The young Washington Wizards take on the perennial playoff contenders in the Chicago Bulls

The young Washington Wizards take on the perennial playoff contenders in the Chicago Bulls

 

Only three times in the modern era has a team three-peated: theMichael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1993 and again in 1998, and the tandem of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002. Since the NBA/ABA merger, two teams, the 1982-85 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1984-87 Boston Celtics, have made it to the finals four consecutive seasons.

The Miami Heat have the chance to etch their place in history by checking off both of these task. Or will the MVP favorite Kevin Durant lead his Oklahoma City Thunder to the Finals and capture his first NBA title.

We will all find out in June, but for now, let’s see who gets out of round one of the 2013-14 NBA playoffs.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS

(1) Indiana Pacers vs. (8) Atlanta Hawks
Regular season series tied (2-2)

Despite the Atlanta Hawks backing their way into the playoffs with a 38-44 record, they have won seven of their last 10 games, albeit following a six game losing streak. The scoring backcourt of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver–and swingman Louis Williams coming off the bench, who could drop 20 on any given night–could pose a legitimate threat to the No. 1 seed Indian Pacers who have developed an allergy to scoring points.

All-star center Roy Hibbert has either been in witness protection or on missing posters with his disappearance in games as of late. In the month of April, Hibbert has averaged 5.3 ppg and 3.2 reb/g–unacceptable for a 7-footer. If the Pacers plan to book a ticket to the NBA Finals, Paul George is going to have to elevate his play to a superstar level.
Regardless, the Hawks are 38-44 for a reason. Look for Indiana to exploit the Hawks inexperience by locking down on defense. Pacers in 6.

(4) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) Washington Wizards
Regular season series (Wizards 2-1)

I’ll admit, this series has me torn. On one hand, the growth of John Wall has placed himself as realistic top-5 point guard in the NBA today. He’s arguably the fastest player in the league in the open court, athletic and fearless going to the basket–not to mention second year guard Bradley Beal has stepped into his own averaging 17.2 ppg. But on the other hand, the NBA playoffs forces a team to play traditional half court-styled basketball, the Chicago Bulls forte.

Joakim Noah is the frontrunner in my eyes for Defensive Player of the Year, and 2011 Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau is a mastermind on the defensive side of the ball as the Bulls are first in points allowed giving up 91.8 ppg on the season. The Wizards are young, but talented, well-coached and they deserve to play on this stage. Wizards in 7.

Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets
Regular season series tied (2-2)

The Brooklyn Nets are made for the playoffs. They are a veteran led team with leadership, versatility, depth and have an identity. Since the All-Star break, the Nets are 33-13. I completely wrote them off at the beginning of the season. If Brooklyn can remain healthy and not look pass the Raptors (winner faces the Miami Heat; Nets swept Heat in regular season), they can take this series in five games.

But a winner of 48 games this season, the Raptors are no pushovers. Leading scorer and should-be-most-improved-player-candidate, DeMar Derozan and Terrance Ross both had 50 point games this season, showing off their depth on offense. But who makes this team go is the scrappy barely 6-foot point guard Kyle Lowry. The seven year guard out of Villanova is having a career year averaging 17.9 ppg and 7.4 ast. He won’t let Toronto go down without a fight, but Brooklyn’s experience and savvy will prove too much for the Raptors who last made the playoffs in the 2007-08 season. Nets in 6.

(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Charlotte Bobcats
Regular season series (Heat 4-0)

Remember on March 3 when LeBron James scored 61 points, grabbed seven rebounds and still managed to dish out five assist? The Bobcats are still having nightmares.

Since 2010-11, the Heat are 15-0 against the Bobcats, who’ve never won a postseason game. I don’t see any reason why this series will be any different. The Heat haven’t been themselves lately struggling in stretches and trying to get oft-injured/rested Dwayne Wade back into the flow. Bobcats center Al Jefferson will give Miami a fit, but the two-time defending champs will adjust. The Heat will need all the rest they can get if they face Brooklyn in the next round.

Congrats to the Bobcats for making the postseason, but the celebration will quickly come to an end. Heat in 4.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Dallas Mavericks

 Regular season series (Spurs 4-0)

The Dallas Mavericks would be the 3 seed in the East. The West is that good and the East is that bad. But the Mavericks are facing the defending Western Conference champs. The Spurs are hands down the best overall team in the NBA right now with the capabilities of beating a team in an offensive shootout, or a defensive struggle. Every year the Spurs are written off: too old, their time is up, they won’t do it again, but the keep finding away to come away with the best record in the league. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and coach Grep Popovich, they’ve been here before and ready to rid that bitter taste left in their mouth by the Heat in last year’s Finals.

