Archive | November 2009

You probably owe Vince Young an apology.

You remember the Tennessee Titans, don’t you? The team that started the season with an abysmal 0-6 record? The team that lost 59-0 to the New England Patriots? Well, that team no longer exists. They have been replaced by the real Tennessee Titans, a team with an exciting offense and a strong defense. And the best part? Vince Young is the quarterback.

This turnaround has been awesome to watch. Never before has a team lost the first six games and wrung off a five game winning streak. In fact, no team had ever won three and four straight games after opening the season 0-6 until the Titans did it this year.

I’m not shy about saying that I’ve been one of the only people (that I’ve seen) that has stood behind Vince Young the entire time he’s been a Titan. Call me stupid, stubborn, or a liar, but I have. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been frustrated, though, because his decision making throughout his career has been spotty. When he had open space to run, he threw a bad pass; when he had room to pass, he tried to run only to lose yards. This season, though, his decision making is much better. If the pass is there, he hits his receiver with a good throw; when the pass isn’t there, he throws it away; and when the run is opened up to him, he takes it. In his five starts, he averages 202 yards passing with four touchdowns and one interception and 30 rushing yards with one touchdown. As an added bonus, he has also opened up even more room for Chris Johnson to run. In the six losses, Johnson averaged 99 yards rushing per game and had only two touchdowns, while in the five wins he is averaging 160 yards rushing and seven touchdowns; his presence in the passing game has also increased.

You can’t say enough about his performance yesterday. 387 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers, and a 99 yard game winning drive on the final possession, during which he played like a real pro and didn’t panic at all. Do you realize that that was his 8th career game winning drive? Or what about his record now being 23-11 as a starter? Still think he’s overrated? Perhaps his only bad play was that fruitless scramble at the end of the first half that put the Titans out of field goal range.

But don’t get me wrong, Vince Young isn’t the only reason the Titans are winning. The defense has gotten healthy and the receivers, especially Kenny Britt, are starting to really pick up their play. However, Vince’s performance thus far and the effect it has had on Chris Johnson’s game is what has been the key. If the team continues to put forth the collective effort it has over the last five game, I see no reason why they can’t win eight or nine games. Whatever the case, next season has some promise to it.

Finally, I have to say it’s pretty sweet to see all the Vince Young haters having to jump back on the bandwagon. On my Facebook page Sunday afternoon, I was treated to quite a few status updates about how awesome Vince Young is from some of my friends (who shall remain nameless) who had been very critical of him in the past. I’m holding everyone who said such things to their word, so that should Vince struggle at any point next season I can pounce when they start calling for, heaven forbid, Kerry Collins to start. I mean, Young struggles and he’s a crybaby who’s overrated and it’s time to dust off the grizzled Collins. Then Collins struggles and he’s suddenly too old and Young doesn’t look so bad any more. Like, one year he struggles and everyone says he’s too old, then the next season he replaces a struggling Young and plays well and suddenly he’s not too old even though he’s a year older. Yeah, because that makes sense. And if you’re one of those people I mentioned earlier, it’s nothing personal. I’m just a cynic and I like it when I’m right.

This post can also be found on The Football Wire on MVN.com by following the link on the right side of the page.

LeBron in the NFL talk a colossal waste of time.

Ugh, does this ever stop? For the past couple of years we’ve been hearing “Where will LeBron James play in 2010!?” every time the Cleveland Cavaliers play on TV. LeBron finally nixed answering questions about his free-agency, but then he ruined it by announcing that he would change his jersey number from 23 to 6 in 2010. And now that that has quieted down, LeBron comes out and says this:

“If I put all my time and commitment into it, if I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good. No matter what team I was on.”

Great, so we have to listen to empty chatter about how good LeBron would be if he played football. Isn’t there anything else in the sports world we could talk about? Like Brett Favre? Or Soccer? Anything. Please?

It was an interview with the crew of Monday Night Football that elicited that little sound bite. Essentially, the context was “Boy, the Browns really suck, but you’d certainly make them better!” Then he says that and now everyone is in a craze about LeBron playing in the NFL It’s like people (see: ESPN) are just looking for a reason to talk about LeBron. He knows it too. That’s why he keeps saying stuff like this even after telling the media that he doesn’t want to talk about his free-agency. He said he had always dreamed of playing in Madison Square Garden, thus launching the countdown for 2010 years in advance. Then it’s like “Oh, LeBron played football in high school. WHAT IF he played in the NFL? I bet he’d be AWESOME!” I think the logic there is funny. He played in high school and he’s one of the best players in the NBA, therefore he would be great in the NFL. See? It’s stupid. I fully expect LeBron to say “I like hotdogs” and we’ll then wake up the following day to a lot of “Could LeBron beat Joey Chestnut in a hotdog eating contest?” The same logic works there too; he’s one of the best players in the NBA and he likes hotdogs, so he would certainly be good at consuming a bunch of hotdogs in a competitive eating contest, right? Wrong!

