Monday, May 20, 2013

You Let The Whole Team Down

Derrick Rose tore his ACL on April 28, 2012. The last game the Bulls played was on May 15, 2013. For all of you math wiz-kids out there your calculations did not fault you, Derrick Rose had 382 days and nights to put on a Bulls jersey again. But yet he never was able to accomplish this miraculous feat.

First of all, I want to make it very clear that I know Derrick Rose’s “brand” of basketball is not that of the typical NBA player. His success is fully dependable on his explosiveness, agility, and ability to twist and turn his body in route to getting to the basket. I also happen to be fully aware that this style of basketball causes Rose to be increasingly more susceptible to injuries. Taking this into account, I do not blame Rose for being cautious about his return. However, waiting a year and one month to come back crosses the line that falls between cautious and cowardice. Maybe cowardice is a tad harsh, but at least you can say that it is undoubtedly overcautious.

Lets all take a moment or two or twelve, if you’re into that type of thing,  to reflect on another one of the premier athletes in the world of sports. Adrian Peterson is unarguably one of, if not the best player in the NFL at the toughest position in an already extremely difficult as well as exerting sport. Adrian Peterson suffered a torn ACL like Rose, yet he managed to return to his more physical and wearing sport in just over nine months. Indeed this is quite the stupendous return, and it is absurd to expect Rose to return in the same timetable. However, if Peterson can return in nine months and statistically be the best running back in the league, is it absurd to expect Rose to be able to return in over a year?

The answer to this stumper of a question can be answered in only two simple words. Absolutely not.

Lets fast forward to 2013 playoffs. The Chicago Bulls somehow manage to take down the higher seeded  Brooklyn Nets in seven games. If this wasn’t enough to motivate Rose to come back, surely taking down the best team in basketball, the Miami Heat, in game 1 in Miami would be. However, to quote the incredibly incompetent Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!” Rose remained inactive for the rest of the series, which ended in five games with the Bulls falling. Now for the big whopper of a question: Where was Rose? Do I expect him to start, put up big numbers, and play 40+ minutes? Absolutely not. But if you want to be one of the stars you have to start acting like it. Simply the presence of Rose on the court is enough to give them that extra boost. Him picking up some significant minutes, and giving guys like Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson a much needed break would have been monumental. Having his veteran leadership on the court could have changed the game for good. If David Lee can play through a torn hip flexor just nights later after it occurring, I think Rose can give his team some incredibly helpful minutes more than a year following his injury.

At the end of the day, we do not know what would have happened if Rose had played in this series. Maybe they still would have lost. There is a good chance of this considering the Heat are a quality squad, and the refs give them every single call. Nonetheless, they never had a true chance without their star on the court. In my eyes, a star is the guy that you can count on night in and night out to give your team a chance to win no matter the circumstances. And although Rose’s talent is through the roof and beyond, he never gave his team a shot to win. For that Derrick, you should be disappointed in yourself. Don’t worry, we all are.

-Ben Greer

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Solving the Split (part 1)

