Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Night Fights: Playoffs Round 3

Sorry for the late Sunday night post. It's been a busy week and weekend, but this week's best NHL playoff fight is pretty easy to pick. Well, it's because it was the only fight of the week. Lucky me! This week's showcase belongs to Brandon Purst of the New York Rangers and Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators. This bout featured two middleweights who aren't shy about dropping the mitts. According to, Brandon Purst led the entire league this year throwing it down 20 times. Chris Neil isn't much of a fighting slouch either, engaging in 10 fights this year. When you only have one fight to choose from, there's a huge chance that it'll be a total hugfest and wrestling match. All signs were pointing to this not-so-exciting ending, but with the help of the Ottawa faithful, things turn a pleasant turn for the average spectator. So let's get right to it!

Real men fight with their eyes close!

This tilt epitomizes the entirety of the New York Rangers' and Ottawa Senators' first round match-up as it all seven games to decide a winner. Midway during the 1st period of Game 6 in Ottawa with Ottawa leading the series 3-2, Purst and Neil find each other at center ice and decide to put on a show for the fans. Neil gets in a great uppercut to discharge Purst's helmet and then both start exchanging a barrage of rights as they do-si-do. Repeat barrage of rights and do-si-do some more. Commence hugfest and a seasoned hockey fight specialist would start guessing that this fight will be broken up soon as both men look pretty gassed. OH but wait on a second! The fans start chanting "NEIL! NEIL! NEIL!" and well ladies and gents, we have ourselves an adrenaline pick-me-up. Neil even plays along with the fans as he acknowledges Ottawa faithfuls. Both men then start letting it all go, throwing rights and more rights, and more rights. In all, the fight lasted about a minute and it was a beauty. I tip my imaginary cap to Purst and Neil as both stood in there relentlessly throwing haymakers and never calling it keeps. A job well done, fellas!

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Standing Ovation: Chris Kreider

Today was the first match between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers in the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs. The Capitals are riding a huge series win over last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Boston Bruins, and still have one of the most dangerous scorers in the league in Alexander Ovechkin. The Rangers were pushed to the limit by the Ottawa Senators in the 1st round and will need better play from their top forwards, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, to help goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist out. The Capitals knocked the Rangers out of the 2009 and 2010 playoffs, so there will definitely be some bad blood between these two clubs. Goals will be few and far between as both teams play a very defensive brand of hockey.

This afternoon's game was tied 1-1 going in the 3rd period before the Rangers broke it open with 2 quick goals to seal it. The incredible thing and the reason for this standing ovation was that the 2nd goal (the eventual game winning goal) and the 3rd goal was scored and assisted by 20 year old, Chris Kreider. Kreider was a 1st round draft pick of the Rangers in 2009 who has been honing his craft at Boston College. Just a few weeks go, he led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA title and as soon as he was done, signed a 3 year deal to play for the New York Rangers.  Many fans, including myself, thought the Rangers would just shelve him and get him up to speed for next season, but on the contrary, Kreider was thrown right into the fire for this year's Cup run.  He has handled himself like a seasoned pro so far and today, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the series. His goal pretty much blew the roof off of MSG and gave the Garden faithful something to cheer about.  Hard to believe that he's not even legally allowed to drink. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was this excited about a player that the Rangers drafted.  

Here's to a long bright future playing in the world's greatest arena in the world's greatest city!  LET'S GO RANGERS!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Party Foul: Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats

Violation: After a losing to the New York Knicks 104-84 on Thursday night, the Charlotte Bobcats completed the 2011/2012 season with a .106 winning percentage. This makes them the worst team in the history of the NBA, beating out the mark set in 1972/1973 by the Philadelphia 76ers (.110). During their historic 7-59 season, they compiled 22 losses by 20 points or more, was the worst scoring team in the league, and was the worst shooting team in the league.

Explanation: The loss was also their 23rd consecutive loss overall. Coincidentally, the same number their owner, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, made famous. The Knicks actually tried their best to help the Bobcats out too. They sat Carmelo, Baron, and Tyson, started Josh Harrelson (who?), and played Dan Gadzuric (who?) and Jerome Jordan (who?). After setting the new record for futility, Coach Paul Silas stated, "I have to commend the guys. They gave me everything they had and I can't fault them one bit for what happened. If they hadn't played hard for me and their attitudes hadn't been right then that's different, but they were positive and did everything that they needed to do."

The only thing I can say to that is -- poor guys.

In total, the Bobcats are 185-290 in six seasons under Michael Jordan, and have made the postseason only once where they were swept.

Punishment: I wish the leagues in America had the relegation system the soccer leagues in Europe implement. Charlotte would instantly be demoted to the D-League, while either the Austin Toros or the Los Angeles D-Fenders would be invited to the NBA next year (yes I really did look up what's going on in the NBDL just now).

