Hakeem the Dream never ceases to amaze

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– JULY 29: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) NBA Legend Hakeem Olajuwon speaks to the media during the Basketball Without Borders Africa Press Conference at American International School on July 29, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

 

By Travis Duncan

Suiting up in a retro orange and red Houston Rockets jersey at the age of 52 this weekend, Hakeem Olajuwon gave the hearts of hoops fans a vintage flashback moment with a signature dreamshake (see video below) at the NBA Africa game in Johannesburg this weekend.

Meanwhile, NBA.com’s Shaun Powell has written a nice in-depth article “Olajuwon: Godfather of Basketball in Africa”. Powell spoke with basketball instructor Oliver B. Johnson  to recount the rise of Hakeem from Nigeria to one of the greatest centers ever to play the sport.

Once in Lagos, with his bag of basketballs, he searched for a diamond in the rough and one day saw a boy who glistened, walking down the street.

The teenager was giraffe-like and his name was Akeem, and imagine how deflated Johnson felt when the youngster explained he was too busy playing soccer and team handball — team handball! — to deal with basketball, and kept walking.

 

And Powell’s beautiful explanation of the magnitude of Hakeem’s impact by imagining basketball without Hakeem.

Now imagine the state of African basketball today if that same boy hadn’t shown up at the gym later and decided, yes, to give basketball a try. Or if the man who discovered him had punched the plane ticket home rather than used the visa to Nigeria. Just think of what basketball almost missed. We would’ve never bowed at the fraternal feet of Phi Slamma Jamma, or witnessed the poetry of the Dream Shake, or heard Rudy T lecture the naysayers about the heart of a champion. Hell, had this Akeem stuck with team handball, maybe Patrick Ewing would’ve won that elusive NBA title in 1994. Life is funny that way, no?

 

LaMarcus Aldridge will sign with the Spurs: Big Man Central

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LaMarcus Aldridge tweeted out today that he will join the San Antonio Spurs. The former Portland big man is a Dallas native and according to his tweet, geography played a major role.

Yahoo Sports has the details on a 4-year $80 million dollar deal, which puts the Spurs right back in title contention.

The succession of big men from David Robinson to Tim Duncan and now to LA seems just to make too much sense.

His ability to fit into San Antonio’s existing offensive scheme makes even more sense.

 

Source: Yahoo Sports 

The AP’s Big Story on Jameis Winston

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The Associated Press caught up with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston in Cleveland this week during a break from a four day rookie symposium.

One thing is clear:  The Heisman Trophy winner is an extrovert. He enjoys the camera and is not shy.

As his counterpart No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota said he’s done with Twitter, Winston says “he will not hide”  and will stay active on social media.

But the story this weekend regarding Winston was putting the past behind and focusing on his professional career. He says he realizes any misstep will be scrutinized. What was not mentioned however was the unspoken truth is really there are some who want to see him fail.

“I got to be a quarterback,” Winston told Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

“When I’m off the field, I got to be a quarterback. When I’m on the field, I’ve got to be a quarterback. I know people are going to look at me in each and every way.

As far as his past mistakes, “I have nothing to prove,” he told the AP. “I believe that people make mistakes but I also believe that you bounce back from those and I’m just moving forward.”

Right now is an easy time for rookie quarterbacks. His off the field actions will, as they were at Florida State, continue to be scrutinized. The challenges come when training camp begins, new offensive systems must be learned and then every pass in in every preseason game will be scrutinized. How does he deal with failure or mistakes?

The AP’s big story works as nice PR for Winston but does a nice job highlighting his personality and general mindset entering his rookie season. All eyes will be on Winston.

 

 

 

Good pressure and Bad Pressure the D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor story

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The expectations in Philly are laughable at best, and the joke on social media Thursday night during the NBA draft was, “What is Philly going to do with all these centers?”

Los Angeles drafted D’Angelo Russell ahead of Jahlil Okafor, who for for the better part of the 2014-15 college basketball season was expected to be the No. 1 pick.

Okafor tried his best poker face after finding out he was going to the Sixers but no doubt he had thought for sometime he would be in Los Angeles and be “the guy”. Now he’s the guy in Philly.

