Hello, bloggers and bloggettes! Today, we are going to play a game! Here are the numbers for four hall of fame centers and Dwight Howard, all from the ages 22-26. Ready, go!
Player A: 23.0 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 52% field goals
Player B: 27.0 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 57% field goals
Player C: 20.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 59% field goals
Player D: 21.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 53% field goals
Player E: 24.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.1 blocks, 54% field goals
Player A is Hakeem Olajuwon, Player B is Shaquille O’Neal, Player C is Dwight Howard, Player D is Patrick Ewing, and Player E is David Robinson.
In my opinion, those are the best five centers since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Dwight Howard is certainly in the same conversation with these men at this point. Howard tops the group in rebounds per game and field goal percentage, and blocks more shots than Shaq. Although Dwight is at the bottom of the list in points per game, none of these players peaked in scoring until they were all between the ages of 27-31. That’s right, Dwight Howard should, if history is indicative of future performance, be entering his prime as a basketball player.
Scary, right? How valuable would Dwight Howard be if he averaged 25-14-4 while doubling as the leagues top defensive player?
Rumor has it that Dwight Howard wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. I understand this thinking. The threesome of Deron Williams, newly-acquired Joe Johnson, and Howard would prove to be a formidable tandem. Who wouldn’t want to play in Brooklyn’s new $1 billion dollar arena? There’s no doubt that Dwight Howard could go on and have a hall of fame career there.
But that’s not the right move.
The right move is to pack up his bags and head to Los Angeles. In purple and gold, Howard could follow in the footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal and become Hollywoods new #1 star. He could play with Kobe Bryant (imagine the pick and rolls… and rebound opportunities). He has a chance to expand upon his legacy by bringing a couple titles to the storied Laker franchise. For the Lakers, his career would be certified. No more dunk contest – spectacle wearing – big teddy bear – blue and silver pinstripes. No, that Dwight Howard is gone. The new Dwight Howard catches lobs at the rim and high-fives Jack Nicholson sitting courtside. Why wouldn’t Howard want to be apart of that tradition?
And what if the Lakers make a run at Steve Nash?! Kobe, Nash, and Howard would have to be considered in the same ballpark as Wade-James-Bosh, right? They may, actually, be a more conventional fit as a threesome. Point guard, scoring guard, big guy. Nobody would step on anyone else’s toes. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Or maybe it’s a championship formula.
Come on, big guy. Fly up to L.A. and feel the California love!
Tiger Woods won the AT&T National at Congressional this past weekend. He shot 8 under 276 for the tournament, and fought off a furious charge by runner-up Bo Van Pelt on the final day to claim his third PGA tour victory of the season.
“I think he’s the only guy to win three tournaments on tour this year, is that correct?” Bo Van Pelt said following Sunday’s round. “On three different golf courses. And he was leading the U.S. Open after two days. So I’d say that he’s playing the best golf in the world right now.”
You can say that again.
Tiger Woods has won three of the seven events he has played in this year. That number is staggering. Do you know how many Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Bubba Watson have combined? Zero.
Golf needs Tiger Woods. Professional golf is a sport unlike basketball, football, and baseball. Golf doesn’t have the luxury of marketable superstars. There are no Kobe Bryant’s, Derrick Rose’s, Dwyane Wade’s, or Dwight Howard’s. No Tom Brady’s, Adrian Peterson’s, or Tim Tebow’s. Golf is a game played by mostly middle-aged men dressed in polo shirts and long pants. It’s a gentleman’s sport in an ungentlemanly time in America. Would the average viewer rather watch Russell Westbrook throw down a viscous tomahawk jam, Sidney Crosby skate around two defenders and sneak a wrister past a flailing goalie, or a 38 year old white guy sink a 12 foot birdie putt? Come on.
Casual fans of golf want to watch Tiger Woods. Sure, it’s great when Jason Dufner does something good. But Tiger Woods is professional golf. If Woods is still in the hunt on Sunday afternoon, all television sets turn to watch him play. He’s the only one on Earth who exacts such a reaction from people. If Woods is down four strokes at the beginning today, what do we assume? We predict that he is going to birdie six of the next nine holes and get himself back in the game. It’s what we’re accustomed to. He is the only golfer capable of things that we’ve never seen before. When he was at the peak of his playing career, he won the US Open by fifteen strokes. That’s right, he beat the best players in the world by fifteen strokes.
