Monthly Archives: May 2010

“Bon Voyage”

For those of you who have not been able to tell, sports are my passion.  To me sports are life.  And I am not ashamed to admit it.  I truly believe in the theory that sports are a microcosm of society.  Sports are full of politics, gender relations, race relations, stereotypes, successes and failures, family, corruption, and the list could on and on.  People do not realize how similar the sporting stratosphere is to the actual societal stratosphere.  It is truly an amazing concept, but not the reason why I love sports.

Sports is something that I grew up on.  I fell in love with all that is sports long before I understood what a microcosm was or even knew what a theory was.  I grew up playing and watching sports out of the womb.  This in large part is due to my father who is another sports feen.  I mean, I even learned how to add and subtract watching Sportscenter.  How many people can say that?  I could name 10 players on the Reds before I knew the ABCs.  There was just something about sports that caught my eye from Day 1.  Sports truly fascinated me and still do to this day.  And this bird you’ll never change (for my Skynyrd fans out there).  But in all seriousness.  I am glad that I realized my passion at such a young age.  Everyone should have a passion.  Everyone should have something they love.  It is an unquestioned fact that all humans have both physiological and psychological needs.  Just check the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I hope you all have some sort of passion like I have with sports.  And if your passion is sports, then congratulations on being a member of the club.  So why sports?  Sports have always been there for me.  They have always acted as an escape.  Something that I can always rely on to be there.  When I was feeling down as a kid, I could always go outside and imagine playing ball with Patrick Ewing and the Knicks.  Or imagine hitting a tennis ball with Pete Sampras off of the garage.  Or if the weather was bad I could always flip on ESPN.  I have been blessed to live in a generation that has never had to live without ESPN.  I am part of the instant gratification generation.  Let me give another scenario.  Say I want to go on a date with a girl.  I can always take her to a ball game.  Whether it be basketball, football, baseball, tennis, etc.  This is a choice of mine.  Something that I love to do.  And a final scenario.  Say I am bored and nobody else is around.  I can always flip on a ball game on the tube.  Sports talk and ball games go on 24/7 in today’s society.  Sports have and will always be there for me.  They will never leave me hanging in a time of need.

So many of you are asking, “Kraze, why do you worship these athletes?  They could care less about you.”  I understand that 99.9% of the professional athletes on the globe have no idea I exist.  And you know what..I could care less.  I love these guys and am amazed at their phenomenal abilities.  It always amazes me to think about the hard work, sweat, and tears these guys put in to get to where they are.  If half of America worked as hard as these guys have at a given trade, we might be living in a better place.  They are truly living the American dream.  A good portion of them embody the Rags to Riches story.  Maybe Fitzgerald should have written his award-winning novel “The Great Gatsby” about guys like Allen Iverson.  Guys who came from nothing and then transformed into “The Answer.”  These guys reached out and grabbed the green light.  So that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.

So I am saddened to announce that the “Sportskraze” will be going on a 5 to 6 week hiatus.  This is highly disheartening for me and I am sure for some of you.  This is something that I look forward to doing every day.  Even though I have an extremely busy schedule, that does not stop me from getting a blog post out nearly ever day.  Writing these posts are typically the happiest part of my day almost no matter what.  Since my roommate convinced me to start one of these in late September/early October, I have put out over 230 posts, and answered over 250 comments.  In addition, there has been over 4,600 views of this page.  You all are helping me realize my dream.  And as many love to say, I am just living the dream.  This is something I love to do and will continue to do when I return from my hiatus.  If you all like what you see, feel free to subscribe for free on the right side of the main page. 

Thank you to all of my loyal followers.  The Sportskraze will return bigger and better than ever..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“NBA Transformation”

So a few weeks ago on “TheSportskraze,” I said that the NBA Playoffs would be exciting and full of gut it out, down to the wire series.  The type of basketball we love to watch.  The type of atmosphere that defines memories.  Well thus far..I have been wrong.  I mean just look at this Conference Semifinals round.  Two of the four series have already ended in sweeps.  And a third sweep looks to be well on its way as the Lakers look to finish the Jazz off already holding a commanding 17 point lead at the half.  So after tonight, the only Conference Semifinals series will likely be the Celtics vs Cavs.  And though this series is tied at 2 to 2, the games have not been all that competitive or exciting.  Only one of the first four games in this series have been decided by a single digits margin (8 point margin in Game 1).  The main talk of the series has not been the on the court play, but that of Lebron’s “alleged” elbow injury.

