Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant

Thunder youth movement

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. With yesterday’s Serge Ibaka contract extension, the Oklahoma City Thunder youth movement continues.

By Josh Kramer

Most of the attention regarding the Western Conference this off-season has been focused on the newly revamped Los Angeles Lakers.  Rightfully so.  In adding two-time MVP Steve Nash and the best center in the NBA, it appears Kobe has the pieces in place to nab #6.  But who won the Western Conference championship last year though?  Who went to the Western Conference finals the year before? Oh yeah, that team out of Oklahoma City.  With yesterday’s four-year contract extension of 22-year-old swat team captain Serge Ibaka, the youth movement continues on in OKC.

In this day and age defined by free agency, blockbuster deals, and unhappy players, core groups rarely stay together for an extended period of time.  Oklahoma City is looking to defy the odds and build a dynasty out of a group of guys that they drafted, molded, and groomed. Continue reading

Food for Thought 8-14-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Aroldis Chapman (pictured above) is looking to become the first relief pitcher to win a Cy Young since 2003 and perhaps the first Cincinnati Reds pitcher ever to win the prestigious award.

By Josh Kramer

The Reds may be the oldest team in professional baseball history (established in 1869), but there is one thing this proud franchise has never done.  No Cincinnati pitcher has ever claimed the Cy Young Award.  Just to put that into perspective, the Diamondbacks (established in 1998) have sported five winners of the prestigious award for the best pitcher in their respective League.  I know there is a still a month and a half left in the regular season, but a pair of serious Cy Young candidates currently reside in Cincinnati.  I will give you a hint.  One is a starter, while the other is a relief pitcher.  Despite the absence of star Joey Votto, the Reds have somehow managed to go a remarkable 19 and 8.  So much for staying afloat and playing .500 ball with the all-world Votto sidelined.

Sure plenty of players have stepped up in the absence of the MLB’s best all-around hitter (such as Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips), but two players have been getting the job done all year.  Johnny Cueto has not only proven himself to be a formidable number one starter, but he has also proven to be arguably the best pitcher in the National League.  Cueto currently is tied for the NL lead with 15 wins and ranks third in ERA (2.45).  Make sure to note that the two pitchers with better ERA’s than Cueto in the present have 10 wins and 9 wins respectively (Vogelsong and Zimmermann)  Then there is the Cuban Missile.  Outside of one short-lived rough patch just before the All-Star break, Aroldis Chapman has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Chapman has been simply unhittable as of late going a remarkable 22 straight appearances without allowing a run.  Also, in 51.2 innings against National League foes, Chapman has surrendered one earned run.  Lastly he has given up just 25 hits.  Really think about those statistics.  Could we be on the verge of the first relief-pitcher to take home the Cy Young Award since Eric Gagne in 2003?  Or perhaps the first Reds Cy Young Award winner ever? Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 8-13-2012

Photo courtesty of zimbio.com. Dwight Howard (pictured above) is the latest great big man to suit up for the Los Angeles Lakers.

By Josh Kramer

Happy Monday to you all.  It wasn’t easy, but Team USA went all the way and handled Spain late in the fourthAbby Wambach and Co. handled business.  Tiger Woods, well you know the drill (at least Rory was good).  And Andrew Luck demonstrated that it wasn’t “luck” that he was drafted number one in his professional debut.  Last week was a great one, but this week should be fun in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Marcos Ambrose came out victorious in a wild race at the Glen.  The countdown to the Chase is down to four.  There are just four more races before the big boys battle it out for the Cup.  This Sunday, the gang heads to Michigan International Speedway as Kyle Busch looks to defend his crown at the Pure Michigan 400.

4.  The history is well-documented:  George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal.  Add Dwight Howard to the list.  I am not sure how the Lake Show pulled this blockbuster deal off, but Kobe Bryant’s chances at number six improved immensely when Superman signed with Jack Nicholson’s favorite team.  Watching Team USA bring home gold at the Olympics was exciting, but the prospects of a LeBron/Kobe finals matchup has me even more excited.  It may only be August, but the 2012/2013 NBA seasons is shaping up to be a memorable.  Plus, the “Dwight Howard Soap Opera” has finally come to a close. Continue reading

A Special Day: #1,000

By Josh Kramer

Let’s get this party started with a little video tribute..

Before we get into the sappy and reflective stuff again, what would a post be without a little sports chatter?