Here’s Okafor’s response to not going No. 1 or No. 2:

“I can’t be disappointed,” said Okafor.

“I’m in the NBA living my dream.  I’ve been getting a lot of criticism.  People in my circle, we’re just going to take it with a grain of salt.  It’s easy to shoot at somebody when they’re at the top of the hill.  I’ve been pretty much at the top all throughout high school, all throughout college, so I’m expecting it.”

His response on what the Sixers will do with so many big men:

“I don’t know, it’s not my job to figure out.  I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”

Meanwhile D’Angelo Russell was all smiles.

“Man, it’s a blessing to be here,” said Russell.

“God is good.  I can’t really put a nail on how I’m feeling right now.  I feel like busting out like a baby in tears.  I feel like being tough, being strong.  I don’t really know how to put a nail on it, but definitely surprised to be here right now.  Just a few months ago I was graduating high school, so to go through a year of college and then be in this position is a blessing, man.”

And now for the first time in his NBA career Kobe Bryant, can take the time to challenge and mentor a young player the way he was meant to. Bryant understands that this is his last season and but this Lakers team is not Championship caliber. He can take the time to mentor Russell the way he has never had the time or opportunity to do so for any other young player. Frankly the Lakers have not had a talented young player like Russell in Bryant’s tenure.

Russell will be the guy in Los Angeles and is considered a great passer. Kobe loves it when you pass. Okafor will be the guy in Philly but he doesn’t have a lot of help.

 

Top Ten MLB Teams in Attendance

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Through Wednesday June 24th 2015

2015 Attendance Home Road Overall
RK TEAM GMS TOTAL AVG PCT GMS AVG PCT GMS AVG PCT
1 LA Dodgers 40 1,860,160 46,504 83.0 31 35,373 78.6 71 41,644 81.3
2 St. Louis 33 1,421,724 43,082 98.0 36 31,400 71.9 69 36,987 84.4
3 San Francisco 35 1,455,131 41,575 99.2 36 35,543 76.0 71 38,516 86.8
4 NY Yankees 33 1,323,344 40,101 80.8 37 26,353 65.4 70 32,834 73.4
5 Boston 34 1,203,737 35,404 94.4 37 32,230 73.3 71 33,750 82.6
6 LA Angels 35 1,212,214 34,634 76.3 36 28,030 65.3 71 31,286 70.9
7 Chicago Cubs 32 1,062,985 33,218 80.7 36 32,920 77.4 68 33,060 78.9
8 Washington 33 1,090,879 33,056 79.6 37 27,793 65.3 70 30,274 72.0
9 Kansas City 35 1,152,676 32,933 86.9 32 28,844 66.1 67 30,980 76.2
10 Detroit 36 1,171,991 32,555 78.9 34 30,597 73.6 70 31,604 76.3

New information shows Pete Rose bet on baseball as a player-a serious knock to his already tarnished credibility

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1986 Betting Log via ESPN
1986 Betting Log via ESPN

Copy of 1986 Betting Log alleged to record bets placed on behalf of Pete Rose, via ESPN

As new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred reviews his lifetime ban from baseball, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, has now uncovered a new record that Pete Rose bet on baseball as a player through a mob connected book maker in 1986. Up until today Major League Baseball was not aware of the record which is contained in a notebook.

As soon as two weeks ago, speaking on the Michael Kay radio show in New York, Rose denies that he ever bet on the game as a player.

In a 2004 interview with Charles Gibson on ABC’s Primetime Rose only admitted to betting on baseball as a manager not a player.

This may all but seal his fate as to have his lifetime ban lifted. ESPN reports that according to sources within Major League Baseball they would be shocked if Rose is reinstated.

Read more at ESPN.com 

Max Scherzer is unhittable and under appreciated

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—Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer has given up one hit in the last 18 innings he has pitched. Saturday afternoon against the Pirates in Washington D.C. he threw a no-hitter, only six days after he struck out 16 and allowed one hit against Milwaukee.

