Monthly Archives: January 2012

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Living in Washington, DC affords us many wonderful experiences.  One of them is affordable ticket prices to sporting events.  Sad, but true.  The Verizon Center is just blocks away from where we work, and so we attend Washington Wizards games quite frequently, but his trip I was really excited because I got to check out my favorite team: The Chicago Bulls!

As I witnessed the visiting Chicago Bulls taking on my hometown Washington Wizards in the beautiful Verizon Center (four rows from the floor), I realized that Derrick Rose is a certified beast of a player. I also realized that he makes the Bulls a great team that CAN’T win without him.  What’s more is that John Wall WILL be a certified beast of a player, and he MIGHT make the Wiz a good team that CAN’T win without him. Let me clarify what I’m saying:  The Bulls are a good team without Rose. I would dare say that they can be a playoff team without him. They got great players: Noah, Boozer, Deng, and Hamilton just to name a few.    But Rose makes Chicago a championship contender.  In contrast, the Wizards one and only irreplaceable is Wall. Who are the other pieces, and why can’t we get the similar type of players? I’ve been a Wizards/Bullets fan my entire life. Its the ONLY local professional team that I truly support.

Rarely is the Verizon Center packed for a Wizards Game nowadays however, for this game-The Phone Booth was PACKED! Many were Bulls fans like me, but the Wiz had a lot of support.  The Bulls came off heartbreaking loss (at least it was heartbreaking for me) to the Miami Heat.  I was glad to see them bounce back.  I did have a few concerns.  The Bulls had more turnovers, less rebounds, less scoring in the paint, but still managed to win the game. That can’t continue.  The main difference?  Free Throws…the Bulls had more chances at the line.  They won’t go far in the post season with shaky play like this. 

 I danced in the streets when Wall was drafted AND when Ted Leonsis took the ownership of the team. I KNEW that brighter days were ahead. I’m still waiting!  Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the pieces that we have:  Nick Young and Trevor Booker are good role players for us. And I LOVE Javelle McGee!  I think this guy is going to be a star. But he’s playing out of position. He’s not a center, he’s a forward, which gets me to my point:  We need a big man. Someone who can play down low and wreak havoc in the middle.  I do have some suggestions:  we can make an effort to draft JD Sullinger this year, because it’s a lock that we won’t make the playoffs this year. Or, we can make a play for the Grizzlies Marc Gasol. Or, (and this is my personal preference) we can sign the Pacers’ Roy Hibbart. The rumor going around is that Hibbart wants out of Indiana after this season. This makes the most sense. Roy has really developed as a low post presence, and he has ties in DC as a former Georgetown big man. This will free up McGee to play his natural position to roam and run that baseline. But no matter what the Wiz do, Wall needs some help…..desperately.

Speaking of help, the Dwight Howard rumor mill continues to churn.  Now the star is saying he would not be opposed to playing in Chicago.  I’m going to remain calm but if that were to happen?! OMG!  We are truly East Coast basketball people and while our teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum, the game was entertaining.  Our seats were amazing and I can’t wait to check out more games!

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Why Sports Are Crucial to the History of Your Empire

Be warned…this began as an exercise of what happens when there’s no football. One thing that happens is you start pointlessly web-surfing, and it doesn’t take long to realize that one of the reasons America is the greatest country in the world because we have the best sports. It isn’t about which is the most popular, or which makes for the best fan experience.  It’s about what sports prepare you to build an maintain an empire.

A great debate in history is what is the key factor in the decline of an empire. While military weakness, internal strife, and economic turmoil all get votes, the number one song on that hit parade is stupidity. History has given us three tremendous examples of what happens when you create a bunch of stupid sports; your empire lasts about as long as case of Natty Light at a frat party.

First, there’s British.

Sure, our Limey forefathers once ran a quarter of the world, but did anybody ever wonder why the British were obsessed with conquering every part of the world they could find? They were on a quest for good take-out food.  Seriously, have you ever had British food? There’s a reason why British booze is so good; it so you can eat British food.

