Category Archives: General

A Quick End To The Finals

Give Golden State credit.  Not only did they eliminate the bad taste from last year, they did it in a dominating fashion. Going 16-1 in the NBA playoffs is an amazing feat. But, can’t we praise the Warriors while also praising LeBron James’ efforts in the Finals? Why do people feel compelled to tear him down yet again today after losing that series? He averaged a triple-double in the Finals, so I find it hard to place the blame for this loss on him.

Here’s another way to look at it. The Warriors set the record for most wins in a season last year and came one game away from winning a title. (Remember who stopped that) They then went out and added one of the best players in the league in Kevin Durant, so they got even better. Stopping that freight train was never going to be easy and while LeBron had his moments, the Warriors had too much talent.

Durant got ripped in the offseason for leaving Oklahoma City and going to Golden State because it “proved he couldn’t win on his own” according to the haters. LeBron is getting ripped today for not being able to stop that from happening. One thing is for sure, haters and going to hate.

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How Quickly We Forget

According to a lot of the “experts” the NBA FInals are over as the Warriors have a 2-0 lead and LeBron sounds “defeated. I get it, but based on what we saw just last year, maybe wait until tomorrow night’s result before calling the series over?

After all that series saw the Warriors win Game 1 by 15 and Game 2 by 33. Golden State had won both regular season meeting and 71 other games. Cleveland looked pretty dead at 0-2 then. And, despite a Game 3 victory, things looked pretty over when the Warriors won Game 4 to go up 3-1. But a funny think happened, LeBron took the team on his shoulders and the Cavs won three-straight and a title.

That may not happen this year. Golden State with Kevin Durant may truly be unstoppable. But recent history tells us not to bury the Cavs until they have lost four games in this series.

Mitch Trubisky

I like Mitch Trubisky, but I am absolutely amazed that he may be the top pick in the NFL Draft.

I would bet that I am one of the few people outside of NFL executives who watched every start he made in college. He was great a lot of the time, but there are two major red flags to me.

1- The game against Virginia Tech in October. Yes, it was played in driving rain, but he was terrible. When you have only made 13 starts in college, you have to be judged on every one of them. I would not feel great about Trubisky’s prospects in a cold weather stadium based on that.

2- The games against Duke, NC State and Stanford. Context is important here. For UNC Football, Duke and NC State are the biggest games of the year. Furthermore, this year they cost themselves another trip to the ACC Championship game by losing to two mediocre teams. Trubisky’s numbers from those games are good, but he didn’t do much, and he didn’t respond late when he had a chance to take UNC down the field and win them. Stanford was the bowl game, and the same thing that happened against Duke and NC State happened there. So, you could say that in the three biggest games of the year, Trubisky didn’t respond. Again, with only 13 NCAA starts, you need to weigh each one carefully.

That’s why I am hoping that Trubisky isn’t picked by Cleveland or San Francisco. I think he can be a very successful QB in the NFL, but he will need time and those situations won’t give him that. He needs to go to a place where he can hold a clipboard for a few years and learn about the game. Based on all the draft boards I have seen, he is probably not falling out of the Top-1o and I think that will be bad for him and bad for the team that drafts him. We shall see on Thursday.

Two UNC players I could see rewarding the teams that draft them are Ryan Switzer and Elijah Hood. Both will go in the middle rounds most likely. Switzer catches everything thrown anywhere near him and is a great return guy. Hood can pound the ball in between the tackles and bust a big run. Watch for them on Friday and Saturday.

I’ll post some more Giant-centric draft thoughts before Thursday.

We Need More!

Unless you are a big college hoops fan, it probably escaped your notice that the NCAA revealed the top-16 seeds for the tournament on Saturday. Of course, with a month left in the regular season, those seeds are just temporary, but it gave us a glimpse of how March Madness might set up.   The idea comes from football where they start releasing CFP rankings in late October, and it is a great way to get some buzz going for the tournament. I am hopeful that they will add two tweaks to it to really get this going.

