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On Relocation, Part 3-of-4: The National Basketball Association

In NBA on June 29, 2012 at 9:02 am

With the NBA draft behind us, and free agency fast approaching, I thought I would use the next portion of my four-part series to discuss the merits of a few NBA teams packing up and finding a new home.

NBA team location map, as of 2012.

There are a few teams that need to relocate (New Orleans, Cleveland), due to how their cities are no longer economically viable enough to host multiple professional sports teams. There are places like Indiana, who might be too small of a market to support a basketball team and a football team. There are places like Memphis, who might be too small to support any team.

No matter what though, in these locations there exists an invested interested by David Stern to keep these teams in their respective homes. Because of that, teams like the Hornets, Cavs, Pacers and Grizzlies aren’t even worth discussing in this forum. Why waste my figurative breath?

Instead, I’m going to comment on one team that potentially is already on the move, and two teams that should move, not because of the economic wellbeing of their community, or their community’s size, but because their location makes no sense whatsoever in regards to equality of resources.

With that said, here goes the list.

1. Sacramento Kings

This choice is unfortunate, because in the early 2000’s the Kings were a great team, and as a consequence, the city of Sacramento managed to let everyone think it could be a viable basketball town.

“Enjoy this moment, because it’s all downhill from here.”

The problem is, like Oklahoma City, San Antonio and other small markets, if given the right leadership, a better arena, and a product on the floor worth rooting for, Sacramento could be a great basketball town. I currently live in Sacramento, and while not a Kings fan, I’ve seen the passion the team incites in their fan-base. I see the potential of a young and up-and-coming roster. I am pretty certain I can guess the reaction of the community if the team was given the downtown arena they deserve (and which they had already come to contractual terms to build, before the team’s owners ran away like spoiled brats).

For the record, I do not want to the Kings to up and leave. It would be bad for the team, and bad for the community. I want them stay. When the day comes, I will fight for them to stay.

However, I understand some of the reasons why they would want to relocate (besides the Maloofs history of poor decisions), and they do face a very real possibility of relocating. Since I’m speaking in all hypotheticals, that’s what I want to discuss here. Where they should potentially move, if they do, and why.

There are only so many NBA teams to go around, and with the thinning pool of available talent, there is no chance the NBA will expand in the foreseeable future. That means if blossoming or already established markets don’t already have a team, they will either never get one, or they will have to absorb another city’s source of pride to establish their own.

California has four teams. The Lakers rule the southern portion of the state (I’ll talk about the Clippers in a bit) while the northern part has been divided into a two-team market; the Warriors in the Bay Area and the Kings for the northern central valley.

Yet, in no other sport does this divide between Valley and Bay exist. In every other avenue the valley is represented by the larger, more metropolitan Bay Area, so why not basketball? With the Warriors soon moving out of the impoverished city of Oakland and into the more financially secure San Francisco, why can’t that team, like the Giants and Niners (and arguably the A’s and Raiders depending upon their location future), represent Sacramento and the other cities in the central part of the state? If the Kings potentially relocate, the residents of Sacramento would, hypothetically, still have a team to root for, albeit further away, while another community would also get the chance to have their own team.

While the Kings didn’t start in their history in Kansas City, they did play there from 1972-to-1985. And with the newish (2005) arena there, they should consider moving back.

Shiny.

Kansas City isn’t a Mid-West backwoods sort of town. It has history and BBQ, as well as the Royals and Chiefs. It knows how to support and maintain a team playing at the professional level. Sprint Arena sits 19,000, and has 72 corporate suits, which in this age is the mark of vitality for an NBA franchise. It’s better than most arenas with an NBA team already playing in them, and it’s far better than anything Power Balance Pavilion (old Arco) can offer.

KC is also equal in size to Sacramento, yet is not crowed by other franchises too close to home. That is, unless you count Denver (266 miles away), Oklahoma City (350 miles), or Chicago (529 miles). Having an NBA team there just makes sense.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

You probably don’t know this, but there is an NBA team not named the Lakers that play in Los Angeles.

You’ve never seen this logo before, have you?

This isn’t like baseball, where two teams share the same city (Yankees/Mets, Dodgers/Angels (sort of), Cubs/White Sox), yet play on completely different ends of town to somehow accommodate a large pool of consumers fans. The Lakers and Clippers play in the same part of town. In fact, they play in the same building.

I think the Clippers play in Staples Center to allow the more downtrodden sections of Los Angeles an affordable opportunity to see the Laker’s play at least four times a year.

It doesn’t make sense that, until recently, owner Donald Sterling has been able to consistently field a mediocre team and still make more money then most other teams in the league. That’s how valuable the Lakers sloppy seconds are. The Clippers can make more money selling tickets to wannabe actors from Toledo, who can’t afford Laker tickets so instead go to Clipper games on Tuesday nights when they’re manager at the Starbucks re-gifts them the free tickets she received from a ‘client’ during the morning rush, then if the Clippers have their own city and fan-base.

While I’m not one to fault a guy for making a buck, this is not a good practice for the NBA (just because they can make money in a particular location, doesn’t mean they should). Instead, the Clippers should relocate, and since they don’t have a remarkable history or a championship banner in the rafters, they should de-franchise as they move. And what city best deserves a de-franchised team with no history to tie them to the past?

A new history is better than the Clipper’s history.

We all know the story. Clay Bennett was a “man possessed,” bought the Seattle SuperSonics, lied, lied some more, lied a lot more, and then moved the team to Oklahoma City. Fortunately for Seattle fans, they got to see their former team lose the Finals this year, like Cavalier fans did last year (Lebron, was in fact, Cleveland’s entire team). Even though their old club lost, that still doesn’t heal the wounds of losing a team that played in their city for 41 years before being stolen away.

Since it’s nothing to write home about anyway, the Clippers should dump their history and move up to the rainy north-west. They should start anew. Anything’s got to be better than what they’ve so-far ever accomplished.

Brooklyn Nets

Even if the new Brooklyn Nets win an NBA championship, everyone in New York will attend the ticker-tape parade just to be depressed how it’s not the Knicks who won.

Most famous Net besides Jason Kidd and Kris Humphries.

My point was already made with the Clippers. Just scroll back up, reread that section and replace “Lakers’ with ‘Knicks,’ and ‘Clippers’ with ‘Nets,’ when you do.

Except for some rare cases in baseball, no city deserves two teams. No city. The Nets are (like the Clippers) just second-class citizens picking up the bigger guy’s scraps. They should be forced to move.

And what city is sexier than the bright haze of New York, as seen from Brooklyn?

This city is for lovers. And meth.

Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This city is roughly the same size as every other small market in the country. It also has no professional sports team at all. Like other virgin small-markets in their day (Phoenix, San Antonio, Orlando), an NBA franchise is usually the best way to pop a city’s pro-sports cherry. It’s something everyone can rally around.

