Category Archives: Sports

Great 8

THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO OR CURRENTLY ENJOYING ABOUT THE 2011 NBA PLAYOFFS

Love it or hate it, the NBA season is kicking into high gear and the playoffs are hitting their stride as some of the 2nd round match-ups are already set. I personally can’t get enough of the NBA playoffs and could sit and watch any of the match-ups all of the way through the NBA Finals.

Maybe it stems from my basketball card collecting days of the 90’s, but what can I say, I’m a fan of the NBA. And regardless of whether or not you think college basketball is better, their season is over, deal with it.  So, since it’s the only roundball going on right now worth watching, here is my Great 8 List of what I’m looking forward to (or currently enjoying) about the 2011 NBA postseason.

1. The ‘Little Guys’ – Most teams have at least 1, maybe two superstars (Sorry, Bosh), but inevitably, the teams that are truly hoping to win a championship this year will have to get some major help from some minor players. I don’t mean to use ‘minor’ in such a negative way, it’s just the word you use when comparing Mario Chalmers to LeBron James. But somewhere along the lines, key shots, clutch free-throws, and stout defensive stops will need to be done by the guys who aren’t getting paid $2.3 million a game* (*slight exaggeration). We already saw it with the Spurs/Grizzlies series as a rookie named Gary Neal hit a game-tying 3 pointer to ‘spur’ San Antonio on to an overtime victory. I love seeing guys step up when their name is called and come through for their team in a big way, and I keep watching to see the next time it happens.

2. The Perkins-less Celtics – In what still seems to be a little bit of a head-scratcher, the Celtics traded away one of their key big men, Kendrick Perkins and have been dancing with mediocrity ever since. They stumbled into the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference and have looked pretty vulnerable on the inside. By trading away Perkins, the Celtics have put their faith in Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, and Glen Davis to be the big defenders and scorers in the middle. Shaq has been injured for half the season and didn’t see any time against New York. Jermaine O’Neal is hardly a stopper and Glen Davis has limited mobility and is turning into more of a jump-shooter. Perkins brought a toughness on the defensive end and could be trusted to haul down a few offensive rebounds a night. And even though they swept New York in the first round, they will miss Perkins on the inside when they face Miami in the 2nd Round (and if they get past Miami, they will more than likely face the #1 seed Chicago Bulls).

3. Can the Thunder Roll? – Speaking of Kendrick Perkins, he is now crashing the boards (and the opponents) while wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder jersey. The Thunder have the NBA’s leading scorer in Kevin Durant and a good secondary scorer (with some serious hops) in Russell Westbrook. This team has gone from the basement to the rafters in a matter of a few seasons and much of it is due to drafting Durant instead of chronically injured and potential draft bust Greg Oden. Last year they were excited to make it to the playoffs and got bounced by the eventual champion Lakers. But this year, they have the talent and the experience that could lead them to a not-that-surprising run at the NBA Finals. And with the recent acquisition of Perkins from Boston, they have turned themselves from a cute story into a legitimate threat.

4. The Bulls Potential Return to Glory – It’s been 13 seasons (1998) since Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their 6th NBA Championship. Not long after, Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Coach Phil Jackson all were gone and the Bulls plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But now, behind the tremendous talents of assumed MVP Derrick Rose and guys like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and offseason acquisition and interior presence Carlos Boozer, the Bulls were able to finish with the NBA’s best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs (and the NBA Finals, if they make it). They’ve got the talent, they’ve got the experience, and come June, they could also be saying that they’ve got the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

5. Hot Hot Heat – Despite a Game 4 hiccup in Philadelphia, the Heat sailed into the second round with a 4-1 series victory over the 76’ers. And while Miami was a team that dominated lesser talent (except for the Cavs on March 29th), they have been average (at best) when going against ‘upper-level’ competition. Now they have to take on the Boston Celtics who swept the New York Knicks on their way to the 2nd round. Boston holds a 3-1 edge in head to head games this season, but I’m expecting to see that go out the window when these two teams meet in Miami for Game 1. I’m interested to see how LeBron does against the team the embarrassed him last year as a Cavalier and a guy, Paul Pierce, who has played him exceptionally well. This series has great matchups (James vs. Pierce, Bosh vs. Garnett, Wade vs. Rondo) and at the end, either team has a chance to be on top.