Dirk Nowitzki and Co. are a speed bump in the way of the Spurs. Spurs in 5

(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers

Regular season series (Rockets 3-1)

The Rockets have enough talent on their roster to make a run at the title, but they should have more than enough with the $88 million center in Dwight Howard. Howard hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectation placed upon him after his fallout with the Lakers. Averaging a double-double (18.3 ppg and 12.2reb/g) is nothing to dismiss, but a player of his caliber should dominant night in and night out. Luckily, James Harden who launched to stardom as one of the premier players in the league. Although, Howard has elevated his place against Portland in their four regular season matchups averaging (2.5 ppg and 13.5 reb/g).

In their four meetings, each team scored over 100 points with the Rockets taking the last meeting between the two 118-113. Both teams average over 100 points a game, but also give up 100 points a game. Houston does possess the prowess on defense, especially with 3-time defensive player of the year in Howard, but they can be baited in shootouts. I love the combination of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damien Lillard. That is a tandem to reckon with for years to come. Aldridge is the second best power forward in the game behind Anthony Davis. If Portland is to sneak pass Houston, Aldridge will be the reason.

But I don’t see Portland winning this series. Rockets in 6.

(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (6) Golden State Warriors

Regular season series tied (2-2)

In the words of Terrell Owens, get ya’ popcorn ready.

Easily the most entertaining playoff matchup, these two teams have the makings of putting on an all-time great series. Star point guards going head-to-head in the surgical Chris Paul and the sharp shooting Steph Curry is a basketball lover dream. But the Clippers have too many options on offense (i.e. Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Darren Collison) and arguably have two of the best players in the NBA right now in Paul and Blake Griffin–who I would put third in the MVP race behind Durant and LeBron. Griffin is having a career year in scoring averaging 24.1 ppg. He has also snagged 9.5 reb/g on the season.

The Warriors too have weapons in Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and David Lee, but they are missing one big piece. Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who’s out with a back injury, would be kryptonite to Griffin’s high flying Superman act, but without Bogut in the middle, Griffin is free to roam the skies. This game may eventually come down to coaching as Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson make adjust from shifting in an put of smaller lineups and who will have the responsibility of slowing down the each team’s stars.

The Curry-effect could push this series to seven, but I’m banking on Doc. Clippers in 6.

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Memphis Grizzlies

Regular season series (Thunder 3-1)

This is redemption for Kevin Durant and the Thunder. After winning the first game in the 2013 Conference Semifinal against the Grizzlies, they lost four straight to lose the series in five games. That was a bitter pill to swallow for Durant, but Memphis will be the ones taking pills this time getting sick of all Durant’s made jumpers. Durant is the first player since Michael Jordan to lead the league in scoring in five straight seasons, and he broke a Jordan record earlier this season scoring 25+ points in 41 straight games (Jordan’s record was 40 games). It’s also important to note that Russell Westbrook miss last year’s series.

Although, the Thunder seem to bring the best out of the Grizzlies. Memphis’ third-ranked defense has the attitude to slow down the Thunder. Marc Gasol’s ability to contain pick-and-rolls and patrol the paint is a vital key in this series.  Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen will interchange taking their chance at bottling up Durant and the underrated Mike Conley can go step for step with Westbrook. Some don’t see a Memphis coming out of the series as winner as a surprise, but it would sure surprise me. Thunder in 6.

Now more than ever, the Broncos offseason moves have turned the franchise into a full-fledged win now mode.

Now more than ever, the Broncos offseason moves have turned the franchise into a full-fledged win now mode.

By KELTON BROOKS (@BrooksWeekly)

Forty-three to Eight. That’s, 43-8.

One of the most lopsided and embarrassing defeats in Super Bowl history sent the Denver Broncos on a free agent frenzy, for better and for worse after complete domination by the Seattle Seahawks. The baffling score laid out the blueprints for what was to come for the Broncos offseason.

The Seahawks’ 43 points ironically showed Denver that points on offense isn’t enough, even after the Broncos scored a record 606 points in the regular season, and Manning setting a single-season mark for passing yardage with 5,477 and 55 touchdowns on the year. In the grand scheme of things, 17 points scored on defense and special teams was one of the deciding factors that lead to a still unfathomable victory. The other, was Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson throwing a near perfect game going 18-of-25 206 yards and two touchdowns with a total QBR of 88.1 and a quarterback rating of 123.1.