The main reason King George III went to war to stop the American Revolution was that he knew those thirteen colonies would eventually become the food capital of the world. Had the Pilgrims invented McDonald’s in 1615, the Mayflower would still be a bunch of trees somewhere.  Even to this day, the Brits are so gastronomically-challenged they gleefully wolf down horrors like blood sausage and eel pie;  probably because the best thing they can figure out what to do with cheese is to chuck it over a cliff.

The beauty lies in the fact that even when real food found it’s way into the British Isles, these people decide food a plenty is no reason not to risk one’s life over a wheel of Gloucester.  Now once a year,  the cream of British idiocy chases cheese of a cliff once a year for the sake of tradition.

There’s no denying, that’s pretty stupid.

Then, there’s the Japanese.

Not wanting to be out-hilled by a bunch of mincing queens with bad teeth, the sons of Nippon decided chasing cheese wasn’t Bushido enough, so they went down the hill riding a Lincoln Log on steroids.  Apparently, the idea of hurtling down a mountain to your death wasn’t enough; they needed to add the element of being crushed by two million future chopsticks.

Not a surprise they were the ones to invent the Kamikaze…

This is why India will never have an empire.  Sure they have a stupid sport, and it is every bit the nerd-death-wish of the previous examples; it just lacks the hill. If you subscribe to the theory I’ve laid out here, then the following two words are all you need to read: Chess Boxing.

If you’re looking for a sport that combines using your strength as well as intelligence, then chess boxing is for you.  As you would expect from the name, this is an alternating  combination of boxing and chess; a match lasts up to eleven rounds, starting with a four minute chess round followed by a two-minute boxing round.

The sport is governed by the World Chess Boxing Organization, whose motto is: “Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board.” The sport’s epicenter is in India, which means anybody the Indians have who is crafty enough to pull off the Sveshinkov variation of the Sicilian defense is likely to get his brains beaten into tandoori. Hence, no empire for India.

Of course, if you’ve read this far, you might come to the conclusion by reading the first paragraph America is immune to this phenomenon. The sad truth is the exact opposite is true. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, Americans are striving to top any achievements in weird-sport-related by introducing elements such as rollerblades, stair railings, and some nice soft concrete to bounce off.  In typical American fashion, we can’t get enough of it. Thanks to ESPN’s bringing us the X Games, the web is full of home-made videos “Tony Hawk” wannabes eating it big time, so there’s never a shortage of testicle-shattering entertainment.

Really, even though it is a real-time chronicle of the decline of America as we know it, I’m hooked. Where else can you see a kid getting a harsh lesson in tension, a graphic depiction of why a potato gun is not a toy, or an exercise in flame-broiling your own giblets with a bottle rocket.

But to bring things full cirlce, lest we not forget, the aforementioned Japanese have latched on to the trend here as well. How can you not love a game show where the rule is punishment, and the medium is a shot in the bag.  Even those silly Canadians are getting in on the act.

But there is so much more to this story than the “Takin’ it in the Nuts Happy Fun Time Family Hour.” Whenever I need my daily update on the immortal Vinko Bogataj (as in the namesake of the Dubsy Award for Epic Failure) , a chick getting blown up, or a kid taking a paintball in the head, I know exactly where to go, thanks to YouTube (that last one gets about a 9.5 on the Zapruder scale).

So rest assured, you testicle-mashing sickos. You are not the first generation to destroy your country through sheer stupidity; you’re just the first with YouTube.

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2011-12 NFL AWARDS

By Sam Brief (Sam’s Sports Brief)

As the NFL Season winds down, many stars have flourished under pressure, separating the best from the rest. Some others have shown their most glaring flaws when their teams needed them most. Some have grown before our very eyes, while others have regressed greatly. Taking into account of all these traits, I have compiled my list of the 2011-12 NFL Awards.

