July 22, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Phil Mickelson wins British Open: The highlight of the sports weekend was arguably Phil Mickelson winning his first British Open for his fifth major championship of his career. Mickelson outlasted Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, and a host of others with a final round of 66. Stenson finished three shots back (E) for the tournament to claim second place. Lefty will be remembered by many for his numerous second-place finishes, but with five majors now, his reputation should be changing.

AL wins MLB All-Star Game: Major League Baseball held its annual All-Star Game last Monday and the American League won 3-0. That gives the winner of the AL home field advantage over the National League in the World Series. I’ve tried to wrap my head around the thought process of having the All-Star Game winner give home field advantage to their league, but after many years it still doesn’t make sense to me. The rationale, of course, is that baseball wants to make the game ‘mean something’, but what’s wrong with having an All-Star Game that’s purely a scrimmage? The games in the NBA, NFL, and NHL never feature any significant amount of defense and in the end, that’s okay. The World Series team with the best regular season record should have home field advantage. Period.

Will Eli Manning ultimately be remembered as better than Peyton?

Eli > Peyton?: When it comes to quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning, the older brother is generally regarded as the better player. But with two Super Bowl wins, Eli is gaining on Peyton according to some … including former running back Tiki Barber. Barber not only says that Eli is catching up to Peyton, but better because of his postseason record. While Peyton is only 9-11 in the playoffs, Eli is 8-3. Eli’s two Super Bowl wins also trump Peyton’s one. Really, it’s a valid point. And while I’m not quite ready to call Eli the better sibling because of Peyton’s amazing career statistically, if Eli continues putting up solid numbers for another 5-7 seasons, it may be difficult to deny his greatness.

Welcome back, Charlotte Hornets: The NBA Board of Governors voted to change the Charlotte Bobcats name back to the Charlotte Hornets last week. When the former franchise bolted for New Orleans, they took the Hornets name with them. However, the team just changed their name to the Pelicans and the name became available. Owner Michael Jordan has been trying to get the name back from years and the name change becomes effective in time for the 2014-15 season after this year.

Alex Rodriguez suffers setback: A-Rod, recovering from hip surgery, was hoping to rejoin the New York Yankees this week after a rehab assignment. That changed, though, when the third baseman suffered a quadriceps strain and Rodriguez is now headed for more rehab. Just how much Rodriguez can help the club is very much in question. He’s seen his power decline steadily and while his 18 home runs and a .272 batting average in 2012 were serviceable, Rodriguez is significantly past his prime. But the Yankees, 20th in the majors in scoring runs this year, are probably a bit anxious to see what he can do to help the club that has been overrun with injuries.

Lakers want to land Lebron and/or Melo in 2014: When Lebron James hits free agency in the summer of 2014, he’ll perhaps be the most sought after free agent in the history of the sport. The Lakers are mum on the situation, but according to reports, count them as among the interested parties. Los Angeles is also said to be targeting Carmelo Anthony and rumor has it that the team wants BOTH. That sounds a bit far-fetched – especially if Kobe Bryant is still lacing them up. One could argue that the Miami Heat have been able to pay three superstars, but Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have minor egos compared to Bryant. Getting those three to play for big pay cuts is one thing but to get them to play alongside each other is something else entirely. And if James wins his third title in a row next year with the Heat, it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be intrigued at the possibility of four in a row with the same team – something Kobe or even Michael Jordan never did.

NCAA to end deal with EA Sports: Big news dropped in the world of video games when the NCAA decided it will not renew a contract with EA Sports after this year. The primary reason is because of a pending lawsuit against the NCAA by players that claim the games use their likenesses without compensation. And really, it’s hard to dispute that as the players in the games bear, shall we say, striking similarities to the players. Still, if you’re into the games, have no fear. There’s too much money to be made and look for a similar game to find its way onto the market in the future. They may not have players that bear the likenesses of teams’ actual players, but surely there will be more collegiate football and basketball games that are produced.

Kobe items top $400,000 at auction: A few months back, Kobe Bryant and his parents were in a struggle over some of the star’s memorabilia. A settlement was reached with the prospective auction company, Goldin Auctions, for most of the items, but several pieces were not pulled back. Five of Bryant’s items fetched a whopping $400,000+ and leading the way was a championship ring given to Kobe’s dad that brought in $174,000. The whole thing has to be embarrassing for the parents. It’s hard to imagine them being that hard up for cash and auctioning off a ring their son bought for them probably wasn’t something they wanted out into the public.

