Saturday, July 21, 2012

Your Mega NBA Off-season article

The Boys are back! Chris and Lee are talking Dream Team vs. the 2012 Olympic team, Jeremy Lin, and the rest of the busy NBA offseason!

Chris: Mr. Kunkel nice of you to join me this evening! There has been a ton, I mean a ton, of stuff going on. You know what this calls for? A mega-NBA offseason article of greatness!
Lee: Awesome! What’s on tap first?
Chris: Well let’s start with the original reason on why we wanted to do this-- the Olympic Team. Of course Kobe said that this year’s 2012 Olympic team is better than the original Dream Team. I disagreed, you didn’t...

Lee: My stance is this: They aren’t better, but they can beat them.  I could see either winning in a seven game series.

I also believe this team was ROBBED from true greatness by injury, the Dream Team was not. You’ve got Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, etc.

Chris: They absolutely were! D-Rose, Wade, Howard, Bosh, and Aldridge (who might be the most underrated player in the game)..... Hell, Rose, Wade, and Howard are hall-of-famers to be, that’s incredible.
What’s your theory on how they’d do this [beat the Dream Team]?
Lee: Match-up problems. Size is certainly a disadvantage for the ‘12 team, but they are SOOO much more athletic and I think people fail to realize that.

Chris: I’m just not sure how they would match-up, especially if the ’12 team goes with the starting five they did in their exhibition vs. Brazil with ‘Melo instead of KD starting.
Lee: But Remember, Bird was done in ‘92, Magic was coming off an off year from HIV, and Drexler/Stockten was banged up. ALSO the numbers are a bit skewed in my opinion. International ball was complete crap then. This year’s Nigeria team that barely made Olympics may have metaled in ‘92.
Chris: I’m thinking this year’s team runs out a starting five of Paul-Kobe-LeBron-‘Melo-Chandler, that’s their biggest line-up (yikes).

Lee: That’s the lineup I’d run out.

Chris: Just like vs. Brazil, a game in which they struggled in, albeit it being a pointless exhibition and all.
Charles Barkley and Larry Bird would have been too much for
this years Olympic squad, according to Chris.

Let me take a look at the match-ups real quick. The Dream Team is trotting out a starting lineup of Magic, MJ, Bird/Malone, Barkley, and Patrick Ewing. This years team would get eaten alive by the size down low. Chandler could hold his own against Ewing but after that you’ve got ‘Melo guarding either Bird (Best PF of all-time), Malone (not a slack himself) or Charles Barkley (Maybe the second best player on the team behind Jordan). In the words of Barkley himself “that’s turrible.”

The Backcourt would be much, much more fun. Paul trying to guard Magic/Stockton would be interesting… Then you have the most entertaining match-up of all time with Jordan taking on either Kobe (practically a Jordan clone) or LeBron (the most physically gifted player to ever step on a court). That’s awesome. No, it’s more than awesome. Words can’t even describe that.

Lee: I think people are under mining Kobe. It’s not like he is a scrub. Dude could have won the scoring title this year, carried an overrated LA team, and has proven he can still lock down anyone.
Chris: I feel the same way... In what world do we live in that Kobe is UNDERRATED!? But that’s just how it is.

Lee: As for the size discussion, LeBron played Center vs. Hibbert and shut him down. Love is a PERFECT international C, and Chandler locks down.

Chris: Thats Roy Hibbert though... Not Ewing or Robinson.

Lee: I thinks it’s closer than people think. With that said, advantage ‘92 team. Barkley-Ewing-Robinson is hard to overcome, but I can throw Melo-Bron-KD. Maybe the three biggest miss matches in NBA right now

Chris: I think the one advantage this U.S team would have is their pure athleticism/defense. Magic was never a good defender and Barkley was born 30 pounds overweight.
Lee: I just think this team is so much more athletic. They could wear them down. This is a bit off topic, but generally I’ll take a team of current athletes over past. This generation is just more athletic. And my ultimate question is who is guarding LBJ. Dude is just unreal.

Chris: Simmons made a good point in the book of basketball.... I think he made the cutoff of comparing current and former players at like 1980. What was the biggest difference? WE FINALLY HAD BLACK GUYS! ‘Bron is the most athletic creature to ever walk on a bball court and some of these current athletes (like Shaq, D12, etc.) would eat alive those poor 210 pound centers from back in the day.
Also random: You know what would be funny? Bird trash talking ‘Melo for an entire game. Carmelo would lose his absolute mind.

Overall though what made you change your mind? When we first started talking about this, you took this year’s team. Was it the realization of the injuries? The shit-show vs. Brazil?

Lee: I didn’t change my mind I’d still take them. I’m not judging their performance in exhibition games, only the real thing.
Chris: Oh, by "advantage Dream team" I thought you were referring to the overall game... how stupid of me. I think Dream team wins by about 8-12 with Christian Laettner scoring 32 points just because

Lee: No the only advantage for the Dream Team is down low, that’s it. And at least my college kid is decent.
Chris: I think MJ has something to say about that, but that’s why it’s a fun thing to talk about, we won’t ever know.

Lee: Yeah, and I just think this teams athleticism would wear them down. MJ-Kobe would be soooooo fun. And let me ask you this, whos containing Paul/D-Will? Johnny was banged up bad, and Magic plays no D. Westbrook would run circles around Johnny.
Chris: Defensively, no one, but I think it goes both ways... Paul, Williams, and Westbrook are all good defenders (especially Russ) but the smoothness of both Stocktons and Magic game are something we might not see ever again
Lee: I'll give you Stockton but Magic took a year off. A whole year! No way he could run with those guys. Just no way.

