The Oklahoma City Thunder were at the mercy of their opponent. They were in a tight spot and at the mercy of their opponent, and I’m not talking about the other night when they were eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies. The opponent in this case was Rob Pelinka. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Pelinka wanted the max contract for Harden at $60 million over four years. The Thunder GM Sam Presti was only willing to go as far as $54 million to avoid paying the luxury tax. This was after, of course, Pelinka turned down $52 million deal before. Presti had to do something.
So he gambled. In the Houston Rockets, he found a team desperate for the services of James Harden. Rockets GM Daryl Morey wanted James badly enough to pay the extension, and then some. The Rockets paid Harden $80 million over 5 years. In exchange for Harden (as well as Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich, and Lazar Haywood) Oklahoma City received Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, 2 first round picks, and a second round pick.
It was a two way gamble. Rockets bet that James Harden was an elite player that could finally garner them post season success and the Thunder gambled that they could replace Harden and keep enough firepower to return them to the Finals. They were almost right.
Russell Westbrook’s torn meniscus in game 2 against the Rockets in the first round, made sure the Thunder’s plan backfired. Without Westbrook or Harden from the year before, the undermanned Thunder lost in the second round to the Memphis Grizzlies in just 5 games. Kevin Martin didn’t provide the firepower that Harden once did and without Westbrook, Durant was forced to carry the load of a team that had no punch. For instance Kendrick Perkins posted a -0.7 player efficiency rating the worst of a player in the playoffs with at least 200 minutes played, in league history.
Oklahoma City’s first year without James Harden ends in a failure almost directly related to not having Harden on the roster. That’s not to say that the Thunder are in long term danger without him. If Jeremy Lamb develops into the player the Thunder front office thinks he can be they hope to regain some scoring power there, as well as adding to it with the draft picks acquired in the trade. While Kevin Martin as a Harden replacement was initially a flop the Thunder still have pieces to work with.
They’re just going to have to wait a bit.
In two different cities, two young leaders of two burgeoning franchises, playing two different sports suffered two separate ACL injuries. These young men, both possessing the most important knees in their respective cities have one more thing in common. A single question that haunts them, and their fan bases.
When do I return?
The Season Derrick Rose, the Bulls point guard, is known for his quickness and devastating crossover. He tasked himself with carrying the offensive load of his team in his fourth season. He also became a solid defender as well. In the 2011-12 NBA season, Rose led his Bulls to the league’s best record and the number 1 seed in the eastern conference. That season, Rose 21.8 points per game and 7.9 assists per game. While not career highs, these are extremely impressive numbers all the same.
The Injury When the playoffs began, the Bulls faced the surging Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia was inconsistent all season but, had won four out of their last five games heading into the post season. Still, the Bulls were heavy favorites going into the matchup with the upstart eighth seed 76ers. Then it, happened.
With 1:22 left in the game, Derrick Rose jumped off his left in the lane as he attacked the basket. This is a routine move for Rose but, this time, he didn’t finish the play. Lacking elevation, he fell to the ground and crumpled in a heap. He attempted to stand but simply could not. Rose had torn his ACL.
The Return Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls in the 2012-13 season, are playing playoff caliber basketball. Not quite at the level that they were a season ago, when they were considered championship contenders. With a current record of 39-31, the Bulls sans Rose are more than capable of holding their own. They displayed their mettle when they ended the Miami Heat’s historic winning streak at 27. The Heat with the best player in basketball, playing the best basketball of his career are all but a shoe in to return to the finals. The kicker? They did it without the team’s second best player, Joakim Noah.
There are obvious downsides to Derrick Rose missing games. Prior to the injury, Derrick Rose was the focal point of the offense. Since then, his Bulls have had to find ways to win in his absence. There will definitely be chemistry issues when he returns. However, by not playing, Derrick Rose and the Bulls staff are hoping to prevent further injury. This is a great decision. It hurts the Bulls now, but if Derrick Rose is the player that everyone believes he can be, and reaches the heights that fans believe that he can reach, Chicago has everything to gain.
Which brings us to Robert Griffin III.
The Season Fresh off of his Heisman winning season at the University of Baylor, the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft was ready to take the league by storm. He did exactly that. Griffin passed for 3,200 yards and completed 65.6% of his passes. He threw 20 touchdowns and accounted for 7 touchdowns on the ground. He threw 5 interceptions, all season. The Redskins began the season an underwhelming 3-6 but, won 7 straight games to win the NFC East title for the first time since 1999 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Injury The week 15 matchup between the Redskins and eventual Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens marks the beginning of a two part tale. In order to get a first down Robert rolled out of the pocket and scrambled upfield. As he attempted to get down he was hit by Raven’s tackle, Haloti Ngata. The weight of the 330 lb Ngata hit the leg of Griffin causing his knee to bend momentarily in the opposite direction.
