Wishing, Wanting, and Hopefully Having

            With one of Indiana’s teams down 1-0 in a NBA playoff series, another team with its owner in rehab, and its own college failing to make any post-season run, there is a lot out there for sports fans to desire. Since this may be my last post in a while, I would like to share my thoughts on what would lead Indiana back to the top of sport prominence.

As many readers out there know, the Indiana Pacers, number one seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their first playoff game to the eight seed Atlanta Hawks. Do not take this article as giving up on a team with talent from top to bottom, but there are problems that have to be addressed. Unless feelings between teammates are significantly changed, moves need to be made and new faces need to be brought in.

The move that needs to be made is allowing Evan Turner to make his way out and secure the future of Lance Stephenson. Despite the fact that Turner has had some worth playing big minutes in Indiana, the on-court chemistry between him and other bench-contributors has not been there; which I believe to be a large part of the team’s struggles. Lance-Stephenson-280x300

The same cannot be said for Stephenson who thrives with second-team players, and has his most value distributing and driving the ball against lesser opponents. However, due to his significant drop-off in production, I would like Lance to realize that Indiana is the place where he will win his championships and take less than a max contract (which will most likely be offered from another, worse franchise).

Since I have already voiced my thoughts about Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a previous article, I think it would be better to leave it brief and only discuss players that step foot on the gridiron. The section of the team that I would like to analyze is not always viewed as the most important, but everyone knows that it can change the momentum of the game: Special Teams.

Proven by numerous speedsters- like DeSean Jackson or Devin Hester- successful punt and kick returning gives something for a team to rally around and triumph, and the Colts have lacked this kind of playmaker for as long as this writer has been watching. With free agency in the rearview mirror and most worthwhile players gone, finding a PR/KR specialist could be a steal, and that is exactly what Joshua Cribbs is.

Joshua Cribbs, Bryant McFaddenDespite his lack of production on offense, Cribbs has proven his worth on special teams over and over again. Cribbs has the lateral quickness to make tacklers miss and the speed to distance himself from the rest of his pursuers. Bolstering double-digit touchdowns on special teams, if Joshua Cribbs still has anything left in the tank and the smarts to keep his head down, he could make big contributions to a team that usually plays in the post-season.

The last team I want to talk about is the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, because I think that it is time for Tom Crean to make his exit from Bloomington. As a Hoosier fan, I respect Crean for bringing the team out of the depths that they found themselves in after the Kelvin Sampson scandal, but he has served his purpose to the university. With his best player, Noah Vonleh, entering the draft and a ton of others transferring to different universities, now is the time to open a new chapter at Indiana. This new chapter is named Mike Woodson.

Fresh from being a scapegoat with the New York Knicks, an Indiana alumnus is exactly what the team needs. Not only does Woodson have ties to IU and the know how to get his players to work hard- shown by the increased effectiveness of his former superstar Carmelo Anthony- but there is nothing more appealing to a high school recruit than NBA experience. Mike Woodson has shown that he can be successful on the professional level, so I am sure that he would thrive in Bloomington.

Silver to Raise NBA Draft Age to 20

adam silver

Newly announced commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, says that he wants to make some new rules for the NBA Draft in the near future. He plans on making college players be at least 20 years old and/or play in college for at least two years.

In my opinion, I think that this is a great idea, mainly because it will make the players realize what college is all about. Then if they start enjoying their classes, then they might stay all four year for a backup plan in case of injury.

This has always been one of the biggest controversial topics of college players declaring for the NBA Draft. Silver says this is at the top of his priority list.

There are some college players that aren’t even 19 yet and have already declared for the NBA Draft. For example, Noah Vonleh, who just turned 18 in August has already declared for the draft and won’t even be 19 when he gets drafted. Well luckily for him, he doesn’t have to worry about that rule because it isn’t even intact yet.

Any changes wouldn’t be in place by next season because the league is waiting for the players’ association to name an executive director before officially starting discussions. But it’s clear there’s a growing force to think about this issue through soon, possibly in time for the 2016 NBA Draft.

