Posted on: September 29, 2011 5:44 pm

This Just Happened - Rays Historic Comeback

This just happened. Less than 24 hours ago, the two biggest September collapses in baseball history came to their dramatic conclusions. Three of the four games played Wednesday night were decided in the final inning. The exception; the Cardinals detonation of the Houston Astros. The Phillies eliminated the Braves in the 13th, the Orioles rallied against the Red Sox in the 9th, and the Rays walked off into the Wild Card in the bottom of the 12th.

All kudos go to the Cards for reeling in the Bravos, but I'm here to talk about the other series; the one that was 1/2 a game more epic in the stat book, but infinitely more epic when examined. 

The Sox and the Rays absolutely hate each other. No, this isn't the Yanks and the Sox, but let me be very clear, THESE TEAMS HATE EACH OTHER. Got it? Good. We can go back to 2006 where the two brawled in Spring Training after Julian Tavares threw the ball at then-Ray, Joey Gathright (interestingly enough, Gatright was on the Sox roster for their epic collapse). Fast-forward to 2008 and things just get even meatier. 

James Shields hits Coco Crisp who charges the mound. Shields throws a knockout haymaker that Crisp dodges Matrix-style, and once again, the two teams are brawling. As the year went on, the teams kept their battles to within the confines of actual baseball. Going into September 9th, 2008, the Rays had hit a rough patch. Their 3 game lead over the Sox was down to 1 with Boston up 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox's dynamite closer took the mound to finish this one off. 

Dan Johnson, a little known journeyman had woken up that morning a Durham Bull. Little did he know he'd end the day a cult-hero. Mid-afternoon came and the two teams penciled in their starting line-ups. Johnson was supposed to play first. Having been a huge fan of MLB 2k8, I knew him as the guy with the Oakland hat in the game. That always confused me. Anyway, he had decent power in the game and so I was excited to see what he'd do at the Major League level. Well, his flight was delayed and thus he did not get to start. It wouldn't matter.

Johnson was called upon as a pinch hitter to start the inning. One swing of the bat later and the game was tied. Just like that, the Rays were alive again. They weren't going down without a fight. Keep this name, keep this scenario in the back of your mind.

The Rays would win the East and the Sox would scoot in as a comfortable Wild Card. Both teams would take 4 games to get through their respective American League Divisional Series matchups and would meet up once again in the American League Championship Series.

7 games later, the Rays were on the ropes again. In a text-book pitcher's duel, Jon Lester and Matt Garza put up performances any coach would be thrilled at. However, with the bases loaded with 1 out in the top of the eighth, Joe Maddon called on rookie phenom David Price, to close things out. Four outs and one final grounder to Akinori Iwamura, and the Rays were on their way to the World Series.

Once again, hop in that journalistic time machine to Carl Crawford signing his 7 year, toomanymillion dollar deal with the Sox this past winter. Crawford, the original Devil Ray. He'd spent the first 10 seasons of his professional career in Tampa Bay giving the fans too many memories to count. Now, he bucked the pundits who thought he'd go to Los Angeles or Houston, and signed with Public enemy number 1, Boston.

Crawford had an awful start to the year. So did his Sox. So did the Rays. As the season went on, the Sox recovered and the Rays settled into their third place role they were expected to hold in a rebuilding year. Well, then September came.

The 9.5 game lead the Sox held on September 1, that was down to 7 when the Rays started a 4 game series against the Sox. They'd also have a 3 game series at Fenway a week later. 7 games back, 7 games against Boston. Do the math. The Rays controlled their own destiny. They almost pulled off the impossible taking 6 of the 7. Their one loss, a James Shields stinker on the road. 

The lead was down to one game going into the final series of the year for each team. The Sox had a 3 game trip to Camden Yards to face the Orioles and the Rays were to host the New York Yankees for a 3 game set. Going into the respective game 2's, the two teams were tied. The comeback was complete, but could the Rays take the lead?

On the ropes in game 2, Evan Longoria pulled up a remarkable triple play to get the Rays out of a jam. Matt Joyce would later hit a go-ahead 3-run shot that would hold. The Sox would win as well setting up yesterday, arguably the greatest day in baseball history.

Fittingly, David Price and Jon Lester would be on the mound again tonight. Lester, like '08, pitched pretty damn well and had his team up 3-2 going into the Bottom of the 9th. Price on the other hand, gave up 6 runs and didn't make it out of the 5th. 

Going into the 7th innings, the Sox had a lead and were ready to turn the game over to their dynamic trio of Aceves, Bard, and the previously mentioned Papelbon. Down in St. Petersburg, the Rays faced a 7-0 hole and had accumulated all of 1 hit. Clock was about to strike midnight.... yeah no, because Boston sucks and the Trop Boys went H.A.M.

