Monthly Archives: June 2014

NBA MAYHEM

 

 

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With Byron Mullens, Leandro Barbosa and Cole Aldrich all entering free agency, it is clear that this Summer will be of the most epic NBA off-seasons ever. Teams will be dumping contracts, making trades and doing whatever they can in order to land these prized free agents. It’s not just those 3…Hedo Terkoglu, Beno Udrih, Robbie Hummel and Tony Douglas are all a part of this legendary group of free agents.

 

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Jokes aside, this NBA Summer actually will be epic. LeBron, Melo, Wade, Bosh, Love, Dirk, Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Pau Gasol, and Zach Randolph are all free agents this summer. Expect guys like Dirk to re-sign with their teams. LeBron is obviously the only guy people are really talking about right now, and rightfully so. He is the first piece to the puzzle. I can’t picture too many guys, especially Melo, Wade and Bosh signing anywhere before LeBron. Once LeBron signs we’ll see the rest of the dominos fall. It’s pretty obvious that if LeBron goes back to the Heat, Wade and Bosh will follow and the Big 3 will be back for another run at it. If he leaves Miami…watch out. With all of the attention on the Big 3 and Melo, guys like Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe who can be major additions are flying under the radar.

 

Break down of the Major free agents and potential landing spots:

 

LeBron:

It is well documented that I am a big fan of LeBron. At first  I wanted him to stay in Miami to avoid all the, “Oh look at that LeBron leaving again, no loyalty.” But after I thought about it i realized that would a terrible decision. In his prime, Wade was the most fun player to watch in the league. Lighting quick, could jump through the roof, and get to the hole any time he wanted. But let’s face it, he’s terrible now. He can’t stay healthy and when he is healthy he’s not nearly the player he was. He needs 3 pump fakes to get his jump shot off because he can’t create space. So if LeBron comes back and the big 3 continues, I don’t see them winning another ring. Bosh is still good, but is LeBron and Bosh enough? Pat Riley’s line of “We don’t need to rebuild we just need to re-tool,” is pure bullshit. You can’t just fill the roster with average cheap free agents and expect to be good again. With a healthy and full strength D-Wade maybe…but not anymore. Riley has to legitimately fill the entire roster.

 

If LeBron left he would have the opportunity to do something MJ, Bird, and Magic never did…win a championship with 2 different teams. Obviously I think it’s awesome when guys play their whole careers with 1 franchise, but theres no arguing against the fact that bringing 2 different franchises to the promised land is impressive. His best chance to do that is in Houston. LBJ, D12 and Harden is a much better big 3 than Bosh and Wade at this point in time. If Houston can resign Parsons he’s a 6th man of the year candidate off the bench. There’s a lot to be worked with down in Houston. Lebron and Kyrie could be a nice 1-2 punch, but there’s not enough outside of Kyrie in Cleveland for LeBron. Clippers are also interesting. They would have to move some pieces, but could end up enticing LBJ. Obviously they are already a good team with deep talent. It would be an interesting dynamic with LBJ and CP3 though considering LeBron is pretty much a point forward. 2 smart players that i’m sure would find a way to make it work though. Chicago has been decimated the past couple years, but are always tough. Outside of D-Rose and Noah there aren’t many pieces. Chicago would probably have to promise LBJ some other pieces would get added, but it’s definitely in the mix. Those are the 5 teams that i think are in the running, and there’s always things outside of basketball that rarely get talked about that could also be deciding factors. His wife and family could sway the decision..we have no idea. Get a grip Pat Riley you jamoke.

 

MELO:

Melo is unquestionably one of the coolest players to step on the NBA court. Swag is always on 100 thousand trillion. I love him, but he has to be the most overrated players in the history of the league. It’s not that he’s not a top 3 or 4 talent, his catch and shoot, post game and midrange game are all money, but it’s his style of play. All he knows is isolation 1 on 1 basketball. Volume shooter. Not to mention he’s never been deep into the playoffs. I’m the biggest advocate out there for not solely judging individual players by their team’s success, but come on you have to at least give me a couple trips to the conference championship or something in your 11 years if you’re going to be called a top 5 player in the league. I said it when the Knicks first traded for him, no team will ever have a legitimate chance at a title with Melo as their key player. You can’t feature Melo and then have really good role players around him and expect to be great. But….if Melo was on a team with a couple other really good players, that’s different. Like, I don’t know, maybe Harden and Dwight? Maybe D-Rose? LeBron? I’m all on the Houston train if i’m Melo or LeBron. If you put Melo with some other great players, especially a good point guard, now that could be dynamite. A guy like Rose or Harden could get Melo open and easy shots. Melo can be less of a volume shooter, but still take over a game when he needs to. This is all assuming Melo can adjust his game a bit…play without the ball a little more and not dominate it less. I think it’s between Houston, Chicago, and then possibly teaming up with LeBron somewhere.

