Posts Tagged ‘brent macdonald’

By Brent Pella

A look at a few trending topics in the NBA community as the lockout season continues through winter:

“Good Lo’dy wo’dy / I just took more shots than Kobe”

Big Sean didn’t need to search too far to find a metaphor with the word ‘shot’ involved.

Kobe Bryant’s shooting habits are one of the most talked about caveats of the Lakers squad this season. Bryant has taken 292 shots through 12 games so far this season, and averages a Jordanesque 24.3 attempts per game. People continue to bash his shooting, while others say it’s the only way L.A. can score.

Fortunately for this argument, numbers don’t lie.

(more…)

>By TSL Staff and Friends

Check out our team previews from earlier this week: Packers and Steelers. Here are predictions about the big game from TSL associates!
Brent MacDonald
Seven months ago, I would have bet my entire Sack Lunch Blog salary that neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Pittsburgh Steelers would make it to the Super Bowl, let alone play against each other. Luckily, no one chose to make this bet with me, and with the big game just days away, it’s time to get familiar with some background information on these two teams, just in case the gambling bug strikes again.
 
The biggest storyline thus far has been the strong similarities between the two teams. Both the Steelers and the Packers are located in hard-working towns with quarterbacks who have been through rough times to make it this far in the post season. Ben Roethlisberger returned from suspension and a quite embarrassing legal suit earlier this year to play superb football for Pittsburgh during the playoffs; Aaron Rodgers was forced to live in Brett Favre’s shadow for years, and after throwing for 4,400 yards last season and making the Super Bowl this year, he has officially assumed his role as team leader.
 
Defense has been both teams’ strongest aspect of play all season. Troy Polamalu’s well-shampooed hair has been present in covering deep plays for Pittsburgh, while James Harrison has been putting a stop to run games at the line of scrimmage. For the Packers, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews will be a force in the Green Bay defense that has only allowed 70 yards rushing in the post season, compared to just 115 in the regular season.
 
Defensive battles and quarterback productivity will be the two main focuses of this game, and it will be Green Bay that capitalizes on both. The Pittsburgh offensive line has been injury-prone lately, and there is a chance that center Maurkice Pouncey, who suffered an ankle injury in the AFC championship game, will have to sit out. The Packers’ receivers are led by ‘The Old Man,” veteran Donald Driver, and will be able to out-play and out-smart the Steeler coverage.
 
After witnessing the way these two teams have played all year, I’m ready to take offers on Sunday’s game. Green Bay wins, 24-20, and my entire Sack Lunch Blog salary is on the line… any takers?
 

Robb Davis
In the year of the immaculate reception–and hungry for a local alternative to the Eagles in my home state–I was drawn to a team that, up until then, was known more for a running back who placed goldfish in the Plexiglas heels of his outrageous (even for that time) shoes than for anything they did on the field. Bradshaw still had peach fuzz and that silly facemask, and the Steelers were just plain mediocre. Then Bradshaw grew up, a second string running back from Penn State became the symbol of an offense that really did grind people down, and the Greene-led defense became, arguably, the best defense the league has ever seen. (Check out the first downs, total yards and yards rushing that the Vikings got in Super Bowl IX: nine first downs, 119 yards of total offense, and 17 rushing yards). I won’t bore you with a history of the Steelers post-season exploits since then but merely note that what drew me to the Steelers was the total domination of their offensive and defensive lines in those days. Perfect football twins named Inexorable and Immovable. 
  
What I have appreciated about the Steelers over the years is that they have followed a script that has kept the twins more or less in place despite the vicissitudes of the game. They get the most athletic and unheard of players and fit them into a machine that they have faithfully oiled, periodically stripped down and rebuilt, and upgraded year after year. Why other teams have not merely copied their approach is beyond me. 
  
But they can be beat. They have never even gotten close to a perfect season. They win ugly lots of times. The machine breaks down and spare parts are wanting. But, most importantly, the upgrades don’t always keep up with the brightest minds operating on the other side of the ball: the Steelers can rarely stymie the Patriots’ offense just as they cannot hold back the bull rush of the Ravens. 
  
And that brings us to Sunday. I think they will do relatively well on offense. Relatively well for the Steelers’ offense means they will score all of two touchdowns, kick one field goal (or two field goals and a TD). They will turn it over at least once and will generally sputter up and down the field. They will lose the game on defense however because, good as it is (the first half against the Jets gave me goose bumps–it was the closest anyone of the 20 something generation will get to seeing what the Steel Curtain was really like), it cannot contain Rodgers and the creative play calling of the Packers’ offensive staff. 
  
