Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dwight Howard gets Stan Van Gundy fired proving no one man should haveall that power

“I don’t wanna be what you want me to be. So when I call you’re just yelling at me. I’m sorry, it’s my fault. It’s over.”

Lyric from: It’s Over from the album Evolver
Written By: Pharrell Williams, Kanye West
Performed by: John Legend, Kanye West

Dwight Howard, Photo Courtesy of Debby Wong/US Presswire


Stan Van Gundy was “relieved of his duties” yesterday as head coach of the Orlando Magic. That’s just one half of the news out of Orlando, GM Otis Smith was “relieved” as well. Um yeah, they were fired and this announcement was hardly a shocker for anyone.
This was a tough, crazy year for the Magic franchise. It all started with Dwight Howard saying he wanted to be traded and, for Van Gundy, it all ended with that bizarre, impromptu revelation of Howard’s covert plot to get him fired. In my humble opinion Howard was demanding the wrong thing. He should have been demanding a better supporting cast since that’s the real issue in Orlando. And here’s the thing, Dwight Howard will probably still leave, leaving the Magic hanging anyway. My question, though, is this…what really qualifies a player to have the power to get a coach fired?
By the time Michael Jordan had Doug Collins fired in 1989, he was already a former league MVP, a three-time scoring champion and a five-time NBA All-star. Collins had coached the Bulls in the playoffs and Eastern Conference Finals but couldn’t get the team pass the Pistons to make a Finals appearance. Oh and he did say that the problem with the Bulls offense was that Jordan wouldn’t pass the ball. And that was a wrap on him.
The Nets were a year removed from their second consecutive finals appearance when Jason Kidd told management that the team needed a coaching change in 2004. Byron Scott was done and assistant coach Lawrence Frank took the reins. Kidd had been Rookie of the Year and a seven-time All-Star but had arrived in New Jersey under scrutinized circumstances himself. Phoenix traded Kidd to the Nets after claims of domestic abuse from his then wife and many thought that the Suns were sending a message.
Maybe yesterday’s happenings were just as much about the Magic’s spastic management style as much as it was about their desire to please their star player. They’ve been here before. Tracy McGrady got Doc Rivers relieved of his duty as Magic coach in 2003 after Doc had rescued the team from the ashes. Doc was in his fifth season. He nearly led the team to a playoff birth in his first season and won coach of the year. They made the playoffs his next three seasons. But the Magic started the 2003 season 1-10 and Tracy McGrady had seen enough.
After being drafted ninth overall in 1997, McGrady needed Vince Carter to help him become a breakout star in Toronto. In Orlando he continued to shine but just not bright enough to ever get out of the first round of the playoffs. And so goes the legend of Tracy McGrady, the all-star and 2-time scoring champion who couldn’t lead a team to the second round.
Doc was fired and Assistant Johnny Davis was promoted to head coach. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy McGrady who eventually demanded to be traded anyway.
So here we are again with the Orlando Magic having just fired a coach at the 5-year mark because a so-called superstar has said that they should. And again, the superstar will still likely leave and the Magic will reprise their role as the desperate girlfriend who got a boob job for a guy who didn’t want her anyway, proving to be a costly and tearful, irrational decision. What has Dwight Howard done to earn this privilege? Howard is definitely not Tracy McGrady but his last three seasons on the court have been nearly as forgettable. The Magic advanced to the Conference finals in 2010 but eventually succumbed to the Celtics’ wrath. Howard posted career highs in points and shooting percentage last season and the Magic won 52 games but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
This season Howard openly campaigned to be traded, sulked in games and quit on his team before the playoffs. He elected to stay in Los Angeles after outpatient back surgery that had a two-day recovery time. He’s been there a month all while his team was losing in the playoffs and planning a termination coronation in his honor. Even when he dazzles us we still get the feeling that we are only catching a glimpse of what he can become. Is this a guy who should be calling the coaching shots?
Still in the game of life, wins and losses are defined by time. Jordan gets Collins ousted and, and he and Phil go on to win six championships in Chicago. Scott leaves New Jersey as the winningest coach in franchise history. The Nets are now Brooklyn’s team and, Jason Kidd had to go back to Dallas to get his first ring. Tracy McGrady is still trying to find the second round of the playoffs as a role player with the Atlanta Hawks and Doc has one championship with the Celtics and a pretty decent chance at another this season.
Stan Van Gundy was the Magic’s fourth coach since 2003, since Doc Rivers. He’s won a little more than 65% of his games in Orlando and Dwight Howard was the headliner of that success. Howard wanted him gone and now he is gone. Good move by the Magic? Will Howard stick around in Orlando to see how this turns out? Who has a brighter future, Van Gundy or Howard? For answers to these questions and many others in life, stay tuned. Only time will tell.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kobe Bryant, Lakers will win the title because Adele swept the Grammy's

“But you played it. You played it. You played it. You played it to the beat.”