 

The thought of Melo and LeBron teaming up is intriguing. At first i thought no way because they both play the same position and need the ball so much. But LeBron is the type of player that could play with anyone. Again, if Melo could play without the ball a little more him and LeBron could easily play together. How in the world would teams guard both LeBron and Melo? Next to impossible.

Love:

All signs are pointing to Love going to Golden State. The Warriors have been dangling Klay Thompson around, putting him out there then saying he’s untouchable, who knows what’s up with that. I would love to see Curry and Love play together. Love deserves to get the hell out of Minnesota and play for a playoff team. He was also spotted in Boston with Rondo, which both of them deny being any type of recruiting. Love is an offensive and rebounding force. Combine him with a Rose, Rondo, Steph Curry or Kyrie and some fireworks could be in store. I think Love ultimately will end up with Golden State. But the Bulls, Cavs and Celtics are major players. Again, a lot depends on what happens with LeBron.

Wade:

He’s staying in Miami regardless of everyone else. I would be absolutely shocked if he were to leave Miami at this point in his career. No further comments.

 

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Bosh:

Again this has so much to do with what LBJ does. Bosh still has a lot left and would be a key addition to a lot of different teams. It’s close to impossible to predict where he would go if LBJ does not come back to the Heat. Obviously if LeBron doesn’t come back, i don’t expect Bosh to. I’ve blogged it before…Bosh is vastly underrated as a complete basketball player at both ends of the floor, he’s a hard worker and a good guy that would make any team better.

 

 

You never know what’s going on with these guys. It’s an interesting group of free agents considering these 4 guys are all good friends. All 4 came into the league together in one of the best draft classes ever and have been good friends since their rookie year. You never know what they’re plotting and scheming.

— Steve Butabi

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HDH: June 25th, Donovan McNabb

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one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that McNabb was actually a very good football player. Over his 13 year career he built a very strong resume, one that has even stirred up some Hall of Fame talk. 59% completion, 85.6 passer rating (NOT QBR), over 37K passing yards, over 3,400 rushing yards, and 6 trips to Hawaii. However, D-Mac will always be known for not being able to get it done on the biggest stage, and that along with the absence of the big shiny thing on his finger will very likely keep him out of Canton. That might sit sour in Donovan’s stomach for the rest of his life, but the way he played the game and had fun on the field has to bring a smile to his face. One of my favorite tunnel entrances of all time was performed by number 5 himself…

Oh, Jerry Jones wants to make us all walk through a bunch of fans and get spooked? How bout I slay the air guitar and scare the shit out of some mother and her child watching me through the glass…

He was an out of shape scrambling quarterback who could unleash 70 yard bombs off his back foot… He rarely buckled his chinstrap… He didn’t know that you could tie an NFL game… He was a Campbell’s chunky soup athlete… And he had a killer Andy Reid impression… How about the time he ran into the Giants bench and decided to pick up their QB phone and act like he was calling someone, legendary stuff. Watch this clip below of D-Mac making unreal play after unreal play, all while goofing off whenever he had the opportunity.

Truly one of the best scrambling QBs ever to do it, not to mention he was doing it before it was cool. At the end of the day McNabb had endless amounts of fun on and off the field, that’s just the type of guy he was and still is, but he was also a warrior who left his heart on the field. I will never forget this one..

So take on your Wednesday like Donovan McNabb took on every game, have a blast, but bust your ass.

– Throc Morton

 

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TBT: JUNE 18TH, TONY GWYNN

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The past couple of years were difficult for Mr. Padre after he was diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland in 2010. An on and off battle with the disease ended 2 days ago when cancer took his life. Gwynn attributed his cancer and mouth issues to his addiction to dipping tobacco. A lot has been made of the smokeless form of tobacco since Gwynn passed, and many are wondering if the MLB should ban it. But instead of delving into that topic we use this TBT to remember and honor one of the best to ever take the plate.  

 

Some of Tony Gwynn’s statistics are absolutely mind bottling, they’ve got my mind all trapped in a bottle. You can start at his career .338 batting average, eight batting titles, 3,141 career hits and 15 all-star games…whatever. The only season he didn’t hit .300 was his rookie year, followed by 19 straight years of over .300. Father Time gets to everyone, and even legends Jeter, Kobe, Tim Duncan, and Jerry Rice all got to points in their careers where they declined. So perhaps the most ridiculous Tony Gwynn stat is that in seasons from 1995 to 2001 (his last season), Gwynn batted .350 at the plate….he turned 35 in 1995, absolutely bonkers. In that 1995 season Gwynn struck out a total of 15 times. Currently, there are 30 MLB players who have struck out more than 15 times in the month of JUNE. He did it against the best pitchers too, he batted over .350 against Cy Young winners throughout his career.

 

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Absolutely incredible numbers. Video Game stats right there. Truly one of the best hitters in the history of the game. Gwynn was spending the last 12 years of his life coaching his alma-mater San Diego State (where he also was a great basketball player).