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Party Foul: FC Barcelona AND Real Madrid

Violation: Both teams failed to advance to the finals of the UEFA Champions League. FC Barcelona lost to Chelsea, 2-3 on aggregate, and Real Madrid lost to Bayern Munich, 3-3 on aggregate (1-3 pen).

Explanation: First and foremost, congratulations to both winners. Chelsea took advantage of every counter attack opportunity they had, which culminated in Fernando Torres's clinching goal. And Bayern Munich quickly saw their lead vanish after two quick goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, but they showed great resiliency to notch a score of their own and eventually pulled it out.

The finals will be held on May 19th in Germany. Bayern Munich hopes to become the first club to win the European Cup at their home stadium in nearly 50 years.

FC Barcelona:
You are widely regarded as the best soccer team ever assembled. The game was held at your home stadium in Barcelona. You had a 46 to 12 shots advantage over the two legs. Lionel Messi, arguably the best player ever, is on your team and is coming off an another historic season. You played the majority of the match with a man advantage. You had a Chelsea team without their defensive anchor, John Terry. You had a penalty kick early in the second half to take control of the game which you failed to capitalize on. You held possession of the ball for nearly 80% of the time. But you still lost.

Real Madrid:
Your match against Bayern was also held on your home field. You jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, not only wiping out the aggregate advantage Bayern had but it put you in the driver's seat. Advancing to the finals was truly in your own hands. You gave up a goal and before you knew it, two overtimes had gone and passed. In the penalty shootout, you managed one successful goal. Really? One? Kaka's attempt was blocked. Ronaldo's attempt was blocked. Ramos's shot didn't even challenge the keeper. You had your shots, literally and figuratively, but once again could not win the big game.

Punishment: For FC Barcelona, they are going to finish second in La Liga and watch the Champions League Finals from their couches. That is punishment enough. Especially for Lionel Messi, who I have never seen look that defeated in all my years of watching and admiring him. For Real Madrid, after witnessing Barcelona's collapse the day before, the Cup instantly became their's to lose. But for some reason, this team can't seem to win the big match. What a choke job by both teams.

To the people who don't watch soccer, the FC Barcelona v. Chelsea semi-final match set a new record for most tweets per second for a sporting event.

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Fantasy Fantasies - Cash and Trash

A quick Fantasy Fantasies this week with the return of Cash and Trash!  A bunch of big names on the DL, time to make some moves!!

How does someone throw like that?


Trevor Bauer - With Dan Hudson hitting the DL, this kid could get the call as early as May.  I mean, Collmenter and Cahill aren't exactly scaring teams, so why not call up the next Lincecum?!

Jon Rauch - F^2 realizes that he's been pitching too well and it's time to blow some games.  For all you save chasers and win vultures out there.

Francisco Cordero - Shouldn't be available in any competitive league, but with Santos on the DL, he's the man north of the border eh.

Alejandro De Aza - Not sure why this guy isn't fully owned in all leagues yet, but with 3 homers so far along with 30 steal potential, he's a must add in any league.

Gerardo Parra - This guy is stealing bases like no other. Get him while he's hot!


Jonathan Sanchez - The Royals are pretty bad, but Sanchez looks terrible right now.

Chone Figgins - Too good to be true.

Chad Billingsley - What a tease.

Jeff Francoeur - Reverting back to his New York Met days!

Geovany Soto - Not sure why anyone ever drafts this guy?  How anyone can think he's better than a waiver wire pickup is beyond me.

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Standing Ovation: Fernando Torres

Yesterday was the second leg of the semifinal match in the Champions League between Chelsea and Barcelona. With Chelsea captain John Terry receiving a red card at the 37th minute, which on a side note deserves its own party foul post. Chelsea was already losing 1-0 with 53 minutes left in the game, and now would need to finish the game man down against the best team in the world in their home stadium. Only to make the odds worse Barcelona ends up scoring 6 minutes later to give them a 2-0 lead. While once against Chelsea gets a dramatic goal at the end of the first half.

After consistent pressure, multiple yellow cards and even a missed penalty shot by only the greatest player of our generation (Messi) Fernando Torres subs in at the 80th minute…

If you know me you know that Fernando Torres was my first soccer man crush. 4 years ago during the 2008 Euro Cup Torres taught me to love soccer; he was the reason why I decided to choose Liverpool as my favorite team. For all the soccer fans, you also know that Torres forced his way out of Liverpool last season and found his way onto Chelsea. As much as I felt betrayed, I will never stop cheering for Torres, yet I have chosen to keep supporting Liverpool.

The last 3 years hasn’t been a fairytale for Torres, actually you could call it more of a nightmare. Between health problems, being ineffective during the World Cup while his teammates thrived, to getting very little playing team this season, and having fans call for him to lose his spot on the national team. Chelsea spent 50 million pounds in a transfer fee, yet chooses to have him sit on the bench most of the time. Fernando Torres was once the golden child of Spain, now most of Spain hopes he doesn’t see any playing time in this year’s Euro Cup, just four years after leading Spain to victory in the same event.