Chris: But he did!

Lee: No run with Paul/Williams/Westbrook
Chris: He was a liability defensively anyway, who cares!

Lee: It’s a tough argument, both sides have their advantages. I’m just happy they are AMERICAN.

Chris: AMEN! USA! USA! USA! You know, I was hoping you would give me some sort of segway about LBJ so I can say this about him real quick: We've seen some really, really, really, good years from him... But we ain't seen nothing yet. I’m scared for the sake of the NBA.  His career is about to be Kemp over Lister awesome, and that’s the highest amount of awesome you can have.
Lee: Yes, the Thunder may be the only team that can touch them. Ray Allen/Rashard Lewis are huge upgrades.

Chris: Thoughts on Lin? He is officially a rocket
Lee: Stupid. Just stupid for BOTH teams. Here’s why: Rockets have nothing, Lin can’t carry a team, and for that amount of $$$ it’s dumb. He won’t be worth it there. For the Knicks, dumb as well. With the talent in NY, maybe you do get a 10-15$ million PG. But here’s my biggest pet-peeve. He makes luxury tax dollars plus more in one, maybe two years in that market. Easily. The dude played for like three weeks and had the second highest selling jersey. Plus it’s not bad if he learned from kid and they didn’t waste money on the corpse that is Ray Felton.
Leave it to a James Dolan led Knicks franchise to pass up on a
young/charismatic/talented/liked point guard.

Chris: You know what’s so interesting? No one has any idea what to think about this. You have the anti Lin-to-the-Knicks people (Wilbon) and the pro Lin-to-the-Knicks guys like Simmons and Doug Gottlieb. I’ll just say this: If Ray Felton comes in within 22 pounds of his playing weight that’s already a small victory. And you know what else is funny about this? Everyone talks about Lin being so D'Antoni needed that no talks about how bad Felton has been the past year and a half! He might be even more D’Antoni needy then Lin! Bad bad bad for the Knicks.
Lee: Hahaha yeah. I found it interesting Lin said he wanted NY.
Chris: Of course he did... Better team and he would swim in the shit piles of money he’d get from marketing
Lee: Lets go best and worst off-seasons thus far.
The addition of Anthony Davis and others can
potentially make the Hornets a powerhouse down
the road, according to Chris and Lee.
I’ll start off by taking New Orleans. Love Anderson/Rivers/Davis. Resigning Gordon was huge, I think he’ll be a star someday.
Chris: You read my mind, I LOVE what New Orleans has done. Can’t argue that at all, what a young core they have.

Lee: Two years, western conference contenders potentially.

Chris: It’s a good situation for Austin Rivers especially. He can be the man there.

Lee: My worst is Dallas. No direction for their franchise, and I can’t decide if they’re a playoff team or set to be stacking up lottery picks the next three years. They’re in the middle of being bad enough to not contend/good enough not to be awful enough to get a game changer via draft (if that makes sense). See: 76ers since Iverson left.

Chris: Poor Mark Cuban, just nothing can go right. I think losing J Kidd would have been a good thing..... if they had any sort of replacement. Why aren’t they trying to be players in this Howard deal? It makes complete sense. Cuban is so paranoid about nothing going right he’s coming atSimmons for signing Elton Brand and Chris Kaaman on twitter. Anytime the words: "Signing Elton Brand" are involved you’re gonna get criticized, I think it's a new rule under the CBA.

Lee: Yeah, that’s not good. I don’t know they must not have the pieces, not a lot of youth in Dallas right now.

Chris: That’s got to be the reason. They have nothing except Dirk, and assuming he comes in in-shape and motivated he can only carry them so long.

Lee: They got their title, and have coasted since.

Chris: We talked about this the other day, but the most involuntary funny thing that happened all year is the Raptors getting stuck with a terrible Landry Fields contract to keep the Knicks away from Nash so they could get him. No Nash for Toronto, but 20 million dollars’ worth of Landry Fields!

Lee: Poor Toronto, they’ll never be good.
Finals picks right now...subject to change. Miami vs. OKC... OKC in 6.
Chris: That’s too easy Lee, I thought you were better than that! I really like LA.... They might not be able to defend, but Nash is going to improve that team drastically.

I’m not making a finals pick. It’s July. I refuse to do it. And because I’m deeming this my article, we’re finished here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Legacies on the line in this NBA Finals

by Chris Cappella

As you’ve probably heard, the Miami Heat and Seattle Sonics Oklahoma City Thunder will clash in the NBA finals. To say that there is a lot on the line would be an understatement, and while many of the players involved are young guns (and this probably won’t be their last finals match-up) there are legacies on the line. Consider the following:

LeBron “King” James: is the defending MVP and has certainly been playing like it averaging 30.8 points per game and shooting over 50% from the field. Everyone knows about James’ unreal skill set and if you can’t admit that what he did in these playoffs has been “clutch” than we must not have watched the same games.

Two of the "big three" will need supermen type series to beat the talented
 However, it is time for James to start working on his… guarentee. LeBron has been ringless for not two, not three, not four, but seven full NBA seasons. Last year at this time, James was coming again coming off an incredible Eastern Conference Finals against Boston where he looked like a confident killer on the court. This year his attacking style has been unstoppable, but if his team can’t overcome this young, talented Thunder team the criticism is only going to keep building. Does Lebron finally cement himself as a champion, or does he remain the most talented player to never win a ring?

