Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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7 Signs Sports Culture Has Changed

The following 7 signs indicate a changing of the sports landscape. Some changes are more significant than others, but all serve as reminders that the good ol' days can’t last forever. Let's get started.

1) Athlete's Personal Lives Are Big News
Social media has provided the opportunity for fans to be up-close and personal (maybe a little too close) to their favorite sports stars. Two months ago, ESPN showed a segment on Amar'e Stoudemire's wine bath. To take things a bit further, the ESPN correspondent jumped into the tub with Stoudemire to give his personal take on the wine bath. Too much.
It's a good idea to connect athletes to the fans, but this goes a little too far. Such as "reporting" LeBron James' visit to the dentist.

2) No More Bo Jacksons
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Bo Jackson
Due to the demand of keeping athletes in a designated sport, this atmosphere makes it hard for athletes to transition and even excel in different sports simultaneously. Players are able to accomplish this in college such as, Jameis Winston (baseball/football at Florida State), but to perform at a high-level in the professional field is not an easy task today.
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Deion Sanders
Many people may have forgotten, but Deion Sanders is the only person to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series, while also running track. That's a true multi-sport athlete.
Multi-talented athletes could realistically play multiple sports at a high level. However, the specialization and time commitment required to have success in just one professional sport all but eliminates the possibility of anyone playing two.

3) Digital Trash Talk
If you're familiar with ESPN's 30-for-30 series, you may have watched Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (A film that explores the rivalry between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks). This episode is most likely in my top 5 for the "30-for-30" series. The film shows how Reggie Miller did not back down to John Starks, Anthony Mason, or even Spike Lee on the sideline.
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Reggie Miller and Spike Lee (wearing the orange longsleeve and Knicks jersey)
If any player today re-enacted the verbal performance Reggie Miller put on display during the New York series in the 90's, I would be very surprised. Today, most athletes take their beef to Twitter instead of doing their talking on-the-field. After all, athletes are often penalized for their conduct on the field.
The great thing about trash-talking in the days before social media was it generally had to be done in the flesh. Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali—their in-person big talk helped define each of them. For players today, it's just not the same.
4) Baseball Cards Are Irrelevant
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Remember when you used to brag about having a player's rookie card? Those days are long gone. The disinterest with collecting cards has greatly declined, as well as its value. With the vast array of video game selections, younger sports fans have a reason to turn a blind eye to the thrill of trading sports cards.

5) Memes Are The New Blooper Reels

Wishful Thinking in Dallas? (MeloDrama 2014)

Since the Internet is a thing, and since Photoshop is a thing, no longer can a player trip on a basketball court without the world mercilessly making fun of him.
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Baylor Football LB Shawn Oakman
The sports world is definitely not immune from the meme craze. We've seen players such as Shawn Oakman, Brandon Knight, and recently Tony Parker, become victims to the meme-driven social media culture.
I have to admit, most of these memes are pretty entertaining.

6) Unproven Rookies Lead Jersey Sales
Shortly after he was drafted in 2014, Johnny Manziel’s Cleveland Browns jersey led the NFL in sales for a time. When an unproven rookie can generate that level of popularity without having taken one snap in a professional game, you know times are changing.
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Johnny Manziel

Manziel was a star in college, but people who bought his pro jersey did it largely for one reason: hype. We now live in a world where hype can, and often does, trump actual performance.

7) Selfies Are The New Autographs

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An autograph from your favorite player used to be the Holy Grail in sports. Now, it seems physical access to players is more limited, plus memorabilia dealers have left a sour taste in some athletes’ mouths. With autographs losing their luster, selfies have swooped in to pick up the slack.
Case in point: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens recently posed for a selfie with a young fan during a stoppage in play. Instead of a signed puck in a glass case, the fan will likely preserve that selfie for years to come.


Monday, April 27, 2015

You Live to Fight Another Day (Dallas Mavericks)

Last night, the Dallas Mavericks were on the brink of getting swept by the Houston Rockets. Thank goodness J.J. Barea kept the Mavs' energy level up the entire night to move on to Game 5.
You would think the Mavericks would shut it down after being down 3 games, riddled with the injury of Chandler Parsons, and the sudden absence of Rajon Rondo from the Mavericks lineup. However, Dallas put all the pressure on their back and rose to the challenge.
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Coach Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo

I, personally, believe the Rockets took it easy on the Mavericks in order to close out the series in their hometown of Houston this Tuesday. One thing for certain is that Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief after avoiding being a victim of the dreaded, playoff series sweep.
A major part of the Mavericks' new energy level can be attributed to the dismissal of Rajon Rondo. Bad blood between Coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo has affected the chemistry of the Mavericks' success. Due to both individuals possessing an NBA championship, this most likely created a "proud" energy among the two. Although Rondo is a champion on the player level, he has found it very difficult to buy into Carlisle's "championship-formula" on the coaching level.
"Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief..."
From the outside-looking-in, the Mavericks still have a chance with Rondo out of the picture. The only problem is our matchups. Dwight Howard has outplayed Tyson Chandler every night of this series. James Harden will always be an issue against our guards; although, Al-Farouq Aminu did a great job on defense last night. Lastly, Corey Brewer and Josh Smith are willing to be the X-factor in this series.
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Al-Farouq Aminu
Dallas has met a Houston team that can go toe-to-toe with them in every position. If this series extends to Game 6 or 7, Houston may need to close this out as soon as possible. Dallas is playing desperate, which is bad news for the Rockets.
Go Mavs!
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Chris Paul: The Time is Now (NBA)