Sports Theories:

Baseball:

-Baseball shot itself in the foot back in 1973 when the American League added the DH.

-The art of bunting has gone in the toilet (watch the Reds if you want confirmation).

-The MLB should nix interleague play, divisions, and the playoffs, just having a World Series between the teams with the best record in the AL and NL.

-Hitting a 100 mph (especially when you aren’t sure it is coming) fastball is the hardest thing to do in sports.

-Due to playing on the wrong coast, Jered Weaver never receives the media attention he so rightfully deserves.

-If I had the opportunity to be a professional athlete for a day, I would choose to be Derek Jeter. Continue reading

Number One

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Steve Nash (pictured above) is joining forces with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Will he capture his first ring?

By Josh Kramer

9,916 assists.  Eight All-Star Games.  Two MVP’s.  And it all comes down to this.  The man who made the 50-40-90 term (50% from the field, 40% from three-point range, 90% from the free throw line) relevant is going for the only number that matters.  One.  As in “one” championship.  Just ask the “King” what that feels like.

In a shocking twist of events, Steve Nash was shipped off in a sign and trade to the Lakers yesterday to join forces with Kobe Bryant.  Go figure.  Heading into this offseason, it seemed unless the Lakers won the “Dwight Howard Sweepstakes (Soap Opera),” Kobe Bryant’s pursuit of number six would be all for not.  Now winning the “Dwight Howard Sweepstakes” might just be a cherry on top.  Kobe is coming for Jordan’s six. Continue reading

Blinded by the Blue: NBA Draft Recap

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. John Calipari (pictured above) once again stole the show at the NBA Draft last evening.

By Josh Kramer

Is anybody else seeing blue?  Eight first round picks came from Kentucky and North Carolina.  Plus, six players out of Lexington were selected on the night (a record). That is a whole lot of blue.  For the first time in NBA Draft history, the top two picks happened to come from the same University.   In addition, the top three picks were not only all freshman, but they were all players out of the SEC East. Go figure.  I thought the SEC was a football conference?  These days, John Calipari is becoming more of a mainstay at the NBA Draft than David Stern.  The following are ten observations from the night in no particular order. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Rafael Nadal (pictured above) make history today and break Bjorn Borg’s record with a 7th French Open Championship?

By Josh Kramer

Thank you, may I have another?  So I’ll Have another was unable to compete in the Belmont Saturday.  As usual, the race did not disappoint nor did the entire week in sports.  The playoffs are all about the finals now as there are only two teams remaining in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Plus the French Open is not quite done yet.  Last week was great, but this one will be good in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Rain, rain, go away.  Or keep the French Open going another day.  Maria Sharapova became the tenth woman to complete the career Grand Slam on Saturday.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking to further stamp their imprint on history as the fourth set of the Men’s final continues this morning.  I would highly recommend waking up and checking this out now on NBC. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-4-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Curtis Granderson (left) and Derek Jeter (right) are two of the main reasons why the New York Yankees are right in the thick of things in the AL East as usual.

By Josh Kramer

Can you say playoffs?  The past month and a half has been defined by playoff action.  Last week though, Grand Slam tennis in Paris was added to the slate.  Not to mention Tiger Woods tied Jack Nicklaus with PGA victory number 73.  I thoroughly enjoyed last week, but this week will be even better as we delve deeper into the playoffs and action at Roland Garros.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  A 20-minute long red flag at Dover on Sunday.  12 cars were involved in the massive collision that occurred on the exit of Turn 2.  Hopefully next Sunday will be a little less eventful at Pocono Raceway as Jimmie Johnson looks to jump Greg Biffle atop the Sprint Cup Series.

4.  It took 8,020 and games and 134 pitches from Johan Santana.  But the Mets finally have a no-hitter.  Both Roy Oswalt and Dustin Pedroia are making two very different types of comebacks.  And after a stellar career in which he posted a career .309 batting average, Magglio Ordonez is officially hanging up the spikes.  Also what is the deal in the East?  All teams are within striking distance in both the AL and NL East, with no team trailing first place by more than 3.5 games.  The matchup of the week will take place in the Bronx.

Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees:  Every team in the AL East is very much in contention at the moment.  Amazingly, all five teams have a positive run differential.  The AL Central currently only has one team with a positive run differential (Cleveland).  But let’s be entirely honest.  Does anyone truly think the Orioles or Blue Jays will be in contention come October?  The AL East has been a three-team race for years now and will continue to stay that way into the foreseeable future.  The Yankees and Rays happen to be two of those three teams in contention each and every year.