Lyric from: Rolling in the Deep from the album 21
Written By: Adele, Paul Epworth
Performed by: Adele

Adele, Photo Courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


The San Antonio Spurs look invincible right now. They don’t just look like an unstoppable force ready to claim the Western Conference but one that will reign supreme as the 2012 NBA Finals Champ set to maim whatever team manages to come out of the East.  

But there is more to an NBA Champ than looks. You need a favorable matchup, a healthy roster and a little luck. It also doesn’t hurt if your fate is married to a rare happenstance in the universe.
The Los Angeles Lakers took a beating last night in game 6 of their series with the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets took an early 13-0 lead and let it fuel their fearless effort for the rest of the game as they force a game 7 back in LA on Saturday night. Kobe has said that he will be happy to have Metta World Peace and his energy back for that game and, no one will bet against the Lakers in a game 7 at home.

And here’s a little more added confidence that the Lakers won’t lose in the first round, this year Adele took home six awards from the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. The last two times an artist won six or more awards in one night at the Grammys, the Lakers were crowned NBA champions that same year. Can they 3-peat?
On February 23, 2000, Santana won eight Grammy Awards tying a previous record set by Michael Jackson in 1984. Santana’s win set a new record however, in that it was the first time a group, band or duo had won that many awards in one evening. Santana won Album of the Year for their Supernatural but also won awards for a diverse array of collaborations along with wins in vocal and instrumental categories.
The Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in 6 games to win their 13th championship in 2000. The Lakers signed Phil Jackson on as head coach within days of being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals the previous year and his famed triangle offense immediately paid big dividends. Shaq was named finals MVP and fourth year man out of Lower Merion High School Kobe Bryant got his first of five championships with the franchise.
Beyonce was the big winner two years ago at the 52nd Annual Grammy awards in 2010. Jay Z’s better half took home six awards that evening, including Song of the Year for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” and one for her remake of the Etta James classic “At Last”. At the time, Beyonce was the first woman to win 6 or more awards in one night.
In 2010, the Lakers were looking to repeat against the Boston Celtics, having beaten out the Magic for the title in 2009. The C’s were only two years removed from their latest championship which they had won against the Lakers in 2008. The series went 7 games and did not disappoint. It was the first NBA Finals to go 7 games since 2005 and again revived one the NBA’s oldest rivalries. In the end the Lakers prevailed. Kobe was named Finals MVP and won the 5th title of his career, one more than Shaquille O’Neal and his second one without the diesel as his teammate.
This year, Adele swept the 54th Annual Grammy Awards winning six including Album of the Year for 21 and Song of the Year for “Rolling in the Deep”. She matched Beyonce in trophies and as the second woman to win six. She surpassed Amy Winehouse for most wins by a British female artist in one night. Winehouse won five in 2008.
This NBA season has been a strange one for fans and players alike. The season was delayed as the collective bargaining agreement was finalized. Teams played more back to backs and injuries seemed more gruesome and more costly. The Lakers had the added responsibility of getting used to a new coach, responding to Lamar Odom’s trade demand and watching the Clippers stake their claim in LA acquiring Chris Paul from the Hornets after the league vetoed the Lakers request to have him all their own.

Now the third-seeded Lakers face a must win game 7 against a six-seeded Nuggets team that has every reason to believe that they can get it done. But is fate on their side?
Adele is only the eighth artist to win six or more Grammys in one night. Before the Lakers made their Grammy history connection in 2000, the Chicago Bulls were the last team to twice make the connection winning NBA titles in 1991 when Quincy Jones took home six trophies and in 1993 when Eric Clapton took home six. The Bulls did not 3-peat in that fateful happenstance and I doubt that anyone noticed.
And if the Lakers win the NBA Championship this year they likely won’t notice this obscure 3-peat either. Instead it will be a nice, nothing little stat to go along with three big ones-18 franchise championships, Mike Brown’s first championship and Kobe’s sixth championship matching Jordan’s championship wins with the Chicago Bulls.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Junior Seau commits suicide and we're reminded that being picked in thefirst round doesn't guarantee first class life

“Gone from painful cries, away from saddened eyes. Along with him I'll bide. Because they won't go when I'll go..”