Albuquerque isn’t the most alluring city, I know, and is especially a downgrade when it comes to the excitement factor of ‘almost-New York,’ but there are still a lot of people in the city and the region. A lot of people who aren’t represented by any sports team (Phoenix is 467 miles away, and Denver is 448 miles). A lot of people who just need the chance for their own team.

Still not buying it? Me neither, so let’s have a redo and move the team here, instead.

Much better.

Vegas baby. Same argument as Albuquerque, only a few notches higher on the excitement factor.  This is a where a hockey and/or basketball franchise belongs. Medium to ever-fluxing market size, great nightlife and an environment that would allow for ‘stardom’ of their players. You think Jaw-Z would have problems keeping Deron Williams, or signing any free agent if their team was playing here?

Unfortunately, if the Nets move to the west, that would set up some logistical problems with the amount of teams in each conference. Easy fix: move the Grizzlies to the Eastern Conference. Problems solved.

Regardless of all that, I’m sure whatever team one day moves here, will do just fine. Whether it be hockey or basketball or baseball, Vegas is ready to take the step from gambling and legalized prostitution, to pro-sports market (Although I don’t think football would survive here). Basketball would excel playing under the bright lights of the strip. And if not, it’s the NBA. If they don’t succeed, they’ll quickly just relocate somewhere else.

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On Relocation, Part 2-of-4: Major League Baseball

In MLB on June 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

Unlike my NHL article, this go-around I’m not going to list the teams that need to relocate and then, at the very end, list all the cities that are most deserving of an MLB franchise. I’m switching this up because A) I don’t want to seem pedestrian, and B) that mode doesn’t coincide with the issues facing the MLB.

Apples to oranges, you know?

MLB team location map, as of 2011. The current map is virtually the same, except the Florida Marlins are now the Miami Marlins and their colors are different.

As it is right now, the league’s divisions are already aligned pretty perfectly. Doing any major readjustment without considering the geographical region where a potentially relocating team already resides, would cause further divisional adjustments and make the act of relocating an entire professional sports franchise even more arduous than it is.

Instead, each team will be mentioned, and then the city (cities) that would best suit them will be considered.

Here we go.

Team to Move: Oakland A’s

After all the years of Billy Beane managing the A’s in one of the biggest market-shares in the nation like it was located in a Podunk, backwoods small town, the city of Oakland is no longer an economically viable location for any professional sports team.

The A’s in Oakland now refers to the holes who occupy the impoverished city, shuts down all the ports, and burns an American flag on the steps of city hall.

The Warriors have already announced they’re moving across the new Bay Bridge, and the A’s should follow suit (as fast as they can). While hipsters from across the bay are moving in troves to Oakland (because they can no longer afford their rent in San Francisco), and the city is experiencing a rewhitelization “revitalization,” it does not have the corporate funds and affluent population for potential season-ticket holders that a team, especially one in the pricey Bay Area, needs in order to thrive.

As sad as it is, especially when you consider all the history of the A’s in the East Bay, the city is now dead, and the A’s should play elsewhere. It is especially more difficult for the team to play in an economically struggling location because they play in a two-team region. If there was no other competition, they would be able to succeed due to a larger potential consumer base, but with the Giants across the water, that’s not going to happen. Instead, the A’s need to find a place where they can build a stadium people want to flock to, so they can make money and fund a winning team.

Where Should They Move: San Jose, Sacramento, Portland

Remember when the San Francisco Giants were on the verge of moving to Toronto in 1976, and then St. Petersburg in 1993? Remember when we almost rooted for the Tampa Bay Giants? Remember when Wally Haas, the late owner of the A’s,  gave the Giants exclusive rights to San Jose and the South Bay, all so the team could potentially find a home for a new stadium (which they didn’t use anyway), and keep the northern-California rivalry intact? Remember all the years the Giants were the inconsequential joke of the Bay Area, and the A’s were the ones who brought home title after title?

You probably don’t. And the Giants would love to keep it that way.

Still better than the Rays first uniform.

As it is right now, the A’s are trying to build a new stadium in the more viable San Jose-area, and the Giants are doing everything they can to muscle that franchise out of their ‘rightful’ territory.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. It’s amazing how brave you get after winning one title after 60-years of ineptitude.

Regardless of that, the first location the A’s need to purse (and are doing so in full-force) is San Jose. Located in a tech-company region, the area is populated by corporations who can fund the team through suites, and wealthy residents who can sustain a healthy season-ticket revenue. It’s also relatively close enough to the East Bay that the already established fan base can still attend games. With every reason that the team should move to San Jose concerning money, it sounds as if the team wishes to sell out by moving there, right?

This isn’t about selling out so much as it is about putting the team in a prosperous location to fund (and reinstate) the team’s long legacy of winning baseball.

Potentially awesome San Jose stadium.

Okay, so it’s totally about selling out, but San Jose would be the best place to sell out, especially if the MLB wants to keep the rivalry as close to its current form as possible.

If not, then the second best location for the team would be Sacramento.

Before everyone gets all huffy over Sacramento’s potential inability to prevent their lackluster basketball team which they already have from relocating (and then ask why do they deserve a baseball team as well?), think of this: when the Kings were playing well, Arco Arena was sold out every night, regardless of what a sinkhole the place is. The city already has the River Cats (the minor league affiliate to the A’s), which is also the most profitable minor league team in the entire country. Raley Field, the stadium where the River Cats play, was built with the idea of the A’s one day moving there. The foundations have already been dug, and all that needs to happen for the team to play in a new stadium in Sacramento is half the construction it would require to build a new stadium anywhere else. Not only that, but Sacramento wants the team there.

Future home of the A’s?

Don’t blame the city of Sacramento for the Kings horrible records causing the city to not rally around the Maloofs (the owners), a family that still owes $70 million dollars to the city for Arco (and haven’t paid a penny on anything but the interest since the arena was built). Don’t blame the residents for giving up on a family who fail year-after-year-after-year to produce a winning basketball team, and make some of the worst personnel moves in all of the NBA (the Phoenix Suns are the only team that might actually have them beat). Sacramento tried to support the Maloofs recently, and the spoiled brat brothers supposedly acted like Kim Jung Il.

If Major League Baseball fails to keep the A’s rivalry as close to its current form by allowing the team to move to San Jose, Sacramento would be the next most likely, and best suited, location. While it would no longer be a Bay Series anymore, it would still be a Northern-California one. It would be the Bay vs. the Valley. It would still work.

