Freitag, 24. Februar 2012
The statistics for the Vikings 26th-ranked pass defense will prove why there is such a significant need to solidify the secondary.
The Vikes allowed 251.2 yards per game, 34 total touchdowns and only intercepted opposing quarterbacks eight times. Charles Woodson, Kyle Arrington and Eric Weddle intercepted seven passes each in the regular season—one less than the whole Vikings secondary.
If the Vikings want to ensure a chance at getting back to the NFC Championship game then they must solidify their secondary with a young and talented lock-down cornerback named Morris Claiborne.
Based on Walter Football’s Mock Draft Database, it is clear that Claiborne will be the first cornerback selected in the 2012 NFL draft. For the LSU Tigers in 2011, Claiborne notched 51 tackles, picked off opposing quarterbacks six times and successfully deflected 12 passes.
There is no denying the fact that Claiborne is going to be one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL; he has all the makings of an elite CB.
There is also no question that one elite cornerback can drastically change the look of a defense—which is something the Vikings are desperate for—especially with the high level of quarterback play from their division rivals.
Most fans would likely argue that the Vikes should look no further than OT Matt Kalil if available.
Although drafting Kalil makes perfect sense, he would not noticeably help the Vikings the way Claiborne would. Kalil will definitely allow Christian Ponder to have more time to throw and open up holes for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart.
However, a player like Kalil could always be found in the later portions of the draft; such a player may not produce at the same level, but still would produce more than a cornerback taken at the same position in the draft would.
Another option for the Vikings is drafting the very talented wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Although this would make great sense, the Vikings could easily address this need via free agency and save the risk of wasting a draft pick on another wide receiver who did not perform to the level that was expected of him.
The Vikings may also be able to strike gold in the second round the way they did with Sidney Rice.
Drafting Blackmon with the third pick will definitely bring a higher level of excitement to Minnesota, only to deprive the fans of what their franchise really needs—a strong defensive back.
Minnesota may be able to sign a free-agent cornerback like a Brandon Carr, but someone like him will not be enough for the massive problems the Vikings have in their secondary.
One great cornerback can take away another team's best wide receiver and the rest of the secondary only needs to be average to take care of the rest of the opposing team's wide receiving corps.
Claiborne would be able to give Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings more fits than Brandon Carr or any other free-agent cornerback would.
The Vikings should select Claiborne with the third pick in the 2012 NFL draft, or else they may face a lot of pain and suffering by the hands of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and the rest of great quarterbacks in the NFL for years to come.
Follow me on Twitter for everything NFL/NBA/WWE @ThaFreakness_BR
E-mail me for writing opportunities or interviews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liverpool fans who already think their first trophy of the year is as good as delivered could be in for a nasty shock this Sunday.
Of course they have the talent, the history, the support and the experience, but make no mistake—this game is closer to a coin flip than a walkover.
Do not underestimate Cardiff City.
Despite their recent league form, they still sit within striking distance of the two automatic promotion spots while their away record can only be bettered by West Ham this season.
Liverpool on the other hand have already lost six on their travels; that's one more than Blackburn and as many as Wolves.
Yes, the teams they are playing are of a higher standard, but it still doesn't make good reading going into a one-off game at a neutral venue.
Outside issues have spilled onto the pitch at Anfield this season, leaving plenty more questions than answers for fans and the new owners alike.
Plenty of the staff will be under a lot of pressure to get the job done at Wembley this Sunday and that could well create unwanted tension in the dressing room with several members of the squad almost certainly playing for their futures.
In contrast, Cardiff really have nothing to lose—their spirit is good, the support will be incredible and in Malky Mackay, they have a young Scottish manager that will be desperate to get spring a surprise on fellow countryman Kenny Dalglish.
A carefree attitude on a spacious pitch could serve the Bluebirds very well indeed, especially if Liverpool do not settle in the early stages.
Of course on paper, the Reds should and certainly can win the game comfortably but don't be surprised if this game is a lot closer than many people think, perhaps being decided in extra time or on penalties.
Liverpool—you have been warned!