Where is the excitement as I asked a few days ago?  I am not quite sure, and just like every other fan in the world, I am hoping that the Celtics vs Cavs goes down to the wire and provides some breathtaking finishes followed by some hopefully very competitive Conference Finals series, and an exciting Finals.  Will these things happen?  I am honestly not sure.  I can say with some confidence though that none of the Conference Finals matchups or the Finals will be decided by a sweep.  All four of the teams left will be too good to be swept out of this year’s crop in my eyes.

I am going to sum up these playoffs in a nutshell.  Teams have been vastly overmatched in the first couple of rounds.  But what is really sticking out?  Length is a big time differentiating factor in the League now.  Look at the teams that are excelling.  The Lakers, the Magic, the Suns.  What do they have in common?  Extraordinary length.  Especially on the Lakers and Magic.  In today’s game, there are guys like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Rashard Lewis, and I could go on, that are very long and tall, but possess the skills and athleticism of a guard.  It is frightening how athletic and agile these guys have become.  Today’s game is far different from the game of the Magic and Bird days and even the mid 90s.

Compare a guy like Lebron to a player like Magic.  Both phenomenal players.  Magic was an enigma and a phenomenon all in one with his amazing size and ability to run the point.  You want to compare his size and athleticism to a guy like Lebron?  Lebron can handle the ball pretty well himself.  Now I am not saying that a guy like Lebron is way better than Magic.  I am just saying that times have changed.  The mold of players in the game have changed.  Length is the determining factor.

Two of the teams that have looked the best in this year’s postseason are the Magic and Lakers.  Look at the Magic’s lineup.  They have Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and how many sharpshooters off the bench.  They are long, athletic, can score, and boy can they defend.  The Magic will be tough to beat.  Then you look at the Lake show.  They have Pau, Bynum, Odom, Artest, just to name a few.  Talk about some amazing size on guys that possess great agility and athleticism.  They are extremely tough to match up with.

So can the Celtics or Cavs defeat the Magic in the next round?  It is definitely possible, but will be very tough.  The pick up of Antawn Jamison will help the Cavs match up with the length of the Magic if they advance.  But the Magic are playing so well, it is hard to pick against them.  I am still going with my original pick of the Cavaliers representing the East though.

Then if the Lakers close out the Jazz, will they defend their Western Conference Crown against the Suns for a 3rd straight year?  I would have to say yes.  The Suns are playing outstanding and did sweep the always tough Spurs.  But the Lakers are not the Spurs.  They are long, deep, and experienced.  Not to mention they have an invaluable winning combination in Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant.  So I am sticking with my pick of the Lakers to take the crown.

Hopefully the excitement will come around soon.  Because in a nutshell, these playoffs have not been all that entertaining.  But the key to take from this post.  Look for the teams that possess great length across the largest spectrum of the positions to win.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Lackluster Round thus Far”

The Magic rolled.  Then the Lake Show escaped in Utah.  So now we are left with 3 series which are all but over and one that has not been all that exciting.

Give me some excitement..

I am utterly shocked that 3 of the 4 Conference Semifinal series have a higher seed team up 3 to 0.  Plenty of these games have even turned into blowouts.  The inevitable seems to be a Los Suns vs Lakers matchup and a Cavaliers vs Magic matchup.  And this would not be so bad.  But I would still like to see these series actually develop into something.

I will admit I did not expect any of these 3 0 series to be finished in less than 5 games.  I expected them to be exciting and go 6 or 7.  This is not the case.  And do not count on any of them pushing these series to even 6.

The Hawks have been an embarrassment and have thoroughly disappointed in this round.  I know the Magic are good.  But they look super human compared to the Hawks with 2 30 plus point blowouts.  The Jazz have played okay, but have not had enough to finish off the Lakers in any of the 3 contests.  Deron Williams continues to play solid, but Kobe and the Lakers continue to have strong responses.  Kobe turned the last couple of minutes into Kobe time and Derek Fisher made another big time trey down the stretch tonight.  I want to also note that Ron Artest’s shot selection seemed alright to me as he scored 20 and shot over 50 percent from the floor.

