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Whats wrong with the NBA?

There are a lot of people that would say nothing. The NBA still has some die hard fans that live and die with with games that happen what seems like almost nightly for months during the regular season. The NBA is exciting and full of masterful athleticism that is beautiful to watch when it is played at it’s highest level.

But there are some real issues when you look at the league and how it is managed right now. Referees have become as big a part of the game as some coaches or broadcasters. Every time I see a referee jump and skip down the court when making a call, I think of some WWE ref and their D level acting. The block charge call has only been outdone, as the most ridiculously missed and scrutinized call in sports, by the NFL’s catch rule.

And then there is the player that jumps in the air to block a shot and how he must navigate not getting a shoulder or elbow into their mid section, to avoid being called for a foul is almost laughable to watch in real time.

via GIPHY

Then there is the parity in the league. JJ Reddick just recently tweeted rebutting the super team concept and pointed out that since Lebron went to Miami that 6 different teams have won the chip. While this does address the parity of “super” teams, it does not deal with the overall league parity. The Sixers have been so bad for so long and even the “stacked” western conference only shuffles a few teams around when they send their top eight to the playoffs.

We can cut the lack of parity up so many ways. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan both exited the league this year and in the 19 seasons that Tim Duncan played he or Kobe won 10 championships. That is better than half of the time that two teams from one conference won it all.

Let’s go back even further. Since the first NBA finals that I was alive for in 1984, 10 teams have won a championship. Cleveland, Golden Sate, and Dallas in that time frame are the only teams to only win one championship. The other 7 teams Share the remaining 29 championships together.

Then add in the finals losers. In 32 years, you can add 10 teams to the list that have at least been to a championship. Of those Phoenix, Indiana and Philadelphia are the only one time losers. That leaves 20 teams with fans that are 30 years our younger that have never seen their team win a chip and 10 teams with fans that age that have never even seen there team in a finals game.

Now contrast that with the NFL. The sports powerhouse in the US.

The NFL has 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl and only 6 teams that never been to the big game. What makes that an even more significant difference is that the NFL has two more teams than the NBA.

Lastly, is the product itself. Now hear me out on this one. I love the athleticism and artistry that happens at the pro level. The problem is that Basketball games are played with half of the intensity during the first three and a half quarters and ratchets up in the last six minutes.

This is what makes the playoffs so much fun is that every possession is played at crunch time level. I get that it would be impossible for these guys to play at that level for 82 games a year, but it does dilute the product.

I can watch an entire game and get all the important highlights from a 30 second Instagram video, or in some cases a six second vine. Somehow the game needs to be more important every time the world’s best walk on the court.

Now I don’t like to only point out problems without offering solutions. I think the NBA should change the playoff system. The better team always wins and that can get boring. From the Harris poll above, college basketball is the least popular sport in the U.S., but when March Madness rolls around people go crazy. The win or go home mentality and Cinderella story are fascinating and the NBA could use some of that drama.

Also let’s bring back the value of the big man. I would love to see the NFL adopt the international goal-tending rules. I would love to see Dwight Howard be able to swat away a game winning shot as it bounces around the rim.

I think that the league should also go back to 28 teams. There are easily 24 players that we could remove from the league without the general fan noticing. It is difficult to think of what two franchises would go away, but it would increase the competitiveness.

I still have love for basketball and the NBA is a part of that, but it can be better.

#LongBall

The way too early roster projection.


3 QB:

Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, and Matt Barkley

No Surprise here and Barkley beats out undrafted rookie Jake Coker.

RB:

David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, and Stepfan Taylor

Again no surprise at the top 3, but great special teams play and trust in pass blocking situations keeps Stepfan on the team. Probably won’t be able to keep Kerwynn on the practice squad after his last two years. I would not be surprised if Ellington is not on the trade block right now. He has not been available for most of his time with the Cardinals and could return good value. If Keim does not like the trade market for him, we will be happy to keep him as a third option as an explosive dual threat.

