Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

Miami Heat

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Well, it’s happening a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

The national media circuits are beginning to pay positive attention to the Miami Heat. Note: I said Miami Heat, not LeBron James.

ESPN created a monster in producing and airing “The Decision,” the hour-long special in which LeBron James revealed he would be leaving Cleveland after 6 years with no rings.

The weeks leading up to “The Decision” were filled with shameless advertising and hype. News segments were mere rumors and speculation. In one day, LeBron would start out leaning towards New York, by noon it was Chicago or New Jersey, and by the time the actual day came around, most everyone already knew LeBron was going to leave to go to Miami.

All signs pointed to him leaving!

And the Cleveland fans knew it because the media knew it (more or less). Therefore, you saw the Cavs fans making pleas, literally begging LeBron not to go.

All I’m saying is, James’ decision did not shock anyone.

What did shock me was how quickly the media turned its back on its involvement in the whole “Decision” debacle. Sports T.V. shows, sports talk radio hosts, and the overall sports community spent easily the entirety of the next week speaking of nothing besides the Miami Heat and specifically LeBron James.

They gaged the country’s opinion on “The Decision” and when they found it to be overwhelmingly negative, they washed their hands of LeBron, painted a picture of a villainous fiend, and tossed him under the bus.

The regular season talk was focused on different players throughout the year but one theme rang true loudly: The national media have withheld spotlight from James as an individual when it applies to praise for excellent play. Instead, they direct the praise to the Heat as a whole, or to Dwyane Wade.

This is not to say that LeBron is under the radar. The media are more than happy to talk about James’ shortcomings, missed opportunities, etc.

Now that the Heat have shown brightly the first round and beginning of the second round, the national media is catching on to something: This Miami Heat team is good. Very, very good.

In the sports news business, it’s all about being first to break news or being the first to predict the champion. When their horse goes down (i.e. Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, etc) often times, the analysts or radio hosts will simply pick a new team he/she claims to have known all along would win it all.

As a lonely passenger at times on the LeBron bandwagon, it has been, at times, hilarious to watch these analysts pretend other players deserve the MVP, blowing losses out of proportion, and force-feeding the masses inflated and irrelevant stats to dismiss LeBron’s dominance.

I figured it would take more time before the same people who threw James under the bus would crawl back and play nice.

LeBron said way back when this whole media frenzy started getting vicious that he was going to keep track of the nay sayers.

I hope he unleashes on someone to be honest. I hope he throws down on a reporter who ripped James’ integrity during “The Decision” hot bed. I hope he calls one of these smile-fakers out, quoting the outrageous attacks on his leadership qualities, finishing capabilities or work ethic.

There won’t be much left to say when Miami’s “Big 3” are raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Advertisements

Jimmer Fredette (32) of BYU shooting a floater over the helpless Portland defenders.

Yeah, I admit it. I caught Jimmer fever.

Everyone had been talking about Jimmer Fredette the last couple days. ESPN had exhausted its talk on the Packers and Steelers victories over the Bears and Jets, and it’s far too early to really delve into Super Bowl talk. College signing day for football isn’t for another week and the Heat didn’t play the Knicks until tonight (Jan. 27th).

Far and away, the #4 San Diego State vs #9 BYU NCAA basketball match-up was the talk of the day. The story here? Jimmer Fredette. This kid puts the ball in the hoop. The end. Watching him is a thing of beauty. His shot is so pure and refined that he can shoot from 5+ feet beyond the NBA 3-point line, uncontested, better than some guys shoot their free throws.

Watch what Jimmer did to my boys.

Yeah, the Utes got it handed to them and yet I could watch this clip 200 times on loop because when you watch Jimmer Fredette play, there are no faces on his victims, there are no names or “U’s” on those jerseys. There is only Jimmer Fredette, the basketball and whatever he has to do to get that basketball in the hoop. That’s it.

The downside (there always is one) is that Jimmer Fredette will get worked on defense in the NBA. He has a long way to go. But he can be taught. The other issue with Fredette, is that shooting distance and accuracy will translate directly over to the NBA as far as open looks go. Problem is, NBA defenders are harder to shake. Even Kobe Bryant doesn’t get open looks more than 10% of the time maybe.