I wish these series would get more exciting, and maybe they will, but I highly doubt it at this point.  Strap in for a 1 vs 2 showdown in the East and a Phoenix vs LA showdown in the West.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Conference Semifinal Run Down”

The Suns head into San Antonio tonight with a resounding 2 0 lead over the rival Spurs.  This Suns team is playing fantastic basketball and really seems to be gelling at the right time.  Since the year 2003, the Suns have been ousted by the Spurs in the playoffs on 4 different occasions.

Let me tell you this, if they get the W tonight, they will finally be on the verge of taking down the mighty Spurs.  And why can’t this Suns team do it?  They looked pretty tough in the first 2 games of this series.  All they have to do to win this series though is win in Phoenix. 

Now I will be the first to say that the Spurs are a tough out.  This is a team that has won 4 titles in the past 11 years.  They are led by one of the greatest power forwards ever in Tim Duncan.  They have fantastic energy in Manu Ginobli, and youth in George Hill.  I do not see the Suns sweeping the Spurs or even taking them out in 5.  But I do see them finally climbing the mountain and conquering all that is San Antonio in either 6 or 7 games.

With the way the ageless wonder Steve Nash is playing.  The rejuvenated play of Jason Richardson.  Then of course you have the flash and skill of Amare at the 4.  And finally Channing Frye and Jared Dudley stroking from the perimeter. They are just tough to beat.  You never really get to catch your breath playing this team. 

Popo is a mastermind though for the Spurs.  One of the most vastly underrated coaches of all time and a man who just simply knows how to get it done.  But I am going against Popo, Duncan, and the Spurs in the this series.  I got the Suns bringing the heat to LA in the Western Conference Finals.

The other game of the night.  Lebron James, the “injured” one, leads his boys into Boston tied at 1 all.  Will the Cavs wake up?  I think so.  Will Lebron’s injury magically go away?  You better believe it.  Boston is a tough team with experience, but the Cavs will not be denied just yet.

I see this series going 6 or 7.  But I got the Cavs coming out victorious and taking on the Magic in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

And do not sleep on the Magic.  They are quietly putting on the best performance of any team in this year’s postseason.  They are truly dominating and making a tough Hawks team look awful.  Last night 4 Magic starters scored 20 or more.  Vinsanity popped in and out during the 2nd half.  Not to mention they got double digits off the bench from Pietrus.  The overall length of this team is very tough to deal with. 

Lastly, the Lake Show is taking care of the Jazz for a 3rd straight year.  This series is not over yet, but it is getting close.  The Jazz must step up their effort defensively and give Kobe different looks.  He is getting far to comfortable offensively at times.  Kobe and the Lake Show look to make the Western Conference and NBA Finals for a 3rd consecutive year.

Enjoy the games tonight though.  Try to take your mind off of the UVA Lacrosse program and LT’s insanity.  It has been a rough week.  Time to sit back and enjoy the NBA Playoffs and watch the good that sports have to offer.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Common Sense”

Athletes have really had a rough week.  They have truly been screwing up.  Or at least it seems more so than normal.  These past couple of days have been ugly.  Lets go from the least serious to most serious actions.  There was the Danny Ainge incident, where he threw up a white towel while J.J. Hickson of the Cavaliers was shooting a free throw.  A classless move by a guy that is the team’s General Manager.  I will state though, he was known for pulling ridiculous antics as a player similar to this.  There is still no excuse.  And then on to the big news of the day..

Possibly the greatest linebacker of all time, is back in the press again.  It has been a few years since America has heard about the former Giant great.  But LT (Lawrence Taylor) is back in the headlines again.  And you know it is for no good.  Taylor is being accused of raping a 16-year-old girl.  This is terrible and is truly embarrassing not only to him, but to his family.  This guy has been in all sorts of trouble over the years.  But there has been a good 9 years gap since his last encounter with the law.  And my condolences go out to the 16 year old girl and her family.

I am still shocked even though I have been hearing about it all day.  I will never quite understand what drives a man to do such a horrible thing.  I mean it has really been a rough week in the sporting realm and this is just the icing on the cake. 