Rodgers will throw for close to 300 yards, will not throw a pick, and the Packers will score four times–three touchdowns and a field goal. 
  
It will be a good game but never feel particularly close. 
  
I hate to say it but the team I have enjoyed for a generation will go down 24-13 to the imaginative Packers. When they lose, I will take consolation in the fact that I really like Aaron Rodgers’ quarterbacking and the amazing job Green Bay coaches and staff have done keeping a team on the field this year. 
 
Nick Gallaudet
These past two weeks, the Super Bowl has been covered from every different angle, every story has been told ad nauseam, so I figure the last thing you want is more of the same. Unlike my (correct) MLS Cup prediction, I’m qualified to pick a winner for the Super Bowl, because I actually watched these two teams play this season. I could tell you about how Pittsburgh’s experience in big games is being overrated; I could tell you how Mike McCarthy could be a bigger hindrance than help; I could tell you that Aaron Rodgers is better than Tony Romo; I could tell you that defensive playmakers are going to swing this game; but if you want all that, read my colleagues. I want to tell you that with a win, Aaron Rodgers will finally end Brett Favre’s reign of terror on the NFL. Packers fans will have a new champion to hang their hats on, it will forever put to rest the debate over whether the Packers got rid of him too soon (which they most definitely didn’t), and people will finally stop talking about the Old Gunslinger. Rodgers is on the verge of superstardom and winning this game will catapult him into the Manning-Brady-Brees class, not in terms of production, because he’s already there, but in terms of celebrity. Rodgers will be the face of the NFL, just like Brees was last season following the Saints’ Super Bowl run. All of that is if the Packers win of course.
 
The NFL is a league of quarterbacks, and despite the fact that everyone knows that quarterbacks don’t actually play each other, the matchups are billed as such, so this game seems to be a battle between Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, both hoping to solidify their spot in the top tier of quarterbacks. While examining this matchup, I couldn’t help but think Rodgers’ victory was preordained. Rodgers’ ascension has played out to me like a cross between Macbeth and Beowulf, with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson starring as the three witches and foreseeing Rodgers’ path to a Super Bowl championship. Jettisoning Favre and giving Rodgers the starting job was the first step, then making the playoffs, and now winning the Super Bowl completes the prophecy, just like Macbeth becoming Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and finally, the King of Scotland. The only problem is that Rodgers is the good guy. If Michael Vick was playing for the Super Bowl, then the murderous part of the Macbeth analogy would be apt, but alas, Vick was defeated by Rodgers, which is where Beowulf comes in. Beowulf first defeats the murderous Grendel (Vick), then Grendel’s mother (Cutler), but there is still the dragon (Roethlisberger) to be slain, and on Sunday, we will see how that plays out. Obviously, this can’t be taken literally, I mean I’m not saying Rodgers is going to die after the Super Bowl like Macbeth and Beowulf did (Spoiler alert? Too late, I guess, oh well). Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if I learned anything from ninth grade English, it’s that the Packers will win the Super Bowl and Rodgers will be the King of Scotland, 27-14.
 
Evan Ream
I know that this is going to be cliché, and it is probably what you have been hearing in all the Super Bowl predictions over the last couple of weeks, but this game really comes down to one player: Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers has been unstoppable in the playoffs in good weather situations (which we will see Sunday), passing for ten touchdowns against just one interception in three games. Rodgers didn’t play his best in the NFC Championship, but he still made the throws he needed to make when he needed to make them. Rodgers is the best and most important player in this game and he will have to show it if the Packers are to win.
 