After an impressive January, CrossFit has begun its annual Reebok CrossFit Games Open competition.
The Open is the first of three stages of CrossFit competition. The top qualifiers will advance to the CrossFit Regionals, to be held in the U.S. and abroad in April and May.
From there, the best at Regionals will compete in the annual CrossFit Games in Southern California in July, to determine the fittest athletes in the world.
This year, a record number of over 55,000 competitors worldwide registered for the Open competition. And they then waited until 5 p.m. Pacific time on February 22 for the first of five Open WODs to be unveiled.
And then they waited a few more minutes. Consider the amount of nervous energy contained in 55,000 anxious athletes awaiting their workout instructions.
Finally, at about 5:15 p.m., the WOD was posted on the CrossFit website.
The WOD, called Workout 12.1, requires the athletes to complete, within seven minutes, as many repetitions as possible of burpees.
The burpee is an intense, full-body exercise named after a physician named Royal Burpee, who popularized the movement in the 1930s. The U.S. military in World War II adopted the exercise as a standard measure of strength, aerobic fitness, agility and coordination.
There are numerous variations of burpees, but most typically, a burpee is a full-body squat thrust that begins with the athlete standing. The athlete then drops into a squat position, extends the feet back to assume a plank position, returns to the squat and ends in the standing position.
But CrossFit's Open WOD further requires the athletes not only to thrust themselves upward to the standing position, but also to leap six inches above their maximum reach.
And to do as many of these as possible in seven minutes.
The Open competitors have through 5 p.m. on February 26 to complete the burpee WOD. As of late on February 23, the worldwide leaders had posted over 150 burpee reps. Do the math—that is a lot of burpees in just seven minutes.
The second WOD will be posted on February 29—Leap Day. One can only imagine what the Open organizers have in mind for that WOD.
Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2012
The NBA All-Star Game in Orlando is finally here! After a long summer of speculations on whether this game will get canceled, fans finally get to enjoy the most celebrated event in professional basketball.
Every participant in the All-Star Game is a star in his own right, but the All-Star MVP Award only goes to the best of the best. It's possibly the second most honorable individual award only behind the Season MVP.
Who will win this honor this year? Will it be the old timers like Kobe or Dirk, or will it be the young guns like Durant or Griffin?
The former Newcastle star made his move to Anfield on the last day of the 2011 transfer window. The move itself was hailed and dismissed all at the same time, with some seeing him as the one who would fill Fernando Torres’ boots after the striker left for Chelsea the same evening. Others were skeptical of any player who would fetch such a price tag, the highest ever for an English player.
A year and a month removed from that date, the fans have seemed to all side with the latter as Carroll’s poor play has him with only eight goals in 40 appearances for the Reds. And the only thing he has in common with the Spanish striker he was compared to is being a vastly overvalued talent.
With the emergence of Luis Suarez, Carroll has been able to hide under the defense that at least he is part of an improving side. However, as Suarez’s off-field (and at times on-field) issues outside of his ability cloud his future, Carroll is being asked to step in and live up to his billing.
Last weekend, he got on the scoreboard for only the sixth time all season, as Liverpool thrashed Brighton 6-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Anfield faithful will be glad to hear that it felt like more than just a random event to the striker:
This is the best I’ve felt since I have been here, without a doubt. I feel fit and confident and I think it is showing in my performances. I feel like I am doing well and have just started to get going. I am scoring goals and I feel like I am doing well in games now. It’s all starting to come together for me. I’m getting around the pitch more and getting involved. I think it shows that I am happier and more confident. I’m just pleased that things are going right.
On Sunday, Liverpool faces off against Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final at Wembley.
For most Premier League teams of Liverpool’s stature, this is a time where the reserves will come out and get their moment of fame as well as a run to show they deserve first-team minutes.
However, Liverpool is in real danger of becoming Arsenal-esque in terms of silverware. The once undoubtedly most dominant side in England is in danger of going six years without a trophy of any sort.
While this one perhaps does not hold much place in a cabinet with 18 English championships and five European, it is the first stepping stone on the way back to the kind play that has built them such a reputation over the years.