Despite the injury laden state of this year's NBA playoffs, they have surpassed their billing to this point and have been quite the spectacle. Each series in this conference semi-final round have become 5 game series we are faced with 4 splits, and in everyone single series the lower seed has home court advantage. Let's figure out who will move on and who's going to be left with some questions.
Golden State vs. San Antonio: Klay Thompson went bananas last night in San Antonio, scoring 34 points and going 8 of 9 from behind t
he ark last night. It was a huge lift on a night when Steph Curry was off, going 7 for 20 from the field. I'm not sure what isn't to love about this series, the contrasting styles are so prevalent. Offensively, San Antonio takes very few bad shots and are very methodical; never afraid to work the shot clock down to below 5 before getting their look. And on the other side we have the Warriors, who want to gun threes. You know what they want to do, yet guys like Harrison Barnes( a great driver) Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut(monsters on the boards) complete this team. Which makes you think, how good could this team of kids be with David Lee in the rotation? But, hes not there and they still have a legitimate shot of defeating the Spurs. With 3 games left in the Oracle, I doubt the Spurs can win 2, in fact winning 1 of the 3 is a success in my mind, meaning the Spurs have to win their remaining 2 home games. Highly Unlikely.
Bottom line is, Mark Jackson may not have been wrong with the "greatest shooting back-court" comment and I like the Warriors to win this series. The key for the Spurs to get back into this series is Manu Ginobli. He needs to be more consistent and he is getting open looks. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson play huge minutes, and their not the best defenders as it is, you must knock down the open looks and in Pap's offense he can get plenty of those. I am going to go basketball nerd here, but the best look would we Tim Duncan setting an off-ball screen which Ginobli can use to fade down to the wing, causing a switch and a miss=match which he can use to drive or shoot depending on how the switch works out. Golden State hasn't become frustrated yet, and once they do it's advantage San Antonio.  But that hasn't happened yet and Steph Curry is the playoff MVP and he will continue to be. I like Golden State in 6 or 7.
New York vs. Indiana: This series is boiling down to 4 guys. Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton for the Knicks. For the Pacers it's Roy Hibbert and Paul George. the Lance Stephenson JR Smtih match up is a wash, Smith has been bad of late anyway and Stephenson isn't really an offensive threat, Stephenson will find himself guardingShumpert and Prigioni. Hibbert must succeed, and he is a good defensive force but Tyson Chandler isn't out there to play offense so once again another Pacer defensive advantage which is canceled out. He needs to take Chandler into the post and keep shooting. Hibbert will get discouraged and defer to the other players. 6 points in game to, that won't cut it. On the other end, Carmelo is averaging 30 points over the last 10 games, so this perception that he's in a slump is unfair. Shooting percentages in the playoffs
  aren't pretty, and even though he's under 30% from behind the ark, he is still producing. Game 2 needs to be every game in this series. 
What it boils down to is that the 6th man for the Pacers is Tyler Hansburough. No bench for Indiana, Knicks in 6.-Josh Neighbors.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Always Money

Hard work. Dedication. Hard Work. Dedication. The two words yelled everyday at Floyd Mayweather's gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. As any boxing fan knows, Floyd Mayweather is 44-0 and fresh off of a dominant performance over Robert Guerrero, a result which most everyone saw coming. People look at Mayweather and the words "rich" "spoiled" "eccentric" "cocky" are used to describe him, but if you looked at the boxing style of the 5'8 183 pound welterweight champion, it does not seem to matchup with the lifestyle.
 In any sport, offense is great, but on days when the offense isn't producing the defense better be there. You can't win 44 boxing matches by being a terrific puncher, it's not going to happen. So where does Mayweather's dominance come from? Many of his fights are the same, he's not a heavy hitter and many times it will appear his adversary will have the upper hand in the opening rounds, throwing a majority of the punches. Floyd progressively frustrates opponents with beautiful defense and phenomenal blocking ability. Frustration= risk taking and risk taking leads to losing in the ring.For opponents, their precise quick jabs from the opening rounds, become sloppy hooks in the latter rounds leaving themselves susceptible to counters, and Mayweather's right hand counter is the best in boxing.
 He spends money with reckless abandon, but boxes with a discipline that doesn't seem like him, that is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
For his challengers, the theme has been re-occuring, they want to be the one to put an the 1 next to the 44. Money isn't fighting to keep the tally going, his opponent is fighting to put one in the L column, and that is where the pressure lies. For the champ, it's just another fight, for challengers like Guerrero it's their shot of a lifetime and that is the problem. For the 36 year old pressure is non-existent and this has translated to success on a sclace never been seen before in the sport.
So where does the hard work and dedication come for Floyd? It comes from nothing, because that's what he had before boxing. From coming home to heroin needles on his mother's kitchen table in elementary school, to a 32 million $ payout for 1 night. He enjoys his lifestyle, which motivates him to fight to maintain it. It might appear his spending may be reckless at times, but he does love people which triggers some of his lack of monetary conscience. After the Final Four, he was in a waffle house with "the money team" and a collection of Witchita State fans visibly upset about their loss. After conversing with the fans for a short while Mayweather brightened the mood and soon everyone was laughing and having a good time. At the end of the meal, Mayweather took the tab, for everyone. His willingness to extend an invitation into the money team is visible and the perceived image of a former criminal and person who struggles to relate to the average person, but his upbringing and his literal fight to the top gives him an understanding often overlooked by the masses. Mayweather lives the high life, but he has earned it each and every day. His 44-0 record will remain unblemished until something changes. Outside the ring, it's all fun and games, but inside the ring clarity of his hard work and dedication is evident and continues to be at the age of 36  in the most physically demanding sport in the world.-Josh Neighbors

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