Which brings me back to today, Chelsea was holding on to a 2-2 aggregate with the tie breaker with having more away goals. Torres main focus coming in was to help the other 9 men on the field desperately defending against the constant offensive pressure. Then it happened, the ball was cleared and Torres broke creating yards of space between the closest defender. It was vintage Torres, nothing flashy, one move to avoid the oncoming goalie. Torres then went on to calmly slot in the game tying, series sealing goal.

After all he has been through, Torres just kept going and now may have scored a goal worth 50 million pounds.The 10 men at Camp Nou will be remembered for a long time by the Chelsea faithful. And for my fellow Fernando Torres fans I hope it is safe to say El Nino is back!

Photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Party Foul: New Orleans Saints

Violation: ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported that Saints' GM, Mickey Loomis, had an electronic device that was secretly re-wired to the headsets worn by visiting coaches. This gave him the capacity to eavesdrop, in real time, on opposing coaches, their staff, and all of their conversations from 2002 to 2004.

Explanation: Wow. This may go down as the single worst off-season for any team in NFL history. Actually, maybe the worst in the history of all sports. I especially feel sorry for Drew Brees because A) he's from Texas and B) this occurred before he was even on the team (he joined in 2006). In a nutshell, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana was informed of the allegations and the FBI has decided to move forward with the investigation. If proven to be true, the Saints may potentially face violations of NFL rules as well as it being a federal crime. The 1986 ECPA document, aka Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prohibited any persons from intercepting communications from another using electronic or mechanical devices.

Strictly speaking football, this would have allowed the Saints to know what plays were being called, what schemes were being ran, etc. Add to the fact that Loomis's executive suite was on the ground floor, located next to the Saints' bench and coaching staff? Again, wow.

Punishment: This offense, if true, is much worse than the Patriots' "Spygate" incident -- New England's punishment was a fine of $750,000 ($500,000 against Coach Bill Belichick and $250,000 against the organization) and a forfeiture of their 2008 first round draft pick. After already receiving the NFL's version of SMU's death penalty for their bounty program, I'm curious to see what Goodell will do next. It's safe to say the New Orleans Saints will be irrelevant for the next 3+ years.

On the other hand, if the story is fabricated and proven to be untrue, ESPN should give themselves a fine and fire some people. The guys at the top have been pretty sloppy in recent months to say the least.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Party Foul: Metta World Peace

Violation: Metta World Peace's malicious elbow to the head of James Harden during the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder game at the Staples Center on Sunday, April 22, 2012.

Explanation: Everybody has seen the clip by now (link to incident). The question now is how many games will he be suspended? How hard will David Stern and league officials come down on him? Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers have one game left in the regular season and they obviously hope to make a deep run in the post season as well. Preliminary estimates from reporters, columnists, and other NBA players range anywhere from two games to ten games. In my opinion, with his long history of mishaps it should be much much longer. This is the same guy that was suspended for destroying camera equipment at Madison Square Garden in 2003 (3 games), for initiating a confrontation with Pat Riley (4 games), for the "Malice at the Palace" in 2004 (86 games), for elbowing Manu Ginobili in the head during the 2006 NBA Playoffs (1 game), for his multitudes of legal issues in 2007 (7 games), for clotheslining Juan Jose Barea during the 2011 NBA Playoffs (1 game), and now this. There's been many stories written about the improvements he's made in his behavior, which culminated with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award he won during the 2010-2011 season. But give me a break and cut the bullsh*t.

After the game on Sunday, he tweeted, "I just watched the replay again..... Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk was really too much... Didn't even see James ..... Omg... Looks bad."

Wait, seriously? The bottom line is the guy is mentally unstable, he targets the head, and he shows no remorse for his actions. Someone can get seriously hurt with him around. With a name like Metta World Peace and the fact that this occurred on Earth Day, the offense is downright shameful.

Punishment: Personally, I want him to be completely banned from the NBA altogether. I know that won't happen but could you imagine having these incidences with your employer or at your place of employment? It would warrant immediate termination. No questions asked. Realistically, I would like to see him get suspended for the remainder of the 2011/2012 season, playoffs included. If this had occurred in the "real world," he would be criminally charged with assault and/or battery.

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In 140 Words or Less: Moneyball Review

Few topics interest me less than baseball. Statistics is one of them.  So it’s puzzling even to me why I picked up Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which combines two nightmare topics into one book. For those unfamiliar with its premise, the book (and movie) is an examination of how Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A’s, was able to put together a team with an exceptional winning record while having the smallest payroll in the league.

While editing out some redundant themes and processes could have tightened up Moneyball, I was pleasantly surprised at the readability of the book even as a non-economics minded, non-hardcore fan. Lewis wisely focuses on Beane and his players to keep the narrative from feeling too inhuman, and provides a peek into the staunch and sometimes unyielding culture surrounding baseball scouting and management.

