Friday, June 27, 2014

Farewell to the Golden Days of Boxing



Muhammad Ali defeats Sonny Liston
Long ago, there was a time when boxing was at the forefront of American sports. You had guys that brought flair and class to the sport, and many spectators would give their undivided attention to see/hear those matchups.

Names such as: Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, and George Foreman (and the list goes on) embodied the epitome of boxing. In other words, these heavyweights (and others) were the force behind the success of boxing in its glory days.



Knockouts, illegal hits, non-stop trash talk, and intense grudge matches made boxing very engaging for boxing and non-boxing fans.

I can remember watching my first fight on PPV: Mike Tyson vs. Lou Savarese in 2000

Mike Tyson in the 90's
 The first punch that Tyson landed was a left hand that dropped Savarese to the canvas. The referee attempted to stop the fight at 26 seconds by getting in between the two, but Tyson continued to hammer away at Savarese, taking down the referee in the process. Shortly afterwards, Tyson was awarded the technical knockout (TKO) victory after only 38 seconds of action.

I also remember my dad finding it hard to believe Tyson had knocked this guy out in 38 seconds, let alone the 1st round. The scene in my house played out as:

Dad: "I'm going to get some nachos in the kitchen."
Family: "Ok, the match is just now starting."
Family: "Oh! Tyson knocked him out in the 1st round!"
Dad: "What?! I missed it! Show me the replay. Ya'll are just playing.." (Unfortunately, DVR was not available in 2000).

And at the end of the match, I became a boxing fan that night.

I continued to watch different fights over the years, and slowly adapted to the gradual decline of the Heavyweight class' notoriety - which eventually turned its main focus to the smaller weight classes.

Now, it seems that the decline of boxing can be attributed to its shift away from glorifying the Heavyweight Class. Instead of anticipating a knockout in less than 3 or 4 rounds, high-profile boxing matches are likely to endure the full length of a 12-round bout.

Could this be the primary mean of extending the viewer time (time = $$$) for designated networks, such as HBO and Showtime?
HBO-sponsored Boxing Ring


Whether or not, the main point is: boxing is not the same. Furthermore, I do not think it will ever be able to reach (or top) its golden days between the periods of Ali and Tyson. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. may be the only fighter to bring "that type" of flair to the boxing ring, but he cannot do it alone.

UFC Fighters in action
Today, the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) have caught the attention of many more fight spectators.

Plus, the disagreements between promotional giants are not helping the sport AT ALL. Fans want to see great fights. I'm sure the fighters want to be in great fights, also; but, the promoters' motives of "tagging" a fight as their own is the main obstacle in scheduling these big matchups (i.e. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao).

Maybe one day, we will be able to see a fight on the level of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Despite a number of losses by Pacquiao, he is still at the top of his game...and we all know Floyd still has some fight left in him.

In all, this can be a good change for boxing. The trash-talk, knockouts, and highly-acclaimed grudge matches may not come from the Heavyweight Class, but the "heavyweights of today" are keeping the boxing landscape entertaining. As for now, I will enjoy as much boxing entertainment as I can - slowly adapting to the future changes in this industry.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wishful Thinking in Dallas? (MeloDrama 2014)

A week after the NBA Finals...now, Carmelo Anthony has voiced his decision to weigh his options around the league.

What city is the best possible fit for Melo?

Here's a list of the top four cities (in no specific order) Carmelo Anthony may consider to play with this upcoming NBA Regular Season.

  • New York
Known for playing almost as much defense as James "Score First, Defense Never" Harden, Carmelo Anthony has taken the important role of being responsible for his team's playoff/championship runs over the past four years. This proves to be a tough, uphill battle due to the lack of all-around players on his New York roster.

Derek Fisher (left) and Phil Jackson (right)
The players on the Knicks roster can be described as one-dimensional, with the exception of maybe one or two guys.

Believe me, if your team (such as the Houston Rockets) can score and find it difficult to play defense, this is a major problem. However, I'm sure New York would be grateful to have Melo back in their lineup. But for now, Carmelo may take his talents elsewhere.


The New York Front Office has really expressed their desire to keep Carmelo in New York...hiring Phil Jackson as Team President and Derek Fisher as the Head Coach. It's evident the New York Knicks Front Office wants a fresh start in NYC with Carmelo as the "go-to" guy, but it seems Carmelo may have other ideas in mind.

