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Ex-Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ray McDonald speaks with the media after minicamp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.  (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

Ex-Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ray McDonald speaks with the media after minicamp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

NBA Conference Finals

The showcase LeBron James is putting on during the Eastern Conference Finals is unprecedented. The two-time Finals MVP is averaging 32.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 10 APG against the No. 1 seeded Atlanta Hawks. If the 30-year-old compiles these gaudy numbers in a much needed close out Game 4, James would be the first player to average such numbers in a playoff series.

Williams Shakespeare and Walt Whitman didn’t invent enough superlatives and adjectives to describe the NBA’s best player, but their wondrous words aren’t warranted. James’ historical on-court performance speaks for itself.

A recent quote by Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt illustrated his growth as a rookie coach and delivered a message to one of his star players.

“We need Kyrie on the court, and we’re not really thinking about resting him as much as we’re thinking about him being healthy to play basketball,” Blatt told reporters. “We need him on the court, whether we’re up 1-0 or 2-1 or 3-0.”

Blatt is 100 percent correct. While I think the Cavs can afford to rest Irving tonight with a 3-0 strangle hold on the Hawks, Cleveland cannot be without the team’s second best player when they face the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Golden State—barring a major collapse—in the NBA Finals.

Cavs win tonight in another close one to complete the surprising sweep of the Hawks.

Speaking of Curry, Warriors fans, friends and family were able to breathe easily when Curry returned after a nasty spill over Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza. He was diagnosed with a head contusion after banging his head on the floor. He dropped 12 points after his return, finishing the game with 23 points.

James Harden dazzled with a 45 point valiant effort, but only to prolong the series. I understand that the Rockets became the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after falling in a treacherous 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Rockets are not the Clippers. The Warriors will wrap the series up in Game 5.

Oh, Ray McDonald

Ray McDonald has played his last down of his career in the National Football League after his release from the Chicago Bears.

McDonald was released by the Bears Monday after signing a one-year deal in March. He was arrested the same day of his relealse by San Jose police on suspicions of misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment. The Santa Clara Police Department issued in a statement that McDonald allegedly “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.”

He was previously arrested for domestic violence in August 2014 against his ex-fiancée, who was pregnant at the time, but no charges were filed.

On Dec. 17, 2014, San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke released McDonald “because of a pattern of bad behavior” after a sexual assault investigation was centered around McDonald.

More often than not, where there is smoke, there is fire. And like firefighters douse raging infernos, the NFL put McDonald out.

Arrested for domestic violence and child endangerment, and sexual assault allegations, those are patterns of bad behaviors. McDonald needs to hold himself accountable and rectify himself behind closed doors before he steps back out into the eye of the public.

A PAT on the back

The NFL announced last week that the extra point will now be kicked from the 15-yard line with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line.

The new rule shouldn’t affect quality kickers distance-wise, but it does add more urgency to a play that was a forgone conclusion.

However, the most intriguing change to the rule was that if the defense returns a blocked extra point or failed two-point try for a touchdown, they will be awarded two points. Under the old rule, the ball was dead on a failed try regardless if there was a fumble or interception return.

The rule change adds more competition in all phases of the games, but it especially increases the awareness of the forgotten special teams. Like a punt or kickoff return for a touchdown, the point after attempt will be transformed into a pivotal moment in a tight game instead of an afterthought.

Kudos to the NFL for making a change positively affects coaches, players and fans.



By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Rumors swirled around Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden that he moped and pouted around the locker room when Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player over him.

Harden’s frown will be as long as his beard because the Golden State Warriors will win the series.

Curry totaled 1,198 points, including 100 of 130 first-place votes, from a panel of 129 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, as well as the Kia MVP fan vote on

Harden received 936 points and only 25 first-place votes.

Now, to the hardwood. The Warriors went 4-0 against the Rockets in the regular season, winning by an average of 15.3 points. Golden State coach Steve Kerr and Curry has been downplaying the regular season record against Houston, but I’m not buying it.

I’m not predicting a sweep simply because James Harden will play with a chip on his shoulder after he felt he was slighted for the MVP award. But if the Rockets win this series, it won’t be because of Harden, it will be on the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard.

Nobody on the Warriors’ roster can guard Howard, but Howard doesn’t have the mindset to dominate in the post. At this stage of his career, he still hasn’t developed a repertoire of post moves and doesn’t command the ball.