As is typically the case in New York, the Bronx Bombers have been dropping bombs all year long, leading the American League in home runs.  Tampa Bay on the other hand has won in a much different fashion, relying heavily on their very talented pitching staff.  David Price and Jeremy Hellickson have both been stifling the opposition since the beginning of April.  For the Yankees, the Captain (Derek Jeter), who actually just celebrated the ten-year anniversary of becoming the Yankees captain yesterday, has turned into a modern-day version of Ponce de Leon, discovering the baseball fountain of youth.  Also, Curtis Granderson’s insane power has been another key to New York’s success.  The Rays swept the Yankees to open the season back in early April.  New York returned the favor by taking two of three at the beginning of May.  Look for Tampa to turn the tables yet again taking two of three, with Hellickson and Price starting two of the games. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-15-2012

Photo courtesy of clippers.topbuzz.com. Chris Paul (left) and Blake Griffin (right) are two of the main reasons why the Clippers currently find themselves in the Western Conference Semifinals. Can they advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history?

By Josh Kramer

The opening round brought the city of Los Angeles to a fever pitch.  Round two will bring heartbreak.  In a little over a week, people will be referring to Los Angeles as “Heartbreak City,” rather than “Basketball Central.”  Even if you are not a fan of the Lakers or the Clippers, you have to admit that an all LA Western Conference Finals showdown would be special.  “Lob City” versus the Kobe Bryant Show.  What could be better than that?

Unfortunately, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it isn’t going to happen.  This is not the same Lakers team that made three consecutive finals appearances from 2008 to 2010.  They are full of flaws, lacking the effort and determination to lay it all on the line every night. The Clippers are not only tired and injury riddled, they are overmatched against a very experienced and well coached San Antonio team.  Gregg Popovich is arguably the best in the business for a reason.

Kobe Bryant will have to play out of this world for LA to stretch this series more than five games.  The Nuggets made the Lakers look like they were standing still at times during the opening round.  What do you think the Thunder are going to do?  Not to mention the Thunder are much bigger inside than the Nuggets with Ibaka and a now healthy Perkins.  I tip my hat to the Clippers on taking down a very good Grizzlies team.  But the Spurs are even better than Memphis.  Plus, both of the star players on the Clippers are currently struggling with various injuries.

It has been a great year for Los Angeles in terms of NBA basketball.  As a consolation prize though, the Kings appear unstoppable in terms of the NHL and the Dodgers currently boast the best record in the National League.  In terms of basketball though, Los Angeles should start thinking about the 2012/2013 season. Continue reading

Throwback Saturday Part XVI

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. A year ago, Rashard Mendenhall (pictured above) made some inappropriate comments on Twitter. The importance of Twitter in sports continues to grow by the day.

By Josh Kramer

We have reached the four-month anniversary of “Throwback Saturdays.”  This is a day where we reflect on what was going on in the wide world of sports one year ago and two years ago.  In addition, it is an opportunity to see just how right or wrong I was at the time in my analysis.  So what was happening on May 5, 2011?  How about on May 5, 2012?  Let’s find out.

One year ago..

Twitter: A Best Friend or Worst Enemy of Athletes

Here is a snippet..

For the athletic forum, Twitter can also be a great thing.   People are able to receive news instantaneously from millions of sources.  In addition, people are able to interact with players, coaches, and various sports personalities through “tweets.”  What could be better than creating a way for fans to actually relate with the athletes they idolize and cheer for?  Guys like Chad Ochocinco have used the Twitter world and the whole forum of social media to their advantage increasing their popularity exponentially.  The majority of athletes have caught on to this by now and are doing what they can to create a greater appeal to a larger fan base via Twitter.

Some guys just don’t get it though.  And there is one guy that comes to mind when I think of those that are “Twitter Incompetent.”

Rashard Mendenhall.

Now, Mendenhall has turned into a fine running back that played a key role in leading the Steelers to an AFC Championship this past year.  But boy has he struggled with his utilization of the Twitter World.  First he made comments backing up already hotly contested comments by fellow NFL Player Adrian Peterson, which compared NFL Players to slaves.  Now he has spoken out against Americans celebrating the death of Osama.  Talk about two heavy topics to hit on the wrong end of the stick (To finish read this post, click this link). Continue reading