I think that Jimmer is like a mix of Manu Ginobili and J.J. Redick.

Watching Fredette shoot from deep, deep range reminds me of J.J. Redick. While at Duke, Redick was draining deep range shots like it was nothing. He would light up scoreboards on a nightly basis, much like Fredette. The problem with Redick, though, was that he was very much a catch and shoot type shooter. He was at his best coming off the pick, catching the ball 3+ feet away from the 3-point line and draining insanely difficult shots.

The reason I think Jimmer will have much more success in the NBA than J.J. has, is his Manu side. Fredette can beat almost anyone off the dribble and weaves through defenses at will. If he’s not open, he’ll get open. If his shot isn’t there he’ll get to where a shot is, and drill it. The kid is the Cam Newton of NCAA Basketball this season. They both touch the ball at least once every possession anyway…

Whenever anyone asks me who my favorite NBA team is, the answer is always “whoever LeBron James is playing for.”

So many people began to hate LeBron James when he announced he would leave Cleveland to go to Miami and play for the Heat.

Personally, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. Yes, he might have received less negative reactions had he told the Cavaliers privately first his intentions to leave, but he also made a lot of money by announcing it on the ESPN special “the decision”.

Let’s not forget… basketball is his job and I would have sold out for much much less than LeBron received so I can’t judge. I think people forget that LeBron has been famous since his junior year of high school. He is very much used to the spotlight and if he acts a little differently than you or I would, it’s got a lot do with that. And honestly, if the worst thing that LeBron James has done in the 6 years he’s been in the league is the way that he announced his decision in free agency, then that’s a stand up guy.

He doesn’t have gambling problems, hasn’t shot himself in the leg, hasn’t killed someone driving drunk, hasn’t been accused of sexually harassing anyone. He just handles his business on the court. LeBron has the skill and ability to be the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen. He can score at will with amazing ball handling and shot accuracy from short to deep, deep range. He can jump through the roof and is one of the best defenders in the league as well.

LeBron’s most amazing talent, I think, is his court awareness. At any time, it seems LeBron knows the exact location of every team-mate and will dish an around-the-back pass to one with perfect timing and accuracy. LeBron draws the attention of not just his defenders but the entire building. Everyone wants to see what LeBron will do and it’s easier to break off and get open as a teammate when LeBron is driving to the hoop, easily capable of throwing it down, but instead kicks it out to the open teammate for 3. All because of the attention he draws on offense.

Alone, yet surrounded by a cast of competent enough players, James can beat 85% of the teams in the NBA and showed that the last 3-4 seasons with the Cavaliers. Now that LeBron has all-stars around him nightly to give an outlet pass on the breakaway to, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Heat are now finally in their groove and have won 21 of their last 22 games.

LeBron is making himself most useful as a facilitator. James will get his whenever and however he wants, but Wade, Bosh, and even the rest of the Heat are benefitting from James’ ability to draw off defenders and make a good player look great and a decent player look good. Given 2 of his teammates are great players already, safe to say the Heat are the top contender in the East.

Plus, have you seen the Cavs lately? They went from best record in the NBA 2 years in a row, to last place in the NBA halfway through the first year without James.

It’s that time again ladies and gentlemen. Estrogen Corner has returned and this time, it features McKenzie Dean. McKenzie runs long distance track for the University of Utah and is an avid fan of the Oregon Ducks football team. She is studying sports broadcasting and wants to be working as an analyst or reporter one day. Needless to say, she knows her stuff. Here’s the interview.

Dan Condie – Ok, so first of all, what have you been most impressed with the Ducks this season?

McKenzie Dean – Most certainly the season they had, going undefeated, and making it to the national championship for the first time ever in University of Oregon history.

DC – What was the biggest reason for Oregon’s success?

MD – I think a major reason was what Oregon calls “WTD”, win the day. Focusing on each practice and each game one at a time, ignoring what the media and rankings had to say. Certain athletes definitely had to step up and be leaders on both sides of the field, especially Darron Thomas after losing [Jeremiah] Masoli to run Kelly’s fast paced offense.

