Tag Archives: NBA

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

Trouble in Philly: Sam Bradford Wants Out

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The City of Philadelphia has had a tough go with their professional sports teams in recent years. Most notably, the Eagles have consistently under performed despite having elite talent like LeSean McCoy, Demarco Murray and DeSean Jackson at some point over the past four years. The Phillies have quickly plummeted to the bottom of the MLB and how could we forget the 76ers who have been one of the worst teams in NBA history for the past few seasons. The struggles continued when Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford reportedly requested a trade early Monday morning.

                                                                           Image via http://www.philly.com

The former number one overall draft pick is most likely seeking a trade because of the move his current team made a few days ago. Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to send the no. 8, no. 77, and no. 100 picks in this year’s draft along with a first-round pick in 2017 and 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to receive the second overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a 2017 fourth-round pick. After the trade was officially completed, Eagles representatives announced that they planned on taking a QB with the second overall pick. It is interesting that Philly decided to trade away so many picks just so they could draft another signal-caller with the second selection. It is only interesting because this past off-season the team signed Bradford to a two-year deal which included $22 million in guaranteed money while also signing former Kansas City quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year contract where he is guaranteed $12 million.

It is obvious that the Eagles are trying to solidify what is widely seen as the most important position in football and the trade shows just how desperate they were in doing so. Bradford is upset with the move and he has every right to, why would he tolerate being seen as a stop-gap player?

Earlier in the week, reports were that even after the trade, Sam did not wish to be traded and wanted to prove to the organization that he was “the guy.” But now the complete opposite is being said, the next couple days will prove which report is correct. For now we’re going to pretend that Bradford actually does want to be traded. There are a few teams who are in the market for an experienced quarterback. To name a few, the Denver Broncosand San Francisco 49ers.  With the departure of both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, Denver is in dire need of a player who can lead the team. In San Francisco’s case, the organization has not shown the most trust in Colin Kaepernick and might be interested in making a deal.

Even with his reported request for a trade, Eagles management is supporting Bradford. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was quoted as saying, “to reiterate our support for Sam Bradford and go back to our statements last week — that Sam is our starting quarterback.” This statement shows that the team is trying to downplay the drama surrounding their quarterback situation, and they are saying the right things.

Even if the former Oklahoma Sooner did request a trade, the media has no room to criticize him. Just like any other player, Bradford wants respect. And if the team does actually use the 2nd pick on a QB, which will most likely be Carson Wentz, why is it wrong for them to plan for the future? The organization is attempting to change the approach they have had the past few seasons, instead of trying to win now, they are figuring out how to win in the future and that means they must have a quarterback who can do that. It would not be the worst idea to take Wentz and let him sit for a couple of seasons allowing him to adjust to a pro style NFL offense. But even if Wentz isn’t thrown into the fire his rookie year, he still has a lot of pressure on him. Philadelphia sacrificed a lot to get this pick and they are counting on Wentz or any other QB they get to make it worth it.

The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago on April 28th and Eagles faithful as well as media will be waiting patiently to see what their team does. If Philly sticks to their plan and takes a QB, it will take a couple seasons to see who got the best of the trade because now the Cleveland Browns are seen as the clear winners and that is a first.

 

 

LeBron’s Social Media shouldn’t be Media…

By Nate Flax

For the last week or so, the sports world has paid extra close attention to future Hall of Famer, LeBron James. While it’s no surprise that James is once again in the spotlight, the reasoning behind his recent hype is quite frankly ridiculous. After a blowout win against the Denver Nuggets, a reporter, seemingly against all his journalistic instincts, asked LeBron why he had unfollowed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ twitter page to which James replied with a very blunt “Next question.” The brief interview immediately went viral, being broken down by blogs, twitter, and just about every show featured on ESPN. Sure, James’ reaction could have been better and more polite, but did it really deserve a00week-long critique?

Since the infamous decision to return to Cleveland after abandoning the team for the Miami Heat, things have not gone as planned for James and the Cavaliers. His glorified return was spoiled by a loss in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors, and the team can’t seem to avoid locker room drama. The twitter fiasco only added to a long line of recent off the court problems for the Cavs, as well as more rumors of another LeBron James departure from Cleveland. James shrugged off the unfollow as simple preparation for the playoffs, an understandable mindset for a man who has made it a mission to bring a championship to his hometown.

It was not as if preparing for the playoffs was not already on James’ mind. A new entrance song as well as a cut down on all social medias were already announced as part of his plans to get set for the postseason. Even if the unfollow spree the superstar went on that week was not about prepping for the post season, it doesn’t really matter who he follows. As Sporting New’s Jordan Greer put it, “LeBron follows Victor Cruz, so is he going to play for the Giants? He also follows Bun B. Time to start that rap career. Or maybe James doesn’t need to follow the Cavs on Twitter because, you know, he’s physically there with his squad. It’s not necessary to receive your news and updates online when you can just say “Hey, Kyrie, are you going to play tonight?”

Though the Cavs are probably the lone bright spot in Cleveland sports, its ridiculous to blow such a minor, non-basketball issue, into a week-long drama show. Let the man do his job and be the brilliant basketball player he is without over analyzing every off the court action he makes and appreciate the greatness without creating a story where there isn’t one.