 Photo courtesy of Blio Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Night Fights: Playoffs Round 2

I knew last week was too good to be true! After a week of multi-fight games and a handful of brawls, this week was a quiet one in the NHL fighting realm. This week's action saw a lot of grind-it-out games, including many one-goal and overtime games. I anticipate the rest of the playoffs to play out like this with the notion that players need to play phyiscal, while being smart and disciplined. And given the recent 25-game suspension to Raffi Torres for his hit on Marian Hossa, I can't imagine players playing too recklessly for that "big hit". But you never really know.

The suspension was the third longest penalty to be handed out by the NHL and the longest since Chris Simon's 30-game suspension in 2007. Now, it might be Torres' track record or even the extent of Hossa's injury (carried off on a stretcher and still out) that led to the lengthy suspension, but it took the NHL long enough to hand out stiffer penalties for unnecessary and careless play. Starting with the pathetic $2,500 fine on Shea Weber's headsmash of Henrik Zetterberg, the NHL (aka Brendan Shanahan) has been inconsistent with its disciplinary actions. It was only one week ago when James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins took a similar run at Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers.

James Neal received a 1-game suspension for that hit. Yeah...that's not going to fly. So I hope from now on, the NHL gets these hits right. They need to or someone's career will be over in a matter of seconds. Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Time to congratulate the St. Louis Blues for their 1st playoff series victory in 10 years over the San Jose Sharks this past Saturday, winning four straight to take the series in 5 games. The Blues are a young and talented team as well as the league's statistically best defensive team, only allowing 165 goals this past year. They've also shown some great grit and tenacity in which we'll now witness.

Tommy Wingels (Sharks) was no match for Chris Stewart (Blues). Steward was in control the whole fight, even able to remove Wingel's helmet like he was opening a jar of jam. But I'll give it to Wingels who gave up 2 inches and almost 30 pounds. He stuck his nose in there and wasn't afraid of throw a punch. I respect that. But for now, he'll have time to bulk up as the Sharks are sent packing for home. Don't look now, but the St. Louis Blues are ready to make a deep run for the Stanley Cup. They are young and energetic, have great goaltending, and are willing to knock some heads. That sounds like a good recipe to me!

 Photos and video courtesy of,,, &

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Standing Ovation: Jon Jones

If you call yourself a man, then you should know that UFC 145 is this weekend! I would like to take a second and give a standing ovation to Jon "Bones" Jones and his awesome trash talking leading up to the fight.

10 Quick Facts:

  1. Jon Jones is 24 years old. He is currently the light heavy weight champion. 15-1 record.
  2. Rashad Evans is 32 years old. He is the former light heavy weight champion. 16-1-1 record.
  3. The two used to train together at the same gym in New Mexico.
  4. The two had an agreement to never fight each other because of their friendship.
  5. UFC 126: Jones beat Ryan Bader then rushed back to NM to help Evans get ready for his bout.
  6. UFC 128: Evans was scheduled for a title fight against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. He injured his knee and had to withdraw from the match. Jones was announced as the replacement and went on to beat Shogun, becoming the youngest UFC champion ever.
  7. The two quickly parted ways. Jones stayed in New Mexico. Rashad formed a new team in Florida.
  8. UFC 133: Jones and Evans were scheduled to fight but Jones injured his hand before the fight.
  9. UFC 140: Jones and Evans were scheduled again to fight but Evans injured his thumb before the fight.
  10. UFC 145: This Saturday night. Jones v. Evans. Title Fight. 5 rounds. Let's do this!
Alright, now to the trash talking:

"Rashad has tendencies. He's fought so long I've figured out his favorite moves. I don't have favorite moves. He has no clue what to expect."

"He couldn't even finish Phil Davis. I realize in that fight, Rashad didn't execute one double-leg takedown. Double leg used to be his bread and butter. I just watch the young Rashad and I see so much speed and the constant movement and the double leg that used to be so powerful. Now I see a very slow regression. I see somebody who's old."

"We know which way his head is going to lean when he flinches. We know his favorite guard passes. We know what his work ethic was. We know what gets him tired. We know everything about him. Absolutely everything."

"I'm intrigued that he's so obsessed with my character. I don't know why it's so personal for Rashad, but it makes it better for me. Rashad's attacking my character. But at the same time, I'm not really caring about Rashad's character. I care about his technique, his mentality as a warrior, not the person he is."

"I am who I am. Rashad is who changes up who he is. Constantly. One minute he has a do-rag on and wants to play the thug. One minute he has the suit on and wants to play the intellectual black guy. He's the one who's confused with what his character is."

"I'm excited. I wobbled Rampage a little bit when I hit him, and I wobbled Lyoto when I hit him. And I think out of those guys, Rashad has the weakest chin. I think he has the weakest chin of anyone I've fought, and I think I'm going to exploit that."

"I don't look at Rashad as a former friend. I look at him as someone who's trying to take things away from me. He doesn't care about me. He doesn't care about my kids. Why should I care about him? This is a game, and my job is to destroy him."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Following the one sided Bromance between new neighbors Tebow and Eli

Rumor has it from Hoboken411 that Tim Tebow has moved to Hoboken, NJ, also the home of Eli Manning. One square mile, two superstar quarterbacks, let the friendship begin! Or not...

Image Credit: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger and Andy Lyons/Getty Images
 Image Credit: Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images and UPI Photo/ Mark Goldman
Image Credit: and Lynne Sladky/AP
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Don't Tread on Clint Dempsey

After reading Albert Nguyen's latest article (What’s Poppin' – Hip Hop and Basketball) and being enlightened by a friend about Clint Dempsey’s alter ego, “Deuce,” I had to share.

Clint Dempsey is the most dynamic player in US soccer today and arguably in history, yet even though he was the MLS rookie of the year in 2004, Clint struggled to support his family in Nacogdoches, Texas. MLS salaries were much lower back then than they are now; even today’s salaries are far behind that of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL). In 2006, minimum wage was a mere $11,700, and the top draft pick that year received a yearly paycheck of $30,000. As Clint would describe it, “he had to hustle.” Nike was willing to endorse him in 2006 right before the 2006 World Cup which opened the door for Dempsey to become “Deuce” in the rap single “Don’t Tread.” Clint has gone on the record saying that he would most likely never go back to rapping since he has found consistent success in the English Premiership, but I am glad he left us with this gem before he made his transfer to England.

Clint was one of the first MLS success stories as a club from Europe paid a high transfer fee of $4 million dollars to acquire his rights. But before all the success in England, there was his childhood deep in the heart of Texas. As the story goes, his father drove him 3 hours to Dallas for practice multiple times a week just so he could play at a higher level. Eventually his parents could not afford to pay for both his soccer interest and his older sister’s promising tennis career. Clint was forced to quit his youth team in Dallas when he was twelve, shortly after his sister died from an unexpected brain aneurism. The passing of his sister gave him the chance to rededicate himself to soccer and return to his team. To this day, the tragedy fuels him to leave it all on the field. Clint has relied on his family and faith in God to carry him through the death of his beloved sister, and he looks to the sky after every goal to honor her.

Dempsey continues to put US soccer on the map, and in this current season, he became the first US born player to score a hat trick (3 goals) in an EPL match for his Fulham team. Not only is this a milestone feat in and of itself, but he accomplished this against Newcastle, which is known for its tough defense. Clint is already the first American to score in back-to-back world cups and is poised to make another run in 2014.

<a href='^foxsports_en-us_videocentral&src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Clint Dempsey is sensational' >Video: Clint Dempsey is sensational</a>

In addition, Dempsey led the Americans to a victory over Italy for the first time in our country’s history by scoring the lone goal. He also scored one of the goals against Spain to make the US the only team to beat Spain in the knockout stage of an international tournament in the last four years. Clint is rumored to be bought out during this summer's transfer window by one of EPL’s elite teams, so take the mic, Deuce -- all the world is your stage.

Photos and videos courtesy of Getty Images, ESPN, YouTube, and Fox Sports.

Asian America's Team: Iman Shumpert

Athletic with strong defensive abilities, but lacks shooting touch and basketball IQ. These were the attributes used to describe Iman Shumpert as he prepared for the 2011 NBA draft. My reaction to the Knicks drafting Iman Shumpert was the same as when they drafted Landry Fields the year before -- total shock and confusion. Iman's name had never come up in any of the articles I read of potential players that would be available at the 17th pick. In addition, the man every sport analyst seemed to want the Knicks to draft was actually still available. Many fans and experts felt the Knicks should have taken Chris Singleton, who would have filled the need for a guy who could defend the 3 or 4 spot. At the time, it was a fair assessment with the expectation that Toney Douglas would continue to develop and Chauncey Billups still on the roster.

The end result was that Donnie Walsh took another risk with Iman Shumpert, and once again Knicks fans filled Radio City Music Hall with a chorus of boos. Shortly after the selection, ESPN interviewed a stunned Spike Lee who looked like he was about to break into tears of frustration. All Spike could do was trust in the Knicks management that had failed him over and over in the past. The Knicks fan base had the dream of moving up and snatching Jimmer Fredette or Klay Thompson. Even Carmelo put in his input and desire to draft his friend Josh Selby who also grew up in the Baltimore area. Nevertheless Donnie Walsh made the call and went with his gut, and for a guy who had already announced his resignation, he had nothing to lose... even if every major NBA draft website had Iman projected in the second round.

Too many times in the NBA management selects draft picks with hidden upside in order to impress others. An example of this would be Isaiah Thomas, who drafted Renaldo Balkman in the first round in an attempt to prove that he knew something no one else did. Donnie selected Iman because of his athletic ability on the defensive end and his willingness to work hard. A few years ago a long-armed athletic guard was overlooked by the Knicks -- Rajon Rondo. I'm not saying that Iman can become the passer that Rondo is, but I believe there are many similarities on the defensive end and different advantages on the offensive end.