This series will come down to Howard, but I don’t trust him. He’s averaging 17.3 points per game and 13.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs, but he needs to up his scoring to around 25 ppg from here on out if he has hopes to make his second trip to the NBA Finals.

However, it will be too much Curry, too much Klay Thompson and too many 3’s. It will be a light show between two high scoring teams, but Warriors in 6.

Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives around Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on January 19, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio."

Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives around Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on January 19, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.”

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)


(1) Atlanta Hawks vs (5) Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34)
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks showed true vulnerability in its two eye-opening  losses to the Nets. If Brooklyn guard Deron Williams would’ve sustained any type of consistency, the Nets would’ve knocked off the 1-seeded Hawks. The Hawks are cohesive as a unit, but they are missing that “It” factor.

Luckily, Atlanta was able to ward off the Nets with its three-point shooting led by Kyle Korver. The 3-point specialist knocked down 18 three-pointers in six games, shooting 38 percent from long distance.

Paul Pierce’s barrage of clutch three-pointers combined his moxie and experience in the playoffs, is what Atlanta lacks. John Wall and Jeff Teague will be an exciting matchup to watch throughout the series.

But Pierce, as he skips down the court with his bravado after drilling clutch shots, reminds spectators those shots is why Washington signed “The Truth.”

“This is why they brought me here,” Pierce yelled.

Wizards in 6.

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (3) Chicago Bulls

Dec 26, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James

Dec 26, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James

The consensus is shifting towards the Bulls to win the series after the devastating loss to Kevin Love for the Cavaliers. Love sustained a separated shoulder in a tussle for a loose ball with Celtics center Kelly Olynyk.

Chicago’s issue in the past has been the lack of scoring, but Pau Gasol, the emergence of Jimmy Butler and Rookie of the Year runner up Nikola Mirotić, gives the Bulls a bevy of scoring options.

And, of course, former MVP Derrick Rose who has flashed shades of his heyday.

The loss of Love for the Cavs and the two game suspension of J.R. Smith eliminates spacing for LeBron James to operate on the floor. Although, bringing a physical and lengthy Tristan Thompson in the starting lineup bodes favorably for Cleveland. Gasol is more finesse than brute strength. Thompson’s defense on Gasol will be key throughout the series.

Before the Bulls dealt a 54-point shellacking to eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks, they endured back-to-back head-scratching losses after taking a commanding 3-0 lead. Mindless losses against LeBron, Kyrie Irving and the Cavs will cost you the series, not just two games.

Cavaliers in 7.


(1) Golden State Warriors vs (5) Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) down on the court after an injury. Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) down on the court after an injury.
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies will force you to play their style of basketball: rugged, grind-it-out, and punch you in the mouth. But without their floor general Mike Conley, who suffered a severe facial injury, the Grizzlies offense will be stagnant.

And unfortunately, Memphis’ offense will be the least of their problems. Conley’s ability to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player will be sorely missed.

Conley would’ve drawn the responsibility to guard MVP-favorite Stephen Curry, but with Conley’s status in limbo, Curry and Co. will put on a shooting clinic.

The Grizzlies rugged style simply won’t be able to keep pace with the Warriors.

Warriors in 5.

(2) Houston Rockets vs (3) Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul (R) works against Houston Rockets James Harden (L) in second half action of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California, USA, 11 February 2015.

Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul (R) works against Houston Rockets James Harden (L) in second half action of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California, USA, 11 February 2015.

Game 1 of this series will be the rested versus the restless.

The Clippers survived a seven game series against the defending champions in the San Antonio Spurs, and the Rockets made swift work knocking off the Mavericks in five games.

Chris Paul will take any rest he can get after tweaking his hamstring in the thrilling Game 7 win over the Spurs. Paul’s nifty layup with one second left on the clock punched the Clippers’ ticket to the next round.

The Rockets live and die by MVP candidate James Harden. If the Clippers can contain Harden (easier said than done), it will shift the series heavily in favor of Los Angeles.

The battle of heavyweights down low in DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard will cancel out each other. It will be a physical matchup, but a possible “Hack-a-Howard” and “Hack-a-Jordan” will be brutal for viewers.

I’ll take the battled tested Clippers and the coaching edge with Doc Rivers over Houston.

Clippers in 6.

January 2, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates with guard Klay Thompson (11) against the Toronto Raptors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Raptors 126-105. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

January 2, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates with guard Klay Thompson (11) against the Toronto Raptors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Raptors 126-105. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

The 2015 NBA Playoffs start Saturday. Who’s moving on to the next round and who’s going fishing?