For Wilson, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round (140th pick overall) of the 2010 MLB Draft and  acquired from the Rockies by the Texas Rangers in the Triple-A phase on Dec. 12 2013, it was pitch and catch for the 25-year-old Super Bowl Champion.

And the Broncos’ 8 points? Again, brings up the old adage, “defense wins championships.”

Those factors forced Denver’s hand to make significant moves to bolster the team, but they also set a clock on the window of opportunity for Peyton’s Broncos.

Signing former Dallas Cowboy LB/DE DeMarcus Ware to 3-years, $30 Million will sure up the pass rush after losing Shaun Phillips and his 10 sacks, and the enigma that is Von Miller, who hopes to rebound after serving a six-game suspension violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and tearing his ACL in 2013.

But at 31-years-old, how much does Ware have left in the tank? His sack total has declined drastically. Ware was a half a sack away for tying his career high in 2011 with 19.5 sacks, but he dipped in 2012 to 11.5 sacks, and missed three games due to injury last season only taking down the quarterback six times. Not to mention in recent years, he has gain a reputation of disappearing late in games.

After giving up 4,070 yards in the air (27th), the Broncos signed former Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward to 4-years, $23 million, and nabbed cornerback Aqib Talib from their nemesis, New England Patriots, to 6-years, $57 million. A safety was needed for Denver ever since Hail Flacco. But according to Pro Football Focus, Ward is best suited against the run as he accumulated 91 tackles ( third-most for safeties), and while he did miss 13 tackles, his +8.1 rating against the run was tops among all safeties. This is the same team that gave up 506 yards and 5 touchdowns to Tony Romo.

With Talib, the Broncos have acquired a shut down corner, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. Over his seven year NFL career, he has missed 35 games and never played a full 16 game season. Availability is just as important as ability. And how about this: which is more memorable, Manning setting a Super Bowl record with 34 completions to go with Demaryius Thomas‘ record 13 receptions or Eric Decker targeted five times to gain a whopping six yards and one catch?

Neither.

43-8 trumps both of those numbers. But for the sake of the question, it was Decker’s disappearance. The Broncos knew Decker was an average No. 2 receiver who was made by Manning. Re-signing wide receiver Andre Caldwell and signing former Pittsburgh Steeler, Emmanuel Sanders, is a major upgrade over Decker.

These moves have unquestionably raised the talent on the roster, but at what cost? Truthfully, no matter the length of the contracts, the Broncos have a two year window at best. Peyton is no longer a spring chicken at age 38 and he was “fully cleared” to play football in 2014 after a neck exam in early March. But a 38-year-old quarterback who is susceptible to punishment by defenders, can’t possibly continue to beat father time.

And as of April 4, Denver extended the contract of head coach John Fox for three more years. Yes, this is the same head coach who took the Carolina Panther to the Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme at quarterback and went to the playoffs with Tim Tebow as his quarterback, not to mention braving through midseason heart surgery to lead the Broncos to their third consecutive AFC West title and their first conference championship since 1999.

But Fox isn’t the reason why the Broncos have showered in recent success, Manning is the reason. But with the talented yet “win now” signings, and the very second No. 18 decides to hang up the cleats, the franchise will retreat back to its days of mediocrity as they went 44-52 from 2006-10. Well, unless Brock Osweiler or Zac Dysert is the next Andrew Luck.

What teams are the best possible landing destination for the recently DeSean Jackson?

What teams are the best possible landing destination for the recently DeSean Jackson?

In Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense, speed kills.

But even DeSean Jackson’s electrifying speed couldn’t outrun his alleged off-the-field issues causing the Philadelphia Eagles to release the 3-time Pro Bowler.

Jackson is one of the league’s most explosive receivers averaging 16.2 yards per catch (9th), and has gained 17.2 YPC in his NFL career. He set career-highs in catches (82), yards (1,332) and tied his career high with nine touchdowns in 2013. Even at a smallish 5-foot-10–in football standards–Jackson’s problems were too big of a headache to keep him on the roster.

Easily one the most shocking news of the offseason in the star receiver’s release, but Philadelphia were openly trying to trade him for weeks. Besides on-field-actions such as taunting and costly penalties, off-the-field, according to NJ.com, it was a bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly were the original reasons for his fall from grace.

No one is perfect, we all get that. Mistakes happen. It’s life. However, what ultimately drove the Eagles to release Jackson was a report of his possible gang affiliation. Yes, that does warrant significant cause for concern, but Jackson has not been involved in any reckless behavior that would prove he is involved with gang activity. Although, pictures have surfaced a Jackson posting possible gang signs. Learning news of this report and the allegations against him, he vehemently denied the statements saying:

I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible.