Later on the Knicks were able to move Billups to sign the best interior defender available in Tyson Chandler. The need for Shumpert became more urgent, and the rest is history. Scouts and analysts can only predict so much; eventually the only thing that matters is how a player performs in NBA games. The picks of Iman and Josh Harrellson got Donnie Walsh a C- grade by most experts. Now you can argue that the Knicks ended up with the most value in the 2011 draft with two contributing rookies for a playoff-bound team.

Iman Shumpert still has much to learn, but for now he is a defensive specialist. The Knicks finally have a guard that can stick with the top SGs and PGs in the league. This frees up Landry Fields from guarding players like Kobe Bryant, or Baron Davis or Jeremy Lin from being matched up against Derrick Rose. Even if Iman does not contribute much on offense, his defense earns him the right to be on the court during crucial moments in the game -- throughout the year we have seen Iman get timely strips and steals in the clutch. At last there is someone to stop the constant penetration from the perimeter that puts a ton of pressure on Chandler, usually leading to foul trouble for the big man.

Offensively Iman has started to find his role since he moved to the shooting guard position. At the start of the year, he looked lost at the point guard position and ended up taking too many forced shots. His shooting is still below average but has seen improvement, and he still makes over 30% of his three-pointers. He has shown flashes of being able to drive to the basket with his 46-inch vertical leap. Oh yeah, and this guy has more confidence than most; in his own words, he's "swaying."

When it's all said and done, Iman has earned his playing time on the defensive side of the ball. He is ranked 5th in steals per game this season trailing only Chris Paul, Mike Conley, LeBron James, and Paul Millsap while playing the least amount of minutes in the group. The last time he was paired against Derrick Rose he came away with 4 steals against the reigning MVP. It’s a shame that Donnie Walsh has moved on from the Knicks organization because once again the old man has proven to be the smartest man in the room.

Next Asian America’s Team topic: It's Raining Threes

Photos and videos courtesy of David Sherman/Getty Images and YouTube

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tupac vs. S1m0ne

I know I'm not the only one who got chills watching Tupac perform at Coachella.

But where was Kanye?  No, I didn't need him there to perform, but why wasn't he there to jump on stage, take Tupac's mic, and announce to the world:

"Yo Tupac, I'm really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but S1m0ne had the best hologram concert performance of all time!"

Shrug.  Hand the mic back to Tupac.  Walk off the stage.

Picture and videos courtesy of Kevin Winter/Getty Images and YouTube

Standing Ovation: Kevin Durant

Perhaps it's because I love it when athletes rise to the occasion and legitimize our diehard rooting interests.  Or perhaps it's just because I've been listening to Rihanna's "Take a Bow" on repeat for the past three weeks and feel compelled to give somebody a standing ovation.  Either way, today the honor goes to Kevin Durant.

I love KD because the man is only 23 years old, but he definitely has his head on straight.  You could spend days listing all of his basketball accolades, but he always puts his team first.  Back in the summer of 2010, while LeBron James was busy hyping the world for "The Decision" on July 8, Kevin Durant quietly signed a 5-year contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 7.  On top of all that, he interacts with fans and gives back to the community.

But okay, I'll get to the point.  The reason for this standing ovation is because with 7:38 left in the 4th quarter of this past week's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Durant drove to the hoop for a dunk and a foul.  It was an amazing play in a tight game in and of itself, but then Kevin spotted a young kid in the first row repping his jersey, so he took the time to give him some dap.

If you know me, you know that I'm a big proponent of athletes being down to earth, and KD clearly made this kid's day, if not his life.  It's a moment he'll never forget.  Check out the video evidence below (1:43-2:23) and try to convince me that the young'un isn't the happiest child in Minneapolis right now.  [Update: original video was taken down by ESPN, but this new video should do the trick.]

Vegas has set the line at three years for the next time the fan washes his hand -- I'm taking the over.

Photo and video courtesy of Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images and YouTube

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What's Poppin': Hip Hop and Basketball

Ever since I was kid, I have repeatedly seen instances of rappers who want to be in the NBA and players in the NBA who want to be rappers. But why? Is it the entertainment aspect? Is it because both professions are built around the art of performing? Is it an issue of race? Is it due to the fact that many of these individuals come from poor backgrounds?

What about the era before the emergence of the culture of hip hop? Back in the day, were guys like Wilt Chamberlain dreaming of playing with John Lennon and the Beatles? Did Bono ever think about putting down the mic and picking up a basketball?

I really can’t give you a concrete answer, but there is an undoubtedly interesting dichotomy between the two industries. I mean, in the real world, an accountant can’t genuinely believe he or she can just wake up one day and be a dentist -- it requires sufficient education, training, and experience.

