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Pretender 05/12/2010

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James was overshadowed by the Celtics all game long (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Fifteen points! Game 5 of a best of seven playoff series tied at 2 games each, at HOME, and the best he can do is score 15 points!?! With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, Fans in Cleveland are singing “where have you gone, LeBron James, ….” King James? He looked more like Harry Houdini last night. We couldn’t find him because he kept disappearing. The Witness Protection Service wishes they could hide people as well as James hid last night. Remind me again why they keep giving this guy the MVP trophy.

Can we now stop the comparisons with Michael Jordan? The only thing Jordan and James have in common is an ego as big as all they come. The difference between them is that MJ had a heart to match that ego. And the stones to fight. James needs to man up and grow his grapes, and build some heart. Perhaps a trip with Dorothy to visit the Wizzard is in order. FIFTEEN POINTS??? In his 179 playoff games, Jordan NEVER scored so few points.

James is no MJ

Last night was the 4th time James was held to 15 or less in his 70 playoff games. Jordanesque? Hardly. MJ grabbed 6 rings while with the Bulls, including his first one in his seventh season. This is LBJ’s seventh season. If the Cavs drop game 6 in Boston, James may have played his last home game in Cleveland. Rumor has it that James will land in New York or Chicago next season. The way he plays during the playoffs, perhaps he should consider the Harlem Globetrotters. There he can showcase his ego and antics and not have to worry about outcomes. He can throw the chalk in the air and pose for imaginary cameras, play the Clown Prince and not worry about the game. The outcome is pre-ordained.

To be sure, Nike will continue to pay him his millions. The NBA will continue to fawn over him. After all, he is the King! He represents all that the NBA has become. A mere shell of itself. A joke compared to what it was when MJ and Bird and Majic were the persona of the League. But come playoff time, the Clown Prince will continue to step aside for true basketball royalty. Just like he did again last night. The King is dead. Long live the Clown Prince!!

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23 09/11/2009

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The game that James Naysmith invented today enshrines its best player in to its place of honor.  Today, Michael Jordon is a Hall of Famer.

Nike told us we all wanted to “be like Mike.”  Air Jordan became not just a nickname, but the kicks every kid had to have despite the price tag.mj5  Jordon became a corporate giant, not just a basketball player.  Heck, he even starred in his own Disney movie with Daffy and Buggs and the gang.  He became powerful enough to get a coach (Doug Collins) replaced before he even won an NBA championship.  And, he was simply the best.  Ever.

There will never be another Jordan.  No one will ever again dominate the sport the way he did.  Not Kobie.  Certainly not James.  Michael emerged from tne shadows of two greats, and and grew to outshine both.  The NBA was the league of Larry Legend and the Magic Man.  Jordon played against both.  For a while, the three of them reigned along side each other.  Then Bird and Johnson retired.  The NBA became Mike’s personal playground.   And he was unstoppable.  He was a defensive star.  He learned to drain the three ball.  And when the tounge came out, he showed that man could fly!   The sheer joy he played with, and the enjoyment he gave to fans will not be matched.

mj4He led the Bulls to three straight NBA ctowns.  Then, at age 30,  he suddenly retired from the game following his father’s untimely death.  He played baseball for two years in the White Sox organization before announcing his return to the NBA in March 1995 with a simple 2 word text: “I’m back!”   And Back he was.  The Bulls made the playoffs a month later, but lost in the Conference Semi’s.  Jordan’s first full season back, however, was one for the record books.  He lead the Bulls to a record 72 wins in the regular season. And then to the first title in Chicago’s second three peat.  Six titles in 8 seasons.  Who knows what would have happened if Jordan had not left the game after his father’s death.

The accolades are all there.  By the numbers, Jordan is a :  6 time NBA champion, 6 time Finals MVP, 14 time NBA All Star, 2 time Olympic Gold Medal winner,  1985 NBA Rookie of the Year, 1988 NBA Defensive player of the year, 9 time NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection; and the list goes on.  But they are a mere sideshow of the fame of Michael.  He became basketball.  He became a one man corporate conglomeration.  He took endorsements to a new level.  And he embodied the pure joy of sports.  Sure, he had his issues.  He was human.  There were gambeling problems, and other things.  And that comeback in Wadhingion.  But when he put the Bulls Jersey on, he took us all to new heights.  And for that we say Thank You, Mr Jordon.

Others may wear the number (Ahem, are you listening Mr. James?) but 23 will ALWAYS be Jordan.  There will only be one Michael.mj3

Chops Night In San Jose 04/20/2009

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The eight seeded Anaheim Ducks defeated the top seeded San Jose Sharks 3-2 Sunday night to take a 2 games to none

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

 series lead in their best of seven NHL first round playoff matchup.  Both games were played in San Jose.  The Sharks are now in danger of becoming the eighth top seed to drop a series to the 8th seed since 1994.  The series shifts to Anaheim for games 3 and 4. 

Sundays victory by the Ducks featured the first ever Stanley Cup Playoff goals in the career of 3 Ducks players.  Bobby Ryan, Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller each picked up their career first markers.  All three played earlier this season for the AHL Iowa Chops in Des Moines.  Ryan opened the scoring just 3:45 into the first period with a power play goal.  He took a rebound off Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov and beat him  to his stick side.  The shot, however, was just wide and bounced off of the left goal post.  Ryan then dove, and while airborne redirected the rebound with his stick from behind Nabokov and into the goal. (See Ryan’s goal at http://www.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?hlg=20082009,3,152&event=S.J29)

The Sharks Ryane Clowe tied the score at one 5:38 into the second period.  It was the first goal in the series for the

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Sharks, who lost game one 2-0.  The score remained tied at one until 9:44 of the third period when Ebbett took a rebound off the boards behind the San Jose goal and slapped an odd angle shot off Nabokov as he moved from the left of the goal to the right to cover the near post.  The goal gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead.  They made it 3-1 three and a half minutes later when Miller stuffed a rebound off Nabokov just left of the net through traffic past the goaltender’s glove and just inside the far post.  The Ducks then held on for the 3-2 win.

Random notes from a weekend of Sports:

Clean Sweep.  Saturday was a rare day in Chicago sports.  It was the first time in 17 years that both the Bulls and Blackhawks won playoff games on the same day.  The NBA  Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 105-103 in overtime while the NHL Blackhawks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2.  In addition, Baseball’s Cubs defeated the St Louis Cardinals 7-5 with a walk off 2 run homer in the bottom of the 11th and White Sox beat the Rays 8-3 making the Chicago teams 4-0 for the day.

Rocky relief.  The Colorado Rockies are off to a 4-7 start.  While the schedule has been brutal (series against the Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs and Diamondbacks) with only 3 games played in Denver so far, pitching has been poor for Colorado.  The team era of 5.74 is too high, and only Jason Marquis has been consistent among the starters.  He is 2-0 with a 1.93 era in his two starts.  The bullpen has been a horror show, allowing 53 hits in 36 2/3 innings of work  including 11 home runs and has only 2 saves in 4 opportunities.  This team will hit and score runs.  But it will go only as far as the pen will take it.  It is early, but improvement must be significant.  And soon!