Monthly Archives: May 2012

All he did was win

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. In a jersey, all Michael Jordan (pictured above) could do was win. In a suit, all he has been doing lately is lose.

By Josh Kramer

Once upon a time Michael Jordan and the word “winning” were synonymous.  Everyone wanted to be like Mike.  There truly was not a more well-known athlete.  Since the turn of the century, times have really changed for “His Airness.”  The post playing career has not exactly been one of triumphs and successes for the man commonly referred to as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time).

Jordan, the current majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats took another loss last evening.  After posting the worst record in terms of NBA history in terms of winning percentage, the Bobcats got the shaft in the 2012 NBA draft lottery.  They will not get to build their team around can’t miss prospect, Anthony Davis.  Instead, they will be saddled with pick number two.  Though there are plenty of talented players that will be drafted on June 28th, none even rival the potential possessed by the one with the infamous unibrow.  Ironically, the team with the NBA’s worst record has not won the draft lottery since back in 2004 when the Magic earned the right to draft Dwight Howard.  That marriage continues to get sweeter and sweeter (just kidding).

The Bobcats really could have used the former UK prodigy.  Any team that goes 7 and 59 obviously has a wide variety of holes, but Davis appears to be one of those franchise type players.  Michael Jordan without question had a better playing career than Larry Bird.  The same cannot be said in terms of post-playing career though.  Bird is currently dominating Michael Jordan in terms of front office prowess. Continue reading

Down goes Williams

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Little known Virginie Razzano shocked Serena Williams (pictured above) in the opening round of the French Open yesterday.

By Josh Kramer

There are few certainties in this life.  Death, taxes, and Serena Williams advancing past the opening round of Grand Slam events.  Yesterday, the three certainties in life were diminished to two, when  the unthinkable happened.  In an upset bordering the level of Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson, little-known Virginie Razzano turned the tennis world upside down.  Down a set and 5-1 in the second set tiebreaker, it appeared the most dominant female tennis player of our generation would move to 47 and 0 in the first round of Grand Slam events.  A streak dating back to her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open in January of 1998.  Think again. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-29-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Manu Ginobli (pictured above) stole the show in Game 1. Will OKC slow down the streaking Spurs tonight?

By Josh Kramer

Continue to doubt the Spurs.  I know that I have.  19 victories in a row is no fluke.  Not to mention that nine of them have occurred during playoff basketball.  Through three quarters on Sunday night, it looked as if the Thunder were on their way to making a major statement, and negating San Antonio’s home-court advantage.  Instead, San Antonio came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth court, denying OKC a major opportunity.  Sunday was as prime example of why no game is every over until the final horn sounds.  Now history is against the Thunder who lost in the conference finals last year as well.

First of all, winners of Game 1 in the conference finals have gone on to win the series 80% of the time.  Secondly, San Antonio became the fourth team in NBA history to start the playoffs with nine straight victories.  All of the previous three advanced to the NBA finals with two taking home the championship.  Thirdly, the Thunder outplayed the Spurs for well over three/fourths of the game and still lost.  Scott Brooks has to be scratching his head still as to what happened late Sunday night.

Manu Ginobli was the difference maker as he has been for the better part of a decade now.  How many players can come off the bench and influence a playoff basketball game the way he can?  Not many, though James Harden, OKC’s bench star, can really play.  Also, OKC has to find a way to get some point production out of their bigs.  The Spurs cleaned up in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 50 to 26.

Despite all of my rambling, I still like the Thunder to take this series in the end.  There is something about this young and exciting group out of OKC that has really caught my eye.  The “Big Three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will not be denied two years in a row.  They are far too good and determined to let that happen.  Look for an inspired effort tonight from Russell Westbrook after a less than stellar Game 1 performance.  The majority of the country wants a Thunder versus Heat finals matchup.  With a victory tonight, the Thunder will really increase the likelihood of this dream matchup coming to fruition. Continue reading

French Open 2012 Preview

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Rafael Nadal (pictured above) is looking to make history in Roland Garros with a seventh French Open title.

By Josh Kramer

Paris.  Roland Garros.  Philippe Chatrier.  It is time for the year’s second Grand Slam.  Though this is not typically a favorite tournament for Americans (last Men’s winner was Andre Agassi in 1999, Women’s winner was Serena Williams in 2002), people love parity in sports.  This is the closest thing that the tennis world has to March Madness.  Before Rafael Nadal came along as the “Clay Court King,” the French Open had nine different men’s champions in a ten-year period.  Despite Rafa’s dominance, this tournament is always scintillating as the clay court specialist come out in full force and enjoy their time in the sun. On the Women’s side, there have been four different winners the past four years.  Strap in, and get ready for a little taste of Paris.