Conversely, the Steelers are more of a grind-it-out, hard-nosed, old school football team. They run the ball well and stop the run well. Unfortunately, when the other team is putting up yards in chunks and you can’t stop its pass game, there isn’t a lot of time to be running the ball. I think the Packers will win simply because the Steelers won’t be able to guard all of their offensive weapons at one time. The Packers go four deep at receiver with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelsen. All of them should have big days in a 28-14 Packers victory.greg-jennings
 
Dylan Davis
The favorite’s offense is way too good. The quarterback of the favorite will have no trouble picking apart the opposing secondary. This performance will vault that quarterback into the next level. The underdog will have to play perfectly to have any chance to win. Before the start of Super Bowl XLII between the undefeated Patriots and Giants, this was all we heard for two weeks. Before the start of this Super Bowl between the unstoppable Packers offense and the banged up Steelers, Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers have been lauded much the same as that New England juggernaut. Now, I’m not saying that a Steelers victory would be anywhere near the magnitude of the upset the Giants pulled off, but when a team is talked up as the next great thing for two weeks, that’s when strange things happen.
 
imageWhen Green Bay went into Atlanta and destroyed the Falcons, people assumed that was the beginning of a great playoff run for the Packers. One game seemed to vault the Packers from, “banged up team with a good quarterback” to “unstoppable force who will win it all.” People seem to forget that three of Green Bay’s losses came against non-playoff teams while the Steelers lost their four games to teams that all made the tournament. Throw out one bad game against the Pats and Pittsburgh lost its three games by a combined 18 points to New Orleans, the Jets, and Baltimore (without Big Ben). Two things that set apart championship teams are the ability to beat teams they should and winning close games. Pittsburgh went 8-3 in games decided by single digits while the Packers were only able to pull a 6-6 record in those contests. If Michael Vick throws a little better ball in the 4th quarter of the divisional round, we may be looking at an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl.
 
I’m obviously a little biased, as I have seen ¾ of Pittsburgh’s games, but I know that this is a team that can win games no matter the situation. Having a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s size and abilities means that they are never out of the game, while the defense has been its usual suffocating self. I think that on Sunday Ben will be able to move around much like he did against the Ravens and Jets and make some big plays. After hearing how great the Packers are for 2 weeks, the Steelers defense will come out fired up to show why they led the league in scoring defense. I predict the first half will be a little sloppy offensively but the fourth quarter will match the intensity and entertainment of Super Bowl XLIII between the Steelers and Cardinals. I believe the difference in the game will be the experience of the Steelers and Rodgers will make one more mistake than Roethlisberger.
 
Steelers: 24 Packers: 20
 
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger

 
Brett Andersen
What are the odds that within a one-month period, the two football teams I despise most in this world would compete for the championship in their respective leagues?
 
Last month, the ugly and fowl (ha!) Oregon Ducks competed in the BCS National Championship, fortunately losing to the Auburn Tigers. Now, the NFL team who I hate most is competing in the Super Bowl versus the Green Bay Packers.
 
However, as opposed to last month when I predicted the Auburn Tigers to satisfy me by dispatching the hated Ducks, I have my life savings of $23.04 and whatever spare change is under the front seat in my car on the Pittsburgh Steelers winning this edition of the Super Bowl.
 
As much as it pains me to predict them to win, it came to me as the most logical conclusion. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin included, simply have the experience to take care of business and take home their third ring in the past six seasons.

The Steelers defense is their strong suit, led by Defensive Player of the Year, safety Troy Polamalu. He teams up with Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark to form an above-average secondary, but the meat of Pittsburgh comes from their front seven. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are certainly going to be a burden on the Green Bay offensive line and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
 
The pivotal matchup in my mind is that front seven for Pittsburgh versus the offensive line and other blockers for the Packers. The running backs and fullback for Green Bay will be called upon to protect Rodgers when he sends three or four wide receivers out for a pass.
 
Whoever has the greater push in this matchup will give their team a chance to win. If the Packers can give Rodgers time to pass, I think he has the ability to take advantage of a Steelers secondary that isn’t terrible full of depth. Rodgers is quickly becoming an elite quarterback, ready to join the realms of the Manning/Brady/etc. in due time. But if the Steelers can knock Rodgers down and get to him, it’ll take a toll on him and Pittsburgh will be in great shape to put yet another ring on.
 
The football gods already did me one favor this year by not letting Oregon win the BCS National Championship, so I feel as though they won’t give me one more opportunity to see the despised Steelers falter.
 
Not that they’ll need any help though, they have this one in the bag. Steelers 23, Packers 20.
 
Matt Ream
For those of you who know me, I only really care about one sport. Soccer. Of course I will watch many other sports if soccer is not available on TV, which, let’s be honest, historically has not gotten a whole lot of airtime. Today I even watched unranked Baylor defeat number sixteen, Texas A&M in overtime. That was an exciting game.
 
But I digress. This piece is supposed to be about who will win Super Bowl XXXXXVVVIIII*&^$*&^ between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburg Steelers. So without further ado, here is my pre-game analysis.
 
