February 10th, 2014
It’s gotten really bad for the Lakers, but it just hasn’t gotten bad enough. Early last week, it looked like the Lakers were well on their way to free falling all the way to the third worst record in the league. This is exactly what they needed, to continue to lose to position themselves for a top 3 pick in this summer’s NBA draft. However, several players foolish pride took over, and LA came away with wins agains the floundering Cavs, and 76ers, before losing to the Bulls yesterday. So how’s that rebuilding job going in Cleveland? They couldn’t even beat the Lakers, when LA was down to 5 players. That situation could only occur in a game where Mike D’Antoni was coaching against Mike Brown. That game reminded me of a bad horror film. I’m thinking worse than Freddy vs Jason. Obviously, there are several teams taking their tanking efforts far more seriously than the Lakers. Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss had better start shipping out a few more players, if they are serious about their own rebuilding job.
It’s one thing for the older players like Kobe, Nash, and Gasol to suffer injuries at this point in the twilight of their careers. However, aren’t most of you wondering why younger players, like Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, and Nick Young are getting injured as well? Do you really think this is just one big ugly coincidence? Far from it. Mike D’Antoni’s ridiculous, run and gun style, is driving his players into the ground. He wants to play at a furious pace, which is taking a toll on both his older and younger players. That’s not even taking into account the horrendous defense that results from his silly style of play. The players are so tired of D’Antoni, Steve Blake’s was thrilled he ruptured his ear drum against Cleveland, so he wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore. D’Antoni’s act has become very old with the fans, it’s simply a matter of when it wears out with the front office. Oh, and as I predicted, Nash is injured again, less than one week after returning.
Meanwhile, the Clippers got Chris Paul back yesterday, and then demolished the 76ers. Blake Griffin has been killing it, and could even be making a case to be an MVP candidate. As Blake continues to take his game to new levels, some ridiculous rumors began surrounding the Clippers last week, especially with the Miami Heat coming to down. ESPN writer, Brian Windhorst, who has been sniffing Lebron James jock strap since he entered the NBA, wrote a piece about how Lebron could consider forcing a sign and trade to the Clippers this summer. Windhorst explained that sources close to Lebron have told him that this summer, all 30 teams are an option if he wants to play for any one of them, and that his close friendship with Chris Paul could be the deciding factor. Windhorst suggested that Blake Griffin could be headed to Miami in that sign and trade.
So let me get this straight Brian Windhorst. Lebron James is going to leave a team that has won two, possibly three straight NBA titles, and force his way way out of Miami, just to play with his buddy? I’m sure he’s just going to walk into Pat Riley’s office in June, and say “look Riles, you better trade me to the Clippers right now, or else I’m going to sign with Milwaukee or Cleveland!!” I’m sure Riley will fall out of his chair laughing at that point. Just because Lebron’s people use Windhorst as a mouthpiece, doesn’t mean that Windhorst is excused from using his brain when writing. Go back to HomeTown Buffet Brian, and stop wasting our time with your ridiculous columns.
On to the college ranks, where the Bruins and Trojans battled it out at the Galen Center on Saturday night. UCLA defeated USC for the 2nd time this season on the hardwood, by a score of 83-73. Norman Powell exploded for the first time since he was playing high school ball, with 21 points, and the Bruins maintained their grip on 2nd place in the Pac 12. This was a reminder of what we’ve been seeing all season long from these two squads. The Bruins can score in bunches, but they are still allergic to playing defense, and their coaching is mediocre at best. Sometimes it feels like Steve Alford and his two sons were sent by the Trojans to sabotage the program. As for USC, the Trojans simply lack the talent on their squad right now, and one has to wonder whether Andy Enfield was hired any reason, other than for all of us to stare at his hot wife during the games.
USC may have lost the battle on the basketball court this weekend, but they did win the football recruiting battle with UCLA last week. The Trojans somehow, pulled off the 10th best recruiting class in the nation, while the Bruins had to settle for the 18th best class according to rivals.com . The fact SC was able to do this while hiring Steve Sarkisian at the end of the season was remarkable. Sark just finished putting together his coaching staff a few weeks ago, yet he still managed to steal 3 of Southern California’s top high school players away from UCLA: Serra’s Adoree’ Jackson (defensive back), Long Beach Poly’s JuJu Smith, and St. John Bosco’s Damien Mama (offensive lineman). The Bruins should have had a top 10 recruiting class, and they are a year away from going back to a program without a quarterback. UCLA will likely have a better football team than USC next year, but Sark has made a statement that it may not be long before the Trojans turn things around.
Speaking of football, I’m not really sure why everyone is making such a big deal about Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchasing 60 acres of land in LA recently. This is nothing more than another attempt by an NFL owner to use LA as leverage for a better stadium deal with the city their team currently resides in. The sixty acres of land isn’t even enough to build a new football stadium on, and even if it was, I’m sure the FAA would have something to say about it, since the stadium would be right in the path of all those LAX flights. Kroenke is the 2nd wealthiest owner in the NFL, and he’s asking the city of St. Louis for public funding for a new stadium, which the city refuses to give him. Look Stan, if you want to move the Rams back to LA, go right ahead, but you won’t see a single dollar from the tax payers for a new stadium. You’ll also have to deal with a hefty relocation fee from the owners. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 10 times, shame on me. The NFL isn’t coming back to LA anytime soon.