ChampionRafael Nadal

How could you pick against this guy in Paris?  He is the “Clay-Court King” for a reason.  This will be the year that the one they call “Rafa” surpasses Bjorn Borg as the greatest clay court player of all time with his seventh title at Roland Garros.  Coming off of a huge victory against Novak Djokovic in Rome, not even the world number one holds a mental edge on the star from Majorca.  If I were Bjorn Borg, I would give Djokovic and Federer some serious advice on how to thwart Nadal on the clay. Continue reading

Conference realignment has potential to ruin mid-major hoops

Photo courtesy of thevictoryformation.com. Our very own Nick Craddock gives his thoughts on NCAA Conference Realignment.

By Nick Craddock

There are college football dudes and college basketball guys. I’m more of a college basketball guy. I suppose it’s part of my genetic makeup, like it was in my Canadian forefather, Dr. James Naismith. But now, conference realignment is becoming downright cumbersome as it seems to be forcing me to cater to college football at the cost of quality collegiate hoops from top to bottom of Division I.

I’m not naïve enough to think that the NCAA is not (at least in part) driven by making money and although I was unhappy with the first wave of conference realignment in the fall (i.e. the one where Boise State became a member of the Big East among other moves where the major conference poached teams from one another), the desire for BCS schools to ensure their BCS Conference auto-bid status, lock up lucrative bowl tie-ins, and find the best television markets and contracts was rational.

Rivalries were shattered, athletic departments’ future travel budgets soared, and conference monikers became incredibly stupid (of course, everyone knows 12 teams play in the Big Ten, but 10 teams play in the Big 12, that’s just good logic). But money was to be made so fans were supposed to embrace the change and start booking off work now for those cross-country drives to see the heated Rutgers-Boise State series in person. Continue reading

Dream matchup before dream matchup

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The point guard matchup in the Western Conference finals between Russell Westbrook (pictured above) and Tony Parker should be one for the ages.

By Josh Kramer

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Western Conference semifinals were a major bust.  The city of Los Angeles (Clippers and Lakers) was entirely overmatched and mustered up one total victory.  Now, the matchup everyone has been waiting for in the Wild Wild West is set.  Who isn’t excited for the Spurs/Thunder showdown set to start on Sunday?

Not only did the supposedly “over the hill” San Antonio Spurs tie for the best record in the NBA, they also have won 18 straight games.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming off an emphatic thrashing of the Los Angeles Lakers.  OKC has been the favorite all year long out West, and lived up to the part until the final couple of weeks of the season when San Antonio leapfrogged them for the number one seed.  So despite San Antonio possessing the number one seed and cruising through the first two rounds, all records get tossed out the window.  The score is 0 to 0 come Sunday.

Not only did the Spurs and Thunder finish 2nd and 3rd in the NBA in terms of scoring offense this season, they also finished 16th and 17th in terms of scoring defense.  These teams put up frighteningly similar statistics during the course of the 66 game shortened season.  Can you say seven game series?

Flip a coin on what “Big Three” is better.  On one hand, San Antonio has the old-school trifecta featuring Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli.  On the other hand, OKC has a terrific trio in Westbrook, Durant, and Harden.  This series will start and end at the point guard position though. Tony Parker versus Russell Westbrook. Continue reading

Keep an eye on the Wildcats

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. With the arrival of Mark Lyons (pictured above), the Arizona Wildcats are not only a favorite to win the Pac-12, but they are also a contender to make a deep run in March.

By Josh Kramer

Now I already know what you all are thinking.  Who isn’t already keeping an eye on the Wildcats when it comes to college basketball?  Calipari’s “Traveling All- Stars” have appeared in two consecutive Final Fours and of course cut down the nets in April.  I am not talking about Lexington’s Wildcats though.  I am referring to the Arizona Wildcats.

So the Pac-12 this past season in terms of hoops was an utter embarrassment.  The Washington Huskies took home the dubious honor of becoming the first team in the modern era of the NCAA tournament to win a power-conference regular-season championship and not receive an at-large bid.  Well that was the past.  The Pac-12 will be far stronger during the 2012/2013 season in large part due to to two familiar faces:  UCLA and Arizona.  Today though, I am focused on Lute Olson’s former employer.

After a disappointing season in which they lost in the opening round of the NIT, the expectations are once again high in Tucson.  First of all the Wildcats are led by one of the best coaches in America that is still flying under the radar, Sean Miller.  Miller is another coach that was produced from the coaching gold mine that is Xavier University.  This guy did a remarkable job in leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2011 and helping mold Derrick Williams into a lottery pick.  Things looked bleak for Arizona though with the transfer of point guard Josiah Turner.  In actuality, things just got a whole lot better.

I am not sure Arizona knows what they are getting in former Xavier star Mark Lyons. Continue reading