 

Here is a pretty chilling memorial video of Mr. Padre: 

 

— Steve Butabi

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NBA Draft Preview (top 3)

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Obviously it is no secret that the top 3 players in this years NBA Draft are Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, and Andrew Wiggins. Now is there a possibilty that something happens and a different name jumps up into the top 3? Yes, its the NBA, crazy shit happens often. If I was a betting man I would say that the three young men I mentioned earlier will be the first three names called in a few weeks. The reason I am writing about this is because very recently a report has came out that the Cavaliers were “BLOWN” away by Joel Embiid’s workout the other day, and that they are pretty set on who they are taking with the first overall pick. So with that being said, let’s take a look on how I think it goes down (which is pretty much how every mock draft has it going down as of now.)

1. Cleveland – Joel Embiid – first things first, absolutely absurd that the Cavs got the first pick again. I think the Lottery is a cool idea and all, but if they get near the top 5 again next year something has gotta change. Anyway… When the lottery came out the immediate consensus was that Wiggins would go in this spot, either if the Cavs took him or someone like the Sixers traded up using some sort of combination between the #3 pick, #10 pick, and Thad Young. After Embiid has silenced most the talk about his back being a serious red flag, I think unless the Cavs get an unreal trade offer they take the 7 footer and they fill a much needed spot on their roster. He is huge, relatively solid, can block the dickins out of shots, and can actually shoot the ball better than you think. Embiid. 1st pick. Done.

2. Milwaukee – Jabari Parker – all the experts agree that he is the safest and most sure thing when it comes to the top 3. Hell, the way he can contribute to an offense he might be the most sure thing in a loooong time. The simple reason for the Bucks taking Parker here is that he is already as polished as they come out of college. He will score for them the second he gets there, and he probably becomes the go to guy early into the season. My partner in crime, Steve Butabi, thinks Parker is head and shoulders above Wiggins, and no matter if I agree or not, I think he has a solid point because the NBA is an offensive driven league and Parker is instant offense. Kid should be very fun to watch over the years. Bucks can’t go wrong here.

3. Philadelphia – Andrew Wiggins – draft day, A Wiggins, bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep we stay winning. This works out perfectly for the Sixers. A lot of talk has been focused around Philly trading rising star Thad Young in combination with this pick to get up to Cleveland’s spot, but thanks to Joel Embiid’s physical therapist its looking like the Sixers can sit tight and get what they want, while also keeping their 10th overall pick. Wiggins has been Philly’s eye candy for a while now. It is no secret that they need a shooter, but with the 10th pick in their back pocket and a loaded draft of SG’s, they can afford to take an “all-around” guy. Wiggins is also great for them because the Sixers have cap space out the ass, and are going to try and land at least one big name this offseason. Unlike Parker, Wiggins isn’t going to be Philly’s first or second offensive option, therefore creating more appeal for a scorer to come over in FA. He might be a bit more of a “project”, but he has an extraordinarily high ceiling and thats what GMs like to hear. Perfect piece to the puzzle they are putting together in Philly.

PLENTY of other big names in this years NBA draft, deeper than the marianas trench some might say… But these three are once in a decade type players and that is why they go 1, 2, 3. The Cavs and Sixers are both frequent names on the hot-list of teams to land superstars such as Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and so on… So once the draft takes place, the NBA free agency circus should be wild. Can’t wait.

– Throc Morton

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SPURS BEAT LEBRON

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A lot of people thought that for most of the season the Spurs were the best team in the NBA. They made that clear in the NBA Finals. They ran the Heat right out of the gym in games 3, 4 and 5 and finished the series in 5 games. Many people including myself thought this series would be a lot like last year’s. I picked the Heat to win in a thrilling series that would end in 7 games. After games 1 and 2 I could have sworn that my prediction was going to be correct. But the Spurs came out and dominated the last 3 games of the series. The Spurs roster top to bottom was the clear cut best in the NBA. It’s hard to find flaws in their roster construction…they have 3 future hall of famers and the deepest and most effective bench in the league, oh and they have Pop. They were deep at every position and could rebound, shoot, and defend as well as anyone. Kawhi Leonard rightfully got Finals MVP but they had multiple guys that were in the running. They were better than the Heat at 4 positions on the court no matter what group was out there for them. The Spurs are a classy organization and group of guys that deserve and have earned everything they have received. You never hear about guys getting  in trouble or any distractions in SA. I was rooting for the Heat, but i can’t lie It was cool to see Duncan enjoying it with his kids and Ginobili kissing his wife. I tweeted it yesterday: I think it’s awesome to see guys who make millions of dollars care so much about their craft…on both sides. Seeing the joy and jubilation on the Spurs side, and the frustration and sadness on the Heat side is awesome to see as sports fans.

 

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Popovich has the be the second best coach in the history of the NBA right? Not only has he won 5 championships, the Spurs have been a solid team every single year he has been the coach. It’s not just the rings, it’s the way he got the rings. He has constructed the best team he could, not just a collection of the best athletes. He used international flavor better than anyone in the history of the league. He has an unbelievable eye for talent…to think Danny Green was a starter for this championship team after failing to make other rosters is outrageous. Nobody has a better feel for his team and manges minutes better than Pop. In my opinion, he’s the second best to ever put on the sideline suit. 

 

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Lastly…LeBron. The fact that people are ripping LeBron for this finals loss is crazy. He absolutely carried this Heat team the entire season. Nobody does more for their team than this guy. He is their leading scorer, assist man and rebounder on most nights, and he covers the best opposing player no matter what postion he plays. The Spurs were just a clear cut better team than the Heat. Do people understand that it’s a team sport? Like i get it if you want to compare LeBron to the greatest of all time he has to be graded by the highest of high standards. But i just don’t think you can look at LeBron and be like “Well he’s 2-3 in the finals which is bad so he can’t be up there with the greatest of all time.” That’s just not fair. People forget how hard it is to win a championship. Elgin Baylor, Stockton & Malone, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, and Patrick Ewing are some of the greats that never hoisted a single trophy. Durant, Westbrook, CP3, Mel and Steve Nash, are all some of the current ones who don’t have a ring. You have to take more into account. Like the first time LeBron was in the championship and got swept by the Spurs…his team was average at best. The second and third best players on that team were Mo Williams and Big Z…come on now. LeBron takes a super average Cavs team all the way to the finals, and they lose to a great Spurs team so it becomes a negative? LeBron puts the Heat on his back all year, and falls to another great Spurs team, so it’s a negative? I get it, the greatest have to come through in the biggest moments, which is why the finals is worth so much. In the loss to the Mavs, he flat out crumbled. He was terrible and consistently wilted late in fourth quarters, you can always hold that one against him. All I’m saying is I don’t think carrying 1 very average team, and 1 decent team all the way to the finals, then losing to 2 great Spurs teams with 3 future hall of famers and the second greatest NBA coach ever is something that should define LeBron’s legacy.

 

— Steve Butabi

 

 

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Falcons Hard Knocks Preview

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So it looks like I was off when I said most teams would deny HBO’s offer to film as long as they were able to… well fortunately I was wrong with that prediction because the Falcons should be an awesome Hard Knocks team. I’m still a little butthurt we wont get to see Jay Cutler and Jared Allen just be really cool people, but the Falcons have the ammo to make for a top notch season. Why is that you ask? Let’s get into it..

Julio Jones. He was on pace for a monster season last year before he got injured with a foot injury. It will be awesome to see how he bounces back and how hard he works to get back to the top tier level. I think we could be looking at what AJ Green was to Knocks last season, but with a little more swagger. What intrigues me more is his parter in crime, Roddy White. Not so long ago Roddy was considered a top 5 reciever in the league, hands down. Unfortunately for Roddy injuries have also slowed him down, but one thing has remained constant, the dude can run his mouth. He is known for being a physical reciever who has no problem getting in your face after the play. I can’t wait to see him get into a scuffle with some rookie DB trying to make it in the league. Needless to say, the once unstoppable WR tandem has a whole lot to prove this year, and it all starts in camp.

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Matty Ice. You just know HBO is going to do a great job making us all love Matt Ryan a little more than we already do. I have a feeling the whole team looks up to him as a god even though they havent won a big one in a while. We all know hes a good guy who has proved he can will ball games, but I wanna know more about his personal life, looking forward to seeing him playing cornhole in his backyard or something cliche. (PS: his wife’s name is sarah marshall, you know HBO is gonna get a crack in there at some point).

Luckily for the viewers, Roddy White isnt the only one on the roster known for being outspoken… Asante Samuel and Osi Umenyiora both do their fair share of sub-tweeting off the field, and shoving on it. Asante has never gone a day in his life without asking for a new contract or bashing his current team for not wanting him enough, so that will be interesting to watch, and Osi sure as hell isnt camera shy, these two will not disappoint.

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Steven Jackson and Devin Hester. In the past decade, it’s hard to find two more respected men when it comes to game planning for them. Unfortunately for us they are both on their way out, but I’m sure HBO will get some cool segments dedicated to how good they once where and how they still show signs of greatness. Who knows, maybe we will see the return of one of them first hand.

A couple other individuals who will make for solid TV… Jake Matthews (6th overall pick), Jacquizz Rodgers (shifty lil guy), Arthur Blank (the owner is heavily involved with the organization), and the TE crew (who’s gonna fill in for big Tony?). This time last year the Falcons were a very popular candidate for NFC champ, boy did they take a fall, we get the oppurtunity to see a team try to bounce back to the top. Not exactly sure what we are in store for besides the names I mentioned, but at the end of the day we will see some good football, and HBO will do an excellent job. I’m excited to see the Dirty Birds open up camp, you should be too. Peep the Dirty Bird below…

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-Throc Morton

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TBT: June 12th, Vladimir Guerrero

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9 time All Star… 2004 AL MVP… Career AVG .319… 449 total HRs…

No debating those statistics, Vlad was a beast in the batters box, but that isn’t why he is a legend of the MLB. Lets start with his HOSE/CANNON/FROZEN ROPE he had on him. The man could throw a baseball from the left field wall to the stands in right field, thats almost 400 yards. Nothing gets me more jacked up (while watching baseball that is)  than watching someone just unleash a screamer and get someone out at home. Check this video of a relatively young Vlad just toying on baserunners..

Can’t even begin to count how many times he has made baserunners look foolish in his 16 year career. Vlad was probably more famous for his knack of swinging at literally anything. He had the biggest strikezone in MLB history. He would reach for absoultely anything because he thought if he made contact, it was baaaack-back-back-back-back-back. I mean he has hit balls off the dirt before, no lie…

Baseball doesn’t make em like this anymore, one of the most explosive ever to do it. Click play on this tribute and light up a smile for the best bad ball hitter of all time. Vladimir Guerrero, people.

– Throc Morton

Hard Knocks is Knocking

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Die-hard NFL fans struggle this time of year, because football is dangerously close but yet still so very far away. Most teams are wrapping up OTA’s within the next several days, which means training camp is lurking in the distance. I’m sure there are millions of “fans” out there who don’t follow OTAs, training camp, or let alone any of the offseason. For the fans who love the offseason like myself, its time to start getting very excited, because with training camp comes… HARD KNOCKS. One of HBO’s greatest series they have ever created, yes I said it. The NFL is such an entertaining and special league, and Hard Knocks gives us a first-hand look at what these men go through on a daily basis. Training camp aint easy, and HBO does a superb job of showing how much blood, sweat, and tears go into making an NFL roster. Hard Knocks is the perfect mix of football, entertainment, emotion, and passion.

In my opinion, last season was tremendous. So many good story lines, some unreal characters on the Bengals roster, and pro-bowl talent every which way. It was all you can ask for and then some. Marvin Lewis & co. did what they needed to do for us to enjoy the show, but that was last year, time to move on to this year. Just incase people have forgotten or never even knew in the first place, the NFL has applied some rules to decide who HBO is allowed to make participate in Hard Knocks if no teams volunteer. If a team has a new headcoach, made the playoffs within the last two years, or has been on Hard Knocks before, they are safe. 8 teams do not fall under any of those categories, therefore if no NFL team accepts HBO’s offer, anyone of the 8 can be forced to partake. The Jags, Raiders, Steelers, Bills, Cardinals, Rams, Bears, and Giants make up the (not so) elite 8… Now, I know alot of you would want nothing more to see your favorite team on Hard Knocks, but you have to understand how the coaches, front office, and even veterans can see it as nothing but a distraction, therefore you have to respect teams turning down the offer. James Harrison was a total asshole to the cameras for most of training camp, and he explained why when he basically said ‘HBO doesnt deserve to see how hard we work, they havent done shit to get here’. Harrison isn’t the only player in the league who feels this way, and thats why Hard Knocks has become unappealing to some of the more old-school players. Regardless, HBO will find a team one way or another, and its going to be great entertainment.

Everyone was probably bummed to hear the news that the Browns turned down HBO’s offer, but I shouldn’t even have to tell you why that was a very very very smart move by that organization. So I’m going to assume that most NFL teams that have the offer to decline Hard Knocks will do so, and we will be watching one of the 8 teams listed above during training camp. Time to talk about the potential candidates.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I want to kick my own ass for what I’m about to say here, but the Jags interest me in what they could bring to the Knocks table. Gus Bradley is an energetic coach who knows how to win football games, just hasn’t done much of that yet in j-ville. Blake Bortles was picked 3rd overall to be the future of the franchise, and it is always interesting to see how big name rookies handle early pressure on and off the field. Justin Blackmon showed signs of brilliance last year, but he also has shown signs of mental retardation off the field, he’s no diva, but he is an interesting story. Posluszny is a beast, he doesn’t have too much around him, but he is a tackling machine and I think he would be the blue-collar hard worker the show needs. They have set out to go extreme home makeover on the franchise the past few years and this year is supposed to be the big change, could be cool to watch.

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Oakland Raiders: Like the jags, another rookie QB who is supposed to eventually take over as the face of the franchise. On top of that we have tons of popular new faces coming over through free agency that know how to play some serious ball; Justin Tuck, Matt Schaub, James Jones, Lamarr Woodley, and Maurice-Jones Drew. So we have a serious QB battle to watch which is always entertaining. Some more than respected defensive vets in Charles Woodson, Woodley, and Tuck. Might be pretty cool to watch them mentor the 5th pick in the draft Khalil Mack. Besides Run DMC the raiders don’t have many “superstars”, which he still probably isn’t considered, but overall they have a talented roster and a young coach.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I personally think Mike Tomlin is one of the coolest coaches out there, I don’t think he would bring the Rex Ryan approach to the show but his personality would make people excited to watch each week. The Steelers have a VERY strong roster when it comes to Hard Knocks. They have two of the most recognizable names in the NFL (Roethlisberger and Polamalu). Two very productive receivers and one who you might know from shooting himself in pretty much the dick (Antonio Brown, Lance Moore, Plaxico). A couple young guys who have the potential to be studs as well (Le’Veon Bell, LaGarrette Blount, Jarvis Jones). I think the Roster along with the coaching staff and history of the franchise would make for very solid television. Also I can’t wait to see how fast Dri Archer’s actually is.

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Buffalo Bills: I’ll tell you one thing that is a fact, there is no shortage of hype surrounding the bills this year. Brandon Spikes has gone as far as saying they are gonna shock the world. Newly ‘polished’ EJ Manuel is now surrounded with Sammy Watkins, CJ Spiller, Mike Williams, Fred Jackson, Robert Woods and Scott Chandler; training camp or not that is going to be a fun offense to watch. I think if the Bills got the show it would be a lot more on football and we would see a lot less non-football entertainment, but the show is supposed to be about the grind of training camp, and I think the Bills would make NFL fans very pleased if they get the show.

Arizona Cardinals: we would get the opportunity to witness one the the classiest men the league has ever seen go to work everyday, Larry Fitz. Richard Sherman can’t even talk shit to Larry because of the kind of guy he is. I truly believe Larry Fitz would be a good enough reason to enjoy the Cardinals on the show. Luckily for us, Arizona has an all time great roster when it comes to personalities. Darnell Dockett has destroyed twitter over the past few years, throw him in the locker room with Hard Knock Hall of Famer Antonio Cromartie and we are gonna have some serious laughs. In my eyes patrick peterson has the most potential in the league, I think he might be the best all around player in the game, and it would be sick to see him and the honey badger doing LSU thangs all over the place. Between the secondary, Larry Fitz, a vet QB (palmer), and Dockett, the Cards have to be high on your Hard Knock wish list.

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St. Louis Rams: Please god no. I have absolutely nothing wrong with gay people, I fully support Michael Sam and I hope his journey ends well when all said and done, but we all know what will happen if the rams get the show. Its a shame because the defense has so many young studs and it would be cool to see how relentless those guys are day in and day out, but the Rams just can’t get the show. Regardless if they end up cutting Sam, it will be virtually impossible for HBO not to take advantage of the opportunity they have. Besides that, I think they boast a below average Hard Knock roster. I’d like to witness Bradford try to get things going first hand, but I’m gonna be the first one throwing chairs if the Rams get it.

Chicago Bears: Out of the eight teams, the Bears NEED to get the show, plain and simple. Jay Cutler is one of the coolest guys in the game, thats a fact, you are not allowed to argue with facts. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey are now the undisputed best WR duo until proven otherwise, and B-Marsh has a very cool story to go along with him (look it up). Matt Forte is silently one of the best players in the league. Oh did I forget one of the most ridiculous guys in the world let alone the NFL? JARED ALLEN is a die hard hunting redneck who has a mullet most of the year. Charles Peanut Tillman is a fan favorite and watching him and Tim Jennings mentor first round pick Kyle Fuller would be very cool. They just missed the playoffs last year so we would be watching a team that knows how to things the right way (for the most part). I want the Bears, you should too.

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New York Giants: For some reason I feel like Eli would be incredible on this show, so for that reason I can’t say I would rather watch the Michael Sam saga than the Giants, but it is pretty damn close. I know I’m biased when I say this (#phillystandup), but Tom Coughlin just makes me want to fall asleep. They do have a pretty good roster as far as Hard Knocks goes, but personally I wouldn’t want to see the g-men get the show. Have they won superbowls in recent years, sure, do they make for good television, I don’t want to find out. If they do get it, hopefully Victor Cruz and JPP can lead the way to spice things up, not to mention a very solid offseason minus Will Hill officially becoming a drug addict.

Potential Hard Knock Power Rankings: (out of the 8 that are eligible to get chosen)

1. Bears     2. Cardinals     3. Steelers     4. Bills     6. Jags     7. Giants     8. Rams

-Throc Morton

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US OPEN AT PINEHURST: PREVIEW

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“One of the greatest atmospheres in the world for golf” – Arnold Palmer on Pinehurst.

 

Pinehurst’s rich history makes it a perfect place to host the 2014 US Open. Designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907, the course changed drastically over the years. A lot of people thought it became too commercial, too much like your average country club course. So the board took a massive risk and hired the course design company Coore and Crenshaw, in hopes of restoring some of the classic Pinehurst feel. The 5 year restoration project was completed in anticipation of this US Open. Experts are saying Pinehurst has been restored to its’ most classic era, and will provide a challenging test for the contestants in the biggest golf tournament in the world. Call me a nerd, but golf history gets me fired up. I love the idea that golfers today are walking down the same fairways that some of the legends walked down 50-100 years ago. That is part of what makes the Masters so special, and that is what will make the 2014 US Open special. 

 

Who to watch:  

 

 Adam Scott: The Aussie comes in as the number 1 player in the world, boasting what many experts believe to be the sweetest swing on tour.  Scott is in top form right now having not missed the cut in 9 starts this year, and coming off of a win 2 weeks ago at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Scott’s distance off the tee gives him an advantage over most at any golf course. It is extremely hard to find weaknesses in his game, as pretty much every aspect is ranked inside the top 25 on tour this year. Scott has a swing that travels well wherever he goes, so there is no reason to believe he can’t play well at Pinehurst. Look for another solid week from the Aussie.

 

Bubba Watson: Bubba, so hot right now. Bubba. He has been absolutely en fuego this year. He has finished in the top 10 an unreal 8 times out of the 11 tournaments he’s played. Everyone knows he crushes the ball farther than anyone on tour which allows him to hit shorter clubs into greens, but he only hits about 60% of his fairways. Luckily for Bubba one of the main goals for the Pinehurst changes was widening the fairways. Bubba has been putting as well as he ever has in his career, and if he can continue rolling the rock like that he is the favorite to take home his second major of the year. 

 

Henrik Stenson: Stenson is ranked second only to Scott, but hasn’t exactly been red hot as of late. He comes in with 1 top 10 finish in his 8 tournaments in 2014. Not known as a bomber, Stenson has been hitting 66% of his fairways. If he wants to have a chance to win the US Open, he has to putt better. He is averaging 30.04 putts per round (ranked 180th), a number that needs to be lower in order to win a major tournament. Stenson has been in contention in a lot of recent majors, and I think he has the ability to win one. We’ll see if this is the one.

 

Matt Kuchar: Kuch is the 5th ranked player in the world right now. Off the tee, Kuchar is the exact opposite of Bubba. He lost a good amount of distance when he recently changed his swing, but is still one of the most accurate drivers on tour. He has played in 15 tour events this year and has 9 top 10 finishes and 1 win. Kuch is dynamite out of the sand, and is one of the best scramblers on tour which will help him at Pinehurst. Can Kuch break through? />

 

Phil Mickelson: There is a very odd buzz following lefty after the allegations regarding his involvement in gambling and insider trading. All of the off the course issues aside, Phil has been having a very lackluster year. He has 0 top 10 finishes in his 14 tournaments and has been cut 3 times. If Phil can get it going and find some magic for any tournament however, its this one. He has never won the US Open, but has been so close several times including last year. He needs this win to finally capture his career grand slam. All of the off the course issues as well as his poor play this year points to him not being in contention, which is exactly why i’m predicting he will be right there in contention late on Sunday…and because of this video.

“Come one baby, DO IT! Ahoooo I misread it!” How can you not root for this guy.

 

Jordan Spieth: The young star is 5th in FedEx points and 10th in the world golf rankings. We saw at Augusta that he has the makeup and the resolve to win a major tournament. He has played in 17 events this year and has 6 top 10 finishes including 2 top 5’s. Spieth is a bit weird to analyze because none of his stats rank that high, yet his scoring average is 7th on tour. This kid has been through a lot in his young career, so the big stage will not phase him. I would love to see him get his first major win at historic Pinehurst. 

 

 

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Sergio Garcia: The man everybody loves to hate. He has played only 8 events in the U.S. and has 5 top 10 finishes including 2 top 5’s. Unless Serg goes on a crazy run winning several majors, it is safe to say his career has been disappointing. He has been a solid player and the in my opinion the disappointment is unwarranted because it comes from the hype that surrounded him when he was a teenager. He is back in the top 10 in the world right now and I think has good a chance as ever to capture his first major this week. His scoring average is 1st on tour, his sand saving score is 2nd on tour, and his greens in regulation is 8th. I would absolutely love for Serg to piss everyone off and go win a major. 

 

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Rory McIlroy: 
A lot has been made of Rory breaking it off with his fiance Caroline Wozniacki, I’m not going to read much into that though. Rory has been off to a much better start in 2014 than last year, as he has 6 top 10’s in the 9 starts he has made in the U.S.  He also has played well in the tournaments he has played overseas. He must be used to his new Nike equipment..finally. For a little guy Rory crushes the ball, and when he putts well he is the most explosive player in the field. He makes more birdies than anyone on tour, but he has to play more consistently if he wants to get back to his winning ways in majors. 

 

Jim Furyk: Furyk is another one of those guys that quietly plugs along all week and always ends up in contention on Sundays. Even though he’s the 12 ranked player in the world, you never hear too much buzz about him. He is an accurate driver and hits a lot of greens in regulation, but never really wows you. He’s pretty opposite to Rory in my opinion. He’s a consistent golfer who seems to play well at all different types of courses. 

 

Whatever your opinion is on Tiger, golf is more entertaining with him. Either you love him and want to see him win, or you hate him and can’t wait to watch him crumble on Sunday. I was hoping he was going to get back for this week, but that’s obviously not happening. That’s all i’ll say on Tiger right now, because that’s all anyone should say about Tiger right now. But i guarantee you will see ESPN and the Golf Channel coverage analyze Tiger’s return, or talk about how his absence effects the field. The attention should be on the players who are actually teeing it up this week. Regardless, i’m super pumped for this thing to finally start. I can’t wait to see how Phil comes out and plays. I think if he can put up a good score on Thursday he can be in contention. 

 

— Steve Butabi

 

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NBA Finals

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 It’s the perfect time for Throc and myself to fire up Press Box Pillow Talk right now amidst the NBA Finals. One could not script the first two games of the series any better. Twitter has been a warzone…LeBron haters got to feast on him after his cramps got the best of him at the end of game 1, but LeBron fans won the battle after he went for 35 and 10 in a game 2 win last night. Whether you like, love or hate LeBron, you cant argue that after 2 games this looks like it is going to be another thrilling series.

 

Before I delve into some analysis of the first 2 games, I want to address something that i’ve seen all over twitter, facebook and every other social media site out there. It’s the comparisons between LeBron James and hockey players.

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These memes along with tweets like, “LeBron would never last a period in the NHL he’s so soft.” “I would like to see LeBron step in front of a slap shot then keep playing.” These comparisons are so unbelievably ridiculous it’s infuriating. No shit LeBron isn’t as tough as most or all NHL players…he plays basketball. We’re talking about 2 completely different sports with 2 completely different cultures made up of 2 completely different types of athletes, from 2 completely different demographics. Everybody knows NHL players are some of the toughest guys out there. So comparing LeBron or any other basketball player to an NHL player is plain stupid. LeBron, Duncan, Jordan, no NBA player has or ever will have to take a slap shot to the ankle coming from Chara at the point. NHL fans jump at every opportunity to brag about how tough their players are. I can’t remember in my 21 years of existence anyone questioning the toughness of hockey players (as a group not individually, everyone knows Crosby’s a pussy). Playing through pain, finishing shifts, coming back early from injures…that stuff is all a part of the culture of hockey. Basketball does not have that kind of culture. My guess is that die hard hockey fans do this because they are bitter about the fact that the Stanley Cup Finals games are getting less than half of the viewers that the NBA Finals games are getting. We get it, LeBron can be soft and whines for calls…but compare that to Kobe, CP3, Noah, and other basketball players that are considered “tough” because comparing him to NHL players is beyond dumb. 

 

Now…my take on the first 2 games.

 

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Game 1: Through 3 and a half quarters game 1 was amazing. Back and forth action, teams trading buckets at both ends. It was cool to see all of the stars show up, Duncan was 90% from the field, LeBron was his usual self, Wade was getting buckets, it was just fun to watch as a basketball fan. Then the AC went out. It was easy to see both teams were fatigued, and the level of play went down. While it is true that both teams had to play in the same temperature, it is safe to say that with San Antonio’s deep bench, they were better suited to play in the conditions. I’m not saying that if the AC didn’t go out that the Heat would have won, but you can’t tell me that temperature didn’t play a big role in the game. LeBron went out with cramps and the Spurs went on a huge run to close out the game. I’m not even going to talk about the cramps, LeBron plays more minutes than any other player and does more for his team at both ends of the floor than maybe anyone in the history of the game. AC unit or no AC unit…Duncan was lights out, Danny Green couldn’t miss from 3, and Manu was balling out and that is why the Spurs won the game, cramps or no cramps.

 

Game 2: Also a fun game to watch, this time through to the finish. The storyline was simple, LeBron was out to prove something after his failure to be on the court at the end of game 1. After the first quarter he consistently made championship plays and carried his team. Not only did he go for 35 and 10, but he locked down Tony Parker at the end of the game. Unsung hero of the game and a guy that doesn’t get enough credit: Eric Spoelstra. I think he did a great job of managing minutes (specifically LeBron’s), and watching the Heat defensive rotations is unbelievable. Not to mention some of the sets they were running sending Ray Allen off screens as a decoy to get guys like Rashard Lewis open…incredible. LeBron gets so much credit because of the floor general that he is and sometimes Spoelstra is forgotten about. The Spurs are a great team, but if LeBron gets locked in like that and their shooters are hitting 3’s they have no chance. Don’t forget about Bosh hitting the go ahead 3 then tossing the sweet bounce to Wade for the nail in the coffin. Bosh is so underrated as a complete basketball player. He can defend, rebound, has a midrange game, post game, and can hit 3’s. Miami did what they had to do in San Antonio getting 1 of the 2, but the Spurs are a great road team so they can’t take a deep breath. In last year’s series the Spurs were close in all of the games in Miami. I hope the rest of the series is like these first 2 games. 

 

— Steve Butabi

 

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