Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heat vs Mavs : So Who Wins?

NBA Finals Preview

Well well well, what do we have here? As the weather gets hot around the country, welcome back to the one column that stays cooler than the other side of the pillow. Tha Weatha Report is back to continue to drop a little knowledge on you and to give you a different point of view on the world of sports. Today we will tackle the NBA Finals which kick off tonight. Before we dive right in, let's touch on a few topics that have occurred since we've last sat down shall we?

Quick Hail Storm

1. Jim Tressel out at The Ohio State University isn't a shock, but his sudden downfall is the shocking part. The man went from untouchable to resigning from his head coaching position in less than a year's time. Just goes to show you that even the most successful coaches have to play by the rules.

2. I feel horrible for JR Hildebrand. One turn away from the Indy 500 victory only to crash and essentially hand the victory to Dan Wheldon. Hopefully the young man will use this experience to his advantage and come back bigger and better than ever. 

3. The same can be said of "Lil E" Dale Earnhardt Jr. So close yet so far from victory as he ran out of gas on the final lap to hand the win to Kevin Harvick. Junior was attempting to end his seemingly decades long victory drought, but came up short. He's close, but maybe next time he'll fill up on Unleaded or something. 

4. Kevin McHale hired in Houston to coach the Rockets? So let's get this straight: You let a coach go who took you to the brink of the playoffs with an incomplete roster to go hire a man who did a horrible job in Minnesota both coaching and being the General Manager? Exactly why Houston won't be in the playoffs for the next five or so years. You heard it here first. 

5. Someone tell me what Jose Bautista has been eating. That man has surpassed Albert Pujols as the best player in baseball right now. I'll still take Pujols over a full season, but Bautista can't be pitched to right now. 

6. Scottie Pippen must have been referring to the Birmingham Barons version of Michael Jordan when he said Lebron James could go down as the best player in NBA history. One stat for you to shut this argument down: Six NBA championships, six NBA Finals MVPs. That means Jordan was the best player, on the best team, for six years. Wake me up when Lebron gets to two rings and wins two Finals MVPs. 

So, Who You Got? Mavs-Heat

Take a second to think back to last summer. Around July. ESPN showed some show....I think it was called "The Decision". Some guy picking some team....I think we all remember. Lebron James changed the landscape of the NBA and the free agent market for years to come when he announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach. Ever since then, this was Miami's destiny. To be honest, Miami had to make it to the NBA Finals to justify the hype that surrounded them from day one. In most cases, the hard part would just be beginning. But allow me to disagree. 

The Heat went through a season where every loss was scrutinized more than any loss ever. Where every movement on the court was watched closely by any interested person who thought that they could decipher what was going on behind the scenes by how many times Lebron high-fived Bosh or how hard Lebron bumped Erik Spoelstra. The team went on highs and lows throughout 82 games and it's obvious that it made them the toughest team in the playoffs. You think they are worried about going on the road in the NBA Finals? Doubt it. They probably welcome another chance to shut the haters and the doubters up. 

On the other side of the equation, you have the Dallas Mavericks. A team that is also very tough. This is also the same team that made Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look like the Washington Generals of Harlem Globetrotter fame. Dallas has their own superstar in Dirk Nowitzki and another Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd. It is obvious that these are the two best teams in the NBA this season. So, who wins? Allow me to share my opinion. 

In answering that question, I ask a question of my own. Who guards Dwyane Wade? Jason Kidd? Nah, too slow and Wade could just back him down in the post. DeShawn Stevenson? I apologize, but I wouldn't let Stevenson guard my dog. Before his back surgery I would take my chances, but he has been a step slow since then. Jason Terry? He's a defensive liability, plus he comes off the bench. If you haven't figured out by now, Wade is my X-Factor. I think he'll rebound from his poor showing against Chicago and have big games. He won't average the 35 ppg that he did against Dallas in 2006, but he will prove to be unstoppable. 

Miami has the two best players on the court in James and Wade. Nowitzki is very talented and is a MVP, but James will be able to make like difficult for him in the latter part of games. Shawn Marion can't guard Lebron, and neither can Nowitzki. So using my limited math skills, I see Lebron being able to score and the same being said of D. Wade. I take those two over any other two in the league.