Their opponent, Cardiff City, is not to be underestimated despite being in the second division. They have managed 50 goals in their league and have only been shut out four times all season.
However, their defensive record is not as impressive, conceding 39 goals, more than any team currently contending for promotion. In the Carling Cup they have fared better in the back, not giving up a goal in their last four matches.
Generally going into these kinds of ties where there is a such a disparity in how the two clubs traditionally view the competition, the lesser side will come with more vigor and motivation hoping to ride that to an upset.
But I doubt anyone will be more motivated to perform than Carroll:
I’ve never been to a cup final before so it's a great feeling to get there and I’m just hoping we can win it now.
His biggest criticism as a Liverpool player has been an inability to step up and score when it is most needed. Not only have his goals been few and far between, but they have been mostly in matches like last week’s 6-1 rout.
This Sunday offers a real chance for him to play the hero. The defense he will be facing is strong, but not invincible and while the eyes of the Red fans around the world will be on him, it is not like the pressure of a northern derby against United.
Cardiff will most likely go out there knowing that if they can shut down Suarez, they have a good chance of winning the match.
It will be up to Carroll to make them pay for that strategy.
If he is able to get one and find his groove, then the floodgates may open for the striker. The best possible outcome sees them winning and he being the main reason for it. Confidence of the fans and the club could be restored in him, the most important thing for any striker to have.
With Liverpool four points back of that last Champions League spot, they need all their players to be at their very best going into the final third of the season, making this Sunday’s final a perfect time for Carroll to find his touch.
While the striker uses the Cardiff match to springboard into form, key matchups against Arsenal, Sunderland and Stoke lurking ahead is where he can really begin to justify his price tag and cement his place in Liverpool lore.
Michael Lewis wrote a book about the left tackle position. Disney made a movie about it. Outside of finding an elite quarterback, finding an elite left tackle is among the most important accomplishments for an NFL franchise.
What makes up a great left tackle and which players in the NFL today best represent those traits? We answer those questions as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down the players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.
After hours spent scouting every starter, the top 32 left tackles have been scored in 10 criteria (here's more on how we analyzed offensive lineman). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.
Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2012
While NASCAR may technically be an individual sport, there are few tracks on the circuit that require teamwork more than Daytona. With such reliance on drafting partners, there's just no winning Daytona without some help.
With that in mind, which teams have the strongest chance of putting one of their drivers in Victory Lane Sunday?
To bear down on such a ranking, a few rules would have to be put in place. What criteria should be used? Past wins in the Great American Race? Certainly.
Drivers with wins in the Daytona 500? Absolutely.
I'll also look at how the current drivers performed last year on restrictor plate tracks, in both qualifying and finishes.
And yes, I'll restrict this to multi-car teams. I realize full well that Trevor Bayne won last year while driving for single-car team Woods Brothers and drivers like Regan Smith (Furniture Row Racing) have had strong success at such tracks.
However, the bigger teams have a distinct advantage on virtually any track and no less so at Daytona. The information they can share only adds to the natural alliances they can form on the track.
With all of that in mind, which team has the best chance of having one of their drivers hoist the most coveted trophy outside of the series championship?
Kate Upton came under heavy fire after earning the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2012.
Those opposed to the selection questioned whether Upton truly deserved the esteemed honor.
Here's one question for them: Are you serious?
The 19-year-old model is a certified 10 and here are 10 reasons why.
The latest addition to the 2012 NBA Slam Dunk competition could very well win the entire thing.
With Iman Shumpert shutdown by the Knicks with a nagging injury, 24-year-old Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz will reportedly take his place in Orlando at All-Star weekend.
Evans is a little-known talent out of Western Kentucky, but he can certainly throw it down with authority.
He'll join the Pacers' Paul George, the Rockets' Chase Budinger and the Timberwolves' Derrick Williams in the competition.
George is now the odds on favorite to win it all with Shumpert out of the mix, but Williams is an intriguing option as well. Most people have ruled out Budinger at this point because he's only thrown it down a handful of times this season. He can actually jump through the roof, but his shortcoming could be creativity.