This game features two in form quarterbacks in Aaron Rogers and Ben “The Rapist” Roethlisberger. Both teams have standout defensive players in Clay “Thor” Matthews III and Troy “Head & Shoulders” Polamalu. But this game will come down to more than just those players will. It will come down to the cheerleaders.
 
“But wait,” you say, “Neither team has a cheerleading squad!” That’s true. It’s really cold in Green Bay and while it is also cold in Pittsburg, the simple fact is that the Steelers just couldn’t put their trust in Big Ben to perform well while surrounded by scantily clad women. The liability is just too much.
 
That being said, since this version of “the big game” is in Dallas, I’d expect to see a plethora of fake-breasted Texan women at the game. So, what it really comes down to is whether the ladies’ man himself can ignore those tantalizing images and concentrate on winning his team another title.
 
My prediction? Roethlisberger goes AWOL and starts running amok through the crowd grabbing boobs while Rogers kicks some ass. Green Bay 5, Pittsburg 3 ½.
 
Russell Jordan
To be honest I hope both teams lose the Super Bowl. I hate both teams with a passion. The Steelers are hated among Cowboys nation because of their battles in the seventies that were mostly won by the Steelers, the lesser team if you will. The Packers are mortal enemies of the Cowboys for multiple reasons.
 
1. The Ice Bowl: The Packers faced the Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship game. The weather was terribly cold and ice covered the field, thus giving it the name “The Ice Bowl.” The Packers ended up winning a hard fought battle 21-17, probably because the referees fixed the game or something.
 
2. The “Lombardi” Trophy. Look, everyone knows Vince Lombardi was a great coach, and an even better motivator. But was he a better coach than Tom Landry? Not. Even. Close. Lombardi had great players, he was known for running the same 12 plays, and his players were so good no one could stop them. Does that make him a good coach? No, it makes him a guy who knows how to call 12 plays. Tom Landry coached 20 consecutive winning seasons, a record that will never be broken, won two Super Bowls and, commanded respect from his players. The man in the fedora was an icon a legend. Lombardi was a loud-mouthed alcoholic that knew his team couldn’t be stopped.
 
3. Packers fans. Talk about delusional, these guys take the cake. First off, they think NFL Championships count for something; well I got news: THEY DON’T. I don’t care that your team won it all when there were 12 teams in the league and no playoffs, that’s like bragging about how good your tee ball team was in grade school. Then Brett Favre was the best QB ever, one shaky offseason and he’s turned on by a bunch of ungrateful spoiled brats. Now Clay Matthews is the best LB in football… not according to DeMarcus Ware. Who knows where it will go next, I’m sure somewhere there’s a Packers fan saying Mike McCarthy is the best coach in NFL history, actually he’s probably saying second best to Lombardi.
 
Ok so if it isn’t obvious, I hate the Packers, but I can’t deny they are by far the best team in the NFC this year. That offense is amazing and they have the best (and most underrated) receiving corps in football. Rodgers is a good QB, not ready to jump on the bandwagon yet though, most of his throws are simple and easy to make, and he doesn’t quite command the offense yet like a Brett Favre once did for the cheese heads. The Packers D is great, best secondary in football, but their LB and DL core seem to struggle in anything other than blitz scenarios.
 
The Steelers are the veterans. Big Ben commands his offense and they have a great mix of veterans and young guys. The Steelers D is the best overall in the NFL, veterans everywhere that have the ability of third year players; it’s scary what this D can do.
 
This is a tough game to predict, but I’m going to go with the team that’s been there before. I think the Packers can win it all, just not this year; they don’t have the experience. Going to be close though. Steelers take it late.
 
Final Score:
 
Steelers-31
 
Packers-28
 
In other must watch football on Sunday, Fernando Torres will be making his debut for Chelsea against his former club Liverpool. This is MUST SEE TV PEOPLE. Bad feelings between players and fans, gonna be an all-out brawl.
 
I like Chelsea 2-1 (Torres with the winner)
 
Will Robinson
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is it. This is the ultimate moment of the 2010-11 National Football League season. Two of the premier, classiest, more storied franchised in the league’s history meet for the first time in any incarnation of the league’s championship game. Despite the week in Dallas being disrupted by the poor weather, this game has all the makings of a classic. One thing that does concern me is that so many people say it will be a great game that would make a letdown hurt more. I personally forget all of that, and I am stoked for what may be the last game in a long while, if the owners and the players union cannot work a deal out.
 