DC – Do you know what any of those picture signs mean?

MD – (laughs) Sadly, no, even ESPN has been trying to crack Kelly’s way to communicate with his players. I made a “gameday” sign representing the play board, however.

DC – So what is the biggest threat that Auburn poses?

MD – One word. CamNation. Cam Newton definitely is a stud and Auburn carries a strong offensive line up that Oregon’s defense will have to stop.

DC – But if Oregon hangs 50+ the defense won’t have to do much more than get in the way of Newton right?

MD – If Oregon scores that high in the “natty” against Auburn that’d be quite the accomplishment. Oregon’s offense is impeccable, not being biased, (laughs) but I still think it will come down to who has the stronger defense to either stop the Ducks or stop Cam. With the offensive, Auburn is gonna go in wanting to stop [Jeff] Maehl and [LaMichael] James, and Huff and Barner have to be ready to step up and I think they will put on an amazing show.

DC – What are you gonna do when Utah and Oregon face off more regularly?

MD – (laughs) Everyone asks me that. I’m a student and athlete here at the U, but I’ve been a Duck fan since the womb, so I have to roll with my pride. I’m a die hard what can ya say?

DC – I’m that way with my Utes. How long can Oregon stay on top?

MD – This is just the beginning. It’s amazing that they made it to the “natty”! We just signed the number one linebacker in the nation to fill in for leaving outstanding senior Casey Matthews, along with signing many more top recruits. Thomas will be back, along with “LaMike”, who decided to stay instead of leaving for the NFL draft. They will be stacked and supported by amazing coordinators and head coach of the year! Can you yell O?!

DC – So in other words, you’re gonna be the USC of this decade.

MD – Minus the Reggie Bush scandal and punishments SC is facing.

DC – Hopefully. Gotta be careful with all the Nike stuff so close. Easy for Oregon players to access representation.

MD – Phil Knight has been a massive contributor. Nike started there (at Oregon) and built itself to where it is today because of Oregon. Plus, Nike and the University are much smarter than to let that happen. No need to be jealous of our amazing jerseys!

DC – So when Kelly is out for the NFL, then what?

MD – You could’ve asked me the same question two years ago when Mike Bellotti left to be an ESPN analyst, and then a new coach was hired with even more success than before. Chip is under contract for at least the next few years, but I have full confidence that another positive replacement will be made. You should know that about the Utes.

DC – And as the last question, what will be the final score?

MD – No prediction. Whoever is holding the glass football at the end is all that matters. My faith is in the Ducks.

DC – So whatever the score, the Ducks will have more you think.

MD – (laughing) You sound like a true sports writer trying to pry things out. Just have to watch tomorrow’s game live! SCODUCKS!!!

DC – You know I will. Thanks so much for the time.

MD – No worries!

Prediction or not, this girl is on top of her Duck knowledge. I did pick the Ducks over Auburn myself and hope like with Utah/Alabama in ’09, speed and agility will win out over power and size. Like Mckenzie said, just gotta watch live. The game will be Monday Jan. 10th at 8:30 pm ET.

image

Utah over Pittsburgh. Jan. ’05: Groundbreaking. Boise over Oklahoma, Jan. ’06: Instant classic Utah over Alabama, Jan. ‘09: Mind opening. TCU at Utah Nov. 6th 2010: Revolutionary.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves here. If you replace the names, ”TCU” and “Utah” with any other BCS conference school names, given the #3 and #5 rankings next to those names, and anyone can tell you this game has huge national championship implications this late in the season. Well, with TCU, and especially Utah filling those blanks, those implications might turn out to be imaginations.

But just how big is this game, really?

For the second consecutive year, ESPN’s “College Gameday” will be at the site of TCU/Utah. Both teams enter this game ranked in the top 16 for the 3rd consecutive year. And for the 3rd straight year, the winner if this game will have stamped their BCS ticket.

Last season, “College Gameday” went to Fort Worth to watch the Utes get roughed up on the road by the faster, stronger, Horned Frogs.

This year, the Utes are firing on all cylinders and looking to prove that they earned that spot in the PAC-12 next season.

The history between Utah and TCU is brief but intense.

