Thursday, May 19, 2005

Suns- Heat Won't Be Cold

The only way to settle the MVP and best team in the NBA discussion is for the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat to meet head-to-head in the NBA Finals. And if I know the NBA, they’ll do EVERYTHING in their power to make sure that it’s Shaq’s Heat vs. Nash’s Suns. Two teams that have grown in the last several years’ right in front of our very eyes…

With all due respect to the two-time champion Spurs and last years champion, the Detroit Pistons the NBA needs a Heat vs. Suns series. The country needs this heavy-weight bout too. If I have to sit there and watch (in and out of sleeping) six or seven games of the San Antonio methodical (but effective) play vs. the Pistons slow (but bruising) play I’ll be ridiculously disappointed. We have it right here in front of us – we can already see an action-packed, thrilling seven game series between the leagues best two teams and some of their most exciting players. Dunks, 3-pointers, interior play, fast-breaking, MVP-quality players, high scoring games and more dunks…it’s going to be breath-taking, you’re not going to want to go to the bathroom until the end of the quarters.

Let’s face it – these two teams have the hottest dance teams too. Miami and Phoenix…2/3 of the population is half naked all of the time. Some viewers would be running to get up close to the TV during time outs to see the dance squads strut their stuff.

Dan Majerle would be like a proud uncle if his two former stomping grounds met for all the marbles…he’d forget about that one season he spent in Cleveland and you’d probably see him sitting courtside with Sir Charles Barkley and Timmy Hardaway playing the middle-man as the two argued over who would win. The NBA would get an East Coast vs. Left Coast series (which we all know they LOVE) and more fans would have the delight to see a franchise that has never won an NBA title hoist the trophy for the first time.

Nash vs. D-Wade…Shaq vs. Amare…Eddie Jones, Damon Jones and Udonis Haslem from the Heat…Shawn Marion, Quentin Richardson, Jimmy Jackson and hopefully Joe Johnson from the Suns. All I ask is the Heat from the Suns of above make this happen…please, not only for me – but for all of the basketball fans worldwide who can’t bear to see a 79-76 series finale.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Crying Game

Who cares if Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper are no longer buddies? This back and forth about who didn’t call who and that one thought the other was a good friend and yada-yada-yada – I don’t care. It would be an interesting story if the two still played together in Minnesota and needed to be friends, but they’re on different teams, in different conferences and separated by 2,000 miles. This isn’t McNabb-Owens…this is two former teammates acting like they should both be on ‘Days of Our Lives’.

Sure, they combined to make one of the best passing-receiving combos in NFL history over the last five seasons – but it’s over now and people, especially Randy Moss and the media need to let it go. If these two guys want to continue their friendship then so be it, but none of us need to hear all about how they’re not hanging out anymore.

"Once you grow to love a person, a breakup is kind of hard," Moss recently said in a Sports Illustrated article. “It seems to me I lost a friend."

Maybe Moss is trying to make this a bigger split than Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston? I don’t know, but it sounded ridiculous.

Randy was great before Culpepper began throwing the ball to him in the 2000 season – he helped make Randall Cunningham a pro-bowler again in 1998 and he was the biggest reason that Culpepper has been so great at such a young age. But all of the ‘Moss distractions’ had to have started to make everyone in the Vikings organization realize that it was time to part ways – even Daunte. Daunte is a very smart guy, and I’m sure he realized after Moss’ late season stroll off the field in Washington and then his fake moon of the Packers fans that enough was enough. And yet Culpepper never talked bad about Moss, denying that Randy’s antics and side show had a negative effect on him, the team and his ability to be the leader of the Vikings. He kept mum and tried to go about his business like a good team leader and a friend. But now he’s implying that Moss hasn’t called him.

If these two guys were such good friends than I would think that Culpepper had voiced his concern about Moss being so childish over the years. Randy is great, but there’s only so much teammates can take.

C’mon fellas, either make-up and be cool again or just go on your separate ways and stop talking about it…please.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Too Much Dribble?

It doesn’t surprise me that we’re hearing rumors that Chris Webber is unhappy playing with Allen Iverson. And it doesn’t shock me that C-Webb is now telling the world that the rumor is nothing more than a lie. We’ve become accustomed to this type of stuff coming from and swirling around these two guys…and I would’ve been amazed if the rumors hadn’t started this off season.

The rumor that the New York Daily News reported over the weekend was that C-Webb had told several of his closest friends that he couldn’t play with AI because Iverson “dribbles too much.” Was he lying about telling his boys this? I doubt it very much. The Daily News story also said that Webber said he would take less money to get out of Philadelphia and away from Mr. Dribble Happy.