Western Conference

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis will win the league’s MVP trophy in the near future. He will surely win Defensive Player of the Year some day as well, but MVP favorite Stephen Curry and the Golden States Warriors is too big of a fish for the Pelicans to swallow.

The Splash Bros, Curry and Klay Thompson, ranked first and second respectively(286, 239), in made 3-point field goals. Davis won’t be enough to block or stop all the long balls by Curry and Co., but he’ll show the world why he’s considered the best young big man in the league.

Prediction: Warriors in 5

(2) Houston Rockets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

James Harden’s performance has been un-beard-lievable this season for the Rockets. He averaged a career-high of 27.4 ppg, catapulting himself into the MVP conversation, which is also impressive in the absence of Dwight Howard.

Harden has been bounced at the playoffs in six games the past two seasons. Although, a first-round matchup against a Mavericks team still figuring out its identity since acquiring combative point guard Rajon Rondo, is a sigh of release for Harden.

The Rockets three-game wining streak at the end the season was vital in dodging the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Harden and the Rockets will advance.

Prediction: Rockets in 6

(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are not your typical 6th seed. San Antonio is the defending champions and have reached the Finals in back-to-back seasons. The veteran trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, as well as the soon-to-be leader of the team in Kawhi Leonard, have one goal in mind, another champion

This is a defining series for Clippers guard Chris Paul. He’s undoubtedly a superstar point guard, but he has yet to reach the Finals or Conference Finals during his nine-year career. Paul needs this series win for his legacy and to not fall into the category of one of the greats to never capture a ring.

But those talks will start after this series.

Prediction: Spurs in 6

(4) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (5) Portland Trailblazers

Both teams struggled down the stretch. The Grizzlies lost two of its last three and squeaked by the lowly Utah Jazz in an 89-88 victory. The Trailblazers were banged up losing Nicolas Batum and C.J. McCollum to injury. Both are listed day-to-day.

But the Grizzlies are still the better team and has dominated the Blazers in recent years.

Since the 2012 season, Memphis has bullied Portland, winning nine of 11 games. The Grizzlies swept Portland in the regular season 4-0. The City of Blues will send Portland home on a sad note.

Prediction: Grizzlies in 5

 Eastern Conference

(1) Atlanta Hawks vs. (8) Brooklyn Nets

At one point during the season, the Nets were 12-31 and thinking about if they would have the opportunity to select Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony-Towns in the NBA draft. Now, everyone knows ‘where Brooklyn at,’ and that’s in the playoffs.

But it won’t last long. The Hawks have ran the table since the beginning of the season, including a franchise record 19-game winning steak. Brooklyn is barely a road block in Atlanta’s path.

Prediction: Hawks in 4

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (7) Boston Celtics

I’ll keep this brief and simple: the Cavaliers have LeBron James, 4-time regular season MVP and 2-times Finals MVP. Not to mention a superstar in the making in Kyrie Irving.

According to ESPN Stast&Info, James has played 158 playoff games. The entire Celtics roster has played 139.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 4

(3) Chicago Bulls vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks

Kudos to Jason Kidd and Bucks’ GM John Hammond for guiding the baby Bucks to the playoffs.

Milwaukee has played stellar defense over the second half of the season, but locking down the raucous crowd in the United Center as they cheer on the resurgent Derrick Rose and the Bulls, will be too much for the Bucks.

Speaking of Rose, the matchup between he and Milwaukee’s Michael Carter-Williams is an intriguing bout.

Prediction: Bulls in 6

(4) Toronto Raptors vs. (5) Washington Wizards

This series is going to take a Game 7. This is by far the best series in the opening round of the Eastern Conference. John Wall averaged the first double-double of his career (17.6 ppg, 10 ast) and averaged 19 points and nine assist in the three game against the Raptors this season.

The Raptors have won seven of its last 10 games and won all three games versus the Wizards this season.

Bradley Beal has been in-and-out of the lineup all season with nagging injuries, but if he can stay healthy during this series he and Wall can elevate themselves as one of the top backcourts in the league.

And they will.

Prediction: Wizards in 7

Sarah Thomas courtesy: abcnews

Sarah Thomas courtesy: abcnews

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Link to the column at The Hutchinson News: Brooks was here

Expect a litany of unsportsmanlike conduct from the National Football League this season.

And it won’t be from Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first full-time female referee.