As I had previewed earlier this week (Packers and Steelers), both teams have a great passing attack fronted by elite quarterbacks who will likely decide the game with their play. Each of the teams have great receivers (Jennings and Mike Wallace, leading the way) and over-performing offensive lines; yet, the Steelers have a distinct advantage in the run game with Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, and Isaac Redman. Both defenses are very good and feature their own various playmakers.p1_woodson
 
With all that being said, I am extremely troubled about this game prediction. I chose the Packers in the beginning of the year to make it to Dallas and defeat New England. They didn’t quite take the route I was expecting, and obviously, they aren’t playing New England. Rodgers has been playing lights out, but he has not really encountered a defense this post season with this many playmakers and aggressive blitzers. I would much rather have Roethlisberger in this game, as he has the big game experience, but I will be sticking with my pre-season pick. Green Bay will win 24-20.

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By Brent MacDonald

I went to the All-Star game last weekend; it was a hell of a time.

 

David Stern really out-did himself on this one. Cheerleaders from every team switching off during breaks? I thought my grandpa was about to have a heart attack in the seat next to me.

 

Usually the gramps refrains from attending NBA All-Star weekend with me, as his doctor has deemed them a ‘sleeping aid’. Luckily I’m not 70 years old yet, and have been able to stay awake through the sometimes-painful experience of all-star weekend.

 

But this year was different.

This year, LeBron James actually wanted to participate in the slam-dunk contest. Shannon Brown and Blake Griffin were the two other NBA players to join LeBron on a collaborative “Team NBA.”

The opposition? “Team Flight Brothers,” a group of dudes that get up higher than Snoop on a G6, and made their name by displaying acrobatic athleticism on courts around the world, gaining worldwide fame at the same time through millions of views on YouTube.

 

After a series of jaw-dropping jams, the two teams were tied going into the final round. Rather than each player’s individual dunk providing points to their team, the last completed dunk had to involve all three teammates. Team Flight Brothers went first.

 

A behind the backboard alley-oop led to a thunderous jam by the second teammate, which was followed by the third teammate jumping up and grabbing the ball out of the net in midair, only to windmill it back through the rim a split second later.

 

The crowd went wild. No one in the audience had seen something like it before, but the chatter soon settled as Team NBA took the court. Griffin lined up on the baseline at the other end of the court, LeBron stood at half-court, and Shannon Brown poised himself outside of the key at the other end. With Tom Brady-like form, Blake Griffin threw the ball from one hoop to the other and into the hands of a soaring Shannon Brown. Brown caught the ball well above the rim, and with his back to the basket slammed it off the backboard. We all watched as King James ran from the half-court circle, took off from the free throw line, and caught the ball halfway between the hoop and the charity stripe. As he caught the ball, he looked down at Shannon Brown in mid-air, said ‘Thanks B,’ and jammed it home.

 

It felt like a volcano erupting inside the stadium. I was showered with beer and popcorn. Needless to say, it was a great pick-up line for later that night. “Did you see the dunk contest this afternoon? Well let me tell you…”

 

The next day was the big event. The All-Star game. Just another meaningless assortment of the world’s best players playing the world’s worst basketball. No defense, no hustle, and embarrassing offense.

 

But this year was different.

 

The first half was played similarly to previous NBA All-Star games. Shaq played point, Kobe hit a few jumpers, and Dwight Howard pulled off a self-alley-oop over an emotion-less Tim Duncan.

 

But the second half, that’s when the TNT drama began.

 

The scoreboard was wiped clean. The coaches finally began to yell. Doc Rivers actually took off his suit coat for this one. Because this second half was a game in itself; NBA Finals home court advantage was on the line.

tnt-logo

It was as vicious a battle as the all-star game has ever had. Pick & rolls with Kobe and Duncan…alley-oops from Derrick Rose to D-Wade…I thought I was watching a 3D game of NBA 2K11.

 

 

With less than 30 seconds remaining in the 24-minute second half, the West was down 64-62. Greg Popovich called a timeout, and the crowd rose to its feet. The energy in the arena made the air ten times hotter, and my heart was racing about 100 times faster. The facial expressions of LeBron, Dwight, Carmelo and Manu Ginobli made it obvious that this was to be no ordinary all-star game finish. This game actually had a meaningful outcome, and they were motivated to win.