Dwayne Wade: Wade has the benefit of having being a finals MVP to his name but his play has been very suspect. As many members of the media has mentioned, Wade is treated like Superman in South Beach and can do no wrong, but in actuality has been as inconsistent as I have ever seen him. While there is no doubting Wade’s supreme talent, he hasn’t won anything since 2006 when he was on a team with Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. If Miami wants to win this series, they’ll need Wade to be his normal, attacking, consistent himself. I’d say if he scores around 25ppg and locks down whoever he is guarding Miami has a great chance at winning this series.

Kevin Durant: Durant can solidify himself as maybe the best player in the NBA with a big series. Think about it: At 23 Durant can be a three time scoring champ, NBA champion, and NBA finals MVP (a title he will probably hold if the Thunder win). Durant will always be looked at as a great scorer and humble, likeable man, but this could elevate him to another level.

The freakishly athletic Westbrook can defend his style of play
with a strong NBA finals series.
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook, with the exception of James, has the most to gain/lose. Westbrook has often been criticized has a ball-hogging point guard who doesn’t understand the concept of getting the ball to their superstar. This is something that can be true at times, but overall Westbrook plays an important role as a shooter on this team with limited options. Who would you rather have taking all their shots? Durant and Harden can only take so many shots. If at 23 Westbrook is an NBA champion he can say “Yeah, maybe I do shoot too much, but guess what, it works. I’m an NBA champion when everyone said I should have been traded.”

There are four superstars in this series between the two teams (yes, Westbrook is a superstar). While they are all still young, legacies are on the line.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Things Never Change: Mets go 8,000

By Chris Cappella

The New York Mets have played 8,000—yes 8,000 games after Friday’s 6-5 loss in Miami and all 8,000 have had one thing in common: The New York Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. New York is one of two teams in Major League history to have not thrown a no-no, the other being San Diego.

San Diego is one thing, but New York has had some unbelievable pitchers come through their franchise. Take a look at some of these pitchers who never threw a no-hitter with the Mets…
Nolan Ryan: Ryan is one of the greatest pitchers to ever live and threw seven, yes SEVEN no-hitters in his career (An MLB record). Yet through all of that, he never threw a no-hitter in five years with the Mets.

Tom Seaver, the greatest Pitcher in Mets history, pitched for 20 seasons (10 with the Mets) and compiled 300 wins. Seaver threw five different one-hitters with the Mets and is considered by many as the greatest pitcher of all-time.

Dwight "Doc" Gooden is the youngest pitcher to ever win a Cy Young at 20 years of age. He dominated the 1986 season with a sub-2.00 ERA and to make matters worse, Gooden did throw a no-hitter with cross-town rivals New York Yankees

David Cone is not considered an all-time great, but did win a few world series, won 194 career games, and pitched the 16th Perfect Game in MLB history. Just another missed oppourtunity.

Johan Santana will not be a hall-of-famer when it is all said and done, but Santana is still one of the best pitchers of our generations and has come close on numerous occsions.

There are plenty of other pitchers that could go on this list but I'm trying only to take up so much space. Seven pitchers have thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets and another 10 came to Mets with no-hitters under their belts. All in all, there have been 35 one hitters in New York history (including one two years ago where R.A Dickey gave up the only hit to.... Cole Hamels).

It's bad enough that the Mets are broke and share a city with the most successful franchise in maybe any sport, but now this? I don't think it will ever end.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

ICYMI: This was NOT a Good Week in Sports

This was not a good week in sports.

Not only did my Mets get swept by the pathetic Houston Astros and the Knicks season will likely be over Wednesday (although it was great to see them win one), but we saw the passing of a great linebacker and man, what may be the end of an all-time great closer, and a Saints season that gets dimmer and dimmer.

Suspended Sain Jonathan Vilma and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
I’ll start with the Saints. On Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended star linebacker Jonathan Vilma the entire 2012-2013 season without pay. Vilma is the anchor and leader of a so-so Saints defense and his presence will definitely be missed. Vilma has played in New Orleans for four seasons now and in the three seasons where he played 16 games (he only played in 11 games last year) has had no less than 100 tackles, one sack, and one interception.

Goodell also suspended former Saint and current Green Bay Packer defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove eight games, defensive end Will Smith four games, and current Cleveland Brown linebacker Scott Fujita three games.

It’s hard to have really strong reactions to something like this because we’ve never seen anything like the bounty situation before.  I don’t mind that Goodell has given himself the role of disciplinarian. He is doing what he feels he has to do and if that means ruining the Saints, a franchise he has supported through all their tough years, than that’s what he has to do.

The biggest problem with handing out such stiff penalties is the evidence. The league said its investigation showed "a significant number of players participated" in the bounties – by ponying up cash or collecting it – but noted that "the players disciplined participated at a different and more significant level." In a game as violent as football, it would seem that identifying a single player or players playing to injure would be nearly impossible. A lot of people would point to this video of Kurt Warner gettingthe tar knocked out of him by Bobby McCray as evidence of the bounty program, but how is that much different than Sean Taylor destroying a punter in a pro bowl game?