The floodgates opened up both literally and metaphorically. It rained like all hell in Baltimore and play was suspended. At the Trop, facing the 10000000th Yankee pitcher of the night, the Rays started getting on base. Hits, walks, and hit batsmen; it didn't matter. The bases were loaded and no one was out. The one run scored, then two, and a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton brought home a third. Evan Longoria, with the greatest late inning walk up song ever, stepped up to the plate. The Major League leader in RBI's since the all-star break smashed a 3-run shot over the left field wall. It was 6-7 now and the Rays had life.

Around this time, the skies cleared up at Camden and play resumed. A whole lot of nothing would occur until the ninth so let's go back to St. Pete. Two outs into the bottom of the ninth, Dan Johnson (yes THAT Dan Johnson) was back up to bat. Did he have one more miracle left in him? The Rays' version of Robert Horry stood up facing former AAA teammate Corey Wade, facing a 2-2 count. One pitch later, the 31-year old ginger was trotting around the bases fist pumping like he was from Jersey. Tie game.

Back up in Baltimore, Papelbon had taken the mound. He struck out the first two Orioles batters with his high heat and his sinking splitter. A double down the line and a ground rule double in the right field gap tied the game up. Robert Adino stepped up to the plate and blooped a liner into shallow left field. Who was there to play it? Carl Crawford, the gold glove left fielder who the Red Sox had signed from the Rays the off-season before had a chance to give the Sox a chance to fight back in extras. Poetically, he couldn't make the play. An errant throw home and the Orioles started celebrating.

Evan Longoria was at the plate in the bottom of the 12th while this was occurring. Real time, folks. You can't make this up. There was the first applause with Evan on deck. The game was tied. In between pitches came the second; the Orioles had won. Three minutes after that second round of cheers, Longoria connected on a Scott Proctor fastball and sent it over the low fence in left field; time to start the party.

So let's recap.

The Rays were down 9.5 games on September 1.
The Boston collapse was capped off by a blown save.
Carl Crawford, a former Ray dropped the inning ending ball to give Baltimore the win.
Dan Johnson, hit game tying HRs in 2008 and 2011. 
The Rays were down 7 games starting their series with the Sox.
The Rays were down 7 runs after the 7th inning.
A 90 minute rain delay allowed the Orioles and Sox to scoreboard watch the Rays come back.
3 minutes after the Sox lost, the Rays won.

As the drugged up kid coming home from the dentist once asked, "is this real life?".

Ha, you bet your ass it is.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 9:35 pm

What I want from Orlando's off-season.

Well, last season sucked. Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas still doesn't matter because Lewis got hurt anyway and it's not like he was playing that great anyway. The other trade was so idiotic it wasn't even funny. Carter for Richardson is a wash although Carter fit us better than JRICH did. Turkoglu and Clark for Pietrus and Gortat and a first rounder was beyond stupid. Turkoglu wasn't even worth Chris Duhon.

So here are some moves that I would like to see this off-season assuming there is one. Some of these moves are based on the old CBA, some are rumored to be in the possible new one.
  • Use the amnesty clause on Hedo Turkoglu - Hedo is absolutely done. He's not going to get better. He's a waste of cap space.
  • Try and sign either Greg Oden or David West to the MLE. Both of these guys are coming off of season ending injuries, and Oden is an injury magnet. I think both of these guys would really help us inside. Oden can be a new Gortat, but better when he's healthy, and we can show a look sometimes of him and HOward together and basically make the basket impossible to get to. West can be the post compliment that Dwight needs. We can run dual pick and rolls with Dwight and West, along with pop with West. I really think both of these guys can help us.
  • Try and trade Ryan AndersonDaniel Orton, and J.J. Redick along with all the draft picks we can to Philadelphia to try and get Andre Iguodala and Jodie Meeks. Meeks is worse version of J.J. Redick. That's why I threw him in there just to make the trade not so lop-sided. Iguodala adds a great wing defender along with a top wing facilitator that will help our offense flow better and open up looks for Dwight Howard. Meeks can come off the bench and hit some shots.
  • Try to re-sign Jason Richardson. Do this only if he's cheap and only if he's willing to work his a$$ off to get his legs back.
  • FRANCHISE TAG DWIGHT HOWARD. This probably isn't going to happen because I don't see a franchise tag being put in, but if there is, then this has to happen.
So if all of this could happen, this is what Orlando's roster would look like next year.