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini says he wouldn’t mind LeBron being on his team. Everyone agrees that LeBron would help the Browns be less horrible. But there’s a problem that everyone is overlooking: the Browns don’t have a quarterback with which to get the ball to LeBron. So what good does that do? Oh sure, he’s competitive and athletic, but if no one is capable of getting him the ball what the point? And I know they keep asking football analysts and people within the NFL if he could succeed in the NFL, but they’re wrong all the time. Weren’t Brady Quinn and Matt Leinart supposed to be awesome while Joe Flacco was “drafted too high?” How’s that working out?

You know, I’d actually give good money if reporters started asking LeBron if he were really going to play in the NFL. After every game, he needs to be asked about which NFL team he will play for in 2010 and what jersey number he will wear. And even better, there’s two teams in New York-the Giants and Jets-that he could choose from. Reporters should just skip the speculation stage and head to the rumor stage. Like, “Hey LeBron, are you looking forward to playing with Eli Manning next season?” Wouldn’t that be fun? Somebody needs to make this happen.

There are currently at least two articles on ESPN.com right now about this topic, a topic which is based on a question that starts with “what if.” It’s a waste of everyone’s time. People trolling the IMDB message boards debating whether “The Dark Knight” is better than “The Godfather” are laughing at this. And yeah, you could say I’m stupid for taking the time to write this post, but at least I can arrive to a conclusion that isn’t based on fantastical speculation.

LBJ and NFL: A fantasy based in reality (ESPN)
Browns would give Cavs’ James a shot (ESPN)
The Browns wouldn’t mind LeBron’s help (SLAM Online)

Allen Iverson has been terminated.

Allen Iverson joined the Memphis Grizzlies during the off-season because they were the only team willing to pay him. Everyone knew what would come with Iverson- a player who needs the ball in his hands at all times and has to start, someone who you wouldn’t want to put on a team of young players like Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, and O.J. Mayo. Because of the way Iverson is, we all knew it would be a rough year together for him and the Grizzlies. It went worse than expected.

He played three games coming off the bench, averaging 12 points and 3 assists. He was more than displeased with his reserve role as Memphis lost all three games he played in. Then, after November 6th’s loss to the L.A. Lakers, A.I. was granted a leave of absence from which he will never return because he has been waived by Memphis. The Grizzlies said they would be willing to make a trade, but they would have had to until a month from now, December 15th, to unload him to another team. But to be honest, are there any teams out there who are so desperate for a veteran guard that would be willing to put up with him? The 0-10 Nets? The 1-9 Knicks? The 1-10 Timberwolves? Sure, they could all use some help, but all of those those teams have plenty of guards and, like in Memphis, they’re mostly young players. The only team I could imagine adding Iverson is the Knicks, but I think he and Larry Hughes in the same backcourt would be a disaster. ESPN’s Chris Sheridan was just on SportsCenter and he said the Bobcats might be a good place for him since his old coach from Philadelphia, Larry Brown, is the coach there.

As such, I think this is it for Allen Iverson unless someone needs a guy to fill in for a key player with a bad injury or they need a veteran player for a playoff run, and I think that’s a little sad. He’s been one of the best players in the league since he drafted by the 76ers in 1996 and certainly one of the more entertaining to watch. He was the rookie of the year that year, and also has an MVP award from 2001 and four scoring titles to his name; he is also 17th all-time in scoring. You never like to see legends end their careers like this.

Allen Iverson career stats (databaseBasketball)
Grizzlies, Iverson agree to terminate contract (The Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Iverson, Grizzlies agree to part ways (ESPN)

This post can also be found on Celtics 17, a Boston Celtics blog on the Most Valuable Network, by following the link on the right side of the page.

Stephen Jackson is now a Bobcat.

The Golden State Warriors have finally moved Stephen Jackson, who fell from being a team captain to a disgruntled distraction after he demanded a trade a couple months ago. He, along with Acie Law IV, are headed to the Charlotte Bobcats for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.