Even if he is not at that level of dominance yet, he’s still a rockstar. ESPN covers him like CNN covers Obama. When Woods is playing well, he’s the eye of the sporting world. He’s Michael Jordan. The unequivocal, unarguable best player in his sport. It’s exciting for us because, frankly, sports fans are front runners. We forgave him for cheating on his wife with multiple prostitutes because he swings a hefty four iron. That’s our society. Michael Vick counted his stacks of cash while puppies ripped each other apart. The dude spends 20 months in prison and all of a sudden Michael Vick is the #1 player drafted in Fantasy Football. When Tiger wins his first major since 2008 (and don’t kid yourself, it’s going to happen), sports writers will be drooling over the story line.
As for Tiger, all he needs to do is to keep playing golf the way he knows how to play it. Nobody is better than he is. Let’s be honest- if you were at gunpoint, and had to pick one player to win the British Open later this month, you’d pick Woods. Not only that, you’d feel pretty good about your pick.
Yup, he’s back.
Russell Westbrook is doing a better Kobe Bryant impersonation (in his role as super sidekick) than even Bryant himself. In this years finals, Westbrook is posting 27 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds per game. He has played 84 out of a possible 96 minutes during the series. He has harassed Dwyane Wade up and down the court on defense, frustrating the superstar into shooting 43% from the floor. He has dazzled crowds with his breathtaking athleticism, turbo charged speed, and acrobatic assaults on the rim.
So why is Westbrook public enemy #1?
You see, Russell Westbrook shares a locker room with one of the three or four greatest wing scorers of all time. The list of people in the conversation? Jordan, Iverson, Kobe, Jerry West… the group is exclusive. If you have ever seen Durant play, you know that he glides around the court, effortlessly finding his spots and elevating for that buttery-smooth jumper. Nobody can stop him from getting his shot off- he has good lift and stands a gargantuan 6’10. He is the only superstar who can score 35 points and have announcers shrug it off as ‘a quiet 35’. Durant was made to score points like Martin Luther King Jr. was meant to lead.
And so when Russell Westbrook barrels down the floor at 100 mph, throws his body into the heart of the defense, and misses a difficult layup as Durant stands by idly, it is hard not to become frustrated. If Steve Nash were at the helm, wouldn’t Durant be averaging 40 points by now?
The problem is, Russell Westbrook is very good at basketball. Very, very good. He’s an NBA all star. He’s an Olympian. He’s a Youtube hall of famer. The Thunder need him. He’s arguably the best second-best player in the NBA. As Bill Simmons put it:
Westbrook is like a crazy relative you’d invite to your Thanksgiving dinner. He brings the Thanksgiving Turkey, the buttery rolls, the sweet potatoes, and a homemade cranberry sauce. But, he goes home with the gravy and the stuffing. Without him, theres no turkey. But with him, you don’t have the luxury of enjoying two key elements of a thanksgiving feast.
Doesn’t that make sense? Westbrook brings unparalleled athletic ability, pestering defense, and about 20-25 points to the table. He takes away about 5-7 open looks for Durant each game, though. Durant has the ability to go off for 45 each night, but that’s not when the Thunder are at their best. Westbrook could do his thing, and shoot the rock 25 times, but that isn’t it either. The Thunder must find a way in which both of their superstars can remain aggressive and not step on each other’s toes. Unfortunately for Westbrook, he must be the one to adapt. If Thunder management is made to choose between the two, Durant is going to win, and Russell will be packing his bags. He must adjust carefully. Less pull up jumpers, more penetration. If he wants more shots, he should push the ball up the floor. If the Thunder are in a half court set, he needs to be content playing off the ball and letting the offense run through Durant. #35 eats first.
If the Thunder can figure out their alpha dog issues, they could potentially be a dynasty in the making.
As for the rest of us? We can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the performance. I don’t know about you, but now I’m craving a thanksgiving turkey.
Yeah, Tim Wakefield wasn’t very good in his final seasons with the Red Sox as evidenced by his 11-18 record, 5.23 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 44 home runs allowed since 2010. He’d be a plug-in starter every 2-3 weeks, giving Beckett or Lester an extra day of rest. Nobody bought a Red Sox ticket and thought:
“Sweet! Wakefield’s on the mound!”
He couldn’t sneak his 77 mph fastball past a high school JV player, he was fairly predictable, he never showed emotion, he happens to be a part of one of the most dreadful moments in Red Sox history (Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run), and you could never watch a Wakefield at-bat without thinking ‘Golly, if A-Rod connects on that ball it’s never coming back.’