Griffin led the Redskins down the field twice in the first quarter of the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Twice they scored but, on the second drive, Robert’s knee buckled in an attempt to elude defenders. It is at this point that Robert Griffin III should not have been in the game. Whether the coach, staff or player is at fault is the question that still needs to be answered.
The Seahawks rallied and climbed back into the game. The Redskins were deep in their own territory with 6:15 to go in the 4th quarter, and they needed a drive to hold off the Seahawks. The ball was snapped low and as Griffin reached to pick it up, his knee gave out. The Seahawks recovered the ball and scored.
The Return Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is overseeing the recovery of Griffin had only great things to say about his recovery so far.
He wants his recovery to be fairly private, but I can tell you he’s way ahead of schedule. His recovery has been unbelievable so far.
- Dr. James Andrews
This statement and the an interesting Adidas ad almost make it seem like Robert is trying to come back for week 1 of next. This is not smart. When a team trades two first round picks and a second round pick to take a guy, they expect to build around that guy for the next ten years. Robert is that guy. He’s got to be smart and learn from Derrick Rose. Comeback 100%. If that’s week 1, which is unlikely, then it’s week 1. If it’s week 7 then so be it. However, if Griffin needs to miss the whole season, he needs to accept that that’s just how it’s got to be. Everyone is wondering if he, and the Redskins will make the same mistake twice. If the Redskins make the wrong decision and set him back, then it won’t matter if he’s superhuman or not.
Two young players, two big decisions, and two very bright futures on the line.
For years, LeBron James has lived in the shadow of Michael Jordan. All great players, especially those with an aptitude for scoring, usually wind up there. This is a testament to how larger than life Jordan is. However, this season is different, LeBron James has found his style and hit his stride. One NBA season after his first ever championship, LeBron has found a way to slide from behind the shadow of Jordan. By playing his own game. LeBron with his size and new found agression, is playing in a style that Michael Jordan never could. He’s scored 30 points in his last 6 games while shooting 60% from the field. This has never happened in NBA history. His efficiency is staggering. The tear that LeBron is on has him garnering consideration for a second consecutive MVP award. Deservedly so, but with this attention going towards James it is leaving an unlikely player in his shadow.
Yes, Durant. LeBron has been playing at such a high level that it’s easy to overlook what Kevin is doing with the Thunder. It’s also easy to miss the fact that statistically, James and Durant are nearly identical. I don’t mean identical in some statistical categories, I mean almost all of them.
Typically in a Kevin Durant versus LeBron James debate, LeBron always gets the edge because he, like no one else in the league, is capable of filling out a stat sheet. Except, that isn’t quite true. Durant is more than able of filling out a stat sheet himself.
Points Per Game - James: 27.1 Durant: 30
Rebounds Per Game – James: 8.1 Durant: 7.4
Assists Per Game – James: 6.9 Durant: 4.4
Steals Per Game – James: 1.6 Durant: 1.6
Blocks Per Game – James: 0.9 Durant: 1.2
Field Goal Percentage – James: 56.% Durant: 51.9%
3-Point Percentage – James:42% Durant: 43.2%
Kevin Durant is more of a shooter than LeBron is, attempting more shots and scoring slightly more points but, LeBron maintains a higher shooting percentage. This is likely because he takes higher percentage shots, especially since he has put more of an emphasis on attacking the basket and playing in the low post. They are both proficient on defense averaging the same amount of steals per game and a high number of blocks.
This is not to say that Kevin Durant has been getting no consideration or that he’s “underrated” or anything along the lines of those cliches. Far from it.
The point is that LeBron is playing more dominantly than he has ever played. He has elevated his game to such a high level that he has actually managed to out shine a fellow all star and a player with stats comprable to his. Durant and James play the same position and are both dominating at it in very different ways. The race for MVP and an NBA title may be one in the same, and it’s a race that is much closer than it looks.
A Super Bowl review four days after the big game?! Unthinkable. I thought so too but, now I get to cram all the delicious post-Super Bowl action into here. No body has to lose any sleep over this. Even if (disappointingly) this my first post since the “fail mary” that lifted the Seahawks past the Packers and made Aaron Rodgers angrier than Rich Eisen covering a Brett Favre comeback.
So, without further ado, the notable moments of Super Bowl 47 and it’s after math.