Charlotte had to have been one of the last places Jackson wanted to go. He preferred either the Cavaliers, Knicks, or one of the three Texas teams- the Rockets, Spurs, or Mavericks. Getting traded to the Cavs, Spurs, or Mavericks would have put him on a contender and he would have been the go-to perimeter player for the Knicks or Rockets. Now, though, he’s a part of the 3-6 Bobcats, a young team that has never made the playoffs. However, I think the starting five of Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler and now Jackson could be a formidable lineup down the road. Jackson gives Charlotte scoring and perimeter shooting, and a good leader if he’s into it. As a team captain last season, he averaged 20 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds for the 29-53 Warriors. To this point in the season, he’s averaging 16 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds while bumping heads with Don Nelson for the 3-6 Warriors. It will be interesting to see how he works with Larry Brown.

Warriors trading Jackson to Bobcats (Yahoo! Sports)
Warriors anxious to part ways with Jackson (Yahoo! Sports)

This post can also be found on Celtics 17, a Boston Celtics blog on the Most Valuable Network by following the link on the right side of the page.

The best way to stop the 2010 talk is to announce a number change for 2010.

After last night’s 111-104 win over the Miami Heat, LeBron James told TNT’s Craig Sager that he will not wear his #23 next season and will instead wear #6. His motivation behind this move is that he believes Michael Jordan’s number should be retired, similar to how Wayne Gretzky’s #99 was retired by the NHL and Jackie Robinson’s #42 was retired by the MLB. I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with that, though after reading this Jay Mariotti piece I’m less enthusiastic about it. I also think that more numbers could be retired, the #33 for example, which was worn by such legends as Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, David Thompson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen and Alonzo Mourning. Or what about #32, worn by Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, and Julius Erving? Consider this, though: would it be more special for numbers to be retired league-wide for great players or to have new players continue to don the digits in their honor? When I see certain numbers, I instantly think of the players who wore them, like David Robinson for the #50, Charles Barkley for the #4, George Gervin and “Pistol” Pete Maravich for the #44, Bill Russell for the #6. They just shouldn’t retire too many numbers, unless they want to resort to a type of “Battleship” style of designations. Can you imagine somebody rocking the B3 on the back of their jersey? It’s something to think about. But what I think is really ironic is that LeBron would come out and say something about NEXT YEAR a day after putting a moratorium on people asking him where he’ll be playing NEXT YEAR. Didn’t he say he was tired of talking about NEXT YEAR?

He did. He wants everyone to stop talking about him playing for the New York Knicks in 2010 because he’s tired of it just like the rest of us. Nevermind that he started this whole thing a few years ago by saying “I’ve always wanted to play in New York” and wears New York Yankees paraphernalia all the time, like those new shoes he has now with the #27 on them, in honor of the number of championships the Yankees have won. But no, no more talk of next year, other than what number he’ll be wearing next year. I bet everyone who was near an Internet source did a quick search on a New York Knicks team page to see who had that number; I checked just now and no one has it. Other than continuing to wear Yankees gear, is there a worse way to make people stop asking about you about where you’ll play next year? I don’t think there is. All this is going to do is add to the hype.

But other than that, there’s nothing wrong with an NBA-wide jersey number retirement for Michael Jordan or other esteemed legends, though it shouldn’t be done only at the behest of LeBron James.

LeBron wants all players to surrender 23 (ESPN)
Change those Knicks jerseys to “6” please (New York Post)

This post can also be found on Celtics 17, a Boston Celtics blog on the Most Valuable Network, by following the link on the right side of the page.

Byron Scott canned as Hornets head coach.

After last night’s 124-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns and a 3-6 start, Byron Scott has been fired as the coach of the New Orleans Hornets. General Manager Jeff Bower will take over as head coach and will be bringing in Tim Floyd as his top assistant coach. Floyd was previously the head coach of the Hornets in the 2003-2004 season and was the coach at USC last season; he also recently broke up a catfight at a casino.

I’ve always thought that firing a coach early in the season was a bad move. Firing a guy nine games into the season seems panicky and unwise. Byron Scott has been a great coach for that team the past few years you’re going to can him nine games into an 82 game season? I think that’s stupid. Now I know that they haven’t “gotten over the hump” and won a championship despite the job Scott did with the team. Even if you have success in the league, people are still going to be saying “What have you done for me lately? How many championships do you have?” Yes, the whole point of playing or coaching in the NBA is to win a championship, but I don’t think you should fire a coach early in the season unless there is a replacement available who is definitely better. I don’t think that the GM plus Tim Floyd is better than Byron Scott. The bigger issue for the team is a lack of depth, the lack of a good wingman for Chris Paul, and injuries.