All of these things are true. It was time for Timmy to go. But Red Sox Nation will never forget Wakefield.
We were with him after he lost Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. We watched his knuckle-ball get belted over so many fences. We watched Doug Mirabelli scamper after countless passed balls because he, like everyone else, had no idea where the knuckle-ball was going to land. We watched him flounder for seven starts without recording that elusive 200th victory. He got it, and we were there. We were loyal to Wakefield because he was loyal to us.
And the knuckle-ball. Today, pitchers are evaluated in high school. If they can blow fastballs past 17 year olds – who are more worried about handing in chemistry homework than that particular at-bat - they have ‘potential’. They later develop a change up, a curveball, and probably another off speed pitch. Tim Wakefield did things the other way. He lulled you to sleep with his soft, fluttery, dead-spin pitch. He didn’t rely on sheer power and speed off his pitch, he relied on ground balls, fly outs, his defense, and the occasional swing-and-a-miss strikeout in which the batter can’t believe how he whiffed at such a meatball.
Tim Wakefield isn’t a hall of famer. Hell, many people outside of New England probably don’t know much about him. He’s that guy who throws the knuckle, right? To Red Sox fans, Wakefield was more than that. We loved him. Him retiring signals the end of a chapter in Sox history.
And the death of the knuckle ball.
Happy days, everyone!
Giants-Patriots. A rematch of 2007. Brady vs Eli. Brady vs his own legacy. Eli vs his older brothers legacy. Belichick vs Coughlin. Pass Rush vs Pass Game. The Spirit of Myra Kraft vs. The forces of Evil. So many underlying themes and juicy story lines.
But hey, there’s still a football game to be played. No matter what the talking heads in Bristol, Connecticut try to tell you.
Here are things we know about Sundays game:
1: Somebody will win, somebody will lose.
2: There will be about three quality commercials and about fourteen-fifteen absolute flops.
3: Madonna will be a disappointing halftime show.
4: Rob Gronkowski, if he plays, will NOT be 100%.
5: Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Eli Manning
6: Bill Belichick is a better coach than Tom Coughlin
7: The Giants have more talented defensive players than the Patriots
8: The game is being played in Indianapolis – which does NOT favor New England.
9: Lots of people will be watching the game.
10: Whoever scores more points wins.
Other than that, who knows? Everyone wants to talk about the Giants pass rush versus the New England offensive line. The ‘football experts’, as they fondly call themselves, predict that New England will win the game if Tom Brady has time to sit in the pocket, make his reads, and throw the ball.
No, shit. Really?
If you gave, like, 24 of the quarterbacks in the NFL time to throw- they are going to beat you. If Tom Brady gets to lounge in the pocket all day OF COURSE New England’s offense will be successful! Isn’t it easier to complete passes if you aren’t running for your life with Jason Pierre-Paul in hot pursuit?
They also say things like If the Giants can control the ball, eat clock, and get the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands, they will win the game. Once again, thank you very much for this breaking news. If the Giants win the games within the game – turnovers, time of possession, etc – they will probably be successful. That’s not news. Belichick knows it. Coughlin knows it. That applies to every football game ever played. If the Giants were playing the Alabama Crimson Tide and ‘Bama controlled the ball, ate clock, and didn’t let Manning have any good looks then ‘Bama would win! It’s football.
I’ve gotta make a prediction for this game, well, because everyone else is doing it. I see this game being close, down-to-the-wire, nail biting, intense… basically everything a Super Bowl should be. These two teams are the last standing after a long and violent NFL season. Neither team will give any ground. Both the Giants and the Patriots have had an extra week to prepare for each other. This will result in a low scoring game, because both defenses will be well prepared.
The pick: 24-21 New England
Myra Kraft prevails.
I hope everyone has an awesome Superbowl Sunday!
Kobe Bryant is 33 years old. He has played over 40,000 minutes in his NBA career. That’s 16 seasons of hard drives to the rim, fall away jumpers, and tenacious defense. He’s accumulated a grand total of 21,578 field goal attempts, and almost as many minor knee, ankle, and wrist surgeries. In theory, Kobe Bryant is at the end of a spectacular NBA career.
Kobe Bryant defies such theories.
