contend, but if he can’t they stand no chance. He missed three of the last six games because of a foot injury. Portland comes into the playoffs losing five of their last six contests.

Memphis is not healthy either. Mike Conley and Tony Allen need to get well for them to continue. I would think that Memphis will try to win this series by going to the paint.

Eastern Conference
Demar-Derozan-1
                                         (Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports)

5 Washington v            4 Toronto 

Both teams enter the postseason warm and it seems that they’ve hit their stride at the right time.

Paul Pierce is using is veteran knowledge to call out his young teammates who need his guidance. John Wall has worked his way into the discussion of the best point guard in the league.

The Raptors seem to be happy just making it. This team is deep. They are also winners of 4 out of 5.

Note: Toronto also has Drake on their sideline. (Hey, he’s better than Spike Lee.)

We may look back at the end of this series and say it was a classic.

The bottom three teams in the East are not over .500 and do not deserve to be mentioned, however congratulations on making to the playoffs by beating the Knicks and 76ers. Expect no upsets here.

To the picks
  Regis Mike
New Orleans v Golden State

GS 4-0

GS 4-2

Dallas v Houston

Hou 4-2

Dal 4-3

San Antonio v Los Angeles

SA 4-2

SA 4-3

Portland v Memphis

Mem 4-3

Mem 4-1

Brooklyn v Atlanta

Atl 4-0

Atl 4-1

Boston v Cleveland

Cle 4-0

Cle 4-1

Milwaukee v Chicago

Chi 4-1

Chi 4-0

Washington v Toronto

Was 4-3

Was 4-2

What did other bloggers have to say:

Mark Broussard Report

Swingman

It’s All About Sports

Cover Photo: Getty Images

Vaughn gets the axe

The Orlando Magic decided to fire Jacque Vaughn 52 games into the 2014-2015 NBA campaign.

At the moment, the team is on a ten game skid. Since he took over the head coaching position in 2011 he is 58-158.

There is no word on who will take over the reigns.

Photo Credit: Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY

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Melo headed out of the Big Apple?

A source is saying that Carmelo Anthony will consider waiving his no-trade clause to get out of New York just months after signing a new contract worth around $125 million dollars.

He would drop the clause if he were dealt to a team of his liking.

It is rumored that Anthony has gotten into feuds with teammate, Tim Hardaway. At the moment, the Knicks are 4-20, which is the worst start in New York team history. Also, Carmelo has a sore left knee that may eventually need surgery.

Let’s remember the main reason why Carmelo signed with the Knicks. He would have been paid around $50 million less if he had signed somewhere else.

The only teams that Anthony visited over the offseason include the Lakers, Bulls, Rockets, and Mavericks.

Anthony is averaging 22 points per game and six boards.

2014-2015 NBA Preview, LeBron, Championship, Lakers, and more

nba

by Regis Welch @regisjwelch

Down the Line Sports

Well the NBA season returns this week, and I must say that I am extremely excited. I’m excited because this has been an extremely long offseason that has only had a few storylines that have been covered for far too long by the media. C’mon you know what I’m talking about.

  • Where’s LeBron going?
  • Can D. Rose come back healthy?
  • Is Phil Jackson going to return as the head coach of the Knicks?
  • Are the 76ers going to win five games in the 14-15 season?

For the most part we already knew how those questions were going to pan out. Am I surprised that LeBron went back to Cleveland? Not really. He has a much better chance to win an NBA title and he can bring glory to his home city. Cleveland has not celebrated a championship since 1964. Jim Brown led the then Cleveland Browns to the NFL Championship.

Let’s examine the teams:

Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Media Day

As previously mentioned, LeBron James did return home. He is team up with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. I believe Love is the best big man in the NBA because he can rebound and he can score from anywhere on the court. However, Chris Bosh was also a deadly big man as well who took a minor role to play alongside LeBron. I don’t see Love putting up the same numbers that he did when in Minnesota just because he doesn’t have to. I can hope that he is still effective on both sides of the court. Kyrie Irving is arguably the best point guard in the league. He can score and stretch the court. The Cavs also have a great bench who is made up of good scorers.

However, on the bad side the Cavs do a have a rookie coach, David Blatt. He is a respected coach. Blatt comes with a great resume. He’s a four time Israeli League Coach of the Year, six time Israeli Cup Champion, Italian Cup Champion, and Euroleague Champion. It will be interesting to see him bring an international flair to the NBA and see how he reacts to the nuances a new league.

Miami Heat 

For all of the friendly folks who pretended to be Miami Heat fans, please know that your presence will not be missed. It was just a few years ago where the Heat were in this same position. The leader of the team was Dwayne Wade and he had a mediocre supporting cast. Now players who actually have talent will surround Wade. Chris Bosh can be a beast within the paint again. He does not have to be on the perimeter to stretch the defense. I believe that Luol Deng is one of the most disrespected players in the league. He can score, play defense on log major minutes.

The million-dollar question with this team is their health. Wade must play in at least 70 games. If Danny Granger can return healthy they may have a chance at a playoff spot.