6 WR:

Larry Fitz, Michael Floyd, John Brown, JJ Nelson, Jaron Brown, and Brittan Golden

The first four guys are locked in. Jaron and Brittan having been here for so long and have a  huge advantage to make the roster, especially when you consider they’re big time contributors to special teams. Golden has versatility to play some corner in an emergency which is something Keim and BA love.  This may keep one of our late round DBs from the 53 man roster.

4 TE:

Jermain Gresham, Darren Fells, Troy Niklas, and Ifeanyi Momah

Jermain Gresham turned down a much larger contract to stay here in AZ and anchor this group. Troy and Ifeanyi need to stay on the field to round out this position group throughout the season. This group is excellent in run blocking and can create some mismatches down the field. We saw some great production from Fells at times this year too.

6 OL:

Jared Veldheer, DJ Humphries, Mike Iupati, Evan Mathis, AQ Shipley, Evan Boehm, and Earl Watford

The center position is causing some drama this year. Can a rookie take the starting role away from Shipley who was brought into start, but ended up sitting behind Sendline last year after the team resigned him late in camp? Watford can now play four positions on the line with the only exception being left tackle. Meaning that if something were to happen to Veldheer, Humphries would most likely slide over to left and Watford take his spot at right tackle. I think that Rob Crisp has a shot to land on the practice squad again.

Ok, I am now done with the offense and I am looking at the Cardinals’ defense. It is for real. They have guys that are either contributors or are high upside guys that will not make this football team. Unfortunately there are not a ton of names that will draw a ton of trade consideration, but there are guys that will most likely end up on someone’s roster.

DT:

Calais Campbell, Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche, Corey Peters, Frostee Rucker, Red Bryant, and Ed Stinson

This is the deepest group on the team. I have left off the list Josh Mauro and Xavier Williams, both of who the team likes. Xavier is listed as a NT and the lack of versatility could cost him a roster spot this year. Writing out these names makes me very excited. Frostee is another name that could be on the trading block. Again if the value is not there we will be happy to keep his leadership in our locker room even if Peters (returning from Injury) and Nkemdiche (rookie) cut into his playing time.

6 OLB:

Chandler Jones, Marcus Golden, Kareem Martin, Alex Okafor, are locked in. Tristan Okapalogu, Shaq Riddick and Zach Waggenman will battle for the last two spots. I think that Waggenman will end up on the practice squad this year, but he did have quite the buzz before getting hurt last year. Okafor could be on the trade block, but I doubt he is not on the roster come game one.

4 ILB:

Kevin Minter, Gabe Martin, Alani Fua, Deone Buchanan. Yeah, I am calling Buck an ILB, but this is where he will spend his time until the Cards find a Daryl Washington replacement. Alani Fua is a guy that can also stand up and play some OLB so that helps him make this team.

5 C:

Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, Cariel Brooks, and the newly signed Mike Jenkins. If the Cards do end up signing Chris Culliver it could be hard for Brooks to make the roster, but he will be a practice squad target again this year. Harlan Miller has an outside shot at beating Brooks, but should also be a practice squad guy.

5 S:

Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Tyvon Branch, DJ Swearinger, and Marqu Christian will get a spot as a rookie with his versatility to play some slot corner in addition to safety. Chris Clemons would have made this list, but after his Scottsdale bar incident he may be on the outside looking in.

P

Drew Butler

K

Cat Man

LS

Kameron Canaday

Can we just have Mike Leach back? But this guy is 6’4″ 240 though.

Never-ending Gate

I am not a fan of the way that Rodger Goodell and the NFL has handled Deflate Gate. To me it shows the ineptitude that happens at the NFL offices with almost anything that Goodell touches.

