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Posts Tagged ‘Sports2Day’

NCAA Basketball: UConn is a Worthy Champion…Despite What Some May Think

In Sports on April 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

The 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was memorable for many reasons.  The “play-in” games, the numerous bracket-busting upsets, a Final Four which didn’t feature any #1 or #2 seeds, and the unlikely Championship Game pairing all contributed to one of the most entertaining tournaments in years.  When it was all said and done, the UConn Huskies emerged as worthy champions, despite the fact that they only received 30 of the 31 first place vote in the final coaches’ poll.

Northern Arizona head coach, Mike Adras, ranked Ohio State first in the poll, even though they only got as far as the Sweet 16 round.  He ranked Kansas second in the poll, even though they only advanced to the Elite Eight.  UConn was ranked third by Adras, which seems truly bizarre given the fact that they are the champions.

Adras should have taken note of the fact that most people don’t care too much about college basketball until March Madness begins.  With the exception of diehard fans, college students and the media, most people only pay attention to college basketball when the time comes to fill out their brackets.  Like the Super Bowl, even non-sports fans are interested in the tournament because of the gambling aspect.

It’s no secret that the quality of play in college basketball has greatly diminished through the years.  With so many of the best players going right to the NBA out of high school or after their first year of college, the talent pool has been severely diluted.  It isn’t necessarily good for the college game or for the NBA, but for casual fans, parody helps to make things exciting, and the nation loves seeing a Cinderella team win it all.

No one thought that last year’s Cinderella team (the eighth-seeded Butler Bulldogs) would return to the Championship Game again this year, but they climbed their way back against the odds by beating this year’s Cinderella team (the eleventh-seeded VCU Rams) in the Final Four.

UConn started the season strong, but limped to the finish by losing 7 out of their final 11 regular season games.  But they played their best when it mattered most.

They surprised the college basketball world by taking the Big East title after winning five games in five days.  Most experts thought that they wouldn’t have enough physical or emotional energy to make a deep run in this year’s tournament.  But they just kept winning, ultimately ending the season with an 11-game winning streak.

The Championship Game was an ugly win.  A suddenly inept Butler team made only 12 of 64 shots from 2-point range (a Championship Game record-low 18.8% shooting percentage).  But wins are wins, and there is no extra credit for style points.

UConn did what they had to do to be crowned champions.  They beat every team that they faced in the tournament.  It’s unfortunate that the ending to an incredibly entertaining tournament filled with interesting storylines has ended with the focus being on one no-name coach’s ill-advised decision to make his point, rather than honoring UConn for its achievement.

The odds of a UConn basketball championship being delivered by the men instead of the women this season were very low.  But in a single-elimination tournament, anything can happen, and that is what makes things interesting.

No one ever questions whether the best team won in any other sport with a playoff, so there is no reason to do so with UConn.  They are this year’s tournament champions and they deserve to be recognized as the best team in the country because of it.

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Will the Cavaliers Ever Retire LeBron’s Number?

In Sports on March 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

When LeBron James was interviewed before returning to Cleveland to play against his hometown team for the second time since his departure, he was asked about eventually having his number retired by the Cavs.  “That’s something I don’t know and something I can’t control,” James said. “Anytime you get a jersey retired anywhere it is a tribute. I had my jersey in my high school retired and when that happened it was unbelievable. If that happens here, I’ll be grateful.”

Gratitude has not been LeBron’s strong suit when it comes to his former team, or for the people of Cleveland for that matter.  Had he remained in Cleveland, he would have had his number retired and most likely would have had statues erected in his honor.  Had he left Cleveland with a modicum of grace instead of publicly humiliating his former team, he may have been able to mend fences down the road and be honored as the best basketball player to ever wear a Cavs uniform.

Based on his performance on the court, LeBron absolutely deserves to have his number retired by the Cavs one day.  But since you can’t honor the player without honoring the man, LeBron should resign himself to the fact that the only way that his number will ever be retired in the NBA is if the Miami Heat choose to do so when his playing days are over.

Time heals all wounds, but people don’t often forget being disrespected.  When LeBron made “The Decision” to leave Cleveland, he burned a bridge that will never be rebuilt.  He instantly transitioned from the greatest sports hero that the city has ever known to the prodigal son who was no longer welcome in his hometown.

If the people of Cleveland were somehow able to forgive LeBron at some point, there would never be enough of a public outcry to have his number retired, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, has nothing but contempt for the former king of Cleveland.

After the Cavs defeated the Heat last night in Cleveland, Gilbert tweeted “Not in our garage!!” (a reference to LeBron and his entourage being stopped when trying to enter the garage underneath the Quicken Loans Arena before the game).

Long before his Twitter message taunting LeBron after the Cavs exacted their revenge by upsetting the Heat last night, Gilbert issued an open letter to Cleveland fans, which illustrates the depth of the betrayal that he felt after “The Decision.”

{Click here to read the letter}

Perhaps LeBron regrets how he left Cleveland.  Perhaps he has hopes of being welcomed back to his hometown someday.  But the reality is that his betrayal will linger for many years to come, and it would come as a total shock to see him honored in any way, much less something as monumental as having his number retired.

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Will the Top Rookie Prospects Attend the NFL Draft?

In Sports on March 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

The game of chicken that is being played between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association has taken a ridiculous turn.  You would think that decertified union would be powerless, but clearly the NFLPA’s decertification was nothing more than a legal technicality based on their attempt to prevent highly ranked college players from attending the NFL Draft in April.

Players only get drafted once.  Those who are invited to attend the draft with their families have earned the right to be there.  Most college players don’t get drafted at all, and only a small percentage ever get the chance to play in the NFL.  Making it to the top of the draft is an honor that should not be tainted by negotiations that have nothing to do with these players.

As it is, the NFL Draft is going to be very anticlimactic for the players selected because they will not do anything with their new team until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement is completed.

The irony of the request by the NFLPA is that the players who are likely to be hurt the most under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement are the ones who are being asked to take a stand against NFL owners.

When the posturing ends and negotiations begin in earnest between the NFL owners and NFLPA, it is no secret that a rookie wage scale will be put into place.  This makes fiscal and logical sense, but the fact of the matter is that the rookie wage scale is going to cost the players at the top of the draft millions of dollars in guaranteed money.

College players are not a part of the NFLPA, which technically is nothing more than a trade organization at this point since they are no longer a union.  It is unfair of the NFLPA to try and use this small group of players as leverage in contentious negotiations.  Quite frankly, even if the players succumb to the pressure being put on them, it will serve no purpose.

The NFL Draft is going to happen with or without the top players in attendance.  The fans who were planning on attending the event will still do so, and the television viewership will not be affected at all.

ESPN and NFL Network can easily allow their analysts to evaluate each pick and show footage of them in college with missing a beat.

Ultimately, the only ones who will suffer if the top players do not attend the draft are the players and their families who will miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Their attendance (or lack their of) will have absolutely no bearing on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Current NFL players should step up and tell the NFLPA to back off of this ridiculous request because it is making the players look bad in the court of public opinion.

Eventually, a deal will be worked out regardless of what happens with the NFL Draft.  Those who choose to succumb to the unfair NFLPA pressure will ultimately regret the fact that they allowed themselves to be used as pawns in childish game.

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Post Game Tears? Looks Like Miami Can’t Take the “Heat” of the National Spotlight

In Sports on March 8, 2011 at 4:53 am

When LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh decided to join forces to become the NBA’s supposed version of a super power, they thrust themselves into the national spotlight as a team to either be loved or hated.  Not much room for middle ground.

Aside from the New York Yankees, who are hated by non-Yankee fans because of their continuous success and ability to outspend the rest of Major League Baseball, there is no other professional sports team that is as hated as the Miami Heat.

LeBron started off the disdain for the Heat with his ill-advised “reality” special, simply referred to as “The Decision.”  Before people even had the chance to accept what the Heat had become, they added fuel to the fire by referring to themselves as “The Heatles.”

“If you’re gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.”

Although the Heat have the sixth best record in the NBA, they are currently on a four-game losing streak, much to the delight of even the most casual basketball fan.  Their record against the five teams above them in the NBA is an embarrassing 1-10.

The team that some predicted to win 70 games this year, still has not found a way to compete with the other top teams in the league, despite having played 63 games together.

After last night’s one-point loss to the Chicago Bulls, head coach Eric Spoelstra said that there were tears of frustration by some of the players in the locker room.

If Spoelstra revealed the fact that some of his guys were crying after the game to endear the hated Heat to the masses, it failed miserably.  The Heat got no sympathy from the media or basketball fans. Instead, what they received was a healthy dose of deserved mockery.

Is a four-game losing streak in the midst of an 82-game season worth crying about?  If not for the brash predictions and self-indulgent titles, would anyone even care that any team has lost four games in a row in the NBA?  Has the sports world ever celebrated regular season losses in any sport with such glee?

The Heat (once again) have adopted an “us against the world” mentality, which is comical because they are the ones who created this atmosphere in the first place.

“I do chuckle a little bit when they complain about the scrutiny they get,” said Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “My suggestion would be if you don’t want the scrutiny, you don’t hold a championship celebration before you’ve even practiced together. It’s hard to go out yourself and invite that kind of crowd and celebration and attention, and then when things aren’t going well, sort of bemoan the fact that you’re getting that attention.”

Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic basically overhauled their entire team in December in order to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and yet they are a mere three games behind the Heat in the standings.

The Heat would be wise to stop worrying about what basketball fans and the media think of them, and start worrying about what they are going to do to right the ship and live up to the lofty predictions that they made before ever playing a single game together.

Any attempt to garner sympathy from the masses is an exercise in futility.

“The Heatles” have been “talking the talk” since they joined forces in the summer of 2010.  If they want the mockery to stop, they’ll need to “walk the walk” under the heat of the national spotlight.

