Monthly Archives: January 2009

Self-fulfilling Prophecies and NHL Round-Up

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Anyone check out ESPN’s “10 Burning Questions” online yet? While the questions are great, and they are questions I think any hockey fan has asked herself (or himself) in the few games since the All-Star break, I’ve got burning question number 11: anyone see a trend in these answers? Scott Burnside and E.J. Hradek are quite clearly taking the easy way out and answering these questions with what they’d like to see happen.

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North Carolina is the REAL Basketball Mecca

For the past 50 or so years, New York has falsely proclaimed itself to be the Mecca of basketball. New York definitely has a rich history and has produced some very good talent to the NBA and streetball scene, but it falls short of the Holy Land of basketball.

That honor belongs to North Carolina. How could you argue against a place that has the most intense rivalry not only in basketball but quite possibly in all of sports? (Or with a place that teaches its kindergardeners that God’s favorite color is Carolina blue.) Tobacco Road is a breeding ground for immaculate talent, immense competitiveness, and the craziest passion for the sport of basketball anywhere on the planet. 

Lets start with the Tar Heels of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Heels boast an all-time winning percentage of 73.6%, a 31 season streak with 20 or more wins (most all-time) and have produced the greatest basketball player ever to play the game. But lets put Michael aside and focus on some of the other greatness to wear the Baby Blue because there is no arguing his place at the top. Some other notable Carolina alumni include current NBA players Antawn Jamison, Brandan Wright, Brendan Haywood, Jerry Stackhouse, Marvin Williams, Rashad McCants, Rasheed Wallace, Raymond Felton, Sean May and “Half Man, Half Amazing” Vince Carter. Also, current NBA coaches who went to UNC are George Karl of the Nuggets and Larry Brown of the Bobcats who both are among the top 15 in total wins as coaches. 

Then there’s Duke (who is puke according to any intelligent native North Carolina basketball fan). Duke has the wildest fans and one of the most historic sporting venues, Cameron Indoor Stadium. They have had great success on the court (now named Coach K Court) as they hold the #2 record for weeks at the #1 spot, with 110 total. They also rank 2nd in Top 25 Poll appearances at 200. The Blue Devils have been coached by Mike Krzyzewski for the past 27 years, and he is considered one of the best coaches ever (at any level). Some notable Blue Devils in the NBA are Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavey Jr., Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Dahntay Jones, Loul Deng, Josh McRoberts, JJ Redick, Sheldon Williams, Shavlik Randolph, and DeMarcus Nelson (most currently).

Other schools in North Carolina don’t quite have the star power as Carolina or Duke but have been very solid over the years. N.C. State had a surprise National Championship win under Jim Valvano in 1983 and have had several memorable players over the years. The Pack has produced talent such as Nate McMillian, Vinny Del Negro, Tom Gugliotta, David Thompson, and Julius Hodge. Another talented team is Wake Forrest, currently #4 in the country. Some of the finest the NBA has ever seen have been Demon Deacons. Some former players include “The Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Rodney Rogers, Muggsy Bogues  and Chris Paul, who is the top point guard in the NBA and well on his way to being one of the PGs ever. 

New York may have legendary playgrounds and the magnificent aura of Madison Square Garden, but it fails to produce a resume that is anywhere near that of North Carolina. Its college teams are slacking, its playground legends are a thing of the past, and the Knicks are…well, the Knicks. If you disagree, find me some facts to back it up. But for now I will continue to proclaim North Carolina as the real Mecca of basketball.

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April Showers Bring May Flowers?

All sports fans love a good controversy, right?  Of course, controversies are a-plenty in the NBA, NFL and let’s not even get started on the steroids drama in the MLB.  But occasionally us NHL fans get a taste of the good stuff too.

Some wonderful things have happened in the NHL recently.  Viewing was at an all-time high for the second annual Winter Classic in Chicago, the NHLPA announced today that the CBA is not going to be reopened until 2012, and things seem to be on track for a spectacular showcase this weekend in Montreal.  

I guess things were just going too well for the NHL.  So Brad May thought he would come along and screw it all up for fun-loving hockey fans everywhere.

Arguably the biggest piece of trash no-talent-yet-big-name hockey player out there is, despite all foreseeable odds, returning to the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  We all know that Toronto is certainly desperate this season; they’ve lost the best player on their team, Mats Sundin, and only a miracle will get them to a wild card spot in the playoffs this season.

So why bring in May?  And why now?  Is Toronto this desperate for publicity?  It’s certainly not May’s skill that will be helping the Leafs on the ice; to date he has 127 goals in 970 games played (to put that in perspective, Keith Tkachuk to date has scored 515 goals in 1,099 games), but has more than 2,130 penalty minutes.  Not something to be proud of, as far as I’m concerned.  

And what is even more disturbing to me is that this was a feature on the NHL’s homepage today (for the unfortunate coverage, visit http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=405778).  It’s not like we haven’t had enough bad publicity lately, what with Sean Avery being, well, Sean Avery and all.  Why would anyone in their right mind be bragging about the fact that a player who once put a price on another player’s head and has one of the league’s longest suspensions is back on the ice?  