The blind side blows, cheap shots and unnecessary jabs will flail out of the mouths of players and perhaps coaches, if Thomas laughably screws up a call or fails to throw the yellow flag in an obvious moment.

The same type of comical or game-altering mistake any other official would make, but because Thomas is a woman, criticism will be harsher and fines will be dished out like it’s on a paper route.

Feb. 7, the National Basketball Association fined Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul $25,000 for his comments about Lauren Holtkamp after she called a technical foul.

“The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. … That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her,” Paul told reporters after the game.

Players criticizing referees is routine in any league, but Paul’s comments gained more traction because it was towards Holtkamp, a female referee.

Several slights and barbs have already slithered off the tongue of fans, saying, “She doesn’t belong on a football field” or “she’ll think twice when a 250-pound linebacker barrels over her in live game action.”

But, like Holtkamp, Thomas, 41, has an extensive background and pedigree as an official

Thomas was hired as a line judge for the 2015-2016 NFL season, and is among seven other officials announced by the NFL Wednesday. Thomas was in the league’s officiating development program in 2013 and 2014 and worked some team minicamps last year.

According to multiple media reports, she was the first woman to work college games in 2007. She was the first female official on the FBS level and the first to officiate a bowl game, the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit.

She began officiating college games when she was hired by Conference USA as a line judge and head linesman. She also has worked the Senior Bowl, the Fight Hunger Bowl, the Medal of Honor Bowl and the Conference USA championship game in 2010 and 2014.

There are 250-pound linebackers on the collegiate level. Unless the collision was brutal, Thomas will stand up and dust herself off if she is run over by a player. She’ll be just fine.

Thomas has earned her black and white stripes.

If the NFL farm program of officiating felt her performance during training was superb, then there is no need for backlash from any level of the league. When a player, coach or whoever hurls parting shots to officials, the NFL hands down punishment.

At times, criticism is justified if the call is grossly incorrect, but insults just because Thomas will be a woman on the football field, is something the NFL won’t tolerate.

My only concern is if the NFL becomes overly protective of Thomas and hand out unfair fines to the players. Treat her like Ed Hochuli, Mike Carey or any other referee.

Thomas wouldn’t want it any other way, she said it herself.

“I am a female, but I don’t look at myself as just a female,” Thomas told reporters June 2014 while working a Cleveland Browns minicamp.

“I look at myself as an official.”

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils watches "One Shining Moment" with his players Grayson Allen #3, Quinn Cook and Justise Winslow #12 after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers during the NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils watches “One Shining Moment” with his players Grayson Allen #3, Quinn Cook and Justise Winslow #12 after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers during the NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

By: Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Coach K wins 5th John Wooden Trophy

Kentucky wasn’t able to etch its name in history, but Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is (as if he already wasn’t) one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history after capturing his 5th John Wooden Trophy after his Blue Devils defeated Wisconsin 68-63 Monday night.

Krzyzewski is ranked 2nd All-time in national champions with five, only behind Wooden himself with 10. Before entering Monday’s matchup of No. 1 seeds, Coach K was 0-3 against No. 1 seeds in the National Championship game and 4-1 against all others.

Two moments made Coach K’s 5th title a bit more special than the others, 1) Krzyzewski became the first coach in Division I men’s basketball history to eclipse 1,000 wins after defeating St. John 77-68 Jan. 25.

And 2), he was highly-criticized for his inability to coach top recruits, or “one-and-done” players.

Freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow are all but gone to the NBA, and the jury is still out on Tyus Jones’ decision to declare for the draft.

But it was his one-and-done freshmen that spearheaded Duke in the second half. Four of Duke’s freshmen combined for 60 points, an NCAA Championship record. Wisconsin’s four seniors combined for 28.

Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan went on a post-game rant, and displayed poor sportsmanship as he criticized the refs and said Wisconsin doesn’t “rent a player.” It was the epitome of the phrase, “sore loser.” If you’re the spokesperson for a senior led program, Ryan, then show some class and teach the youth how to handle defeat.

Ryan’s full quote:

“All the seniors that I’ve had — hard to say the word. But every player that’s played through the program, okay, we don’t do a rent-a-player. You know what I mean? Try to take a fifth-year guy. That’s okay. If other people do that, that’s okay. I like trying to build from within. It’s just the way I am. And to see these guys grow over the years and to be here last year and lose a tough game, boom, they came back.”

Coach K responded to Ryan quote earlier today during an interview with CBS.

