DC Sports roundup: Jan 24

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Hey everybody.

I’ve decided to add a new feature to the blog called DC Sports Roundup. If it’s successful, I’ll make it a weekly thing.

This was a shockingly slow week in sports for DC. You know that because the main news I’m about to report is about the Wizards.

Lately, being a hipster is “in.” Their style, facial hair and Instagram filters all feel like they’re from an earlier time. However, the Wizards are not so happy to returning to an earlier time. The Wizards are currently .500 for the 5th time. Not once have they gone above.  Each time they make it back, they fall once again. They’ve already done that this week with a loss to the Celtics at home – and they bounced back in Phoenix. They have a chance tonight for Wall, Gortat and Beal to lead them past the weak defensive and offensive Utah Jazz. If that doesn’t work – then we can call it a curse. In other John Wall related news, a source familiar with the subject says that “The NBA is really pushing for John Wall to be in the Dunk Competition this year.”

In a nice break from the usual, there is some rare Nationals news. All but two of their arbitration eligible players have been locked up, and they have announced their Spring training non-roster invitees with big names like A.J. Cole and Brian Goodwin, both considered a big part of the future of the team. Also happening this weekend was Natsfest, the yearly convention where fans warm their heart by seeing the boys of summer. I cannot speak for everyone, but I enjoyed it much more than last year’s, and got autographs and pictures galore.

(From top to bottom: Me with Drew Storen, Reliever, Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo, Commentators and my autographs for the day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embedded image permalinkSo all in all, a very slow news week in DC. The Super Bowl can’t come soon enough for some of us. 

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Why isn’t Jason Collins signed?

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Let’s go back to the year 2001. George Bush had just begun his term. Airport security was a lot faster. Michael Jordan played for the Wizards – that year, the Wizards drafted Kwame Brown first overall. That same year, some kid named Jason Collins made his debut, too. Both, talent-wise, at least, have made little affect on the league. But Jason Collins completely shocked the world of sports when he announced he was gay this april, that put Kwame Brown in the dust.

But guess who had a job at the beginning of this season? Even though everybody knew he was an injury risk and washed out, the 76ers took him in 2012 and even after averaging 1.9 points a game, didn’t get rid of him. Now, to be fair, Kwame Brown did get waived two months ago. Which takes us to Joel Anthony, another center that has accomplished literally nothing in his career and could’ve been traded or waived anytime. But no, a player who is averaging 0.6 points a game and 0.6 rebounds a game is still good enough for the Heat. Last year, he gave the Heat 87 points, about 40 more than Jason Collins, which is not the difference for the Heat, almost ever.

There are a couple more examples, although it’s hard to find. I wouldn’t recommend looking. But the point I’m making is that there are players in the NBA that do what Jason Collins did and have a job.

Now, it’s not a complete outrage. Jason Collins, for what it’s worth, was a pretty bad player. He averaged 0.7 points a game last year – but that just wasn’t that much worse than some other players.

So it leaves me with this question.

Why isn’t Jason Collins playing right now?

A commonly used reason is that it’s a lot of PR to take on for a player who will do very little. But isn’t there no such thing as bad publicity?

Another reason used is that Jason Collins isn’t good enough. I’ve already debunked that one.

The other most commonly used one is that NBA owners are homophobes. I hope that one isn’t true, or else the NBA may lose me as a fan.

Until this gets resolved, all players who are gay in the NBA are going to be scared to come out as gay, and it’s going to take another Jason Collins.

At the beginning, we thought it was a huge step. Unless Jason Collins gets signed – we aren’t doing as well as we thought.

The (Not-so) big three

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Flashback to July 8, 2010. A small boys and girls club hosted one of the most controversial TV specials of all time, the second LeBron said “I’m taking my talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat”. That led to a Vegas-Caliber unveiling of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade all on the same team. Predictions, (Not one, not two) magazine covers, interviews, fanfare, merchandise, and much more were created and embraced.

Flash forward to June 12, 2011. The Dallas Mavericks took an NBA Finals right in front of all of Miami to see. Bust? It was looking like 2012 was the year instead. The big 3 would prevail, as always.

Flash forward to December 25th, 2011. The NBA was back. Lockout shortened, but back. But this time, it wasn’t around the Heat. It was lob city, New York and other teams sharing the spotlight, and sometimes stealing it from the big three. They were fine, and expected huge seasons from everyone.

Flash forward to June 21, 2012. Turns out, they didn’t need a big three. They just needed a big one, as LeBron led them to a title. But this title didn’t feel too real. The season was a good two months short, and it didn’t seem like domination in the regular season. Some people wouldn’t accept Miami’s championship until they one won in a full season with some domination.

Skip forward exactly one year to today, and we can say this season was dominated by the Miami Heat. Owned by them. But it wasn’t a big three effort. It was LeBron and co. Bosh had a mediocre-at-best season, and Wade was very on and off. Mike Miller and “Birdman” stepped up, along with Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers showing more of an on court presence.

So now, it’s all over. The next NBA game isn’t until October. Which gives us some time to ponder a couple things. First things first, as I said before, this was not a big three performance. It was LeBron and Co. LeBron led the entire team in points, steals, rebounds and assists. His 596 points in the playoffs were second to none anywhere. Bosh performed mediocre, and his point average is steadily decreasing. Wade is seeming older and more injury prone by the day.

This finals has lead people to believe the Heat are the next dynasty. However, I don’t believe that. Why? Because a team simply cannot revolve around a single player. Unless the big three play like they did when they were hired to become the big three, it simply doesn’t work that way. LeBron can’t hold this team up forever, and a huge reason they won was because the supporting cast all stepped up big time. The big three are not being big enough right now for the Heat to become something Jordan-like.

Many people are asking if this team can be compared to the Bulls of the Jordan era. I don’t know if it can. While this team is performing, so much question surrounds them. Will LeBron stay? Will D-Wade retire? Will Bosh step up again? Will Ray Allen leave? Was Miller just a fluke? Is there too much centered around James? Can Birdman play better in the regular season? Is Chalmers good enough? I can think of many more. This team was so dominant this season, but it just doesn’t seem comparable yet. 2 titles. While that’s good, they’re still under the Spurs. LeBron isn’t Jordan yet. He very well can be. But there are simply too many questions around this team.

This team was a guarantee in 2011. They are no longer like that. The only player who is playing like their contract is paying them is LeBron. It’s no longer a matter of dominance. Now, it’s a matter of keeping them at the same level. If somebody slips, that affects everything.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Heat will be sighted in the playoffs many years following this one. LeBron could pass Jordan, but he needs help. Celebrate now Miami about your title. But if you don’t get the people you paid to be big to play like it, watch out. Because I can see Oklahoma City in the horizon.

Is your mind blown yet?

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OK, seriously. When will they die? When is it going to be over? The Spurs are just not going away!

I’m a little scared. This team is an obvious dynasty, an obvious powerhouse. But every year since – well – I can’t even remember that far back – the Spurs have been a high seed in the playoffs. I simply don’t get it.

I can’t understand. Why? They’re OLD! How are they so old and so good? Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are the face of this franchise, and somehow STILL THE CORE. They’re the leaders.

For years, I’ve said that this team will be gone by next year. But I don’t know if anybody can anymore! I suspect that in the year 2073, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will be in a wheelchair, in an ad-covered Spurs jersey, averaging 44.4 points a game with a little star next to it because he’s now part robot.

This team is defying gravity – or at least age. I get that the three – Ginobili, Parker and Duncan are incredible. But this really has never been done. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were fighting for the fifth spot in the playoffs. But the best record? Geez.

I – I can’t say anymore. Why, you ask?

Because I know I’m going to feel like an idiot next year.

 

Money money money – why so much?

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ca. 2006 --- LeBron James --- Image by © Anthony Mandler/Corbis Outline In the sports world, one thing is inevitable. Contracts. And contracts lead to agents. And agents lead to money. And to play, there is no way out.

And I think that’s fine. That’s completely normal. For any real job, you sign a contract. But here’s what I don’t get.

LeBron James for the next six years will get a total of roughly 110 million dollars. If I got 150,000 dollars a year in savings after tax, I would need to work 122 years to get it. And if I wanted Pujols money? That’s 169 years. Although it’s really nothing when you are immortal.

So why do we think having a player play a game well is worth 150,000 dollars after getting a hit? I simply don’t get why we have to pay these players so much money!

If the sports world was up to me, I would change a lot of things. (BCS, Playoff formats, money, BCS, BCS, BCS, BCS – did I mention BCS?) But this is the second most puzzling to me. I just can’t grasp how a player could be worth so much money (like A-Rod, and 29 million a year) for playing a game?

