Monday Morning Coffee

USA v Portugal: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

June 23rd, 2014

How did we blow it?  The United States was oh so close to advancing past the “Group of Death” in the 2014 World Cup, until Portugal tied it in the last 30 seconds yesterday.  I guess that’s why you have to play hard for 90 minutes… whatever they throw on the clock for stoppage time.  I’m sure when Portugal scored that game tying goal, Tony Romo was saying “now they know how I feel!”  Meanwhile, the Miami Heat fans were trying to figure out whether they should be buying USA or Portugal jerseys.  A win against Portugal would have meant that Thursday’s game against Germany would have been meaningless, and the US could have rested players.  Instead, both teams need a win or tie to advance.  Hopefully Jurgen Klinsmann has called his fellow Germans and negotiated a tie with them.

I don’t even really like soccer, or football, or whatever the rest of the world is calling it.  However, how can one not get caught up in Team USA’s World Cup run?  Not watching is simply un-American.  What’s even better is that were watching a team that is a huge underdog, yet they are more than holding their own with some of the most talented teams in the world….well at least according to the FIFA rankings.  Now we all just have to figure out some ridiculous excuse to get out of work on Thursday to watch the game against Germany.

With the NBA draft approaching on Thursday, this is going to be an interesting week for the Lakers.    They are currently trying to decide whether to keep the 7th pick, or trade it.  One rumor that is floating around is the idea the Lakers would trade the pick to Golden State for Klay Thompson, which would also facilitate a Kevin Love trade to the Warriors.  That trade would be a tragedy if it occurs.  Klay Thompson is a nice role player, but he’s likely already reached his peak.  He’s also due for a big extension in a few months.  When you are rebuilding your team, you don’t build around expensive role players.  The 7th pick is going to have way more value and potential.  Another tragedy would be if the Lakers were to select Joel Embiid if he falls to the 7th spot.  I had my doubts about his health with his back injury, and now you add a foot injury to that?  No thanks.  I’ll take my chances with Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, or Aaron Gordon.

I’m officially concerned about Kobe Bryant, and what he has left in the tank.  Recently, U.S. Soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann compared leaving Landon Donavan off the U.S. Soccer team to giving Kobe Bryant a $48 million contract.  Klinsmann said keeping stars past their prime is an American thing, and that “it makes no sense”.  Kobe responded last week by saying his comments were “commical”, and that Klinsmann fails to realize it’s about “rewarding players for what they have done while balancing the team going forward.”  That’s it?? That’s all he had to say??  That’s not the Black Mamba we all know.  The old Black Mamba would have said something like “wait until I’m  dropping 30 points a night and getting first team all NBA this year then we’ll see how he feels”.  The older Kobe is now questioning his own basketball mortality, which doesn’t bode well.

As for the Clippers, they are very quietly targeting Lebron James in free agency, if he opts out of his contract.  It’s going to take moving mountains to get this done, but Lebron would have to call the Clippers, and tell him he’s coming.  At that point, the Clippers would have to trade DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, and Jared Dudley to teams with salary cap space.  The Clippers ownership situation would have to be resolved as well for Lebron to make the move as well.  It’s a stretch, but don’t rule it out.  Lebron’s best move is still sticking with the Heat.  He’s simply going to hurt his legacy by continuing to move from one franchise to another, where he can play on a stacked team.  The 80’s Lakers and Celtics, and the 90’s Bulls had years where they didn’t win the NBA Finals, but Magic, Larry, and Michael never left for a better situation.  It’s no wonder Pat Riley told everyone to “get a grip” last week.

The Kings are partying their ass off after winning the Stanley Cup, and rightfully so.  This year’s parade in downtown might have looked weak, but that’s because of the serious crowd control the LAPD put into effect.  There were still 500,000 people that showed up, plus another 20,000 for the rally at Staples.  Then there was a 2nd parade that went through Hermosa, Manhattan, and Redondo Beach, which had another strong turnout.  That was a brilliant idea, which allowed the fans to get even closer to the players over a much bigger area, and great for the players to since nearly all of them live in those three cities.  There’s nothing like partying in your own backyard.   LA may not be a “hockey town” but that doesn’t mean the Kings don’t have a very strong, loyal following.  That following has been there for the last 40 years.   Poor Jonathan Quick though.  They told him he couldn’t speak at the rally this year because he dropped an F-bomb at the 2012 rally.  So Mayor Garcetti steps up to the mic and says this…….

Smart move by Dean Lombardi to hang on to Mike Richards and not buy him out.  He stepped up his game in the playoffs, and played a big leadership role in the dressing room.  Richards also told Lombardi that it isn’t his age or injury that caused him to have a poor regular season.  Its that he simply wasn’t preparing like a 29 year old should, as opposed to cutting corners in training like he could when he was 22.  In other words, he was partying too hard.  I’m sure Lombardi appreciated his candor, and hopefully he returns to the Mike Richards of a few years ago.  However, I’m not sure the partying is going to stop since he just won another cup.  Here they were in Vegas a few days ago…….

Cup in Vegas

On to baseball, where the Dodgers are trying to chase down the Giants in the NL West.  The boys in blue took 2 out of 3 from the Padres, but Kenley Jansen choked away a two run lead on Friday night, which would have put the Dodgers just 3 games back of the struggling Giants.  Even though LA is 7-3 in their last 10 games, they still haven’t won more than 3 in a row.  On the bright side, Clayton Kershaw showed us all earlier in the week, how lucky we are to watch him pitch every 5 days.  Kershaw pitched one of the most brilliant no-hitters against the Rockies, and frankly, it should have been a perfect game.  Hopefully LA won’t waste his brilliance by underachieving the rest of the way.

As for the Angels, it’s good to finally see them taking care of the Rangers.  It feels like Texas has really had the Halos number the last few seasons, but after the Angels swept a 3 game set this weekend, it now feels like the tables have turned.  The starting pitching is holding up, the offense is clicking, and the Halos lead the Wild Card.  The only bad news is their bullpen seems determined to lose games, and sometimes Mike Scioscia does too.  What happened to the brilliance of Scioscia?  This guy used to be considered the best skipper in baseball.  Now he seems to make questionable decision after questionable decision.  Are there any managers available at the trade deadline???



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