6. Lakers 3-Peat – Until they get knocked out of the playoffs, the Lakers are still the champs. And if Bynum is healthy (which is a very shaky ‘if’), they are very tough to match-up with. If Bynum is in, they have 3 bigs (Bynum, Gasol, Odom) as well as the extremely dangerous even if he has a tweeked ankle Kobe Bryant (6 rings) and a coach (Phil Jackson) who would be hoping for his fourth 3-peat. In the back of his mind, you know Kobe is looking for a shot at the Heat in the Finals, but he will have  a tough road ahead. They will have to go through some stiff competition to even make it to the Finals, but if they can not only make it there but win it all, Jackson will have 12 rings as a coach and Kobe Bryant will have 7 rings (one more than Michael Jordan).

7. Don’t Get Upset – It already happened to the Magic, and the Spurs barely escaped it the other night: the upset. It’s bound to happen and it’s what makes the playoffs more exciting. Every victory by an underdog calls into question the favorite. If the Bulls lose to the Pacers in January, not much is said about it. But if the Bulls lose to the Pacers in the playoffs, it’s “What’s Wrong With the Bulls?” and “Where’s Carlos Boozer?” and “How is Derek Rose’s Ankle?” It’s a much bigger deal because it’s the playoffs. Memphis is going home for Game 6 against the Spurs with a 3-2 lead. They are the 8 seed and if they’re able to beat San Antonio, the Grizzlies will be praised for their tenacity and the Spurs will be written off as “Yesterday’s Champions” (having beaten Cleveland in the 2007 Finals). The first round isn’t quite over, and we’ve already seen it a little bit, but the upset is one of the more exciting things about the playoffs.

8. It’s All About the Match-Ups – There are many predictions and many ‘experts’ declaring this team to be the best or that team to be washed up. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about the match-ups. I wrote earlier about the Boston/Miami matchup and the key players that will be facing off against each other, but there are also some other teams and players that could make for some amazing games. The Hawks are facing the Bulls and the Bulls have dominated the Hawks all season. I don’t see that changing in the playoffs, but it will get interesting when Chicago has to go up against either Miami or Boston (both teams will no-doubt be limping out of that series). I would think Chicago would want Miami, because they went undefeated against them in the regular season and the Bulls don’t really have anyone to stick with Ray Allen on the perimeter. The Lakers should take care of Dallas on their way to a showdown with (more than likely) Oklahoma City. If the Lake-show can shut down Durant, it should be a short trip to the finals and I wouldn’t mind seeing Los Angeles play either Chicago or Miami (sorry Boston, just suffering from a little ‘been there, done that with you and the Lakers). But whether you’re referring to whole teams or individual players, when it comes to the playoffs, it’s all about the match-ups.

There you have it. Anything that you’re looking forward to or currently enjoying about this year’s NBA Playoffs that I didn’t list here? Make your own list in the comments, and sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

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Great 8

GUYS WHO HAVE MORE NBA TITLES THAN MIAMI’S BIG 3

Miami’s Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Brown-, I mean Bosh, have already been hailed as the NBA’s next dynasty. And since “The Decision”, much speculation has swirled about not just if they can win a championship, but how many. Full disclosure, I’m a Cavs fan, so this post might have a hint of spite.

But while he was with the Cavs and winning back to back MVP awards, people were still saying that LeBron wouldn’t be considered a ‘legend’ until he wins a championship. It’s true that championships are what legends are made of in the NBA. Kobe has 5, Jordan has 6, and Russell has 11. So really, according to that standard, the players on this list are more legendary than Miami’s Big 3 combined, right?