The last option would be moving the team to Portland because Portland quite frankly just needs a professional baseball team. It wouldn’t keep the rivalry in tact, but at least the state of Oregon has a great tradition of college baseball (as of lately), and sports in general (watch any University of Oregon or Oregon State game. It doesn’t matter the sport, just watch it). Blazers’ fans are some of the best in all of basketball. Like Seattle, a few hundred miles north, the people of Portland are crazy about their sports, and any team, regardless of the sport, would thrive there.

Still, San Jose makes the most logical sense, followed by Sacramento. Portland should still receive a team, just an expansion one. The Plaid-Wearing Lumberjacks or something.

Team to Move: Tampa Bay Rays

Since we were talking about Tampa Bay a little bit ago, let’s talk about the Rays.

Soooooooo much better than their first logo.

The thing about the Tampa Bay Rays is that they don’t play in Tampa. They play in St. Petersburg, which is near Tampa, but that’s sort of like saying “We’re going to Tahoe,” and then you never leave Reno.

The team also plays at Tropicana Field, which sounds fun and festive, but is pretty much the biggest dump you’ll ever visit. This is even when the place isn’t struck by lightning and the lights are suddenly turning off in the middle of nationally televised game, or glass isn’t raining down from the roof, or whatever. It’s also located in quite possibly the worst location they could have picked for the Tampa Bay area.

Think of it this way: if you lived on the opposite side of Tampa and you wanted to go to a Rays game, you would have to get on the freeway, drive through downtown Tampa, then travel across the bay, then drive through downtown St. Petersburg, and then come to a road that bottlenecks to the stadium. This would take hours of your life.

Oh, and almost all the games start right around rush hour. Good luck with that.

This is not an actual picture of Rays fans headed to a game. A picture of only two cars is needed for that.

If anything, Rays fans are probably some of the best baseball has to offer, because if they’ve ever made the journey to go see their team play, even once, they have probably given more of their precious day then most of us will give our team in a lifetime.

They shouldn’t be punished for this.

Where They Should Move: Tampa, Orlando or Charlotte

To make it simple, the team should just move across the bay into Tampa. It’s the bigger city anyway, and more fans would able to attend the games if the team played in the more easily accessible and populated area. It’s really not that difficult.

Granted, finding funding and real estate and everything else to build the stadium is what is difficult, and that’s part of the reason the team is still playing in a giant domed safety hazard, and not somewhere else. Still, Tampa (as proven by all the years of spring training), is a baseball town, and taking away the team now, especially when they are winning every pennant and wildcard they can (and in the most dramatic fashion possible), would be a tragedy to the area and a missed opportunity for baseball in general.

But if they do miss the opportunity, the team should relocate to Orlando.

Orlando already has the Magic, and this wouldn’t be their first rodeo with professional sports. They’d know how to handle it and how to support it. They are obviously financially secure enough to support a team (thank you Disney World). Also, if the Rays moved there, they would still be in Florida and they wouldn’t have to change their name to something more geographically appropriate to whatever their new destination would. Florida can rightfully maintain their status as another really big state with more than one team (California, Texas, New York).

The last option would be Charlotte, North Carolina.

Southern metropolis.

After New York, Charlotte is the second biggest banking center in the United States. Look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s partly due to gold being discovered there before the more famous rush in California, and every bank (that could) at the time moved there to set up shop. After all the years, they’ve never left.

My point is, Charlotte is not a country bumpkin, dirty south village. It already had a decent professional basketball team that was stolen away, and then replaced with a new one that has the worst logo/uniforms/players/record in the league. It already has an NFL team with the hottest new quarterback throwing for them. It’s inhabitants are usually Duke/UNC/NC State grads (universities that all know their sports) and those grads probably went to a few Durham Bulls games while living in the Triangle. Charlotte is a prosperous community and deserves to represent a Major League Baseball team. Otherwise, they’ll still be represented by the Braves (244 miles away), or the Nationals (399 miles away), or the Reds (469 miles away). Those are the closest teams and that’s not really being ‘represented.’ Charlotte is just too metropolitan to be left out of the conversation anymore.

Still, the residents and fans in Tampa Bay deserve a shot at keeping their team. The team should relocate to Tampa, and if that can’t work, they should keep Florida a two-team state and move to Orlando. Charlotte deserves a team, but like Portland, an expansion one.

Team to Move: San Diego Padres

This will never happen, but it was still really tough suggesting this relocation because before my city was granted an expansion team, I used to go to Padres games while in San Diego on vacation. They were my first team, if you will.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the Padres are currently up for sale, and local icons Phil Mickelson and Tony Gwynn are competing to try to buy the team (actually, their purchasing groups are competing, and with the revelation that Gwynn owes more than $400,000 in back taxes, it doesn’t look like much of a competition anymore). The team is in flux, but that still doesn’t mean they are at risk of relocation. Petco Park is one of the best places in the country to watch a baseball game, and it’s brand-spanking-new. No way the city or franchise would walk after all the history in San Diego, the fan base, and recently constructing one of the best ballpark’s in the league.

But California undeservedly has five major league baseball teams. It was either choosing the Padres to move, or

 The Anaheim Angels.

Champion of the suburbs.

I would much rather prefer the Angels to move because of two fallacies that contribute to their existence in Anaheim.

The first fallacy regards the idea that Anaheim is Los Angeles. If that’s the case, I still believe, with rare exception (only baseball, and only New York and Chicago) no one city deserves two teams in the same sports. Therefore the Angels should be forced to move to another city so another large population can have the privilege of rooting for a team.

If Anaheim isn’t Los Angeles, which it isn’t, and is just a suburb of the city, which it is, it doesn’t deserves a team, especially when the city a few miles away already has one. This is more-or-less a continuation of my argument as to why the Ducks should relocate out of Anaheim as well. Read that, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Either way, preferably I would keep the Padres in San Diego, because San Diego is two hours (give-or-take with traffic) away from Los Angeles, and is an entirely different community than LA. Unfortunately, the Angels sort of have the trump card (a World Series win), and if that was good enough to prevent the Diamondbacks from having switch into the American League, while the Astro’s (who have been around much longer), have to switch instead, it should be good enough to prevent a team from having to relocate.

Either way, neither of these teams are going anywhere, but they should. And there is one place in particular that deserves them.

Where they should move: Las Vegas

If professional athletes don’t have enough avenues to get in trouble with, now we can place them in close proximity to hookers and gambling.

Either way, The Strip needs a professional sports team that isn’t football. If hockey or basketball doesn’t make it there first, then one of the California teams needs to bite the bullet and move to Nevada. But only one of the teams from Southern California. If granted an expansion team, a new resident in Vegas would only make the southwest even more crowded than it already is. California already has more teams than it deserves, and one of those teams should offer another large population a chance at their own legacy.

Something’s got to give.

On Relocation, Part 1-of-4: The National Hockey League

In NHL on June 25, 2012 at 1:08 am

With all the rumors still circling about a potential Phoenix Coyotes to Quebec City or Seattle move, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on other teams in other sports that are also in danger of moving, or should be moved regardless of their situation.

Since the Thrashers were the last professional sports team to relocate (when they moved to Winnipeg from Hotlanta in 2011), and with all the Will-They-Stay-or-Won’t-They-Stay drama still going on in Glendale, I thought I would start this four-part piece with hockey, then move on to baseball, basketball, and lastly, football.

NHL team location map, as of 2012.

As you can see from the map, the majority of NHL teams reside either A) on the more eastern side of the country, or B) in areas that at least see snow. There are the exceptions of course, and pretty much all of them are south of the 36°30′ north parallel. Since the Coyotes are on the cusp of making a decision one way or the other, I’m going to exclude them from the conversation, and go to straight to the next best option for departure.

1. The Florida Panthers

The least memorable logo in a league comprised of forgettable logos.

What’s more ironic than a hockey team in the desert? A hockey team in “The Sunshine State.”

What makes it worse is that Florida has two teams, the Panthers and the Tampa-based Lightning, both with mostly apathetic fan bases. It was really a toss-up when deciding which of the two teams should get the boot. The Panther’s play in the sexier Miami-area and just made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, while the Lightning did not, and is stuck playing in the giant retirement community known as Tampa Bay.

When it comes down to it though, the Lightning have a new owner, a revitalized arena and the trump card, a Stanley Cup win. They were also only a game away from another Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2011. Needless to say, the Lighting need to drop the “Tampa Bay” part of their name and rebrand themselves as the “Florida Lightning,” because they’re the only team that is needed to represent their state.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

A really snazzy logo can’t cover up a really undeserving city.

You will be hard pressed to ever hear me say something nice about Ohio. Maybe it’s because the state is utterly obsolete and inconsequential, yet its residents still get to pick the nation’s president every four years. Maybe it’s something else, I don’t really know. What I do know is that, if I had my way, the Browns would have never been reestablished and the Indians would be forced to change their mascot (which is still only half as offensive as Washington’s football team). The Cavs would probably be moved, and Ohio State would have received much harsher penalties for their scandal last year.

Now that brings me to the Blue Jackets.

The city of Columbus, although the state’s capital, cannot and will never be able to support two professional sports teams. I don’t even understand how The Crew have managed to survive there (if you don’t know what The Crew are, it’s because it is a Major League Soccer team, and who knows anything about that?). Columbus is just too small a market for one team, let alone two, and the residents in the state’s other cities (Cleveland and Cincinnati) either don’t care or already have allegiances to other teams. While it was a nice theory to move the team there, the whole business plan was just a recipe for disaster from the very beginning. Especially when there are more potentially profitable and deserving markets available. This team needs to be on a bus to Seattle or Quebec City by nightfall.

3. New Jersey Devils

The Devils are DTF the state of New Jersey.

The smart money would put the New York Islanders, not the recent Stanley Cup loser, in this spot. I mean, New Jersey already lost the Nets, do they need to lose another team? Plus, I am not a fan of any city, regardless of whatever city it is, having two teams in any sport except maybe baseball. Maybe. Call me old-fashioned.

Therefore I should be all in favor of New York losing one of their teams. But every rule has an exception.

Yeah, the Islanders have four Stanley Cups to the Devils three, but the last time the Islanders won was in 1983 and the Devils, although losers, were just in the Finals. The Islanders have the worst arena in hockey, and its lease is up in a few short years. There is no plan for a new arena. Everything points to the Islander leaving Long Island as soon as they can.

So why are they not on this list? Because the Devils are on the verge of a Coyotes-like bankruptcy and NHL takeover. Their owner has repeatedly stated that he regrets ever moving the team to New Jersey. Because the “Battle of New York,” the Rangers-Islanders rivalry, deserves to be preserved. It sucks for New Jersey, but New Jersey sort of sucks anyways, am I right, or am I right? Or am I right? Or am I right? Whattayou looking at?

4. Anaheim Ducks

Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!

Remember when the Ducks were the Mighty Ducks and Emillo Estevaz coached them? Those were the days…

Either way, this one will never happen, but it should. As I stated before (and was proven to be complete a hypocrite by my advocacy for the Islanders staying in New York), no city, regardless of what city it is, deserves two professional sports teams, unless it’s baseball, and even that’s suspect.

Anaheim is not a city. No matter how hard people in Orange County try to spin this fact, or argue with you about it, let’s be clear; Anaheim is a suburb of Los Angeles.

Yet Anaheim believes they are entitled to their own professional sports teams because they say traffic prevents them from getting to downtown Los Angeles to see the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, or even the Dodgers across town, in a timely manner. How can they be a fan if it takes so long to go see their team play, they argue?

But let’s be frank here; another factor to why Anaheim wants their own teams is race. The greater LA area is a melting pot of different races and cultures, while Anaheim is predominantly stuffy affluent white people. They want their own teams in every sport, far away from the ‘non-white’ parts of Los Angeles, so they don’t have to drive out of their comfortable neighborhoods and associate with the ‘other’ people. They don’t want to have to share. And no matter how much people in Orange Country try to spin that, or argue about that, that’s a fact. They want their safe Disneyfied teams, while LA can have the Dodgers or the Kings. The Lakers are okay, though, because movie stars like them, and who else can afford tickets?

Cities Deserving Teams

“All I want is for you to steal the shared, communal sense of pride that is experienced in another community so I can have a shared, communal sense of pride in my community. And a rhinoceros. I want a rhinoceros.”

With four teams that need to be moved (again, without including the Coyotes, whose fate one way or the other will soon be decided), here are the four most deserving cities that should receive a relocating franchise.

1. Quebec City

Personally, I’m not quite sold on the merits of Quebec City having a professional sports team, but here’s why they deserve one anyway:

1) They’re Canadians, and Canadians love hockey. Granted, the NHL is trying to expand to larger, more broad markets outside of Canada, but why not pander to the populace if they’re that vocal about it?

2) They’re building a new arena anyway, so the NHL might as well give them a team so the city can finally just shut up about it.

2. Seattle

Seattle is a great sports town that already lost their Sonics. Granted, they’re doing everything they can to steal the Kings away from Sacramento, and in a year or two will probably succeed, but right now they’re still the victims. We still feel bad about Clay Bennett stealing away their team. Why not give them another one?

That, and Seattle is also the 13th biggest market in America. They have a great economic potential, and if you’ve ever watched a Seahawks game (I don’t know why you would, but if you have) you know the city’s sports fans are dedicated, and slightly insane. With the proximity to Vancouver, a built rivalry is already in place. Any sport would thrive.

3. Kansas City

A new arena, a fan base similar to Oklahoma City and central location make KC a great landing spot for any professional sports. This city deserves a hockey team and a basketball team. OKC2 anyone?

