Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Atlanta to Winnipeg

Just some points to make based on listening to the hockey experts and fans calling in for the last couple of hours on NHL Home Ice on my XM radio.
  • The Thrashers fans are saying they supported the team as well as could be expected given the fact they never had a winner to support.
  • I'm sure ownership was disappointed with declining season ticket sales.  The Thrasher season ticket holders are saying, "Why buy season tickets when you could get the seat next to yours for half price whenever you wanted to go to a game."
  • The Thrashers fans point out that ownership didn't keep their best players -- Kovalchuk, Heatley, Marc Savard, et al -- nor obviously spent the money for good supporting players.
  • The Thrashers never won a playoff game in their existence.
  • The Thrashers were owned by the same owners of the Atlanta Hawks, who Thrasher fans contend was the team the owners really cared about.
Given the above points and others I may be missing or forgetting, it is easy to be sympathetic toward Thrashers fans.  I'd also make this point in their support:  Consistently competitive teams bring fans to games, no matter where.  Could we be talking about the Sharks moving from San Jose if they haven't had good ownership and player personnel people keeping that team competitive?  Probably.  Look at the city of Toronto as another comparison.  Toronto is an enormous city with great sports fans.  The Blue Jays were the first franchise to hit four million fans in a season, this in a stadium that holds just over 50,000.  Now after 15 years of mediocrity, the Blue Jays draw about 20,000 a game.

So their points are well taken and we'll never know how good a hockey town Atlanta could have been but this very large point also needs to be considered:  They have had 20 years of excellent, competitive and championship baseball in Atlanta but I don't think it's unfair to say the region is still fairly apathetic toward the Braves.

On a side note:  It was mentioned that Winnipeg getting an NHL team is great for the fans of that area as well as fans of other small Canadian NHL markets.  Why?  The point was made that if a team had gone to Hamilton, apparently a high revenue market, it could serve to drive up player salaries and put the Winnipegs of the NHL in profit peril all over again.  I just found that interesting.

PS:  This move makes my ticket stub from seeing the Thrashers play the Bruins in 2007 a lot cooler.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Prima Donna Team To Go!

The Dallas Mavericks have become the Western Conference Champions of the NBA for the 2nd time in franchise history.  And in doing so, they have confounded the experts that predicted the First round exit of said Mavericks.  They went through Portland, exiled the Lakers and wore out the Thunder.  Now they await the winner of the Bulls-Heat series out East to win their 1st NBA Championship.

Take a look at the 1st 3 games of the Western Conference Finals.  That is how the Mavericks are going to have to play.  Most people, myself included, will be expecting the Cuban Whistle Crisis Part II.  Especially if the whiners from South Beach are playing.  So expect the opponent to get 10 to 15 more free throws each and every game than the Mavericks do.  Hell, the officials were inventing calls on the Mavs in the Western Finals.  They invented calls in the '06 Finals.  Why?  One person.  The best owner in the NBA bar none, Mark Cuban.  That isn't a conspiracy theory.  That is fact.

The Oklahoma City Thunder had a great year, and they will be tough for the next couple of years.  However, I don't see them getting over the hump in winning a Championship.  Why?  Egos and Maturity.  And when those problems are gone, then Free Agency will have split this team up.  There are some fine young players on the team.  Westbrook, Durant, and Harden especially.  They need to work on execution and leadership during the game for next year.  Also, Scott Brooks will improve on the bench.  They have a future of perennial playoff contenders.

Monday, May 09, 2011

One Prima Donna Team Down...

It became abundantly clear on Sunday that the Dallas Mavericks were the better team this year than the Los Angeles Lakers. All I heard from Lakers fans during the first 3 games of this series was how the Lakers were tired and just gave the games away. To that, I say that conclusion in incorrect. When a team can hang around until 6 minutes left in the game and then outwork, outplay, and outshoot you to win the game, they are the better team. The Lakers couldn't execute in the final minutes not because they didn't want to, but the Mavericks had a better scheme and better execution of their gameplan.

A couple of observations from Game 4. To stop Dallas, you need to bother their shooters from the 3-point line. If you play the matador defense on the Mavericks, the penetration will have the effect of opening up the 3 point barrage that the Mavericks like to employ. Pressure the Point and having defensive rotation is necessary unless you hope the Mavs are cold in their shooting. The last 6 games that they have played, they haven't gone ice cold. They have won all 6. Might not be the best plan.

The Mavericks played around with zone defenses during much of the 1st half of the season and that has given them an advantage now. Why? Because of the less beating and banging of their bodies. If you are playing a 2-3 zone, your players aren't sitting there banging for position all the time with the opponent. It also made their team one of the most cardio fit teams in the league. You have the guards running from side to side, the Forwards moving in and out covering the corners and the post. How can you not improve your cardio in doing that defense.

The final thing for the Mavs is that the talent level on that team is outrageous. The rotation is one of the best 3 in the league. And that is without Caron Butler out for the season. You have 8 players on this team that could be stars for other teams. Not all would be the 1st scoring option, but they could be nice starters for playoff teams. And Rick Carlisle has them playing as a team, not like a bunch of individuals like the Lakers.

Speaking of the Lakers, way to lose like Chumps. Lamar Odom decided that he would revert to his early NBA days and forearm Dirk's chest. That got him tossed. Then the serial flagrant foul person, Andrew Bynum tried to break JJ Barea's ribs with a nice elbow right under the right arm. The NBA should announce on Tuesday that Odom has been fined $40,000 and suspended for the next 2 games of next year's regular season. For Bynum, he has a long history of doing this. give him $90,000 and 8 games. And I can't forget Kobe. Um, Mr. I am the greatest in the world, don't continue to say that the Lakers just handed games to the Mavericks. They came out and did what a champion does. They looked you straight in the eye and beat your ass out on that court. If you want to see how to react civilly to losses, use the Mavericks exits over the past 5 years as your guide.

Goodbye and Good Luck to Phil Jackson. I didn't like the teams that he coached and their dynasties, but you have to give credit to the man. He can coach and he walks into situations where the talent is there and just needs motivation. 11 titles is outstanding and he deserves to be on the Mt. Rushmore of professional basketball coaches. Maybe we won't hear about how the referees are calling it against his team if he is etched in stone.

Finally, I am sure that in the next couple of days we are going to hear the soap opera that is the Lakers ad nauseum throughout the news and all the problems that this team had. Great. Kobe and Pau don't like each other. Bynum feels like nobody likes him. Odom sulks in the locker room. Shannon Brown is convinced that he is a star. Same with Mat Barnes. Bring out all the stories and it doesn't change a thing. The Lakers had the talent to win the NBA Championship, they just didn't have the team.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Jack Edwards: Patriot or Unhinged?

I will say this, I didn't know where Jack went after ESPN. Now I know, up into New England where he is doing commentary that is a little strange. This is Jack's commentary with some illustrations from tauntr.com.