1. Mark Aguirre
Total Titles: 2

Pistons – ’89-’90

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2. Will Perdue
Total Titles: 4
Bulls (3) – ’91-’93; Spurs (1) – ’99


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3. Sam Cassell
Total Titles: 3
Rockets (2) – ’94, 95; Celtics (1) – ’08


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4. Jud Buechler
Total Titles: 3
Bulls – ’96-’98 ___________________________________

5. Travis Knight
Total Titles: 2
Lakers – ’00-’01

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6. Malik Rose
Total Titles: 2
Spurs – ’03-’05


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7. Darko Milicic
Total Titles: 1*
Pistons – ’04


*More than LeBron James and Chris Bosh combined and tied w/Dwayne Wade ___________________________________

8. Adam Morrison
Total Titles: 2
Lakers – ’09-’10

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College Football Weekly – Week 7

After taking a week off, we’re back and still talking about college football in Week 7 of our series, “College Football Weekly.” This week, we: hand out mid-season team grades; look back at some ‘what were you thinking’ moments; get caught up with the standings; as well as pick games including: Texas/Nebraska, Ohio State/Wisconsin, Arkansas/Auburn, and 4 others.

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College Football Weekly- Week 4

EPISODE 4 – Topics Include: who we think is college football’s top coach; best match-up to see in-person; best game-day atmosphere; and pick winners from the following games: Cal/Arizona; Stanford/Notre Dame; West Virginia/LSU; South Carolina/Auburn, Oregon State/Boise State, and Alabama/Arkansas.

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College Football Weekly – Week 3

After taking too much time throughout the week talking about college football and how the ‘experts’ don’t know anything and we know it all (…tumbleweed blows by…), we decided to actually put our conversations on video and prove we know it all (cough, cough). On the left is Nick Cleveland, our High School pastor, in the middle is Jesse Sansom, a senior in HSM, and me.

We’re up to Episode 3 (below), but I’ve put all 3 episodes into this post and will be posting each subsequent episode every Friday. Check ’em out, and if you have any suggestions or sarcastic remarks, please, leave them in the comments section!

EPISODE 3 – Topics Include: Denard Robinson and the early Heisman picks; which teams are surprising and disappointing so far, as well as which teams we think are overachieving and underachieving; and pick winners from the following games: Georgia Tech/North Carolina; Clemson/Auburn; Arkansas/Georgia; Iowa/Arizona; and Texas/Texas Tech.

EPISODE 2 – Topics Include: the Reggie Bush/Heisman situation; whether or not Boise State is a national title contender; and pick winners from the following games: Michigan/Notre Dame, Georgia/South Carolina; Oregon/Tennessee; Penn State/Alabama; Florida State/Oklahoma; and Miami/Ohio State.

EPISODE 1 – Topics Include: the Big 10 expansion, BCS Bowl predictions, and pick winners from the following games: Colorado/Colorado State; SMU/Texas Tech; Uconn/Michigan; North Carolina/LSU; Oregon State/TCU; and Boise State/Virginia Tech.

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Great 8

BASKETBALL STARS LEFT FROM MY CARD COLLECTING DAYS

I grew up in the 90’s collecting sports cards (regarded by many as the “Golden Age” of sports card collecting). Baseball, football, basketball, whatever. If it came in a pack and I had some coin in my pocket, it was a done deal. And out of the three majors, I collected basketball cards the most. I had a subscription to BECKETT BASKETBALL CARD MONTHLY so I could watch my Vin Baker and Nick Van Exel cards’ value go up and down (and then further down) each month.

And of all the cards of all the players that I collected during my “hay-day”, most of those guys are not playing anymore. They either retired or just couldn’t cut it on an NBA roster anymore. Either way, here are 8 of the guys that I used to collect their cards when I was younger that suited up for an NBA team this season.

