Archive for January, 2010

WATERCOOLER CHAT: WIZARDS MOVING FORWARD, KEEP EYE ON MARINERS, WARNER TO RETIRE

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In the NBA, the Washington Wizards have said they hope to ‘move forward’ regarding the debacle with Javaris Crittenden and Gilbert Arenas (they pulled guns on each other in practice).  Believe it or not, however, Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said they are still holding out hope for a playoff run. Considering that they have an atrocious record, and don’t seem to have any pieces that can make that happen, it’s a bit aloof.  Then again, stranger things have happened, and they might get someone good in a trade for Arenas.  Jamison continued to say that he would like Arenas to come back to the Wizards, but he said that’s not up to him, and solely up to the team’s manager, Ernie Grunfeld.

BASEBALL

Ken Griffey JrElsewhere, out of the baseball world, the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., once named the best player in baseball, is now over 40 years old and still playing.  He had an average season last year for the M’s, but he just underwent knee surgery, and says he feels better than ever.  On top of all this, Griffey Jr. said he’s in great shape and is “ripped and ready” for spring training.  If he’s being honest, perhaps Griffey could actually be a contributor next season.  After all, they made a major improvement in pitching this off-season, acquiring former Cy Young Award Winner Cliff Lee.  Keep an eye on the Mariners this coming season.

FOOTBALL

Kurt WarnerFinally, out of the NFL, it looks like the immortal Kurt Warner will retire today.  Warner has had an amazing NFL career.  After all, he worked in a grocery store, played in various other leagues, and finally earned a spot on the Rams.  With that spot, Warner and the Rams ran one of the best offenses of the last 20 years, went to two Super Bowls, and won one.  And just when they thought he was done, he was the piece that finally made the theoretically potent offense in Arizona work.  He got the Cardinals to the Super Bowl — a team that used to be happy just having a decent season.  The NFL will surely miss Warner.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: INDIANA TOUGH TIME AGAINST LAKERS, FINAL RULING IN GUN SCANDAL

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As mentioned before, the Los Angeles Lakers are on an 8-game road trip.  Wednesday night’s stop was Indiana.  The Pacers are having a pretty bad year at 16-29, but everyone knows when you get to play the defending champions on your home floor… you turn it up a notch.

In order for the Pacers to win, they needed an A+ effort from their all-star, Danny Granger.  Indiana doesn’t match-up well with the Lakers, so they also needed for the Lakers to have an ‘off-night’ (not exactly the best winning strategy).  Well, that didn’t happen, as Kobe Bryant was red-hot.  He almost finished the night with a triple-double (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists).  And Granger — he was mediocre at best, putting up only 14 points.  The Pacers are certainly in a rebuilding stage right now.  They used to sit atop the Eastern Conference in the 90s and early part of this decade, but have since trailed off after the infamous “Artest Melee” with the Pistons (where Ron Artest attacked the crowd a few years ago).  Hopefully, they get a decent lottery pick and grab someone who can give them more identity.  LA Lakers 118, Indiana 96.

David SternElsewhere in the NBA, David Stern has issued a final ruling on the Gilbert Arenas / Javaris Crittenden debacle.  To refresh your memory, these two Washington Wizard players pulled a gun on each other during practice.  And you’re not supposed to draw weapons and point them at anybody during basketball practice.  Because of this, commissioner David Stern has banned them for the remainder of the year.  And Arenas could face possible jail time as well (depending on what the court thinks).  When Arenas returns, it’s unclear if anybody will sign him.  The Wizards are definitely done with him.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: KENTUCKY #1 BUT NOT INVINCIBLE, RAIDERS BRING IN HUE JACKSON

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John Calipari.JPGThe new #1 seed in college basketball is John Calipari‘s Kentucky.  They have an unbelievable team of recruits led by big man DeMarcus Cousins, and superstar, freakish athlete John Wall. Just this week, the Wildcats were pronounced the #1 team in the nation.  The undefeated Kentucky team was even greeted with a phone call from the president (because their team raised a lot of money for Haiti).  Needless to say… they’re really good.