PG - Jameer Nelson / Gilbert Arenas / Chris Duhon

SG - Jason Richardson / Jodie Meeks

SF - Andre Iguodala / Quentin Richardson

PF - Brandon Bass / Earl Clark / Draft pick

C - Dwight Howard / Greg Oden 

I know that roster doesn't look all that different from this year, but to me it fixes a lot of issues. Iggy adds defense. You can put him and QRICH on the floor together because Iggy can bring offense. This would be especially helpful against a team like Miami. Oden fills the void off the bench of interior D. Losing Redick will allow Arenas to get more minutes. 
Posted on: September 28, 2010 8:11 pm

NBA Player I'm Cheering Hardest For in 2010-2011

So NBA training camps are starting up again and we have the usual (recently) favorites in Orlando, Boston, LA. We have a team from the 90s making a resurgence in Chicago. And we have the interior defenseless, Miami Heat and their trio of egos, I mean stars. But out there, somewhere in Cleveland, is a little 6'2-6'3 guard with a chip on his shoulder. He's gone from 6th man to Robin to playoff dud and now he's in the role of "star" for depleted Cleveland Cavaliers. His name, is "Maurice" Mo Williams.

That's right, the player I'm rooting for most to have a breakout season and to really shine this year and do some damage is my main man, Mo. I know that I've spent the better part of two years calling him out, making fun of him at any chance, calling him the worst player in the league, the spawn of satan, and basically every other negative word or combination of words possible. Well, my attitude towards Mo has changed. And let me break it down for you.

At first I thought my hatred for Lebron and the Cavs was because of Mo. His ego even though he hadn't proven anything, his stupid sunglasses during interviews, his guarantee of victory against Orlando, calling himself better than Jameer Nelson, the list goes on and on. But this off-season, I realized, "I don't hate Mo". It's actually Lebron that made me hate Mo. 

Mo is what he is. He's a very good 3 point shooter who is great for the first 46 minutes of a regular season game and the first 5 minutes of either half in a playoff game. Other than that, he's one of the most useless players on the court because he likes to choke and plays little to no defense. However, the dude made me a fan this off-season in his crusade against Lebron. His calling out of the world's largest douche bag, his confrontation in the airport. Mo, for the first time in his life, had a point and made sense. 

The truth is, the passed few years, Mo has been a 15-18 ppg player who can give you 3-6 asssits per night, spread the floor with his shot, and not make retarded plays with the ball. He was actually a decent sidekick to Lebron, but he should've been the batgirl while a Carlos Boozer (sucks to suck Cleveland) or an Amar'e Stoudemire (it's OK, Hickson was vital in your playoff success) or a David Lee would've been a better Robin. Mo is a great number 3, an ok number 2, and a "?" as a number 1.

But I have high hopes for Mo this year. I hope he can step up and be a 20 point, 7 assist player. I hope he can sneak Cleveland in and then upset Miami. In fact, I hope in the game 6 to win, he hits a buzzer beating try over Lebron's outstretched ringless finger. That's my dream.

So here's to you Mo Williams. My hate towards you was misguided. You were never the problem in Cleveland. It was the 6'8 steroid driven primadona who made you his lapdog than ran away like the ego maniac he is. Go get em, Mo. Make Cleveland proud.
Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:28 pm

Why everyone is sick of Lebron James

Well, for starters, I'd like to point out that going to the Heat is not a cowardly move, it's not a bad move for him, and actually, it took some balls. He HAD to have known there'd be backlash and he HAD to have known that his individual legacy will never be up on a high level w/ Jordan, or even Kobe for that matter because he just planted himself in the Scottie Pippen role. Miami is, was, and always will be Dwyane Wade's team, and because Wade is one of maybe 2-3 other players that can challenge Lebron as the best player in the game, Lebron just went from a 1 to a 2. So, I admire his move and caring more about winning a ring than individual glory, so kudos to that. If this Heat team does establish a dynasty (which I highly doubt they do, mostly because of Mr. 6's ego), then he will be part of one of the greatest team/dynasties of all time rather than one of the greatest players of all time. At least, that's how I see it, and unless he's a moron, that's how he had to see it. And Magic Johnson calling him out? For christ sake, he played with Kareem and James Worthy. Kareem > Wade, and Worthy > Bosh. So, please, just because you didn't have to leave to find a great situation, don't make it look like you brought that team from ground zero. 

On to why I can't stand the guy. His ego knows no bounds. I mean, basically every player has nicknames. DWADE and Dwight Howard are "Flash" and "Superman" respectively. I don't think DWADE does anything with his nick-name, but Dwight does dress up for the dunk contest (did), and dances to "Crank Dat" by Soulja boy, but never have I seen him in a serious tone call himself "Superman". Maybe he's addressed it in a joking tone, or something like that, but he plays with the name, he doesn't engulf himself in it. Kobe is the Black Mamba, but how many times have you see Kobe mention himself as the Mamba in a press conference or something like that? I doubt that number is above 1. I mean, look at Kevin Durant. The dude is the new face of USA basketball (for the time being). Considering every other major star is out, and he's the only real top talent left (closest thing would be Andre Iguodala and that's a steep drop), he could be taking this opportunity to call attention to himself. He's not. In fact, any report you read says KD is shy, and tries to stay away from the camera and spotlights. Why? Because the kid is humble. Because he isn't all about himself. Durant is all about his teammates and making sure they get proper credit. He's the anti-Lebron and I can NOT wait until the rest of the media wakes up to what a breathe of fresh air this kid is. Back to Howard, there's a fine line between being an egotistical jerk, and someone who likes to have fun.