4. Salt Lake City

Except for maybe San Antonio, Salt Lake City is the king of small market success. Also, it’s cold as crap there. There is a built-in interest in the sport, and because it it’s a close-knit community that rallies around their teams, it’s big enough for a second franchise to be successful there (besides just the Jazz), even though it’s one of the smallest markets with any professional sports team.

End of the Dream?

In NBA, Olympics on June 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Regardless of what some fans in Miami might think this morning (boy was I wrong with my prediction), the 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball team is the greatest team in the history of team sports. Not just basketball, but all team sports. Football, baseball, hockey, soccer, even curling. Anything. You name it. The Dream Team was the greatest team ever.

The statement above is just science

As detailed in NBA TV’s documentary, “The Dream Team,” it was a perfect storm that allowed some of the greatest basketball players, not just of their generation, but of all time, to come together for one summer in Barcelona. Jordan, Magic, Bird, Barkley, as well as Christian Laettner (?!?) on one team, playing not for a city or a state, but for the country. Playing to redeem the losses to the Soviet Union in 1972 and 1988.

The Dream Team didn’t just play the game, they transcended it. Spanish streets shut down when the team traveled, opposing players stopped mid-dribble just to shake hands with Magic Johnson, and even before the game started, the opposing teams were asking if they could get a quick picture with the American squad. Everyone loved them, except maybe Angola.

You know what, just click the link and watch the movie.

Two years later, during the 1994 FIBA World Championships, there was a new team tagged as Dream Team II. Dream Team II didn’t have any returning members from ’92, while the 1996 Atlanta squad, dubbed Dream Team III, had five returning members (Barkley, Pippen, Stockton, Robinson and Malone). Because of the returning star power, Dream Team III should technically be considered Dream Team II, while the actual Dream Team II should just be considered the 1994 FIBA World Championship team. But that’s just my opinion.

Still following?

While Dream Team III (II) was an amazing collection of talent, if the original Dream Team was an 18-year, barrel-aged scotch, Dream Team III (II) was like that scotch with water and a few ice cubes plopped in. It wasn’t nearly as crisp and clean as the original, but it still got you drunk. Although not as showy and world-changing as ’92, Dream Team III (II) still kicked the crap out of every team they came across, and did so with ease.

Diet Coke.

The plus side to Dream Team III (II) was that America was still on top of the game for another four more years. The down side was that the team and the games themselves had become old hat to the players involved. It was as if the best players in the country (Shaq, Kobe, etc) figured the USA was just going to win it all anyway, so why do they have to give up their summer when someone else can do the same job?

The consequence was Dream Team 2000, which, except for maybe four players, were completely undeserving of the qualifier, “Dream.” They were good, but the you must have pretty low expectations if this is what you considered the best of America’s best.

You know the Olympic Committee was scraping the bottom of the barrel when Shareed Abdur-Rahim, Vin Baker and Steve Smith qualified as “Dreams.”

While the score differentials weren’t nearly as great as their two predecessors, the 2000 team still won gold in Greece that year, and for another four years gave Americans the delusion that even our nation’s most mediocre players were still better than the rest of the world’s top talent.

This led to a whole series of mishaps as the Committee tried to form the 2004 incarnation, which is undeserving of an actual picture.

2004 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team

Given the pun name “The Nightmare Team,” the 2004 version had Lebron, Amar’e, Carmelo and Wade, as well as others who were considered top talent in the nation at the time (except Kobe, again).

The fault with the ‘team’ was that it included “Cancer-to-the-Team-Aspect-of-Team-Sports,” and “I-Shoot-First-Pass-Never” point guards Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, and was coached by Larry Brown, who although is considered one of the best coaches ever, refused to play players like Lebron, Carmelo, and Wade because “he didn’t sign up to coach children” (quote paraphrased). The consequence of not playing the best children in the nation was that the team lost a game to Puerto Rico, won the bronze medal, and made all of the world watch little cry-baby Manu Ginobili win a gold. Does the disgrace ever end?

Where’s Chuck Daly when you need him?

This complete and utter embarrassment led the Committee to ask Jerry Colangelo, fresh off cashing his check after suckering Robert Sarver to give him $400 million dollars for the Phoenix Suns, to take over the team’s reigns. Like Jordan of yesteryear, Colaganelo convinced Kobe Bryant (this is the only Jordan/Kobe comparison Bryant is deserved of) of signing up to redeem 2004’s failure. He hired the greatest college coach of all time, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who was used to coaching kiddos. He got Lebron, Wade, Melo and Bosh. He convinced Jason Kidd to log a few more miles on his legs. The team went to China, and conquered.

The Redeem Team will probably be the only time people outside of Los Angeles ever rooted for Kobe Bryant.

In a roundabout way, this leads us to this year’s upcoming games in London. While the team’s roster is still waiting to be finalized, it will undoubtedly be a downgrade from the last team. Like 1996, there will be returning players, but only a portion. The rest of the lineup will be filled with either newly establish talent since the last games (Kevin Durant), or up-and-coming names who are now approaching their potential (James Harden).

But will this be the last time NBA stars, the best of the best the country has to offer, go to the Olympic games to showcase to the world our nation’s dominance? At least while we still have it? Foreign markets are quickly catching up, or have caught up, to the US, and winning gold wasn’t as easy as when Jordan, Magic and Bird did it twenty-years ago. With the new CBA, owners are worrying that their multi-million dollar investments are not resting enough during Olympic summers, and players are again beginning to feel the apathy of the whole event. Why should they go, when others could probably do it. Is the age of NBA Olympics soon to be in the near past?

Most likely.

This will probably be the last time NBA players participate in the Olympics (at least until the US starts losing a whole bunch, and we grow desperate again). While the Dream ended twenty years ago, when the greatest team ever assembled (not named The Avengers) received gold medals around their necks, London will probably be the swan song of the legacy of Barcelona. It will probably be the last days before college players again take the court for their country. When they try to compete in a world that has greatly changed.

“Man, Jordan and Magic are good.”

So even though it’s not as fun as it used to be, not as sexy to watch, not as glamorous, take notice this summer when the US Men’s Basketball Team takes center stage once more. It might not be the best thing you’ve ever seen, but it probably will be the last time for a lot longer than four years you’re probably ever going to get to see it.

(On a side note, where can I score me a Barkley Dream Team jersey, circa 1992? Those things are sweet.)

Are The D-backs Trying To Muscle The Coyotes Out Of Phoenix?

In MLB, NHL on June 20, 2012 at 8:22 am

Barry Goldwater, the late Arizona Senator and 1964 GOP Presidential Nominee whose name is synonymous with Libertarian values, is now being considered more a”Debbie-downer,” and “hockey-hater,” than the “Godfather of Conservative Politics.”