I guarantee that freshman coming to college in the 2015-2016 season won’t be skipping class, so that they can get the grades to play for at least two years.

These players need to realize how talented they are to be able to skip their next two or three years of college and go straight to the NBA. They don’t realize how good they have it.

After David Stern has stepped down, I can already tell that Mr. Silver is ready to make some changes and improve the NBA.

Pacers Get Lucky

After a back-and-forth battle between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, the Pacers have finally clinched the number one spot for the East Conference, but not in a self-deserving way. It was given to them.

Following a strong start at the beginning of the season, with setting a franchise wins record, it seemed to be clear who was going to take the East Conference top spot, until about a month or two ago. The Pacers began to fall apart, and it happened rapidly. If they would have beaten the Knicks on March 19th, they would have been four games ahead of the Heat, but they lost, giving the Heat another chance to catch back up.

When the team finally started to pull things back together and play the way they did at the start of the season, things were looking up. If the Pacers are to face the Heat again in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was crucial for them to have home court advantage. It all came down to the home game vs. the Heat. Fans were worried, but somehow the Pacers put the past behind them and finished a strong and close game to beat the Heat. All they had to do was keep winning and not lose the easy games…which they did. Not only did they lose easy games, but the Pacers managed to score a historically-low first half with only 23 points. Coach Frank Vogel sat his starters for the next game because of their poor performance, and somehow they managed to barely beat Milwaukee. Again, thanks to luck.

In my opinion, ever since Larry Bird tried to clean up some issues within the team, such as trading team captain Danny Granger, the team camaraderie has clearly vanished. The Pacers slowly began to fall apart and that element of holding the team together was simply not there anymore. It seemed as if they had lost their team captain, their veteran, and number one guy to look up to for assistance and experience..oh wait, they did. In a recent interview with Larry Bird, the president of basketball operations, he stated that he did not “believe that the departure of nine-year Pacer forward Danny Granger disrupted team chemistry.” Bird believed that the trade to get Andrew Bynum was important for the playoffs, but let’s not forget about the regular season leading up to the playoffs Mr. Bird.

It hasn’t been easy nor has it been enjoyable, but the Pacers have finally clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t do it by dominating the conference and beating teams, but because they got lucky and the Heat happened to lose their last two games.   Starting as the dominating team of the conference to now a team based on luck, is not something to ride on in hopes of getting them through the playoffs. Along with the number one spot, they now have home court advantage. This will help immensely, but they also need to work on their team chemistry and get back to playing like the team they started with in November.

Luck can only take you so far and I can only thank the Heat for losing.

NBA Player Supports Marijuana Use

nba_a_lsand_cr_200x300

This past Friday, Milwaukee Buck’s Center, Larry Sanders, was suspended five games because advocating the use of marijuana. Sanders has been studying the drug and its benefits. With that being said, he believes it’s not as bad as everyone builds it up to be. He wishes to use it as a pain reliever/relaxer.

Sanders is not the only person in professional sports who supports marijuana use. The cornerback from the New York Jets, Antonio Cromartie suggested a few weeks before the Super Bowl in February that the NFL has been wasting its time on banning marijuana, even though that Cromartie doesn’t use it. Also, head coach for the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll, believes that the NFL should do an investigation in medical marijuana and see if it can help players progress though injuries.

For those of you who don’t know much about marijuana, here are some facts. It is legal for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington and the medicinal use is also legal in 20 more states.

Early on Friday, Sander was told to make a statement to be soon to be released by the team. This statement said: “Larry Sander has a responsibility to every person in our organization and our fan. We are all disappointed by the news of his suspension.”

After that, Sanders apologized for everything that he did.

Sanders is already out for the whole season due to being injured to Houston Rockets’ James Harden while being elbowed in the eye while both of them were going for a rebound. After that he was ordered to have surgery for a fractured right orbital bone.