Let’s be clear. Rodger Goodell is not fighting this into the 2016 season to smear Brady and the Patriots at this point. At this point it is 100% for power. The power to be judge, jury and executioner to the league and it’s unionized players. He is using the collective bargaining agreement against the NFLPA in spite of Collective bargaining being the single most powerful tool the union has to make sure there is a balance of power.

Goodell asked the appeals court to overturn the ruling of Richard Burman due to the fact that the bargaining agreement allows him to set punishment, investigate incidents and rule on appeals of his own judgments.

Goodell is trying to use the broadest term of “conduct detrimental” policy to apply his ruling to Brady. To make the case that he can create a rule out of thin air if the player violated the conduct policy.

The appeals court agreed with Goodell that under the collective bargaining agreement he was within his right to impose such a penalty. Here is what they said:

The Commissioner was authorized to impose discipline for, among other things, “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football.” In their collective bargaining agreement, the players and the League mutually decided many years ago that the Commissioner should investigate possible rule violations, should impose appropriate sanctions, and may preside at arbitration’s challenging his discipline. Although this tripartite regime may appear somewhat unorthodox, it is the regime bargained for and agreed upon by the parties, which we can only presume they determined was mutually satisfactory.

So, they admit the amount of power that Goodell has is “unorthodox,” but agreed upon.

To be fair, I think that the ruling on its own is the correct ruling, but they are leaving out a very critical piece of the puzzle. The conduct which was most detrimental to the league was the leaking of the information about the investigation on the night of the game.

The decline in “the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football” was due to the media and public being lead to believe that 11 of the 12 footballs from one team were deflated and that none of the the other teams were deflated at all.

As soon as I hear that, I think, what is the advantage of throwing a deflated football? (I still don’t know if that is an advantage). But, he must have really deflated those footballs if 11 out of 12 footballs were below the limit allowed.

We were lead to think that for weeks. It was not until the Wells report was released, media circus commenced and the public opinion of the situation was made, that we find out what we originally heard was garbage.

The Colts balls all started at 13 psi and the Patriots started at 12.5 psi. Every single one of the balls measured lost air pressure during the first half for both teams. The Patriots started the game at the minimum psi allowed and after being used in cold weather lost air. Of course they are going to be below the allowed amount if they started at the absolute bottom of the range. The Colts started with all of their balls at 13 psi and all of them came back in at 12.15 to 12.95 depending on what gauge you look at from the report. Again with consideration for which gauge you look at, three of the four balls tested were below the 12.5 psi allowed for the Colts. This would have been good info to give to the public as roughly 44 states, not in the far northeastern tip of our country, flipped the heck out.

The fact that this was a scandal at all is 100% on the league. The investigation should have never been leaked. It should have not been reported the way that it was, but when the information is coming directly from the league sources, you can’t blame guys like Bob Kravitz and Peter King. These are trusted sources with info from the horse’s mouth.

Now we sit and wait to see if the supreme court of the United States is going to hear this case before we know the final fate of this case. I don’t care about Tom Brady and deflated footballs, but I think that this is a case of commissioner blowing it and needing to save power for the league office to keep the control they so desperately think they need.

If you think I am biased, I would love to see Jimmy instead of Tommy week one.

#Cardinals #LongBall

Bye Felicia…

Sports are incredible. They can leave you with once in a lifetime memories, good and bad. They elicit some of the best of humanity and some of the worst. Love of teams and characters from all over the world can spark riots and parades.

When a sports legend retires and leaves the game, something similar happens. How you feel about that person changes, for better or worse. Everything they ever did good is exaggerated and bad is forgotten, or in some rare occasions the reverse happens.

I try to remember people and players as they were.

Today Tim Duncan announced his retirement from basketball. 19 years with one team is incredible. It is also in the same year that Kobe retired. Tim’s was much quieter compared to Kobe’s season long farewell tour and final game circus. That is how Tim played too, never overstated, but always impactful.

The league will not be the same.

When I look back at Duncan’s career all I can think of are the once in a lifetime memories that I mentioned earlier. But in Tim’s case, they are almost all bad memories.

With my love hate relationship with the Suns, Duncan has been more than a spoiler. His Spurs team has single-handedly destroyed multiple season of championship hopes in Phoenix.

As an individual player I will remember him more for his disgusted look on his face every single time a foul was called on him. His eyes would literally look like they were ready to pop out of his head, palms upturned asking, “what did I do?”

You hacked the crap out of Steve Nash Tim, that is what you did.

Or the circle arm sweep move he would do with the ball, where his only intention was to draw a foul on the defender.

Or the time he jumped off the bench during an altercation and it was ignored. I will start crying if I talk about that game too much so I will leave it at that.

Let’s be honest though. These are really just bad excuses from a fan of a team that Tim abused. It was probably his 20 points and 10 rebounds a game that had something to with beating my Suns every year.

His perfect chemistry with Coach Popavich and his two other co-stars. I won’t say their names, since they are still in the league and I don’t have to say nice things about them yet.

So while I will remember him as cry baby Duncan, he will go down as a top 5 or 6 player of all time. I am glad I lived in an era that saw both Kobe and Duncan at their best.

I just wish it didn’t have to happen at the same time as the greatest Suns teams to ever play together.

#LongBall

Don’t call it a comeback!

In what was billed as the biggest event in UFC history, there was a lot that happened. I was able to start watching the evening with TJ Dillashaw getting a win after his tough loss to Dominick Cruz. It was a great performance with TJ looking great and proving that he is still in the mix for a title shot soon. TJ was probably the least questioned of any of the fighters on this card coming off of a loss, but still had something to prove.

Kevin Gastelum and Johny Hendricks put on a heck of a show. Johny landed the only take down in the fight in the second round, which is probably the one round that he won on a single judge card. One judge scored it 29-28 in favor of Gastelum and the other two judges had it 30-27 for KG. Kevin was able to put together the best striking performance of his career. Some real fireworks started in the last 30 seconds of the fight as both fighters traded in a heated exchange that was intense to watch knowing Johny’s power, but KG hung in the pocket and looked to come out with the cleaner shots.

The next fight was a good scrap with Cat Zigano and Julianna Pena. The fight started with Cat being able to control the fight on the ground and Pena only able to muster a reversal and 3 significant strikes in the round. But the fight turned and Pena was the one in control for the rest of the fight, out striking Cat 129 to 23. All three Judges scored it 29-28 for Pena.

Cain and Rhonda Rousey’s boyfriend was the first fight of the main card. Cain Velasquez was coming off of a very big loss to Fabrcio Werdum were he was picked apart on his feet. Werdum is considered one of the best jiu jitsu for MMA fighters in the world, it was expected the Cain would would have the advantage standing. When he didn’t we all wondered if he was as good as we all thought. Cain then promptly reminded us all how good he is and scary he can be on any given night. He showed us a new technique that he had not previously shown us from him in the octagon and spinning heel kick. It was the beginning of the end for Travis Browne after that.

Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar went the distance. Jose Aldo was masterful in this fight. He looked like the best Aldo that I have seen in the octagon and he is ready for the rematch with Conor if it comes. I am glad that he had the chance to erase the last image that we had of him over extending, getting caught and hitting the canvas. Interestingly, Jose only threw two leg kicks in the fight and both seemed to be very effective. If someone would have told me that he won 48-47 on one card and 49-46 on the other two and only threw two leg kicks, I would have called them crazy. But it happened. It was closer than the 49-46 appeared as Aldo was able to steal rounds that were dead even with effective flurries at the end of a couple rounds. I picked Frankie for this fight, but before the fight I tweeted this.

This will be a great rematch, I just hope it happens soon while Jose is locked in and ready to go.

At this point in the night it feels like fights have been going on forever and the main event was coming up. And if not for the fact that it was a 3 round fight, it felt that big. Anderson Silva making it to this fight on two days notice is worthy of some massive respect. I won’t take credit for predicting how this fight would go, because any even casual fan could see this one coming. What I didn’t expect is how fired up this crowed would be to see Silva do well. Every time the fight was standing, there was electricity in the air. When Daniel Cormier was doing what we all knew he would do and laying on top of Silva trying to ground and pound him the crowed was incensed.

This was my favorite tweet of the night. Cerrone is one of my favorite fighters and I am so happy that he was his normal self being a fan of fighting and leading the chant. With 35 seconds to go in the fight Silva was standing and threw a liver kick that hurt Cormier and instantly grabbed Silva and pinned him to the cage. For a moment there was a flash of excitement in what was otherwise a one sided fight. I wrote about this still being good for Silva in my post yesterday and it was. He walked out of the cage, on two days notice and lasted 15 mins with the light heavyweight champ of the world. He then had some interesting things to say after the fight that I will cover in my next piece.

Really though. That was not the main event. We still have two more fights to cover.

Brock Lesnar is back. What does that mean, we have no idea. He is going to take it one day at a time is what he said to Rogan after his 29-27 unanimous win over Mark Hunt. He looked like he was in over his head in the second round, but after he secured a take-down in the third, he was dominate. He earned a 10-8 round from all three judges and was back with a victory after four and half years off.

Finally the final fight of the night.

Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunes was a great fight and a terrific performance by Nunes. She is historically a fast starter that fades at the end of fights, while Miesha starts slow and picks up steam as she goes. I predicted that Tate would be able to withstand the quick start and defend her belt, but Nunes was too much. In what looked like an illegal knee that started the final exchange after replay, it missed. The shots she landed were all legal and very effective. Ending with Miesha giving up her back and getting choked out.

Bigger than the fight in my opinion was the fact that a women’s fight was the main event of the biggest UFC fight ever. At UFC 100 seven years ago, there were not even ladies in the UFC.

I will try to get something up shortly covering the pressers.

 

#LongBall

 

UFC 200 Pre-Fight

UFC 200

Here we are July 9th. The day fight fans have been waiting for. UFC 200 is tonight and the fight pass fights are going on as I type.

One of the most overstocked cards in the history of MMA that has done a good job of selling itself. Until a couple days ago anyways. Jon Jones was caught doping in June and confirmed with a positive B sample test result yesterday. We all wondered who would save the day as it was clear Daniel Cromier was going to fight and get paid.

A friend of mine and I scrolled through lists of 205’ers and even 185’ers that could come up a class. We looked at fighters on the under card that were already in shape and fighters from UFC 201 and 202 trying to predict the future. The future was not obvious to us, or me anyway. A fighter that was recently caught doping himself and only a few months after gallbladder surgery. He has not won a fight since 2012, but being considered one of the best of all time comes with some benefits.

I still consider getting in the ring with DC on one and a half days notice a benefit to Anderson Silva, even though the fight probably will not go in his favor. He remains relevant, the loss is excused on short notice, he saves a card (kinda), and he will get paid. I sound critical of the decision probably because I am a Silva fan and I don’t want to see him get wrecked. But who else would have been ready?

Ryan Bader confirmed on his Twitter account that he would not have been able to make weight and that would not have allowed it to be a title fight. Dana White told the media he would not even ask the current 185 champ Bisbing. Citing “benders” that the Count goes on after fights. Beyond those two, I am not confident in anyone making weight on less than 2 days notice.

This three round fight has the potential to be exciting if Andy can bring back some of his old swag and keep it interesting. But I don’t predict that. I see DC grounding him out in the late first or second round.

I am still looking forward to the rest of the card.

Travis Browne and Cain should be a solid heavyweight match up, that will test Cain’s ability to stand and fight a guy with great take-down defense, or prove how great a wrestler he really is by actually getting this fight to the ground.