The Dunk Contest is Alive and Well

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The participants in the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest included, Denver Nuggets SG Will Barton, Pistons Center Andre Drummond, Orlando Magic PF Aaron Gordon, and defending champion Zach LaVine. The contest kicked off with Barton and Drummond scoring sub-par scores which left fans wondering if this would be another lackluster event. But then the event changed course when Gordon threw down a between-the-legs reverse dunk, this got the crowd going. LaVine answered with a behind-the-back reverse slam, scoring a whopping 50 from the scorer’s table. After this, it was obvious that the contest would be decided between these two heavyweights. Back and forth they went, one spectacular slam-dunk after another. LaVine’s success came from his multiple slams after leaping from the free-throw line and Gordon’s highlight of the night was when he executed a between-the-legs over the mascot dunk which many are claiming one of the greatest dunks ever performed in the history of the Dunk Contest. The two high-flyers ended the night in a dunk-off which eventually saw Zach LaVine walk away with the hardware for the second straight year. This contest provided the entertainment and fun that fans and media had been hungry to see, from the variety of crazy slams to the reactions of LaVine’s teammates and competitors.

The media held this dunk contest in high regards along with the fans. Stephen A. on first take went so far as to say, “To me the Slam-Dunk Contest was resurrected Saturday night.” He also went on to give his opinion on how he thought Aaron Gordon should have won and how Shaq dishing out low scores played a pivotal part in raising the bar to contestants so they would give a great performance. There were also multiple media personnel that compared the showdown of LaVine and Gordon to Dunk-Contest greats Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. This is the quite comparison and just demonstrates how these players have brought the event back to the forefront of All-Star weekend entertainment.

In my opinion, this contest certainly was entertaining and may have changed many people’s outlook on the competition. I thought even the 2015 dunk contest took a huge step forward in drawing in viewers and causing a buzz around the league as well as the twitter-sphere. We can only hope as fans and as media that the Dunk Contests to follow will be as entertaining as this one.

Porzingis: Is the hype real?

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

In the weeks leading up to the NBA draft lottery, Phil Jackson, the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, kept a close eye on the three best prospects. He attended Kentucky’s practice to see Karl-Anthony Towns, then stopped by at Madison Square Garden for a St. Johns-Duke game to scout Jahlil Okafor, and attended the Ohio State-Nebraska game to observe D’Angelo Russell. With a record of 17-65, the New York Knicks had a great chance at landing the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Unfortunately the ping-pong balls did not fall their way, first pick went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, second went to the Los Angeles Lakers, and third went to the Philadelphia 76ers. How is that possible? How did the Knicks drop out of the top three? Finally at number four the New York Knicks name was called. Phil Jackson and Knicks fans alike were disappointed with landing the number four spot but still had hope that one of the top three prospects could fall to four.

Fast forward to the NBA draft, the solid depth of the draft opposed to recent years gave NY fans hope they could still find a superstar at the fourth pick. The draft begins with the Timberwolves predictably taking Karl-Anthony Towns. Next, the Lakers take D’Angelo Russell, and that was a bit crushing to fans and of course Phil Jackson because he was very public about how highly he thought of him, “He’s a great-looking kid,” said Jackson. Then the crushing blow to Knicks fans was when the 76ers selected Jahlil Okafor. The top three were gone, who is Phil going to pick? “With the fourth pick in 2015 NBA draft, The New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis,” announced commissioner Adam Silver. The arena filled with boos and the camera even caught a young Knicks’ fan crying. Everyone was baffled at the pick because no one even knew who this guy was.

Leading up to the season teammates and coaches were raving about Porzingis and his incredible athletic ability, but NY fans were not convinced, they had to see it with their own eyes. In the regular season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, Porzingis dropped sixteen points including a three, grabbed five rebounds, and had a block. Now fans were paying attention, the 7-3 power forward had made a great first impression with the city of New York. This was the first of many great performances which led to Porzingis being named rookie of the month in November. The highlights of the first month  with a twenty-nine point and eleven rebound game against Charlotte and a game against Houston where he had twenty-four points, fourteen rebounds, and seven blocks.

After his insane first month, Kristaps Porzingis had become a sensation in New York. Much like the short-lived Linsanity that swept through Knicks fans, they were honoring Porzingis like a god, even with some giving him the nickname “Porzingod” or “Godzingis”. Night after night he made spectacular plays, most notably his put-back dunks over players and his use of the post move we know as the “Dream Shake.”  Everyone knows how New York media can hype something up, and that was exactly what was happening to Porzingis. First they booed him and ridiculed Phil Jackson for picking him and now all of a sudden they were praising him and foresee him as the savior for the New York Knicks. Number six jerseys were flying off the shelves, he was a fan favorite and his goofy personality made him a favorite of the press as well.

Now the media focuses on Porzingis more than they focus on the former superstar and savior, Carmelo Anthony. Remember that kid who cried when the Knicks drafted Porzingis? Yeah, they met and the kid ended up getting an autograph and apologizing. It is rare to find a story about the Knicks that doesn’t mention Porzingis now.