Larry Sanders also has been out for about two months earlier this season due to tearing a ligament in his right thumb during a fight at a Milwaukee night club.

So once he is active to play, Sander will then have to serve his five game suspension.

The Pacers’ Plummet

AP Photo

AP Photo

At the start of the season, the Indiana Pacers were the hottest team in the NBA, bolstering the league’s best record and its’ next emerging superstar, Paul George; not to mention to development of Lance Stephenson into a perennial triple-double machine.

However, the season progressed and reality caught up the Pacers. The trade for Evan Turner didn’t seem to be panning out like it was supposed to, revived former All-Star Andrew Bynum once again was out due to knee problems, and the team lost its top spot in the East. The Pacers have lost 10 of their last 21 games, at a time when the playoffs seem to be close enough to touch.

In this slide, the entire roster has not nearly played to the bar they set for themselves when they owned the top spot in the Eastern Conference; a position that was taken by the Miami Heat, a team that the Pacers just beat and will be playing again on April 11th. In recent games, the bench has had its production crippled by the injury of C.J. Watson, the drop-off of Luis Scola, and the lack of production from Evan Turner. However, the major problems seem to be with the starters.

Since before the All-Star Break, the starting five did not seem to be clicking like they had been, and the situation reached a peak after Friday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. While answering questions after the game, Center Roy Hibbert had some harsh words about his teammates: “Some selfish dudes in here…I’m really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don’t know. We’ve been talking about it for a month.” (For Full Quote)

AP Photo

AP Photo

One can only guess that Hibbert’s comments are referring to Paul George and Lance Stephenson, who seem to be handling the ball most often when the team is on offense. And it is true, during their recent rough patch, attempts by George and Stephenson have stayed significantly higher than Hibbert’s. Not to mention the numerous rebounds that Stephenson has stolen from the center, which has to be extremely obnoxious coming from a teammate.

To this writer, it all comes down to winning basketball games. When a team can put a check in the win column, chemistry problems seem to fade away. Every athlete is a competitor down to their core, and losing exacerbates negative feelings that would normally not be strong enough to voice to the media. If George can rise back to his MVP status and Stephenson can flirt with a triple-double every night, I feel like Hibbert would not have the urge to make such a comment.

Most NBA analysts are quick to hop off the Pacer’s band wagon, but I will always keep some faith in a team that can beat the Heat. Lebron James refuses to lose, especially when it comes to the Pacers, so the win proves that there is still some drive in the roster. During their third match-up, both teams admitted to the impact of the game to their momentum, both experiencing their own version of a skid; and the Pacers pulled out a win, temporarily holding off the Heat from the coveted one-seed.

What I learned from that game is that the Pacers do have the ability to pull it all together and win, even against talent like Miami. But, if the Pacers do continue to play like they are, who knows if the Pacers will even get to face the Heat come playoff time. Getting crushed by double digits on a consistent basis does not bode well for a team that was expected to fly through a weak East and beat Miami to get over that hump.

 

Paul George Building Up A Bad Image

Image

These past two years, Paul George has made a huge buzz for himself in the NBA. Three years ago, his rookie year, nobody even heard of him and now he’s considered one of the top five players of the NBA.

Well last week there was a rumor going around that he was “catfished”. For those of you who don’t know what being “catfished” means, I explain it to you. A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

So what happened was that someone was sending him selfies of a woman and he obviously thought it was a woman that was sending it to him. Well he was wrong. It was actually a gay male who was sending him those selfies and then later nude photos. So after he received those nude photos, he decided to send back some nude photos.

Once the gay male received these photos, he posted them on the internet and they went viral. This currently gave Paul George a bad image.

It turns out that this gay male who was “catfishing” Paul George was also doing the same scandal to Kenyon Martin and even rapper Romeo. This gay male might even be able to “catfish” some more celebrities.

Well being a pro athlete, this wasn’t a very professional thing for him to do. Especially right now because the Pacers have been struggling really bad. This is probably the worst the Pacers have been playing this whole season.

I wouldn’t even say that the Pacers are the only ones who are playing bad right now, I think Paul George is playing pretty terrible too. If you’d ask me, I’d probably say that this scandal is what has caused some of their losing lately.

 

Bird’s Mistake Affects The Team

pg

Trading Danny Granger is beginning to affect the Indiana Pacers more than people expected, as the Pacers have obtained a 4-game losing streak. As a top competitor for the number one seed in the East Conference, the Pacers will have to quickly bounce back to keep the Miami Heat from sneaking into that number one spot.

When news broke of the Pacers trading Danny Granger, many believed it was a poor choice, but many people also thought it was a strong deal that would only seal the NBA Finals title for the Pacers. As a fellow blogger wrote a few weeks ago, chemistry is what holds a team together. Although the team had it’s best record last season without their team leader, it was only time until the Pacers suffered the loss of Granger, especially after all the hard work and effort he has contributed this season after his big return.

After a tough loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 4th, the Pacers just couldn’t bounce back as they followed with another loss to the Bobcats, as Paul George only scored two points. The Pacers need to finish the season they way they started, strong and dominant, if they want to clinch the number one seed in the East Conference and be successful in the playoffs.

A team’s downfall, such as the Pacers, only proves how much one player, whether they are a leader on the court or on the sideline, can affect a team’s chemistry and performance during the season. Granger has been out for most of the last two seasons due to injuries, but his presence on the team has been much greater than many thought. He has been the image of the franchise in years passed, and to lose someone as important as he has been, affects the team more than the outside audiences witness.

dg

As March becomes the center and most important time for basketball teams, the Pacers better bounce back quickly, if they expect to finish strong and have a successful playoff run. Before the season started, many claimed that this season was easily the Pacers, and the Pacers began to prove their dominance throughout the season, until now.

So, Pacers, I ask you to please finish the season strong, and do it for Danny Granger and all his hard work he’s put into this team in allowing you to be where you are now. Do it for Danny, and all the Pacers’ fans, we’re begging you.

Allen Iverson Retires #3 for the Sixers

Image

This past Saturday, the great Allen Iverson had his #3 jersey retired for the Philadelphia 76ers. This ceremony happened during the halftime of the Washington Wizards at 76ers game.

Over the span of his career, he’s began playing for the 76ers from 1996-2006, then in December of 2006, Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets. After that, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons in November of 2008, and then later signed with the Memphis Grizzlies in September of 2009.

A few months later Iverson told his representatives that he wants to be back in Philadelphia, so they made it happen. He ended up playing there from 2009-2010 and had to leave towards the end of February due to some health issues with his daughter, Messiah.

After the end of the 2009-2010 season Iverson went overseas and joined the Turkish Basketball League. He played there until he had to quit due to having calf surgery, which forced him to move back to the United States.

He made the official retirement statement in October of 2013. Iverson said that he’ll always be a Sixer until he dies.

Iverson will always be one of the best players in the NBA that was six foot and under. I remember the day I got my Iverson jersey. I also had a pair of Iverson shoes, along with a fingerband, headband, and wristbands that I wore during fifth grade basketball.

According to ESPN, Iverson jerseys were in the merchandise stand and were being sold for $130, also the lower level tickets were going for as much as $1,280 according to StubHub an hour before the game.

Chemistry: The Glue that Holds it All Together

Dolphins

Anytime team dynamics get brought up to the media, the first word that comes to mind is “Chemistry”. When selecting which teams are going to have success, chemistry seems as important as the in-game strategy or the players that suit up. Dating back to classic sports movies like Hoosiers or Remember the Titans, no team can have success without creating a unified community.

However, many in the sports world must have slept through that day of class. Take the Miami Dolphins for example. One of the most recognizable sports franchises in the country, but they have been in hot water for just this issue. Charged by an independent NFL investigator with not fostering an acceptable work environment, offensive line coach Jim Turner and athletics trainer Kevin O’Neill have been fired while Coach Joe Philbin has effectively put himself in a win-or-fired situation.

The problem the Dolphins organization has is chemistry. Richie Incognito saw his place on the offensive line as the older brother who gave his siblings a hard time, while Jonathan Martin played no part in the family and saw himself as the harassed outsider. The line lacked chemistry, leading to problems on and off the field. These complications resulted in a media hail storm and sub-par performance from a group that is composed of mostly above average lineman.

Using the stellar model that the Dolphins set down, is chemistry more important than individual players’ talent? That is the question that commentators on the Indiana Pacers are asking. After trading long-time Pacer, Danny Granger, to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, some critiques are saying that the team has effectively given up their trip to the NBA finals.Granger

Media outlets say that Granger was a big part of the team chemistry, and without him, the entire flow of the game will be changed. But let us act as rational observers and look at a few of the facts. First, the Pacers cruised to the best record in the NBA without their backup small forward, showing that the team is capable of winning without him. Second, Turner and Allen bring young talent to the Pacer’s bench, bolstering the deepest, most skilled bench in the entire National Basketball League. Third, the amount of money saved on Granger’s contract will give the Pacers more cap room to sign blooming superstar, Lance Stephenson, who will need a huge pay day to keep his constant threat of a triple-double in Indiana.

Overall, yes chemistry is a vital component to winning on any level, but there is something to be said about team leadership manufacturing team chemistry on the fly. In the Dolphins’ case, team management was not strong enough to create healthy relationships between feuding players. However,
with the knowledge of Larry Bird and the on-court leadership of veteran players like David West, the Pacers may be able to overcome their chemistry problem and claim their first NBA title.

Why Some Sequels Never Work

space jam

In the entertainment industry, there are several movies with directors that feel the need to create a sequel. In some cases, these sequels are successful, but in others, they are a complete fail. There have been many rumors of a “Space Jam 2” sequel, not starring Michael Jordan, but instead featuring LeBron James. Although, James has denied the report, making this sequel would be the biggest mistake Warner Bros. made. Here’s why.

1. Sequels are never better than the original. No matter how much they try, the sequels never live up to the original. Space Jam was a box office success opening at #1 in the US and grossing over $230 million worldwide. This movie was a surprise. One of the kinds that you don’t know what to expect until you watch it and it surprisingly has a different, and interesting plot. There hadn’t been a movie with a similar plot line before Space Jam. Directors try too hard when they try to create the sequel and the audience knows what to expect at this point, and the satisfaction never lives up to the original movie.

2. It idolizes mediocrity. LeBron James just isn’t good enough to replace Michael Jordan in this role. Space Jam was published in 1996, a year after Michael Jordan returned to the NBA after retiring in the beginning of the 1993-94 season. Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a three-peat championship in 1991, 1992, and 1993. After he returned to the NBA in ’95, he led the Bulls to three more consecutive championship titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Yes, I understand LeBron James and the Heat have 2 consecutive titles, but he honestly has not accomplished as much as Jordan had during the time of the making of the movie.

space jam 2

3. The greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan. Along with reason number 2, LeBron James will never be the greatest basketball player of all-time. He’s pretty darn good, I’ll agree, but nothing will live up to the legacy of Michael Jordan. Yes, I’m a little bias, and I am not a Miami Heat nor a Lebron James fan whatsoever, but simply put, LeBron James does not equal Michael Jordan. I guess my hatred towards James started when he abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers and the way he publicized it. Michael Jordan stayed true to the Bulls, despite retiring, but came back to the same team to help win more championships. His first season back from retirement, 1995-96, around the same time the movie was published, he helped the Bulls achieve an NBA record of 72-regular season wins, which is still unbeaten today.

After LeBron James denied the report of him starring in the sequel, there are still rumors floating around that Space Jam 2 is in the works. Regardless of who the NBA star is, nothing will ever live up to the original movie with Michael Jordan. Jordan will forever remain as the greatest basketball player of all-time.