1- Announce it weekly. They do this in college football like I said and it generates a lot of buzz. A weekly announcement would do the same thing and keep the information more current. As of right now, these 16 seeds could change significantly over the next month.

2- Include a list of teams on the bubble or, even better, the last four in and the last four out. Now this would be harder because of the need to look at the entire field every week, but can you imagine the buzz that would generate?

Anyway, its a good start that could be really improved down the line.

Hail Brady

I often dream of an alternative NFL history. In it Bill Parcells resigns from the Giants in time for their defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick, to take over and the Giants, fresh off a great Super Bowl victory, go on to dominate the NFL for years.

There are two problems with my dream scenario.  First, Belichick went to Cleveland off of that Super Bowl victory and failed- 36-44 in his time there. And second, Tom Brady wasn’t the Giants QB.

I think it is time to recognize that as accomplished as Belichick is, he is nothing without Brady. Brady is the greatest draft pick ever. Every NFL team missed on him, at least FOUR times. That is their shame and evidence that Belichick isn’t quite the genius people make him out to be. He’s very good, but he hit the lottery with Brady.

Take Brady away from the Patriots and do they win any of their Super Bowls?  I don’t think so.  Belichick has done s lot of great moves, but Brady is the guy who makes it all work.

As for the game.  Atlanta blew it with some terrible play calls and Brady was magnificent when it mattered.

Ahead 28-20 with the ball and just under six minutes, there are two clear goals  1- score to make the game a two-score difference 2- run the clock.  Three plays later, Atlanta is on the New England 22-yard line with 4:47 left in the game.  At this point, goal #1 is within reach a and goal #2 can be achieved if you run the ball.  They ran on first down, lost a yard, and then went to the pass.  A sack, inexcusable at this point, backed them up 12 yards.  That’s not great, but a potential field goal would still be 51-yards at this point, if they didn’t gain another yard.  Instead, they call pass agajn and while they competed it, a penalty negated the play and backed them up another 10 yards- out of field goal range. On 3rd and 33, they tried to pass again, when a run could have got them a possible field goal and forced New England to spend another time out.

And you know against almost any other QB, they still might have gotten away with their stupidity, but Brady, with the help of an amazing catch, made them pay.  My only quibble is with the NFL’s stupid overtime rule.  Both teams should get the ball once to have a championship decided off of a coin toss is ridiculous.

Finally, think about the sports run we are on.  You had the Super Bowl and the college National Championship game decided on the last play. You had extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series.  You had the NBA finals go seven games with a 3-1 comeback by the winning team. And yes, while it broke my heart, you had March Madness decided by a three at the buzzer.

I have been racking my brain to find a comparable run and I can’t.  I think the 2016-17 sports championship cycle is the greatest we have ever seen.

 

 

 

 

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Bye-Bye Brooklyn

Bloomberg is reporting that the Barclays Center will kick the Islanders out after the 2018-19 NHL season.

This is not a major shock. Barclays simply wasn’t built for hockey. It’s asymmetrical, leading to terrible seats on one end of the ice, and the scoreboard hanging over one of the blue lines. Furthermore, the Islanders are simply not drawing fans to the games, ranking third to last in the NHL in attendance which they also did in their inaugural season.  (And yes, they should have built the Barclays Center for hockey, but the original design was massively changed when the financial crisis hit in 2008.)

The question is what happens now? The new owners have been trying to get into a partnership with the Mets to construct an arena near Citi Field, but I can’t see how anyone would bite on that financing. We already have the completely redone MSG, the very new Prudential Center in Newark, the completely redone Nassau Coliseum reopening this spring, the very new Barclays Center, and the sitting in mothballs Izod Center at the Meadowlands, in the immediate area. How many arenas can we realistically support? And while a return to the Nassau Coliseum would have made sense, the renovations have lowered the capacity for hockey to 13,000. The Barclays Center is already the smallest in hockey (15,800) would the Islanders really move to an even smaller venue? Would the league even allow them to do so?