The 2015 NBA Playoffs will be one of the most defining postseason years for Chris Paul. He's probably the only player with more to gain and even more to lose. Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant missed the playoffs, but their absence doesn't take away from what they've contributed to the game. Although Wade and Bryant have rings, Carmelo is still in his grace period with New York as he returns from his surgery.

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"Clippers basketball is at a level many people my age have never seen. Seriously, never."
As for Chris Paul, the time is now to distinguish himself among the greats who win, instead of those who don’t. Paul’s legacy hangs before his eyes as he presses toward the NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Clippers. His singular, extraordinary career offers no protection from a legacy of "what-ifs". Only what he does from this point forward will matter. From the nature of Paul's mature, "floor general" attitude, it seems his interest in individual awards has long dissipated.

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The pain from 2014’s untimely playoff exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder still burns. This year’s Clippers team has a decidedly more serious edge. The team has been successful in allowing the title of "Lob City" to slowly wither away. Also, this season has been free of last year’s Donald Sterling drama.

Clippers basketball is at a level many people my age have never seen. Seriously, never. The focus of the 2015 Clippers can mainly be attributed to the intensity and drive of Chris Paul. We are all too familiar with the rage of Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant, but Chris Paul's rage is somewhat different.
aul is one of the few players in the game who can offer empathy, as well as ferocity on the court. In order to win championships, you need players like this. Especially players who hold the position of the floor general.

This past March, Paul’s fire scorched Deandre Jordan several minutes later in a moment that will live in Vine forever. With the score tied at 87 (against the Portland Trailblazers) and 1.7 seconds remaining on the shot clock—2.8 on the game clock—Paul got off a shot, and Jordan grabbed the rebound under the basket with a second to spare. Jordan thought the game buzzer had sounded, sending the teams to overtime, so he didn’t shoot the ball.

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He was wrong. Paul was livid.

"Shoot the ------- ball!" Paul screamed, flailing as he jumped up and down. On the way back to the huddle, Paul shouted at Jordan, who had no response. After the game, Paul clarified that he was angered about the situation, not towards Deandre Jordan.
"The crowd roared, but come on, Chris Paul has always performed on this level."
With a captain such as Paul on your team, there is no excuse but to enjoy playing with this guy. I am a Chris Paul fan and will gladly say he's been my favorite player since his rookie year in the NBA. If he ever wins a championship, his ring will be the most deserved for a player of his skill and character. Chris Paul had an admirable season, but it was overshadowed by Curry, Harden, and Westbrook (which is understandable).

I can also point out that Chris Paul's elite play has become the norm for spectators everywhere. Recently, Paul performed a dribble move—a one-handed fake bounce pass tossed several feet in front that spins back to him. The crowd roared, but come on, Chris Paul has always performed on this level.

Los Angeles Clippers v New Jersey Nets


I'm sure Paul doesn't fret over the MVP Award noise. His eyes are focused on something greater. Something which people will always remember when they bring up the Los Angeles Clippers during Paul's era. A championship.

The time is now for Chris Paul and the Clippers. They'll have their hands full against the seasoned, San Antonio Spurs.

'Til next time.

Re-Fueling the I-45 Rivalry (NBA)


A couple of days after the Dallas Mavericks acquired Chandler Parsons from the Houston Rockets last summer, I submitted a blog post titled Fueling the I-45 Rivalry. Months later, here we are. Dallas versus Houston in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

I've never been more relieved for the Mavs to play Houston instead of San Antonio, because the Spurs are on a mission to repeat. This well-oiled machine would have chewed-and-spit back out the Mavericks before Dallas fans could realize what happened. But, Mavericks fans everywhere can breathe now that we're taking on the Rockets.


Before you throw jabs or anything about Dallas, I want you to know I do not have a problem with the Rockets. I just think they're beatable. Well, especially beatable by the Mavericks.

Dallas has had a rocky season, barely finishing with a 50-win record. Suffering from the injuries of Devin Harris and Chandler Parsons will affect the Mavs, but this series will come down to whether or not the Mavericks stop James Harden. I'm pretty sure everyone knows Harden is in the MVP race, so I'm expecting him to "enhance his resume" versus Dallas.This year is very reminiscent of Houston's dominance in the '94-'95 NBA champion seasons. Houston is not going to back down.

This series is calling all Dallasites and Houstonians everywhere to side with their city's respective teams.

The matchup begins this Saturday.



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