“Early on, I suggested using tactical nuclear weapons to deforest the jungles of Vietnam. Later in my career, I was one of the first Republicans to speak in favor of a woman’s right to choose, and gays being allowed in the military. Also, screw the Coyotes. Vote for me in ’64.”

Barry Goldwater himself is not leading the charge to null-and-void the lease the city of Glendale approved for the team, which would allow potential buyer, Greg Jamison, to go ahead and purchase them. Goldwater died in 1998, of course.

But the organization that is his namesake, the right-wing Goldwater Institute, is stopping at no end in their self-appointed role as “Champions for Who Gives a Crap,” to ensure the team, fresh off an appearance in the Western Conference Finals (where they lost to the eventual champions, the L.A. Kings) is boxed-up and on a truck to either Quebec City or Seattle by summer’s end.

Every time the city or the league have a prospective buyer for the team, the Goldwater Institute files another “frivolous” (we’ll get to the merits of that comment later) lawsuit if the first words spoken by said prospective buyer aren’t, “Don’t worry, I’m moving the team to Canada as fast as I can.”

Why would anyone care so much about a city trying to keep a resident they already have, in an arena that is already built? Wouldn’t it be better for the city and the arena and the small businesses in the surrounding areas to do everything possible to keep the team where it’s at, in order to act as an epicenter of potential commerce? Of course it was a mistake to build the stadium in Glendale in the first place, because Glendale is on the far west-side of the city and the location isolates the attending fan-base to roughly half of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. But wouldn’t a bigger mistake be letting the team walk and having nobody to fill their place, especially after the season they just had?

Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think butts are going to be in the seats next year, after being so close to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup appearance? Come on, tell me that. Oh, that’s right, you can’t, can you?

So why then would the Goldwater Institute work so hard, time-after-time, to do everything they possibly can to kick the team out of the state?

My suspicions are because of the bottom line. Particularly, the bottom line for Managing General Partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ken Kendrick.

“I think the purple behind me is stupid, so I’m changing it.”

Ken Kendrick is the man who more-or-less ousted Phoenix sports icon, Jerry Colangelo, from the team’s ownership. Upon taking control, Kendrick changed the team’s colors after they recently won a World Series wearing them (purple and teal were not great, and in fact a little horrible, but come on, you can’t change that much after winning a ring), made a series of poor-to-awful choices (Wally Backman, A.J. Hinch, Josh Byrnes, trading Carlos Gonzalez, etc, etc, etc), then pretty much blamed it all, right-or-wrong, on Colangelo’s wild spending habits (when Colangelo was ousted, the team still had $150 million dollars in deferred salaries for the World Series they bought won. It was actually so bad, the team was on the verge of bankruptcy).

So after all the years of struggle and basement baseball, with two surprise NL West titles thrown in, the team is finally looking up, and are only a few more deferred checks away from being done with paying for the past (although Bernard Gilkey will still be getting a million dollars a year until 2017). So what’s the problem? The Diamondbacks are the only show in Phoenix during the summer, especially when there’s nothing else to do but sit in your pool and sweat to death. They shouldn’t have any problem getting people to the games, right? Heck, even the stadium has a pool, so they got that covered.

Even if you’re in the water, chances are you’re still sweating.

The issue is while the D-backs have the summers to themselves, they still have to share the beginning of their season with their next door neighbor and the city’s favorite son (although they’re reeeeeeaaaallly going to stink when Nash leaves), the Phoenix Suns, as well as the Coyotes, as well has having to to give up every Sunday in the later part of the season, once the Cardinals start playing. There’s no way the team can get rid of the Suns, and ever since 2007, getting people to Chase Field in September on a Sunday is practically impossible. So instead, why not do everything they can to kill a little bit of the competition, and free up the days for the 9,000-to-12,000 people who attend Coyotes games on the same nights the Diamondbacks play?

This would all sound like the ramblings of a crazy conspiracy nutcase, if it wasn’t for the fact that Randy Kendrick, Ken Kendrick’s wife, serves on the Goldwater Institute’s Board of Directors. She consistently maintains that she has no interaction with Goldwater’s lawyers, and has nothing to do with whether or not the institute gets involved with the Coyotes deal, but come on. People aren’t stupid. You’re the wife of a highly powerful businessman, and are a director for a highly powerful political advocacy group which happens to be challenging a rival business venture, which more or less is seeking to receive the same public funding your husband more-or-less already receives.

And you want to tell everyone that’s only because your institute isn’t interested in investigating pre-exsisting deals, even if they are continuously on-going?

“Come on man!”

That’s why the Goldwater lawsuits are ‘frivolous.’ Goldwater picks-and-chooses which targets they want to go after, and in this case, are specifically targeting a company which rivals the business dealings of one of their directors. And they do so over and over and over again.

While I disagree with the idea of the Institute going after the D-Backs, Suns or Cardinals for receiving similar benefits, I would at least respect the organization for actually standing up for something, besides the wallets of people associated with the group. If you’re going to do something, do it all the way or go away. Which is more or less what I suggest the Goldwater Institute do. They are doing no one any favors with their consistent interference in the Coyotes/Glendale situation, except themselves.

For all his faults, Barry Goldwater was no hypocrite. While I can’t speak for him, I believe he would probably be disgusted an organization using his name would conduct themselves in actions that are in complete conflict-of-interest with one another. As the saying goes, who watches the watchmen, because someone needs to be throwing a wrench in Goldwater’s intentions, as much as they are doing so to hockey fans in Arizona.

How The MLS Could Become A Household Name

In MLS on June 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

With the UEFA Euro’s well underway, I started feeling a wee bit sad over the United States not having a professional soccer league of its own. Yeah, the Euro’s are comprised of national teams playing one another, but it’s still sad there’s no avenue for everyone in the U.S. to watch the sport on a more regular basis, so we don’t have to all of a sudden pretend to care about the World Cup every four years.

Then I remember we do.

It’s called Major League Soccer (MLS). It has teams in Los Angeles, New York, San Jose, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia, just to name a few. They have names like Galaxy, Chivas, Red Bulls, Earthquakes, Fire, Sounders, Timbers, Union and United. They even have teams in Canada. Now do you know what I’m talking about?

“Chances are, you have no idea who I am.”

No, that’s Arena Football you’re thinking of.

It’s that thing David Beckham joined in LA. You know, the guy who married the skinny Spice Girl? Are we on the same page yet?

Yeah, that’s the MLS.