With all that being said the next time that the Miami Heat win a championship will be when LeBron James has a full head hair. It’s not gonna be anytime soon.

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose appears to be back and playing like Derrick Rose. He’s making cuts and driving hard to the basket. My only concern about this team is the health of the former league MVP. Rose has had an ACL tear in the past and a torn meniscus. To play this sport you must have a good foundation and hopefully he has that.

The Bulls brought in a Pau Gasol during the free agency period. It will be hard for teams to matchup on the Bulls double-headed monster in the post. Gasol will play side by side with Joakim Noah. Noah carried the Bulls all of last season in the absence of Rose.

Chicago reminds me most of San Antonio. Meaning that this group of people plays great together. If and only if Rose is healthy will this team win the NBA title.

Indiana Pacers

Paul George broke his leg while playing for team USA during the offseason. He will be out the entire 2014-2015 season. George says that he can possibly be back for the playoffs if needed. This team has no chance of making the playoffs in the easiest conference. The Pacers were disgusting in the postseason last spring. Roy Hibbert, proved his worth as he had games where he did not record a basket or a rebound. A 7’2 you can’t get a rebound. I have a great aunt over 80 who can play better. David West is the only person on this team that I trust. He will play hard, too bad his team won’t.

New York Knicks

ny_a_knicksts_600x400

We found out over the offseason that Carmelo Anthony cares more about money than winning a championship. He signed a five-year $124 million to stay in the Big Apple. It is understood that Melo does not pass the ball. It is also understood that he has no one to pass to. Amar’e Stoudemire is supposed to be his help, but Stoudemire can’t stay on the field. He has played in 55 games per season since signing with the Knicks. That ain’t gonna cut it. Derek Fisher is they’re new head coach. Oh, he knows absolutely nothing about coaching. He knows the triangle offense, but does he know that he has no talented players on his team. If New York makes the playoffs it will be in a very low position.

Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers. If Kobe Bryant stays healthy the Lakers can win 30 games. If he is not healthy the Lakers win 12. It’s as simple as that. The team sucks, and there is nothing that Bryant can do about it. Then there’s Nick Young. Who cares about Nick Young? Carlos Boozer is washed up! Steve Nash is out for the season. Truly, that’s a good thing. He would have made them worse. Jeremy Lin is overrated and the owners are delusional. Here’s a clip of Jeanie Buss on First Take last week. She thinks her team will make the playoffs. Excuse me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

San Antonio Spurs

The defending champs will look to do the same thing they do every year. Except, this year they will catch no one by surprise. They’ve been to the finals the last two season and many are expecting them to go back there again. There really is no story here. This is a great team. Expect them to be in the mix.

Oklahoma City Thunder

kevin-durant-russell-westbrook

Kevin Durant will miss at least the first month of competition. When he comes back the Thunder return to be the force that they truly are. But instead of talking about the league’s second best player let’s talk about Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is one of the best young players in the NBA. I believe that he has a very bright future in front of him, but he really needs to know his role. He is not the best player in Oklahoma City and never will be. I believe he is the modern day Penny Hardaway. Hardaway just knew he was better than Shaq and got a rude awakening once he found out he was not. Shaquille O’Neal went on to get four titles. Durant will get his championships with or without the help of Russell Westbrook.

Eastern Conference Standings

  1. Chicago
  2. Cleveland
  3. Charlotte
  4. Washington
  5. Toronto
  6. Brooklyn
  7. Miami
  8. Detroit

Western Conference Standings

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. Houston
  3. San Antonio
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Golden State
  6. Portland
  7. Dallas
  8. Denver

In the East, may the Knicks will play their way in. Look out for Orlando. They are a young talented team that will be on the way this year. The West is stacked. Memphis and Phoenix both made compelling arguments for being my eighth seed. I believe in Brian Shaw as a head coach and he will lead the Nuggets to a top eighth seed.

Finals: Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers

Chris_Paul_CP3_next_to_Derek_Rose

Champs: Chicago Bulls (If Derrick Rose stays healthy.)

You deserve a laugh

Yes, you had a long week and another is about to begin.  Below is a selection post game interviews designed to to make you laugh and enjoy life.

Jim Mora was the head coach of the struggling Indianapolis Colts when he gave this memorable press conference.

Allen Iverson said practice 24 time in this gem.  He was the best player in the NBA at that time and felt he did not have to attend, well practice.

Bennett Presser..I can not even explain.

Mike Gundy is a protector of his players, a father figure, and he’s a man.  Did I mention he is 40.

Hal Mcrae still does not want a reporter to ask any stupid questions.

Denny Green reflects on a game that his Arizona Cardinals should have beaten the then undefeated Chicago Bears.

Herm Edwards made a call on the field that could have won his New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets a game, but the plan backfired and led to my personal favorite quote of all-time.

Bobby Knoght is arguably the greatest NCAA college basketball coach of all-time, but this was possibly his biggest win.

Shaq is Shaq!