Spring is right around the corner, and that means one thing: pitchers and catchers have begun reporting for spring training. You know….pitchers? Those critical players that are vital to a baseball teams success, which the Angels can’t seem to find any of these days. With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report on Thursday, the Halos are going to be relying heavily on the likes of Garret Richards, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs. The odds of one of them being pretty successful is reasonable. The odds of two being successful is fair. The odds of all three being successful are the same as the odds of a successful Kardashian marriage. The Angels really don’t want to take their chances with signing either Chris Capuano, Joe Saunders, or even Johan Santana? The Halos seem to be in “win-now” mode, but they also seem to be caught between not wanting to exceed the luxury tax and winning with the group they have now. When you consider that Mike Trout needs to be paid big bucks really soon, it’s scary to think this team can’t even afford a real #3 starter right now.
Let’s go to the ice where mercifully, the LA Kings have reached the Olympic break. The Kings salvaged a win on Thursday against Columbus, but they’ve only won two of their last 10 games, and are barely holding onto playoff spot in the West. The Kings are the best defensive team in hockey, but they are almost the worst offensive team as well. Dean Lombardi is feverishly scrambling for goal scoring help, but acquiring the likes of Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, or even Michael Cammalleri will be challenging given the team’s salary cap restraints. LA will have 23 games left to get their shit together, and keep in mind, 7 of the last 13 are on the road. Hopefully when the Kings return to action, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams start scoring, because right now, the team is about as exciting to watch as monkeys slinging poo at each other in a zoo.
Meanwhile, the Ducks cooled off quite a bit at the Olympic Break, losing 4 of their last 6 games. That also included a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks earlier in the week at the Honda Center. Anaheim enters the break with a 3 point lead in the Western Conference, and they will need home ice advantage to give themselves every edge they can come playoff time. With seven Olympians, a key question for the Ducks will be how much fatigue plays a factor during the rest of the NHL season. Make no mistake about it, Canada and the US will be playing deep into the Olympic tournament, and at a playoff level intensity. Will the three extra weeks of hockey take its toll on the likes of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Cam Fowler? I suppose the same question can be asked for any team sending key players to the Olympics, but since the Ducks have had their recent share of playoff futility, it’s a far more critical question.
As an American whose uncle won a bronze medal during the 1952 Summer Olympics, I absolutely love watching both the winter and summer games. I thought the opening ceremony on Friday was masterfully done, and did a great job incorporating numerous elements of Russian history and culture. I realize that each of these opening ceremonies tries to “out-do” the previous one, however, each one should be evaluated on it’s own merit. I was extremely disappointed that the NHL did shut down their season a few days earlier to allow the players to walk in the opening ceremony. I get that the league was reluctant to let the players participate, but if they were going to let them play, then at least let them get the full experience. Despite the greatness of the opening ceremony, I’m shocked as to how unprepared the city was for the games, and the hotels in particular. If we are going to continue to award the games to these 2nd world countries, then the IOC better be damn sure they are prepared. Here’s just a small taste of some of the athletes complaints about the hotels….
…With no phone to call for help, I used my bobsled push training to break out.
I must say, that I am really going to miss Jay Leno. He’s been doing The Tonight Show for the last 22 years on NBC, which is basically my entire life. Part of me does really wonder if Leno is really retiring this time, especially after what we saw with the whole Conan O’Brien fiasco a few years ago. With the send-off Jay received on his final show, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be returning. In any case, I think Jimmy Fallon is in a far better position to succeed than Conan was when Leno was pushed out a few years ago, and this should be a far smoother transition. Although I will miss Jay, I will have no problem tuning in to watch Fallon late night.
Now that Missouri Defensive end Michal Sam has come out of the closet, is Manti Teo next?
And finally, last night The Walking Dead returned from it’s winter hiatus. This episode really snuck up on all of us, but glad to have the show back. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see last night’s episode. The show began with Michonne walking through the carnage that remained at the prison. She quickly traps two walkers, and leaves the prison with them jawless and armless, and as her pets on leashes. This was exactly how we first met Michonne, with two pet walkers. She also comes across Hershel’s decapitated head, and sticks her Katana blade through it. In this show, that actually passes for a form of endearment. Meanwhile, Rick and Carl stumble upon a nice house, which they make shelter in. Rick is in bad shape after the Prison fight, and passes out. Walkers try to break in the house, and while Rick is passed out, Carl goes outside to fight them himself. Although he succeeds, he barely survives. Carl comes back to yell at his father while he’s passed out, scolding him for failing to protect the group, and shouting that he is capable of surviving without him. Later on, Carl looks like he’s going to shoot his dad when he thinks he’s turned into a walker, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Turns out Rick was just fine anyway.
Meanwhile, Michonne is off wondering in the woods with “her pets”, and simultaneously hacking up walker after walker. We come to learn through a flashback, that she and her boyfriend, Mike, had a child and somewhere along the way, with a few bad decisions, her two loved ones were lost. Michonne is dreaming of this flashback in the car, and wakes up in a cold sweat. Although the details are fuzzy, I’m sure we’ll learn more on this later. The episode ends with Michonne finding Rick and Carl at the house.
This episode didn’t necessarily contain any shocking events, but it contained an interesting look into the characters of Michonne and Carl. Carl spends much of the episode in anger, for all the loss he has experienced, and channeling that anger toward his dad. He’s also angry because his dad held him back from being a man in such a cruel world. By the end of the episode, Rick and Carl seem to look at the past with sadness, but no longer with any blame. It’s almost a fresh start for the two of them. As for Michonne, we see her taking out her anger on all of the walkers by taking them out “Kill Bill Style” with her Katana Blade. We see that all her anger is coming from the repeated trauma and tragedy that she is constantly faced with from the loss of her boyfriend, her son, and some of her friends at the prison. However, by the end, she seems ready to move forward in this devastatingly cruel world. A very good return for The Walking Dead, and looking forward to more episodes!