So a game against unranked South Carolina should be easy, right?  Well, not so much.  South Carolina has a guard named Devan Downey who is a 5’9 speedster with some extremely fancy moves.  Not even Kentucky’s big guns could contain him.  The game was close the whole way, but in the end South Carolina just kept coming at them.  They got it done down the stretch, and made very few mistakes.  Suddenly, the buzzer sounded, and the Gamecocks had more points.  Wait a minute… did undefeated juggernaut that is Kentucky lose their FIRST game after being appointed the #1 spot?  Yes, yes they did.  And this is what’s great about college sports:  Once you become #1, you have a huge target on your back.  Instantly, lesser teams bond together with a common purpose to pull the ‘ultimate upset’ — they become great, even if just for one night.  South Carolina 68, Kentucky 62.

And things just keep getting worse for former #1 overall draft pick Greg Oden.  Oden was injured earlier this season, and must sit out the remainder of the year.  That’s pretty much 2 years off for Oden from a potential 3-year career.  However, the latest in the Oden saga is that, yes, naked pictures are circulating of him on the Internet.  It appears Oden took some naked photos of himself with a cell phone 1.5 years ago intended for a former girlfriend.  Not… smart.  They, of course, got online.  Oden had to issue a public apology for the photos, and called them very embarrassing.  Portland fans… you should have drafted Kevin Durant.

FOOTBALL

JaMarcus RussellFinally, in the NFL, with the season over for almost every team, it’s open season in the coaching market.  Well, the Oakland Raiders have brought Hue Jackson as their offensive coordinator.  The reason for this hire is simple:  Jackson used to be the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens where he developed rookie Joe Flacco into a serviceable playoff quarterback. They are hoping that Jackson can work his magic again with the fledgling former #1 pick JaMarcus Russell.  The Raiders have a lot of money tied up in Russell, and they need production out of him.  Otherwise, they have to go QB shopping again.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: LEBRON PUTS ON A SHOW, GLEN DAVIS TO UNO UNO, FAVRE TALKS RETIREMENT

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Dwayne Wade.JPGAfter all the football action of the weekend, the marquee match-up Monday night was out of the NBA for the always entertaining LeBron James / Dwayne Wade showdown.  And it was a superstar battle to get things going, with each star dazzling the crowd.  LeBron even hit a long 3-pointer to end the half.

But, in the second half, LeBron was the one to watch.  He was dunking it everywhere.  Wade, on the other hand, struggled down the stretch.  With the Heat up 1-point late, Wade had a chance to give them a 3-point lead from the free throw line.  And he MISSED THEM BOTH!! Sorry, but if you’re one of the 5 best players in the NBA, you just can’t do that.  Then, later, Wade threw an errant pass, that was picked off by LeBron.  James rushed the other way with it, and was fouled.  He hit two free throws that gave the Cavs the lead.  Wade had one last chance to win the game.  With just a second remaining, Wade tried to heave up a fade-away over LeBron, and just completely bricked it.  LeBron’s not the easiest person to shoot over.  And with that, the Cavs iced the victory.  Cleveland 92, Miami 91.

Glen DavisElsewhere in the NBA, the Boston Celtics Glen Davis has long gone by the nickname “Big Baby”.  This derives from when Davis was a powerful, yet overweight giant while at LSU.  Just watching him on TV, you knew that he was monstrously bigger than the other players.  Well, he’s had a pretty decent NBA career, even hitting a game winning shot in the playoffs last year. However, he has publicly declared he was done with the “Big Baby” moniker.  He publicly solicited a nickname, and one reporter thought maybe he should go by the nickname, “Uno Uno”, like the Cincinnati Benglas’ Chad Johnson — whose jersey number is #85 (ocho-cinco in Spanish). Glen Davis immediately lit up to the sound of this, and hopes it will catch on.

Finally, not to start stirring the pot of drama, but Brett Favre announced today that playing in 2010 is unlikely.  As we’ve learned before… don’t hold him to that. Updates on the Future of Favre Volume III is coming soon.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFC/AFC CHAMPIONSHIPS

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The lead story of the weekend:  The League Championships in the NFL.  Both games were quite unpredictable, and all the experts could imagine any permutation in the Super Bowl.

The first game saw the Indianapolis Colts hosting the strong underdog NY Jets.  Since Round 1 (when the Jets snuck into the playoffs they had no business being in), they have been written off.  Then, they crush the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincy.  The next week, they travel to San Diego and knock them off as well.  Suddenly, the #6 seed is in the AFC Championship.  And, at this point, a bad game from the Colts could put the Jets in the Super Bowl.  Would that happen?

Peyton ManningThe Jets got off to a strong start, and swung the momentum their way with an 80 yard bomb from QB Mark Sanchez to newly acquired star Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards.  The Jets kept the momentum going by stopping the Colts in the red zone twice, and then another touchdown pass from Sanchez to tight end Dustin Keller.  Suddenly, the Jets found themselves up on the Colts 14-6, and they were halting the legend that is Peyton Manning. But, in the second half, the REAL Colts came to play, as Peyton Manning just WENT OFF.  He had 3 touchdown passes in the second half, and the Colts defense did the job of stopping the Jets running game.  The Indianapolis Colts will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.  With that said, what a run for the Jets.  They will be a very exciting team next year.  Indianapolis 30, NY Jets 17.

Next up, the marquee matchup of the day:  The Minnesota Vikings v. The New Orleans Saints.  These two teams were the talk of the NFC all season, and many predicted an inevitable showdown in the NFC Championship Game.  There was talk of a Dallas Cowboy uprising, but the Vikings crushed them last week and put out that fire.  So who would get a chance to play in the Super Bowl?  Favre, in a monster, “I-showed-them” season, or Drew Brees and the lovable Saints?

Reggie BushWell, the Vikings got on the scoreboard first with an Adrian Peterson TD, but the Saints came back with an amazing run from their running-back Pierre Thomas.  The teams traded touchdowns for a while, and then the game was tied at 21 heading into the 4th quarter.  And to start things off, the Saints’ Reggie Bush caught a tricky pass from Drew Brees and muscled his way past the end zone for a Saints TD.  But, the Vikings would march down the field and get yet another touchdown from Adrian Peterson (he had 3 on the day).  The Saints got the ball back, but couldn’t get it done, giving the ball back to Favre for a 2-minute drill.  And he did a brilliant job leading the Vikes down the field.  He even put them in field goal range which would send them to the Super Bowl.  But… with just 20 seconds left, Favre tried to get them even better field position.  He scrambled, and instead of running forward for what would probably have been a 10 yard gain, he nervously threw the ball into coverage, and it was INTERCEPTED by the Saints.  A major mistake by Favre who has been nearly flawless this season.  That sent the game into overtime, and the hero was Saints kicker Garrett Hartley who kicked a PERFECT 40-yard field goal to send the New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl EVER. New Orleans 31, Minnesota 28.

Saints and Colts — the two most talked about teams of the season (because they were both undefeated up until Week 14) will meet to see who is truly the best team. This one will be a game to remember.


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WATERCOOLER CHAT: KOBE VS LEBRON, SCHOTTENHEIMER GETS HIS

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The main story out of the sports world yesterday definitely came from the NBA.  It was Round 2 of Kobe v. LeBron, as the Lakers head to Cleveland on the first leg of their 8-game road trip.  LeBron and the Cavs took out the Lakers in their first meeting, but Kobe, who was aiming for his 25,000th point last night, was hoping to steal the road game and show the Cavs that the Lakeshow are still the dominant force in the NBA.

LeBron JamesThe game was definitely neck-and-neck most of the way, and both Kobe and LeBron put on an amazing show.  Kobe hit his 25,000th point at the free throw line, and finished the night with 31 points and 4 assists.  The game was tied at 87 with just 40 seconds remaining, and that’s when LeBron James simply took over.  He drove the lane, and did an amazing layup, making it seem like the Laker defenders weren’t even there.  That lead was all the Cavs needed to take control and close out the game.  And they did all this without their all-star point-guard Mo Williams.  LeBron scored 37 on the night, and made a case that this might finally be the year the Cavs get to the championship WITH home court advantage and nab that title.  But… will LeBron leave town if that happens?  That will be the big summer mystery regardless.  Cleveland 93, LA Lakers 87.