But is the hype about him real? I think so. After collecting his third consecutive Rookie of the Month award, helping the Knicks surpass their entire win total of last year before the All-star break, drawing raves about him from superstars such as Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant, and posting a line of 14 points/7.7 rebounds/1.9 blocks. It is fair to say that this is not the same case as with Jeremy Lin where the media got overly excited and talked about him being a future superstar and face of the franchise after one month and then he ended up falling off the NBA radar for a while. Porzingis has continued to display consistency, maturity, and improvement over the NBA season and may have the highest upside out of any rookie with his size, athletic ability, and basketball IQ. Although he’s not an All-star and might not even be the Rookie of the Year thanks to the stellar season that Towns is having, New York has found a player to build around for the future with Carmelo Anthony for sure.

WNBA Attendance and Ratings Drop

by Angeline Seames

With it being the 20th Anniversary of the WNBA, the program is targeting a new branding effort. A drop in viewership and the lowest attendance rate since the beginning of the WNBA.

The WNBA had an average 7,318 fans a game, which is down 3.4 percent from last season and the lowest in the leagues history. Not only did attendance watching the game live fall, but viewership also fell by 14 percent (an average of 202,000 viewers). ESPN and ESPN 2 aired 11 games during the regular season, while NBA TV televised over 40 games and the rest covered by ABC.  Over the past the years the WNBA attendance has had its ups and downs starting off in 1997 with 9,662 average of attendance and then a 12.4 percent increase of 10,864 average attendance, which was the highest ever in the WNBA in 1998.

Compared to the NBA, TV this season increased 8 percent to a an average of 56,000 viewers from the 52,000 last season. Media wise, WNBA.com grew by 26 percent, Instagram followers were up 51 percent and 9 million likes and followers across all social media.

The biggest drop in the WNBA was made by the San Antonio Stars, with an 8-26 record in the WNBA and a 37 percent drop in attendance compared to last year. With this the Stars were forced to relocate because of the team’s home court being renovated. While the Phoenix Mercury led attendance for the WNBA with an average of 9,946 despite not having the biggest increase in attendance compared to the L.A. Sparks.

As the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team has come off multiple championship seasons, the WNBA and the head of business operations for the Mercury hope to build momentum and make fans want to attend all the games that the WNBA host. The WNBA hopes after the postseason in October to study whether they can eventually grow the league to bring in an expansion committee.

In the end, the WNBA will have to figure out how they are going to save the league from the drop of attendance and viewership all together. If not, the WNBA may have fewer teams playing, increased ticket prices, and the threat of doing away with the WNBA all together. Hopefully the WNBA will figure out a smart way to increase the WNBA brand all together and save the league.

 

Kevin Love Rocks Cleveland Indians Hat in Hospital

Kevin Love

By Matt Stevenson

April 30, 2015

Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series ended in a sweep, but Cavaliers fans lost more than they won. 3 time All-Star Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder after getting tangled up with Celtics Kelly Olynyk and will miss 4-6 months after a successful surgery and, more importantly, the rest of the playoffs.

Much debate has been brought up amid the injury if Love, who has a player option with the Cavaliers, can opt-out of his current contract and become a free agent. 3 years of trade rumors when Love was on the Minnesota Timberwolves were consistently held up due to the lack of commitment teams were getting on Love resigning with any team he could be traded to.

The price to trade for Kevin Love was simply too high with no guarantee he would stick around for the long haul.

The Cavaliers ended up trading the 2014-2015 first overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, in a package with other first rounders and even the 2013-2014 first overall pick, Anthony Bennet, for Love. The Cavaliers executed the trade with a firm belief that Kevin Love would opt-out of his contract upon the end of this season, only to resign with Cleveland for a 5 year maximum contract worth about $120 million dollars.

The regular season had its ups and downs, but nobody received more criticism than Love. It was a daily topic on any media outlet whether it was ESPN, Bleacher Report, or even the local Cleveland news stations (and Minnesota’s as well I’m sure).

Kevin Love was left out of LeBron James’ Instagram photos, he was called out publicly by LeBron on Twitter claiming he needs to “Fit-In” and him clearly not having the same chemistry as the rest of the team on or off the court.

Kevin Love had the roughest season out of ANY player in the NBA this season in regards to the criticism from the media.

The reports of him leaving Cleveland because he doesn’t want to retain the lesser role, in which he currently does with the Cavaliers, is a legitimate argument. In the next round if the Cavaliers don’t do well, will Kevin Love be motivated to burn the Cavaliers? As the fans and organization would learn his worth through a devastating playoff exit, he might feel even more offended and motivated to leave Cleveland.

But then the morning after his surgery, Kevin Love posted a simple picture on Instagram, the same app that has been used to exclude him from the Cavaliers. It’s a picture of him giving a thumbs up with an enormous smile on his face. The reason the photo is important is because he is wearing a Cleveland Indians hat.

This is not just a hat. It’s a symbol. Kevin Love is thanking the Cleveland fans for the love and support we’ve given him through the awful injury he endured. I believe this is a message to the fans of Cleveland that he is, indeed, staying put in Cleveland for years to come.