Archive for June, 2009
Some very bad news for the Houston Rockets. The Rockets had a spectacular playoff run in May behind a seasoned Yao Ming, and a hungry Houston Rockets team. They even stayed in there with the champion Los Angeles Lakers before losing their star Yao Ming. And even then, they pushed the series to 7 games. Well, it was reported today that Yao Ming’s broken foot injury might be worse than expected. Much worse.
His doctors are speculating that the injury might force him to miss next season, and unfortunately, may be career ending. This would be detrimental to the Rockets who were just starting to shine and jell. With Yao, they are definitely contenders next season. Without him, and with Artest as a free agent, they might have to rebuild from scratch. This is truly unfortunate, and the Rockets are hoping they get some good news from the Yao doctors in the coming days.
Elsewhere in the NBA, it appears that the #5 pick, Ricky Rubio, is the hottest name in sports right now. He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and there is a possibility will decline the offer to play in the NBA, and simply continue playing in Spain. Well, some of the big market teams are salivating over the possibility of the young, talented, good-looking Rubio to play for their city. He may have a little developing to do, but he definitely could sell tickets, as his phenomenal passing techniques are an absolute sensation to watch.
Well, even though Minnesota is being flooded for calls, they say they are in no rush to deal Rubio. And this is in spite of the fact that they drafted another point guard with the #6 pick, Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn. They publicly stated that if Rubio decided to play for the Wolves, he would start on Day 1. There’s no question about it. Plus, even if Rubio decides to stay in Spain, he would become a huge trading chip during the enormous 2010 off-season (in which there are a plethora of superstar free agents — many of which on lookout for long-term contracts).
You can expect many NBA trades to come throughout the summer. Some of which could be some large blockbuster deals, especially with many teams trying to win NOW (Washington, Cleveland, San Antonio, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Houston, Denver, Detroit). We’ll see how it all plays out.No comments
The greatest underdog story on the world stage came to an end Sunday. The United States completely shocked the soccer community over the past few weeks in the Confederations Cup. They not only advanced to the semi-finals (a shocker), but also upset #1 ranked Spain 2-0. They successfully captured the world’s attention as they took on Brazil in the Championship game Sunday.
Well, it seemed the underdog chain would just keep rolling, as the U.S. jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Clint Dempsey at the 9-minute mark. Then, in an unbelievable display, the U.S. scored another goal on mighty Brazil in the first half (Landon Donovan) putting them up 2-nil. This was absolutely amazing. But… Brazil would not go away, and came surging back in the second half. They got a goal from Luis Fabiano at the 46-minute mark, and then Luis Fabiano scored again 30 minutes later to tie the game. A crushing blow to a U.S. team that thought they had it in the bag. Then, with just 7 minutes to play in regulation, Brazil’s Lucio kicked the game winner, as Brazil rallied from 2 down to top the United States.
Brazil had a (seen-it-before) celebration ceremony, as the U.S. simply looked on disappointed. But, the major news here, is that the U.S. gained a tremendous amount of respect from the international soccer society. They are currently afterthoughts in the soccer world, but beating Spain and holding their own with Brazil certainly depicts that they are ready to compete. Come the World Cup, every single country will be taking them seriously.
Finally, it was a rivalry weekend in baseball as interleague play (American League v. National League) has been on display the past few weeks. One of the most exciting rivalries is from Chi-Town — the Chicago Cubs v. Chicago WhiteSox. The teams have similar records, but this series is famous because these two teams have been around forever, and have only played 70 times. Each team has exactly 35 wins. And both games this weekend were nail-biters, determined by just a single run. Well, Sunday was the tie-breaker. And the hero for the WhiteSox was Alexei Ramirez. He hit a 2-run blast homerun in the 3rd inning to set the tone for the game. From then on, it was all WhiteSox, and they cruised to a shutout victory, giving them a 1-game lead in this historic rivalry. Chicago White Sox 6, Chicago Cubs 0.No comments
That’s a wrap. The NBA Draft is finally complete, and yes… there were surprises.
No shock at the #1 spot, as the Los Angeles Clippers selected Oklahoma superstar Blake Griffin. Leading up to the draft, Griffin was nervous that the Clippers would trade the pick, which would send him elsewhere. Perhaps somewhere he never thought of. Although, there was little to no evidence of this, and the #1 pick went-off as predicted.
The suspense started with the #2 pick, as many didn’t know if Memphis would select UCONN’s Hasheem Thabeet, Spain’s Ricky Rubio, or trade the pick to Minnesota. What did they do? Again, as predicted by most, they picked Thabeet. This will give them a big defensive presence down low, and could make them a sleeper playoff team in the West. Remember, they have two up-and-coming stars in O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay. Can they get any team chemistry? And, their home attendance has been pretty sparse as of late.