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#1 – SHAQUILLE O’NEAL – Shaq’s cards were some of the ones that I would trade away some of my other faves (Shawn Kemp, Chris Webber, Hakeem Olajuwan) to get my hands on. I remember really wanting his Upper Deck rookie card (pictured below). And as a 13 year-old card collector, it was probably 25% for the card’s worth, and 75% for how cool the card itself looked. And after stints in LA, Miami, and Phoenix, we Clevelanders are hoping for one more ring out of the Big Diesel (and maybe then my cards will go back up in value).

Current Team – Cleveland Cavaliers

Team I Remember Him Being On – Orlando Magic

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#2 – ALLEN IVERSON – I didn’t have as many Iverson’s as I did others. But the ones I did get a hold of I would trade for a king’s ransom to my best friend who LOVED Iverson. And even though I wasn’t that into his cards, he was single-handedly responsible for me (and every other 14-year old) spending hours and hours in his driveway trying to do this move.

Current Team – Philadelphia 76ers

Team I Remember Them Being On – Philadelphia 76ers

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#3 – KOBE BRYANT – When I think about collecting Kobe Bryant cards, there is only 1 card that sticks out to me: his Topps Chrome rookie card (pictured below). This was the holy grail of rookie cards and I ripped open way too many Topps Chrome packs in search of this elusive card. I remember looking in my Beckett and seeing that this was worth $400 (at the time) and just knew that I could pull one. Too bad I probably spent about twice that looking for it and all I got was a Keith Van Horn and a Tyrone Hill.

Current Team – Los Angeles Lakers

Team I Remember Him Being On – Los Angeles Lakers

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#4 – GRANT HILL – He came out of Duke and burst onto the scene in Detroit and subsequently into my card collection.  His career was defined/marred by injuries and so his cards were never that expensive (which allowed me to grab a couple).  And if after all that you’re still not sure who Grant Hill is, just watch this video (he makes the in-bounds pass). His Suns are “burning” up the playoffs and showed us against the Blazers that he can still get up and play some “D”.

Current Team – Phoenix Suns

Team I Remember Him Being On – Detroit Pistons

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#5 – JASON KIDD – Not going to lie, never was much of a Jason Kidd fan. I didn’t dislike him or anything, I just didn’t really get that much exposure to him, so I didn’t follow him that closely. I did have a friend who really liked Jamal Mashburn and I had a card with both Kidd and Mashburn on it and so I was able to score some sweet Shawn Kemp cards from him. But give it up for Kidd, unlike some other guys on this list, he’s still making it happen in Dallas (aside from yet again, another early playoff exit). Maybe I should have held onto that card.

Current Team – Dallas Mavericks

Team I Remember Him Being On – Dallas Mavericks

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#6 – KEVIN GARNETT – Now THIS was a guy whose cards I wanted to get my hands on. Despite playing for a mediocre Minnesota Timberwolves team, Garnett would almost always be on SportsCenter’s highlight reel either swatting a shot into the 4th row or dunking over some dude. I remember my friend had this one Garnett that was worth about $25 and I REALLY wanted it (Me – “If it’s worth $25 in 1998, imagine what it will be worth in 2010!”). He cleaned me out of a lot of my good cards, but I got it, and even though he’s a Celtic now (Cavs fan, sorry), I still like watching Garnett play.

Current Team – Boston Celtics

Team I Remember Him Being On – Minnesota Timberwolves

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#7 – TIM DUNCAN – For some reason, I just never collected Tim Duncan cards. I think I might have accidentally gotten some in a pack or something, but I’m sure they were promptly traded. And even though he might not have been as exciting to watch as some other players, the guy has had a great career. But despite all his success as a player, I think this is Captain Personality’s crowning achievement as a professional athlete (and pitch-man).