The same can be said of most tall players. Voters and fans love to see the small dunkers jumping because it has more of a "wow factor."
Although George and Evans are also on the taller side, they've showcased more creativity than their opponents.
The competition itself can get stale at points because we've seen so many ridiculous dunks over the years that it is hard for these youngsters to bring something fresh to the court with every dunk.
But for one particular dunk it will be Evans who throws down the night's best.
Evans has great anticipation when the ball is the air and also possesses great body control. Whether it be an alley-oop or a dunk all on his own, Evans has enough flash and creativity to put down a perfect dunk.
With the Dallas Cowboys finishing the 2011-12 season at 8-8, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones has a colossal undertaking in front of him to move Dallas forward into the playoffs.
The Cowboys have needs in the defensive backfield, as well as the offensive and defensive line.
But before we can get into where Dallas is actually headed next season, we need to examine everything from the team's salary cap situation and free agents to holes in the roster and determine the Cowboys current free-agent situation.
Once we have determined where the team stands, we can then turn our eyes toward the draft and which players fit best.
To fix the Cowboys will not be an easy undertaking, just look at the team's problems with making it to the playoffs. If Dallas makes smart free-agent and salary-cap decisions, then that is when the Cowboys will start to see success.
Dienstag, 21. Februar 2012
Having lost Klay Thompson to the NBA, the WSU Cougars entered this season with one proven scorer: Faisal Aden. Then they found another one as Brock Motum turned into one of the Pac-12's most improved players.
After a rough start that included some poor shooting games and some injuries, Aden had just started to play well, with great efficiency, when he suffered a torn ACL against Arizona two weeks ago.
Now the Cougars are down to Motum, who ranks second in Pac-12 scoring at 17.2 PPG. He scored 26 in a 60-53 win over USC a week ago and added 25 in a 63-60 loss to UCLA.
He's half the Cougar offense, and when he gets shut down—as he did by UCLA's zone in the second half, scoring just six points—the Cougars get turned off (they failed to score for nine minutes in the second half vs. UCLA).
The Cougars find themselves in a very familiar position, and you have to wonder if Ken Bone can recruit well enough to put them back where they were four years ago: in the NCAA Tournament. The soonest it probably could happen is 2014, but 2015 seems more likely.
Circumstances always seem to conspire against WSU having more than two good players at once. They typically have two guys who carry the team, with a couple of young guys who aren’t there yet. Best case, that gets them into the NIT. And that's not good enough. Ever.
That's how it was in 2008-09, when Thompson and DeAngelo Casto were freshmen and seniors Taylor Rochestie and Aron Baynes carried the team to the NIT. It was especially unfortunate that Baynes and Casto played just one year together—they could have been quite a pair if they had gotten even one more year together.
It has been a rare case when the Cougars have had three or four good, experienced players at one time, but when they have, they have been a strong NCAA Tournament squad.
The last time that happened was in 2006-08, when Baynes and Rochestie were part of a team that was led by Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver. When Low and Weaver were juniors and Baynes and Rochestie were sophomores in 2006-07, the Cougars advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (they lost in double-overtime to Vanderbilt).
The next year, those four led them to the Sweet 16 (where they were blown out by North Carolina). As good as those teams were, they were still a scorer short.
They got that scorer in 2008-09, when Thompson arrived. But Low and Weaver were gone, and Thompson was too young to help the Cougs get to the tournament; they had to settle for the NIT in Tony Bennett's last year.
The Cougars had the talent to be an NCAA Tournament team last year, when Thompson, Casto and Aden were juniors and Motum and Reggie Moore were sophomores. (We're not including senior Marcus Capers in this discussion because he is a one-dimensional—i.e., defensive—role player who doesn't offer much.)
But that group underachieved greatly. If Thompson and Casto had returned for their senior seasons, the Cougars probably would be at or near the top of the Pac-12 this year.