That brings me to Shaqulle O'Neal, who has taken on some Lebron-esque traits in the last few years. When Shaq first started, everyone knew that he had a little bit of an ego, but not only did he back it up with his play, he was likable? Why is that? Well, for starters, he was a prankster, he liked to joke with people, dress up in funny costume, poke fun at people. He was funny. He did a couple movies including that one with the Genie. I forget it's name, but it wasn't that bad. Shaq was on top of the world, and yes, he showed a HUGE ego, but people didn't have a problem with it because Shaq embraced his ego and made a positive out of it by channeling his "ego" into jokes, laughs, and entertainment. I think it was 2007, Shaq was at the all-star game and had a dance off with Lebron, Dwight Howard, and I want to say Jermaine O'Neal. That was funny. It was entertaining. It was Shaq being Shaq. However, over the past couple years, Shaq's game has deteriorated, and with that, so has his charm. He's not funny anymore. He's not big ole' lovable Shaq. He's become a jerk. His ego has grown just as big, but his game, along with his originality and charisma, has fallen flat. No longer is he poking fun at people because that's who he is. Shaq is now attacking people verbally for no reason. I mean, the entire spat with Dwight Howard was so childish, it wasn't even funny. When Shaq stopped caring about entertainment and picked up the "any press is good press" approach, he became a jerk, and right now, 75% of NBA fans can't stand the guy. Why's that? Because when you drop the entertainment value and keep the ego, that's where you lose your fans.

And finally, we're on to LeBron James. Or, if you ask him what his name is, he'll respond with "The King". A couple years ago, maybe even as far back as last year, Lebron was loved by EVERYONE. I mean, some people couldn't stand him because he was a threat to their team, but no one really was sick of him. He had hosted the ESPYs and done a FANTASTIC job doing it. He was hilarious. The skit where he sang and wore that crazy outfit was pure comedy. I loved every minute of it. He hosted SNL and again, was very funny in that too. Everyone knew that Lebron had a little bit of an ego, but the dude counter-balanced it with humor and fantastic charisma. I mean, we don't even have to go into how he had the entire state of Ohio, not only the City of Cleveland, wrapped around his finger. The dude had millions of people under his spell, and there seemed like no stopping him. But the, Lebron became like Shaq, and stopped with the humor and just became an arrogant a$$. Some people will call the pre-game dances unprofessional, but to me, they were teammates having fun. They were building chemistry, so good for them. But then there was the infamous game 6 against Orlando in the ECF. Not only did it seem like Lebron may have quit in that game, he disregarded shaking the hands of a single Orlando player. His teammate, Delonte West, the guy who played his absolute heart out that series and seemed to be the only one trying at the end, went and exchanged jersey's soccer style with his college teammate Jameer Nelson, and DWEST shook the hands of every Magic player. Lebron had a former "teammate" on the other side as well; his olympic teammate Dwight Howard had just dropped 40 and 15 to end the series. While Dwight looked around for his "friend" and Olympic teammate, Lebron was sulking in the locker room, no where to be found. A day or two later, he sent out some bogus excuse about how competitive he is. Whatever, some people gave him a pass for it. But then there was the talk in the off-season about the 2010 free agency. He never answered any of the questions directly, but he loved the open door. He loved that he kept the media open to speculation and such because, well, that meant more attention towards Lebron. During the season everything seemed fine, but then the Cavs ran up against the healthy and rejuvenated Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers lost in 6 games, and Lebron seemed like a turnover slot machine by the end. Put a quarter in, and Lebron gives you the ball. But what set people off was the way he ended game 6. Walking up and down the court, hanging in the corner or at the top of the key just to throw up a brick. This was a 8 point game with 2 minutes left and he QUIT on his teammates. There was no debate this time. Lebron James had given up on his teammates. 

On to the off-season of 2010. After being himself and throwing 6 digit budget parties for himself, Lebron signed a contract with ESPN to do a special on "The Decision". Where the self-proclaimed "King" announced he was going to Miami. Again, I have no problem with that. In all reality, it looks like a good move on paper, especially to a guy whose lived his whole life on talent, and to who the fundamentals mean basically nothing to. However, did he really need a 1 hour special to sign a contract with the Heat? Absolutely not. But, it was feeding the ego. Then, he gets criticized for leaving Cleveland in the dust and blah blah blah. What does he do? LEaves Cleveland out of his appreciation speech, tell the City he hates it (in GQ), talk about how Dan Gilbert "didn't care about Lebron". Notice how there's no brackets there? That's because he legitimately talk about himself in 3rd person. Why? Because he's an ego freak. You get it? Lebron's "taking notes" on who calls him out and such. He's calling people out for doing their job and analyzing his move. His sense of entitlement and the fact that he thinks everyone should praise him is disgusting in itself. 

