February 3, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Seahawks Crush Broncos in Super Bowl: Quick, raise your hand if you saw that coming. Seattle winning the game wasn’t a huge surprise, but their 43-8 dominant performance over Denver was a shocker. The Broncos bumbled their way to a loss with four fumbles seemingly unable to do anything right and Seattle’s defense was the clear MVP. After a record-setting year, Peyton Manning will again wear the label of big game loser with a dud of a performance that included some errant throws, two interceptions, and a fumble. The game wasn’t all on Manning, but he’ll get the brunt of the blame for the team scoring a meager eight points after a record-setting season.

Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champions

The Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8 to become Super Bowl 48 Champions.

Psychics Predict Super Bowl: Not only psychics … psychic manatees. Ah, that makes a lot more sense.

Broncos vs. Seahawks … for Real!: Continuing the Super Bowl theme, Deadspin asks a very important question: Who would win a game between real broncos and real hawks?

David Stern Steps Down as NBA Commissioner: After 30 years as NBA Commissioner, David Stern is stepping down from his post as Deputy Adam Silver has been promoted to the job. Some players weren’t always fond of Stern using his authority to, at times, make unpopular decisions. However, what can’t be denied is the significant impact he leaves on the game. Under Stern, and with the backing of superstars such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, the NBA took a significant step forward in the late 1980s. The league started promoting their individual stars much more and has had an amazing run under his watch. Stern leaves the sport in excellent shape, poised for more international growth as more and more players in different countries are playing while their fans are scooping up merchandise and watching games. Some will argue that the NBA doesn’t have the great personalities it once did, but in Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and other young stars, the league has a slew of players ready to move the game forward.

Lance Berkman Retires: Beaten down by injuries, Astros first baseman Lance Berkman announced his retirement from baseball last week. Berkman was a former six-time All-Star and also finished in the top five in MVP voting four times. Playing mostly with the Houston Astros, he hit 366 career home runs while batting .293. At 37, he could have potentially played a bit more, but the first baseman has battled injuries over the past two years, only playing a total of 105 games over that time. Berkman also won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 – the same season in which he was named the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Michael Young Retires: Also in retirement news, longtime infielder Michael Young announced he was done last week as well. Young was one of the sturdiest players of all time, never once landing on the disabled list in a career that spanned 14 seasons. Young, who played most of his career with the Texas Rangers, was also one of the top versatile infielders of his generation. Other infielders have played second, third, and shortstop as he did, but Young was one of the best at it. He had more power than most such players, slugging 185 home runs over his career. He also was a seven-time All-Star covering two positions, when he played primarily as a shortstop and third baseman. Young also was an All-Star Game MVP, won a batting title, and was awarded a Gold Glove as a shortstop. Few utility infielders had the type of success that he did.

Andrew Bynum Signs with Pacers: Oft-troubled center Andrew Bynum signed to play with the Indiana Pacers the rest of the season. Bynum has never been the same since leaving Los Angeles as part of the Dwight Howard trade. He suffered injury woes to his knees that never even allowed him to play for Philadelphia in 2012-13, then hobbled his way through 24 games with Cleveland before they traded him to the Chicago Bulls … who promptly released him to save salary costs. Based on all of that and the drama he brings, the move reeks of foolishness for a team competing to win a title. But if healthy, he’ll be a fine backup for Roy Hibbert. That, of course, is a Bynum-sized ‘if’.

Awkward High Five Gif: 3…2…1…Go!

Centers Selected among All-Star Game Reserves: NBA centers Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert were left off of the All-Star Game starting lineups in their respective conferences, but were two of the bench players chosen, among others. The NBA continues to make a mockery of its midseason classic by not making a center mandatory for inclusion on the starting team. The center position is deemphasized by some teams and many consider today’s game more guard-oriented. However, it makes little sense to declare an All-Star roster as essentially the best ‘team’ in a particular conference while leaving out one of the primary positions. After all, can you imagine an MLB All-Star team without a starting pitcher or a Pro Bowl squad without a quarterback?

NBA Fans Drop Ball … Again: This seems to be a regular routine, but fans again made a supreme gaffe in selecting Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant as an All-Star game starter. Bryant has played only six games, and not all that well, by the way. The future Hall of Famer struggled with his shot and averaged nearly six turnovers per contest in his few games this year in between injuries. Despite that (and the fact that Bryant won’t likely be ready to play by then, anyway), fans saw fit to vote for the superstar as a starter. I’ve always been for fan involvement, but when injured players who aren’t even fit to play in the game are selected, it makes it difficult to justify that fans should continue to have the privilege to vote. On some level, the vote is about fans getting to see who they want to play. On the other hand, though, players can even have incentives about being voted as an All-Star built into their contract. It isn’t exactly fair to take any financial reward or even just the satisfaction of starting an All-Star game from deserving players.

February 15, 2011

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NBA All-Star Weekend Needs a Makeover

By: Joe Williams

The year was 1999. The world was preparing for Y2K. The NBA All-Star Weekend was canceled because of a lockout-shortened season and Keanu Reeves starred in the Matrix.

Since 1999, Reeves has been making movies like Thumbsucker and The Lake House while the NBA All-Star Weekend has lost some of its excitement as well. Reeves’ career and the All-Star Weekend are both in need of a makeover. I’ve got some suggestions for the NBA (sorry Keanu, you are on your own).

Maybe the NBA should follow the NHL example. The NHL just held an All-Star Game with two team captains picking teams in a live draft. This is a great idea. The NBA should take it a step further.

Instead of having current players as the team captains, I say David Stern should bring in two NBA legends to coach/captain the teams. Nothing against Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich, but I would much rather see the teams led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. We see Rivers, Popovich and Phil Jackson on TV all season. Why not change things up?

This weekend’s all-star game will be in Los Angeles. The Lakers and Celtics met in the NBA Finals last season. Both teams are among the favorites to reach the Finals this season. Why not keep the rivalry going? Imagine Larry Bird taking Kobe Bryant with the first pick, putting Kobe on the visiting team in his own building and playing against Magic Johnson’s team. Magic could counter with LeBron James as his first pick and then draft a couple of the four Boston Celtics who are in the game.

The NBA could create some great matchups with this system. I would love to see John Stockton lead a team against fellow Utah Jazz Hall of Famer, Karl Malone. How about a Reggie Miller and Spike Lee matchup? Anyone for Charles Barkley against Michael Jordan? The matchups are endless.

I also believe the NBA should take the all-star game back to the cities that no longer have an NBA franchise. When places like Vancouver and Seattle lose their team to another city, the NBA ought to keep in touch with those fans. They deserve an all-star game.

My next suggestion would be to have a HORSE competition with some of the NBA greats. I’d like to see Michael Jordan and Larry Bird play for a Big Mac like they did in a Super Bowl commercial in 1993. There are some great possible matchups for this too. I suggest a Dennis Rodman (58.4% free throw shooter) and Shaq (52.8% free throw shooter) in a free throw showdown. Of course, for the sake of time, they may have to shorten a game of HORSE to a game of H.

The last thing I would like to see change for the NBA All-Star game is the voting process. Currently, the fans vote in the starters for the game and that’s how it should be. But when a guy (Yao Ming) is voted as an all-star starter despite only playing in five games all season, something needs to change. Nothing against Yao, but he should not be on the ballot if he can’t play. That spot should go to someone who has earned it with a great first half of the season.

I would love to see these things happen but I’m sure there is someone smarter than me at the NBA headquarters who has a whole list of reasons why these ideas won’t work. I’d just love to see it happen.