And how is Chris Paul going to play after this? He and Scott have been together since he was a rookie. This can’t be easy for him. But my biggest question is this: does Jeff Bower have any coaching experience? Has he coached before? I know nothing about the guy. George Shinn, the owner of the team, claims that Bower “knows the team better than anyone,” which makes him the most qualified to take over. I don’t know, the fact that Bower is bringing in Tim Floyd as his “top assistant” makes me feel like he’s not a coach. He may know the team, but it’s certainly possible to know a lot about basketball and not be a good coach. But who knows? We’ll begin to find out tomorrow when the Portland Trail Blazers visit New Orleans.

Hornets fire Scott, name Bower coach (ESPN)
Floyd returning as Hornets assistant (Yahoo! Sports)

I was going to write about last night’s game between the Hornets and Suns anyway, but Byron Scott getting fired has the priority. But now that that’s out of the way, I can get to the part where I talk about how good the Suns looked last night. This was the first time I had seen them play this season and I enjoyed watching them. They are now 9-1 and lead the league in field goal percentage (50.8%), three-point percentage (47.4%), assists per game (25.7), and points per game (112.3). They really seem to have returned to their famed “:07 second or less” (Jack McCallum’s book by that title is a good read) offense under Alvin Gentry, who took over last season when Terry Porter was fired mid-season. Six players are averaging double figures in scoring and they’re getting production from everyone. Steve Nash is averaging 17 points and 12 assists while Jason Richardson and Amar’e Stoudemire, who finally healthy again, are putting up 19 ppg each. The biggest surprise for Phoenix is Channing Frye, who is in his first year with the team after spending the last four split between New York and Portland. He’s averaging a career high 13 ppg and (here’s the surprise) he’s sixth in the league in three-pointers made with nearly three a game. There’s no doubt that he’s been working on his shot, but it’s the Suns’ offense that is opening up that shot for him. And I think that Goran Dragic is going to develop into a very good backup for Nash. If they can keep up the shooting, the Suns are going to be hard for anyone to beat.

The Buccaneers win and Mike Smith vs. DeAngelo Hall

Took long enough, didn’t it? With yesterday’s 38-28 win over the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become the last of the winless teams to get their first win of the season. I really thought that either the Bucs or the St. Louis Rams were going to go 0-16, but luckily for everyone who watches the NFL that wasn’t the case. No one, especially the NFL, wants to see another team go winless. It’s got to be embarrassing for the league that the Detroit Lions went 0-16 last season, so having another team a year later do the same thing would terrible; however, having five 1-7 teams at Week 9 isn’t much better. I would say the Cleveland Browns would have the best chance at 0-16, but they somehow beat the Buffalo Bills 6-3 despite Derek Anderson passing for a mere 23 yards on 2-17 passing. I still can’t figure that one out.

The Buccaneers’ first win comes at the expense of a Green Bay team that hasn’t been doing well as of late. They’ve had two big losses to Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and this loss to the Bucs AT HOME has to compound matters. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 37 times (after 6 more yesterday) and GM Ted Thompson is feeling heat from everyone after trading Favre two years ago only to have him join the Vikings, lead them to a 7-1 start, and trounce Green Bay twice. And those aren’t the only two problems. The defense, which allowed Josh Freeman to pass for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns, hasn’t been getting the job done either. Green Bay is 4-4 and there’s still some football to be played, but it’s not looking good.

Upon further review, the Packers-Bucs game was at Tampa Bay, not Green Bay.

Coach Smith vs. DeAngelo Hall

During yesterday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, Falcons quarterback was hit by Redskins safety LaRon Landry out of bounds after a scramble for a first down. Naturally, the Falcons were not pleased with this, just as anyone other team would be in this case. On a replay, Atlanta coach Mike Smith is seen releasing a stream of profanity and throwing his headset, but that was the extent of it…until DeAngelo Hall got involved.

Deangelo Hall, who wasn’t even involved in the play, was the one who started the scrum on the sideline. Usually, players will get in the guy’s face who hit their player. Typically, no punches are thrown, just some shoving and jawing. But in this case it was a player who wasn’t involved getting into a scuffle along with a head coach. And now Hall says he’s going to file a complaint against Mike Smith for his involvement in the altercation. You know, since DeAngelo Hall is such an upstanding player and can’t stand it when people misbehave like that. Except he’s not. As such, he doesn’t have a case against Smith. Watch the video; Matt Ryan and LaRon Landry are back on the field when Hall starts fighting with the Falcons’ players. There’s no reason for him to be over there other than to get Landry away from Atlanta’s bench. The problem is that Landry wasn’t over there; he stood up and walked back on the field without any problems. It looks to me like Hall went out of his way to cause trouble against a former team.

Falcons bench incident draws review

This post can also be found on The Football Wire on the Most Valuable Network by following the link on the right side of the page.