Then, a big shocker. Many thought Ricky Rubio was a lock to go Top 3, especially given his spectacular performance on a grand stage at the Olympics. He completely held is own against Team USA’s top guards Chris Paul and Derron Williams. He looked fantastic. But, with the 3rd pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to pass him up for Arizona State’s James Harden. Harden gives the Thunder a pure shooting-guard, and will leave Russell Westbrook at the point. (Insiders worried it could be detrimental for Westbrook if he had to compete with Rubio for the point-guard position). But, get this, with the #4 pick in the draft, the Sacramento Kings, who really needed a point-guard, drafted Memphis’ Tyreke Evans. Evans shot up draft boards in the past few weeks, but Rubio is relatively proven. Down the road, the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Kings could really be kicking themselves.
Finally, it was Minnesota’s turn. They had back-to-back picks (5, 6), and did something interesting, but strange. Of course, they finally drafted Rubio. But then, they took another point-guard, Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn. This gives them a very intelligent backcourt presence (and they must have a strategy, perhaps moving Rubio to the #2 spot). Some thought they would trade the #6 for something substantial, but they held on to the pick. Then, later in the draft, they drafted another shooting guard in North Carolina’s Wayne Ellington. The Timberwolves could also be an emerging sleeper in the West. They will definitely be an exciting team to watch next season.
Finally, 4-year UNC veteran, Tyler Hansborough, whom many thought would be a late 1st round, early 2nd round pick, turned out to have a fortunate evening. He ‘wow-ed’ a lot of teams with his workouts, and took off their ‘young guy potential blinders’. This guy was a force in college for 4 straight years, and is coming off a championship win. Why wouldn’t you pick him? Well, the Indiana Pacers went with the safe, smart choice at #13, and drafted the hard-working TarHeel. He’s great for team chemistry, and could be a key building block in Indiana’s rebuilding. So, Hansborough went from early 2nd-round pick to Lottery pick.No comments
It’s NBA Draft Night, and that means… last minute trades.
Well, in a blockbuster trade on the eve of draft night, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a major move. They acquired none other than… SHAQ. That’s right — Shaquille O’Neal is coming to Cleveland, which could be the missing piece that Cleveland needs to finally get over the hump. The trade sent Big Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to the Phoenix Suns. This was essentially a salary dump for the Suns, but a key addition for the Cavs. Their big problem in the playoffs was defending Superman Dwight Howard. He just did as he pleased.
The Cavs current center Zydrunas Ilgauskaus is getting older, and this will give Cleveland a dominant force in the center, and also could take some of the offensive load off of LeBron James. This trade is also, essentially, an admission by the Suns that trading their all-star Shawn Marion for Shaq was a big blunder. Shaq slowed down the Suns game, and despite an all-star appearance last season, really did nothing for the Suns Championship hopes. It was a gamble, and it didn’t pay off. Plus, Shaq is now positioned in the NBA as ‘The Missing Link’. This will be his 3rd team where he is positioned to be the last piece of the puzzle.
However, in terms of analysis… so what? Shaq is most likely not the missing piece. Sure, he’s big and is one of the top centers/players of all-time, but he’s old. Come playoff time, the Cavs will need more solid pieces in place if they hope to compete with the likes of the Celtics, Magic, even Bulls. If they don’t win it this year, it’s somewhat possible that LeBron leaves to play elsewhere in the summer of 2010. He’s loyal to his hometown, but if they can’t give him the units needed to win a championship… he’s outta there. Either way, draft night could bring even more surprises.
Finally, some HUGE news out of the soccer world. The 14th ranked United States, a national team that has basically been a joke the past few years, is shocking the world in the Confederations Cup. For those that don’t know, the Confederations Cup is an invite-only tournament viewed as a warm-up for the World Cup. It’s so South Africa can test out their stadiums, and see how the city reacts to a influx of people. Then, they work out the bugs over the next year. Well, the U.S. has surprised everyone, but last night was gigantic. They upset the #1 seed in the world… Spain. Spain was favored to destory the U.S., but the U.S. beat them not by 1, but 2 goals. Now, they will play in the Championship Game against, most likely, the juggernaut Brazil. The game is scheduled for Saturday. U.S. 2, Spain 1.No comments
With the NBA Draft looming, a few teams have been extremely busy on the trade front before draft night.