Lebron James. Why are people sick of him? At first, he was a lovable, charismatic phenom. However, as time went on, his charisma lowered and his ego grew to the point where the slightest negative comment sets him off. So please, Heat fans, stop defending the guy you've been trashing for the passed 2 years and realize where everyone is coming from. No one doubts his talents. It's hard to. Everyone's just sick of his act. He may consider himself humble, but the rest of us really know the truth about "The Prince".
Posted on: June 22, 2010 6:46 pm

The Top 10 NBA Off-season Story-lines 5-1

Number 5: Who overpays for Carlos Boozer and David Lee? Listen, not everyone playing the Free Agency game this off-season is going to get the Lebron's, Bosh's, and DWADE's this off-season. It's nearly a guarantee that the losers of those sweepstakes will panic and throw ridiculous money at Lee and Boozer. Very similar players actually, Boozer and Lee are both around 6'8-6'9 and have had to play a decent amount of center the last few years, putting them at a huge disadvantage against the trees of the league. However both are very good rebounders who are maximum effort guys that will try and mask their flaws with hustle and hard play. However, both play in systems which have padded their stats some. Lee plays in Mike D'Antoni's run n gun, no defense, try and score 200 points a game system in New York. Nearly all the way across the country, Boozer plays in Jerry Sloan's system in Utah which has always been about getting his PG and PF involved and their numbers. Boozer's back-up, Paul Milsap is arguably the better of the two anyway and he puts up decent numbers off the bench as well. In my opinion, Boozer is best served going back to Utah while Lee won't really have any choice other than to leave New York. In the end, I'm going to bet that..... nah, I'll wait until the end to put this puzzle together.

Number 4: Who does Chris Bosh follow? I really am on the bandwagon that Chris Bosh wants to win very badly. I think he's desperate to win after some horrible years in Toronto where nothing was accomplished. A fan-favorite theory is that he ends up in LA with Pau and Kobe. To me, that's a nightmare for the rest of the West. Gasol moves back to C where he is actually more effective in my opinion and where he played in Memphis. You have two guys who can post up, take their man off the dribble, pass the ball well, shoot from the perimeter. Really, they have two very similar players although Bosh does it more with his quickness and shot while Gasol uses his fundamentals a little bit more. Another popular theory is the one where he joins Lebron in New York. Lebron, Gallo, Chandler, Bosh, whomever would be a deadly line-up, no matter who is playing C (for those slow ones, Lebron will be the point guard). Maybe Bosh goes to Chicago to team up with Derek Rose and Joakim Noah giving Chicago that third star and an absolutely incredible future. Noah's defense, Bosh's offense, Rose's playmaking with role players like Deng and Hinrich, Chicago would be a contender for years. Now onto the Florida theories. You ask someone from North Florida and they tell you that Bosh will be in Orlando as a result of some miraculous sign and trade most likely involving Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat, maybe J.J. Redick's rights as well in a sign-and-trade scenario. You go down to South Florida and all the talk is Bosh teaming up with DWADE in South Beach. Chalmers, Wade, Beasley, Bosh, and whomever else they can get gives the Heat a very bright future as well with two proven stars and two guys they're just waiting to emerge. Again, I'll wait until the end to put this together.

Number 3: Who joins Wade in South Beach? Anyone who thinks DWADE is leaving Miami doesn't know what's going on at all. DWADE will be on the Heat for life baring some Jordan/Wizards scenario. Beautiful weather, smart organization, no state income tax. There's literally no reason to leave. Above all though is the cap room that the Heat have to bring in a side-kick that Wade has desperately needed since he and Shaq split. Who will it be though? Will Lebron come up from the hell that is down Cleveland? Will Bosh join him there? Will STAT be in a Heat jersey? Or will they have to settle for Boozer or Lee? In either scenario, the Heat get better because when Jermaine O'Neal is your second best player, you have issues. DWADE needs a side-kick desperately and I could even see him waiting until the Heat make their move before he officially re-signs. If the Heat botch this one, DWADE might just leave or demand a sign and trade to a team that wouldn't have the cap room to sign him otherwise. Again, either way, DWADE will be on a better team next year than the Heat were this past season, whether that's still with the Heat or somewhere else is yet to be seen although I'd lean towards him staying.

Number 2: Cinderella's Castle. I mean, LeBron James will be moving but to where? Will he stay in Cleveland? No. Let's get that out of the air now. Lebron is way too cocky to stay in small little Cleveland his whole career. He's going to a bigger market or going to somewhere where he'll win a quick title which will just fluff his ego more. One thing people have to realize about Lebron is that it's all about Lebron, all day. 24/7. I mean, the dude went on Jimmy Kimmel's show and lost a pop-a-shot competition and was trying to distract the guy he was losing to. I'm pretty sure the princess was wearing sunglasses as well. He's inside a building, keep that in mind. The only thing larger than his talent is his potential. The only thing bigger than that is his ego. I wouldn't doubt that if he ends up in NYC, there's a Lebron television channel just showing clips of Lebron and Lebron commercials all day long. And stupid people will watch it because for some reason the world is fascinated by him. Lebron's leaving Cleveland and I'd almost bet my life on it. One thing though I don't see is Lebron teaming up with another mega-star Bosh or Wade, especially not Wade. There are very few players in the league who people will even attempt to make a case for over Lebronbron. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade. Wade and Bryant have the strongest cases. Me personally, think that Wade is the best player in the game with Lebron a close second. There's no way Bron-bron's ego would be able to take winning anything without being the clear cut man. Bosh and Wade are on the short-list for guys who could out-play him in a series, and that's the last thing Lebron wants. Who will he team up with? Where will he go? I think he's going to Chicago where he'll try and foolishly surpass Jordan's legacy. That leaves Cleveland in a horrible situation. I think Bosh will join DWADE in Miami. I see the Knicks and Jazz working out a sign and trade deal sending Lee to Utah and Boozer back to NYC who will then go and blow money on Rudy Gay in a panic move. As for Stoudmire, keep an eye on Oklahoma City or New Jersey. OKC needs a big to get over the hump, and Lopez and STAT make a formidable duo for the future.

Number 1: The Super Dream Shake. I'm going to take a ton of heat for this and I know it. However, as a Magic fan, I'm biased. Two and a half years ago at the All-Star game, Dwight Howard got to take time out of his day and spend it with Bill Russell. Russell taught Dwight the importance of defense and protecting the basket along with making up for what you lack offensively with rebounding and defensive play. After that talk, and I'm guessing a few others with the legend, Dwight went on to finish 2nd in DMVP voting that year. Since then? Dwight's won back to back defensive player of the year awards and became the first ever player in NBA history to lead the NBA in blocks and rebounds in the same year, for consecutive years. Orlando's defense also ranked top 10 in nearly every statistical category including first in opponents FG%, no doubt a product of Howard. As far as the other end goes, Dwight's been working with former NBA star, Patrick Ewing. Dwight has made progress but not nearly enough as he should to this point. During the Eastern Conference finals, down 3-0, Dwight received a phone call from none other than Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon. Olajuwon gave Howard advice on how to approach the game which seemed to work as Howard's game raised to new heights in game's 4, 5, and 6. The pivotal moment came in the third quarter, with Orlando down by 20 or so, his teammates had hung their heads and given up. Dwight posted up, took the ball, made a move, and was fouled. When heading to the line, Dwight, for what seemed like the first time in his career, yelled at his teammates. He screamed at them to get their heads, up, that it wasn't over. They could still win. The Magic lost, but from a leadership position, that moment confirmed what 2 and a half games leading up had proven, he had changed. This off-season, Howard will be working with Olajuwon on his offensive game. Actually, he has been for the last week or so, no word on how much longer he plans on meeting with Hakeem. Last off-season, Kobe Bryant met with Olajuwon to work on some moves in the post and many people noticed this off-season how good Kobe looked in the post this year. Orlando fans are hoping Howard can make similar strides. If Hakeem can even teach him 2 or 3 moves, not even tapping into the depth of the "dream-shake", Dwight will make steps in his offensive game that will make him borderline unguardable changing the NBA landscape even more so than where Lebron-bron decides to go or who Dwyane Wade pairs up with.
Posted on: June 21, 2010 8:29 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2010 12:50 am

The Top 10 NBA Off-season Story-lines 10-6

Well, now that the Los Angeles Lakers have won the title, all eyes turn to the 2010 off-season which has been about as hyped as LeBron James was coming out of highschool simply because, Lebron is on the market again. But where does Bron-bron fall on the countdown? Just wait and see.



Number 10: What's Phil Jackson Going to do? I put this in at number 10 because I think this will be the first move to be made and thus the least "story worthy". I also think it's nearly a given that Phil is coming back so again, nothing really to see here. If Phil doesn't come back, where do the Lakers go with their search? Kareem maybe? Pull a Celtics' like move and make Kobe into the coach-player? Byron Scott worth a call? Who knows? Again though, this is basically irrelevant because he's coming back.



Number 9: Is Doc going back to Disney World? This is number 9 because again, I think we'll find the answer out soon enough. Also because I'm more on the side of Doc coming back until the Big3 breaks up which contrary to optimistic belief, won't be this year. So, I think Doc stays, but it will be a story for a little bit and because he's the coach of the runner-ups it has to be mentioned. If Doc does decide to leave, with the departure of top assistant Scott Thibodeau, the search won't be nearly as easy. 



Number 8: How desperate will Cleveland get? This is my personal favorite of these because it will easily be the most entertaining and be good for multiple laughs and jokes, not that Cleveland needs any more reason to be made fun of. This is the early leader for MVUPTBLB (most valuable useless ploy to bring Lebron back). Not exactly Swiperboy trying to hype up Eric Berry, but still a classic none the less. So how desperate will Cleveland get? They already had a "Lebron Appreciation Day" which is a joke in itself and the fact that Lebron attended (fashionably late of course) speaks volumes to how pathetic on both sides this situation is. Will there be statues? Will the City be re-named Lebronland? Hopefully, as that'll be funny when Lebron and the ________ come to visit Lebronland to take on Delonte West in co.



Number 7: What do the 76ers plan on doing with the Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner log-jam? Both are SG/SF hybrid players. Both bring similar production, but different styles of doing so. Both can play off and on ball. Both are good defenders. Both are about the same size. Both pretty athletic. Can they fit together? Will the 76ers keep them together? This is something that is flying under the radar a little bit, but something to keep an eye on in my opinion. The 76ers just traded away Samuel Dalembert. This opens up a huge hole at C unless the 76ers think Marreese Speights can play there which from watching him at UF, he can't. He's got the size and skills, but he hates rebounding so he's stuck at PF unless his mind gets changed. What will the 76ers do here? Will they draft Cousins at number 2 instead of Turner? Will they trade Iguodala away for a center and draft Turner? Look for the 76ers to look at a sign and trade for an Amare Stoudemire using Iguodala as a piece or maybe looking to take Gortat away from Orlando. Marcin did have a 11 point, 15 rebound performance filling in for a suspended Dwight Howard in the play-offs two years back.



Number 6: Who pads their STATs? Ok, that was a horrible "joke", but I digress. The 6th most "epic" story-line this off-season will be the Amar'e Stoudemire sweepstakes. Will he be back? Will he try and follow another super-star? If he leaves the Suns, what will he be like offensively without Nash? In either situation, how will his defense and rebounding be? Will it be slightly above average like it was at the end of last year? Or will it be mediocre like it had been previously? Two big Ifs right there and that's why he falls lower on this list than his talent should dictate. His best bet is to stay with Nash in Phoenix. I think money and fame matter more to him and his ego will get in the way and he'll end up moving.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 22, 2010 11:27 pm

The 2010 Offseason for Orlando will be busy.

As I'm sitting here watching the worst display of basketball in the biggest game of the year by my Magic, I think to myself how different this team is likely to look next year, no matter what the current cap situation is. As great as Rashard Lewis has made Orlando during the regular season, he's shown in Orlando's last two playoff series losses to be a liability late in the playoffs. Against physical play, Lewis will be outrebounded by his counter-part by about 8 or 9 boards, outscored by 6 or 7, or completely out-hustled and out-toughed. This is me venting and assuming that Otis Smith will make a move. Here are the ones I've thought up that I could realistically see happening. I'll throw in one more at the end which I highly doubt, but it's the pipe dream.

Situation 1: Sign and Trade with Toronto for Chris Bosh - I've been on the Bosh to Orlando band-wagon for about 2 years now and I'm not giving up. Toronto knows Bosh isn't re-signing. Toronto knows that they aren't getting anyone of any relevance this off-season. Toronto knows if they sit back and let the bricks fall, they'll end up with Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani and maybe DeMar DeRozan along with some other crap. Everyone on this board raves about how great Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were together. Maybe Toronto feels like reviving some of that magic and creating a team that will throw up 100 3's every game. Orlando gave Toronto Turkoglu in a pointless sign and trade. Maybe Toronto feels like they can revive the magic that was there. Toronto does lose talent and increases pay roll, but it makes them a lot more competitive than without Rashard. For Orlando, they get rid of Lewis who creates mismatches but who's lack of physicality has killed them against the NBA Elite's in the playoffs. Bosh gives Orlando the league's best power forward along with the league's best C. He has a great shot so the spacing is still there, will give them a guy who can create their own shot. Most importantly, Bosh will actually body someone up and pull down a few rebounds, something Lewis has refused to do. I think Lewis' salary alone matches up, but if I'm Orlando, I see if the Raptors are dumb enough to take Ryan Anderson off our hands as well.

Situation 2: Sign and Trade with Heat for Dwyane Wade - I know this sounds crazy, but really, I'm praying for this one over any other. Although Carter can take over a game, he's too old to do it more than a couple times a year and he's not a 1 vs 5 win a game type player like he once was. In today's NBA, there are two players who can go 1 vs 5 and win a game. LeBron James (who we'll get to), and Dwyane Wade are those two guys. In this deal, Orlando sends Vince Carter Miami's way for the ability to sign Flash. In this deal, Miami gets a very productive player still, even at his age, and still has available cap room in order to add that second piece whether that be a Bosh or Stoudemire or whatever. Most importantly, if Miami really doesn't think they can bring Wade back, Carter's contract is up in 2011. Another name whose contract is up in 2011 would be one, Carmelo Anthony, who is now reported to be in talks with Denver about an extension, but one can dream. Carter can give the Heat one more productive year and paired up with another star, could probably keep Miami a top 5 or 6 team in the East. After that, go after Melo and use the current star as a bargaining chip.

Situation 3: Use that 8 million Dollar cap exception for something - I really don't know what it would be, probably a bench player, but it'd be something. I don't see Orlando just keeping that forever. 8 Mill is a lot of cash, expect it to be used somewhere along the line.

Situation 4: The Pipe Dream: Sign and Trade with Cleveland for Lebron James - God, this will never ever happen, but I can pray. If Cleveland looks as if they aren't going to get the Prince back, maybe they call up Orlando and take on the contract of either Lewis or Carter. If this situation were to play out, my bet would be on Carter considering the dude will sell some jerseys along with keep the team competitive. He won't have even close to the impact Lebron did (although Carter was Lebron before Lebron), but he'll do something. Matt Barnes' contract is up this year, so this move either puts J.J. Redick or Mickael Pietrus in the starting line-up. I'd prefer Redick as the dude is becoming one heck of a defender (yes, it's true). Also, Cleveland then puts themselves in position for the Carmelo Anthony 2011 sweepstakes and if there's a guy (not named Durant) that could fill Lebron's shoes at the SF position, it's Carmelo Anthony.

Situation 5: Ain't ever gonna happen, but a man can dream - A combination of my first 3 situations. I think Sit. 3 is a given, but if Orlando somehow pulls off the other two and has a line-up of

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: Mickael Pietrus
PF: Chris Bosh
C: Dwight Howard

BN: Flip Murray (total guess on the trade exception)
BN: J.J. Redick
BN: Brandon Bass
BN: Marcin Gortat

I love my Magic and really truly believe that something big will happen this off-season and I can almost bet my life, it will involve Rashard Lewis playing in another team's uniform next year some way, some how. This series against Boston killed me because they just looked like they gave up and stopped caring. Only guys I saw competing were Howard, Bass, and Pietrus. I'll give Carter his due as he got 15 in limited action, but he was a non-factor although his defense was pretty solid. I'm keeping my hopes up that Orlando pulls off a miracle. I don't have internet access for all of July so I'm hoping by the time I come back, Dwight is paired with another top 10 guy.

Be Bold, be Blue, Be Magic.
Posted on: May 6, 2010 10:23 pm

All Eyes On Us official Roster

PG: Penny Hardaway - 4 time NBA All Star, 2 time first team All-NBA, 1 time third team All-NBA, 1st Team All-NBA-Rookies
SG: Julius Erving - 11 time NBA All Star, 1 time NBA MVP, 2 time NBA All-Star Game MVP
SF: Carmelo Anthony - 3 time NBA All-Star, 1 team Second Team All-NBA, 3 time Third Team All-NBA, 1st Team All-NBA-Rookies
PF: Nate Thurmond - 7 Time NBA All-Star, 2 time First Team All-NBA-Defense, 3 time Third Team All-NBA-Defense, 1st Team All-NBA-Rookies
C: Hakeem Olajuwon - 12 Time NBA All-Star, 1 Time MVP, 2 Time Defensive Player of the Year, 2 time Finals MVP, 6 time First Team All-NBA, 2 Time second team All-NBA, 3 time Third Team All-NBA, 5 time First Team All-NBA-Defense, 4 time Second Team All-NBA-Defense, First Team All-NBA-Rookie

BN: Mark Jackson - 1 Time NBA All Star, NBA Rookie of the Year, First Team All-NBA-Rookie
BN: Dan Majerle - 3 Time NBA All Star, 2 Time Second Team All-NBA-Defense
BN: Rashard Lewis - 2 Time NBA All Star
BN: Mark Eaton - 1 Time NBA All Star, 2 Time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 3 Time First Team All-NBA-Defense, 2 Time Second Team All-NBA-Defense
BN: Manute Bol - 1 Time Second Team All-NBA-Defense.

As you can see, down low we have more defense than probably any team would ever need. We got 4 DPOTY trophies, 10 first team All-NBA-Defense awards, a bunch of second and a bunch of thirds. You ain't scoring on us and you ain't keeping our athletes off the rim and out of the stat sheet. That's why you gotta keep All Eyes On Us
Category: NBA
Tags: ATMD
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or