Now C-Webb is telling us that the only person he’s frustrated with is himself, because his body isn’t performing for him like it used to – join the club dude. His chronic knee pain and propensity for injuries (he’s never been healthy for a full season in his twelve year NBA career) have slowed him down a bunch over the last several years, but are those really the reasons that his stats fell drastically after being traded from Sacramento to Philadelphia late in the season? I don’t think so. I think the fact that he was in a new place factored into it. But the biggest factor is that he didn’t get as many shots, and didn’t get as many ‘good looks’ or ‘easy buckets’ like he got with the Kings.

Back on the Left Coast C-Webb would get about 6 easy points a game when his All-Star point guard Mike Bibby would penetrate the lane and take two or three defenders and then drop a soft pass to Webber who would either lay it in or slam it down. He rarely got those easy buckets in Philadelphia, because the only guy that consistently pierces defenses is Allen Iverson – and when AI drives, he’s looking to score. Why wouldn’t he? He’s one of the best scoring guards of the last twenty-five years and he’s never played with big men that can do damage on the interior like Webber.

We’ve heard the same type of frustrations from plenty of Iverson’s teammates over the years. He drove Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes out of town because they couldn’t work together. There have been others too, because Iverson does just what Webber was rumored to have said – he dribbles too much. And he shoots a whole bunch too. Playing with a guy like that can make you aggravated or it can lull you into a coma. You need a special type of player (ala Scottie Pippen) to be the second fiddle to someone that takes the majority of the shots and has the ball in his hands the majority of the time. If Webber can be that guy maybe this will work.

The 76ers are going to have to make sure that this duo works. They traded away a young stud in Kenny Thomas and I’d be astonished if any other teams would be interested in an injury-prone 32-year old power forward who’s owed $63 million over the next three years. C-Webb has missed a total of 251 of his teams games in his first eleven seasons (not including last year)…the guy is NEVER healthy.

Iverson and Webber are going to have to play together and get along. And Chris needs to give them more than the 15.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 3.1 apg that he did last season. The man has average almost 22 points per game over his career – he needs to get at least 18 points a game next season.

It will be interesting for sure…but I don’t see this thing working out for either party and the Sixer fans will most likely be caught watching another decent team struggle.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Second to None

I sometimes feel like I’m in a space-time-continuum when it comes to the National Eastern Division of Major League Baseball. We’ve been seeing the same team year after year after year after year. 10 straight seasons the Atlanta Braves have won the NL East – 10 straight seasons! When you try to put that into perspective it still doesn’t do them enough justice.

Since 1995 the Braves have just waltzed through the regular season on their way into the postseason like it was foregone conclusion (They also won the NL West in 1991, 1992 & 1993). Sure their have been several seasons were the Wild Card teams from the NL East have gone to the World Series over the Braves…1997 & 2003 the Florida Marlins won the World Series and the 2000 New York Mets lost in the World Series. But this has been their division. The Phillies, Mets, Marlins and Expos/Nationals have been nothing more than division opponents…

The only thing that has been constant with this team is manager Bobby Cox, pitching coach Leo Mazzone and pitcher John Smoltz. Guys have come and gone but they always find the right mix of pitching, defense and timely hitting. For the last several seasons people have predicted that they would fall off and it would finally be the season that they didn’t reach the playoffs – hasn’t happened yet. From 1999-2001 the New York Mets were supposed to dethrone Atlanta – all three years coming up short. In 2004 the experts were convinced that the Philadelphia Phillies would take the division title – but they couldn’t keep pace with the Braves.

The Braves have been home to future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and possible (and probable) Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff.But to think about the great players that have worn the Atlanta uniform over the last decade plus is mind boggling. Who could forget guys like Francisco Cabrera, Deion Sanders, Terry Pendleton, Otis Nixon, Mark Lemke, Sid Bream, Ronnie Gant, Rafael Belliard, Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko, Jeff Blauser, Marquis Grissom, David Justice, Kent Mercker, Kenny Lofton Bret Boone, Andres Galaragga, Reggie Sanders, Steve Avery, Julio Franco, Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and the late Ken Caminiti? Each of these players have left their mark on Braves baseball and the NL East. At one point or another whether it was the regular season or the playoffs they came through with a great hit, homerun, stolen base, shutout or diving catch that has kept this team winning.

People forget that pitchers Jason Schmidt, Joe Borowski, Kevin Millwood, Bruce Chen, Mike Stanton, Jason Marquis, Odalis Perez, and Greg McMichael all started their careers with Atlanta. Incredible if you take a minute to think about it, isn’t it?

The Braves are second to none in evaluating talent and then drafting future major leaguers. If a kid gets drafted by Atlanta it’s like a calling card to the major leagues. I would love to know how they’ve been able to keep it up. At the current time they are again in first place in the NL East and unless something drastic happens…they’ll probably win the division yet again.