In Saturday’s no hitter against the Pirates, he was one hitter away from throwing a perfect game, if it weren’t for Jose Tabata perhaps intentionally throwing his elbow in the way of a pitch to get on the bases via a hit-by-pitch.

Scherzer went to  the Nationals last winter on a $210 million deal. Among baseball fans he had some notoriety.  But could anyone rightfully say he was a superstar? Was Scherzer considered at the level of Kershaw or have the following of a Justin Verlander whose best days may be behind him. Probably not, but this  should do it.

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian said Scherzer’s last two games of work may be the best two-game span any pitcher has ever put together in the history of the game.

A stat Kurkjian also found extraordinary was Scherzer’s K to walk ratio: 123 strikeouts to 14 walks.

Scherzer’s not a giant personality. The man on the street test would probably produce roughly 1-3% of Americans knowing who the 30-year old Missouri native is.

None the less amongst baseball fans the last 18 innings of pitching brilliance should solidify him as a true pitching superstar of our time.

 

LeBron the coach killer? His ultimate personality flaw

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It goes without saying that LeBron James is not Micheal Jordan.
Two different people, two different players.

But if you were to argue in terms of attitude and all the traditional intangibles that we as American sports fan seem to value one that seems important to us, as fans, is the player-coach relationship.

Micheal Jordan was loyal to Phil. Kobe through all the frustration was loyal to Phil. Magic loyal to Pat Riley. Tim Duncan loyal to Gregg Popovich.

Lebron? see headline Cavs fire Mike Brown to make LeBron James Happy

It’s why Dan Gilbert brought the Brinks truck up to the front door of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Gilbert calculated that Izzo was so big in stature and so secure in his coaching ego and so adept at bringing young not-yet-mature young men into basketball maturity he could do it for LeBron.

The truth and hard evidence that LeBron has an authority problem came out only after the Finals ended: He not only doesn’t respect David Blatt, he bossed him around (the same was suspected about Spoelstra early on in LBJ’s relationship with the Heat coach).

Blatt was just there to roll the balls out at practice.

Cavs GM David Griffin says Blatt has his “support”. Translation: Blatt gets another year for taking a team with two injured superstars to the NBA Finals.

However, if the organization is setup in such a way that Blatt answers to LeBron then likely Griffin answers to LeBron as well. Meaning LeBron has decided to let Blatt stay since Blatt cowered to the King’s demands.

Here’s what Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote on the subject this week:

And we likewise saw LeBron emasculate Blatt in ways that are simply unbecoming of a player of James’ legend-in-the-making stature.

I saw it from close range in my role as sideline reporter through the Finals for ESPN Radio. James essentially called timeouts and made substitutions. He openly barked at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. He huddled frequently with Lue, often looking at anyone other than Blatt.

There was James, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine — which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else.

This doesn’t mean that LeBron is a bad person. In fact, many people view him in fact as a good person, a father a husband. He’s just a coach killer. Yes Blatt will still be the coach next season, but that relationship is gone.

It would take an awful lot for Blatt to really be the coach. Sure LeBron may slowly loosen up some control but ultimately LeBron is calling the shots and Blatt must act in a way that appeases LeBron or he won’t have a job.

David Beckham on FIFA “It is time for FIFA to change”

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Soccer Star David Beckham released the following statement via the Associated Press on Wednesday concerning allegations of misconduct among FIFA officials:

“Some of the things that we now know happened were despicable, unacceptable and awful for the game we love so much.”

 

“Whilst it has not been good to read some of the headlines surrounding our sport recently, I hope at last we are now moving in the right direction.”

“Football is not owned by a few individuals at the top, it belongs to the millions of people around the world who love this sport. It is time for FIFA to change and we should all welcome it.”

Two Thoughts on Mark Jackson

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MJAX

 

 

Disclaimer: I grew in Indiana around the time Mark Jackson made the Indiana Pacers relevant.

Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Donnie Walsh and a host of other personnel had a hand in the team’s overwhelming success in the late 90s’ earlier 2000’s but Jackson made the offense work. He knew when to feed the ball to Rik Smits down-low and how to set up Reggie for the three. He never got enough credit.