But, they left and Aden got hurt, and now it's just Motum and the annoyingly inconsistent Moore, and you can see where the Cougars are—not even close to good enough.
Next year, Motum and Moore will be seniors, DaVonte Lacy and Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge (currently redshirting) will be sophomores and the Cougars will have flash scorer DeMarquise Johnson and big man Richard Peters in as freshmen.
That will put them in the same spot they were in during the 2008-09 season, when they were light on experience and ended up as an NIT team. That seems to be the best they can do in 2013—and that's if Lacy, Johnson, Woolridge and Peters can help Motum score.
Assuming Johnson is the same kind of scoring machine Thompson was and Peters can fairly replicate Casto's play inside, the Cougars figure to be a borderline NIT team next year and again in 2014, when Woolridge and Lacy will be juniors and Johnson and Peters will be sophomores.
By 2014, Bone will be in his fifth season, and he will need to be showing that he is putting together a viable program. His 2013-14 recruiting class will be key to that. He has a nice class coming in next year: Johnson, Peters and a pair of 6'7" guys with unknown potential in Brett Boese and Richard Longrus.
But the key to long-term success will be his 2013-14 freshmen. If he can find a good big man and a point guard for that class, Bone could be on to something. Of course, it probably won't come to fruition until 2014-15.
In 2014-15, those unknown recruits would be sophomores, Johnson and Peters would be juniors and Woolridge and Lacy would be seniors, and the Cougars ideally would be in the NCAA Tournament again.
If they aren't, it means Bone will have failed to establish his program. And they will have to start all over.
Rumored to be in the works for over a week, a deal between Ibanez and the Yankees was ultimately finalized today. The one-year deal will pay Ibanez $1.1 million, with an additional $2.9 million available should he reach certain checkpoints.
Ibanez will serve as the primary designated hitter against right-handed pitching, as well as an emergency left fielder should he be needed.
Many Yankees fans may be upset over the move, instead hoping that the Yankees would have signed either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. The decision ultimately came down to the fact that Ibanez can still play the field if needed, as Damon and Matsui are viewed as unplayable in the field.
The 39-year-old Ibanez is coming off of his worst season as a full-time player. He hit .245/.289/.419 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs as the everyday left fielder for the Phillies.
His best season came in 2006 as a member of the Mariners. In 159 games, Ibanez hit .289/.353/.516 with 33 home runs and 123 RBI. He also scored 103 runs, the only time in his career he has eclipsed the 100-run mark.
Over his 16-year career, Ibanez sports a very respectable line of .280/.342/.471 with 252 home runs and 1,054 RBI.
Although he was added to be the regular DH, Ibanez must know that he will be a part of a rotation of aging veterans that will include Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and occasionally even Mark Teixeira. This will be done in an effort to keep everyone healthy over the long haul.
Against left-handed pitching, Ibanez struggled in 2011. He hit .211/.232/.353 with just 28 hits. Ten of those hits went for extra bases (five doubles, one triple, four home runs).
Kevin Long will surely be able to improve those numbers (see Curtis Granderson's former struggles against lefties), but Andruw Jones will most likely serve as the primary DH against lefties, as he hit pretty well against them in 2011 (.286/.384/.540).
It's not out of the question to see Ibanez play in 125 games this season, but it's more likely that his games played total will hover around the 110 mark. Expect a batting average around .260 from him in 2012, with 15 to 20 home runs and close to 70 RBIs.
He'll be batting near the bottom of the Yankees lineup, and the addition of his bat will only help to improve one of the most potent offenses in the American League.
And that's really saying something, considering how little it takes to motivate Bryant each season.
Whether it is a perceived slight, a new injury or doubt from his critics, Bryant has always found a way to get mentally prepared for the NBA's regular-season grind, and he certainly has no shortage of motivating fuel this year.
Age, a new coach, questions at the point guard position and a roster in flux have provided Bryant with plenty of obstacles to scale in his continuing quest for greatness, but how much more can Bryant accomplish before his career clock finally runs down?
Bryant has already cleared one major hurdle this season by passing former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for fifth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, but garnering any other team or individual recognition may be a little more difficult.
As the NBA's leading scorer at 29.7 points per game, Bryant is definitely a strong contender for the NBA's MVP award, but the only problem is other players are having better seasons, and it's reflected in the respective performances of their teams.
Bryant's primary competition for the MVP award at this point is LeBron James, which is a complicated matter for Bryant considering James is currently having what may be the best regular season in NBA history.
Not to mention that James' numbers are backed up by the fact that his Heat are the NBA's top team at the moment based on their record.
Bryant may steal a few votes from those who are impressed by his ability to stave off decline, but the MVP award should go to the league's best player from the league's best team, and James definitely fits the bill.
The prospects of Bryant winning a MVP award beyond this year are also slim, and none when you factor in players like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, who are well-equipped to supplant James if his game slips in the coming seasons.
At age 33, Kobe has proven that he is still one of the league's top players, but if this season has been a re-birth of sorts for Bryant, it has also been an excruciatingly slow and painful death for the Lakers' dynasty.
All that seems to be missing is a eulogy.
At this point in his career, Kobe would probably trade any individual awards for a few more championships, but this version of the Lakers is far from accomplishing that goal.
There is even an outside chance that the Lakers could fail to make the postseason at all.
If the regular season ended today, the Lakers would be the fifth seed in the West, which is only a game-and-a-half above the conference's eighth seed.
Considering the Lakers inconsistency this year, there is no guarantee they will hold their current position, much less improve on it. And for Bryant, each season without a championship is a failure, regardless of what individual awards he might win.
Right now Bryant looks like he can play at this level for another five years, but in these instances Father Time is undefeated.
Age will eventually break Bryant down like no opponent has ever been able to do, and ironically the deterioration of his game could run parallel with his team's.
It is widely assumed that Bryant will finish his career as a Laker for life, but unless management addresses some serious concerns, Bryant may be forced to watch the final years of his great career be over-shadowed by the lack of vision from Lakers management.
Whenever Kobe's career ends, he will be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever bounce a ball on the hardwood, but for the first time in his professional career the ability to build on that legacy may be totally out of Bryant's hands.
As it stands, the majority of the 2012 San Francisco 49ers starting roster features players aged 28 or younger.
The team will retain most of these men, while some of those with the year 1982 or earlier displayed on their birth certificates should prepare to seek employment elsewhere, at the very least by 2014.
Kicker David Akers and long snapper Brian Jennings can consider themselves safe.
As significant and underrated as these positions are, we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think these 49ers would be playing north of the half-century mark.
Other starters and those filling out the depth chart, whether under contract or not, should put their days in a San Francisco 49ers uniform behind them.
Let’s take a gander at the five players the 49ers would be best served moving on from sooner rather than later.
Montag, 20. Februar 2012
The following is a list of the individual pro-athletes we love to root for.
These are the guys (and gal) who have overcome haters, doubters and long odds to become winners.
Some have inspired on global and national levels, and others have sparked movements.
Here is my look at the top six underdog professional athletes of the last decade or so.
Often lost in the hustle and bustle of the NFL draft process is the need for general managers to draft well.
We obviously talk about all the players and the teams until we're blue in the face, but general managers often escape our words.
These four GMs need to make things happen here and now.
A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers
Dubbed the "Lord of NO rings," both Smith and coach Norv Turner are on the hot seat. This Chargers team just missed the postseason and they're wasting Philip Rivers' prime by missing on draft picks time and time again.
That cannot happen again this year.
Smith needs to fill the holes this team has or he'll be looking for a new job soon.
Gene Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars
This Smith just had his contract extended, but he's on the ropes and his picks haven't been very good of late. In fact, he's reached far too often in recent years.
The Jags have a new owner and a new head coach and the fact that Smith kept his job through it all is amazing.
Scott Pioli, Kansas City Chiefs
The former New England Patriot man has some work to do to get back to the postseason. With Romeo Crennel now the head coach, Pioli truly has crafted a Patriots in the AFC West.