The biggest news of the week and something that most of you have probably been hearing about all week, a lacrosse player at the University of Virginia murdered a female lacrosse player.  It is a shame to, because one athletes actions can really drive a stereotype of them all.  Many say that you can overshadow a thousand good acts with one bad act.  Well athletes have really had a rough week.  You got the immaturity of Danny Ainge.  Then you got the insanity and ridiculous of NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.  And then you have the horrible act of George Huguely.

So the question I pose to you all.  Are a higher percentage of athletes bad compared to non athletes?  Or does it just get magnified because many athletes are already exposed in the national realm and therefore when they screw up, it gets more press?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“High Risk High Reward”

An event that is showering the Cincinnati media realm is the possible signing of Adam “Pacman” Jones.  Will the Bengals actually sign him?  It looks very likely.  And I will be honest.  This is not a bad decision in my eyes..

So Jones has only appeared in 9 games since 2006.  The guy could really play at a time.  You take away his off field antics, which are a big deal, and he is probably a Pro Bowl player on a consistent basis.  You want to know the best part?  He is only 26 after all that he has been through.  Now many are saying, why would we pick up another corner?  We have arguably the best tandem in the League in Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph.  This is true.  But how was our punt return game last year?  Did guys in our secondary not get hurt last year?  You ever remember going through an NFL season injury free?

Though the Bengals had a great year, their punt return game was abysmal.  We had a man by the name of Quan Cosby returning punts.  And you know what, I think I could go out there and do what he does.  It was fair catch after fair catch.  Or a catch and a 5 yard run.  The man was no threat in any shape, way, or form.  This is a problem.  See the difference a guy like Mardy Gilyard made for our very own UC Bearcats last year?  A threat in the return game can be a major game changer.   Jones could be a perfect threat for us.  In 2 years with the Titans, he took 4 punts back for TD’s.  How many did Quan take back last year?  Well it is a very easy number to count to..0.

So I am hoping the Bengals solidify this deal.  It is a high risk high reward type of proposition due to his off field antics.  The best part though is we can sign him for pretty much the League minimum.  So in no way is this a make or break deal for our overall team salary.

Welcome to the Pacman era in Cincinnati (hopefully).

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze

“Defense Wins Championships”

I am sure every one of you who has ever played a sport such as basketball, football, or baseball at some point in your lives have heard the old saying, “Defense wins championships.”  And to an extent, this is a true statement.

Today the NBA announced their All Defensive Team.  And wouldn’t you know all 5 players on the 1st team play on teams who made the playoffs.  4 of them play on teams that are still left in the playoffs.  A coincidence, I think not.  The players on the first team are as follows:

Kobe Bryant-Lakers

Rajon Rondo-Celtics

Dwight Howard-Magic (Defensive Player of the Year)

Lebron James-Cavaliers

Gerald Wallace-Bobcats

These guys are all five some of the premier players that the NBA has to offer today.  This demonstrates that the NBA is not all about just scoring points.  If you want recognition as one of the superstars in the game, you better D up.  People accuse Kobe Bryant of playing lazy defense.  Well I think  you need to get your glasses out.  The man has made the All Defensive Team five consecutive years.  This is no fluke.  Rondo and Wallace are both first timers.  Rondo is a rising star as I talked about the other day.  Wallace just had a career season and made his first All-Star Appearance.  Then of course Dwight Howard is no stranger to this in that he is the Defensive Player of the Year for a change.  This is also Lebron’s second time on the team.  Go figure in both of these years, he has also secured the League’s MVP Award.

I will state this though.  Playing defense in the NBA is much different from in the College forum.  There is a different style of play in the League.  There are way more scorers.  Guys are bigger, stronger, and faster.  Teams are playing a grueling 82 game schedule, not to mention a 2 month playoff journey for some.  It is no easy task to play great defense night in and night out.  All of these guys not only do it, but they also put up points.

So 4 of the 5 remain in the playoff hunt.  It will be very interesting to see who ends up winning the title.  Remember in the NBA, and especially in the playoffs, games are generally decided by one or two key possessions (other than the Magic game last night).  So will the defense or offense execute in these crunch time situations?

Does defense win championships?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze