Posted by: danimal25 | 05/20/2008

A Duel For The Ages

Today, when it comes to sports in America, football is king. No other professional sport comes close to the popularity of the NFL. Nascar would be second, although I have yet to meet someone that actually watches it on television. Third comes baseball, America’s favorite pasttime. Then, we finally get to basketball at number four.

It is difficult to attribute a direct cause of the NBA’s decline in notoriety in recent years. Most people would point to the retirement of Michael Jordan in 2003. Others would cite the massive influx of 18 year old high schoolers that have yet to master the basic fundamentals of the game. Still, others would mention the “gangsta” persona (cornrows, tattoos, baggy shorts, etc.) that many of today’s players put forth.

While these are all valid points, I’m here to tell you that if you are going to watch just ONE pro basketball game this season, you will not want to miss the beginning of the Western Conference Finals Wednesday night. The Lakers and Spurs square off in what is to be the start of an epic seven game duel between two extremely talented and hungry teams. The contest is so close, I had to analyze each individual match-up to produce an accurate prediction:

Point Guard: Tony Parker -vs- Derek Fisher

This battle could very well decide the outcome of the series. Parker is lightning quick with the ball, and can attack the paint at will. Fisher must play physical defense and stay in front of Mr. Longoria at all times. D-Fish is a magician at drawing offensive fouls by flopping at the slightest sign of contact, but Parker is just too talented. Edge: Spurs

Shooting Guard: Bruce Bowen -vs- Kobe Bryant

The thought of Bowen frantically chasing Bryant all over the court makes me giddy with anticipation. A clash between the best perimeter defender in the league (Bowen) and the best scorer (Bryant) is alone worth the price of admission. I can guarantee you that there will be some jawing back and forth between these two. Edge: Lakers

Small Forward: Manu Ginobili -vs- Lamar Odom

Ginobili has been lights out this post-season. He scores in bunches and plays stifling defense. Like Fisher, he deserves an Academy Award for his flopping skills. While Odom’s length might cause some problems, Manu is just too tough. Edge: Spurs

Power Forward: Fabricio Oberto -vs- Vladimir Radmonovich

I’m not going to lie. This will be a snoozer. Both players will have minor roles in the outcome of the series. Edge: Push

Center: Tim Duncan -vs- Pau Gasol

Wow. Now this is what I’m talking about. Two of the league’s most skilled big men going head-to-head. Gasol runs the floor like a gazelle and is adept at scoring in the paint, but Duncan’s experience and physical play give him the upper hand. Edge: Spurs

Bench: Spurs Bench -vs- Lakers Bench

This is where I see the Lakers having a huge advantage. Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, and Jordan Farmar are far better players than anyone the Spurs have riding the pine. Michael Finley and Robert Horry are over the hill and cannot be depended on to produce at a high level. Edge: Lakers

Coach: Gregg Popovich -vs- Phil Jackson

Thirteen championship rings between these two. Four for Popovich and nine for Jackson. Coach Pop is considered the best coach in the league, but the “Zen Master” has five more championships. Edge: Lakers

Karma: Due to his childish trade demands in the offseason, the basketball gods intervene and prevent Kobe Bryant from advancing to his first NBA Finals without Shaq. Edge: Spurs

SPURS WIN 4 – 3

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Posted by: danimal25 | 05/19/2008

Not Your Typical “Big Man On Campus”

Consider the following scenario:

You are the star quarterback of one of America’s top college football programs. You already have a National Championship ring and a Heisman Trophy after only your SOPHOMORE season. Girls faint when they see you. Grown men ask for your autograph. Agents and scouts are tracking your every move. You are, by far, the most popular person in the state.

Now, given the circumstances, it would be understandable if someone in this position let it all go to his head. He might decide to skip a few classes or take a couple secret handouts from agents. He could hook-up every weekend with a different adoring female fan, and it wouldn’t be questioned.

But not this guy. Not University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow.

In a day in age where star quarterbacks are known for killing dogs (Mike Vick), or having children out of wedlock (Tom Brady & Matt Leinart), Tebow is a breath of fresh air. He was raised in a devout Christian family and was home-schooled for much of his youth. His parents, both U of F alums, founded a campus Christian organization while attending Florida in the 1960s. In fact, Tim and his siblings, were all raised in the Philippines while his parents helped establish an orphanage there.

Since winning the Heisman Trophy in December, Tebow has been taking advantage of his new found fame. No, he hasn’t been partying with celebrities or strutting around South Beach. Rather, he is using his platform to spread the Gospel. In his free time, Tebow has been touring the southern states’ prison facilities preaching Christianity.

“Because of my name recognition and because of who I am, I’ve been given an opportunity to go places where most other people can’t go,” Tebow said. “I can go into prisons and speak, and no one will say anything. I can go into schools and speak, and they’ll love to have me. I can go to all these different places because of who I am as a football player. That’s a platform the Lord has given me, and I think it’s my responsibility to take advantage of it.”

He continued, “It’s about having an opportunity to go in there and change people’s lives and give inmates hope when there’s little hope in their lives. Even though they’re very hard people, most of them are so far down in a hole that they’re in need of something. They need something to hold onto and something to pull themselves out. When their lives might seem like nothing and they feel like they’re never going to be able to do anything with their lives, when they hear this message and hear they can have eternal life in heaven, that gives them hope. That’s something they can hold on to. That’s something that really does get through to them.”

In a world where athletes are known for their supreme arrogance and sense of entitlement, Tim Tebow is one of the rare exceptions. His astonishing humility and selflessness are qualities that few people possess. While it may seem strange to consider a 20 year old college student a “role model”, I can’t think of a better individual to emulate and admire.

Tebow speaking with inmates at Gainesville Correctional Institute.

Tebow speaking with inmates at Gainesville Correctional Institute

Posted by: danimal25 | 05/17/2008

Separated at Birth, Vol. 2

Sports Star…………………………………………………………………………………………Twin

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NFL QB Joe Montana……………………………………………………………….Singer Barry Manilow

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Draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr……………………………………………..Silvio Dante from “The Sopranos”

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Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano…………………………………..Steroid Dealer Victor Conte

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Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy…………………………………Porn Star Ron Jeremy

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NBA PG Sam Cassell………………………………………………………………………..E.T.

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Posted by: danimal25 | 05/16/2008

Overrated & Underrated

OVERRATED

Kevin Garnett PF Boston Celtics

This may be surprising to see the reigning “Defensive Player of the Year” labeled as “overrated.” Granted, he is a freakish talent. A man his size (6’11”) should not be able to move like a shooting guard. However, consider his salary. He is making over $23,000,000 this season. That is by far the most of any active NBA player. Combine this with his propensity to disappear at the end of big games and you have a player that is over-hyped and overpaid.

Brian Cashman GM NY Yankees

“Cash” is often considered one of the top General Managers in baseball. However, if you take a look at his history acquiring players, it tells another story. I agree that he has done an admirable job in the thankless position as Steinbrenner’s whipping boy, but he does not belong in the upper echelon of active GM’s. Jason Giambi, Carl Povano, Jaret Wright, Kei Igawa, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon… all of them were given HUGE contracts and have been complete busts. The size of New York’s payroll has allowed them to overcome these mistakes, but another couple of bad signings, and Cashman will be looking for a new employer.

Chris Berman ESPN Anchor

Look, I know some people enjoy his shtick. But this guy’s act is extremely tired. The moment I heard him call the greatest hitter alive, Albert “Winnie the Poo”-jols, I wanted to throw a brick through my TV. His lame nicknames rarely register with younger viewers, and when they do, they are unfunny. I want “Boomer” and Stuart Scott to take a long walk off a short pier and never come back.

UNDERRATED

Deron Williams PG Utah Jazz

The other point guard from the 2005 NBA Draft, Chris Paul, gets all of the publicity, but Williams deserves some attention, too. Big (6’3″) and athletic, Williams has the ability to shoot over opposing guards, but also can penetrate into the lane and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Replacing a legend like John Stockton is never easy, but Williams has earned Jazz fans’ trust and admiration with his outstanding play.

Billy Beane GM Oakland A’s

It is true that Beane receives a lot of praise for his ability to construct a solid team on a limited payroll, but I think he deserves even more acclaim. While most GM’s don’t begin rebuilding until it is too late, Beane trades his most valuable commodities just before they begin to decline (see: Mulder, Mark). This allows him to avoid an extended stay at the bottom of the standings because he is able to reload his roster instantly with young, talented, cheap players.

Karl Ravech ESPN Anchor

While other broadcasters on the Worldwide Leader garner more attention, Ravech is a steady, understated professional. He doesn’t make the telecast “about him” by using his airtime as a platform for his attempts at comedy. He understands what viewers want: highlites, news, and analysis… not a night at The Improv.

Posted by: danimal25 | 05/15/2008

Separated at Birth

I love sports. I’ll admit it. Guilty as charged. For me, it was love at first sight. I remember being 5 years old and watching baseball games on TV with my Dad. We would lounge on the carpet in front of the television. He would sip a cold Budweiser while I enjoyed my Capri-Sun. It was a special bonding time. Not often can a 35 year old man and a 5 year old kid enjoy a common interest. But this was ours.

Over the years, my love for sports grew and grew. I reveled in the competition, the drama, and the excitement of it all. I also became more familiar with the many characters and personalities in the sporting world. Players, coaches, announcers, commentators, agents, referees, umpires … I was exposed to an entire culture of individuals that I would have otherwise never even known existed. The more I would see some of these people on television or in the newspaper, the more I recognized each person’s unique physical appearance. Over time, I began to realize that many of these individuals greatly resembled other famous people.

Hence, my “Separated at Birth Club.” Since this is the first installment of the “S@BC,” I have listed below a few first-ballot hall of famers. I will periodically reveal other members of the club in the coming days. Enjoy!

Sports Star………………………………………………………………………………..Twin

Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen…………………………………………..NYT Columnist Thomas Friedman

Tiger Woods……………………………………………………………………….Ruthie from Real World Hawaii


KU Football Coach Mark Mangino…………………………………Fat Bastard from “Austin Powers”

Posted by: danimal25 | 05/14/2008

USC: University of Scandalous Crimes

What is the first thing that enters your mind when you hear “USC”? Some would say “football.” Others would mention its legendary film school or would cite the attractive coeds that roam the campus. However, the positive image of the “Trojan Nation” is slowly beginning to deteriorate.

Just this past January a book titled “Tarnished Heisman” was released. It details the illustrious career of USC star football player, Reggie Bush. While most are aware of his numerous accomplishments on the football field, the book uncovers deep, hidden secrets that were to remain unknown to the public. It alleges that Bush and his family received more than $300,000 worth of cash and gifts while he attended USC. This is a definite “no-no” and a clear violation of NCAA rules for scholarship athletes. While nothing has been proven as of yet, ample evidence supports these claims. Bush, now playing in the NFL, has avoided making any public comments refuting these allegations.

In another instance, just this past week, it was reported that another USC athlete has been cited for possible NCAA rule violations. Standout freshman basketball player, OJ Mayo, had reportedly received nearly $30,000 and other benefits from agents during the 2007-2008 school year. Like Bush, Mayo has avoided commenting on these claims.

It is important to keep in mind that these are simply allegations and nothing has been proven as of yet. However, a wise man once said, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Also, consider that these are only two of the cases that have been made public. There are possibly many more instances where USC athletes have received improper benefits. Between these scandals, the school’s ties to OJ Simpson, and the “University of Spoiled Children” moniker, the University of Southern California has seen better days.

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