The players plan on appealing the suspension, but won’t win considering they appeal is heard by Goodell, the same man who handed out the punishment. It just seems confusing that the league can identify four specific players who participated in the bounty program more aggressively than others.

There was more sad news that came out of the NFL when the death of Junior Seau was announced. Seau, the fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft, never disappointed on the field. Known for his incredible passion and friendly personality, Seau played 13 seasons for the Chargers, three for the Miami Dolphins, and four for the New England Patriots before finally retiring in 2010. He was a 10-time all pro, 12-time pro bowler, and was named to the 1990 all-decade team.
Junior Seau was always known for his intense energy an enthusiasm

Seau’s death was ruled a suicide and it could be interesting to see what role, if any, football had. As its been noted, Seau is divorced and hasn’t had the most successful career off the football field with some failed businesses. There is nothing more that can be said other than the world lost a great football player and a better, more enthusiastic ma. Rest in peace Junior Seau, father of three, dead at the young age of 43.

Mariano Rivera has redefined the word “ageless”. Year after year, Rivera dominates professional baseball players with one pitch, his cutter. In 18 years (all with the Yankees) Rivera has a career ERA of 2.21 and has 608 saves, more than any other closer in MLB history.

Rivera’s career is now in jeopardy after tearing his right ACL shagging fly balls during batting practice. It would really be a shame if Rivera ended a brilliant career because he was playing Torii Hunter during BP. Rivera says he plans on coming back, and I hope he does, but at 43 off an ACL injury I do wonder how effective he might be. He is a guy that even if you don’t like the Yankees or don’t like him, you respect everything he’s done. It’s not fair to criticize Rivera for the injury itself however. The Baseball Tonight  crew, many of whom were former major leaguers, said that there are some pitchers who play 3rd base during batting practice to keep themselves sharp. Rivera was likely doing something that is common between pitchers.

This week we lost an all-time great in Junior Seau, a huge blow to the Saints season, and maybe the end of a first-ballot hall of fame career. While there certainly was some good (I think?), it’s hard to think of at the moment.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Basketball in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Nets New Logo.

The NBA has a new marquee market in which it will look to tap into. While New York City already has one team, the Knicks; it will now get the chance to latch on to another squad, the Brooklyn Nets. The team from across the River has had more success than the Knicks the past 15 years, and already has strong ties to the city through partial owner and rap icon Jay-Z. For years Brooklyn has been one of the best basketball hot-spots, and has always had a strong connection to the game of basketball. Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in an interview with ESPN that the franchise wants to win over Brooklyn and everything past that is gravy. The Nets will certainly be a popular team next fall when they move into the Barclays Center but to sustain long term success and take full advantage of these new exciting times, the Nets need to be competitive right from the start. The team has a new Image, new logo, New Jersey’s, new color scheme, new feel, and they hope to have a new energy about them that will attract fans. The Nets have already launched their new site along with new gear available to the public. While all these factors are important, the biggest contributor to long term success will be the on court product. 

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King has his hands full, and will have to do a good job this off-season. The team traded their first round pick (Top 3 protected) for Gerald Wallace who is expected to opt out of his deal with one year left. King hopes to resign him, "It doesn't mean Gerald's saying he's leaving. It's just that it's the way the CBA works and how you get your deals [in the NBA]," King Said. Wallace won’t be the only player potentially exiting before the team even opens up office in Brooklyn, as the Nets only have four players with guaranteed contracts: MarShon Brooks, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams and Anthony Morrow. Not exactly a playoff contending roster. The good news from all this is King has a ton of cap space to play with, and without having to worry about a high draft pick filling any of that up (unless top 3) he can focus on bringing back some of the stars and going and getting those players help. 

Brook Lopez is a restricted Free Agent, and no team should be able to out bid the Nets for the Young centers services. Lopez was banged up this year but still has the potential to be a top 5 NBA center next season. Kris Humphries and high flyer Gerald Green are unrestricted and one of them may be out the door. I expect the Nets to try and keep Humphries because he had a great year, and really started to realize some of his potential.  With all this being said, one man will decide the fate of the Brooklyn Nets. Deron Williams. 

Williams has already been used by the NETS in a
dvertising plans as the team moves to Brooklyn.
D-Will will be the best free agent on the market assuming he opts out of his deal (there is little hope he will pick up his player option) and many teams are lining up for his services. The Nets knew this day would come and cannot miss out n letting him go. Unlike the Cavs with Lebron, Brooklyn gave up a ton just to get Williams for a year and a half. Teams like Dallas can’t wait to have an opportunity to add the star PG, who will have a very busy summer with all this free agent madness along with Olympic basketball. The Nets best bet is to go out and surround D-Will with talent, because all other methods have already been put in place and the Illinois grad still wants to test free agency. While the Nets have lots of enticing features one thing they don't have, and haven't had for years is a competitive team. The Nets must quickly resign Wallace, Humphries, and Lopez along with grabbing a key free agent or trading Lopez for a guy like Dwight Howard. Howard is plan A, but that will be tough to do with Howard opting in already, and the Magic's will to try and get him to stay long term. Another option is OJ Mayo or Eric Gordon, but both are restricted so their current teams can match those offers. Certainly the Nets have a lot of work to do so the team is ready to compete in Brooklyn. It is vital that they put a contender on the court right away, because the people of Brooklyn deserve a winner. The Nets knew years ago that this move was going to happen. I'm not saying they need to be NBA Finals contenders, but a playoff berth would be nice. Teams have handled moves in many different ways. Some have thrived (OKC) and some have not (New Orleans). The Nets will benefit from the market they play in, but even that wont hide a dysfunctional organization. This summer will determine whether basketball will start with a bang in Brooklyn, or continue to spiral downward much like it did in the Garden State.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The essence of LeBron James

LeBron James might be the most talented player to ever touch a basketball… So why do so many people hate him?
by Chris Cappella
There was something about game one of the Heat-Knicks game that made me as unbearably mad as I’ve ever been watching a sport. Of course I am a Knicks fan, and watching a 32-2 run against your team in the playoffs gets to be as unwatchable as ever, but it wasn’t just how the Heat did it, it was who did it.

It felt like LeBron James scored every single point during that run. Fade away with a hand in his face? No problem. Corner three? No problem. An and-one from 20 feet out? And bank it? It was too easy! The burn of James spurning the Knicks still runs deep. He didn’t just reject the Knicks, he rejected the Garden, the history, and most importantly, one of, if not the, best and most knowledgeable fan bases in all of sports. Look at how Jeremy Lin took the city and sports world by storm, LBJ could have had that for TWO years now.

When it comes to James you either love him or hate him and there is no in-between. Everyone in the world has an opinion on him, but why? Why is LeBron James one of the most polarizing figure in all of sports?

James played high school ball at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio where he won Mr. Basketball at the ages of 16, 17, and 18 years old. James could have gone to college wherever he wanted but instead entered his name into the 2003 NBA draft (this is an important fact for later). The story got better when his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the unluckiest franchises in all of sports, were awarded the first pick of that draft and got one of the most talented, physically gifted players to ever come into the NBA.
Lebron James was treated like a God in Cleveland.

The 6’8, 250 pound James had enormous success with Cleveland despite the fact that the front office did an awful job surrounding him with legitimate talent. James was 2003 Rookie of the Year, two-time MVP, and NBA scoring champion, and has been on the All-Defensive and All-NBA first team nearly every year of his career. LeBron took the Cavs took the 2007 finals where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

James now has the knock of not being clutch, which can be very unfair. In his playoff debut he threw down 32 against the Wizards in the process of getting a triple double, becoming only the third player in NBA history to have a triple-double in their playoff debut. Through the 2003-2009 seasons, he had the most game-winning shots made at 17, more than Kobe, Dirk, Wade, and others.

In 2010 though, it all changed. LeBron, despite being the most talented player on planet Earth, had never won the big one and now had the label (whether it is fair or not) of being “un-clutch”. In all of his years on the Cavs he really had no supporting cast. The likes of Mo Williams, Antwan Jamison, Ben Wallace, and Shaquille O’Neal all played but not at high enough levels.

So in 2010 James became a free agent and left, something he really shouldn’t have been criticized for except for the fact that he did a one hour ESPN special to rip the hearts out of everyone from Cleveland and teamed up with his buddies Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, all Olympic caliber players.

Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. After Wade, James, and Bosh were officially all teammates Miami held a… parade of sorts. The purpose was to rally the fans and introduce them to the “Big 3”. Between a Sportscenter special and a parade before the season, not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, and not seven million people hated LeBron but just about everyone outside Miami did. This is where I believe not going to college really hurt him. Was LeBron recruited? Yea, he definitely was, but when most people are sure you’re going pro it’s just different. He let all the wooing and love from coaches and executives in the NBA get to him because he never really had that before. This is no different than the Dwight Howard situation now. It was too much, and his PR crew handled it awful.

So Lebron, who so desperately wants to be loved by everyone, is now the villain. In Cleveland he was more than loved, had fun, and was the man on that team. Now, everyone outside of Miami wants him to fail and there are really no excuses. The talent around him is unreal. Year one was considered a failure because of a loss in the championship, what will year two bring? For the sake of LeBron, it better be a championship.

James is 27 and has been in the league for eight years. There are many different sects between NBA fans, but none are probably larger then LeBron hater or defender. Defenders will correctly note that it took Michael Jordan, the NBA’s greatest player, six years to win a ring and he needed the likes of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to do so, guys James never had the luxury of playing with. Year one of the Big 3 was mostly about feeling each other out and everyone getting roles. It was an incomplete team that lacked a point guard and a center, which are obviously very critical for a team’s success.

But I’ll tell you what just really irks me about LeBron, something I realized now more than ever. He is easily the most talented player in the world, but still has to go team up with his super-talented friends to try and win one, something the likes of Jordan, Bird, Thomas, Malone, and Ewing NEVER did. When it is smooth sailing for Miami, LeBron is throwing down dunks, knocking down shots, and pounding his chest like a madman. But you and I both know he wants nothing to do with the big moment. He deferred taking the last shot in the All-Star game for goodness sake! When he was knocking down everything! Even Kobe couldn’t help but laugh.

Stuff like that is what compelled me to write this article. One of the most talented athletes the NBA has ever seen had to “take his talents” to South Beach with his friends and still can’t get it done. Worse than that, he doesn’t look like he wants to anyway. James might dominate my Knicks, average 30 and 10 for the series and move on to a different test. I won’t be surprised at all. I also won’t be surprised when he shy’s away from the big moment.

And that’s what makes me most mad.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

NFL Draft Day 3 and Conference Outlook

by Chris Cappella

Look for Nick Toon to make an immediate impact in New Orleans offense.
Ah, day three of the NFL Draft. For every Tom Brady or Marques Colston your team takes there are 30 and 40 Patrick Henry’s.  And that’s the beauty of the last day of the draft, rounds four through seven:  most of the times it’s a pure guess. If these guys can come in and make an impact on special teams that’s great and if they can eventually be a starter for your team that’s even better.

I’m definitely no Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay, but I’ll try to highlight some notable names and picks I liked on Saturday plus give you my favorite drafts per team in each division.

There was tons of talent in round four, but the man who I think you hear of the most in his rookie season is Nick Toon, wide receiver from Wisconsin and son of Jet great Al Toon (What? You didn’t think you were going to get a Jets reference?). Toon will try and go about replacing Robert Meachem who is now a San Diego Charger. Chris Givens, a wide receiver from Wake Forrest, was the first pick of round four by the St. Louis Rams. Givens is a shade under 6’0’’ and runs a solid 4.4 40. Once he beefs up in the NFL he could really be a steal and I think the combination of Quick and Givens makes Sam Bradford a happy man.

RTG300, not RGIII
I think Florida State offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders could potentially start for Buffalo at tackle if given the opportunity, which definitely is a possibility given their situation at that position. George Iloka, the safety out of Boise State, could be a solid starter for Cincinnati sometime down the road and would have started right away if it wasn’t for Reggie Nelson resigning this offseason. 

The Jets took Robert Griffin from Baylor in the sixth round, which is weird and funny. Griffin is a 300 pound guard and will now be called RTG300 for the rest of his career as far as I’m concerned. Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick of the draft) was Chandler Harnish, a quarterback out of Northern Illinois. Check out this incredibly awkward video of the pick and try and convince me this kid will be in the league for more than two years.
No one can dispute that Kellen Moore is a winner

I’ve been getting me a lot of questions about Kellen Moore not getting drafted. Am I surprised he didn’t get drafted? Yea, a little. John David Booty got drafted. Brooks Bollinger and Matt Cassel got drafted. Heck, Cassel never started at USC and is still a good pro. I would have thought someone would take a flyer on the kid just because he wins. But, I can also see why he wasn’t. When Shane P. Hallam of did an interview on our radio show he said there were CFL teams that were concerned about him. He’s not 6’0’’ let alone 6’2’’ (considered to be the cutoff point for most quarterbacks) and looks like he's never hit a weight room in his life. There are some things you can and can’t measure in a guy, and I guess NFL teams felt like it just wasn’t worth it. Best of luck to Moore in the NFL, who will get a chance to learn from Matthew Stafford.

Vontaze Burfcict, the linebacker out of Arizona State went from first rounder to undrafted in two months, something I don’t ever remember seeing before. Chris Polk, running back out of Washington University also went undrafted, which shocked me after he put up a pretty impressive senior bowl. Congratulations to Central York High School and Temple guard Wayne Trubue, who got signed by the Denver Broncos, which I believe makes him the first player from our high school alma mater to be on an NFL squad.

AFC outlook: I do think the Cincinnati Bengals had the best draft in the AFC North, with the Steelers falling a close second. The Bengals nailed picks like Dre Kirkpatrick, Mohamed Sanu, Devon Still (once thought to be a top-20 talent, just needs to be more consistent), Orson Charles (the best tight end in the draft) and George Iloka.

The jets took some risky players with their first two picks, selecting Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill. If they produce like many think they’re capable, it’ll be an awesome draft and if not it’ll be the end of the Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan Era. I liked that Buffalo and Miami attacked their needs (though I’m not sure I like the players themselves) but I think New England probably had the best pick in the AFC East going defense, defense, and more defense.

I LOVE the Luck-to-Fleener connection Indy set up, I’m already seeing flashbacks of Manning-to-Clark. I was hoping we were going to see a more offensive-orientated draft for the Kansas City Chiefs, I just don’t know if they have enough talent on that side of the ball to win a division with Peyton Manning in it.

NFC Outlook: Awesome job by the Eagles to identify their needs (the front seven) and go after them. I think they absolutely nailed their picks of Cox, Kendricks, and Curry. Sticking in the East, I’m more confused than I am concerned with Washington’s pick of Kirk Cousins. When you traded away a boatload of picks to get Griffin, wouldn’t you want to surround him with position players instead of a back-up quarterback? I do not think this turns into a problem because competition is never a bad thing.

Poor Jay Cutler, hope he enjoys the turf again this year.
I doubt Jay Cutler is looking forward to another year of getting pounded behind a very sub-par offensive line in Chicago... Green Bay didn’t pick an offensive player until the seventh round, so somebody is going to have to help their league-worst defense.

The Rams had a top-5 draft in my opinion, but it’s hard not to when you’re that bad. I look forward to seeing whether the Arizona Cardinals or Seattle Seahawks make the jump. I really liked what the Cardinals did, especially in adding quarterback Ryan Lindley out of San Diego State, who I think starts for them in the future (and if Kolb gets injured, maybe this year).

Friday, April 27, 2012

NFL Draft Day Two Quick Thoughts

by Chris Cappella

Thursday may be the most exciting time for NFL fans when it comes to the draft, but Friday is easily the most fun. There are a ton of starters for picking in day two, the pace of the draft is much better, and these are the rounds where first round talent falls because of character concerns; will your team take a chance? Because I like lists I’ll go off and what I liked and what I didn’t like over rounds two and three.

What I liked

Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Adams (left) and Philadelphia Eagle Vinny Curry (right).
1.      The PA teams: Maybe I’m just a complete geek but I LOVE when teams draft lots of offensive lineman, and that’s what the Steelers have done the past two years. In the second round, Pittsburgh took Ohio State lineman Mike Adams and is building a solid core to protect Ben Roethlisberger. I also believe Philadelphia has done an awesome job identifying their needs, taking violent ILB Mychael Kendricks and Marshall DE Vinny Curry, who is maybe the most underrated pass rusher in this class.

2.      Courtney Upshaw is a Baltimore Raven. Be afraid football fans, be very afraid.

3.      I think the St. Louis Rams are currently having the best draft out of anybody and there a few reasons why. Brian Quick is a physical specimen who can step in and be a much needed playmaker for quarterback Sam Bradford. I think Quick is a more complete receiver than for Georgia Tech and current Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, taken ten picks later. Isiah Pead is a great number two option at running back and can spell one of the greats in the NFL and Janoris Jenkins is a top ten talent who wouldn’t been taken if Jeff Fisher didn’t do his homework. On a side not, third round pick Trumaine Johnson from Montana I think will become a safety at the next level.

4.      Brock Osweiler gets to learn from Peyton Manning. That’s always a good thing.

What I didn’t like

1.      The Jacksonville Jaguars took a punter in the THIRD ROUND. In the words of Chris Paul, “WoW.”

2.      I liked the Bills trying to identify their needs, but drafting wide receiver T.J Graham out of North Carolina State is a big reach. According to, Graham is the number 31 ranked wide receiver prospect and Mike Mayock from the NFL Network said he would have waited until the seventh round to take Graham. Good thought, but a big reach for Buffalo.

3.      The Oakland Raiders have had just one pick in the entire draft, and it was the last one of the day… How does that even happen? (By the way, they took tackle Tony Bergstrom from Utah)

4.      What annoys me about the San Francisco 49ers isn’t even their fault. The team virtually has no holes except at the quarterback position, and everyone know they aren’t going to trade up for an elite quarterback prospect. If they lose in the NFC Championship game again, when do they just say “screw it” and trade the house for a top ten quarterback talent? Should be sooner rather than later in my opinion.

Day One Reactions and more

By Chris Cappella

There was definitely some normalcy last night, the first night of the NFL Draft. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went one and two as anticipated, Roger Goodell was booed (again), and I received plenty of texts from friends and family alike criticizing the Jets first round draft pick (thoughts coming later).

But in another way, Thursday was as crazy as it has ever been. There were eight trades in the first round, four more than last year and plenty of surprises.

A few minutes before the draft began, the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns swapped picks. Cleveland moved up to three to assure themselves of Trent Richardson and Minnesota still got their man in Matt Kalil plus collected a 4th, 5th, and 7th round pick. This was a good move for both teams for a few reasons. Cleveland assured themselves of the guy they definitely wanted and still have five picks in the top 100. Minnesota’s front office deserves a tip of the cap for more than likely bluffing interest in other teams legitimately trading up to three and snagging Richardson. Not only did they get the guy they wanted in USC OT Matt Kalil, but they collected some valuable mid-round picks too. I think Kalil is going to be a pro-bowler for a long time (assuming the pro bowl is, you know, still around) especially once you add some weight to his fame. Kalil is very lean but I think 20 pounds could be beneficial when facing bigger defensive ends.

I’m still not sure what to make of the Buccaneers maneuver to trade back with Jacksonville (who took Justin Blackmon at five) and then miss out on Mo Claiborne, who they reportedly loved. I don’t believe anybody predicted Dallas moving all the way from fifteen to six to nab Claiborne in front of Tampa, but that’s the risk you take when trading back: you may miss out on your guy. Tampa ended up taking Alabama Safety Mark Barron, a good safety, but a reach in my opinion. Claiborne to Dallas instantly improves their secondary, but casts a shadow of doubt on the future of Michael Jenkins, who all of the sudden is buried on the depth chart behind Brandon Carr and Claiborne.

Good for the Dolphins for grabbing their guy and finally taking a chance on a quarterback. While I’m not a big Ryan Tannehill fan (a “project” quarterback in the top-10?) at least they’re going for it. I expect them to take at least two receivers in the next two days.

Sticking on the topic of quarterbacks, the Browns taking Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden was very surprising to me. By all reports, Cleveland had no intentions of taking a quarterback yesterday and went as far to tell Colt McCoy that. With that being said, I think it’s a good move. While I am a McCoy fan, right now I’d take Weeden as my starter and if you’re the Browns right now getting a starting wide receiver opposite Greg Little is essential.

A few other notes on day one: Seattle taking West Virginia OLB Bruce Irvin at 15 is ridiculous. I don’t think he was ever a full time starter there. Wednesday I tweeted that if both Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples were on the board at 16 for the Jets, take Coples. Too much talent to pass up on. Not a fan of New England trading up for Chandler Jones (just ten CAREER sacks at Syracuse) but trading up for Dont’a Hightower is a great move for their defense. Guard David DeCastro to Pittsburgh is awesome for that franchise. Everyone saw how that team played when Roethlisberger was injured. DeCastro is there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Day two notes: I honestly can’t believe Alabama stud OLB Courtney Upshaw fell out of the first round. Upshaw was defensive MVP of the National championship game for goodness sakes! If you’re ok with Northern Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins character issues, then you’re getting a guy with a high first round grade talent wise. Cordy Glenn from Georgia is a guy I really like because of his versatility. He can play both guard and tackle immediately (did you hear that New York Jets?). There is actually a lot of very good o-lineman still available for choosing: Ohio State tackle Mike Adams, Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Ole Miss tackle Bobbie Massie, and the aforementioned Glenn can all step in and make an impact right away.