A lot of hip hop’s growth into the mainstream can be attributed to the Michgan Fab 5. If you haven’t seen this ESPN documentary, I highly recommend it. In a nutshell, these five freshman basketball players exuded hip hop in their everyday lives -- their demeanor, their dress, their style, how they played the game of basketball, how they talked to the media, and just the way they carried themselves on and off the court. Ultimately, they were leading the charge with the next generation of kids without even knowing it. It obviously didn’t stop there, considering the fact that hip hop culture is now the new normal.

Back to the topic of rap artists thinking they can ball and ball players thinking they can flow -- throughout the years, we’ve seen so many failed attempts by both sides. Here are just a few NBA stars who thought they could go platinum:

Kenny Smith rap video (link): Kenny, there’s a reason why the guys on TNT show this video about once a year -- you’re horrible.

Tony Parker rap video (link): Tony, please don’t tell me that this was a hit in France.

Kobe Bryant rap video (link): Kobe, it’s pretty obvious why you haven’t come out with much music after this, but did you have to kill Brian McKnight’s career too?!

Thanks to the NBA All-Star weekend, we’ve been given the opportunity to see what type of skills rappers have. Guys like Nelly, Master P, Common, Pitbul, J.Cole, Bow Wow, and Chris Brown have all laced it up for our viewing pleasure, but these guys almost never play well. In fact, most of them are always leading their respective teams in double dribbles, traveling violations, and airballs. This year especially, the best player on the court by far was 47-year-old Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education. If you are getting dominated by the US secretary of anything, you should probably just focus on your day job.

With that being said, hip hop artists have come out with some amazing raps throughout the years when it comes to talking about the NBA. If I was allowed to, I would list my top-100 lyrics of all time, but not all of us can be Bill Simmons and write 10,000 word columns.

1. “As fate would have it, Jay’s status appears to be at an all-time high, perfect time to say good bye.
When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5 -- it ain’t to play games with you, it’s to aim at you.” (Jay-Z’s “Encore” from The Black Album)

The brilliance behind these four bars are predicated on the fact that Jay-Z, at the time, was announcing his retirement from rapping. The Black Album was supposed to be his last hurrah. We all know he never really left, but that’s not the point. Not only was Jay referring to Jordan’s jersey number when he came out of retirement in 1995 (45), but he also had a play on words by turning it into a gun reference and attacking other rap artists. Whether he was condoning violence or not is unimportant -- that’s just how the hip hop music industry works -- but that he was clever enough to depict a double meaning with a number is pretty awesome.

2. “You know the best medicine go to people that’s paid. If Magic Johnson got a cure for AIDS. And all the broke motherf*ckers passed away. You telling me if my grandma was in the NBA, right now she’d be OK?” (Kanye West's "Roses" from Late Registration)

Hate him or love him, at the end of the day, you have to respect the depth of Kanye’s music. When he’s on his game, there is nobody in the business that can invoke the types of emotions he can stir up. He can make you pissed off, nod your head, question life’s meanings, or a combination of all three. In the “Roses” record, he talks about his grandmother in the hospital and how his emotions are overtaking him as he reminisces back to happier times with her. He gets frustrated about the notion of inequality in our country -- in this case our healthcare system specifically -- when it comes to the distinct differences in social classes. Obviously, he isn’t singling out the issue of race here, but alluding to something much bigger than that. Kanye, as we all know, is a complicated and eccentric individual who sometimes allows his mouth to get him into trouble. It’s great to see this side of him.

3. “Get me on the court and I’m trouble. Last week f*cked around and got a triple-double. Freaking niggas every way like MJ. I can’t believe, today was a good day.” (Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” from The Predator)

If you’ve watched SportsCenter the last couple of months, you’ve probably heard the guys doing the highlights referring to this classic Ice Cube song whenever someone like Rajon Rondo gets a triple double in a game. Anyone who is a fan of hip hop music has this track on their iPod. It’s almost been 20 years since the song’s initial release, but it has remained timeless. Ice Cube does a beautiful job painting a picture of a perfect day amidst an imperfect life in South Central Los Angeles. Of course the definition of what is perfect varies from person to person, but the true greatness of this song, as seen at the end of the music video, is that perfection is fleeting.

I would love to know what hip hop songs have resonated with you throughout the years. So feel free to let me know what your favorite rap lines of all time are!

May's Haterade topic: The State of Boxing: Miguel Cotto v. Floyd Mayweather

Photo and video content courtesy of:,,, and

Sunday Night Fights: Playoffs Round 1

OH BABY! If you have not been watching the NHL playoffs, then I hope you were out saving the world because you're missing a dandy! The first round has been far from disappointing, and bad blood is brewing faster than any fan could desire. The playoff season is a powerful thing -- no team is a safe bet, and certainly no team is out of it. If you're lucky enough to have your favorite team still vying for a championship, you know how powerful each game is on your emotions; emotions that will run deep, and emotions that will last a lifetime. Rivalries are birthed, games become instant classics, and players are immortalized. The landscape of the sport is forever changed each and every year.