Jackson was what we all know and love a point guard to be. Also, from what I’ve seen and heard I believe he’s a very sincere person who wants to help others achieve their dreams, reach their potential, etc. Which leads me too two other points I would like to make about Jackson.

1) He’s the best at taking an NBA telecast to break. Whatever you call it technically in the TV business Jackson’s great at it. Going to commercial ESPN/ABC plays a highlight and Jackson speaks over it. His tempo is almost always on point with the highlight that is showing, and almost always clever and original. “Hand down man down ” is the stuff of legends.

2) He needs to get more credit for what he did for the Warriors as its head coach.  To some Steve Kerr is the genius apparently, but Jackson should get more credit for helping develop Curry, Thompson and Co..Jackson took them to the river, now Kerr has to get them across. Jackson did a lot of leg work.

Jackson should have been given more time in Golden State and if that would have happened I believe he would have had them in the Western Conference finals as does Kerr. I don’t feel bad for him because not a lot of guys get a chance without prior coaching experience but I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he did do with Golden State.

Either way Jackson’s doing a fine job on the ESPN telecast and Kerr is doing a fine job on the Warriors bench.

Tonight’s David Letterman Finale is Generation X’s M.A.S.H.

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letterman

I wanted to write a few things about tonight’s David Letterman finale. I don’t pretend to be a T.V. expert but I will say that Letterman has been my favorite for many years even while others seemed to loathe him.

It was mostly from my grandparents generation downward. My grandpa thought his show stunk and became faithful to Leno, though Carson was really his guy. A friend of my parents was said he thought Letterman was just this goofy guy and just really didn’t enjoy the show. After Letterman made the switch to CBS it became apparent that his bread and butter was going to be with a younger crowd.

Some of the musical acts with Letterman have been legendary and really were the best and brightest of Generation X whatever you define those of use born in the 80s but who came of age in the 90s.

Those acts included Dave Matthews, Weezer, Live, the Foo Fighters and quite a few others. It will be the Foo Fighters who appropriately send David Letterman out tonight with an appearance on his final show.

I’m not sure that Generation X really has a strong voice out there in T.V. Land Jimmy Fallon is one of us but appeals to a different segment. The other Jimmy is slightly older so he surely plans to benefit from Letterman’s exist in terms of viewers. Maybe there’s room somewhere for a fourth talk show host on late night network TV.

I don’t think in terms of numbers it will have as many viewers as M.A.S.H, for one there are so many more entertainment options today, for another Letterman was not as widely appreciated as some would have you believe, he was for a certain type of person. The zany the wacky stuff didn’t always bring him praise for viewers, but he did stand the test of time and developed into an elder-statesmen of late night.

 

 

Report:  Roger Goodell will suspend Tom Brady for DeflateGate 

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roger

According to the New York Daily News, Roger Goodell will issue a suspension of Tom Brady sometime next week for his role in what is now known as “deflate gate”.

Via Source: Myers: Roger Goodell will suspend Tom Brady for DeflateGate – NY Daily News

Our view: The NFL tends to be reactionary of late as to the discipline it hands out. Public sentiment has found Brady guilty of knowing that the footballs were being deflated and that was his request. The NFL is generally interested in generating buzz and dollars a suspension of Tom Brady will help in the Buzz category and probably not hurt the revenue either but in the end the idea that one of the biggest stars in the NFL can be suspended for something seemingly minor still is surprising.

Bill Simmons would be a great fit as a nightly host on Fox Sports1

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simmons

By Travis Duncan

—I don’t agree with everything that Bill Simmons has ever said or written, but I do think he has done more positive than not in his tenure with ESPN.

Friday ESPN announced Simmons will be leaving ESPN when his contract expires in September.

Simmons has done more for ESPN than ESPN has done for Simmons.

ESPN 30 for 30 (which was Simmons idea)has been amazing. The way we look at sports will never be the same, so much truth was brought to our attention and we were able to see much more of the personalities behind the games with this programs.

Grantland has opened the door for long-form sports journalism to be given a broad audience.

Simmons basketball hour was actually entertaining, and a similar concept show for Fox Sports 1 would be nice, encompassing more than just basketball though this time around.