 “Duke doesn’t rent a player,” Krzyzewski said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”We have one of the great schools in the world, and when we recruit a young man, we recruit a young man because of three things: One, he has the academic potential to do well at Duke; two, he has the talent to do well; and three, he has great character. All the guys on my team fit that description 100 percent.”

Maybe Ryan should take a page or five, from Coach K.

Joe Thomas says teammates “lost trust” in Johnny Manziel during the season

The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns 22nd overall pick may have already hit rock bottom entering his second season in the NFL.

Johnny Manziel checked himself into a drug rehab facility shortly after the Super Bowl to put a stop to career and life-threatening habit.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Manziel is “likely to be discharged soon, possibly even next week.” Those words were confirmed by Browns head coach Mike Pettine made at the owners’ meetings in Phoenix two weeks ago, when he said he expects Manziel to participate in offseason workouts, which begin April 20.

But if the 22-year-old is expecting a warm embrace when he returns, teammate and Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas has a message for Manziel.

“I think he’s going to have to prove to the team that football is important and being ‘the man,’ being the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, is important, it is his goal, his single goal in his life,” Brown told Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland 850. “You know, I think he lost probably a lot of trust among the guys on the team last year by the way he handled himself once he became the starter. And I think he had a lot of time to reflect, I’m guessing, after the season was over by the comments he made in the media and by his actions, checking himself into rehab. … I think those were really positive steps. I’m hoping when we come back in April, we see a new Johnny and everybody’s blown away with his commitment. And I think he’s got the talent, so it’s just a matter of if he commits himself to it, we can have a really good quarterback on our hands.”

Kudos for Thomas, who is the leader of the team, to say what needs to be said to a promising player, but misguided player. Manziel was drafted 22nd overall for a reason, to lead a franchise in desperate need of success and rejuvenation. Checking himself into rehab was another stepping stone to get Manziel’s life on and off the field, back on track.

Like Thomas so eloquently stated, Manziel has to prove to the team that football is his No. 1 priority when he returns from rehab.

There is nothing but truth in Thomas’ words. Prove to your team and the franchise that you’re not just another player that will squander a golden opportunity to play at the highest level of football, Manziel.

Race For 8th in the NBA

Multiple teams in each conference are jockeying for the final playoff spots with a little over a week left in the season.

In Western Conference, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder is leading Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans by half of game. OKC is currently 42-35 and the Pelicans are 41-35.

Remaining games for the Thunder:

Tue, Apr 7 vs San Antonio; Fri, Apr 10 vs Sacramento; Sun, Apr 12 @ Indiana; Mon, Apr 13 vs Portland; Wed, Apr 15 @ Minnesota

Remaining games for the Pelicans:

Tue, Apr 7 vs Golden State; Wed, Apr 8 @ Memphis; Fri, Apr 10 vs Phoenix; Sun, Apr 12 @ Houston; Mon, Apr 13 @ Minnesota; Wed, Apr 15 vs San Antonio


What Russell Westbrook has been doing is simply mind-boggling. If it wasn’t for the legitimate MVP candidate, the Thunder would be a lottery team at this juncture, especially after the news of teammate and reigning MVP Kevin Durant, shut down for the season after three surgeries on his foot.

Westbrook recorded his third 40-point triple-double of the season in a loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets Sunday. The Thunder are asking a lot from Westbrook as he singlehandedly carries the team on his back in Durant’s absence.

If you look at the schedule, San Antonio and Portland are the only two teams left on the schedule that posses any real threat to OKC.

As gifted as Anthony Davis is, and arguably the second best player in the league, the only team remaining on their schedule that doesn’t have a winning record is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Unless Golden State rest its players, I can’t see the Pelicans knocking of MVP favorite Stephen Curry and the Warriors tonight.

Memphis has been inconsistent as of late, but they are still favored over New Orleans. Every team except for the Timberwolves are vying for a playoff position. The Phoenix Suns are three games back from the 8th spot, but unless both the Pelicans and the Thunder lose the rest of their games, the Suns won’t make the playoffs.

The Thunder will hold off the Pelicans for the final spot in the West.

The competitiveness in the Eastern Conference stops at the 5 seed. Seeds 6 through 9 all have losing records. The hottest team among that group is the 7th-seed Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have a record of 36 and 41, but won 8 of its last 10 games.

The 8th seed in the East is down to a three horse race between the Boston Celtics (35-42), Indiana Pacers (34-43) and the Miami Heat (34-43). Horrid records for either of those teams that will back its way into the postseason.