 

The West inbounded and took possession with 22 seconds remaining. Chris Paul dribbled up the court, defended by Derrick Rose

 

LeBron knew what was coming next, that’s why he chose to guard Kobe.

 

Carmelo set the pick for KB on the low baseline. As Kobe stunted right and cut left, LeBron stayed right behind him. All of the sudden Kobe spinned around and ran the other way, LeBron tried to chase him down but was halted by a double screen set by Carmelo and Kevin Durant. Kobe got picked up by Dwyane Wade, but it was too late. He caught the pass from CP3 deep in the corner, rose up and released with just 4 seconds left.

 

Swish.

 

Doc Rivers didn’t blink an eye. With no timeouts left, he yelled at LeBron to take the ball out of bounds. The clock read 2.9 seconds remaining. D-Wade caught the pass at the free throw line and dribbled straight at an awaiting Carmelo Anthony.

 

One spin move was all it took to get free and as he jumped into the air, his momentum carried him forward…it was as graceful a move as I have ever seen. Almost reminded me of Black Swan, without being freaked out for two hours.

 

Wade released his shot just in front of the half-court line, in a similar form to his game-winner against Chicago in 2009. The ball fell easily through the net as the horn sounded.

 

LeBron James rushed him. Derrick Rose looked like he’d seen a ghost. And Doc Rivers put his jacket back on, casually smiling as he shook Pop’s hand.

 

Yes, All-Star weekend was a great experience. Usually I’d rather sit through “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the gramps.

 

But this year was different.

 

This year, the old-timer wanted to see NBA All-Star weekend, “Where excitement [finally] happens.”

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By Brent MacDonald
Carmelo to be Traded?
This would probably be one of the worst things Carmelo could do this season, besides holding an hour-long TV special to spotlight his decision to go to New Jersey. The trade is supposedly going down sometime next week, and would involve transactions from Denver, New Jersey and Detroit. 
           
Off the court, ‘Melo isn’t a Jersey Shore type of guy; he just wouldn’t like it there. Besides the money, I don’t see the other benefits he would be getting from signing with the Nets. $65 million over three years is a hell of a figure, and with pockets like Mikhail Prokhrov, it’s just another drop of a dime. But is that dime even worth being dropped?
           
Carmelo has always been just another high-scoring star with no real pieces around him to help the nuggets journey past the first round of the playoffs. Plus, at the rate New Jersey is going, they’ll be getting another high first round draft pick come this summer. There’s really no point in starting to win now, they’ll only end up with a worse draft pick and zero chance at playoffs.
           
Denver needs to keep Carmelo for the remainder of the season and try to ride him a little further into playoffs, then allow other teams to begin bidding in the summer. If not, it looks like Pauly D might have a new GTL pahtna.

College Basketball
           
College basketball is the most unpredictable sport in America. Florida State proved this fact by knocking off top-ranked Duke this past week in a battle that must have left Dick Vitale’s windpipe in more pain than usual.
  
Just days earlier, FSU had lost to Auburn, arguably one of the worst major-conference teams in the nation. But the Seminoles put together a gameplan that involved highlighting the weaknesses of the Blue Devils…yes, even coach K has weaknesses.
           
‘To live and die by the 3’ is a term often heard in college basketball. For Duke, the past few years have garnered success off of ‘living’ by the 3, and rarely (if at all) ‘dying.’ They shot 11-35 from beyond the arc. Singler missed key shots down the stretch and was well beyond his range for many of them. You could credit that to poor shot selection or great defense, but from my perspective I’ll have to go with the latter.
           
This season of college basketball is proving to be a good one, Ohio State is 17-0 for the first time in 20 years, and currently ranked number one overall. But don’t expect that ranking to last long. In this sport, it often doesn’t. 
Lebron assumes role of villain:
            LeBron James recently made public announcements that he has embraced and assumed the role of ‘hated villain.’
            I don’t really give a shit, and you shouldn’t either.
Allen Iverson back in America:
           
But apparently not for long. The Answer has been having trouble with his right leg, and has returned from his stint playing in Turkey to get treatment. It has been rumored that he may not return to play in Europe, however Iverson has repeatedly stated that he would like to play in Turkey again.
           