I don’t know all of Jackson’s antics, but honestly, this was a complete overreaction by the Eagles because of one reason:

Aaron Hernandez.

Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last summer and was still linked to other murder cases–also affiliated with gang members.

The Eagles acted too hastily, but it’s better safe than sorry, right? Or maybe the Eagles believe in Kelly’s system who made a star out of Riley Cooper who only had 46 receptions, 679 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first three seasons. In 2013, he posted a career high of 47 catches 835 and eight touchdowns.

Any who, back to Jackson. Some teams might have a “buyer’s beware” tag on him, but that still didn’t stop a reported nine teams who have shown interest in the now available receiver.

Here are the teams who I think would best fit the Jackson:

1. Washington Redskins

For one thing, Washington is in the same division as the Eagles. Having the opportunity to face his former team twice a year and paired alongside Pierre Garcon with Robbert Griffin III as his quarterback, seems too enticing for Jackson to overlook. Not to mention Washington’s owner Dan Snyder has a history of shelling out millions of dollars to free agents. As of now, Washington still has roughly $7 million under the cap and have reportedly scheduled a meeting with Jackson Monday.

2. New York Jets

No receiver on the Jets roster had over 600 yards receiving last year–that’s either a byproduct of the pedestrian talent of the receiver corps, or the inability of Geno Smith. Smith leads me to my second reason, the Jets new quarterback, former Eagle Michael Vick.

Vick told NFL.com, “If there’s an opportunity to get DeSean, I’m pretty sure the New York Jets fans would be in favor of that…if he ends up in New York, we’ll be happy, just as happy as he will be. But who knows, you can’t say.”

Jackson to New York would pair him with his former quarterback who I think will beat out Smith in the quarterback battle throughout training camp.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

I say the Chiefs because of the Andy Reid connection when he was formerly the head coach of the Eagles. However, Kansas City has just over $4 million in cap space, the Chiefs may not have enough to sign Jackson to a contract that’s up to par with his production. The Chiefs did lose return specialist and “offensive weapon” Dexter McCluster in free agency. Adding Jackson would fill the void in the return game and position another weapon alongside Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Jamaal Charles.

Chiefs’ quarterback, Alex Smith, who is owed $8 million in non-guaranteed money for 2014, is a quarterback who excels when he has the proper talent to support him. Jackson to Kansas City may be unlikely because of cap space, but it’s an ideal fit.

4. Oakland Raiders 

Jackson spent his college days playing for the California Golden Bears, not far from the Oakland Coliseum where the Raiders play. Reports have surfaced of Jackson reportedly reaching out to Oakland before he was released. The Raiders have a history of signing and drafting speed players. Obviously, Jackson fits the mold with a blazing 4.35 40-time.

Unlike most teams who are pursuing Jackson, the Raiders have roughly around $32 million in cap space possessing the ability the sign the sought after receiver.

How will the NFL discipline Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay?

How will the NFL discipline Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay?

By KELTON BROOKS (@BrooksWeekly)

We’re all upset, right? If not, I’m sure we all have upset stomachs because that is surely the theme of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Tournament that is March Madness.

Talk about busting brackets, everyone’s brackets looks like a minefield by now.

There have been 15 games of lower seeds ending the year for the favorite higher seeds. Most notably, the 14-seeded Mercer Bears didn’t show any mercy to the 3-seed Duke Blue Devils after an astonishing win; the 11-seed Dayton Flyers soared to an impressive victory against the dominant 3-seeded Syracuse; no one saw Kansas’ Diaper Dandy Andrew Wiggins going 1-6 from the field with a pedestrian 4 point performance as his 2-seeded Jayhawks fell flat against 10-seeded Stanford; and 8-seeded Kentucky played like who we thought they were as the preseason favorites shocking the Wichita St. Shockers who was undefeated heading into the game.

Here is my prediction for the rest of the tournament. I’ll probably have to ball this one up, too.

1 FLorida 

4 UCLA

1 Florida

11 Dayton

11 Dayton

10 Stanford

1 Florida

4 Michigan State

1 Virginia

4 Michigan State

4 Michigan State

3 Iowa State

3 Iowa State

7 Connecticut 

4 Michigan State

8 Kentucky

8 Kentucky (Champions) 
1 Arizona

4 San Diego State

4 San Diego State

2 Wisconsin

6 Baylor

2 Wisconsin

8 Kentucky

4 Louisville

4 San Diego State

8 Kentucky 

8 Kentucky

2 Michigan 

11 Tennessee

2 Michigan 

The young stars for Kentucky are beginning to peek at just the right time. The way the Wildcats have been playing since the SEC tournament, they are finally looking like the No. 1-ranked preseason favorites. If they can continue to gel and play up to their talents, then this young star-studed team with the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, and the man-child and double-machine that is Julius Randle, Kentucky will bring John Calipari his second National Championship.

Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested (pictured above)

On March 16, Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested on charges of four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor charge of operating while intoxicated. According to police in Hamilton County in Indianapolis, Ind., Multiple Schedule IV prescription drugs were found in pill bottles in Irsay’s vehicle, but they were not associated with any prescription bottles found in the vehicle.

He was released the following day after posting bail of $22,500. Not alcohol was said to be in his vehicle when he was arrested, nor was alcohol involved according to reports, but following wrist and elbow surgeries in the mid-to-late ‘90s, Irsay developed a dependency on painkillers, an addiction that led him to spend 30 days in a rehab facility in 2002.

And that following Tuesday, March 18, he checked himself into a treatment facility.

Now, I don’t know Irsay personally, but if he needs help, I hope het gets it. However, he is facing serious charges and not only put his life at risk, but others as well.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to suspend, fine or discipline players, coaches and owners as he sees fit under the league’s personal conduct policy. In this case, should he decide to take action against Irsay, Goodell would be doing so against one of his bosses; the NFL commissioner is employed by the league’s 32 owners.

Goodell is always preaching about protecting the integrity of the league, to wait out the legal process of the situation, then, act accordingly. NFL players are swiftly reprimanded when they violate the league’s substance abuse policies or involved in an arrest off the field.

Regardless of the situation Irsay is in, the NFL has to act, Goodell has to act. What type  of message is the NFL sending if they don’t act on Irsay? If you’re at a certain stature, the rules don’t apply to you? Above the law? Perhaps I’m coming across as not sympathetic about Irsay because of the troubling issue that is drug addiction. According to a 2010 statistics of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, approximately 10 percent of the general population experiences alcoholism, while another 5 percent are addicted to drugs.

Irsay has sought help, I’m glad, but that doesn’t automatically clear him from disciplinary action from the NFL.

Quick hits on NFL free agency moves

Former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick signed with the New York Jets. I like this, I like this a lot.

Through the first nine weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Jets flip-flopped wins going 5-4. Geno Smith was either poor in the losses, and at least average in the wins. After week 9, New York lost three out of four games, then won two of it’s last three.

As poorly as Geno played in his rookie season throwing 21 interceptions to only 12 touchdowns, the Jest still finished 8-8, mostly behind a stellar defense. What New York needs is stability at quarterback, which Vick can provide if he can stay health, but that’s a huge IF as he only played in a full 16 game season once in his career. Like the Eagles, the Jets have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. If they can keep Vick upright and allow him to make plays down field and continue to pound the ball on the inside, not to mention their formidable defense, Gang Green can make a legitimate run in the AFC and challenge New England in the East. Notice I said challenge, not overthrow. The Patriots have had a heck of an offseason signing shut down cornerback Darrelle Revis and the big bruising cornerback Brandon Browner–who will miss the first four games of the season for violating the leagues substance abuse policy.

But, if Vick does win the quarterback competition and starts week –unless he falls to an injury–it’s no way the Jets can fall back on Geno in this day and age in the NFL. If Geno can’t win now, then back to the draft boards after the Vick experience. Vick will turn 34 in June.

And good bye to quarterback Mark Sanchez who was released by the Jets due to the Vick signing.

Two words: Butt Fumble. That’s how his career will embarrassingly be remembered.

Both the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat have been struggling as of late. Which team will grab the No. 1 seed? (Pacers small forward Paul George pictured above)

Both the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat have been struggling as of late. Which team will grab the No. 1 seed? (Pacers small forward Paul George pictured above)

The Eastern Conference Finals has been predetermined since the opening tip-off of the NBA season.  The Indiana Pacers versus the Miami Heat. Point, blank, period.

Barring a major setback, this predestined matchup will come into fruition. However, that doesn’t mean the two heavyweights won’t endure their share of season stumbles. Both teams are in the midst struggles as their two major components have faltered lately.

With the Pacers, their once impenetrable defense has been reduced to wet tissue in recent weeks. For Miami, ever since LeBron James’ shooting clinic scoring 61 points on 22 made fields goals, he has fallen into a seemingly unshakeable slump. Indiana is currently on a four game losing streak and Miami is on a three game slide. The Pacers have one game and a half lead on Miami, but neither team is seizing the opportunity to gain control of the top seed with their recent struggles.

Indiana leads the NBA in points allowed giving up only 92 points game. On their current losing streak, they have given up 424 points in four games, that’s an average of 106 points over that stretch. The worst lost of the last four losses was against the Charlotte Bobcats who scored 109 points on the Pacers. Charlotte came into the game ranked 26th in point per game at 95.4. Indiana depends on its defensive prowess, especially with 7-footer Roy Hibbert in the middle, but his play on both sides of the ball has been pedestrian as of late. They are not a high scoring team. If they keep up with their losing ways, they are practically handing the No. 1 seed over to Miami. They need home court advantage in a seven games series against the Heat. Without it, they can kiss the Finals goodbye.

But Miami doesn’t seem to want the top seed either.

And honestly, a large part of the blame falls on LeBron.

The sports world was treated to an unconscious performance by King James as he connected on eight 3-pointers in a row, shot 22 of 33 from the field, 9-12 from the free throw line and 66 percent from the field scoring a career-high 61 points against the Bobcats a week ago.

After that game, LeBron said It felt like I had a golf ball, throwing it into the ocean. On Miami’s three game losing streak, it looks like LeBron is throwing a beach ball into golf hole. Since his 61-point game, LeBron is shooting 39 percent from the field. His season average is 58 percent. Outside the paint, he is averaging a pitiful 11 percent. His season average for scoring outside the paint is 38 percent.

Make no mistake, LeBron is the best player on the planet, but he is the main cause of the Heat’s losing streak. His game has never been predicated on knocking down outside shots. When dared to shoot by opposing teams who heckle him saying he can’t shoot, he’ll knock ‘em down. But not now.

LeBron is still living in the moment of his 61-point clinic. It’s time he snaps out of that daze. He even stooped so low as to blame his shooting woes on the half sleeved jerseys. Really? Really, LeBron?

Regardless, Miami is playing catch up for the rest of the season as the Pacers have 19 games left to Miams’s 22. I don’t believe either team could beat the other on its home court in a game 7. Capturing the No. 1 seed in the East is vital for both teams.

Few NFL Quick Hits

The words “inquired” and “interest” are on the verge of being banned as they have loosely been tossed around in recent weeks as free agency period has begun.

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has been linked to the New York Jets. That would be a great move by the Jets if they sign him. The Jets are not too far off from a being a playoff team. They have a stellar defense and run game. All they are lacking is a top wide receiver and consistency from the quarterback position. After sitting through four miserable years behind Mark Sanchez, I’d imagine Geno Smith is on a short leash after just his rookie season throwing 21 interceptions. Vick would turn the Jets into a playoff team in one season.

The 26 yeold free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said he’d be a dangerous weapon playing alongside Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) or Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers). In short, he wants to play for a contender and prove he’s one of the top receivers in the league again.

From a talent perspective, he is among the top receivers. Nicks has strong hands, physical, one of the best receivers when it comes to catching the ball in traffic and just plucks it right out the air. He is a legitimate No. 1 receiver when he’s on the field, but that’s the problem. Nicks has never played a full 16 game season in his career. Availability is just as important as ability. No use of having all that talent is you can’t put it on the filed.

Yet still, wouldn’t mind seeing Nicks paired with Luck.

While Nicks is looking to extend his football career at a young age, another player is calling it quits at a young age. Rashard Mendenhall is retiring at the age of 26. The former first-round running back from Illinois played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the bulk of his career before playing his last season for the Arizona Cardinals. He battled a series of injuries the past three years. Here is why he retired at 26. 

Getty Images

“Boston Strong” were words of hope and strength. The city’s bravery should uplift the country.

The 86th Academy Award Winners had me thinking, what major pro team, what top athlete or what top moment in sports would take home an Oscar?

I’ll trim down the Oscars’ 24 categories into a fourth (that’s six for those who’s not a math person like myself).

Without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?

Best Actor in a leading role: LeBron James

The best basketball player on the planet deserves the best actor in a leading role for two reasons. Reason No. 1, lebron-james-flopagain, he’s the best player in the NBA; he’s the leader on arguably the best team in the league in the Miami Heat; has won three consecutive MVP trophies; has reached the Finals in three straight years; won back-to-back Finals MVP; and of course, back-to-back championship rings. There is nothing that King James can’t do on the court as he is averaging a hair under 27 points a game a 26.9, 6.4 assist and 7 rebound, not to mention he’s in contention for the Defensive Player of the Year award. The Heat are well on their way to a 3-peat unless the Indiana Pacers have something to say about it. Oh yeah, LeBron may win a fourth MVP trophy in the past six seasons if Durant falls into a slump.

