Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Creating a Lasting Legacy

Right off the bat I need to start by saying that this has been an incredible NBA post season thus-far. Every round has offered its own flavor of off the walls excitement and corny soap opera type drama. And after all the scuffling and chaos finally two teams have emerged above the rest as title contenders. In on corner we have the Dallas Mavericks, a veteran bunch whose offense runs through post-season MVP, Dirk Nowitzki. Then in the other corner we have the villains, the front-runners, the NBA's version of Two and a Half Men, or as you might know them the Miami Heat. This is a team created last off-season that will wow you with their mix of athleticism and determination. One team is young, one team is old. One team is deep, one team is shallow. One team came together last off-season, one team has been years in the making. Which team will win? And maybe more importantly; how will this series shape the legacies of two superstars, LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki.

The impact on the career this series will have of these two athletes might be bigger than the series itself because of the rare historical significance of these future Hall of Famers. For Dirk it would be the cherry on top of what has been a sensational, all time great, career. Say what you want about him being 'soft' (complete bs) or his funky ways of scoring (the man is a magician out there) his 23 and 8 career average make him potentially one of the greatest scoring big men of all time.  He's come so close and been snake bitten so many times before that this series would put an end to any doubt that he can get it done when it matters most. This is a make or break series for Dirk.

Oh yes, then we have LeBron. Can you here the haters now? "LeBron doesn't have the clutch gene!" "LeBum can't win it all!" "LeB**ch will never be Jordan!" (By the way, is this really a fair criticism? I mean, who ever will be Jordan?) "DELONTE WEST SLEPT WITH LEBRON'S MOM!" (Once again, probably not a fair criticism and extremely inappropriate but wildly funny and will never get old.) The point is that if LeBron doesn't win a title this year people will continue to question if he ever will, if he ever can.. Fair or not the criticism WILL come. And eventually, perception can become reality. If LeBron wins he potentially becomes a top 5 all time player (and according to Scottie Pippen maybe better) and the rest of the NBA is in a buttload of trouble for the next 5 to 10 years. (remember, the Heat WILL get better) No way of denying it, this is a big time opportunity for LeBron.

The best part of this series is that in 20 years when me and my son are sitting watching some sports and he asks me about LeBron or Dirk, I'll tell him about this series. No matter the outcome, this will be a series we talk about when defining the legacies of all time greats. And by the way, I haven't even mentioned Jason Kidd or Dwyane Wade until this point, both guys who will be in the Hall and will have their respective legacies impacted by this series. (Ok fine, and alien/dinosaur love baby Chris Bosh too.) So if you're a true NBA fan, sit down, grab some snacks, and watch this series because I promise you this; you'll be talking about this series for the rest of your lives. Enjoy the series and good luck to both squads because God knows, there is a hell of a lot at stake. And by the way, I'm taking the Mavs in 6. (Dirk will continue to be Dirk and the Heat won't be able to keep up with the performances of role players like Barrea and Chandler.)

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who Would You Rather See 'Receive' Another Shot?

So the last couple days I've been listening to some sports talk radio and I've heard an interesting debate come up multiple times; who would you rather have on your team, Plaxico Burress or Randy Moss? This questions has come up since the Jets have expressed interest in Moss and Plax is going to be released from prison on June 6th (according to reports, don't quote me on that... But the important thing is he is getting out). I was surprised when I heard that overwhelmingly people were saying Randy Moss as if it was no contest. Personally, I would take Burress. 

Now as a self-proclaimed New York Giant's fanatic I'm sure some of you are just thinking this is me just being that 'jilted girlfriend' who keeps going back to the bad boy because she legitimately thinks SHE is the one who can turn him around.. Well let me assure you that is NOT the case because I do not want my beloved G-Men taking Burress, or Moss for that matter, because they do not need help at receiver and I'd rather see them invest that money in the offensive line or line-backer positions. But, that is not to say that if I was a team in need of wide receiver help I wouldn't take a look at these two guys. First of all, I would look at ALL my other options at receiver first, and by 'ALL' I mean I'm asking any 6 foot plus athletic guy I see in the street and offering them a workout, but after I had exhausted all those options (and probably received a couple restraining orders from some intimidating dudes I offered to come back to my 'facilities' and 'work out') I would examine  Burress and Moss. 

Lets lay out a pros and cons list for both these wide outs.

Plaxico Burress
  • Huge target, allows QB to miss his spots (Ask Eli)
  • Explosiveness with YAC
  • Championship experience
  • Big game performer (Just ask the 2008 Packers)
  • What shape is he in?
  • Hasn't played in a couple years
  • History of being late to meetings/practices
  • COST MY GIANTS AN INEVITABLE SUPER BOWL IN 2009 (here comes my jilted-ex side..)
Ok, next we have..

Randy Moss
  • All time great
  • Still a vertical threat
  • Winning experience
  • Great hands
  • This says it all. (<---click the link)
  • Selfish?
  • 3 teams last year
  • History of quitting on team during games
Wait, wait, wait...

Does that say "History of quitting on team during games"...?

Hold on, Let me reread that..


Yup.. It says it.. Wow

See for me, personally, that ends the argument. You can talk all you want about what type  of teammate Plax was from Monday to Saturday but let me say this after watching him while he was part of Big Blue, the guy showed up on Sundays. I'd rather have the "?" Monday through Saturday over the "?" on Sunday any day of the week. Case closed. I can go through all the pros and cons I want and look up all the stats in the world but for me, quitting during game time is a major league deal breaker. That's just simple rule of chising. **Chising: Building an organization with smart front office moves and promoting a team first mentality** So in conclusion; give me Plax over Moss any day, plain and simple.

Class Dismissed
The Sports Undergrad


PS: My thoughts on last nights Mavs/Thunder game, the Thunder might just be too young and Dirk simply refuses to lose.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Will Westbrook Bring the Thunder?

Let me start off by apologizing for taking a bit of a break from the blogosphere of late. The school year was winding down for me and I decided I needed to devote more time to my finals and take about a month long hiatus from Student of Sports. But most importantly I am back and we can go back to what we really love and care about, sports!

So I'm watching last night's Mavericks/Thunder game, while enjoying a quality meal consisting of Teddy Grahams and Mountain Dew (By the way have you ever looked at Mountain Dew? There is no way that stuff is good for me.. It looks like I'm drinking acid.. Oh well.), and down the stretch I am in absolute awe of the fact that Thunder coach Scott Brooks had the balls to sit out star point guard Russel Westbrook for the entirety of the 4th quarter. I mean, we're talking about Russel Westbrook here, a guy who was named to the 2nd team all-NBA, second only to MVP Derrick Rose. I'll admit, I've been just as confused as everyone else watching the Thunder at times this post season and seeing Westbrook decide to take the game into his own hands and ignore the NBA's leading scorer Kevin Durant. But watching him sit out the 4th quarter was almost as strange as Nicole Scherzinger and 50 cent's, Spanish-channel-soap-opera-like, performance of Right There on American Idol last night. At first I didn't get it seeing as Westbrook was actually having one of his better shooting nights of the playoffs (7 for 15 from the field with 18 points) but as the game ended Eric Maynor guided the Thunder to the win and I was pleasantly surprised. There are 3 things to make from this:
  1. Scott Brooks has watermelon-sized cajones. Simply put, you know he'd get blasted if that backfired.
  2. The Thunder have a legitimate shot at this series. The significance of the Thunder taking one of those first two road games to start the series cannot be taken lightly. 
  3. Young Russel Westbrook is at a career defining moment. For me this is the main thing that came from last nights game because it not only impacts this post season but the next decade of NBA post seasons...
There is no doubt Russel Westbrook is a sensational player with limitless potential but there might not be a bigger factor in determining what kind of player he will turn out to be than how he reacts to this 4th quarter benching. He has a chance here to show how mature of a person and how great of a teammate he is by keeping his chin up, showing he's a team player by commending Maynor's effort, and playing his ass off in game 3. Unfortunately this can also go the other way. If he pouts, throws his team and coach under the bus and takes his disappointment out on the court with him we could see the beginnings of a Starbury (Stephon Marbury) like career. As an NBA fan, and someone who doesn't want to see the Heat cruise to a decade of dominance, I am hoping Westbrook does what he needs to do to be the best teammate he can be. There in no way of denying that if Westbrook reaches his true potential (which involves being a great teammate) he and Durant have the ability to go head to head with any foe the East can muster up, including Miami's version of Two and a Half Men. (Side note: Who do you think has been more damaging to his version of Two and a Half Men this year, Charlie Sheen or Chris Bosh? Seriously, that's how low my opinion of Bosh has become...) So putting it plain and simple, the type of player Westbrook will become, along with the type of team the Thunder wil become, may be decided in this next few days. Will Westbrook turn into a mature, all about the team type player? Or will he transform into an immature, me-first type of jerk? For the sake of the Thunder and the league let's hope he takes the high road and from what I saw from him on the bench last night, I think he will.

Class Dismissed,
The Sports Undergrad


PS: All NBA fans should check out this sick link about The NBA Dunk Contest (<---click here). Thanks to my good buddy Ray for sharing this gem with me. Also, follow Student of Sports on twitter at Student of Sports on Twitter!