The San Francisco 49ers Start Slow and Pay For It.
In my opinion, San Francisco was too conservative in the first half. This hurt Colin Kaepernick’s rhythm , because San Francisco did not line up very often in the pistol formation nor did they use the read option very much. This is odd because the Ravens’ defense showed a susceptibility to it against the Redskins earlier in the season, and later in the game. The Ravens respect for the run game makes the read option effective against them by opening up holes in their secondary. A weakness the 49ers did not exploit until the second half.
Kaepernick was often times indecisive with his throws early in the game, which led to a 1 interception and no touchdown half for the second year quarterback.
On defense, San Francisco was determined not be beaten by Baltimore’s speedy receiver Torrey Smith. They double teamed him on nearly every play he was in the game, though the Ravens took shots in his direction anyway ( I assume in an effort to keep the defense honest). This allowed slant passes and other underneath routes to be highly effective against them. Torrey Smith didn’t do nearly as much damage Anquon Boldin and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson did. This was eventually their undoing on the defensive side because the Ravens picked up a number of crucial third and longs by winning those routes.
The Baltimore Ravens Soared Early and Held On Late.
The much maligned Joe Flacco ended his post season with 11 TDs and no interceptions, including his 3 TD first half performance that netted him the game’s MVP award. Flacco, in a contract year, played like a franchise player deserving of his self glossed elite status.
There was however, more to this game than Joe Flacco. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones turned in his own MVP-worthy performance as well, receiving 1 TD pass and returning a record setting 108 yard kick return at the beginning of the second half to keep the Ravens in the driver’s seat.
Despite Flacco’s stellar first half, he came to earth and was pretty human in the second. The power outage may have had something to do with this, stymieing the Ravens momentum but, regardless Flacco was not playing at his first half level in the second half as far as red zone play is concerned. The Ravens were still moving the ball well but settled for field goals inside the 20 yard line on a couple of possessions that may have iced the game.
The Ravens game plan was very balanced. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell deserves credit for that. Running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce shared 32 carries between the two of them. Flacco threw the ball 33 times. The Ravens disproportionately racked up yards in the air with 287 passing yards as compared to their meager 92 rushing yards. However Flacco was hot for most of the game and the 49ers have an especially stout run defense. 49ers linebackers Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis made sure that life on the ground was going to be tough for Baltimore.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens played smart and out witted Kaepernick for much of the game. Especially on Colin’s first half interception. This was a typical Ed Reed performance where, he made deep passes a dangerous option for the opposing quarterback. Reed tracked the play from beginning to end, and as he often does, found himself in the perfect position to make a play on the football.
After the power outage the Ravens had trouble with the mobility of Colin Kaepernick. However, on crucial plays the found ways to hold firm.
The most notable officiating moment is the no call on Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith who made contact with receiver Michael Crabtree at the end of the game. A no-call, that in my opinion, was a good one. Both Smith and Crabtree made contact prior to the ball being thrown and Crabtree pushed off after the ball was thrown.
After the Super Bowl 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (obviously) took offense to the game ending no-call.
Joe Flacco called himself “a Raven for life” which is important because this is the end of his contract. The Ravens can re-sign him or slap him with the franchise tag. He also learned that the MVP of the Super Bowl wins a car.
Colin Kaepernick took blame for his teams’ loss, citing early mistakes as a reason.
John Harbaugh said his brother was the best coach in football as he won a brotherly rivalry for big brothers everywhere.
Ray Lewis did one last squirrel dance after the parade for all of the Baltimore fans, and it was as epic as you thought.
First of all, I’ve got to do something that the NFL is not going to do, and I have to apologize to the fans. Our sport is generated, a multi-billion dollar machine, by people who pay good money to come watch us play. And the product on the field is not being complemented by an appropriate set of officials. The games are getting out of control. Like I said in the first week, I’m OK with replacement refs as long as they don’t have a direct impact on the game. Obviously last night there was a direct impact on the game on multiple plays. But my thing is I just feel bad for the fans. They pay good money to watch this. The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished.September 25, 2012
Love it or hate it, the Major League Baseball’s one game wild card round in the playoffs is here to say. Even if you agree with Chipper Jones, and think it’s stupid.
Chipper Jones opinion on this matter is particularly relevant because his Atlanta Braves will most likely be in that playoff game. Ironically this game could be against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that slid into the playoffs last season while the Braves imploded and missed the playoffs entirely. Chipper acknowledged this as well.
“I wish they would’ve done it a year earlier so we would have had a chance last year. But it is what it is.” Jones said.
Chipper Jones is far from the only player and manager who disagrees with the one game playoff.
However, as a fan of the game, I think there’s a lot to love. While this does feel like an attempt on the part of the MLB to expand the playoffs in an attempt to gain more revenue, there is also a lot of good that can come from this.
It makes the last games of the season a bit more meaningful. This is basic math. An extra playoff spot means that more teams are in contention. This of course means that their games near the end of the season have more value as they attempt to grab that last spot.
Another thing this does is add that 163rd game that everybody loves. I understand that part of the 163rd game’s novelty is that it doesn’t happen very often but, the wild card is a very meaningful game. This creates an air of appointment television. This will be the only game that is not a game seven, that is actually like a game seven.
I think the wild card game is a way to add meaning to the regular season and start October off with a bang with an elimination game. If you don’t want to be in the elimination game, you do have the other 162 games of the regular season to avoid it.
Week 3 of the NFL starts in a few hours so a review of Week 2 of the NFL is way overdue. Here’s a look at week 2 in the NFL season, and what we learned.
Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, dies at the age of 69.
Steve Sabol passed away this passed week of brain cancer. Sabol was the son of NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, and a true visionary like his father was. Ed wanted to bring fans closer to the game. What Steve did, was take that idea and run with it. He brought fans to the game by telling a story. His use of visuals, music, as well as on-field sound served to provide football fans with a cinematic experience. Steve Sabol’s ideas have since been used in other sports. The NBA’s The Association and the MLB’s The Franchise both use techniques that Sabol invented that are now an industry standard. With his ability to take games beyond the scoreboard and turn them into stories, Steve Sabol forever changed the NFL and sports.
We Need The Real Officials Back
Steve Young said earlier this week that the NFL doesn’t care about good officiating or player safety. He couldn’t be more right. As each week passes, NFL defenses begin to test their boundaries with these replacement officials. I watched the Redskins play the Rams last week and that game was a mess from the very beginning. The real officials would know how to take control, especially of a game like that, which was an intense game from beginning to end. Their was a helmet-to-helmet collisions by Janoris Jenkins on Fred Davis that went uncalled, a couple of touchdowns for the Rams that should have been touchdowns but weren’t, and a lot of extracurricular activities after the whistle by both teams.
The replacement refs seemed out of their element. Out of their league. The speed of the game was too much for them to handle and it showed. Division III referees are simply not going to cut it. Young is right the fans will watch even when their team gets screwed out of a game or worse, if a player gets seriously injured because of a game that got out of control.
Peyton Manning Is Still A Work In Progress
Peyton Manning started his first 3 series against the Falcons on Monday Night Football, with three interceptions. This put his Broncos in a hole early. A hole that despite a pretty good game from Manning, after the early INTs, the Broncos would never fully recover.
Peyton Manning missed an entire season of NFL football. He’s going to have his ups and downs as he attempts to return to the form that we know him for. And while I don’t believe he’ll ever get back there, he can get very close. It’s just going to take some time. Knee jerk reactions will leave many looking foolish in regard to Manning. He’ll have some great games but, guess what? There are going to be some stinkers in there as well.
The 2012 NFL Rookie Class Will Be One of the Most Amazing We’ve Seen
Trent Richardson tee’d off on the Bengals last week and with that added support, Brandon Weeded showed what he was capable of. The Bengals still beat the Browns but Cleveland looked a whole lot better offensively than before, thanks to it’s two new rookies.
Andrew Luck was able to play a much, shall we say, nicer defense in week 2 in that matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Reggie Wayne helped out. Luck’s arm is pretty monstrous regardless of what the critics say. He also showed that he can use his mobility to extend plays and pick up first downs when necessary. Remember Andrew Luck’s 40 yard dash is right up there with Cam Newton’s.
Robert Griffin III looked less impressive than he did in week 1 against the Saints. The Rams are a tougher defense than New Orleans, though. They did slow down the high powered Detroit Lions offense in week 1, picking off Matthew Stafford 3 times. Griffin was intercepted once but he accounted for 3 touchdowns. He had one in the air and 2 rushing TDs.
Ryan Tannehill bounced back after a rough outing in week 1. He like Luck, faced a weaker defense than the one they played a week prior. Tannehill threw for a touchdown and ran for another. He had no turnovers. He looked good and showed poise most likely because he didn’t have to bear the offensive load. Let’s say he received a bit of assistance from Reggie Bush, in the form of 172 yards and two touchdowns.
There’s the recap. What will we learn in week 3?