Reason No. 2 goes to his acting skills. “LeFlop” James is known to sell a few spills on floor after taking a charge or some type of over exaggerated incidental contact.  (see picture to the right)

Best Picture: Boston Red Sox “Safe Picture”

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Sorry for the cliche, but this picture is truly worth a thousand words.

During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others. The bombs exploded about 13 seconds and 210 yards apart, near the finish line on Boylston Street. That finish line was the supposed triumphant end to the 117th edition of the mass-participation marathon where over 23,000 runners set out to push themselves, but it was all cut short by the senseless bombing.

“Boston Strong” was symbol of hope, courage, determination and will to carry a broken city on its back. It’s safe to say that the Boston Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series was as gift that we will all never forget.

Best actor in supporting role: Russell Westbrook

Kevin-Durant-with-Russell-Westbrook-OKC-WallpaperWestbrook deserves this award in a negative way, not a positive. The way Dwayne Wade suppressed his ego and gave the spotlight to LeBron, Westbrook is not at the mature level to do the same for Kevin Durant. We’re talking about two young superstars in the prime of their careers who are learning how to share one ball. It’s easy to point out how the Boston Celtics did it with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen at the time, and even Rajon Rondo; or the Heat with James, Wade and Chris Bosh. They all know their roles, will stick with the game plan, and are all mature veteran players. Durant and Westbrook are both 25 years old.

Unless Westbrook realizes that an Oklahoma City championship is through Durant and not him trying to prove he’s also the best player in the NBA, the Thunder won’t win a ring.

Best Costume Design: Oregon Ducks

630x420_OregonDucks

I know you saw this coming, right?

Sometimes when I’m watching Oregon on the field, I don’t know if I’m watching the Power Rangers play football or a 60′s Tie Dye theme party. Whatever the case may be, the Ducks literally make playing football look good.

 

 

 

Best Directing: Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll

What Carroll has done in the NFL is simply amazing. During his tenure at the University of Southern California,Pete-Carroll-Steve-Sarkisian Carroll became notoriously known for securing the top recruits in the nation. He took that same principal to the NFL assembling the most feared, brutal and relentless defense in the NFL. Carroll and the Seahawks knocked the hooves off Peyton Manning and the Broncos in a 43-8 whipping in the Super Bowl.

The energetic, grey-haired coach was the orchestrator behind the menacing team draped in teal and blue. In his first two seasons coaching Seattle, Carroll led them to back-to-back 7-9 records, then 11-5, and a Super Bowl win in his fourth season going 13-3. As long as he is directing the show, the Seahawks will reign as one of the top teams in the league for years to come.

Best live action short film: Auburn cornerback Chris Davis running back the missed field goal attempt against Alabama.

Watching the 109-yard run back in slow motion would count as a nightmarish live short action film as Chris Davis robbed the Crimson Tide at a shot of the BCS National Championship. The once-in-a-lifetime Iron Bowl play will go down as one of the top plays in all of college football history.

March 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

March 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Football fans eyes have been glued to the ‘Underwear Olympics’, or better known as the NFL Scouting Combine where household names like the freakish former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was clocked at an official 4.53 at 6-feet-5 and 260 pounds, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ran an official 4.68, and former Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins’ best unofficial time was a 4.34, later adjusted to 4.43.

While scouts pry, twist and pull every prospect’s height, weight, speed, agility, hand size, how many times they can do a backflip on one leg after spinning in a circle or whatever else to determine their draft status, other news have also garnered headlines.

The Brooklyn Nets signed Jason Collins

After signing a 10-day contract Sunday, nearly 10 months after his announcement on April 29, Jason Collins became the first openly gay player in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues.

Excuse me, but, Woopty-Do.

Both Collins and Michael Sam don’t want the be known as the gay basketball player or the gay football player, but unless they produce on the field, quite frankly, that’s all they will be remembered by, not their actions on the field or court. I’m not judging them on their sexual orientation, in my previous column my only issue with Sam was people calling him a hero. He produced on the college level as the 2013 co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 1st-team All-American, was 7th in the NCAA with 12 sacks, but 1st in the SEC. He was originally slated as a mid-round pick, but after a 4.91 official 40 time, and listed as an undersized defensive end and not possessing the skillset as an every down linebacker, his stock may have dipped more.

If we’re strictly talking about sports, unlike Sam, Collins hasn’t produced on any level. After playing in only 11 minutes grabbing two rebounds receiving 5 fouls, I honestly believe the Nets put him in the game as a charity gesture.

After playing for six different teams in 12 years, his career stats are 3.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. As a 7-footer, snagging 3.8 rebounds per game in your career is embarrassing. Off the court, it’s not my business what he does, but on the court, he’s 35-year-old center that signed a 10-day contract who has never been any good in the NBA. Period.

Greg Oden starting his first game since 2009 after multiple reconstructive knee surgeries was a bigger story to me.

Congrats to him.

Policing the N-Word

In the offseason, the NFL has grown accustomed to implementing a new rule that raises a lot of chatter. With the racial tension that has been going on in the Miami Dolphins locker room and the Riley Cooper incident that happened in June, the NFL is taking a stance.  Last year it was the Crown-of-the-helmet rule, this year it’s “policing the N-Word” on the field.

According to an article by CBS Sports NFL Insider, Jason La Canfora, John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, said he expects the league’s competition committee to enact a rule at the owner’s meeting next month making it an automatic 15-yard penalty if a player uses the N-word on the field, with a second infraction meriting an ejection.

Good luck with that one.

I’m not by any means condoning the use of the N-Word, but born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. in an all black neighborhood, high school, hearing it in college, hearing it while walking down the street, hearing it while pumping gas and hearing it from my closest friends, and even I have used it, and that doesn’t make it right at all, but I just don’t see this happening.

I’ll personally admit that I stopped using the N-Word a while ago when I began to hear younger children saying it. That was enough for me and it’s a bad look on their parents who allow this. Education on what this word means and its ugly connotation should spread through all races.

I applaud the NFL for what they are trying to do in the bigger picture, but in the midst of an NFL game, in the heat of the battle with tempers flaring, the refs might as well leave their flag on the field the entire game. It was an incident this past season of a referee using the N-Word towards a player, and in 2009 in a game with the Patriots and Ravens, a referee called a player “boy.” The N-Word should no longer exist, but people are going to say what they want, when they want, on or off  the field.

The NFL already has an “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” penalty. Will this fall under that, or will “Use Of Foul Language” stand as the new standard penalty? Are those same people who want to rid of the N-Word will negate profanity, too? They won’t. If that’s the case, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan should be banned from the league after every other word was a curse word when the Jets were featured on the HBO special Hard Knocks.

Not only just the N-Word, but what about a list of other racial slurs? Again, I get what the NFL is doing, but no matter how big the NFL think it is, this is larger than the league itself.

I just don’t see this rule taking place. But imagine this: what if the league doesn’t accept this proposed ruling? Do you see the message they are sending? “It’s OK to use the N-Word.” It’s a PR move. This is bigger than the NFL.

The only way this will stop on the field is if the NFLPA and the players themselves agree to eradicate the use of the N-Word on the field.

NBA Rambles

I’m just rambling here. The Thunder are 0-2 since Russell Westbrook has returned to the lineup Coincidence? I think not. Kevin Durant is trying to ease his co-superstar back into the flow while reverting back to his “servant” ways.

“The Servant” for a nickname? Really?

And Serge Ibaka might’ve saved Durant’s MVP case by breaking LeBron James’ nose.

Carmelo Anthony is a top-3 scorer in the NBA, but I’m not sure if he’s a top-5 player. It doesn’t even phase me that he easily puts up seemingly 40 points a night (Melo is averaging 27.9 PPG). All he does is score. That’s it. The Knicks are 2-3 when Melo scores over 40. His New York Knicks are 21-36. If he stays in New York, he’s not committed to winning. Truthfully, he hasn’t been about winning his whole career. Melo has gotten passed the first round of the playoffs only twice in his career, he was swept three times in his career and defeated in five games four times in his career in the postseason.

Aside from the Miami Heat and Indian Pacers and maybe the Toronto Raptors, the Eastern Conference is horrible. The Memphis Grizzlies  are two games back of the 8th seed in the West at 31-24, which means they are not currently in playoff position. In the East, the Grizzlies would be the 3 seed. Toronto is the 3 seed in the East at 31-25.

The 8th in the East are the Atlanta Hawks at 26-29. The 8th seed in the West are the Phoenix Suns and they are 33-22. The Hawks would be eight games back of the 8th seed in the West. Out of the playoffs. Every seed from 3rd to 8th in the Eastern Conference wouldn’t be in the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Catch my drift? The West is ultra competitive and the East is ridiculously awful. Just fast forward to the Eastern Conference Finals of the Heat and Pacers come playoff time in the East.