FOOTBALL

Marty SchottenheimerFinally, a very ‘cool’ piece of news.  After the NY Jets upset the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Jets coach Rex Ryan sent the game ball to former San Diego Charger head coach Marty Schottenheimer.  Now, you ask, why did he do this?  Well, Schottenheimer was fired after the Chargers lost their first playoff game a few years ago.  Sure, they got upset, but Schottenheimer was 14-2 that season, and had a great track record with past teams that proved he was a great coach.  Plus, it was Schottenheimer that came to town and turned the Charger organization around.   But… they let him go, anyways.  During that period, Marty Schottenheimer’s son, Brian, was the Chargers quarterbacks coach.  And currently, Brian Schottenheimer is the Jets offensive coordinator.  Clearly, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is happy to have Brian Schottenheimer by his side, and paid homage to Marty by sending him the game ball of the upset win.  A nice thing, and very cool revenge to the San Diego Charger organization. They never should have let Marty go so soon.

Big Sunday in the NFL:

AFC Championship Game: New York Jets take on the Indianapolis Colts at 3:00 pm est

NFC Championship Game: Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints at 6:40 pm est

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: COLLEGE BBALL NEWS

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Most of the news in the sports world last night came out of college basketball.

Kyle SinglerNumber 6 Duke looked to get an easy victory against an unranked NC State Wolfpack squad.  But the Wolfpack did not make it easy.  In fact, they were on FIRE!!!  They even led at the half 41-38.  It would have been more if Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith didn’t make a fantastic play for Duke.  With just 5 seconds left in the first half, Singler tipped the ball out to Nolan Smith who caught it in mid air and launched the ball from 3-point land.  Got it!  You can see the highlight here:

And in the second half, NC State just didn’t let up.  Anytime Duke got close, they just kept hitting clutch shot after clutch shot.  Tracy Smith led all scorers for the Wolfpack with 23 points, as they shocked Duke in an upset win.  Of course the crowd rushed the court.  This win snaps a 3-game losing streak the Pack had vs. the Dukies.  NC State 88, Duke 74.

Elsewhere, the unranked Memphis Tigers took on UTEP it what seemed to be a meaningless game.  It’s strange to see Memphis unranked after all the success they’ve had in the past 5 seasons.  They simply owned Conference USA.  Nobody even came close to them.  Well, this streak stood at 64 straight wins against Conference USA teams.  That number ties Kentucky’s record from 1954 – 1960.  Could Memphis break the all-time record?  Nope.  UTEP looked good, led by a solid game from Jeremy Williams (18pts)and Christian Polk (17pts).  With the win, they snap Memphis’ conference streak.  It’s back to one, guys. UTEP 72, Memphis 67.

Finally, the #11 Pitt Panthers have been surging in the past few weeks.  They have something to prove this season after losing a number of players to the NBA.  But… #14 Georgetown came to play.  The Hoyas Chris Wright had an amazing game, putting up 27 points, including some nail in the coffin shots to win the game in the closing minutes.  It’s been a crazy college basketball season so far (especially after the #1 undefeated Texas Longhorns lost the other night to a tenacious Kansas State team).  The tourney winner is definitely anyone’s guess this year.  Georgetown 74, Pitt 66.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: COWBOYS COACHING DECISION, TIGER TO REHAP