First off, the Milwaukee Bucks sent their star Small Forward, Richard Jefferson, to the Spurs. Jefferson was only with the Bucks for a year, but with the Bucks trying to clear cap space, they had to send him packing. And coming back their way, they received the Spurs Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas. The Bucks are trying to get under the cap so they can sign Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions this summer and not go over the cap limit. This will add defense to a Bucks team, but more notably is that this is a key addition to the Spurs. Jefferson will give them strong defense, and take some of the load off an aging Tim Duncan.
Elsewhere, a huge trade between the Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves. There was a lot of speculation that the Wizards were looking to deal their #5 pick (as nobody there really fills their need), and that’s exactly what they did. They sent the #5 pick, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov to Minnesota in return for sharp shooting small forward Mike Miller and up-and-coming point guard Randy Foye. This is a great deal for both teams. Having Miller and Foye will put the Wizards back in the playoffs and give them some depth at positions where they have been plagued by injuries.
And for Minnesota… this is GIGANTIC. Minnesota now has 4 first-round picks in Thursday’s draft, including 2 Top 10 consecutive picks (5 and 6). There’s a lot of speculation as to what they might do. Some think they will add two solid rookies to the roster. Others think they will package the #5 pick, a later first round, and possibly a player in exchange for Memphis’ #2 pick. With this, they could take Ricky Rubio, giving them a skilled backcourt (and this may be why they traded point guard Randy Foye), or they might want to march out an ENORMOUS super-athletic front court by drafting Hasheem Thabeet. This means, their down low presence would be Thabeet, last year’s lottery pick Kevin Love, and their emerging superstar Al Jefferson. Now that’s a force to be reckoned with. Plus they could draft a new point guard with the #6 spot (possibly Stephan Curry). That would take Minnesota from a basement team to an up-and-comer (similar to the Chicago Bulls this year). This would certainly change the attitude of the Minnesota sports team.
Question is… will they have Brett Favre to root for next year too?No comments
In golf, the U.S. Open came to a close. But the victor wasn’t a familiar name (i.e Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, etc…), but a guy that came out of nowhere. His name: Lucas Glover, a very quiet, soft-spoken southerner, who simply appeared and won the entire tournament by 2 strokes. And those two strokes garnered 1.35 Million for Glover. In his victory speech, Glover said of the U.S. Open Trophy, ‘There’s so many famous names on there, I hope having my name on it doesn’t tarnish it’. A very humble sense of humor for Monday’s big winner.
And in the first round at Wimbledon, the superstar #2 ranked Roger Federer took his first round match in straight sets against Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan. The scores: 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. This is notable because Federer has been the Wimbledon king of past years, winning 41 of his past 42 matches. However, everyone remembers his only loss. It came in last year’s championship against Rafael Nadal, in what many hail as the greatest tennis match ever played. Elsewhere, the American James Blake lost in the first round, and became the first ranked player to lose at the tournament. (He was #17).
With the NBA Draft on the horizon, there’s still a debate about the age requirement. In the past few years, the rule was implemented that a player must be 19 to enter the NBA. This, essentially, forced the top High School players in the country to spend at least one year in college. However, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this rule, as many don’t think it’s fair. This year, the spotlight has been cast upon Lance Stephenson, a 17-year old who has the nickname “Born Ready”, as in ‘Born Ready for the NBA’. But, he’s not allowed to enter the draft. Many argue that players spending only 1 year in college is ruining the college game. Some even say it’s disgraceful, as players show up and immediately bolt for the NBA as soon as their freshman year is complete. Plus, Stephenson would be a high pick this year, and many first round lottery picks this year are much weaker than Stephenson. But, as of now, the rule stands, so this debate will continue.
Finally, it was the championship series in the College World Series Tournament between the LSU Tigers and the Texas Longhorns. It’s a best of 3 series, and the two played their opening game yesterday. The Longhorns had 5 home-runs in the game, but the hero of the game was LSU’s Mike Mahtook. He had 4 horrible at bats throughout the game, but in the 11th inning, he singled in the winning run, as the Tigers rallied past the Longhorns to win Game 1. Game 2 is tonight, and if LSU wins, it will be their 6th National Title victory. LSU 7, Texas 6.No comments
Well, the baseball world just got stickier yesterday. As many know, ever since A-Rod tested positive for drug use in 2003, then publicly admitted that he was using, the entire sport has been under suspicion. Yesterday, another superstar from that era reportedly tested positive in ’03. None other than Chicago Cub hero, Sammy Sosa. Now, everybody has been skeptical of Sosa’s performance even since he was in the home-run battle with Mark McGwire. However, this proves that he was, in fact, cheating. That severely tarnishes not only his legacy, but also one of the best events to happen to the sport (the home-run race to break Roger Maris’ record). Big question is… who’s the next person revealed to have skeletons?