I am afraid that barring some miracle, this probably spells the end of the Islanders in the tri-state area. That’s a real shame. As much as I dislike the team, it has a passionate and loyal following that deserves better. My only hope is that if relocation is the final decision, they go to a real hockey hotbed, like Quebec, and not to some sunbelt city that doesn’t have the passion for the game. The Islanders can opt-out of their lease after next year, so we could have a quick resolution to this. Expect the rhetoric to ramp up quickly.

 

Finally, A Good Game in the Finals!

The result wasn’t what I hoped for, but at least Game 4 of the NBA Finals was competitive. After three-straight clunkers, we needed this as fans.

The problem is, all indications are that his might be it. Golden State has kicked it into a different gear since falling behind 3-1 in the Conference Finals.  Cleveland seems to either not have a higher gear, or is simply overmatched.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope Cleveland can get us back to Wednesday.

The Finals We All Wanted

Sure, if you had a team in this year’s NBA Playoffs you wanted them in the Finals.  But once they were eliminated, this matchup became the thing that warmed your basketball heart. Where to begin?

Well let’s start with the rematch factor. We had an amazing six-game series last year when LeBron basically played the Warriors by himself. This time we get to see if the full Cleveland team can do better.

Add in the 73 wins factor. It looked like the Warriors might flush that season down the drain in the Conference Finals, but they showed grit and heart and overcame a very good Thunder team in 7 games.

Don’t forget the stars. Curry and LeBron are obviously the headliners, but Klay Thompson has emerged as one of the best guards in the game. Kylie Irving and Kevin Love are really good too.

Add it all up and this should be an epic series. Is it too much to ask that it comes down to Game 7, Warriors down by 2, Curry with the ball and time running out?

The Moment Of Crisis

In 1998 the Yankees dominated MLB, clinching the AL East on September 9th in Fenway and finishing with 114 wins. They swept the Rangers in the ALDS, but then the script changed. After an easy Game 1 victory over Cleveland in the ALCS, the Yankees lost their cool and Game 2 in extra innings when Knoblauch held onto the ball and argued instead of getting time officially called. Game 3 was a disaster as Andy Petitte got roughed up and suddenly the Yankees, a team that had dominated all year, were facing the prospect of seeing their magical season end.

I was thinking about that last night as I watched Oklahoma City take apart Golden State and take a 2-1 lead in the Conference Finals. That did not look like a team that won 43, let alone 73 games, last night and the pressure is now clearly on the Warriors. For all the celebrations about winning 73 games, that won’t matter unless they can go the distance. The 72-win Bulls closed things out. The 1998 Yankees rebounded and did so as well, but think about the 2001 Mariners. 116 wins, but a loss in the ALCS denied them a shot at immortality. Those are the stakes for the Warriors. Win and become legends, lose and become an interesting footnote.

Which way will Golden State go now? I have no clue, but it is going to be a lot of fun to watch. Game 5 is Tuesday night at 9PM EDT.

The Agony

There are so many things I want to say about that game, but picture the Britt household tonight. Nate Britt, Carolina’s junior guard just lost the National Championship. That’s because Britt’s adopted brother, Kris Jenkins, hit the game-winning shot for Villanova. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

I said before the game that Villanova would win if they shot 71% again. They came close- 58%. And while Jenkins’ shot will get all of the attention, Villanova’s defense has to be given the ultimate credit. They kept Carolina out of the paint and forced them to become a perimeter team. UNC rose to the challenge, and almost won a game where they shot 43% overall, because they converted 67% from behind the arc.

I will never forget the final image of Marcus Page. Page has meant so much to UNC the past four years, not only on the court, but off of it as an Academic All-American. He hit the tying shot, then watched the winner go in and burst into tears.

I know how he feels.