 

NBA Slam Dunk “Contest”: Blake Griffin’s Win Very Harlem Globetrotter-esque

In Sports on February 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Blake Griffin is a great dunker.  There is no arguing that.  In the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Griffin had two memorable dunks, but only one of them was great, and it was NOT the one with the car and the choir.  That dunk only served to prove that the NBA planned on Griffin being in the finals and winning it all along.

Not since Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and the rest of the Harlem Globetrotters toured with the Washington Generals, has the outcome of a basketball “contest” been so anti-climactic.

Griffin was the Harlem Globetrotters to Javale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka’s Washington Generals.  McGee, DeRozan and Ibaka never had a chance, which is a shame, since they all were impressive in their own right.

When Griffin’s very ordinary second dunk in the first round scored a 46, even the most casual fan had to suspect that the fix was in.  That dunk followed Ibaka’s creative and impressive dunk which only scored a 45.

Once Griffin was in the finals, with the fans deciding the winner, there was no way that anyone else was going to win unless Griffin totally missed his dunks.  The whole contest ended up being a mockery.

Griffin’s coach, Kenny Smith, served no purpose on the court other than to ramble on endlessly.  During the early round, his puffery about Griffin not needing props like the others ended up looking downright stupid when Griffin rolled a car onto the court for his final dunk.  The car was bad enough, but the choir that came onto the court as Griffin’s supporting cast turned a supposed sporting event into a joke.

Even the camera crew didn’t seem to know what to do with the choir, as they missed Griffin’s running start while showing a choir singer on camera.

While Smith was somehow able to orchestrate a pre-dunk standing ovation for Griffin which surprisingly included the judges, it doesn’t seem like everyone bought into the hype.  Charles Barkley openly mocked what was going on, serving as the voice of many fans watching on TV.

It came as no shock to anyone when Griffin was announced as the winner of the contest.  The obvious favoritism that was shown towards Griffin has turned this competition into an exhibition going forward.

LeBron James has resisted showcasing his skills in the dunk contest, but if he ever changes his mind and participates, they should just present the trophy to him before he or his competitors attempt their first dunk, since the presentation is nothing more than a formality anyway.

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The Year That Was and a Look Ahead

In Inspiration and Motivation, Pursuit of Happiness on January 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Exactly one year ago today, I launched the Waldo2010 blog.  The intention was to share my journey in the pursuit of health, wealth and happiness throughout the year.  For a while, I was posting to the blog with regularity, but as life got in the way, I started posting with much less frequency.  In retrospect, I think that the limited scope of the blog caused me to pause before posting some things because they didn’t fit neatly into the categories that I created.

As 2010 started to wind down, I started to think about what the blog was going to be going forward.  Since I was no longer solely pursuing the 2010 goals, or reporting on my progress, I thought that a change needed to be made.  Besides, having 2010 in the name of the blog kind of makes it feel outdated.

The journey that I started last year continues to this day.  While progress was made in 2010, there is still a lot more that needs to be done in my pursuit of health, wealth and happiness.  However, one thing that I learned in 2010 is that those subjects alone do not provide enough opportunity to maintain a blog with regular postings.

In 2011, I do not want the thoughts that I share on the blog to be limited, so I decided to freshen it up and make it into what I want it to be going forward.  To keep the blog’s archive of posts, I had to retain the address (www.Waldo2010.wordpress.com), but as of today, I have officially changed the name of the blog to Waldo’s Life.  The old address will still work, but you can also get there by simply typing in www.WaldosLife.com.

With a more generalized blog title, I will now have the freedom to post to the blog without worrying that it might not fit into the overall theme.  However, I will not try and crowbar posts into the blog that are of personal interest to me, but are not necessarily about my life.  This is why I have recently launched other more niche-oriented blogs.

Many people who read my blog do so after a link to a specific post appears on my wall on Facebook.  Some of you may have already noticed that I have started posting links from my other blogs that do not bear my name in any way (www.Sports2Day.wordpress.com and www.GenerationXRockMusic.com).

In the near future, I will also be posting links to Facebook from other blogs that I am launching (www.Television2Day.wordpress.com) and (www.TheMusic2Day.wordpress.com). This will allow me to write about topics that I am passionate about, while also reaching an audience of people who are interested in the subject matter, but not necessarily in my personal life.  Of course, it stands to reason that there will be a lot of overlap amongst the various blogs.

In addition to these other blogs, I will also be posting links to articles that I write for the sports website, BleacherReport.com. My personal profile, with links to all of my articles can be found here: (http://bleacherreport.com/users/440432-adam-waldman).

This year, I will not be making resolutions that I am likely to break as we drift further and further away from New Year’s Day.  However, I am going to do everything within my power to write as much as possible for each of the sites.  So, while it is not a resolution in the traditional sense of the word, I do resolve to make 2011 the year that I make meaningful strides towards writing for a living.

I hope that 2011 is a great year for each of you, and that you do whatever you can to make your dreams come true!

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