Elsewhere in the sports world, some serious controversy in the NFL. Cleveland Browns wide-receiver, Donte Stallworth has had a tumultuous off-season. Several months ago he hit a pedestrian while driving drunk. He was, of course, issued a DUI but has been awaiting sentence on his crime. And today it was reported that he will only be serving 30 days in prison. There has been severe backlash against this extremely light sentence because, after all, he killed someone drunk driving. But the judge of the case said he thought the ruling was ‘fair’, and that the fact that Donte was an athlete, rich, or famous had nothing to do with the decision. Seems lopsided considering that the DUI driver that accidentally killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was possibly facing the death penalty. Really, what’s the difference?
In some NBA news, the Orlando Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu publicly stated that he will test the free agent market this summer. He was spectacular during Orlando’s playoff run, and definitely thinks he can cash in from another team. However, today the Magic said they would do practically anything to keep him around, to maintain the successful nucleus. They even said they would pay the luxury tax, which means that they would be in excess of the salary cap and have to pay a tax on that ‘luxury’. It will be interesting to see what Turkoglu decides to do.
An finally, there was some uproar out of Los Angeles yesterday. The Lakers are having a gigantic public celebration at the Colliseum (home of the USC Trojans), and it is anticipated that hundreds of thousands of people will be in attendance for their victory parade afterwards. Well, most LA citizens were wondering, “Um, who’s paying for this? The taxpayers?” California is having serious budget issues right now, and there is no way that any Californians were going to allow tons of cash to go to waste on a victory party. The schools could use that money badly. The situation was defused, as it was reported that the parade will be financed by private donors. The taxpayers won’t pay a penny. So everyone can just have a good time.No comments
With the NBA Finals behind us, we can now look forward to… THE NBA DRAFT. And now they’re on deadline to decide who’s in and who’s out. To briefly explain, many college basketball players enter the NBA draft early. However, sometimes they pull out at the last minute. This might be because their friends/family/coaches are advising them that they won’t get drafted high (at all), or it could be because they simply just got the desire to keep playing in college. Okay, the latter is typically not the case, but if a player doesn’t suspect he will go in the 1st round (and feels he’s of first round caliber), he may stay another year in college.However, some players just come out because they HAVE to. Remember, these players do NOT get paid to play in college, and many have dire financial situations with their families. They simply need to enter the draft and just hope for the best. The only catch is that once players sign with an agent, they lose the possibility of returning to college. This is why you hear speculative college stars say they are declaring for the NBA draft, but will not sign with an agent. They are keeping their options open.
Well, among the ‘Going To The NBA’ are Wake Forest’s star point-guard Jeff Teague, whom many think is NOT NBA ready, and UCLA guard Jrue Holiday (who many feel IS good enough to the NBA, but would have seriously benefited from another year in college). Holiday didn’t even play that well his freshman year, and to make this big a leap is quite suspect. Among the ‘Staying In School’ are Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal, who was touted as one of the biggest stars in college basketball before the season, but suffered some injuries that affected his performance. Plus, Georgia Tech stunk last year, and now with Lawal back and paired with one of the superstar recruits of the country in Derrick Favors, you could definitely see Georgia Tech as a #1 seed next year. And then there’s Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, who was the hero of the game in this past tourney, hitting ‘The Shot’ (at the last second) to send Villanova to the Final Four. He didn’t think he could get drafted in the first round, and will rejoin the Wildcats next season.
Finally, get this, after all the drama and turmoil the Denver Broncos faced this season, losing their starting quarterback Jay Cutler, they just got a fresh scoop of conflict today. It turns out that their superstar wide-receiver Brandon Marshall wants out of Denver and is demanding a trade. This is absolutely detrimental to the team’s success. Marshall isn’t exactly a ‘locker-room’ guy, and if they force him to stay, he won’t be happy and thus won’t play well. This attitude can also poison a team’s chemistry, especially since new quarterback Kyle Orton is just learning the ropes. And if he goes, that means the Broncos lost 2 of their best offensive weapons for, essentially, no reason. This could be the worse year in franchise history for the Broncos.
Last night was Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers headed into the game looking to close out the series, and the Magic were hoping to stay alive on their home court.
The first half was a neck-and-neck battle, but in the closing minutes of the 2nd quarter, the Lakers pulled away, and headed into the half up by 10. This didn’t bare well for the Magic, a resilient team, but let’s face it, you don’t want to fall too behind to LA. Kobe’s best strength is protecting a lead. Whenever you think you are making a run, or getting defensive stops, he will come back and either hit a 3, dish off for a 3, or dunk it in your face.