You see Bill Simmons leaving ESPN is more than just one guy leaving, its about competition. ESPN is crushing the competition in so many ways and ultimately setting the tone for sports. ESPN has the ability to kill a story or  give it new life. Sports discussion in this country is determined in Bristol, CT. Many of use would like to see a wider spectrum of ideas and opinions be heard on a national level.

Also we tend to conclude that anyone who doesn’t walk the ESPN line is shown the door. What really happened I get the feeling Simmons will let us know at some point.

Anyhow, my idea for Simmons 11 PM ET nightly talk show which will compete against Sports Center and your late local news..

The show would feature guests, round table discussion, anything Simmons can come up with.

Four shows four nights a week.

Friday night you can show re-runs or whatever you can, MLB Whip around, but a nice show to watch that rivals Sports Center. And i’m sorry FoxSports Live is just a re-verb of other highlight shows. There’s only so many highlights we can watch.

FoxSports 1 make a move.

 

Daily Buzz: LeSean McCoy & Chip Kelly, DeflateGate, Barry Bonds, Bryce Harper and Isiah Thomas

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mccoy

Mike Rodak of ESPN.com got the quote of the spring/summer NFL wise when LeSean McCoy let loose on his former coach Chip Kelly.

“The relationship was never really great,” McCoy said of Kelly (Via ESPN).

“I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that’s the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. There’s a reason. … It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players — the good ones — like that.”

The only problem is that only Chip Kelly knows the motivation, and a lot of times in the NFL its about money and the amount a good player can get on the open market versus the cost to stay where they are, couple that with a new offensive system and you might see it from a different point of view.

An NFL investigation determined New England Patriots personnel knowingly deflated games in the AFC Championship game it was announced Wednesday. The report also found that it was probable that quarterback Tom Brady had some knowledge what had taken place.

-Barry Bonds is supporting women’s cycling. 

-Bryce Harper hit three home runs in three at-bats Wednesday afternoon.

-Why Ken Jenning’s Jeopardy streak is nearly impossible to break.

-The backlash has been pretty strong regarding James’s Dolan decision to make good friend Isiah Thomas the president of WNBA’s New York Liberty. It’s every so often there’s a head scratcher of a hire concerning Thomas who seems to never have found a permanent spot in a post-playing basketball world.

I for one think Thomas is an excellent communicator (how do you think he talks himself into these jobs) and his best spot is as a television analyst.

None the less, the New York Times reports that some WNBA fans find his hire insulting.

In a league that relies on a large female fan base, the inclusion of Thomas, who was involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007, is a puzzling and possibly alienating move to fans and observers of the game.

 

Stat of the evening: Bartolo Colon became the first pitcher to beat another team with seven different teams in the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Orioles

 

 

Daily Buzz Evening Update: Terry Goodwin, Terrelle Pryor, Kaepernick’s Nikes, and the self-proclaimed fastest player in the NFL

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kaepernick

Rated as a five star high school football recruit who has signed a letter of intent to play at Georgia, Terry Goodwin has a try out offer from the Atlanta Braves.

Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

Terry Godwin is a 5-star receiver from Callaway High School, and he signed a football scholarship with UGA last February.

Godwin is also a standout at third base for Callaway’s baseball team. He impressed a few scouts enough to earn an invitation to a pre-draft camp with ot
her prospects with the Braves at Turner Field on May 28.

Former Ohio State standout QB Terrelle Pryor was released by the Kansas City Chiefs today. 

Colin Kaepernick is a fan of Nike shoes to say the least, his shoe collection is pictured below.

Via USA TODAY

kaepernick

A man is suing the New Orleans Zephyrs after he alleges he lost eye sight after being struck by a foul ball, via Nola.com

Minnesota is bidding to host the College Football National Championship game in the Vikings new stadium, via SI.com

And finally Mike Wallace has proclaimed himself the NFL’s fastest player.

Via TwinCities.com (Pioneer Press) 

“Without a doubt, I’m the fastest player in the NFL,’’ Wallace told the Pioneer Press. “If somebody feels foggy about that, we can (race). I’m never going to back down from competition.’’