Despite a balky wrist and a recently operated on knee, Kobe Bryant is averaging 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in this young NBA season. If this torrid rate continues, these would be amongst the best overall numbers of Bryant’s career. So, what gives?
There has been much talk recently about Kobe’s high volume of shots, with naysayers claiming that Kobe is playing angry and trying to prove a point to his critics – to the chagrin of his teammates. His usage rate is the highest of any player in NBA history, and he’s had six games this year in which he’s attempted more than 23 field goals. Yikes.
But Kobe is also shooting at an incredibly high clip for a perimeter player. Take away his two rough outings vs. Denver (a combined 12-46) and he’s connected on 79 of 162 shots (49%). Also, Bryant has averaged 5.8 assists per game, his highest amount since 2004.
I attribute Kobe’s early statistically explosion to Mike Brown. In Phil Jackson’s system, Kobe did not have the ball in his hands nearly as often as he does now, and when his point primarily came due to the flow of the triangle offense. Also, Phil Jackson limited Kobe to playing 33.9 minutes per night, whereas Brown has given his star a bit more freedom- 36.0 so far this season. Don’t forget about the departure of Lamar Odom, who averaged around 10 points per game for the Lakers during his tenure. Odom was never afraid to shoot the rock, even when Kobe was calling for the ball. Steve Blake and Devin Ebanks may be a little more apprehensive.
In Mike Brown’s offense, Kobe finds himself catching the ball in his scoring spots. On the blocks (Brown calls this the “Karl Malone spots”) , on the elbows, and at the top of the key. This is where Kobe feels most comfortable and is most effective. He is rarely in screen and roll situations where he can be easily double teamed. He doesn’t see as many isolations on the wing where he can be the victim of his own aggression to score and help side defenders. He also is organically discouraged to shoot three point jump shots due to his role in the offense, although he’s still finding a way to jack over 4 per night. Kobe is not having to fight for catches and when he has the ball, he is usually only opposed with one defender. This is where he can use his incredible skill set to score or get to the free throw line (8 attempts per game).
Kobe needs a lot of points (about 10,000) to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all time leading scorer. Why can’t he do it? Michael Jordan averaged 20 points per game as a 39 year old for the Washington Wizards. That’s six more seasons for Kobe! Assuming he plays 75 games a year (a conservative guesstimate) for the next six seasons, averaging 23 points (again, a low number) he would finish his career with 38,750 points- the most in NBA history.
It’s about 9:34 PM on a frigid winter night in Maine. What is a guy to do?
Write a preview of the first round of the NFL playoffs! That’s what!
Below are my picks and a brief analysis of each matchup. I guarantee I will go 4-0 or your money back.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans- As little faith as I have in Andy Dalton (fine, the “Red Rifle”), I have even less faith in TJ Yates. I mean, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 5 fumbles in five full starts this year? The Texans can run the ball and rush the passer, but I like the Bengals- who went 9-7 in the best division in football. The pick? 20-17 CIN
Detroit @ New Orleans- This game has the makings of a shootout (Saints: 334 passings yards per game, Lions: 301 passing yards per game), so I’ll take the Saints, mostly because the Detroit defense is ranked 22nd in the league in pass defense. I have to thank Calvin Johnson, though, for a good season in fantasy (90 catches, 1600+ yards, 16 touchdowns). By the way, this is the very first game in NFL history pitting two 5,000 yard throwers against one another. The pick? 35-27 NO
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants- I really like this Giants team. Eli Manning has two very dangerous weapons in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. If they get a quick lead, watch out – because their pass rush is formidable. I see Matt Ryan pulling a 17-28, 210 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. It’d be very tempting to get into a gunfight with the Giants, but that’s the wrong move. If Atlanta has a chance to win this game, it’s if they pound the rock with Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers and sit behind that stone wall run defense (6th best in the NFL). The pick? 32-24 NYG
Pittsburgh @ Denver- The dumbest rule in the NFL- the 12-4 Steelers (who played Baltimore and Cinncy twice apiece) have to travel to Denver to play the 8-8 Broncos. Ryan Clark won’t be present for the game due to a dangerous blood disease, but I still like the Steelers. Don’t forget, however, that Denver is capable of hanging around in this game. And we all know that Tebow is invincible in the fourth quarter. Wait, what did you say? He’s not anymore? That stopped? Huh. The pick? 28-16 PIT
Basketball is in full swing and the NFL playoffs are about to commence. It’s good to be a sports fan right about now!