The first time this game really meant something was in Nov. 2008. TCU came into Salt Lake City ranked #11, their sole loss coming against national champion runner up Oklahoma. Utah came into that game undefeated and ranked #10. “College Gameday” was not in attendance that weekend, although I bet they wish they had been.

TCU lead Utah from their opening 2 drives, scoring a field goal and TD, respectively, within the first few minutes. Utah crept back with a field goal in each of the first 2 quarters and went into the locker room at half down 10-6. After a scoreless 3rd quarter, TCU had 2 opportunities for “short” field goals. Anyone who loves college football or lives in MWC country knows TCU’s freshman kicker missed both FGs, gave the ball back to Utah with a few minutes left, Utes scored late to make it 13-10 Utah, and then held off Andy Dalton’s ensuing 2 minute drive to secure the win.

This year will have 2 similarly talented teams (little differences here and there), each with its own goals in mind.

Utah has the most prolific and talented bunch on offense they have seen in a long time. Did you know Alex Smith’s back up in ’04 was freshman Brian Johnson? Can you imagine how season-ending an injury to Smith would have been in that scenario? This season’s Utes are deep. Everywhere.

QB Jordan Wynn is the most efficient starting QB in pass completion in the conference at 69.1%. Oh, and our backup? Yeah, Terrance Cain is sitting at 76.6% with 6 TD and 0 INT in 2 games started. The RB core is solid with Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide III. The Utes WRs are speedy and talented and when Wynn and his receivers are in their rhythm, there’s no stopping them.

Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake has turned a question mark for the Utes this preseason into an exclamation mark. The Utes tout one of the best rush defenses in the nation and one of the best scoring defenses as well. Strong Safety Brian Blechen had a huge game against Air Force last week and shows signs of previous greatness at that position (Morgan Scalley, Eric Weddle, Robert Johnson to name a few).

TCU is bringing the best defense in the nation, once again, into Rice-Eccles Stadium. ’08 was a battle of top defenses and Utah scratched and clawed their way to victory. This season’s matchup will not only feature those same great defenses, but also explosive offenses.

Andy Dalton is showing why he was selected as the preseason MWC player of the year. He has led this speedy Horned Frog offense to an average of 40.8 points per game. Utah boasts 45.3.

The main difference, though, between this year and years past, respect. Sure, a 1-loss team like Alabama or Nebraska might be able to use strength of schedule to jump TCU, Utah, or Boise State, but look where it’s come from.

In the past, 1-loss teams would just stay around the top and the Utah’s and TCUs were unable to move past them, no matter how poor the victories were for the 1-lossers. Now, entering week 10, two-thirds of the way through the season, teams like Alabama do need their strength of schedule to jump a non-AQ team ranked #3, #4 and currently #5 in the nation.

Utah’s season in 2004 under Urban Meyer was revolutionary. It opened the eyes of many BCS apologists and has opened doors for others like Boise and TCU to follow. Coach Whittingham took the reins in 2005 and has continued the winning tradition.

Coach Kyle Whittingham would charge Hell itself with a bucket of water. And TCU…will be bringing Hell with them.

As college football turns its eyes toward the mountains, remember. TCU and Utah have proven that they deserve to be recognized with the big boys. This is the highest in the BCS polls that 2 non-AQ teams have ever been when playing each other.

Remember that Utah is headed for the PAC-10(12), BYU is leaving to go Independent, TCU likely will head to the Big East, and Boise State is coming to fill in those big shoes in the Mountain West Conference. All this due to success on the national stage. What will their next excuses be to dismiss this group when the “easy” teams on our conference schedule…are them?

We fought the naysayers, we fought their rules and their champions, and we’ll fight for dear old Crimson for…a Utah man am I. Go Utes.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?categoryId=2564308&id=5669108

Alex Rodriguez Hits 600th HR

Lets face it, apart from avid Yankees/Rodriguez fans, no one is excited for A-Rod’s 600th HR.

Rodriguez had been sitting on 599 HR’s for upwards of 50 at bats. It seemed like people were more excited each time they got the news that he had gone “HR-less” that outing than when he eventually did hit big 600 and we all know why.

(more…)