Current Team – San Antonio Spurs

Team I Remember Them Being On – San Antonio Spurs

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#8 – MARCUS CAMBY – I mostly knew him from his playing days at UMass, but I remember following Camby when he was drafted by the Raptors in ’96. He wasn’t my favorite player or anything, but I kept an eye on the Raptors and he was one of their biggest names (I’m pretty sure I only followed the Raptors because Jurassic Park was one of my favorite movies at the time). He’s established himself as a defensive asset and even now is doing damage to opponents in Portland (even from 15 ft away). Now, if I could only find that rookie card, I could cash it in for my big $1.75 pay day!

Current Team – Portland Trailblazers

Team I Remember Them Being On – Toronto Raptors

Who do you remember? Do you have any fond memories of these guys?

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Once Terrible, Now Experts

In the broadcasting world, it appears that there are really only two kinds of sportscasters. You have the journalism major who worked his way up through college, internships, getting people coffee, and editing “Fran’s Food Tip of the Day” to finally doing what he wanted to do, which is get paid to talk about sports. In this category, you have guys like Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Peter Gammons, and to a lesser extent, Scott Van Pelt and Mike Greenberg.

The other kind of sportscaster is the former coach/player who has moved on from their respective sports, picked up a microphone and a stylist, and decided to try his hand at talking about the game he put so many years into studying, teaching, or playing. They had great success at what they did, and now they’re moving on to the next thing. Good examples of this would be Troy Aikman (3 Super Bowls as Cowboys Quarterback), John Madden (1 Super Bowl as coach of the Raiders), and **Terry Bradshaw (4 Super Bowls as Steelers Quarterback).

**I’m not going to debate whether or not Terry is crazy, but I AM saying that he had tremendous success as a player and regardless of what comes out of his mouth, I gotta believe that somewhere in there is a guy that knows what he’s talking about.

But there are those that did NOT have that much success before jumping into the broadcast booth. There were a FEW who were not just mediocre, they were downright terrible. And regardless of their pitiful performance while they were participating in that sport, they have managed to procure a position where their opinion is given credence and we (the audience) are supposed to sit there and say, “This guy’s an expert!”

Not so fast. Here are just three (I’m sure there are more) that have somehow gotten pretty sweet broadcasting jobs in spite of their performance DOING the job that they are now TALKING about. You will see their name, what they’re doing now, and a resume of what they did prior to their sportscasting job. They are in order from not as terrible to ridiculously terrible.

BOB DAVIENOTRE DAME MICHIGAN

NOW – College football analyst for ESPN and ABC

THEN – As Notre Dame’s Head Football Coach, Davie compiled a 35-25 record (.583 winning %). He was 0-3 in bowl games (including a 41-9 loss to Oregon State in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl). He never had a 10 win season (He did have two 9-3 seasons), and never finished higher than 15th in the AP or Coaches Poll.

LEE CORSO001362042

NOW – ESPN College Gameday Analyst. Show is widely regarded as THE show for college football talk (and hype). Corso can be seen flanked by Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit and each show ends with him picking the winner of the “Big Game” that they’re covering for the day. The show is huge.

THEN – As Indiana University’s Head Football Coach from 1972-1982, Corso compiled a record of 41–68–2 (.369 winning %) and followed that stellar performance by going 4-6-1 as Northern Illinois’ head coach in 1983 (.363 winning %).

MATT MILLENmattmillen07

NOW – NFL Network analyst and ESPN college football color commentator

THEN – As a player, he was good. He actually won multiple Super Bowls and made it to the Pro Bowl. If he had stopped there, he wouldn’t be on this list. BUT….. as GM of the Lions for 8 years, he had the worst 8 year tenure by any team since WW2 (31-97). The Lions lost their first 24 road games under Millen and caused him to describe his own leadership as “beyond awful” (not to mention all the “Fire Millen” backlash).

I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that I feel are most appalling. Feel free to add them to this list. Also, in my “research” (wikipedia and other blogs), I found a great post that dealt with this very idea as well (check it out here). Now, hear me out, I don’t pretend to be an expert. I just don’t think these guys should pretend either.

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