  • Houston
The home of James "Score First, Defense Never" Harden. Houston is a great place, but I'm afraid their basketball team offers the same sub-par roster as the New York Knicks. This has nothing to do with my distaste of the Houston Rockets...or maybe it does (I'm from Dallas...it's necessary). In all honesty, the Rockets' roster is great on paper, but sub-par in reality (sound familiar Cowboys fans?).


Dwight Howard (12) and James Harden (13)
I believe if Melo decides to choose Houston as his next place of occupation, he will run into a situation similar in comparison to the New York Knicks.

There is a great deal of offense on the Rockets' roster, which Melo would positively impact...but defense wins games/championships!

Until James Harden and others on the Rockets' roster hone their defensive skills, I do not believe Melo will run the risk of joining the Houston depth chart.

  • Dallas
As an avid fan of the Dallas Mavericks (since the days of Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and Jason Kidd, to be exact), I would really love to see Carmelo join Dirk and company. The reality of the situation is: no one (and I mean no one) wants to share the spotlight with Dirk Nowitzki.

The generation of poster boys now consists of guys who want to have the spotlight to themselves...and it's true, Carmelo wants a team that he can outright claim as "Carmelo's." 


Dirk Nowitzki
Believe me, if Melo comes to Dallas...all season long, we will hear "Melo, Dirk, and company" or "Melo and company, with Dirk sitting out for tonight's game."

Wherever the Mavericks go, Dirk's name will also. It's just how the franchise operates. The main concern I have that may deter Melo from coming to Dallas is one thing: pride.

Championships occur when egos are checked at the door. It's common for their to be friction in the locker rooms during playoff runs, but the team who appears to be the most poise in crunch time has the upper hand in attaning their goal. Will Melo lower himself (and his wallet) to join Dirk and company for a possible, deeper run in next year's postseason? We'll have to wait and see.

  • Chicago
 The Bulls have suffered the last few years with injuries to two previous starters, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, whom greatly contribute to the offensive end for the Bulls. Chicago faces the same problem that the Miami Heat faced this in year's NBA Finals: lack of a Floor General.

 This absence has created an environment where it is difficult for the Bulls to put up points when they need it most. The fact is: Chicago has a defense. Offense is where they've recently suffered, which opens up a perfect segue for me to mention Carmelo Anthony.


Derrick Rose
Melo is known for his offense-first mentality and the Bulls really need this guy if they look forward to starting "fresh." I hate Derrick Rose (see image) had to suffer knee injuries in consecutive seasons, which sidelined him for the majority of the '12/'13 and '13/'14 seasons, but I'm pretty sure Chicago wants to move on with or without Rose being 100%.
And I thought Dwyane Wade's knees were really bad.

Finally, if Melo chooses Chicago, this may be his best choice to relocate and build his brand even more with a solid, surrounding cast of players. Hey, the Bulls made it to the playoffs these last few years without Derrick Rose commanding the offense. Whereas, the New York Knicks couldn't make it to the playoffs with a healthy starting lineup.

Melo has until July 1st before he can meet with teams to discuss potential agreements (I really think it's out of these four choices). Until then, we'll see how the NBA Draft turns out and what waves will surface surrounding Carmelo's decision.

Just an FYI, LeBron has also opted out of his contract.


Man, this is going to be an interesting summer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Guide to Becoming a World Cup Fan

Have you been keeping up with the World Cup in Brazil?

I've only been able to catch a few matches, but I have to admit that I am pleased with the amount of sportsmanship (and foul play) on display in the tournament.

Countries from all over the world (32, to be exact) are competing for the prized possession of the World Cup and bragging rights to hold for the next four years. And while on their way up, or kicked off, the tournament ladder, these guys do everything it takes to win in their designated groups (aka pools) - whether it's kicking a guy in the face to comical, shoving matches.

Sounds like the Olympics, but for one sport. It's that serious.

Argentina Soccer fan cheers on team.
The World Cup offers everyone the perfect excuse to root for any country based on their desired preference of culture, vacation destination, popular athletes, etc.

So what if you live in the United States and wear a jersey from Italy? Or claim to like football more than "football" (American Football). That's the beauty of the World Cup. You can cheer for whoever...and whenever - just know AT LEAST the star player's last name and number for future conversations.


WARNING: Sports fans can be harsh critics and will attack your argument when you fail to know "enough" about your team.