(HINT: USE PAGE NAVIGATION BELOW TO VIEW AWARDS)

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Stadium Songs Which Make Our Collective Brains Explode

If you are the guy that controls the music selection at a sporting venue, you have a grave responsibility. The music you are pumping-out at jet-blast volume has a cumulative effect. I’m getting tired of driving home from a game with some damn song I hate latched on to my brain like a pit bull on a rib roast.

Here’s where you, the blog-reading public, come into the picture. I want to assemble a list of songs that are to never, and I mean NEVER to be played at a sporting event ever again.  I need your help.  If you have a song that boils your blood the point where the next time you hear it  at a ballgame, you may just climb a light tower with a deer rifle, use the Comment section to submit your nominee.

I’ll open the bidding with a song I bet would be at the top of many of your lists.  If I ever meet the guy who foisted “Who Let The Dogs Out” on us, I will strap him to a chair, Super-Glue some headphones on him and blast that song into his skull for 36 straight hours at a volume sufficient to turn his cerebral cortex into so much gray ooze.  Then I’m going to cover him in beef gravy and release a pack of starving dogs on his ass.  He’lll know who let the goddamn dogs out then…

I know there’s a song out there that has the same effect on you. Contribute it to the list so that we may eradicate this scourge from stadiums everywhere.

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” Nets’ MarShon Brooks STEAL of the NBA Draft?”

Around this time last season rookie guard MarShon Brooks was a senior at Providence College, and not really a prospect on many analyst draft boards. Maybe because he wasn’t at a powerhouse university, or the fact that his team’s record wasn’t the greatest, say what you want but he was slept on. Not talking tempur- pedic, but what i mean is analyst and critics showed little interest in Brooks. The guy then scored 43 points on a well coached John Thompson Georgetown Hoyas team, only to turn around and rip Notre Dame for 52 points. Displays like that earned him 3rd team All America honors, on March 5th 2011 Brooks scored 28 points against Rutgers to place himself at the top of the all-time big east single season scoring record. MarShon was also named to first team All Big East and was on of 20 finalist for the John R. Wooden Award. By the seasons end Brooks also was second in the nation in scoring averaging a stellar (24.6 ppg).

After life in Providence, Brooks worked hard training and getting his body ready for the NBA Combine. Hearing Len Elmore rave about MarShon Brooks was surprising to some, but was not a surprise to Brooks. As the combine went on Brooks’ stock would rise, killing top guards in workouts such as Alec Burk and Klay Thompson he began to open eyes. At the combine his measurements also stuck out like sore thumbs, but  most of all that 7’1 inch wingspan that you find on power forwards. Being overshadowed by names like Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and Jimmer Fredette, MarShon barely received the recognition he deserved yet.

On June 23rd 2011 at the NBA Draft the New Jersey Nets traded up two picks to pry Brooks away from the Celtics. Due to his performance at the combine many thought he would be gone by the time pick #25 was on the clock. With Brooks being from New Jersey it couldn’t be a better fit, some don’t know but MarShon played his high school basketball at Tucker High School in Georgia. In 2007 he led Tucker High to a Class 4A State Championship and was selected First Team All- State. So far in his young rookie season Brooks has pleased coach Avery Johnson and staff with his willingness to learn and listen. Coach Johnson has switched the starting lineup on several occasions with Brooks getting the nod a majority of the time. Making the most of his opportunity Brooks is averaging 15 ppg and 4 rpg so far this season. Not mentioned in Rookie of the Year talks early because all the Jimmer, Kemba, and the Rubio hype,but now his name is starting to get thrown around a lot more. Why not? Brooks is putting up solid numbers for a number 25 pick in a not so watered down draft, and he is shooting at a very efficient rate. Brooks can flat out score at will similar to Jamal Crawford of the Blazers, he has scored double digits in 12 out of the 15 games so far this year. “Marswagg” as he has been referred to by New Jersey fans has been playing good defense, getting in passing lanes, blocking shots, and rebounding. Just take a closer look at the rookie and determine for yourself. In my book I believe MarShon Brooks is the steal of this years NBA Draft!