Lyric from: They Won't Go When I Go from the album Fullfillingness Furst Finale 
Written By: Stevie Wonder and Yvonne Wright
Performed by: Stevie Wonder

Junior Seau inducted in the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in November 2011, Photo Courtesy of AP

Last Thursday marked the opening of the National Football League’s spectacular Spring Extravaganza, better known as the 2012 NFL Draft. The draft’s first round did not disappoint, boasting trades a plenty as teams knew who they wanted and did what they needed to do to get their guy. Smiles, hugs and jerseys all around…it’s hard to believe that the joy and validation of being selected in the first round could ever be less than that. But today our beloved sport gave us three stories that, for three very different reasons, prove otherwise.
The Buffalo Bills were hoping to get a quarterback in last week’s draft to back up starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. When that didn’t happen, the team decided to turn to free agency. Today, Vince Young is set to work out for the Bills. If he earns a spot on the roster it will be Vince’s third team since being selected by the Tennessee Titans, bursting onto the NFL scene with much fanfare after leading the University of Texas to a National Championship.

Vince was awe inspiring in his victories with the Titans and unrecognizable in defeat. His reaction to criticism, in-game mistakes and losses left many questioning whether he had the mental toughness required to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Philadelphia was his second stop. The Eagles saw Young as a capable backup to Michael Vick but he was not re-signed after a one-year contract which is why he is available for this Bills workout today. Vince Young was the 3rd pick of the first round in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Today, William Joseph and Michael Bennett were arrested by the FBI on charges that they schemed to steal people’s identities and subsequently collect thousands of dollars after using those identities to file false tax returns. Joseph was a former star defensive tackle for the University of Miami’s national championship team drafted by the New York Giants. He retired after 8 seasons, his last with the Raiders.

Bennett was a Pro Bowl running back with the Minnesota Vikings who drafted him after a standout career at the University of Wisconsin. He made the Pro Bowl for the Vikings in the 2002 season after rushing for 1,296 yards. He finished his career in Oakland as well last season. The arrests were made as the final nail in the coffin of an FBI sting that included an informant, a fake check cashing store and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bogus tax return checks. William Joseph was the 25th pick of the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Michael Bennett was the 27th pick of the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft.
For 20 seasons in the NFL Junior Seau was revered as much for his work ethic as he was for his passion and ferocity on defense. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers and had 12 Pro Bowl seasons with the team. He has been a beloved member of the San Diego community. Today family, friends and fans there are mourning his loss along with his NFL family. Seau, 43, was found dead in his home this morning of an apparent suicide.

The sentiment from those who knew him best is that Seau was not someone who would do this. Those of us who watched him play would agree. We will likely never know exactly what pushed him to this breaking point and we will not be able to make sense of it. Today we are in disbelief. We are sad, and we are confused. After a brief retirement in 2005, Seau came back and played for the Dolphins and finished his career with the New England Patriots in 2009. His stat line includes 1,849 tackles and 56 ½ sacks. He was the 5th pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft.
A short time ago I was having dinner with my friend Chem. She asked me if I had seen an episode of E! True Hollywood Stories, The Curse of the Lottery. She commented on how she watched the show in horror as it profiled winner after winner who had hit rock bottom after abbreviated stints as millionaires. Most of us equate money and fame with an easy, happy life. We dream of winning the lottery and living happily ever after. We would assume that the reason 1 in 3 lottery winners goes broke is because they mismanaged their money, buying too much too quickly and on foolish things nevertheless. We are convinced that we would not meet that fate ourselves.

The answer to why it happens is more likely associated with the fact that money doesn’t change who we are. It doesn’t change our pathologies, our morals or our deep seated fears. Neither does making it to the league.
During the draft, we watch intently as young men in their 20s hit their version of the lottery, with those drafted in the first round forever basking in the sunshine of being the best of the best. They are student-athletes one day who buy Bentleys and diamonds the next. We envy their seemingly meteoric rise to fame and success and wonder aloud why we hadn’t been so lucky.  We simply can’t imagine that the joy and validation of being drafted in the first round will ever be less than that.

But it can be.

It can be just the beginning of a life met with unfulfilled dreams, harsh consequences and painfully, tragic endings.