The 3rd quarter didn’t go Orlando’s way either. The Lakers managed their lead the entire quarter and even extended it. Kobe Bryant played a marvelous game, and you could tell he really wanted to close out this series last night (as opposed to waiting until they were back on Los Angeles turf). He finished the game with a fantastic 30 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds.
And, unfortunately, the 4th quarter provided no fruits for the Magic. They had a few mini-runs, cutting the lead to 12 or 10, but they just couldn’t get stops. Dwight Howard finished the night with a mere 11 points and 10 rebounds. He was essentially a non-factor for a team that needed their “Superman” to really step up. And every time the Magic got a little hot, it seemed that the Lakers did whatever they wanted to do on their end, and thus crush the Magic’s momentum. Not even the Orlando crowd was into it in the 4th quarter. It’s as if they knew the writing was on the wall.
Finally, it ended, and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched their 15th NBA Championship in franchise history. The headline story is, of course, Kobe Bryant winning his 4th championship, and ultimately ending the argument if he could win a title without Shaq. Plus, with this title, many basketball experts feel he moves into the top 7 players of all time. He was absolutely ruthless in this series, and was dubbed the Finals MVP. Moreover, Phil Jackson now has, count ’em, 10 NBA Championship rings. 6 with the Bulls, and 4 with the Lakers. That is truly incredible! The Magic on the other hand will surely make some key off-season moves, and will definitely be back in the Championship hunt next season.
Elsewhere in the sports world, the MLB Draft may be over and done with, and the college world series is in the full swing, but the #1 story in baseball is about Bryce Harper. Harper is a 16-year old phenom, dubbed the LeBron James of baseball. And baseball seriously needs a super-duper star. The main story here is that Harper is SO GOOD, that he will drop out of High School at the age of 16, and enroll in a community college. The plan here is to enter the baseball draft as early as possible. Big question is… will he live up to the hype?
In the sports world, the big event of the night was the much anticipated Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Could the Magic come down from 2-0 and tie the series, or would the Lakers take a commanding 3-1 lead.
The game started off in the Magic’s favor. They controlled the pace, and the Lakers never took the lead. Dwight Howard had a cold first half shooting wise, but he was a monster on the boards, and held both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in check. Even former Duke phenom, J.J. Reddick, had a decent first half with 3 very pretty assists. He mentioned before the game that it’s odd for him to transition from being ‘the guy’ at Duke into a bench transition role player for. But, he followed up by saying, “I’m getting used to it.” The Magic went into the half up by 12.
However, in the 3rd quarter, Kobe and the Lakers came surging back. Kobe Bryant and Trevor Ariza went on a tear to erase the Magic’s 12 point lead, and even put the Lakers up by 4 going into the 4th quarter. And what a 4th quarter it was. The Magic trailed for a while, but then made a beautiful comeback, even taking a 5 point lead with under 1:30 to play. The Lakers hit a quick shot to cut the lead to 4, and with around 10 seconds to play, the Lakers fouled Dwight Howard. All Howard had to do was sink one free throw and the game would essentially be over.
And… he misses the first.
And… brick, he misses the second. Lakers ball with around 9 seconds left on the clock.
They inbounded to Derek Fisher, he dribbled past half court, and then, in a gutsy move, pulled up for a 3-point shot. Now, keep in mind, that Derek Fisher has been cold from 3-point land during these playoffs, but he has a fantastic history of hitting clutch shots. Well, this was yet another, as his perfectly arced shot swished through the net to tie the game at 87. Unbelievable.
Overtime started off slow, but the game was tied at 91 with around 30 seconds left. They Lakers got the ball to Kobe Bryant, he tried to pivot fake, and even accidentally elbowed Magic point-guard Jameer Nelson in the face. This should have been a foul, but on this large a stage, that’s not something the refs are going to call if it’s not intentional. Because Nelson was on the ground this left a Laker wide open from 3-point range. Yep, you guessed it, Derek Fisher. Kobe passed to Fisher, and he hit another amazing 3-pointer. You could argue that this was the best, most memorable game of Fisher’s career (and that also includes the ‘Fisher Flick’ against San Antonio a few years ago.)
And that’s really all the Lakers would need, as the Magic basically fell apart under pressure from that point forward. A few rushed (and bricked) three pointers, and that was all she wrote. The Lakers now take a 3-1 lead in the series, and the Magic will have a chance to narrow that gap on Thursday. However, there’s a chance they might be too demoralized, and that’s no weak position to be in when the Lakers are trying to close out the series. Either way, they had a 5 point lead tonight with under 30 seconds to play, and a few foul shots kept them from icing a game they should have won. Oh well. LA Lakers 99, Orlando 91.No comments