But he needs a good draft here. This team has holes and they need to be filled for them to even have a chance at success. And the decision about who lines up under center could become very interesting soon.
Tom Heckert (and Mike Holmgren), Cleveland Browns
Two first-round picks and a potential quarterback change? Enough said.
With two NBA scoring titles to his credit, it seemed inevitable that Kevin Durant would eventually hit the 50-point plateau. He picked a historic night to do it. Durant scored a career-best 51 points for the top performance in the NBA this season, Russell Westbrook added 40 and Serge Ibaka had his first career triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 124-118 in overtime...
Kobe Bryant's hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged wife Vanessa appears to have hit a roadblock, with her shopping for an apartment across the country in New York City.
According to TMZ, she and the kids were in the Big Apple scoping out new living quarters, despite already owning three estates in California as part of the divorce.
Real estate sources tell us ... Vanessa won't say if she's packing up and moving from California -- but she definitely wants to buy a place in NYC.
It's not exactly a sign that she's reconciling with Kobe Bryant, even though the two were kissing after the Lakers game on Valentine's Day.
As for whether Vanessa would move away from California ... we're told she thinks Lakers fans and Lakers wives don't like her -- at least that's the way she perceives it.
While we can sit here and speculate about what is going on with Kobe and Vanessa, the only people that have any idea what's happening is them.
If she feels ostracized from her friends and the people in the city, then she should look to move somewhere she can start again.
If she is just trying to get under Kobe's skin because she is a vindictive person, then clearly she has a long way to go before there is even a chance she would consider reconciling with him.
Just for the sake of their kids, let's hope that these two can find some way to be amicable and honest towards each other before making any rash decisions that has serious ramifications on the children.
The divorce is bad enough, don't add fuel to the fire for them. If they have problems, they need to try working them out behind the scenes.
They were kissing each other on Valentine's Day, so maybe there is some level of progress being made between them. All that we really know right now is, this story is far from over.
New Boss in Charge—At the Front Office
Last Friday was a day of changes ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy's preseason trip to Arizona. The major change: 38-year-old Chris McGowan is now the club's Chief Operating Officer (COO), and will take over all day-to-day operations of the Galaxy.
"Chris has been a part of our organization for 16 years and has done an outstanding job with the business side of the Kings to where there is now a lot of enthusiasm and expectations, and he will do the same with the Galaxy,” said AEG CEO Tim Leiweke. “With our recent MLS Cup Championship, the return of David Beckham and our outstanding roster heading into this season, the Galaxy will continue their rapid growth in this marketplace under Chris’ leadership.”
"I am looking forward to working in Major League Soccer and I am honored to be joining a championship organization that has a rich history of success both on and off the field,” said McGowan on Friday. “I am very passionate about the sport of soccer and am excited to work alongside the rest of the front office staff to provide our fans with an organization they can be proud to represent.”
McGowan brings five years of experience running the Los Angeles Kings, another AEG-owned club. In addition, McGowan managed the Premium Seating (Luxury Suite and Club Seat) sales efforts for all of AEG’s venues in Southern California including STAPLES Center, Home Depot Center and NOKIA Theater as well as sales and marketing efforts for AEG’s other Southern Californian properties.
McGowan replaces Galaxy President of Business Operations Tom Payne, who leaves the club after nine seasons.
Meanwhile, Bruce Almighty Looks on with Keen Interest
Manager Bruce Arena was quietly preparing the first team for the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, the finale to the Galaxy's preseason junket. Central defender Tommy Meyer has been groomed to take over for Omar Gonzalez in the back line.
“I think everything is going as expected,” Arena told Larry Morgan of LAGalaxy.com. “I think we’re getting close to understanding our group. Getting the soccer a little sharper will be the challenge for the last half of the preseason, for sure.”
Indeed, Los Angeles have been anything but sharp, recording two victories and three consecutive defeats at the Home Depot Center.
An inspired, improved performance at the Desert Diamond Cup is what LA should strive for ahead of the first serious test on March 7 against Toronto FC. Team captain Landon Donovan is expected to play after a second successful stint at Everton FC.