Of course, this is where the controversy comes in.  Perhaps the face-slash that May brought upon the nose of Steve Heinze back in 2000 was just an unfortunate high-sticking accident.  Some may say that May has just gotten a bad rap; after all, that whole locker-room-bounty-talk was just talk, perhaps.  And you could even suggest that May’s 2007 hit on Kim Johnsson was just a hockey fight that got a bit too, uh, passionate.  Right?  Wrong.

May has a horrible rap sheet and brings absolutely not value to any NHL team.  The Avalanche made what could be considered the biggest faux-pas in franchise history by signing May back in 2005 after he helped end Steve Moore’s career, and the fans have yet to let May or Francois Giguere forget it.  Every time May touched the puck in the Pepsi Center, even in his burgundy and navy sweater, he was booed heavily.

If the Powers That Be in Toronto think that May could be another Tie Domi, they’ve got another thing coming.  He’s not fun to watch, he’s not even good enough to earn the label of “enforcer” but is rather just a goon, and he certainly won’t be as loyal to Toronto as Domi was.  

Toronto, we know you’re desperate… but as an Original Six team, we expect more of you.  Even as fans of the Avs.

Now Claude Lemieux returning?  I’ll sing a different tune there.  But again, that’s another day and another blog entry.

See you next time hockey fans!  Enjoy the All-Star festivities this weekend, even though we all know Crosby won’t be there now.  And by all means don’t tell me what happens… I’m DVRing the game and will watch it next week when I am back in the States.  I’ll return then with my take on the game.  My prediction?  East will win by two.

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NHL All Star Weekend

This weekend our French speaking, north of the Border, neighbors in Montreal Canada will host the 2009 NHL All Star Game.  There has been some controversy regarding the voting but, that is left to another post especially because I really don’t care.  I think Bettman et al. are going to run the league into the ground and there will be no game in 2010 (Winter Olympics) so who cares what voting procedural changes they make.  We can’t vote again until the 2011 game and everyone will have forgotten this year’s kerfuddle by then anyway.

On to the sports story.

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Mark Schlereth is a sellout…or a very smart man

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Mark Schlereth is a sellout!  Or is he?

When the 3 time Super Bowl Champion (2 with the Broncos, 1 with the Redskins) was last wearing pads and protecting our beloved John Elway, he never spoke a word to the media (a doctrine of Denver Broncos offensive linemen in their championship days).  He was a 6’3″ 290lbs blocking machine from Alaska nicknamed “Stink.”

Nowadays, it’s a little bit of a different story.  Roughly 10 years later the guy is about 70lbs lighter, well groomed and everywhere to be seen!

I’ve put together a little bit of an anecdote for everyone.  Keep in mind, parts of this story are true, parts are fictitious.

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Pregame.com: No Respect for Arizona.

This was all over the Radio this morning. Pregame.com has a report claiming that Arizona would be underdogs against 10 different teams in the Superbowl. 

“In addition to the Steelers, the teams that would currently be favored over Arizona on a neutral field are: Eagles, Giants, Panthers, Cowboys, Ravens, Titans, Colts, Patriots, and Chargers.”

This website, who basically believe they are betting experts, claim that Arizona, coming into the Superbowl, is a worse than ten other football teams. Including three teams they just beat in the playoffs, and two teams who didn’t make the playoffs.

At this point, I would definitely pick AZ over the disintegrating Cowboys who failed to put up any fight over the Eagles when their season was on the line. 

After beating Atlanta, stomping Carolina, and bringing a first-half blowout to the Eagles last week, Pregame.com is making the claim that Arizona is a worse team than those teams. W the F? By my reasoning, which isn’t always the best, beating a team in the playoffs demonstrates that you are able to beat that team. 

Was this website watching the Giants last year? The Giants had a rough regular season (10-6), as did the Cardinals (9-7). But 3-0 in the playoff is what matters. Both teams got hot at the right time. It just goes to show that making a strong finish is just as important, maybe even more important, than starting the season off on the right foot. Don’t believe me? Give Mike Shanahan a call. 

I understand that they are underdogs against the Steelers, but this report is just a slap in the face to these Cardinal players who are beginning to change the culture of futility in Arizona. The franchise has had a rough time the last 30 years, but the fact is: not one player on that team will be thinking about the history of the franchise when they come out on the field in Tampa Bay. 

Pregame.com: FAIL. If I were a betting man, your advice would be the last I would take.

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Barack Obama’s Inauguration and College Football Playoffs

While I avoid claiming partisan support for any political party, we can all respectfully agree with Mr. Obama’s opinion of the state of the BCS system. With his inauguration today, and his support for a college football playoff system, we are reminded of the need to fix this broken system. People from Utah, Texas and Southern California would tend to agree: The time for change has come my friends.

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