Playing a game is tough. It takes a toll on you and your body. But throwing a ball into a net is worth that much? I just don’t get it.

 

How bout’ them Lakers? How bout’ not.

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here's the hype (image SI)

Here’s the hype (image SI)

The Lakers have a losing record. Let me say that to you again. The Lakers have a losing record. At the beginning of the season, it was the dream team. You couldn’t beat them. They had superstars, and they were not going to be touched. Turns out they were half right, as it turns out, another LA team rules now.

The Clippers. Lob City. They’ve beaten the Lakers twice now. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Willie Green and DeAndre Jordan are the starting lineup that lead LA to this 27-8 record and a 17 game winning streak.

Do you remember in 2010, when the Cowboys were failing, and everyone was going: How bout them cowboys? And everyone else was going: How bout not? I feel the same way here too. We get it. The Lakers stink now. But we don’t need to see it on the front of ESPN every time Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard get hurt.

 

But for a Lakers fan, the worst part of this is Kobe Bryant. He has completely turned his back on the team, shown no respect at all, and the criticizations of  the Lakers as “An old team – we’re slow as s—” were just a few of his many rants this year, along with “Sticks in the mud” – and telling his fans to “Shut up.” and that they were “Stupid”. Also, he said one of his former teammates shouldn’t have played in the NBA, and they were too cheap to spring for a point guard.

This isn’t the superstar kids are supposed to look up to, the one who criticizes his coach, his former teammates and his team. He said he was “Trying to push the right buttons” to light a fire under his team, and didn’t care about being perceived as the villain.

Which, in my opinion came out simply as “I’d rather be known as a winner instead of a good teammate.”

And then we have the coaching. The Lakers fired Brown early in the season. The team has gotten better. But according to the players and Kobe, the type of coach they wanted was like the interim coach they had – apparently, Kobe Bryant, seeming better

Here's now. (Getty Images, AP Photo)

Here’s now. (Getty Images, AP Photo)

In other words, it means that Brown was overcoaching, and the Lakers just wanted to let the players play.

So why do we care anymore? It’s all happened. We all know the Lakers are bad. Picking up Howard was a terrible move, and Gasol can’t stop getting hurt. It’s done.

This is why Lob City rules now. They have young talent that doesn’t talk back. They have a coach who coaches the right way, and not a superteam, just a team that works together.

When will people learn that putting talent together doesn’t make a team? Maybe never, seeming that it just keeps on happening, and teams aren’t winning championships, and some aren’t making playoff appearances. Take the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cowboys, Eagles and many more.

So can we please end the conversation with this sentence?

The old king is dead, long live the Clippers.

The NBA: Upside down

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Your best records in the NBA, 33% done with the regular season in the eastern conference are…. crazy.

Look at that! Miami was predictable, but NY, Atlanta, Indiana and Milwaukee? Wow. The west seems to be going a little more to plan, looking at it, but still – Clippers, Grizzlies, Warriors, Rockets, and no sign of the Lakers anywhere? Geez.

So, how did this happen exactly? I’ll give you one word: Bench. In this era, we have been introduced to the, quote on quote, “Superteam”. A big three here, a big four there, a super coach here, a ton of money there – you get the point. But let’s look at the Clippers players – almost all of them average 10 points or more for every three quarters they play. For the knicks, every player but three has 9 points or more in that time. The Warriors have only 4 that aren’t scoring 11 or more in that time period – I could go on with this forever. (NOTE: I use this statistic because it can range over an amount of games, not just one, unlike PPG)

This season is proving a point I’ve been trying to back up for a while now – a team isn’t a superstar and his supporting cast, everyone has to be there. For instance, when LeBron left, The Cavs gave up 105 points a game and scored 95 – as opposed to it pretty much being vice-versa last year. LeBron had 2,200+ points – nobody came within 1,000 of him. Next year? The top scorer only had 1,100 points. That’s what killed the Cavs – their team was built on LeBron. When the Heat made the finals and lost, it was because only 4 players scored triple digits during the playoffs – the next year, they had 7.

While Blake Griffin and CP3 are a big, if not the biggest parts of the Clippers, the bench takes off the pressure, giving them easy wins almost every time. It’s a new philosophy for winning, which I love, and if you’re not a Heat fan, you probably enjoy this too.

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