For anyone who’s ever played FIFA 2009 on their friend’s PS3, you know that when you’re selecting your team, you never pick out of the MLS category, unless you want to be slower than everyone else, and incapable of completing a pass. So that’s a main hurdle facing the league and why, if you’ve never played FIFA, you probably don’t know about it. Or don’t care to know. Compared to other clubs on the world stage, the league simply doesn’t offer the same level of talent than elsewhere. So much so, that the few soccer fans in the country who actually do care about ‘football‘ (that’s what they call it in other places), would actually prefer to stay up until four in the morning to watch a European match, than whatever the MLS has to offer.

The second hurdle facing the league’s popularity in the states is that Americans don’t like cry-baby sissies. It’s why American football is the country’ new past-time. It’s why everyone outside San Antonio hates the Spurs and Manu Ginobili. A good breeze comes by, and a soccer player (or Ginobili and half the Spurs) fall to the ground and cry and wither in pain, only to get up a few seconds later, after a penalty’s assigned to whomever happened to pass the injured player at the time of injury, and then start playing like nothing ever happened.

Regardless of these obstacles facing the MLS and its rise to any sort of legitimacy in the country, there is a simple solution to dissolve the complete and utter apathy that faces the league from the general viewing public.

It’s called marketing.

How many Michael Bay movies have made heaps of money, simply due to good marketing, when the product on the screen is absolute crap? I mean completely horrible, absolute, inarguable crap. And if you don’t believe me, go see Transformers 2.

“I will destroy all of your fond childhood memories, arrrgh!”

The MLS needs to market itself like a Michael Bay movie. And NBC, not NBC Sports, is the place to do it.

Now, NBC already airs MLS games, but primarily on its sister sports station, NBC Sports. Occasionally they air games on network NBC, but I’m talking about NBC becoming the premier, go-to channel for MLS Soccer. I mean turning the league into a primetime, network event. I mean going big, or going home.

Remember how good the NBA used to be when it was the NBA on NBC and not the giant snooze-fest in it’s current form on ABC and ESPN? Granted, having Jordan and Barkley and Bird and Magic and the rest of the Dream Team helped NBC’s ability to air a watchable product (unlike their current primetime schedule), but you also have to remember how the games were shot, the announcers they had (the intolerable Bill Walton, anyone?) and the support programs NBC aired to buttress with the actual game (Ahmad Rashad and Inside the NBA). By simple production value and marketing prowess, NBC was able to turn a spectator sport into fine theater, sort of like how FOX Sports took the concept and ran with it for its MLB and NFL boradcasts. How much better is an NFL game on FOX than CBS? How drama filled is even the most boring World Series when FOX airs it?

While FOX would actually  be the better outlet to turn the MLS into something viable, they’ve already filled their time slots with the two other sports, so why ruin a good thing? Let FOX do what it already does best. Besides, NBC already signed a contract to air MLS for three years. If they pump this thing up, in three years MLS could be a household thing (whereupon they will dump NBC and move over to ABC and ESPN, right David Stern?)

It’s a given that the world has changed significantly since NBC used to air the NBA. Nowadays, sports broadcasting is run and ruled by All-Sports, All-The-Time cable channels, while the networks have become more prone to air talent shows and reality TV and crime dramas.

But NBC, from the top of their lineup to the bottom, has nothing worth holding on to in any of their time slots, so substituting another episode Law And Order: SVU with more MLS games, and turning NBC into the flagship carrier of the league could be an opportunity to not only bring some attention to the sport, but maybe viewers back to the struggling network. What greater reality is there than competitive sports, and like the days of old, with Jordan and Barkley, what better theater as well? Make the MLS into a Primetime, everyday event, so even Grandma, who only gets the basic channels, can watch. Turn back the clock to the day when sports weren’t primarily reserved for cable league channels and sports packages. Make the MLS the working man’s game.

If it works, the network makes money, MLS gains legitimacy, and better players from around the world will want to come and play here. The maybe it gets a little more watchable. Then maybe the snowball effect. And who knows, maybe the next time your over at your buddies and your selecting your team, maybe the MLS category might be a little more tempting

The Sacramento Kings Have More Problems To Worry About Than Trading Tyreke Evans

In NBA on June 15, 2012 at 10:37 am

There’s been a lot of chatter lately that the Sacramento Kings are shopping former Rookie-of-the-Year, Tyreke Evans.

Whether Evans plays for the Kings or not, if the Maloofs have their way, he’ll play in a different city soon anyway.

Don’t the Kings have enough to worry about than trading away the guy who, only two short years earlier, was being branded as the future of the franchise? The guy who joined Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Oscar Robertson as the only players ever to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in their first season in the NBA? Don’t they already have enough problems? I mean, Damarcus Cousins is still insane, and at any moment the entire franchise might probably pack up and be on a truck to Anaheim Seattle.

I would say that trading Evans is just an elaborate ploy by the Maloofs to further tank the team and make the city  more apathetic to the King’s potential departure, but I don’t think that’s the case. From what I’ve heard from fans, and what I’ve read on fan boards, a substantial portion of those who root for the Kings actually seem to support the idea. They suggest that Evans’ isn’t the player he used to be (even though he’s only 22 years-old and has been in the league for only three years), and that the real cornerstone of the future is Cousins (who got the coach fired last year, and then demanded a trade).

Demarcus Cousins? Cornerstone? See how well that works out for you.

I will agree that Evans hasn’t performed as well as he should have over the last two years, ever since Cousins joined the team, but I wouldn’t shun him because of it. At his age, Evans is still a developing talent with a high ceiling of potential. If he hasn’t been performing, I would blame the system, not the player, for failing to create schemes that utilize his talents. And it’s not as if the Kings currently have a perfect playbook they shouldn’t shy away from. If you look at their record the past few years, whatever X’s and O’s they have been following sure hasn’t done them any favors.

Evans has the potential to be a star, but you wouldn’t know that because he plays in Sacramento. He’s like Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee. If he played anywhere else, he could very be a perpetual All-Star. Trading him at this point of his career would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face, and if you’ve ever watched a Kings game the past few years, they’re already been ugly enough.

It’s not easy getting top-rated talent in this league, and at this point of his career, Evans is still far from being a bust. Rome wasn’t built in a day (although it burned down in one), and giving up on Evans now (which might yield results in the short-term), will be a serious setback to the Kings and a future of consistent, winning basketball. Keeping Evans though, and creating a system where he can thrive with Cousins, and whomever else the franchise intends to draft with the fifth pick, could set up another potentially young and hazardous “Big Three” in the Western Conference (here’s looting at you, OKC). The team is still young, and has an opportunity to grow together, and get better together.

And like I said, look at the Oklahoma City. While they’re situation was obviously different, they still didn’t give up on Russell Westbrook a few years ago, when things weren’t working out so great. And that seemed to work out pretty well for them.

2012 Might Be The Eagles Year

In NFL on June 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

Cue the “Dream Team” Remix that DJ Porter did last year, and get him to start updating it. This might be the Eagles year to finally live up to the hype.