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Bill Cowher.JPGFirst up, the Dallas Cowboys have decided to make a controversial decision about their head coach of the future.  As many know, the Dallas Cowboys are one of the biggest money teams in sports.  There is a reason they are referred to as America’s team.  Well, this team has always had a big name head coach, someone that can get in the headlines. Currently, there are still some marquee coaches on the market, namely former Steeler coach Bill Cowher, and there were millings that they would grab him or someone else.  The Cowboys don’t like to fall short, and when they do, even if it’s in the quarterfinals against a great Minnesota team, they want answers… and changes.  This… will not happen next year, as it appears Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has decided to stick with Wade Phillips.  Phillips isn’t exactly a ‘sexy’ name in the coaching world, but he has kept the Cowboys extremely competitive in the NFC.  Many people in the Dallas area want to go back to the glory days of Jimmy Johnson’s tenure, and get the superficial dream of a new coach equals bigger things, but it looks like th Cowboys will stick with Phillips not just for one year but at least a few more.  Is he really the guy who can get Dallas over the hump and get back to the Super Bowl.  We shall see.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have finally ended their search for a head coach.  Cowher’s name was in their mix too, and Bills fans desperately wanted Cowher to come in and change things around.  However, the Bills and Cowher didn’t work out, and they have hired former Cowboys head coach Chan Bailey.  Why?  He’s part of a different generation, he hasn’t coached in the NFL since the late 90s, and they even had a pick of some great young coaching guns (i.e Brian Schottenhemer — assistant coach of the NY Jets).  These guys, however, have turned down the job.  According to experts in the know, something is wrong in Buffalo with the ownership.  Bailey is an odd choice, and the Bills could be in for yet another losing season.

Tiger and ElinFinally, some fun gossip news.  It appears that Tiger Woods has checked in to a sex rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi.  It’s unclear exactly how that treatment works, and the specific clinic, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, hasn’t confirmed that Woods is in fact there, but what is clear is that Woods is looking to change a few things in his life.  He will be sorely missed in this year’s Masters tournament both by his peers and by CBS (bad ratings ahead).  The Tiger Woods comeback story will be a great saga, and we’ll keep you posted as the details come in.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PLAYOFF UPDATE

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Mark SanchezWhat a crazy playoff weekend. The New York Jets continue to win (yes, that’s right, they are in the AFC Title Game….that’s one game away from the Super Bowl). Led by the rookies Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene, the Jets pulled out a surprising 17-14 win over the San Diego Chargers. Up next, the Indianapolis Colts. Remember, the Colts benched their starters in an inconsequential game (for the Colts) against the Jets two weeks ago. The Colts lost (and everyone criticized them for losing (and relinquishing their quest for a perfect season). Fast forward a few weeks and the Jets are real contenders and Peyton Manning and the Colts are going to have to pull out all stops in order to win this one.

With Minnesota Vikings stunning win over Dallas Cowboys (34-3), Brett Favre and crew will take on the New Orleans Saints in the Conference Championships Sunday January 24th. Even if you’re not a fan (read….residents of Green Bay), you can’t help but root for Brett Favre! Sunday the 24th will be an exciting day of football.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PLAYOFF WEEKEND

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In the NBA, it was a battle of two potential sleeper teams to appear in the Finals:  The Phoenix Suns and the Atlanta Hawks.  Both teams are playing well this season, and it was time to see how two up-tempo teams would fare against each other.  It was a back-and-forth game that would come down to the wire.  And with just 3 seconds left, and down by two, Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford dribbled up to the 3-point line and pulled up for a jumper.  BANG — GOT IT!  And Atlanta sneaks past the Suns in a thrilling ending.  Atlanta 102, Phoenix 101.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, Saturday you can catch two amazing playoff games. First up, it’s the red-hot Arizona Cardinals heading to New Orleans to face another high-powered offense in the Saints.  Arizona’s offense looked unstoppable against Green Bay, and 38-year old Kurt Warner carried himself like a 25-year old quarterback in his prime.  Their defense, on the other hand, was abysmal.  Thus, if the Saints are able to get a few stops, their own offense should take care of business and win the game handily.  They appear to be on a Super Bowl mission this year, and the Cardinals shouldn’t stand in their way.

Willis McGaheeNext up, it will be a prime time showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts.  This game seems like it will be all Indianapolis, given that they are at home, and seem to be a truly top-notch team this year.  However, you can’t EVER underestimate Baltimore’s stingy defense.  They can make stops when they need too, and their offense can catch fire.  Last week, Baltimore’s running game pulverized the Patriots defense.  The Ravens will need running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to keep the chains moving and keep Peyton Manning and Indy’s offense off the field.  It’s really their only chance.  This one should be close, but the Colts will probably edge them out.


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