Rounds 2-3 of the draft begin at 7 p.m. Friday.

NBA playoff Predictions

Finally. After the tumultuous offseason constricted by the lockout, a late start to the regular season, and then the fast paced nonstop schedule the NBA has reached the playoffs. It's the best time of year for hoops fans and over the next month plus, the best basketball players in the world will chase their goal and go head to head for all the marbles. 

Can the Heat and LeBron get that elusive title? Or will Carmelo Anthony take a huge step in his career and pull the first round upset over the Big 3. Can the young Thunder take out the veteran Spurs and Lakers and win their first of hopefully many titles is the KD era. Who is this year’s Memphis? The fun starts Saturday at 1pm EST on TNT in the Windy City as the Sixers visit the Bulls in a very compelling series.

Here are my picks. 


Chicago over Philly in 6-- Young Sixers run with the Bulls, but D-Rose and Chicago take care of business. 

Miami over New York in 6-- Melo wins a game r two but just to much talent for the Heat. Amare has to dominate Bosh if the Knicks want a chance to pull the big upset.

Indiana over Orlando in 4-- The Magic are ready for this season to end. No Howard = no chance. The Pacers have new life and are one f the more underrated teams in the league. Roy Hibbert should dominate all series long. Look for Paul George to be a breakout star in these 2012 playoffs. 

Boston over Atlanta in 5-- This will be a great series but Rondo will be too much for the Hawks. Josh Smith will have to play out of his mind for Atlanta to pull this series out, and I just don't see that happening against the veteran C's.

2nd Rd---

Chicago over Boston in 6-- D-Rose should be healthy and in form by this point in the playoffs and will be able to neutralize Rondo. The Bulls defense and depth will prove to be too much for the Celtics. This will be a low scoring series, but would be an entertaining one.

Indiana over Miami in 6-- My upset of the playoffs. The Pacers have size, athleticism, and a few guys who are primed to breakout on the national scene like Hibbert, George, and Granger. David West will neutralize Bosh and Indiana's depth in the backcourt will prove to be too much for King James, Wade and the Heat.

Eastern Conference Finals---

Chicago over Indiana in 5-- The Pacers will struggle to matchup with Chicago after a tough fought win over Miami. Noah will control Hibbert, and Deng and the rest of that Chicago perimeter can lock down the Indiana guards. The Pacers really don't have anyone to guard Rose, who will be back in MVP form by this point in the postseason.  


San Antonio over Utah in 5—The Spurs have a point to prove this season. They are healthy and want to prove last year’s collapse in the first round was just a fluke. Too much Parker in this series,

Oklahoma City over Dallas in 4-- These aren't the same Mavs. They don't play D, Dirk is their only legit scorer, and they are old. Young Thunder move on with ease.

LAL over Denver in 6-- The Nuggets are a deep team but do not have the size to hang with the bigger Lakers. Bynum and Gasol should dominate. That Kobe guy is capable of doing some things as well.

Memphis over LAC in 7-- The Clippers are going to regret not holding down home court. This series was destined to go 7, and now that Memphis, n the last day of the season grabbed the 4 seed and homecourt advantage, they should move on.

2nd Rd---

San Antonio over Memphis in 7-- Last week I wrote the Spurs would lose in the 2nd Rd to the Clippers. If LA beats Memphis I will stick to that prediction, but with the Clips losing homecourt and Chris Paul having hammy problems, I think the Grizz will move on and play SAS in Rd 2. The Spurs will get a bit of payback and move n to the West finals in what will be a great 7 game series with the home team winning every game.

LAL over OKC in 6-- Too. Much. Kobe. Mr. Bryant will outshine KD in what will be an excellent series. The Lakers will steal a game in OKA and protect their homecourt at Staples. Bynum and Gasol will once again shine, but this will come down to the Black Mamba having one of those series in which he climbs closer to Jordan in terms of legacy. 

Western Conference Finals---

LAL over San Antonio in 6-- This series will be more about the Lakers twin towers than #24. Bynum will have a field day in this series (much like him 30 rebound game) and Gasol won't be far behind him. The Lakers size, along with Kobe will prove to be too much for the smaller, older Spurs. 


Chicago Bulls over the Los Angeles Lakers in 7-- A Finals to remember. Kobe and Rose go at it and steal the headlines, but its Joakim Noah and his ability to stifle the Lakers big’s that proves to be the deciding factor. The Bulls bench is deep and talented. Players like Gibson, Korver, Watson are just too much for the Lakers 2nd unit and that gives Chicago enough to get the cities first title for Derrick Rose, and first title since the Jordan days.
MVP Derrick Rose.

(With D-Rose going down to a torn ACL, my picks have drastically changed. I'll take the Celtics to beat the Bulls Rd 2 in 6 and then Boston over Indiana in 6. That would mean Lakers vs Celtics in the Finals, and I'll take LA over Boston in 6.)

--Lee Kunkel