“Whatever you do, don’t play like last year.”

Heck, even Michael Vick seems to think so.

And why would a team that was such a colossal mess last year all of a sudden be poised to take the next big step when, historically, the franchise never does? A team that, throughout its history, has always been the bridesmaid and never the bride? A team that never seems capable of exorcising its demons?

Remember all that talk about how great the team was supposed to be last year?

Now give them a full off-season to work out the kinks.

Last year, it didn’t matter who your team had on their roster, because if they weren’t all together since the year before, they didn’t have a prayer. In the lockout shortened preseason, it didn’t matter what trades or free agents your team got, because with the shortened schedule, the new guys didn’t have enough time to learn the culture, playbook, flaws and strengths of their teammates before the bye. If the team wasn’t together since at least 2011, they weren’t going anywhere. Fast.

Look at the San Francisco 49ers.

Everyone is quick to credit the 49ers of last year as a team filled with top-rated talent. And they were. There’s no doubt that Patrick Willis and Frank Gore are some of the best players at their position (Willis probably is the best at his position). And that’s just naming a few. But for the most part, the team had the majority of the same top-rated talent years prior, and weren’t able to do anything with it. Granted, a good coach goes a long way (especially one that makes Alex Smith look capable), but the team didn’t have to go through the same growing pains other teams, like the Eagles (who had a serious roster overhaul), had to go through.

This isn’t any slight against the 49ers. They were a great team, and only a few mistakes away from probably winning their sixth Super Bowl. But they did have a leg up on the competition, because the chemistry of the team was already mostly there.

The Eagles, on the other hand, started their year trying to figure out who they were after reconstructive plastic surgery. It was a bunch of names and bunch of money, all thrown out on a field and expected to figure it out. Near the end they started to, but by then the team had dug themselves such a hole, it was almost impossible to get out of. Imagine what a full off-season can do with the potential they showed during the last four weeks of 2011?

“Show me the money!”

As Denny Green famously said, “if you want to crown them, then crown their ass.” I’m not going that far. It’s still not even training camp yet. But if I was in the NFC East, I wouldn’t go through my OTA’s with the Eagles off my radar. If I was the rest of the league, I would at least take some notice. They were supposed to be pretty good last year and all. And they still are pretty much the same group of guys…

Either way, 2012 might just be the year for the Dream Team we expected in 2011. Besides, the world’s supposed to be ending this year, right? The Eagles have to win it sometime, don’t they?

Don’t Eulogize Boxing Quite Yet

In Boxing on June 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

Contrary to recent reports, boxing is not dead, despite the best attempts to kill it by the Pacquiao-Bradley decision.

“So many more people would care if I could just roundhouse-kick you in the face.”

Boxing isn’t dead. Not yet, at least. Not as long as people still hold a tiny glimmer of hope for the long overdue Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Because that’s where all this anger and resentment over Bradley ‘winning’ stems from. Yeah, people are rightfully steamed because the decision made the whole fight feel rigged (I mean, the WBO is finally investigating it, and even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling for a probe), but that’s just a minor detail to the larger picture.

Going into the Bradley fight, Pacquiao was undefeated for almost a decade. Not including whatever prison brawls he might face, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undefeated during his professional career. It was supposed to be the battle of titans. The two giants of boxing in the waning days of the sport finally facing each other for ultimate supremacy.

But now there’s a tarnish on all that. It’s no longer as perfect as it could have been. Pacquiao lost to someone besides Mayweather, if he was even to lose to him at all. We feel robbed, not by the Bradley decision itself, but for its consequences. For its effect on a fight that almost happened in 2010, but, as long as Mayweather stays in jail, may never happen at all.

Because what incentive does Mayweather now have, after Pacquiao’s loss? As far as Mayweather’s concerned, he doesn’t need to prove anything anymore. Pacquiao lost, and Mayweather hasn’t, and there’s nothing more to talk about. Mayweather’s the champ. He can go on pretending to put himself above the hype, and not give in to it anymore. In fact, because of a domestic dispute, he’s now in jail and can’t train and his career might be over. Close curtain. End scene.

(Bit convenient isn’t it?)

But boxing still isn’t dead despite all of this. Not yet, at least.

Boxing fans have been told time-after-time that fights would never happen. That fighters are retired and will never return. That careers are over. That selling grills is all they want in life anymore.

“It sure beats getting punched in the teeth!!”

But there’s something funny about fighters. They keep fighting. And they keep coming back.

So, no matter who says what, or what decision tries to ruin the spectacle we all long to see, we still have hope that the one fight that needs to happen before MMA and the UFC finally puts the nail in boxing’s coffin, will still happen. We all might be a little older when it does, and the fighters not as good as they used to be, but we still hope to see it go down.

And hope is also a funny thing. Look at the fan-bases of the Chicago Cubs, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia Eagles and Vancouver Canucks. Every year, they show up to their teams’ stadium or arena, and hope that this year is finally it. That they can finally see the one thing they’ve waited so long to see. It hasn’t yet, but that still hasn’t killed the hope, has it?

Boxing isn’t dead. No yet. There’s still one more fight before it finally is.

NBA Finals Prediction: Thunder Rolls

In NBA on June 12, 2012 at 6:52 am

What’s more awkward than this hug is Lebron James still being considered The Chosen One.

When it’s all said and done, which city’s going to hurt more? Seattle, as they watch what could’ve been? Or Cleveland, as they watch what could’ve been?

No matter which team wins the NBA Finals this year, there will always be a collective sadness lingering over a city who isn’t even involved in the 2012 series. Will it be Cleveland? Or Seattle?

Seattle? Or Cleveland?

Both teams have ‘Big Threes,’ a term that was so relevant in Boston only a few years ago, yet now seems to work as the general terminology for the three best starters on any team. Regardless, one team earned theirs through hard work and lucky drafts, while the other bought theirs. One team has their “Big Three” and maybe another player or two whom you could name otherwise, while the other is stacked from top-to-bottom.

Just like the Dallas Mavericks of last year.

And we all know how that turned out.

Pictured here is not the Miami Heat. Be prepared for another to be taken this year.

The Miami “Big Three” that came together two summers ago to win “not six, not seven, not eight,” championships will again end their season with not even one. Cleveland-ites can laugh and give their team’s owner another year to fulfill that promise of winning a championship before that one guy ever wins his.

It doesn’t see fair, does it?

With all the lies and conniving ploys Clay Bennet pulled to steal the team from their former home, we’ll now be forced to watch him hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy David Stern will hand him, only a few short years later. With the weather and everything else in Seattle already as depressing as it is, to now have to deal with this? Either way, if you’re in the greater Seattle area, lock up the sharp objects, hide the rat poison and cue Garth Brookes, because the Thunder’s gonna to roll.

OKC in Six.

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