Well, if you happen (or anticipate) to fall subject to such criticism for insufficient knowledge of your "team" and the World Cup, here's a few guidelines for becoming a natural, World Cup fan:

  • Cheer on your team with pride, but don't over-do it.
The last stigma a fan should want to be labeled is a "superfan." Seriously, it's just a game (no, it's not!).
Soccer is life.
I'm pretty sure people wouldn't want to hear about your allegiance to a certain team during every conversation.
It's good for people to know that you're a dedicated fan, but try not to ruin their "World Cup experience" based on how long you've been following a team and why they are sooooo much better than last season.
  •  Stupid Unnecessary questions are not allowed.
"Why does his hair look like that?"
"Is there a coin flip for who gets the ball first?"
"Why are the penalty cards yellow and red? And why don't they have a green one?"
Instead, ask questions that relate to the substance of the game such as: "Who do you think will win the title this year?". Save questions regarding FIFA rules for later.
And if all else fails, just google your question. I'm sure Wikipedia has some vital information to keep you on top of the game conversations.
  • Finally, being observant really pays off.
So you find yourself itching to ask a question about a player, but fail to know his name? No problem. 
You will easily learn during the match because their names are printed across the back of their shirts. Also, team sponsors can be found on the back of the jerseys, but you should be smart enough to know that there aren’t eleven men all called "Pepsi."
In the remaining three weeks left during the World Cup, I hope you will find this information beneficial when cheering for your team(s).

Just remember, it's not just a game...


It's the World Cup in Brazil, man.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

If You Can't Beat 'Em... (MeloDrama 2014)

Now that the NBA Finals are over, we can focus on possible trades/actions in the off-season; such as, where will Carmelo Anthony start the 2014-2015 NBA season?

A Possible "Melo"-drama in the Future

- Remember LeBron James' "The Decision"? -

Well, get ready for a possible "The Decision Part II, featuring Carmelo Anthony" aka MeloDrama 2014.

The New York Knicks have been making some major moves in the front office:
  • Naming Phil Jackson as the New York Knicks' President of Basketball Operations
    • FYI, Jackson really wants Carmelo to stay for one more year in New York
    • Bringing in former NBA player Derek Fisher as the new head coach for the '14-'15 season
Now, major moves are pending in regards to the New York Knicks' roster.

There is always speculation that LeBron James is considering "joining forces" with Carmelo Anthony in New York, as well as other championship-contending teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

At the end of the day, these guys want rings. But the real question is: will they win together or continue to battle it out?

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have played against each other since they were in high school (Oak Hill Academy [Anthony]; St. Vincent-St. Mary High School [James]) and recently matched up several times this past season - with James' team winning three (out-of-the-four) regular season matchups.

By now, it would not be a surprise if Melo considered the phrase: if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em.

"Joining forces" has slightly become a trend within the NBA, where usually a trio of guys band together to give a franchise its best chance at winning the NBA title. We've seen it recently with the Boston Celtics (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett), Miami Heat (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh), even more recently with the Brooklyn Nets acquiring Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.

It seems as though, when players' careers start to reach (or go past) their prime, they contemplate on how much time is left in their career to win a championship.

Could Melo possibly be considering that his NBA "life-span" is dwindling? I would say yes.



There have been so many guys that have been great players, but never won a championship. From their play, you would think these players were decorated with the most-coveted hardware in the NBA.

Just to name several great, ringless players: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, and even Patrick Ewing.

Melo would more than likely want to be included in "championship conversations" with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and the like.

But hey, if Carmelo Anthony shoots for the moon (championship), he'll still land among the stars (great, ringless players).

As we continue to journey throughout the summer toward the start of another NBA season, we'll have to sit back and watch where Carmelo will end up playing in the near future.




  

2014 NBA Finals: The Aftermath

Before we switch gears into the conversations surrounding the NBA's off-season, I want to reiterate a statement from a previous post: DO NOT COUNT OUT THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS



*points finger* see, I told you.
This Finals' series has shown me that:
  1. Miami needs to make some serious adjustments to their point guard position.
  2. Maybe Dwyane Wade doesn't have as much mileage left to go in those knees.
  3. LeBron had the right group of guys to win it all; but, his supporting cast did not deliver as expected (IMO, this supporting cast was extremely better than LBJ's Cleveland crew).
  4. The San Antonio Spurs still have gas left in their tank.
  5. This Spurs' victory may lead to an increase in favoring "good, fundamental basketball."
I guess, after all, there really is a "Country for Old Men." Experience trumped raw skill and flair in this matchup - closing the curtain on a stage that defines legacies.

Unfortnately, LeBron and company were not able to pull through for Heat fans.