Frankie and Jose is the perfect situation for Frankie “the Answer” Edgar. One of Aldo’s greatest strengths is his confidence, that had to have been impacted after his stunning knockout loss to McGregor. Either of these gentlemen in a match-up with Conor is intriguing to me. Although a Aldo win and then immediate challenge to McGregor will make for great entertainment.

A serious don’t blink fight. Brock can take you down and go hulk smash on your face as fast as Mark Hunt can swing that counter right and put you to sleep. I hope the later happens because a ground fight that doesn’t end fast can get really boring with those two guys laying on each other for 3 rounds. I don’t foresee any slick ground transitions or submission attempts out of either fighter on the mat.

Then there is the main event. Nunes and Tate has the makings of an instant classic, with Tate having a solid chance to defend her belt and solidify herself a rematch with her arch nemesis. Tate is a historically slow started and Nunes is quick out of the gate. Let’s see if Nunes will get it done early or if as I predict that Tate will be able to outlast Nunes’ gas tank and survive.

Overall a good night of fights ahead and I look forward to the aftermath and how we sort out the landscape after a few of these title fights and top contenders bouts.

PS how is TJ Dillashaw on the prelim card? He is one of the most dynamic fighters in the world. I need to get to a bar to watch that scrap live for sure.

Welcome to The Long Ball

Who am I and what the hell are you reading? I only know the answer to one of those questions right now, so I will start there.

I am 32. I am a husband of 12 years, father of two, 11 year old daughter and 5 year old son.

I never finished college, but I am employed in middle management at a big brokerage firm.

I work out at a fancy high end gym, but I am still a little over weight. I play in a 30 and over basketball league and my team sucks.

I coached some Basketball when I was younger with a little success and served in the Air Force for 4 years. I joined the military to travel the world and they sent me 300 miles up the road (Phoenix to Vegas).

In high school, I was a letterman in football, basketball and tennis. I received a golden music letter for my four years in choir and I was in the chorus in a couple musicals. I know, I was all over the place. I also met my wife in high school, you can say it, awwhh high school sweethearts.

I failed sophomore English, but I think I am better at writing than math or science.

Remember back at the beginning when I said I was 32. I know that you didn’t think it then, but you will at some point, so I might as well get it out of the way. I am technically a Millennial. Although, I would argue that I am some sort of Oregon Trail playing, Napster using, AIM communicating, Live Journal updating sub generation. I say that because as a millennial, I obviously don’t like labels.

What does all that add up to? I am not sure, maybe I don’t really know how to define myself. So when I said I knew one of the questions at the beginning, maybe I don’t know either.

Crap.

So let’s tackle the other one. What am I going to write about? I like doing research. I like asking tough questions, but I like to provide solutions to problems too. I am a realist that loves a good conspiracy.

I am an independent that leans left (I probably stand to the left, but again I don’t like labels). So I will probably cover some political topics. (I must really not want people to read this or like me).

I love the Arizona Cardinals and have a love hate relationship with the Phoenix Suns. I will be bias when I write about football, but it’s fair since I told you upfront right?

I love MMA, probably not as much as I did a year or two ago, but I am still dialed in on most goings on. Boxing is ok, but needs to learn to put a card together, not just a headline fight.

Not a huge fan of baseball or hockey, but I know enough to be dangerous with an opinion.

I watch a lot of TV. Too much maybe. But I am sure I will find time to write between seasons of GOT and Daredevil.

I love to travel. I don’t take my kids traveling as much as I would like to, so I won’t be able to give great family guidance. But for the loving couple, I have opinions and stories to tell about our time around North America.

I eat out a lot. If I told you how much money my family spends at restaurants you wouldn’t believe me. So I am sure a handful of critiques will be written.

So what am I going to write about? A little bit of everything. I hope you will come along for the ride, as I tell stories about my life, share opinions about the world, and try to predict the sports future.

Cardinals win the super bowl? Anyone with me?