Playing in America would mean that a potential championship team would want to pick up a veteran point guard for a reasonable amount of money. I don’t see the Celtics, Heat, Lakers or Spurs offering A.I. a deal anytime soon, and I don’t see Iverson wanting to go anywhere without hopes for a championship.
           
He’s loved in Turkey, and playing out his years with a fan base overseas would be the best option for him at this point.
NBA Awards: Pre-All star break:
MVP: Derrick Rose
           
Rose has led the Bulls to a 25-12 record as of Friday, good enough for third place in the newly-competitive Eastern Conference. 24 points and better than eight assists per game are phenomenal numbers for a point guard, and Chicago’s playoff hopes continue to look brighter with D-Rose bringing the ball up the court.
Rookie of the Year:
           
John Wall: Wall has proven himself to be a huge playmaker and distributor for the Wizards so far, he’s averaging more than ten assists in four of his past seven games, and fifth overall with 8.8 dimes per game.
           
DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins had been called a ‘bust’ by many earlier this year, but has been playing like an all-star the past few games. His ppg average has increased to 21.2 over the past six games and he’s getting 9.2 boards for Sactown. Sacramento might be the first team to have two ROY’s in a row, and still not improve a single bit.
           
Blake Griffin: Griffin has been part of the league for two years now, and in my eyes, does not deserve to be discussed in Rookie of the Year voting.

>By Brent MacDonald

With all the dog fights, alleged rapes and ‘sexts’ going on in sports today, it’s no surprise that another problem has risen to round out the list.

            Gambling has proven to have more of a negative impact on the NBA than any other professional sport. Let’s take a look at a quick timeline of gambling incidents in the NBA, before moving on to more recent events…  


 

1992- Michael Jordan goes to court to explain why James Bouler, a convicted drug dealer, has a check endorsed by His Airness for $57,000. Under oath, Jordan told the court that the money was payment for gambling losses from a single weekend. 


 
1993- Jordan is investigated by the NBA office to see if his gambling habit had broken any league rules.
image
1993- During the same year, Jordan retires from professional basketball. There is suspicion that Jordan was ‘secretly suspended’ for illegal gambling, under the guise of playing baseball, in order to preserve his legacy without breaking the hearts of millions of fans.
 
2002- The Sacramento Kings lose its playoff battle against the Los Angeles Lakers. Referee Tim Donaghy was working during the series. (See ‘2008’) Thank me later, Sac Town.
 
2007- Gilbert Arenas bets DeShawn Stevenson during a Washington Wizards practice that he can make more one-handed college three’s than Stevenson could make two-handed NBA 3’s. The wager? $20,000. That’s a year’s worth of college tuition. A new car. You could buy 500 buckets of MuscleMilk with that kind of money.

Of course, it’s their cash to do with what they please, that’s not the problem. The problem surfaces after one player (in this case, Stevenson) loses the bet, gets frustrated, walks away without speaking and possibly breaks the bond between himself and a teammate.
 
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2008- Referee Tim Donaghy sentenced to 15 months in prison for fixing NBA games. Donaghy admitted to gambling on games in which he had a direct effect on the outcome, including games during the Kings-Lakers series. Thank me now, Sac Town.
 
 
 
 
 
image2010- Seems like Gilbert Arenas gambles more than Franky Four-Fingers. This time, the aftermath was quite different. A gambling debt dispute between Arenas and Javaris Crittenton led to a locker room showdown in which Arenas allegedly pulled a pistol from his personal locker. He was charged with felony gun possession and received a suspension from the NBA.
 

2011- OJ Mayo and Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies are forced apart by teammates during an altercation involving a gambling debt. The Grizzlies took the best action possible by banning any and all gambling related activities during team flights.

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Whether professional athletes like it or not, they are viewed by many as heroes. Legends. And yes, Charles, role modelsBeing looked up to comes with the territory of being a professional athlete. This is especially true for NBA players, who have no helmets or hats covering their faces, which provides a closer and more personal relationship with the audience.
 
What these athletes do with their money is up to them, yet they must be willing to control their actions in order to avoid the bad publicity that often follows for both the individual, and the league.