Could this be the momentum shift for LeBron to start window shopping for another team? Maybe. But - I'm pretty sure -wherever LeBron goes...his [bandwagon Miami Heat] fans will follow.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 NBA Finals: Obstacles the Miami Heat Must Overcome to "Three-Peat"

To start things off, the bottom line about this series is: you can neither count out the Miami Heat nor the San Antonio Spurs in this series. Both teams have proven this matchup to be as entertaining as last year's, especially with the added tension and desperation to win by any means necessary.

The San Antonio Spurs hold a vital, 2-1 lead in this series and look forward to hopefully closing out the NBA Finals on a good note; whereas, the Miami Heat are willing to take advantage of any opportunity to remain NBA World Champions.

As the series continues to unfold, it has unveiled those three components - resiliency, chemistry, and OMS - that keeps the Spurs ticking. Game 1 and 3 have proved San Antonio's (nearly) perfect gameplan to be very effective when everything falls into place.

And we also see what happens when everything doesn't fall in place - Game 2 was awarded to the Miami Heat in a nail-biting finish, due to the championship-caliber comeback performance by LeBron James (35 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals).

Now, Game 4 is upon us and I'm for certain that (almost) every Miami Heat fan is hoping...praying...and/or wishing that somehow/someway their team will pull through and even this series.

In order to steer the momentum back in favor of the South Beach favorites, the Miami Heat must rise above one main obstacle in their way to finally hoist up the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the third time in a row.

Well, let's cut to the chase...this post is for you: the down-trodden Miami Heat fan.

The Miami Heat's Floor General Has Went M.I.A.
(pun intended)

We are three games into the NBA Finals, and Miami has YET to maintain above-average guard play - specifically at the point guard position.

For those "faithful" Heat fans who may not know anyone else on the team besides Miami's Big Three (James, Wade, and Bosh), your starting point guard is Mario Chalmers...and his back-up? Norris Cole. These two guys have put together "not one, not two..." *LeBron James voice* but three consecutive, sub-par performances in the back court.

Look at these numbers: Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have combined to average 6.7 points per game and 5.3 assists per game in the 2014 NBA Finals. We are talking about two guys that have the job description of "getting the offense going" and I'm pretty sure that roughly five, combined assists via your point guard tandem is going to do the job.

This is why we are seeing Miami's offensive production suffer greatly, despite the great numbers Miami's Big Three provides.Maybe Chalmers did leave his mind on a beach somewhere in Florida...Key West, Palm Beach, Naples?! Because Mario Chalmers' play does not suggest hunger and desperation to bring another championship to South Beach.

And not to mention, Norris Cole. In my opinion, this guy hasn't been the same since Lance Stephenson knocked his face into another world (in case you missed it).

Simply put.

The Spurs point guard duo (Parker and Mills) is whooping Chalmers and Cole on the stat sheet. Until Miami has decent, above-average guard play, Tony Parker and Patty Mills will continue to take advantage of this weakness in the South Beach camp.

2. D. Wade's Knees

Seriously, Dwyane Wade's knees have more fluid than a carton of Tropicana Orange Juice. I commend D. Wade for his drive and determination in adequately preparing for the rigorous road to the championship.

Wade has consistently produced good numbers, making a lot of people forget or second guess about his "bad knees."

Last year, Wade had to get fluid drained out of his knees nearly before/after every game during the NBA Finals. But this year, it looks as if Wade has overcame some of his knee problems.

I'm not saying they (his knees) will never give him trouble this series, but as long as the Heat personnel keep Wade in "championship form"...the Heat have the best chance to grab another title.

3. Constant Criticism

In order to win another championship, the Miami Heat must accept the fact that there will always be doubters, haters, nay-sayers, etc. Whenever a team has the aura of "coasting" to a championship by means of a year-round All-Star Team (i.e., Harlem Globetrotters), you should expect negativity from your opponents.

Anything that happens to LeBron or the Miami Heat, in general, will always be blown out of proportion. Good or bad, the Miami Heat cannot shy away from ESPN or the camera (well, maybe Chalmers...he's put on a magnificent disappearing act this series).
When it's all said and done - win or lose - the focal point will be on the Miami Heat. Reporters will not be as excited for Tim Duncan's fourth ring, compared to LeBron's third straight.
Believe me, no matter the outcome...the focus will be on where is LeBron going after the season ends.

I mean, we're only on the Game 3 aftermath and the sports world is waiting for LeBron's probable departure from Miami to the New York Knicks.

With all of that being said, we will see if Miami can find their Floor General, D. Wade's knees hold up, and develop an immunity to the never-ending criticism.


Friday, June 6, 2014

2014 NBA Finals: Is It Me, Or Is It Hot in Here? (Game 1)


Judging by the final score of last night's Game 1 in San Antonio (San Antonio: 110-95), one may assume - if you read the last post - that the Spurs utilized some of their "old man strength" to take the lead in the series (1-0).

Well, that notion is partially correct. The Spurs did not play their best level of basketball (22 turnovers?), which can arguably be considered the same argument for the Miami Heat. However, the San Antonio bench players outscored Miami's bench 34-20 - not to mention a pounding, 31-9 run in the 4th quarter to close the curtain on Game 1.

Aside from San Antonio's "trio" (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) and the San Antonio bench greatly contributing to last night's victory, the failure of the AT&T Center's (Home of the Spurs) central air conditioning unit also worked in favor of the Spurs.

"Is it me, or is it hot in here?" - LeBron James

With 4 minutes to go in the 4th quarter facing a two-point deficit, LeBron James suffered cramps all over his body and walked in agony to retire on the Miami bench for the remainder of the game (finishing with 25 points) - due to the extreme heat in the AT&T Center.

It seems as if San Antonio can handle more than one type of heat, as long as the matchup is in their arena.

LeBron James' probable weakness can probably be attributed to hot arenas. If so, we should not be surprised if the AT&T Center staff "forgets" to cool down the arena in the upcoming home game for San Antonio on Sunday.

If you remember, Lance Stephenson was unsuccessful in attempting to expose a weakness in LeBron James during the Eastern Conference Finals series. Maybe he can sit courtside for this series and use those tactics again to help cool LeBron James off, so he can finish those crucial 4th quarter stretches this series.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 NBA Finals: No Country for Old Men? Maybe Not.

To all Miami Heat fans out there: Do Not Count Out the San Antonio Spurs Yet.


Just when the NBA world had (almost) written off the "old, traditional, and boring" Spurs, the Old Faithful Trio (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili) wielded themselves back into the NBA Finals to send current MVP Kevin Durant and the OKC (Oklahoma City) Thunder home for the remainder of the season.

San Antonio continues to win, despite facing numerous injuries and the all-too-common label of: being too old to win it all. As the playoffs have shown (San Antonio finshed #1 in the West, by the way), this team is proving itself to be younger than what spectators and the media lead us to believe.

Simply put, the Spurs are playing Chess. As for their previous opponents: Tic Tac Toe - or something like that.

Do you know what "old man strength" is? This may be a valid explanation for the resiliency displayed by Coach Greg Popovich's Old Faithful Trio.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili banded together in the '02-'03 season and have reached the playoffs every single year, thereafter (whether they finished #8, #1, or somewhere in between). To give you some perspective on how old this trio is: Michael Jordan retired from the Washington Wizards the same year this trio won their first championship together.

The Spurs continue to silence their doubters - only in a different fashion, in contrast to their next opponents. Spurs basketball is made up of three elements: OLD. MAN. STRENGTH.

Ok, that was a joke.

Seriously, Spurs basketball consists of: resiliency, chemistry, and (of course, you guessed it) pure, old man strength.

Resiliency: This group of guys have proven they are battle-tested and ready for any opponent in their path to the ultimate goal of the Larry O'Brien Trophy (aka, NBA title). The Spurs are comparable to that old car/truck that your uncle used to drive. Despite its slightly diminished features, highway-worn tires, and radio with sub-par speakers, this truck (like the Spurs) still gets the job done.

Chemistry: I admire the Spurs' Front Office for mixing the right amount of "new school" players with "old school" players. Young guys, such as Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and even the Tony Parker look-alike guy (Patty Mills), give this seasoned Spurs team a great, cohesive unit to give the Miami Heat a good challenge for the championship.

Old Man Strength (OMS): Old man strength is arguably one aspect of a man's life that rarely involves deep discussion. The Old Faithful Trio have utilized this feature a few times this post-season:
  • Game 7 showdown with the Dallas Mavericks (Dallas had OMS, too; I guess San Antonio had more)
  • Literally sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 2
  • Showing the Oklahoma City Thunder: There's an "old" sheriff in town
Is there really No Country for Old Men (aside from what the Coen Brothers suggest)? Maybe not.

The San Antonio Spurs have amassed a great following within the United States, and even abroad to France and Argentina (Tony Parker's and Manu Ginobili's home country, respectively). Although, their level of play may not be attractive to the average eye, they still manage to get the job done - just like your uncle's old truck.

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