The Forecast

While these two are the best teams in the NBA, the stars will decide these Finals. Both teams will play great defense. However, I see Dwyane Wade being able to impose his will on Dallas' defense more than enough to give him his second ring and finally deliver a ring for the King. 
Miami wins 4 games to 2

Once again, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to pass it to your friends, give comments, and all that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Conspiracy Theory

The NBA: Conspiracy or Not? You Decide

Welcome one, welcome all. Back to the blog that actually survived the Rapture without breaking a sweat. That's right, it's time to make it rain with Tha Weatha Report. Today's blog will touch on a subject and theory that I developed a couple of years ago. I have spoken about this theory to friends before, but I think that it is time to share it with the world. Maybe you will agree with me, or maybe you'll think I'm way off base. In any event, I'm sure that it will cause some discussions. Before diving right into the meat and potatoes, let's hit some quick points shall we?

Quick Hail Storm

This portion of The Weatha Report is devoted to a few items which I want to touch on without actually devoting an entire space to. Just my thoughts and opinions.....

1. Great fight put on by Jean Pascal and more specifically Bernard Hopkins. The old man of boxing is still going and he looked stronger and better than ever. What separates Hopkins from other boxers is that he is not just a boxer, but an entertainer. Good luck to his next opponent, Chad Dawson. I have a feeling he'll need it. 

2. Not really impressed by the hiring of Mike Brown in Lakerland. I know they wanted a defensive specialist, and by all accounts Mike Brown fits that need. I expected more of a splash from Dr. Buss. Now, all eyes turn to Kobe Bryant's reaction to the news. 

3. The OKC Thunder look to be done. That was a crippling and heartbreaking loss in game 4. Not sure how a team as young as the Thunder will or can respond to something like that. 

4. Chicago finds itself in the same boat as the Thunder. Facing elimination after a hard fought and tough loss. This is clearly a different Miami team than the one Chicago swept in the regular season. 

5. Ok NFL. We all get it now. The joke is over. Go ahead and put this lockout to an end. You fooled us all and it is time for this cat and mouse game to end.

6. Looks like the demise of the Boston Red Sox was greatly exaggerated. They are currently only 1/2 games out of first in the A.L. East. 

Now, on to Today's Weatha....

Today's Weatha

What do the following cities have in common: Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, and Boston. Time's up. One answer is that all of these cities are what are considered major markets. They are well-sized and are well covered as far as the media goes. San Antonio might be the only one out of that list that could be considered not as major as the others, but it is still a big city with a healthy population and plenty of media coverage area. So, what is the other connection that these cities share? Well, since 1991 these are the seven cities that have hoisted the Larry O'Brien trophy. That's 20 years, and only seven teams have won the NBA title. This year Chicago, albeit down 3-1, and Miami are the only two of these teams still in contention for the 2011 NBA title. So, by now you may be wondering where I'm going with all of this. Well, follow me for a minute. 

It is no secret that the NBA is a BILLION dollar corporation. People tend to forget that the players are just a small portion of the NBA. Also, let's not kid ourselves. The owners, players, referees, and even the secretaries are all about one thing: making money. There isn't a single NBA owner who bought their team and said to themselves "I don't care if we lose millions of dollars every season, as long as we win NBA titles consistently". If you find one that says that, I'll call him a liar. Now, don't get me wrong. There are owners out there like Mark Cuban and Dr. Jerry Buss who are obviously focused on winning, but they are also still businessmen. Smart business doesn't equal losing money. So, how does all of this tie into the NBA? I'm glad you asked....

If you are David Stern and the NBA and you are all about putting out a product that is entertaining and profitable, which cities would you want to be deep in the playoffs on a yearly basis? Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami....or would you prefer Milwaukee, Memphis, or Oakland (Golden State Warriors)? Exactly. Big cities equal big markets which equals big money. Equation listed below:

Big City + Big Market = $$$

Now I know what some people might say. "Well, what about OKC? They had a great chance to go and win the NBA Finals this year." To that, I ask one simple question.....did they really? You have Dallas, OKC, Chicago, and Miami as the final four teams standing. Which one of those cities is likely to make the NBA the least amount of money? What a coincidence, it just so happens to be the city that is on the short end of a 3-1 deficit. The NBA is not run by dummies. Now, they may make dumb decisions, but they are very savvy business people behind the scenes. Memphis had a great run in the playoffs, but in my opinion it is just another example of the NBA throwing a city and it's team a bone to keep them quiet for the next 10-15 years. Because we all know that there won't be a title coming through Memphis, TN anytime soon unless it has something to do with Beale St and B.B. King.

Yes, the NBA does have stars in small markets. Presently players like Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings, and Kevin Love represent their markets of Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. However, the likelihood of these players winning titles in those cities are slim. Sure, Durant and OKC might break through here in the next year or two, but is anyone really willing to bet on that? There is a reason why the prevailing talk around the NBA trade deadline was how the NBA needed New York to trade for Carmelo Anthony because the NBA is "always more entertaining" when New York is in the thick of things. I'm sorry, I've found the NBA quite entertaining over the last few years as Spike Lee and his minions have been suffering through losing season after losing season. The fans don't need New York to be good to have entertaining basketball. The NBA needs New York to be good to have another cash cow. Lebron James realized that and moved to a major market. Now he's five wins away from a NBA Title. I'm not saying....but I'm saying. 

The Forecast

In the end, I can't say that I blame the NBA. They are about making money, and we all know that the smart money is with big cities. Plus, they allow the small market Davids to compete with the Goliaths every once in a while (See: Grizzlies, Memphis 2011 vs Spurs, San Antonio). It keeps us coming back for more. I love the NBA, but I'm not naive. So we'll keep watching, and big cities will continue to thrive. We'll keep cheering, and the NBA will keep stuffing their pockets with a smile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Anyone Else Tired Of This Dog and Pony Show

Do We Really Need A Third Fight?

Welcome back to the gift that keeps on giving, Tha Weatha Report. Today, we take a break from the NBA playoffs to talk about something else that has been on the mind of sports fans across the country. It is a topic that has caught the attention of even the most casual fan. An event that would generate $100 million for the two participants. Maybe you didn't read that last line right, so let me reiterate that point. This event would generate $100 MILLION for just TWO individuals. Of course, I'm talking about Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. and Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao. Before we talk about these two, let's talk about what these two men are doing to delay this fight. 

Really Money? I Mean, Seriously?

Before I go any further, let me fully disclose that I am a huge Mayweather fan. In this blog, I will always disclose my "fandom", but unlike other blogs I will always do my best to keep it real and call it exactly down the middle. With that being said, I can honestly say that I'm disappointed in Mr. Money. Instead of staying relevant inside of the ring, Mayweather has decided to take his fights to the home front. Now normally I wouldn't comment on another man's domestic situation, but I think it needs to be said. Beating on your baby mama, allegedly, does not look good in the public eye nor is it acceptable behavior in our society. Nor is beating on security guards who don't treat you with the "proper" respect in your housing community. Instead of beating on women and guards, Mayweather needs to get his arrogant behind inside of the ring and do what he does best. There have been rumblings that Mayweather is going to shake off the ring rust and climb back in. That's right, Floyd Mayweather could be just a few months away from getting back into the ring, and against a former champion. That man? Paul Spadafora. Don't worry, I'll give you time to hit Wikipedia to find out who he is...

Ok, time's up. Rest assured, just how you are unexcited reading that Mayweather is fighting some guy who hasn't fought in 4 years and is past his prime, the rest of the country will feel the same way when it comes to paying for this fight. Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Andre Berto. What do those three men have in common? If you said possible Mayweather opponents with name recognition that would generate substantial interest, then you would be correct. Instead, we all will could be treated to months of hype about how the undefeated Mayweather is looking to become the first man to defeat an over the hill Paul Spadafora. Wake me up when it's over. Hopefully Mayweather and his camp come to their senses before we are all put to sleep on a Saturday night. 

Not So Fast Mr. Pac-Man

So Pacquiao is off the hook right? To borrow a line from Mr. Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. Pacquiao hasn't exactly fought the best of the best over the last few fights. Joshua Clottey? Exactly. A worthless fight that proved absolutely nothing. Clottey just wanted to survive the fight without getting knocked down or out. At the end of the fight he was so happy to have stayed on his feet that he put his arms up in triumph when the 12th round bell rung. While that was fine for him and his bank account, no thanks to us boxing fans. Antonio Margarito? Ok, I'll give Pacquiao credit. Not because he beat a good fighter. Oh no, Margarito lost that status as soon as he was caught cheating with loaded gloves. Instead, most people were happy because Margarito got what was coming to him. We may cheat on a math test or even cut corners at work, but when it comes to cheating in the hallow halls of sports we as a society are personally offended. So good on Pacquiao for giving the cheater what most felt he deserved. What about Pacquiao's fight with "Sugar" Shane Mosley you ask? I think most boxing fans knew what was going to happen. This was the same Mosley that was basically shut out by Mayweather, save for a good punch here and there. Mosley pulled a Clottey during that fight. Just happy to make it the entire 12 rounds. Color me disappointed to say the least. So how does Pacquiao plan on following that boring fight up? With "giving the fans what they want" by fighting Juan Manuel Marquez. Yes, the fans wanted this fight......back in 2008. Not 2011. If this fight happens it will be the third and presumably final fight between the two. Let's take a look back shall we? 

In 2004 Pacquiao and Marquez met for the first time, and by everyone's account it was a great fight. Pacquiao came out like a ball of fire and looked like it was going to be a short night when he dropped Marquez three times in the first round alone. However, I think what happened was that Marquez thought the fight was starting ten minutes later than it really was because the rest of the fight was back and forth. In the end, it was ruled a draw. Most people, myself included, think that Marquez really won the fight and was robbed of the victory. So of course this set up a sequel that happened a few months after right? Um, no. We fast forward 4 years to 2008 before the rematch happened. First off, it should not have taken all that time to get them back in the ring but that's for another Report. The 2008 fight was also a closely contested fight, that went Pacquiao's way via split decision. Many people still debate that fight even to this day. So now, three years later the people are supposed to be excited for this fight? Under normal circumstances, I would agree. But let's be honest here, this is not normal circumstances. 

Normal circumstances would not have the richest fight in boxing history staring two mediocre fights right in their faces. Normal circumstances wouldn't include a Juan Manuel Marquez who was thoroughly defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2009. This is a letdown and everyone knows it, regardless of if we will hear Pacquiao or Mayweather say it. The fight would occur at a contract weight of 144lbs. That means that Marquez will be fighting at a weight that is 9lbs heavier than what he is used to. That may not sound like a lot, but to a boxer that is a massive amount of weight to put on and carry around. Oh, and add to the fact that Marquez has only fought at or around this weight one time in his career. Yes, you guessed it. It was the Mayweather fight, and we all saw what happened there. Do we really need a repeat? Are we supposed to believe that because of their previous two fights that this will be a close fight? Is that what the promoters are going to sell us on? Hey everyone, these two had a close fight 7 years ago and another close fight 3 years ago, of course they'll have another close fight. No thanks. We were fooled once with Joshua Clottey. Then we were fooled twice with Shane Mosley. What's the saying? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice.....well, you know the rest. 

The Weatha Forecast

So, do we really need a third Pacquiao vs Marquez fight? In a word, no. When will Pacquiao and Mayweather stop stringing us along as fans? We, as fans, have fed right into the no fight hype. We have been divided with camps that blame Mayweather and camps that blame Pacquiao. The fans need to unite and realize that the blame falls on both men. Between the disagreements on drug testing and disagreement on money, all of it is petty and should be settled. We, the fans, have been deprived long enough. It is time to settle the argument once and for all about who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Sadly, we have about as much chance of this happening as we have of Mosley getting another chance to pull a Clottey against Pacquiao again. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I wouldn't hold my breath. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tha Weatha Report: NBA Playoffs Edition

Ah, it's that time of the year again. The time where serious fans and casual fans alike get into heated debates about who's soft, who is the real MVP, and who will go all the way. That's right, the NBA playoffs are in full swing. Tonight, we have game 1 of the Western Conference finals between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Now it's easy to sit here and debate about who will win and why, but let's dive a little bit deeper. Let's take the temperature (get it? Weatha Report...temperature...nevermind) of not who will win, but WHAT will win and how. Without further ado, leggo!!!!

The X-Factor

In every NBA playoff series, there is that X-Factor. That guy or thing that will ultimately decide the series. It's the factor that everyone tends to overlook, but it is the single most important aspect of the series. If you ask me, the X-Factor in the Dallas-OKC series is simple. The X-Factor isn't a thing, but it is a person. One of the youngsters who probably doesn't even realize the gravity of the situation that he is in. That man is Serge Ibaka. Why you ask? Ah, it is simple really. We can all agree that Kevin Durant is going to get his 25-30 points a night. He is the 2x NBA scoring champ and one of the top 10, if not top 5, players in the league. He makes scoring look relatively easy and very rarely is he contained. Russell Westbrook is going to be up and down as usual. People forget that he is only in his second year as a pro and the growing pains that comes with that fact is no different for him than it was for the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The biggest difference is that Westbrook's growing pains have played out on the big screen in high pressure playoff series. Ultimately, Westbrook will have good games going against an aging Jason Kidd. 
Looking at Dallas, you know that Jason Terry is going to give them his usual 15-20 points off the bench. That's his role and he plays it better than any other 6th man in the NBA, regardless of who won the award this year. Jason Kidd may be ancient in terms of the NBA wear and tear, but he will get open shots and will distribute the ball in ways that only he can. I also think that Tyson Chandler will have his way inside against Kendrick Perkins, who is obviously not 100% at this point in the playoffs. I know that Chandler's offensive game is limited, but has anyone been paying attention to the lack of lift that Perkins is getting when going for rebounds and shots? Chandler will deal with him with ease. So that leaves Dallas' MVP. The man that is the undisputed leader of that team, Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki will be most likely be guarded by Serge Ibaka. Nowitzki has about 2 inches in height on Ibaka, but Serge is extremely athletic and plays great defense. Which is why he is the X-Factor. If he is able to adequately play Dirk and make him work extremely hard to get his points, then OKC will win this series. If Dirk abuses Ibaka, then OKC should get ready for a short and disappointing end to their season. Nowitzki is going to get his 25-30 points, no question about it. But will it take him 30 shots to get it, or 15-20? That is the key to this series. Ibaka has his hands full, only time will tell if he is up to the task. 

The Forecast

So who will win the series? Well, I don't see anyone on Dallas' team that can guard Russell Westbrook. Jason Kidd is too slow, and Jason Terry isn't exactly known for his lock-down defense. I am going to guess that Dallas will put Shawn Marion on Kevin Durant, which could be an interesting match-up. Marion is still very athletic. While not known as a defensive stopper, he could create problems for Durant due to his length and athletic ability. In the end, I think Westbrook is finally finding ways to get Durant the ball in spots that the scoring champ wants and needs it. I see Nowitzki having a difficult time getting off for big points in this series. All of that adds up to a Oklahoma City Thunder series victory in 6 games. 
Weatha Alert

OKC was supposed to be a year or two away from being in this position. No one anticipated that this would be the year where they would be 4 wins away from playing for the NBA title. However, the timely demise of the Lakers and the overnight aging of the San Antonio Spurs has sped up the Thunder's development and timeline. I know the folks in Seattle are not as thrilled about this as the majority of basketball fans, but it is great for the NBA to have a great team developing in a small market like OKC. Add to that the fact that their star player, Kevin Durant, signed an extension with them and OKC could be the team that changes the landscape of the NBA. The days of star players needing to play in big markets might be changing. One thing is for sure, if Kevin Durant and OKC can beat the Dallas Mavericks then we could be in store for the small market boys beating one of the big market giants in June.