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The Battle Of Los Angeles

Back in 1999, one of my favourite bands, Rage Against The Machine release an album entitled “The Battle Of Los Angeles.” The album, which debuted at No. 1 on the billboard charts that summer, was a statement on how different the City Of Angels was perceived by outsiders compared to the citizens living in Los Angeles. As guitarist Tom Morello noted.

“Most people see Los Angeles as Hollywood or Oscar night. They see the glitz and glamour of the city. Meanwhile there is a different story going on in Los Angeles. If you look deeper there are stories of despair, heartbreak and shattered dreams. But also stories of hope. That’s the Los Angeles we want people to see.”

To most NBA fans, the two Los Angeles teams represent both parts of the city very well. The Lakers are the glitz and glamour of LA. Back in the 1980s it was Showtime, led by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy. In the 2000s, it was the Lake Show led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were incredibly successful winning 17 NBA titles, the most recent in 2010.

On the other side there is the Clippers. While sharing the same home arena, (The Staples Centre) with the Lakers since 1999, (ironic isn’t it) the Clippers have been for the most part the laughingstock of the NBA. With the exception of 2006, in which the Clippers made it to the second round of the playoffs, the Clippers have always been the poorer cousin to the Lakers. The Clippers represented despair, heartbreak and shattered dreams. The franchise has been noted more for first round flops than superstars. “Luminaries” such as Danny Ferry, Bo Kimble, Terry Dehere, Michael Olowokandi, and Darius Miles dotted the Clippers history. To top it off owner Donald Sterling was named the worst owner in professional sports in Sports Illustrated a few years back.

However, there is now hope for Clipper fans. Young talent has started to emerge. Power forward Blake Griffin is one of the brightest stars in the NBA. Point guard Chris Paul is considered in the top 3 at his position. Paul and Griffin have formed a dynamic one-two punch which is akin to John Stockton and Karl Malone in Utah back in the 1990s. Coach Vinny Del Negro is a young but very bright coach who will work his players hard, but is also a good teacher.

Meanwhile the Lakers are slipping. Yes they still have Kobe but the supporting cast is either aging or lacking. Pau Gasol has looked like he’s lost a step, Derek Fisher can’t play forever, and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) is a loose cannon who could spontaneously  combust at any moment.

These two teams have met twice the season with each team winning once. After the second meeting in which the Lakers won, Bryant told Yahoo Sports:

“We’ve got five championships… Rivals come from the playoffs.”

While Kobe may be right, there is a distinct possibility that these two LA teams could very well meet in the playoffs this year. And if they did meet, it could very well be the start of the next great rivalry. And the NBA would be overjoyed with that!

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973 and also follow the Sports Blog Movement on Twitter @SprtsBlgMovemnt

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The Assist Artist

Meet the point god, Chris Paul. Paul is arguably–emphasis on arguably–the best point guard in the NBA. There is nothing that slips Paul’s eye. It seems like he has them in the back of his head, coming out of his ears, and on the palms of his hands because he knows where he’s throwing that ball and where its going. He just makes it look that easy.

In only 11 games so far in the season, Paul is only averaging two turnovers per game. Why is that such an anomaly to me? Because of how much Paul dominates the ball. 2 turnovers are his a career low for, but the astounding thing about Paul is that he’s never gotten more than 3 per game according to basketball reference. The ball security of Chris Paul is on another level; compared to many other point guards he is the most secure ball handler in the NBA. In 7 games this season he’s recorded two or less turnovers. When facing the Miami Heat Paul didn’t record his first turnover until overtime.

Watch here as the Clips force a turnover. Paul takes the ball and does magic with it leading to an alley oop by Deandre Jordan.

Of course the turnover helped here, but watch Paul’s ball security. Even in transition he is moving at a slower pace. The ball is not being forced up the floor and that’s how he likes to play. Taking his time is key to not turning the ball over. Next, pay attention to how Chris knew where Deandre was going to be at even through the trap. You can never play with your head or arms down with Chris Paul and that was a mistake that the Rockets made. Even if Paul puts his head down for a split second you must know that he is still watching.

That second was all Paul needed to give Deandre the perfect pass placement for that spectacular alley oop. Going slow is what Chris Paul does best. He’s turned the Clippers into Pick City and not Lob City in my opinion. Chris Paul has never led a team with a pace of over 95; there is a reason for that. He doesn’t turn it up because he doesn’t turn it over. That’s the main key to his game. Even the Los Angeles Clippers move at a slow pace this season. They have a more half-court style–because of Chris Paul–even though they have many full-court runners. Right now they are 20th in pace in the NBA at 90.8.

Paul’s dribble is one that you can’t time; it goes so slow but yet he can speed it up and control it at any time. That’s how he keeps the game at his slow-paced tempo more often than not. He can handle the speed of a fast pace game but that usually results in a higher turnover rate. Paul’s turnover rate has never gone above 14 in his career, in facts the highest he’s ever had was 13.9. The turnover rate, for those who don’t know, is an advanced statistic that determines how many turnovers you would have per 100 possessions. That means that the rest of the possessions are either assists or scores by Paul.

When you think about Paul, you think of the best point guard in the half court in the NBA. There is nothing he can’t do or see; this is why when he isolates it’s so dangerous. He can find the smallest crease in the defense. If someone is cutting or there is enough space for him to get through it, he will do it. His fundamentals.

His favorite area is the middle of the floor just above the key. He likes to isolate right there so he can have the perfect view of the whole floor; this is where the Clippers go to–and what the Hornets used to do–in the clutch. Normally iso ball is not a good thing, but Paul is so effective at giving a pass without turning it over that you can use isolations with a player like him.

We’ll break down a few scenes from the playoffs last season. First let’s go to this Andrew Bynum Isolation.

As you can see, the Hornets ran a PnR and got a switch with Bynum having to guard Paul. He makes it tough on bigs because they have to respect his dribble. Paul will put a player on skates if he’s not careful(as you can see from the video). After getting the switch it turned into an isolation for that reason specifically. You can’t double Paul here because he’ll always find the open man; there was no movement off the ball but you never know when there will be a cutter slashing to the basket.

Also, notice how there were guys ready to spot up on the left in case someone came from the weak side to help. Paul will know who’s man that was instantly and find the shooter for a 3. There was also players on both sides of the floor for Paul. Spacing here was key not only because Paul needed room to work, but because that helps Paul see the whole floor. When someone comes for help he can easily kick the ball.

Here is another video vs the Lakers in the playoffs last season via NBA Playbook.

In this video Kobe Bryant switches on to Chris Paul off of the PnR. Chris can’t really get by Kobe right here because he played excellent defense on Paul. Kobe’s length really bothered Paul here and his lateral quickness was a plus too. Kobe did his job right here. If you watch closely, the Lakers lost the game as soon as Paul received the pick. The proper spacing by the Hornets killed them and Paul knew it the whole way.

Ron Artest was ready to collapse on Paul if he drove the ball and that’s normally the right decision. He did a good job of doing that but timed it just one second off. He waited until Paul was about to go into his shooting motion and he came over to try to give a contest. That contest was a good one because Paul was already starting his jumper. The IQ of Jarrett Jack played a great impact though because he slides over to come to give Paul a better outlet to kick the ball. That’s an excellent play on his part because he knows Paul will see him. He catches, shoots, and the rest is history.

Chris Paul is the best point guard in the half court game. This is because of his skill of handling the ball and ultimate court vision. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started to perform at an MVP level when he gets back into shape. He has a lot of toys to play with in LA.

-Michael D. Sykes, II

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