#BlakeGriffin

I have never seen a better dunk in my life. What Blake Griffin did to Kendrick Perkins is unreal. My early prediction is that dunk will be remembered forever. His one over Mozgov would’ve been.

Blake Griffin’s dunks are different. Not only does he jump over you, but he pushes you down thus propeling upward. It’s a double edged sword.

Timofey Mosgov got bailed out tonight. He just gave that weight on shoulders to Kendrick Perkins and then some. Mosgov’s legacy would have been “That Russian guy who got dunked on by Blake Griffin.” Now he might just slip through the jokes, be forgotten, and get away with a Perkins’ winning lottery ticket.

And also, that’s the biggest news out right now. Yes ESPN.com should lead with the Clippers Thunder highlight, but I don’t really care who won if it’s overshadowed by something so insane.

The picture’s caption (the picture changed to Blake Griffin in the midst of this post) on ESPN.com’s homepage should say something like “Blake Griffin’s Dunk of the Year Steals the Show” or something newsy-corny like that.

Great tweet by @NBAPlayerlolz: Inside sources report that Kendrick Perkins has approved Timofey Mozgov as his friend on facebook.

On a personal note, seeing that at at 12:56am was a pretty sweet way to start my birthday ­čÖé

Why the Pro Bowl is Exciting to Watch

“The Pro Bowl is a joke” is the near unanimous opinion of the NFL’s All-Star Game. I hear it on ESPN, I hear it on campus, and I read it online. There are few fans who root hardcore one way or the other, there is no effort from the defense, and the players barely care who wins.

I think it’s the season’s most fun game to watch.

Yes, given the nominal effort you can barely call it a football game, however it gives you the opportunity to see things you never see in the regular season.

On the AFC’s first possession, Ben Roethlisberger goes for it on 4th & 4 from midfield. In a sport where violence dominates, it’s refreshing to watch these testosterone based mammoths of men take a step back and have fun. I embrace the 60 minute goof-off game. The players are relaxed and you get to see another side of them.

How often do you see gadget plays, onside kicks, and multiple laterals all in one game? …let alone all in the first quarter.

In sports, the more the players are emotionally invested, the more hype the game gets. It’s one of sports’ few laws. Some examples:

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Geographic and Division Rivals – Major Hype
NFC/AFC Championships: Super Bowl Bid at Stake – Major Hype
Mariners vs. Rays October 4th to determine AL wild card – Major Hype
Mariners vs. Rays October 4th to determine nothing – who cares

Since there’s minimal player emotional investment (a few thousand dollars more for winning), the Pro Bowl roles around and the prequel storyline is “who cares.”

But I look at it from the “what am I going to see next” angle. It makes 4th & longs interesting – there’s a realistic chance I’m going to see 49ers’ punter Andy Lee try to run for a first down on 4th & 17. Who doesn’t want to see Sebastian Janikowski fake a 60 yard filed goal and go vertical. He probably wouldn’t convert, but how cool would it be if he did?

The Pro Bowl is underrated because it elicits a different type of excitement. You won’t see big hits, you won’t see much effort, and you will see a lot of scoring, but Pro Bowl ratings would soar if ESPN heavily advertised “What Will You See This Year?”

The final score yesterday was 59-41 in favor of the AFC. How often do you see 100 points scored in an NFL game?

If you were flipping through channels and you saw the AFC winning 77-23 and driving up the field late in the fourth quarter, would you watch? I probably would.

It’s different, it’s relaxed, and it’s entertaining. Sign me up for next year.

If you completely disagree, let me know in the comments. I want to hear from the other side.

How the Media Literally Killed Joe Paterno

Back in November, I posted my “Tiger Woods write-up” that argued Tiger Woods’ failure to win another tournament would be the saddest story in sports history. Right on cue, Woods won the Chevron World Challenge two weeks later.

Even if Tiger Woods never had another top 20 finish, his story would forever be dwarfed by Joe Paterno’s.

Remember the bully in your elementary school who picked on the weakest kid to raise his/her self esteem? Today’s media is the adult version. “Let’s pick on the most popular name of the group at fault so we can get the most attention to our media outlet.”