David Stern has taken notice to the changing image of the NBA, and has been attempting to implement various rules over the past few years in order to adjust.
The one-year out rule? Stern wants NBA players to get an education before entering the league. This will dilute the number of uneducated kids who jump straight from high school without knowing which state the team they got drafted to plays its home games.
The no street clothes rule? Professionals should look professional, nothing wrong with that. But I believe Stern’s motives lay more along the lines of not wanting players on the bench to portray a ghetto, inner city vibe. That would scare away all the nice white people.
Regardless, Stern once again put in a rule aiming toward player’s personal lives. Now it’s time for a different rule.
Hopefully Stern and the league office will take notice of the Grizzlies’ response to gambling issues, and will follow suit. Gambling within the NBA needs to be controlled. If players are willing to gamble a single mother’s salary all at once, they need to be able to control their actions when they lose.

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By Brent MacDonald
The winter season has come at last, and SportsCenter hasn’t been this entertaining all year. NFL playoffs are just around the corner, the BCS college series is about to begin, NBA basketball is in full swing, and college hoops are almost halfway through the season. No longer do golf highlights or repetitive baseball plays take up the spots on the nightly Top 10 plays.
Instead, the high-flying acrobatics and human-like monstrosity of Blake Griffin can be seen after every Clippers game, and most nights throughout the week. Many would say that Griffin is the scariest player in the NBA. Others would say his talents are enough to garner the Rookie of the Year award.
I would have to agree, if in fact Blake was a rookie. But he’s not, and here’s why:

A ‘rookie’ is a player who is undergoing their first year in the NBA. Blake has been around an NBA team for more than a year; he’s gained coaching, training and the experience of being in the NBA for an entire season. Though he was out with an injury last year, Griffin was still traveling with the team, while players like john Wall and Demarcus Cousins were playing for an NCAA championship.
Blake is above and beyond any other rookie from this year’s class. This is because he is not a part of this year’s rookie class, but is in fact a sophomore in the league.
Some might argue that because he didn’t play last season, he is on the same level as those who were drafted this year. But while Wesley Johnson and Landry Fields were picking out the flyest suit for the draft this past summer, Blake was flying through the air during pre-season practice at the staples center.
Thus, there’s no way Blake should be considered for ROY. He should however be in the conversation of First-to-Kill-Themselves-On-a-Dunk award. The way he plays with no fear is surely enough to get him injured on one of his terrifying jams from three feet above the rim.
With football nearing the end of a highly entertaining season thanks to Brett Favre’s unlimited texting plan and Michael Vick’s re-emergence as a dominant force (among other events), basketball is beginning to grab more attention throughout the sports world. Here’s a few things to look for as the snow continues to fall:
Are we on our way to seeing a Celtics-Spurs finals?
The Celtics are looking better than ever, and the 12 game win streak isn’t the only reason. With the ever-unathletic-looking Paul Pierce sinking game winning shots like he did Wednesday night against the Knicks, Boston’s big 3 is dominating the eastern conference. Miami has pulled together a healthy double digit win streak of its own, but the experience of Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen is undeniable. Wins over the Heat (twice) and the Bulls (twice) have proven this squad to be best in the East so far.
The San Antonio Spurs may be the most boring team in the league, but as of now, it’s also the best. Duncan, Ginobli and the rest of the Popovich crew have pushed their record to 21-3 as of Thursday, and show no signs of slowing down. The best record in the league is supported by not only a ridiculously strong chemistry within the team, but also by a structured relationship with their coach. While questions in Miami regarding coach Spoelstra’s relationship with LeBron and DWade continue to affect the streaky Heat, San Antonio keeps its focus entirely on reuniting with the Larry O’brien trophy.
MVP Watch:
Dirk Nowitzki, and not only because he is keeping my fantasy team alive. Dirk is hitting more than half his shots from the field (56% fg thus far), and is fourth in the league in points per game (25). Dallas’ 12 game win streak has been overlooked in favor of the L.A. Kobes, but Dirk is keeping his Mavs on track to go far this postseason.
Amare Stoudemire! Coming back to life! His 26 points and 9 rebounds per game have revitalized a depressing Knicks team, who’s record stands at 16-10. His buzzer-beater game winning shot against the Celtics on Wednesday was a heartbreak, but also a huge accomplishment. Amare continues to prove his worth to a team that’s rising in the eastern conference, much to the delight of Spike Lee and the rest of a suddenly revived New York crowd.
Next time: Why Duke is sick, and it makes me sick. NCAA hoops and a very early March Madness prediction. 

>Hey guys check out all these cool links including an article by TSL’s own Brent MacDonald who got the chance to cover the North Carolina soccer team for the College Cup for The Daily Nexus