Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten of my Favorite Dramatic Sports Moments

Welcome all to another Tha Weatha Report. This is a special edition. Sunday afternoon I sat back and watched one of the most exciting sporting events in recent memory as the U.S. women's soccer team came from behind to defeat the women of Brazil in penalty kicks. It was a game that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. After seeing so many people talk about great and dramatic sporting moments, I started thinking about the great sport moments that I have witnessed. There are a ton of them, but I decided to compile a list of my ten favorite. But before I unleash my memories on the world, let's hit the storm!!!!

Quick Hail Storm
1. Big props once again to the U.S. women's team. What....a....game!!!
2. Congrats once again to Derek Jeter for becoming the newest member to the 3000 hit club. Also, tons of respect to the fan that caught the ball and gave it back to Mr. Yankee. It was the right thing to do because Jeter did deserve the ball. 

3. I'm not too concerned about multiple NBA all stars going overseas to play if this lockout extends into the regular season. Players like LeBron, D-Wade, Carmelo, Dwight Howard, and others have plenty of ways to supplement their incomes due to endorsements. Going overseas and risking injuries is not needed for them. 

10 Of My Favorite Sports Moments

These moments are in no particular order. I just chose ten of them and went from there. 

1. Brandi Chastain's World Cup winning goal in 1999. I remember watching this while I was in Jamaica that year. Great moment. 

2. Mark McGwire's 62nd home run. I remember sitting at home watching the game and going nuts when he hit it. My favorite baseball player breaking a hallow record. Great moment. 
3. Michael Jordan's "final" shot against the Utah Jazz. Not much else needs to be said about this one. I might have actually cried tears of happiness when this happened. 

4. Joe Carter's World Series winning home run against the Phillies. I won't lie, this is probably my favorite one of all time. I still get goosebumps watching this.

5. Tiger Woods hitting the putt to force a playoff in the U.S. Open in 2008 I believe. Another dramatic moment that I love.

6. As a devoted 49ers fan, I had to include The Catch II: Steve Young to Terrell Owens. Finally getting over that Green Bay Packers hurdle.

7. Vince Young in the Rose Bowl. 4th and 5, with the National Championship on the line. I was in a Dave & Busters in San Antonio watching this go down.

8. Scott Norwood. A name that makes Buffalo Bills' fans cringe. I remember before Super Bowl XXV telling a friend of mine that the Bills would lose because of a field goal. When he asked me why I said that, I told him because I remember how inconsistent Norwood was the entire season. You can call me Nostradamus....

9. Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record. Not only that, but hitting a home run in the game. Dramatic and exciting moments.

10. Christian Laettner hitting the game winning shot for Duke against Kentucky. Still one of my favorite moments when it comes to college hoops. Doesn't hurt that I'm an avid Duke fan does it?

Well, those are just ten of my favorite moments. Please feel free to share yours. I'm sure that we all have moments that we look back on with fond memories. It is what unites the world. Great moments that we all can look back and say, "I remember what I was doing when that happened!"

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yao Ming: Hall of Famer?

Welcome to another rousing edition of your favorite sports blog, Tha Weatha Report. In today's edition we will be discussing the sad bit of news about Yao Ming hanging up his shoes and retiring from the game. The injuries were just too much for the big man to overcome. We will dive into whether or not Yao is destined for the Hall of Fame or not. But before we do, you know the drill. Hail Storm time!

Quick Hail Storm

1. Extremely sad news concerning the fan who fell to his death at the Texas Rangers' game. I pray for peace and calmness for his family in this time of need. 

2. Hines Ward is an unlikely player to be in the NFL police blotter. In my opinion it is just another reason why the players and the owners need to quickly resolve their issues and end this lockout. When good character players are getting in trouble, you know it's time for things to get done. 

3. The Ohio State University's self-imposed sanctions should be enough to do the trick. I don't foresee the NCAA coming down with harsher penalties. Sad that they felt the need to throw Jim Tressel under the bus though. 

4. Alex Rodriguez has a tear in his meniscus. He doesn't seem to be aging as well as people assumed he would. I know that the first thought that goes through people's minds is that his steroid use is causing his body a quick decline. Could be. 

The Ming Dynasty 

Upon hearing the news that Yao Ming is retiring, I became reflective. I remember when Yao was the first pick in the 2002 NBA draft. I remember that first match-up he had with Shaquille O'Neal and all the hype that surrounded it. Now, evidently his run is over. This means that out of the top five players selected in that draft, only Mike Dunleavy and Drew Gooden are still playing. Yao is retired, the number two pick was Jay Williams who suffered that horrific career ending motorcycle accident, and the number five pick was Nikoloz Tskitishvilli who just wasn't good enough to cut it in the NBA. Turned out to be an unfortunately bad draft. 

But that's not to say that Yao Ming wasn't dominate when he played. On the contrary, he was one of the best centers in the league when he was healthy. In Yao's first three years in the league he averaged 16.4 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Numbers that any team would love to have from their starting center. In Yao's fourth year he broke through and averaged a double-double with 22.3 ppg and 10.2 rpg. Ah, but here is where the catch starts. That year, Yao only played in 57 games. From that point on the big man from China could not stay healthy. Yao's games played in totals for the rest of his career where 48, 55, 77, 0, and finally 5 for the 2010-2011 season. That's almost three seasons worth of games lost in five years. When Yao played, he was a beast and was one of the most effective players in the league with a player efficiency rating of around 23.0 per season. It is too bad that injuries robbed us of watching him for more time. 

After the news broke of the retirement, I received a couple of emails and facebook posts asking what I thought of Yao's Hall of Fame chances. I instantly thought of Bill Walton. Big Red out of UCLA who went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Boston Celtics, but who had the majority of his career robbed from him by injuries just like Yao. In a ten year career Bill Walton could've played in 820 regular season games, he ended up playing in 468. A little more than half. In Yao's nine year career he could've played in a total of 738 games. He played in 486. Remember that Yao lost the entire 2009-2010 season due to injury. Essentially Yao played in almost 66% of the possible games. More than Walton. So besides that, how do their careers stack up? Well, let's check it out. 

Walton was a two time NBA champion. A NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP in 1977. A two time NBA All-Star. Two time NCAA champion and a three time Naismith College Player of the Year. A decorated and dominate big man when he was healthy. Yao did not attend college so Walton's college accomplishments obviously dwarf that time period of Yao's life. However, Yao Ming was an eight time NBA All-Star and three time FIBA Asian Championship MVP. The all star berths can be a little misleading as Yao's massive following from his homeland China fans always gave him an advantage in that voting. Overall though, Yao was a good player who deserved at least most of those all star berths. 

Walton averaged a double-double for his career with 13.3 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Yao comes in with career averages of 19.0 ppg and 9.3 rpg. What we get out of these numbers is that Yao Ming and Bill Walton were two highly effective centers who scored and rebounded like big men are supposed to. 

The Naismith Hall of Fame is the highest honor for a basketball player. It recognizes individuals who have achieved a certain amount of success and/or individuals who have made significant contributions to the game of basketball. Using this criteria is Yao Ming a Hall of Famer? I would say yes. The man bridged the cultural gap between the United States and China as well as helped the NBA become widely popular in his home country. His numbers compare favorably to that of one Bill Walton, who is himself in the Hall of Fame. While the Hall of Fame is not completely transparent on how they select individuals, it is clear to me that Yao Ming has the numbers and has made significant contributions to the game. If the Naismith Hall of Fame follows it's own stated guidelines, then expect to see Yao Ming enshrined at some point in the future. 

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki's Place Amongst Forwards Part 2

Back from vacation, and I must say it was needed. Welcome once again to another edition of Tha Weatha Report. I'll be your host for this adventure. For today's column we will finish up the debate on where Dirk Nowitzki falls when it comes to a few other players at his position. But first, let's hit The Hail Storm shall we? 

Quick Hail Storm

1. David Haye was supposed to be the man to re-ignite the Heavyweight Division in boxing. Instead he was the man who effectively put the final nail in the division's coffin. Blaming the loss on a broken pinky toe? Pathetic. 

2. I've never been a Yankees or Derek Jeter fan, but he gets much respect and credit for his upcoming 3,000 hit. It is an exclusive club, and I still can't believe no other Yankee has made it to that plateau. 

3. Not excited about the MLB All-Star game. Seems like there are close to 80 players who get selected, drop out, and replaced in the game. One player from each team? Sad. Should be a showcase of the game's best, not a little league game where everyone has to play. 

4. Michael Beasley still hasn't gotten it yet has he? Busted for (allegedly) having marijuana in his possession? Wake up Beasley. You have the chance to be a real force in this league and instead you're letting your talents literally go up in smoke.

Nowitzki Part Deux

For those of you new to this argument let me give you a quick back brief. This whole issue arose due to an ongoing debate I encountered with a few individuals who had the opinion that Dirk Nowitzki was the best power forward of all-time after he lead his Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title. I countered and offered the opinion that he could in no way be better than Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, or Larry Bird. There were people who saw my point of view, and some who didn't. So I decided to dig up some numbers, and see if I could prove once and for all where Dirk Nowitzki fell amongst other power forwards in NBA history. 
Now, I'm not saying that my opinion is fact or is 100% right. It is an OPINION. It is MINE and mine alone. I am going to present some numbers (gathered from www.basketball-reference.com) and you can form your own opinion. Feel free to check out part 1 of this debate in the archive section of Tha Weatha Report. Without further ado, let's dive into this debate and settle this once and for all. 

Before getting into the actual numbers, let's discuss which categories I am going to use. I will also explain the columns so that everyone is on the same page. 

MVP Shares = The MVP share number is calculated through a formula that is used to come up with a number that is supposed to give a likelihood of a player being selected to the Hall of Fame. The player with the #1 MVP share of all time is Michael Jordan with a 8.138 share. 

Player Efficiency Rating = This number was created by ESPN.com columnist John Hollinger. Basically it sums up a player's positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative "accomplishments", and returns a per minute rating of a player's performance. The player with the #1 PER is Michael Jordan with a rating of 27.91. 

True Shooting Pct = This percentage is a measure of a player's shooting efficiency that takes field goals, 3 point field goals, and free throws into account. 

Usage Pct = This percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while on the floor. Basically means how often a team relies on a player to put the ball in the basket. 

Win Shares = This is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player. Obviously the higher the number, the more wins that player had a direct hand in. The all time leader in this category is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 273.41.

There are a ton of stats that anyone could use in this debate, these are the ones I am going with. Let's see what the numbers say. 

In part 2 of this debate the players I will be using are Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, and of course Dirk Nowitzki. These are all players who are thought of as power forwards and I feel that their numbers can be compared and contrasted. 

MVP Shares

Barkley: 2.438

Bird: 5.693

Duncan: 4.205

K. Malone: 4.296

M. Malone: 2.873

Nowitzki: 1.801

Looking at the numbers we see that Larry Bird has the highest MVP share, followed by K. Malone, and Duncan. Moses Malone, Barkley, and Nowitzki bring up the rear. Not surprisingly, Larry Bird was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. All of the retired players on the list have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Only time will tell if Nowitzki will be, but as you can see his numbers are substantially lower than the others.


Barkley: 24.6

Bird: 23.5

Duncan: 24.8

K. Malone: 23.9

M. Malone: 22.0

Nowitzki: 23.7

Looking at the efficiency numbers and we see that the players are relatively close in rating. Nowitzki clocks in at 4th ahead of Larry Bird and M. Malone. This was surprising to me as I didn't expect to see Dirk being more efficient than Larry Legend. Major props to Nowitzki for that as it shows that while he is on the floor that he values every possession. Being 4th in this category amongst this group is nothing to be ashamed of. Not surprisingly Tim Duncan aka The Big Fundamental tops this category. The man seems to always be effective when he's on the floor.

True Shooting Pct 

Barkley: 61.2%

Bird: 56.5%

Duncan: 53.7%

K. Malone: 57.7%

M. Malone: 57.0%

Nowitzki: 58.3%

This was the category that I expected Dirk to shine. It is common knowledge that if nothing else, Nowitzki is one of the best shooters to ever touch a basketball. The man is nearly automatic from the free throw line, shoots a very high percentage from inside the arc, and behind the arc the man is a sniper. He places 2nd in this group in this category with Barkley having a higher percentage. Let's be honest here, being an overall 58% shooter is an amazing thing. Especially when you are factoring in free throws and 3s. I'll be perfectly candid and say that if the game is on the line and I needed one shot and I had to choose one of these players that I'm taking Nowitzki. The man has proven that he can put the ball in the hoop, and that is range starts when he enters the arena. 

Usage Pct

Barkley: 24.8%

Bird: 26.5%

Duncan: 27.8%

K. Malone: 29.4%

M. Malone: 25.3%

Nowitzki: 27.0%

So, what do these numbers prove? That all of these players were relied on by their teams. With 5 players on the floor for a team, an average number would be 20% for each one. Each one of these guys are above that number, topping out with The Mailman at 29.4% Nowitzki's number is very high which shows that he does carry more than his weight for the Dallas Mavericks. This is a big factor as a star player is expected to be the go to man for his team. Not only does Nowitzki put the ball in the hoop at a high rate, but he does carry the team on his back. He came in 3rd in this category behind Karl Malone and Tim Duncan, two men who are well known for being the workhorses on their respective teams.
Win Shares

Barkley: 177.2

Bird: 145.8

Duncan: 170.0

K. Malone: 234.6

M. Malone: 179.2
Nowitzki: 161.3

This had to be the most surprising category for me. I expected higher numbers from Larry Bird. After doing more digging, the reason for the low number can be attributed to the fact that Bird had so much help around him. Kevin McHale (fellow Hall of Famer), Robert Parish (Hall of Famer), Dennis Johnson (you guessed it, Hall of Famer), etc. It's easier to spread the wealth around when you have so much talent. The Mailman had the highest number in this list and has the 3rd highest total in NBA history. It's important to remember that Malone had one other impact player on his team during his years in Utah, that being John Stockton. Nowitzki's numbers in this category is next to the lowest, only ahead of Larry Bird's. I will reserve placing too much judgement on this category for Nowitzki because he still has a few years left in his NBA career. However, it is important to note that at this point his numbers are lower than the others. 

After looking at these numbers and comparing and contrasting, I think that it is clear that the numbers speak for themselves. Dirk Nowitzki is obviously a player that the Mavericks have always relied heavily on. He is a great shooter who carries his weight and has carried Dallas for his entire tenure. However, is he really the greatest power forward in NBA history? I think not. Please feel free to disagree. I love a good debate. 

Thanks for reading this edition, and continue to support the column and website. Please take the time to "like" the website on Facebook. Thanks and be on the lookout for the next Tha Weatha Report. Until next time, Tha Weatha Man is signing out.