With that said, here’s my opinion of the people who are most responsible for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, from top to bottom:

Jerry Sandusky……………………………………………………Accused of child misconduct
Tim Curley & Gary Schultz…………………………………….I’ll mention these men later
Joe Paterno…………..Told administrators, not police, what McQueary said he saw Mike McQueary………………..Witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy

This is the order of people I thought got the most attention on ESPN and other news programs. If you disagree, let me know in the comments:

Joe Paterno
Jerry Sandusky
Mike McQueary
Tim Curley and Gary Schultz

You may not know who Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are – and that’s not your fault, because they received barely any attention. The former Penn State athletic director and former university vice president, respectively, were legally responsible for informing police about the situation Joe Paterno had told them. They did not. Paterno’s legal responsibility was to inform university administrators, which he did.

I want to clarify I am not pardoning Joe Paterno of fault. I’m not arguing he shouldn’t have gone to police instead of solely his direct contact. However, he is one of two people (Mike McQueary) of the five listed above who legally did what he was supposed to do.

After the scandal, I believe ESPN and other media outlets focused a disproportionate amount of negative attention on the Penn State head coach because of his iconic reputation, which gave their stories more “juice.”

This article by ESPN’s Jemele Hill summarizes what ESPN drove into overkill – that Joe Paterno should have gone to police, not just university administrators. The argument is sound, but received far too much attention compared to the attention on the fact Jerry Sandusky should not “sodomize a ten-year-old boy.”

But our 24/7 media frenzy attacked the head coach for not informing police, and many people were calling for Paterno’s firing. The sudden negative attention put Penn State in an awkward position, and only four days later made the loud decision to let go of the man who started as an assistant coach 61 years earlier.

When the national majority was calling for the firing of coach Paterno, I think this was Penn State’s thought process:

“The media says the nation wants him fired. Our reputation is in serious danger. If we want to preserve our reputation, it’s in our best interest to give the nation what they want, and as quickly as possible.”

We live in a country so scared to be politically incorrect, especially on a large-scale. The politically correct thing to do in this situation was fire Joe Paterno. It didn’t matter he was the longest tenured major college football coach in the nation nor he devoted almost three-quarters of his life to the program.

On November 9th, Joe Paterno was fired via a phone call from Steve Garban, chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees. Less than two weeks later, he was admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center because of lung cancer.

Just over two months after news broke over Paterno’s treatable form of cancer, he develops “minor” complications, then dies only days later.

My gut tells me Joe Paterno would still be alive if the media handled the situation with a more patient and softer approach. Joe Paterno experienced first hand what it’s like to have a large proportion of the country against you.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who sat down with Paterno during a three-way interview at State College in July, mimics these thoughts in a recent interview with ESPN’s Rece Davis. At 2:34 he says, “I wish (this) whole thing would have been handled differently. I think how it was handled certainly had an impact on his longevity of life.”

An 85-year old man who only knew love and support was abruptly thrust into the inescapable snake pit of the media blacklist. Then, the same man who three weeks earlier coached his football team to their seventh straight win, discovered he had lung cancer.

Joe Paterno’s death on Sunday closed the book on a legend. He cannot return from this tragedy to come back and coach his team to a national title. He will not be around if new developments show he was less at fault. Unlike Tiger Woods,┬á he does not have the potential to rise back to the top. Unlike Tiger Woods, Joe Paterno did not commit an act of wrongdoing.

Without undermining the irreversible damage he did to those young boys, Jerry Sandusky destroyed a legend. A man who’s final game was scripted to be the most celebrated moment in college football history, a man who devoted his life to the growth of young players and their university, a man who forewent a normal retirement to continue working the one job he’s ever loved, was villianized then let go seemingly in one fell swoop because of the work of a monster. This modern day Iago has done more damage to more people than we may ever know.

My professor Phil Anastasia said it best today: Joe Paterno was Jerry Sandusky’s last victim.

This Shakespearean tragedy is so incredible because it combines one of the greatest heroes and greatest falls reality can construe. Empty from loneliness and dejection, we watched the biggest rockstar in college football slowly die more every day for ten weeks. We saw how a broken heart may eat away at one’s desire to live.

A human being, a husband, a father, I believe Joe Paterno is a tangible example of how modern media literally killed a man.

It’s Time to Fire Mike D’Antoni – Here’s Why

The Knicks are playing .500 basketball since Carmelo Anthony came to the Knicks last February and .500 basketball since acquiring the most prized free agent, Tyson Chandler, this offseason.

That’s unacceptable. Here’s three reasons why the New York Knicks need a new head coach.

1) Defense Wins Championships

Of the last ten NBA champions, nine have finished in the top ten in defense during the regular season. Five have finished in the top three. Mike D’Antoni is notorious for his “All Offense, No Defense” coaching system. D’Antoni’s Suns lead the league in scoring from 2004-2007, but never made it further than the Western Conference Finals. While “the best defense is a good offense” is a popular aphorism, it doesn’t work in the NBA.

In the nine full seasons Mike D’Antoni has been a head coach, he has finished in the bottom three in defense six times. His teams have never allowed fewer than 102.8 points per game, yet no NBA champion since the 1995 Rockets has allowed more than 97.2 points per game.

2) Too much indecision

In a less objective argument, the Knicks have no fluidity right now. In their embarrassing loss two nights ago to (ironically) the Phoenix Suns, I saw a lot of stuttering instead of playing, watching instead of moving, and thinking instead of reacting. The Knicks are playing like they have too many superstars – a 60 minute game of roullete, “OK lets give it to Amar’e in the post, then Carmelo on the wing, then Amar’e for an elbow jumper…”

Before Carmelo came to the Knicks, there was more motion. The Knicks let the game come to them instead of trying to force the action. They need to get back to those fundamentals, and I think D’Antoni is too lost to do so.

3) Amar’e and Carmelo do not fit into the “seven seconds or less offense”

D’Antoni preaches shooting the ball – every shot is a good shot. It works when Steve Nash is your orchestrator, but not with the Knicks’ inexperienced backcourt. Telling Carmelo Anthony to shoot! shoot! shoot! is like letting a bull loose in a china shop. D’Antoni’s system fails to regulate Anthony’s shot selection – hence we see Carmelo pulling up for contested 18 foot jumpers instead of working off the ball for the better shot.

Carmelo is shooting 41% from the field this year, his worst output since his rookie season.

Comparably, Amar’e is best off the dribble or when he’s open for an elbow J. For either one of those things to happen, you need to let plays develop – you need to settle into the half court offense, which the Knicks rarely do.

Lastly, Amar’e’s knees will give out. I don’t know when, but he won’t be playing basketball at 35 (in 2019). Amar’e Stoudemire is a beast of a man, yet injury prone. He wears goggles every game because of a retina injury he suffered in Phoenix, his knees are weak and his lower back is a time bomb. In a system that requires constant running, a more relaxed offense would mean more minutes for Amar’e and more effective play from the Knicks’ superstars. In this condensed season, this point is magnified.

Hopefully the Knicks will be getting Baron Davis back soon. His experience at point guard and ability to shoot the three are just what the Knicks need, but I’m not convinced he’s the savior of the franchise. The Knicks will win more games with Baron Davis than without him, but they won’t be a better team – they’ll be a less worse team. As mentioned earlier, Mike D’Antoni does not have a winning system. Even if Baron Davis stays healthy (he won’t), the Knicks are destined at best for the four seed in the Eastern Conference, and if they’re lucky a second round exit.

Why not promote defensive specialist Mike Woodson to the head coaching position? Anthony and Stoudemire are elite on the offensive side – it’s their defense that needs work. If Woodson can round off their game on the defensive side, then you have a realistic chance to compete for an NBA title.

The Colts Front Office is Making Bad Moves

J-E-T-S. Peyton Manning might be there next season.

My second post ever in this blog talked about the importance of Peyton Manning to the Indianapolis Colts: what is Manning’s WAR (wins after replacement).

The Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 without their star quarterback in 2011, only their second losing season since Manning’s rookie season in 1998. Arguably the best quarterback in the league, would the Colts be a playoff contending team had he not been hurt?

I think the Colts are a nine-win team this year with Peyton Manning, meaning Peyton Manning’s War would be around 7.0, guesstimating he is responsible for 44% of his team’s wins.

To put that in perspective, according to baseball-reference.com, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp led the MLB with a 10.0 WAR, meaning he was responsible for 6.2% of his team’s wins. Granted, there’s no one position in sports more important than a quarterback, but the distance between percentages is too big to ignore.

With that said, I disagree with the Colts’ shakeup this offseason. Head Jim Caldwell, Vice Chairman Bill Polian, and General Manager Chris Polian have all been fired this month. The front office looks at a 2-14 record, but what can you expect when arguably the best player in the league is sidelined for the season.

Now that the damage is done, Peyton Manning will be on another team next season. Manning disclosed his disappointment in candid and honest remarks made after the firings of the Polians. In a system where repetition and comfort were crucial to Manning’s success, I think we’ll find Manning asking for a trade sometime before or immediately following April’s draft. The Colts have already said they plan to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick.

Why not the Jets? A team with equal amounts of disunity and chaos, the Jets’ quarterback situation is in dire straits for a shake-up. Multiple players have called out Mark Sanchez for his work ethic and contentment, and after a disappointing 2011 campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets are in the running for Peyton Manning.

I think the Colts should have kept their front office and head coach, picked Andrew Luck, and let him observe Peyton Manning for two years. Let him spend some time in the “minor leagues.” Peyton has at least two years left, and it would have made for a smooth transition. Even if Peyton was flat out against tutoring Luck…Aaron Rodgers still turned out pretty well.

The Giants are in the NFC Championship Game. hhhhhwat?

The Giants are playing with house money. In August, no one thought Big Blue would still be alive midway through January. You didn’t, and neither did I. Since then, Giants fans learned who Victor Cruz is, the Giants proved you can lose four straight in the second half of the season and still control your own destiny, and Eli Manning may have finally tattooed his name into the “elite quarterback” category – a fraternity I thought he pledged his way into three years ago.

The “may have” in that previous sentence is tentative to change. If the Giants win it all in the 2011 season, you can remove it altogether. That four star gold “C” means he’s the man in charge.

It’s not how good of a team you are, but how good you are for the 60 minutes on the field.

The Giants are not a better team than the Packers. If the two teams played ten times, I think Green Bay would win seven. However, in a blessing in disguise, the Giants got injured at the right time. Osi Umenyiora’s perfectly timed injury got him back just in time for a tune up game in week 17. The whole Giants team seemed to come back just as the regular season was ending as well.

In my previous post I had zero trust in my team to make any noise this postseason. Just over a month ago I watched a struggling football team look weak in the secondary, uphill on the ground, and a clueless on special teams.

Then finally and out of nowhere, the one constant – Peyton’s younger brother, finally finds his team. The defense (and especially the secondary) picked up, the running game reappeared, and Eli’s wide-receivers think they’re some of the best in the league. The Giants still have no special teams unit… but I can live without that, so long as you play solid on offense and defense.

And who’s been on and off the hot seat more than Tom Coughlin? He pushes the New York Giants’ fans and front office to the brink. In 2007 the Giants started 0-2, and were down 17-3 at the half to the Washington Redskins in week 3. I’m convinced if the Giants lost that game Coughlin was gone. I’m also convinced if Coughlin didn’t win week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys he was gone. Somehow he finds a way to rally his troops just in time. My previous post talked about how Coughlin would be gone by the end of January – I’m still not 100% sure he’s safe, but it looks that way.

Now the Giants play the 49ers, a team they showed they can beat back in week 10. They held a one point lead going into the fourth quarter. Granted, they now face the tall task of beating Alex Smith and Co. in SanFran, but again, it’s not how good of a team you are, but how good you are at the right time. That’s why the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 and why the 1980 Olympic Hockey team won gold.

Eli has been here before. He’s a quarterback entering the prime of his career, yet with Super Bowl experience under his belt. Will the Giants again hold up their Road Warrior mantra? Will Alex Smith lead the New York Knicks of football to a championship game (a team that’s usually so good but out of nowhere becomes terrible for ten years)?

Who knows… in five years, you may refer to Peyton as Eli’s older brother.