The Heat seemed like a lock to make it weeks ago, but Miami is currently on a 4-game skid, dropping from 7th to 10th.

Miami is still the better team between the three of them. So until April 15 says otherwise, I’m still picking the Heat to claim the final spot in the East.

Kentucky coach John Calipari

Kentucky coach John Calipari

By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)

Hutchinson News Column

The Kentucky Wildcats became the first team to go 36-0 in men’s D-I college basketball history on Sunday.

And I want it to stay that way, for the Wildcats to finish the NCAA Tournament with an unblemished 40-0 record.

Winning the first 36 games of the season only to come up two rounds short of the Promised Land of capturing the Wooden NCAA National Championship Trophy leaves an empty feeling that a “better luck next time” and pat on the back will never fill.

In the grand scheme of things, a melancholy ink blot of a single loss behind 36 or 39 wins is meaningless, unless that loss came in the regular season.

In the next 10 to 20 years, when you’re scrolling through the archives of past NCAA championships, are you really going to point at the 2015 winner and say, “Well, man, I tell ya, the championship team was good, but that 30-something-and-1 Kentucky team was something special.”

Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball coach John Ontjes wanted to go undefeated after going 36-0 but lost in the game that matters most in back-to-back seasons.

“Most definitely. I wanted to see our team complete the journey of the possibility of going undefeated, especially after the effort and hard work they put into the year,” Ontjes said.

However, he did point out not to dismiss the journey it took to climb the undefeated ranks.

“It’s never any less meaningful (to go undefeated in the season and lose), but I think to go undefeated and lose in that game, you have to look back at the positives that occurred throughout the season,” Ontjes said.

And as for as what’s channeling through the mind of Kentucky coach John Calipari as he leads his team to uncharted territory, Ontjes said, “I think he’s not focused on going undefeated. He is focused on his next opponent and what they need to do to advance.”

To go 72-2 over the past two seasons is nothing to scoff at for Ontjes and Hutchinson, but 74-0 would have firmly cemented Ontjes and his team on an elevated pedestal in history.

Calipari won’t openly say his goal is to go undefeated, but his actions are screaming louder than the 20,000 raucous fans at Rupp Arena. After Kentucky eased through the SEC Tournament, the Wildcats oddly chose not to cut down the nets.

“We all forgot,” Calipari said after the win over Arkansas.

I’m not buying that if I had $1 million in the bank. Calipari knows what they have done thus far won’t mean a thing unless they’re cutting down the nets in Indianapolis on April 6.

And we’re fortunate to be witnessing history in the making right now with Kentucky. To survive the regular season and the gauntlet single-elimination tournament undefeated, that is a one-of-a-kind special that may never be duplicated.

Kentucky would sit all alone on the throne as the most prolific team in college basketball history.

Give me something that could last a lifetime. Give me something that can withstand the test of time without the slightest of trembling. Give me something that when I look at it, I think, “That may never be done again.”

On March 2, 1962, NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kobe Bryant came somewhat close when he compiled an unworldly 81 points on the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006, but 100 points in a single game is a record that won’t perish.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to go undefeated in a season (14-0) and win the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and the Patriots went 16-0 in the 2007 NFL regular season only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

And what do you remember about that game? The Patriots going 18-1, or the impeccable grab by David Tyree known as “The Helmet Catch?”

Or how about 1,406 career stolen bases by Hall of Fame leftfielder Rickey Henderson? Henderson has 468 more stolen bases than Lou Brock, who is second all-time.

The only way a player will catch Henderson is if they literally catch him jogging around the warning track of Coliseum in Oakland and ask him how the heck did he steal more than 90 bases four times in his career, including 132 swipes in 1982?

LeBron James won’t be dropping 100 points in Quicken Loans Arena. Brady failed, and neither Peyton Manning nor Aaron Rodgers will lead their teams to a 19-0 season. And Billy Hamilton is about as close from the moon to the sun of Henderson’s stolen base record.

Not in this lifetime or the next, those records won’t be broken. A 40-0 season would rival those all-time, immovable marks in the record books.

I understand the essence of “March Madness,” too. Everyone is instantly smitten with the tourney David when the team seems poised to make an unforeseen run and flattens Goliath.

But this is history in the making. Kentucky has the chance to crown itself as not one of the greatest, but the greatest team in college basketball history.

We’re witnessing history.

Kelton Brooks is a writer for The Hutchinson News. Email: