Friday, 20 June 2014

Best team ever? Who cares, time for more LeBron.

In reality, we all may have just witnessed the greatest TEAM ever to grace the floor of a basketball court in NBA history and five days after the San Antonio Spurs absolutely dismantled the Miami Heat, all we can talk about is what LeBron is going to do next. It is sickening.

Tim Duncan, the greatest PF of all time and arguably in the top five of greatest players of all time, is on the brink of retiring and yet all we can talk about is free agency. This a a legend that may never step foot on the court again and there are absolutely zero stories regarding what he may or may not do next year. All we have heard is a quote from Tony Parker saying he expects Duncan to return.

Well I am changing all of that right now. I am going to give credit where credit is do and put the spotlight on the team and players that really deserve it, the San Antonio Spurs. The team that built their way to a championship using pawns as opposed to buying "kings."

Just like last season, before this season, all the "experts" picked the Heat to make the finals again. Who would they play? Well obviously not the team that took them to seven games the year before and who should have won the finals. No way. They are too old. Just like they were before last season when absolutely nobody picked them to make the finals. Let's all pick the Thunder again. A team that still struggles to find its identity in the crunch moments and has a starting point guard that plays off pure emotion and would probably be a better fit playing the two guard. Let's ignore the fact that the Spurs have three future hall of famers and the best coach in the NBA, they are still too old. Did you hear Manu took the whole summer off from playing international ball to focus on this upcoming season? Yeah, but, uh, did you hear the Thunder signed Caron Butler?!?!?! He is like a fat unproven Manu. Thunder vs Heat. That's what everyone was saying before the season started. Once the season stared though, it all changed oh so quickly.

Everybody jumped on the Trailblazers bandwagon because obviously a ridiculously young team with no playoff experience is bound to usurp the likes of the Spurs and Thunder. The Trailblazers eventually came back down to earth and people realized their youth was a problem so they looked to the Clippers.

The Clippers arguably have the best team on paper and the second or third best coach in the NBA, they must be doing big things. All season long it was all about how the Spurs weren't as good and all the new western guns. I mean the Spurs kept losing to the top teams in the league, I think 0-9 vs the top ten teams at some point, so let's just count them out. All over ESPN and other sports networks the experts were saying how the Spurs just aren't athletic enough to play with the top tier teams. When are people going to realize the Pop doesn't play his best basketball in the regular season? Especially against the top teams? He knows they are going to make the playoffs so why show your hand in the regular season?

Fast forward through a 19 game win streak, which ultimately meant nothing to the experts because it was stopped by OKC, and we get to the playoffs. Of all the match-ups the Spurs could have drawn, they got their nightmare. The Dallas Mavericks. The in-state rival who are is too familiar with the Spurs. The Mavericks are one of those sub-par teams that Pop really doesn't need to hide anything from when playing during the regular season and as seen in the first round, that hurt them. The Mavs figured out the proper counter attack and they played great basketball keeping every single game close. Until game seven.

Game seven in the first round was a bit of a turning point for the Spurs. They knew they were good enough to get back to the finals and that if they wanted to get there, they were going to have to play Spurs basketball from there on out and by god they did it in emphatic passion.

The Spurs went on to finish the rest of the playoffs with a 12-4 record. Of those 12 wins, 11 of them came by at least fifteen points and in total averaged each win by 20 points. The one win that did not come by 15 or more was an overtime close out game vs the Thunder. A game in which Tony Parker didn't play the second half. In fact Tony Parker, regarded as the best player on the Spurs, was a complete non-factor in every close out game after the Mavs series. Against the Blazers and Thunder Parker didn't even play in the second half and against the Heat, in a game that was over by the start of the 4th, Parker was 1-11 until that fourth quarter. Let's see the Heat win any of their close-out games if LeBron doesn't show up. It doesn't happen, you know why? The Heat aren't nearly as good a TEAM.

Do the Heat fans chant M-V-P for anyone other than LeBron? No? The Spurs fans were heard chanting M-V-P for FIVE different players in their closeout game. Ginobili, Parker, Duncan, Diaw and Leonard all heard the chants from the crowd at some point during the game. Borris Diaw didn't even average double-digits in any statistical category in the playoffs yet he led the finals in PER rating.

The things that most annoys me is when all the people were saying, "What can the Heat do better? How are the Heat beating themselves?" NOTHING. The answer was NOTHING. In all actuality, if not for missed free-throws in game two, the Spurs should have swept this series. The Spurs won three games in the series and lost one. The Heat did not win a game and they didn't lose a game. You put any of the best teams in basketball history up against this Spurs team and I think the Spurs could beat them.

For the record, I am strictly talking about this years Spurs team in particular. The Bulls with Jordan were unstoppable for years and are easily the best dynasty of all time, but you take the 96  or 91 Bulls and put them in a seven games series against this Spurs team and you will have one hell of a barn burner for a series. Unfortunately it is an argument that can never be solved. Sure this years Spurs team was the most dominant in NBA Finals history statistically, but stats can only prove so much. We will never know for sure unless we can harbor the ability of time travel. In the meantime though, here are some stats to prove just how good the 2013-2014 Spurs were and how good Tim Duncan is. The best team of this generation and possibly all time and the best power forward of all time.


  • It was the Spurs 16th season of 50+ wins (15th straight season_
    • In the Duncan 17 years era the Spurs have not won 50 games once
      • It was a lockout year and they won the championship
  • Tim Duncan became the 2nd player in NBA history to win a championship in three separate decades
    • John Salley is the only other player to do so and you only know who he is if you LOVE basketball or grew up watching Celtics Post-game
  • Tim Duncan now holds the record for most playoff minutes (8,901) and most playoff double-doubles (158)
  • Tim Duncan has now made the playoffs in all 17 years of his career
    • Jordan went 16/18, Kobe is 15/18, Bill Russell was also perfect going 13/13
  • Duncan has 3 finals MVPs
    • Equal with Magic, one more than Bird and Kareem
  • The Spurs 52.8% field goal percentage was largest in finals history
    • In game three they set a record for 71 first half points and 75.8% shooting, both highest in NBA Finals history
  • Tony Parker averaged 17.4 points per game in the Finals, the lowest of a leading scorer in finals history. A true team effort. 
  • In a Finals that highlighted the Spurs scoring ability, not one Spur scored 30 or more points
    • The team has had five 30 point scorers in six Finals appearances
      • Shaq alone had six 30 point games in the 2001 finals
  • Four Spurs players averaged 14 points or more
  • The 70 point differential the Spurs posted is highest in finals history
  • In games three and four the Spurs beat the Heat by a combined 40 points on the Heats home courts. The largest two game defeat on an opponents floor in NBA history
Listen, I could go on, and on, and on about all the statistical record this Spurs team set but there are just too many to go through. The last thing I will throw out there is that the Spurs were first in total defense in the playoffs and second in total defense. They were first in assists and first in bench scoring by an astronomical amount. So please, stop talking about free agency for five minutes and SOMEBODY give this team some damn love. If any team deserves some of the spotlight for once, it is the Spurs. Even though you know, none of them want it. 


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Has the obsession gone too far?

Sports is everywhere you go. In television ads, in commercial ads and in particular for these next few weeks, it might as well be on every single television channel you try to put on. Starting today the sporting world has four incredible sports feats all happening at the same time. We have the NBA and NHL finals, the US Open tees off today and of course, the holy grail of them all, the World Cup gets crackin today as well.

So what does all this mean? Well for starters it means that people like me will pretty much be incommunicado for a little while. It means that even if you do try to communicate with people like me, the response will most likely be sent back in some sort of sports reference.

"Hey, what are you doing in 4 days?"

"Uhhh, well, Michael Bradley wears the number four and I like him as a player so I could probably free up some time for Michael Bradley's sake."

"That reasoning doesn't even make sense."

And it's true it doesn't, but it is how we think when sports are so prevalent in our lives. Why is that though? Why are we so obsessed with professional athletes? Ever since we were little kids on the playground we have been like this. Playing basketball on the fisher price hoops and taking the persona of your favorite player at the time.

"I get to be MJ!!"

Next thing you know you are in the jungle gym having your friend Freddie pretend stitch up your eye so you can play in the second half.

It is scary how much we know about sports too. Current events? Eh who needs them, I'm curious as to who is going to win the Nascar race at Dover this weekend. Name all 44 U.S. presidents? Nahhhh, name the top 10 left handed point guards with 5 or more letters in their first name? Game on. It's stupid, it really is, but it makes sports that much more enjoyable.

It is so bad that you even start measuring time based on sports. Somebody could tell you a tv show named Johnathan Creek has been going on for the last 17 years and your initial thought is, woahh that is Tim Duncan's entire career. You mean to tell me that this was going on back when Avery Johnson was running the point? It continued through the Robert Horry time? Michael Finley came and went and the Spurs swept the Cavs and all this was still happening? They lost in the Finals to the Heat came back and are a midst another series against them and the show is still going on?!?! That's a long time for a magic show in general, let alone a magic show nobody has even heard of.

I remember my Mom always used to say to me, "If you knew half as much about school work as you do sports, you would be a genius." It is probably true, but it just is not as interesting. Sports almost acts as an escape for us. We vicariously live through these athletes and share the same exuberance with a win and anguish with a loss as they do.

It makes us terrible people as well. Johnny Damon was one of the most beloved Red Sox players ever, the caveman, they called him. Then he made his way to the "Evil Empire" (that's right, we gave a team a nickname that we gave to the Soviet Union in 1983 because that's how much we dislike them) and became the most hated man in Boston. He could easily be the nicest man and the world, but if a Red Sox fan saw him in the streets of Boston after that, I wouldn't be surprised if he threw something at him or just berated him with a plethora of 4 letter insults.

It isn't until our teams lose a big game or don't make the playoffs that we finally settle back down to earth. You always here stories of people missing dates, forgetting important dates, missing meetings, being negligent towards a friend and all these other things all for the sake of one game, and why? You don't want to miss out. You don't want to be the person walking to a restaurant in Key West when Auburn is returning a missed field goal 99 yards all because somebody told you "Nothing is going to happen with one second left, we are late, let's go."

Once the dust settles though, you look back at that moment where you may have blown something or somebody off just to watch those thirty seconds only to have your team lose. You realize how stupid you were. It was just a game. That's what we always hear people say, and it is true it is just a game, but for some reason it means so much more than that.

There is no rhyme or reason to it and it cannot be explained. Sports will always be just a game, but to a large portion of people it will always be a passion that can't be avoided. I love sports and always will. I will argue a point with friends of mine endlessly. My friends and I have admitted on numerous occasions that we will continue to argue a point, even if we have already been proven wrong.

Basically, we are all just stupid  fans who are blinded by our own allegiances and beliefs to let anything anybody does or says change our passion in anyway and I love it. So bring on the World Cup, bring on game four of the NBA finals and five of the NHL Stanley Cup finals and give me a list of tee times because I am ready to take it all on regardless of what people think.

......I may or may not have put every world cup game in my calendar on my phone and I may or may not have set double reminders for the games I really want to see. We are all America Outlaws though, I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The World is Watching (most of the world at least)

Every four years, for two weeks, the most incredible sporting tournament in the WORLD causes the WORLD to pretty much shut down. Everyone except for the U.S. that is. The World Cup only happens every four years and it is kinda a big deal. There are certain countries that will have national holidays on the days in which their team is playing to ensure that everybody can have a seat in front of their television or radio or laptop or tablet or smartphone or smoke signals so they can tune in and show pride for their nation. For gods sake there are children being born in Brazil everyday being named Neymar just because it is World Cup time.

For some reason though, our very prideful country, just tosses this incredible spectacle to the side like it is the fourth game of the MLB season. Heck the fourth game of the MLB season might get more attention in some parts of the country than the World Cup. It is a travesty that people in our country don't respect or care for the game of soccer. I have been playing my whole life, so I am a little biased on the matter, but still if you sit down with an open mind and watch the beauty of everything you will not be disappointed. The main argument is that the game is boring and slow. Uhmmmm excuse me? "America's Pastime" is probably the most boring and slow game ever created. Did you know that in the average three and a half hour baseball game there is only about 12 minutes of in-play action? That's right. America's game is 12 minutes of balls and strikes with a hit here and there and one diving catch a game that will surely be on sportscenters top ten the next day. Along with seven other plays that look EXACTLY the same. The other three hours and eighteen minutes are shots of managers chewing gum, players spitting in the dirt and Nomar Garciapperra fixing his damn batting gloves while Jerry Remy and Don Orsillio talk about the guy in row 18 eating a footlong hotdog.

I know it may seem like I am just trashing baseball, which I kinda need to do to make my point, but I like baseball. I thoroughly enjoy watching it. I just can't help but think while watching it, how can people think soccer is boring and find this exciting? It doesn't make sense. Hell three commercial breaks in baseball add up to more time than actual baseball action. Do you know how many commercial breaks there are in soccer? Probably two to three and those don't occur until after 45 minutes of non-stop soccer, which is followed by another 45 minutes of non-stop soccer.

People's main argument about soccer is that everybody flops. "Oh why would I want to watch a bunch of dumb Europeans prance around until somebody taps their shin and cries for five minutes before getting up and sprinting like nothing happened" Valid point. However, I find that aspect hilarious. I can't wait for them to flip up the replay to guess how bad of a flop it is. It is normally really, really bad and pretty damn funny.

Basically, what I am saying is, if you don't like soccer, fine don't watch the premier league and all that jazz. But if you aren't watching the World Cup, I don't respect you as a sports fan. Wars have ceased in the past because the World Cup was happening. Tell me the last time any fiasco in the U.S. stopped because the Yankees and Red Sox were playing a game 7 in the ALCS.

There is not unity there. I studied abroad in Australia and almost every U.S. kid loved the fact that they were from from the states. The Australian's would have their own Aussie chants and the U.S. kids would interrupt chanting "USA, USA, USA." We love ourselves and our country but can't support it on the biggest sports stage known to man kind? I put it above the Olympics for the sheer fact that most people plan their day around the World Cup. With the Olympics you just kinda put it on when you have the time and hope to god it won't be ribbon dancing between Belgium and Russia (which will be an incredible soccer game in the group stages fyi). This has been heralded as the best team that we have had in years and it is time it gets some recognition and support.

To prove my point about soccer actually being exciting and fun to watch, go look up our game versus Algeria from the last cup. Watch it, in its entirety, and then try to tell me soccer is boring. Then, if you STILL aren't convinced and don't want to watch the World Cup, let your USA pride get you to watch with motivation from this: I BELIEVEEEE.....

....In all honesty though we are in the group of death and will probably lose in the group stages so you really won't have to watch much. But come onnnnnn, watch at least one game for the country you love!