Florida linebacker arrested … for barking at dog: No, seriously – this is a thing. Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested last week for barking at a dog that was in a police car on a street. Morrison, for his part, claims the dog barked first. Well, okay. Look, Morrison barking at a dog is odd, but stranger still, is that the police felt the need to arrest him. Really, we’re arresting people for barking at animals? That’s not over the top at all. Morrison was also suspended by head coach Will Muschamp for two games but the player’s arrest in June for punching a nightclub bouncer probably had something to do with that decision.

June 6, 2011

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Shaq Retires

By: Anson Whaley

It goes without saying that Shaquille O’Neal was one of those rare athletes that transcended the game he played. He wasn’t the most dominant as some have called him lately – that title clearly belongs to Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged more than 50 points and 25 rebounds per game in the 1961-62 season and more than 30 points and 20 rebounds per game for his career. But Shaq (like Wilt) was larger than life, which is why no single article will do him justice.

So with that, I give you the top ten things I’ll remember about the Diesel.

Shaq

 

10. Shaq Signs Exclusive Deal with Classic Trading Cards

Shaq was a trendsetter and had one of the first exclusive trading card deals in history. Classic, an upstart company back in the early 1990s, made one of the biggest splashes in history by signing O’Neal to an exclusive card deal, owning the right to print his first rookie cards. Sure, go ahead and scoff if you want. But his deal was enormous for the industry as it led to other companies signing exclusive deals with athletes.

9. Literally a Showstopper

O’Neal didn’t only break a few backboards when he dunked early in his career, but he literally tore down the entire support systems. This, of course, delayed play while the systems were fixed or replaced. Shaq was one of the few players that forced the NBA to look into reinforcing their backboards.

8. Shaq Raps

No, the Diesel’s abilities weren’t limited to only the basketball court. He was also a great rapper. Okay, well, maybe not. But his debut Album ‘Shaq Diesel’ still went platinum, which gives him exactly one more platinum record than almost everyone on the planet.

7. Leading Magic to Finals

O’Neal was only in his third season when he led the Magic to the Finals. He didn’t just help them get there, he was the clear star of the team. With all due respect to Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Horace Grant, and Nick Anderson, the Magic probably don’t get out of the first round without the Diesel. Orlando was swept by the Houston Rockets, but it wasn’t because of Shaq, who averaged 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists per game.

6. Passed over for Christian Laettner

The decision to take Christian Laettner over O’Neal for the final spot on the 1992 USA Olympic Dream Team had about as much impact on the outcome as it would if I were selected. Lots of factors played into the decision – Laettner was a senior with two NCAA titles for starters. Still, it was a big-time snub nonetheless and Shaq wasn’t all that happy about it.

5. Taking Heat to the Title

Make no mistake – the 2005-06 Miami Heat were Dwyane Wade’s team. But it’s fair to say that without O’Neal’s nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, Miami would still be looking for their first title. Shaq also proved to the world he could win a championship without Kobe and his fourth title placed him in select company.

4. Kobe Feud

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. If Kobe and Shaq stay together, it’s likely that they would have gone on to win several more titles. The feud will always be one of the first things fans think of when reminiscing about Shaq. O’Neal wouldn’t have been able to run down Bill Russell’s 11 championships, but Kobe is young enough that it’s conceivable that he could have gotten close.

3. Signs with Lakers

The rumors swelled in the Summer of 1996 about what Shaq would do. He eventually chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and effectively began a mini dynasty, helping the franchise to three titles. His signing filled the gap left by Vlade Divac, who was traded to the then Charlotte Hornets for … Kobe Bryant. That effectively concluded the most lopsided deal in NBA history.

2. Leading Lakers to Three-Peat

O’Neal began the Lakers’ Dynasty by helping the franchise to three straight championships. Whatever side you fall on of the great Shaq vs. Kobe debate, none of those titles are won without O’Neal, who won the Finals Most Valuable Player award each year.

1. Pythagorean Theorem

There have been countless memorable quotes over Shaq’s career, but none will ever top the time he tried to describe just how unguardable he was. An exacerbated O’Neal said his game was like the Pythagorean Theorem, claiming there was no answer. The only problem with that is there actually is an answer to the Theorem: A2 + B2 = C2.

It’s okay, Shaq – we get the point.