The action started last Wednesday, and to be honest with you, I wasn't even sure if there would be much of an article this week given the nature of playoff hockey. Fights tend to decrease come playoff season -- not because the intensity of games decreases (far from that actually), but because your typical "checking line" bruisers see less ice time. That's just how it usually is. Well, this playoff season says, " screw that!" This year already has dark shades of high-intensity, high-scoring, high-hating, high-drama, high-everything-a-fan-could-hope-for.

Case in point #1: Nashville Predators v. Detroit Red Wings; division counterparts to say the least. Detroit has been a perennial powerhouse throughout this decade, winning eight division titles and two Stanley cup Championships. On the other hand, Nashville has only been in existence for thirteen years, making the playoffs seven times in the last decade. They've faced each other once in the playoffs, with the Red Wings taking the series in six enroute to a Stanley Cup. However, I got a feeling they'll be seeing each other more with each game brewing more hate and more hate. The main reason? Mr. Shea Weber.

There's just something about slamming someones head into plexiglass that is unsettling to me. Weber was fined a measly $2,500 for his actions. Personally, the league got this one wrong. I get that hockey is a physical game and the playoffs are intense, but you have to show some respect for the game. That was an intentional act to harm, and quite frankly, a classless act. If I were 6'3" and 235 lbs, I would totally drop the mitts and let you know that. Well, I'm not... but Todd Bertuzzi is.

You might recall that Bertuzzi isn't the classiest player ever to skate (sucker-punching Steve Moore from behind and consequently breaking his neck and ending his career). So no, I'm not a Bertuzzi fan by any means. But he was given a second chance to play the game, and he's playing it the right way. So props. But let's throw more punches next time.

Case #2. New York Rangers v. Ottawa Senators. Ah, the classic #1 seed vs. #8 seed. David vs. Goliath. Roe vs. Wade (just kidding). I haven't followed either of these teams growing up. Sorry, I'm not from the East, nor am I Canadian. So I might have to defer to my fellow colleagues, who have already called some party fouls in this series (Party Foul: Game 2 Refs Rangers vs Senators). However, I do love hockey, so it's been great seeing drama, drama, and more drama between these two teams this past week. The announcers actually explain this better than me so let's just roll the clip!

Ottawa went on to win in overtime to tie the series, so I'm excited to see how this unfolds. I will go ahead and predict that this won't be the last time Brian Boyle and Matt Carkner mix it up. But I will say this, though: I'm digging Boyle's playoff stache.

Case #3. Pittsburgh Penguins v. Philadelphia Flyers. Everyone and their moms knew this would be a great series. They absolutely hate each other. There is no love. No hugs and kisses. Just hate. And more hate. Given how the regular season ended, this is what I expected. They have a lot of history that I won't get into mainly because this post is getting super long. So if you have some more time, let's just roll some more film!

Shame on Craig Adams for punching the back of Scott Hartnell's head. Shame on Scott Hartnell for whining about his hair getting pulled. Prediction: Game 4 ends up in a brawl.

I love hockey. I love the playoffs. I cannot wait for next week. Stay tuned. I'll bid farewell with my fighter of the week. Roman fricking Polak of the St. Louis Blues. Don't ever fight this man when he's angry.

Photos and video courtesy of,, &

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Party Foul: Referees of Game 2, Rangers vs. Senators

Violation: The team of referees in game 2 of the Rangers v. Senators series fails to protect a player in a one-way attack. They then decide to ignore common sense, which leads to the unjust ejection of Brandon Dubinsky after he is deemed the 3rd man to enter an altercation.

Explanation: I get it -- most of the time, you let the boys fight, but even in hockey there are situations when the refs are expected to intervene. Matt Carkner was in the game for only one reason: to go after Brian Boyle. This was payback for an earlier incident from game 1 in which Boyle took a couple cheapshots at rising star Erik Karlsson. The problem was that Matt Carkner engaged Boyle without his consent and put him on the ice with a sucker punch. The ref stood right next to the two just watching as Boyle took up to five punches while he was on his back defenseless. Brandon Dubinsky came in to try to pull Carkner off his teammate -- thus making him the third man to enter an ongoing altercation.

Both Carkner and Dubinsky were thrown out of the game and may face a future suspension. Dubinsky was given a two-minute minor for roughing and a game misconduct for being the third man for the altercation between Carkner and Boyle. Carkner was handed two minutes for roughing, a five-minute minor for fighting, and a game misconduct for initiating an altercation. Boyle was not handed a penalty and actually never even removed his gloves, yet it was somehow considered a fight.

Punishment: Referees will now have a hard time controlling the unnecessary physical activities that will take place for the rest of this series. Refs once again won’t have the trust of the players to protect them from fights they may not want to partake in, which means the enforcers will take it into their own hands to maintain order.

Photos and video courtesy of NBC and REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine