Samstag, 30. Juni 2012
Kobe Bryant has proven that his career isn't over just yet.
Nearly grabbing a scoring title against the now three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant was an impressive feat for the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer.
Although he has probably at least a couple years until he retires, Bryant has already been rightfully placed in the conversation with all-time greats.
But where does he fit in with the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson?
Per the same story, Larry Bird remarked after a playoff game that he had played against "God disguised as Michael Jordan."
These guys are top-10 players of all time, and here they are, saying that Jordan is on a different level than they were.
Bryant averages fewer points per game than Jordan and also has fewer MVPs, NBA championships, scoring titles and just about everything else.
Put simply, there is no comparison between 23 and 24.
Now, where does Kobe fit in among all-time Laker greats?
Magic Johnson was a five-time champion and is generally regarded as the greatest point guard of all time.
At 6'9", Magic was one of the most well-rounded talents the NBA has ever seen. He averaged 19.5 points per game, 11.2 assists per game, and an astounding 7.2 rebounds per game.
The former Laker point guard also has more MVPs (3) and finals MVPs (3) than does Kobe.
Many may regard Kobe as a clutch performer, but this ESPN ranking gives the best playoff performance to Magic Johnson. (And Kobe isn't even in the top 10.)
In Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn't able to play due to injury, so Magic Johnson—a point guard, mind you—played center.
And that was in his rookie year.
There are two more Laker legends ahead of Kobe: Shaquille O'Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Shaq was the most dominant player of his generation. In the Lakers three-peat from 00-02, "The Diesel" won every single finals MVP award and even reigned in a regular-season MVP award in 2000.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is another big man who simply dominated the game, to the tune of six NBA championship titles, six MVP awards, 19 times an All-Star and of course the NBA's all-time scoring titles.
There isn't much of an argument for Kobe against the legendary career of Kareem.
That makes Kobe the fourth-best player to play in Hollywood, and therefore not a top-five player in NBA history.
Considering the staggering achievements of Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Bill Russell, Kobe drops down at least a couple more spots. He and Tim Duncan are at similar spots among the NBA's greatest.
So is he in the top 10 of all time? Possibly.
But top five? Definitely not.
The 27-year-old defensive midfielder has been a target of Milan for several years, and after appearing in only 17 league games this year, he is believed to be ready to make the move.
Per Diarra's agent Ernesto Bronzetti, who works closely with Real Madrid and has a good relationship with Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, his client is currently on vacation in the United States and will finalize the move upon his return .
“Diarra is on holiday in America right now,” Bronzetti told Marca. “However, as soon as he is back, he’ll find an agreement with Milan.”
The Frenchman is under contract at Real Madrid until 2013. No talks appear to have taken place between Milan and Diarra's employer for his services, but Football-Italia recently reported that Diarra was offered as part of a package, along with midfielder Nuri Sahin, in exchange for Kevin-Prince Boateng. But the offer was rejected by Galliani, who has no intention of giving up the Ghanaian.
Thursday's 2012 NBA draft featured one of the deepest draft classes in recent years, and left a ton of unsigned rookies who teams should immediately consider signing.
One of the bigger surprises about this year's potential rookies is the number of efficient shooters who were left undrafted. As we got later and later into the second round, teams began picking more and more foreign players, and a good number of sharpshooters were left without a team, hoping they can make their mark in the summer league.
Let's check out the five best shooters amongst the undrafted rookies.
Usain Bolt's aura of invincibility has effectively been erased. Now that the man who's spent the past half-decade breaking land speed records appears vulnerable, can star U.S. sprinters Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin seize the moment and knock him off his Olympic throne?
Gatlin and Gay are both on comeback trails of a different variety and currently seem to be carrying positive momentum with them on the path to London. The same certainly can't be said for Bolt, who suddenly isn't even the fastest 100-meter sprinter in his home country after losing to Yohan Blake in the Jamaican Olympic Track Trials on Friday.
America's duo of Olympic veterans are on the warpath right now. More importantly, they seem to be peaking at the right time.
Let's start with Gatlin, who broke through as a star at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens (h/t usatf.org). His gold-medal-winning 100-meter dash was the third-fastest in Olympic history at the time.
Gatlin ran a 9.85 in that race. Just this past Sunday, he posted a remarkable 9.80 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (Reuters, via NBCOlympics.com).
"Everything seems so surreal," Gatlin told reporters after his scintillating performance. "I just went out there and gave it my all.
Following an eight-year absence from the Summer Games scene, Gatlin seems to have shifted into another gear, which should strike fear into the heart of his Olympic competition (h/t Greg Couch, FoxSports.com). In 2010, he returned from a four-year suspension for a positive steroid test as a man on a mission (h/t Dave Ungrady, The New York Times).
“I’ve been tested multiple times since I’ve been back,’’ Gatlin told FOX Sports' Greg Couch. “When I was away, I was still getting tests. It’s not about judging myself or whatever I’ve been through. I’m focused on what’s in front of me.’’
What's in front of Gatlin is another shot at Olympic glory, and the men standing in his way—Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake—don't seem to scare him one bit.
“I don’t think I would come back to a sport where I would be OK with getting second or third,’’ he told Couch. “We (the U.S. sprinters) all have our eyes on the prize, wanting to get the gold. If that’s the Jamaicans in our way, the whole world in our way, that’s OK. Go around them and get the gold.’’
Gay, who finished second behind Gatlin in the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 9.86, seems fully healed after his own hiatus. The three-time world champion and world record holder for the 200 missed almost a year after his right hip required surgery (h/t Associated Press, Yahoo! Sports).
More appreciative of his talents than ever, Gay is out to prove himself all over again.
"It means a lot more, when you have to struggle, breathing heavy in training, you're sore and coming back from injury—it makes it so much better," Gay told the AP. "If you're like some robot, and can do anything and everything, it's not as sweet."
Gay and Gatlin, the faces of the U.S. Olympic men's track squad, both have sizable chips on their shoulders. You have to wonder if—after all the awards and accolades— Bolt still has the motivation to bring his A-game into every single training session like the two Americans have done during their personal roads of redemption.
“I had a lot of negative doubts,’’ Gay told New York Post reporter Brian Lewis after the U.S. Trials. “I tried to throw them out, but it’s one of those things I had to go through. I couldn’t even jog until March I was in so much pain, but I had to keep fighting.“Since  I had two surgeries. I feel like I’m on the way up. This is only my second race of the year. I started training in March. This is all I could ask for. I knew it was going to be a dogfight. I had to run my heart out to make this team."
Gay is officially a member of Team USA and headed to London, along with Gatlin. Bolt will be waiting.
Freitag, 29. Juni 2012
Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill has hit for the cycle twice in the past 11 days. He made history in doing so, as the last time a player had two cycles in the same season happened in 1931, by Babe Herman of the Brooklyn Robins (h/t Nick Piecoro for the link).
The history goes deeper than that, though:
Only one other player in baseball history has had two cycles in less than two weeks: Tip O'Neill on April 30 + May 7, 1887. 125 years ago!
— Jim McLennan (@AZSnakepit) June 30, 2012
[See the video of Hill's cycle here.]
Do you understand the significance of what Aaron Hill has done? It’s been 81 years since anyone has hit for the cycle twice in the same season, and as Mr. McLennan pointed out, 125 years since someone did so in less than two weeks.
I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this.
Hill is now batting .302 on the season—and now .390 over his past 10 games, with 4 HR, 10 RBI and 10 runs scored.
Is it time to start considering Hill for the All-Star game? With polling closed it may be too little, too late—but he’s certainly worthy.
Going into play Friday, Hill was third among all major-league second basemen in batting average (.293), third in on-base percentage (.356), second in slugging percentage (.493), fourth in HR (10), sixth in RBI (35) and tied for the MLB lead in triples (4).
Hill is also playing great defense at second, making the difficult look routine almost nightly. His .991 fielding percentage is good enough for eighth in the majors among his peers at second base.
Aaron Hill: 4th player in MLB history with 2 cycles in 1 season, joining Babe Herman (1931), Tip O'Neill (1887), John Reilly (1883). #Elias
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 30, 2012
Four players in the history of major league baseball.
If you witnessed this feat, whether in person, on television or on the radio, consider yourself lucky. The likelihood this ever happens again is not good.
The harsh reality for the Los Angeles Lakers is that they need to make significant roster adjustments. With a Hall of Fame bound guard in Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career, everything must be done to surround him with enough talent to continue to compete.
Management responded last season by making a run at Chris Paul, but was shot down as NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade. LA instead received Ramon Sessions at the trade deadline, hoping to improve their chances in the playoffs.
They were instead knocked out by the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. Sessions is now an unrestricted free agent whom LA is making a strong push to bring back.
The Lakers are also looking to deal Pau Gasol. He is one of the premier big men in the league, and has not played up to his usual standard in the playoffs. His regular season averages of 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds on 50 percent shooting dipped to 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds on 43 percent shooting.
He is a perennial All-Star, and possesses great skill around the basket. He has not performed as well lately, due to the Lakers lack of legitimate perimeter players. With the following moves, LA can become a championship contender once again.
A story surfaced on Hoops Rumours that Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo plans to use the amnesty clause on point guard Jose Calderon. Despite being in the final year of his contract, Calderon will be placed on waivers, and his $10.5 million will be cleared from the Toronto payroll.
LA must jump on this scenario.
Despite being over the salary cap, the Lakers still possess a trade exception of $8.9 million from the Lamar Odom trade.
As Calderon will be placed on waivers, LA can place a ‘bid’, if you will. This exception, despite its name, can be used to bid for the aforementioned amount. As most teams will not look to take his entire contract, the Lakers need to do exactly that.
Outbidding other teams and placing an $8.9 million offer on the table for the Spanish point guard will guarantee LA receives him.
Even though it adds significantly more salary to an already crowded payroll, Calderon’s contract would end at the end of the season, thereby clearing it from the books. It doesn’t that hurt he is close friends with Gasol, as they both play on the Spanish National team together in the summer.
He averaged 10.5 points and 8.8 assists, with just 2 turnovers per game. Calderon has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league, topping the likes of Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker.
Placing him alongside Bryant, Gasol and Bynum is surely a good thing, should they choose to add him to the roster. Adding Calderon would make the attempt to re-sign Sessions negligible. While Sessions is faster and younger, Calderon possesses the outside shooting and play-making abilities LA desperately needs.
LA can then use their mid-level exception to add outside shooting and scoring. Adding a player of the likes of Carlos Delfino or Gerald Green would fit the bill.
There seems to be a vast overreaction determining the situation of Gasol. His recent struggles are well documented, but what he can offer outweighs his uncharacteristic labouring.
A dominant frontcourt of Gasol and Andrew Bynum is ludicrous to break up, especially since it has helped bring LA two championships in recent years. It causes mismatches for opponents on both ends of the floor, and would be even more impactful with sufficient space created by the outside games of Bryant, Calderon and the outside shooting of whoever management decides is fit to court in free agency.
As long as this player can create his own offense and makes shots from beyond the arc, and LA claims Calderon of waivers, they will once again become a powerhouse in the Western Conference.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The agent for Mo Williams confirmed Friday that his client will be reunited with the Utah Jazz as part of a deal that will send Lamar Odom back to Los Angeles for a second chance with the Clippers.
The Championships at Wimbledon have seen a flurry of surprises in the early-rounds of the gentlemen's brackets. The biggest shocker came when Rafael Nadal closed out the second-round with a loss to Lukas Rosol.
The shock loss was avoided after Djoker took the next three sets by identical 6-2 scores.
Roger Federer (3) continued the excitement when he dropped his first two sets to Julien Benneteau and was almost ousted in the fifth set.
While they both won their matches, they can no longer be considered shoe-ins to meet in the semifinals.
Round three has already offered one surprising upset. Janko Tipsarevic (8) lost to Mikhail Youzhny (26) in four sets.
Nadal seemed to have a relatively easy path to the finals, particularly with Feliciano Lopez and Bernard Tomic losing in the first round. Instead, their losses were merely early-warnings that no player is safe from being upset.
Rafa's early exit has opened the doors for Andy Murray to become the first English player to advance to the Wimbledon finals since 1938.
David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Americans Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick will also look to take advantage of Nadal's absence from their half of the bracket.
Prior to the tournament the odds for anyone outside of the top-three to hoist All England Lawn Tennis Club cup were low. However, early upsets and close matches serve as a good reminder that the grass at Wimbledon has narrowed the competitive gap.
Djoker is still the heavy favorite, but instead of being encouraged by Nadal's loss and Federer's struggles, Djokovic needs to be cautious and not overlooking his opponents.
There will be another upset in this tournament and the defending champ showed today that he's not infallible.
Viktor Troicki (Ser) def. (15) Juan Monaco 7-5 7-5 6-3
(1) Novak Djokovic (Ser) def. (28) Radek Stepanek (Cze) 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-2
Denis Istomin (Uzb) def. Alejandro Falla (Col) 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5)
Xaiver Malisse (Bel) def. (17) Fernando Verdasco (Spa) 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 4-6 6-3
(18) Richard Gasquet (Fra) def. (12) Nicolas Almagro (Spa) 6-3 6-4 6-4
(26) Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) def. (8) Janko Tipsarevic 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3
(31) Florian Mayer (Ger) def. Jerzy Janowicz 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-5
(3) Roger Federer (Swi) def. (29) Julien Benneteau 4-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-6 (8-6) 6-1
NBA fans have grown accustomed to hoards of trades taking place on draft night, but that simply wasn't the case this year.
There were technically six trades in all, but only two of them promise to have any sort of immediate impact. Big dominoes like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol didn't fall as many speculated, but the trades that did happen are quite interesting.
Both deals involved only draft picks for the most part, and while I wouldn't say that they turned the draft upside down or anything to that effect, they did have a bit of an impact. Both sides obviously felt like they won the trades or else they wouldn't have happened, but there has to be a winner and a loser in each instance.
Here is a breakdown of which team won and which team lost when it comes to the two significant trades made on Thursday night.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Winner)
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the draft's biggest winner in terms of trading as they dealt the No. 24, No. 33 and No. 34 picks to the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 17 pick and guard Kelenna Azubuike.
The success of a trade is generally determined by which team got the best player, and the Cavaliers certainly did. While trading those extra picks may have hurt the depth of Cleveland's draft, it helped land another high-tier player.
After taking Syracuse guard Dion Waiters with the No. 4 pick, it is obvious that the Cavs want to run the floor with him and Kyrie Irving. Zeller is one of the few seven-footers who can play that game, so he should fit right in.
Dallas Mavericks (Loser)
When the Mavericks took Zeller prior to there being any notion of a possible trade with the Cavaliers, I thought it was a very shrewd selection. Dallas is an aging team, and Zeller would have infused some youth and enthusiasm into the frontcourt. Dirk Nowitzki took a step back last season, and he would have benefited from an energetic guy like Zeller playing next to him.
The Mavs decided to go with quantity over quality, however, and I believe they lost the trade. They received three young players—although James is 27 due to serving in the Air Force—but I don't feel like any of them are nearly as good as Zeller.
Dallas essentially passed up a potential start who can average a double-double at the center position for three bench players. Because of that, they clearly lost the trade.
Miami Heat (Winner)
The Miami Heat selected Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie at No. 27. It seemed to be a good fit, since the Heat needed a developmental center or power forward.
Moultrie's tenure with the NBA Champions was brief, though, as the Heat traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 45 pick and a future first-round selection.
Since the Heat came away without a first-rounder in this year's draft, it may seem like they lost, but I feel like they have the advantage. They ended up with a promising, young center in the form of LSU's Justin Hamilton at No. 45, but the true gem is that extra first-rounder.
It isn't yet known when the pick can be exercised or what restrictions may be placed on it, but the Sixers will have to be a top team in the league in order for Miami to lose out on the investment. Maybe the Heat missed out on a good big, but they didn't need one badly and can get a much bigger payoff down the line.
Philadelphia 76ers (Loser)
I don't want to bash the Sixers for making the trade because I can understand why they did it, but it probably wasn't best for their long-term success.
The 76ers took Maurice Harkless with the No. 15 pick, so they neglected their need for a big. Philly obviously had interest in Moultrie and thought enough of him to give up a future first-rounder, but that puts a lot of pressure on the team to be great in the coming seasons.
The Sixers have a solid, young core, but I don't view them as a contender despite their upset of the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, as well as the fact that they pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink.
If Moultrie becomes a dominant player, then it will be worth it, but I don't see that happening. He was inconsistent in college, and inconsistent players generally don't change their ways at the next level.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.
For the last three months, it's all been fun for Anthony Davis.
He's been able to revel in the spotlight after leading Kentucky to a national championship. He's been the recipient of abundant adoration from fans, coaches and pundits alike as the consensus top prospect in this year's draft.
However, as of Thursday night—when commissioner David Stern read his name in front of the crowd at the Prudential Center and officially sent him to New Orleans—the fun is over.
Now, it's win or bust.
The track records of former No. 1 draft picks aren't all stellar. Kyrie Irving did his part to redeem them this season when he became the Rookie of the Year, but being chosen first far from guarantees instant success. That is especially the case when you're joining a team that seems to be going nowhere fast.
The Hornets aren't that far off from being a contender in the West. They finished dead last in the conference 2011-12, but after this draft—when they also picked up Austin Rivers and Darius Miller—they're in a better position than teams like Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota and Portland, all of whom finished ahead of them last season.
In 2010-11, the Hornets were a playoff team. They've made the postseason in three of the last five years, and they have a core of young talent that is now very capable of getting back there. This makes Davis' job all the scarier. He should be able to right the ship in New Orleans, which means there's much more pressure facing him than there is facing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal.
Unless he gets New Orleans to the playoffs next year—obviously, it's much easier said than done—he'll be considered a bust.
The expectations levied on top picks are rarely fair. No one can expect Anthony Davis to single-handedly redeem the Hornets and bring them to playoff salvation. Even if he puts up 30 points and 15 rebounds every game for the next year, his supporting cast could flounder and the Hornets could find themselves back in the Western Conference basement.
Thinking about that pressure—to bring a terrible team to the postseason or be considered a bust—can be brutal for a 19-year-old, no matter how prepared he thinks he is.
The test won't be whether or not Davis can establish himself as the next Rookie of the Year, the test will be tuning out the talk and just playing basketball.
The Boston Celtics need a capable scorer in the backcourt to pair with Rajon Rondo. Avery Bradley is a defensive specialist, but lacks offensive prowess. E'Twaun Moore has potential, but is vastly unproven.
O.J. Mayo would be a perfect fit and relatively cost-efficient. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of csnne.com, the Celtics are interested in potential sign-and-trade scenario involving Brandon Bass and Mayo.
A league source said the C's continue to be enamored with the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, and are considering making another run at him. The source said no deal is imminent, but it appears the Celtics are willing to offer up Brandon Bass via a sign and trade.
Danny Ainge would be wise to pull the trigger on this deal. The Celtics selected Jared Sullinger with the No. 21 selection in Thursday night's NBA draft. Bass is expendable, and Boston doesn't have a player like Mayo to speak of.
Blakely also spoke to the financial side of Bass' contract.
While he indicated that his first preference is to return to Boston with a multi-year deal, he will be looking for a significant bump in salary from the $4.25 million he made this past season. It was initially believed that Bass would be seeking a similar deal to former Celtic Glen Davis' four-year, $26 million contract.
A desperate team could pay O.J. Mayo $6 million to $8 million. He made a little over $5.5 million last season, and he averaged just over 12 points per game. Any team that severely lacks scoring from the wing could overpay for his services.
Boston, especially if Ray Allen doesn't return, is that team. Even if Allen does come back, youth must be served in Beantown.
Mayo is a potentially dynamic scorer. He played nearly 27 minutes per contest this year, but still managed to average double digits. He provided Memphis with instant offense and a spark plug off the bench, but he is suited for a change of scenery.
He's a starter, at least in terms of talent. He can play either guard position, and he's a scrappy defender. His athleticism would give Boston a boost on both ends of the floor, and his numbers could increase with the added attention given to his game.
The addition of Jared Sullinger makes Bass easy to move. Bass is a solid player, but his mid-range production isn't that much different than what Sullinger will provide down low.
Moving Bass' steady play for a potentially dynamic scorer is Boston's best-case scenario. It would be a financially-responsible way to get younger and more explosive without really giving up anything in return.
Mayo's perimeter shooting would complement Rajon Rondo's pass-and-kick game, but he's also capable of getting to the rim himself. We've never been able to see what he's really capable of (because of his playing situation). He could explode with starter's minutes. He's used to the limelight, and the bright lights of Boston would be ideal.
The Celtics' age is well-documented. They must get younger, but they can't do it just for the sake of doing it.
Mayo is only 24 years old, and he still has reasonable upside.
Boston has another Bass already in place, but they don't have anyone close to Mayo on their current roster. It's time to change that.
The Chiefs fell dramatically short of expectations last season, and they are a team that could be in the hunt for some big-name free agents in 2013.
Kansas City is usually a franchise that shops in the bargain bin, but general manager Scott Pioli proved during this offseason that he is not afraid to make big-money moves to improve his team.
Pioli got one of the premier tackles in football when he signed Eric Winston, and he also added guys like Peyton Hillis and Kevin Boss to the mix as well.
They have been sitting on a decent amount of cap space in recent years, so it wouldn't be shocking to see owner Clark Hunt make a splash next March.
The free-agent market could change remarkably before 2013 depending on what happens in this NFL year, but here are some targets that the Chiefs should go after next offseason.
Donnerstag, 28. Juni 2012
Regardless of your thoughts about the current usage of the World Heavyweight Championship in the WWE, the title has some significant underlying issues.
Whether or not you want to see the Heavyweight title unified with the WWE Championship, there still remains several aspects that require attention.
The first facet is the design.
The Heavyweight title is pretending to be something that it’s not.
Since its inception in 2002 the World Heavyweight Championship has sported the clichéd "big gold belt" look.
The same look as the NWA and WCW Heavyweight Championships.
The Heavyweight title is actually the only currently active belt in the WWE that hasn’t undergone a major visual overhaul within the last decade.
Remaining constant is not a bad thing; however, merely keeping the "big gold belt" design to imply a legacy which doesn’t truly correspond with the title is a bad thing.
Changing the design of the belt out of respect for the NWA and WCW would be the right thing to do.
Although, to the WWE "the right thing" means nothing. Especially when it refers to respecting the legacy of titles and other wrestling promotions.
For instance, remember the time Vince McMahon held the ECW Championship in 2007.
By all rights the World Heavyweight title should not look like it does and could really do with a visual overhaul.
It won’t happen.
The second area where the Heavyweight title needs attention is in the name.
The word "heavyweight" has always been a point of contention.
As great as the moment was at WrestleMania 22, Tony Chimel’s announcement of Rey Mysterio as the new World Heavyweight Champion was fundamentally flawed.
With no legitimate weight restriction the belt cannot truly be considered a heavyweight championship.
It’s fair enough that anyone can win the title due to the WWE’s lack of weight classes.
Just stop calling it the World Heavyweight Championship. Merely the "World Championship" would suffice.
In fairness, many titles are often casually referred to as "heavyweight" titles. The WWE Heavyweight Championship, The United States Heavyweight Championship, or even the Light Heavyweight Championship, which was ironically a cruiserweight belt.
Nevertheless, the World Heavyweight title remains the only belt in WWE to contain the term within its official name.
It comes down to a simple matter of the WWE’s lack of weight classes. No divisions means no need to have a heavyweight title.
Both in the Heavyweight title’s visual design and name there is need for some revision.
The WWE, however, will likely do the same in this instance as they do in many of their other problem areas—absolutely nothing.
Italy's stingy defense will be the difference in their Sunday showdown with defending European champion Spain in the Euro 2012 final.
Although the Spanish have not allowed a goal since their Group C opener against, who else, Italy, they looked awfully susceptible in the final third against Portugal, who boast little goal-scoring threat outside of star player Cristiano Ronaldo, in their Wednesday semifinal win.
Meanwhile, Italy are coming off a near-shutout of the offensive-minded Germans, who tallied four goals against Greece in the quarterfinals. Italy conceded 14 corners and 20 shots to Germany, but allowed just one goal, and that didn't come until two minutes into injury time.
The Italians' heroic defensive effort did not go unnoticed on Thursday, and it won't on Sunday either, as they play a Spanish side that has looked less and less stellar at Euro 2012.
Italy's Mario Balotelli is in top form as well heading into Sunday's final after scoring two monumental goals in the first half against Germany on Thursday. Balotelli's presence in front of the Spanish net will be unlike any Spain have faced all tournament long.
More importantly for Italy on Sunday, though, will be their gritty team defense in front of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has allowed just three goals all tournament, one of which was a penalty by Germany's Mesut Ozil in injury time.
Buffon's experience and composure in net has proved to be a brilliant last line of defense for the Italians over the years, especially in their run to the 2006 World Cup championship.
Italy's world-class midfielder Andrea Pirlo will also be a critical defensive component this weekend. Pirlo is a crafty two-way player who will take center stage for the Italians. Pirlo has scored once and assisted twice in five matches at Euro 2012.
His midfield partners, including Daniele De Rossi, take pride in their defense every bit as much as they do in maintaining possession and creating scoring chances.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more take on Euro 2012.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Once Anthony Davis slips on a Hornets hat above basketball's most celebrated eyebrow Thursday night, the NBA draft really starts.
Fortunately for the Orlando Magic, the team could soon be parting ways All-Star center Dwight Howard.
According to HoopsWorld writer Alex Kennedy, Howard not only wants a trade, but has already moved on from the team and has the Brooklyn Nets atop his list of preferred teams.
Sources say Howard no longer wants to be in Orlando and he won’t give the franchise the long-term commitment they’re seeking.
Although the Magic would lose arguably the best center in basketball, they would also give up one of the bigger headaches in the league. Since the start of last season, Howard has been flip-flopping on his future with Orlando.
There were times when Howard said he was seeking a trade, and others when he said he feels the team has a great future ahead of them. It is outright blasphemous that a top-notch playoff contender to start the season, lost more games than it won in the second-half because of trade rumors. The team was 20-11 through 31 games and finished the season just 17-18.
Regardless of the talent he possesses, it is inexcusable and not worth the trouble to keep a player with that much of a negative impact on the team's success.
The production is clearly there from Howard on a regular basis. The Magic would still finish the season as the No. 6-seed in the East with 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game from Howard. However, this team had no shot at making a run in the playoffs with the constant media frenzy surrounding their center.
Much like the case with Andrew Bynum and the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard's presence is damaging to this team's charisma on the hardwood. Even if the Magic were to go out and find talent to surround Howard with, which is especially difficult given the team's cap room, his negativity is too big of a detriment.
There are a litany of teams that will be interested in trading for Howard's services, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where the team relives the "Dwightmare" that swept through Orlando during the 2011-12 season.
The 2012 season is almost here, and that means one thing for fans: fantasy football.
Every year there are fantasy studs and duds. If you want a fantasy stud, look no further in Mark Sanchez.
In the 2011 season, Mark Sanchez scored 227 total points on ESPN's fantasy leagues, not too shabby for a player considered to be in the bottom tier of starting quarterbacks going into the 2012 season.
Many reasons point to him breaking out in 2012, and with Sanchez not ranked as an early pick, this can be a great steal for many fantasy owners.
Improvement Every Year
Sanchez is the player that has been steadily improving year after year, one of the key reasons why he will breakout this upcoming season. While he threw a career high 18 interceptions, Sanchez also threw for career highs in touchdowns (26), completion percentage (56.7), yards (3,474), and QB rating (78.2), far better than his rookie and sophomore campaigns. Sanchez also led his team to four fourth quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives, showing he can get the job done.
While his numbers in 2011 don't reflect that of an elite quarterback, they show his improvement and progression. Keep in mind that Sanchez did not have a year to sit on the bench. He was thrust into the starting job upon being drafted.
Strength of Schedule
What will also help Sanchez is the strength of schedule for his team. Ranking 20th in the league in strength of schedule, the Jets only play six quality opponents, something that will make Sanchez's possibility of success far greater.
Chip on his Shoulder
Sanchez will be playing with more motivation than in years past after failing to make the playoffs and having a legitimate threat to take his job. With the media calling for Tebow to start, Sanchez will produce the best numbers of his career in 2012 and make the media regret doubting him.
This will be Mark Sanchez's year. With everyone against him, Sanchez will rise and play up to the media's expectations. Already preparing for the season, Sanchez has also taken attempts to build team chemistry, inviting competing quarterback Tim Tebow to his "Jets West" offseason camp.
With three years under his belt and enormous pressure from the media, Sanchez will thrive in 2012 and prove everyone, including the media, wrong. He will thrive in his fourth season and dispel all talk of Tebow replacing him.
The team's potential hidden treasures at wide receiver also give Sanchez a better core of pass catchers. Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley are three under-the-radar receivers to keep an eye on. This group, along with No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes, could help Sanchez take the next step. Hill is a second-round draft pick from Georgia Tech who didn't catch a lot of passes, but made huge plays in college nearly every time he touched the football. Schilens showed explosiveness during his time with the Oakland Raiders, but couldn't avoid injuries. Kerley came on strong in the second half of his rookie season, and wants to build on that momentum.
All these reasons show why Mark Sanchez is ready to break out both on the field and in fantasy in 2012. Sanchez may very well be the best steal of the 2012 season.
It's not an easy sequence to watch. While warming up for the floor exercises at the Visa Championships on June 10, McKayla Maroney crashed onto the floor, suffering a concussion and a broken nose. It was a sobering reminder for those who don't pay attention to gymnastics except in an Olympic year: This is a dangerous sport.
“I thought I got up in 30 seconds, but I guess my brother said I was laying there for five minutes,” Maroney recalled this week as she prepared for the U.S. Olympic Trials in San Jose. “When I was laying there, I was grabbing my head. I thought I was going to be fine. I thought that I was going to be able to compete, but I guess it was a little bit dangerous to compete because I was feeling dizzy.”
She was lucky. She returned to practice last week and has been cleared to compete this weekend.
Maroney is not the only competitor this weekend coming off of an injury. Defending Olympic champion Nastia Liukin has a torn rotator cuff. Alicia Sacramone had to miss last year's World Championships due to an injured Achilles tendon.
“For the outsiders, it looks like a little bit of a prissy sport,” Sacramone said. “We wear makeup and have our hair done and look cute. They say, 'Oh, yeah, I can do gymnastics, I can do a cartwheel.' But it is really dangerous. There's a lot of things they don't really take into consideration. If you miscounted your steps, you can miss the board, you can fall on your head, you can become paralyzed. These are all things that have happened in gymnastics in the past.
“For a not very knowledgeable fan, I don't think they realize how dangerous it can be or how painful some of the falls are that we have.”
Gymnastics may not be a contact sport in that the athletes don't collide with each other like they do on the football field. But it most certainly is a contact sport when you consider all the falls each gymnast suffers, most of them far away from the spotlight of the Olympics.
“Every now and then, you'll see it in a competition, but most of the time, it's in practice,” Sacramone said. “It's kind of swept under the rug because nobody wants to have the negative light of anything from it. You don't want to hear about injuries in baseball, football or hockey. You just want to watch the game and see them do well.”
Sacramone knows something about football injuries—she's been dating Brady Quinn.
It has been 17 years since Joan Ryan wrote, “Little Girls In Pretty Boxes,” the ground-breaking book that exposed the physically- and emotionally- broken girls left behind in the zeal to create stars in gymnastics and figure skating. It's not clear if things are better now. Certainly, Maroney, Liukin and Sacramone are effectively professional athletes, with plenty of endorsement deals, so they can accept the risk of serious injury. But if the perception that gymnastics is a “safe” sport for young children persists because the seriousness of injuries are missed by the public, that's a different story.
Many parents worry about professional football players returning to games after having their “bell rung,” is a bad example for children. Talking to the gymnasts about their injuries, they sound just like athletes in other sports—skirting that fine line between wanting to compete and acting irresponsibly. When Liukin was asked about her shoulder, she said, “I think at this point it's just … you don't really think about it. (laughter) You push through it on a daily basis, take some pain-killers, and you're good.”
Said Maroney about worrying about her concussion when she competes this weekend, “There's no fear. I just over-rotated and I hit my head. Injuries happen all the time. I'm actually really lucky that I didn't hurt my ankle or hurt my knee. Those kind of things take six weeks to heal so it's a actually it's blessing that I only got a concussion and it only took me a week to heal.”
Read that last sentence again. She “only” hurt her head rather than her knee? That doesn't sound so lucky.
Mittwoch, 27. Juni 2012
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan has made headlines throughout his MLB career, but he may have finally gone too far with his latest incident involving a fan in Cincinnati.
After changing teams several times, he appeared to have put his troubles behind him when he arrived in Milwaukee. Last season, he provided energy to a team that won the NL Central and made the National League Championship Series.
Not many players have gone through as much as Morgan, but he remains in the league. After his latest incident, it is time to wonder if he is running out of chances.
While he is having a difficult season, his time in Milwaukee may be running out. The team is falling out of contention, and they may be looking to sell at the deadline.
As a player, I respect what he can do on the field. There are not many outfielders who cover the ground he does. On the bases, he can make a pitcher's life miserable. He has great speed and is always a threat to steal.
This may not be the worst incident, but it is certainly one that could draw discipline.
August 21, 2010: Philadelphia
In his first incident involving a fan, Morgan was a member of the Washington Nationals.
After being heckled by fans in Philadelphia, he threw a ball into the stands and hit a Phillies fan in the head.
MLB suspended him for seven games, but he appealed it and won. He won the appeal thanks to fans sticking up for him, and the league determined he did not intentionally harm the fan.
Nevertheless, this incident cleared the way for more throughout his career.
September 1, 2010: Florida
While his appeal for his first incident was still being going on, Morgan could not stay out of trouble.
This incident started the night before when he barreled over Marlins catcher Matt Hayes in an extra-inning battle. The Marlins thought it was unnecessary, especially since he probably would have been safe had he slid into the plate.
In the next game of the series, Florida pitcher Chris Volstad plunked Morgan in the fourth inning. With the Marlins leading 14-3 at the time, Morgan broke one of baseball's unwritten rule and proceed to steal two bases during the blowout.
When he came to the plate in the sixth inning, Volstad threw behind Morgan and started a benches-clearing brawl.
MLB suspended Morgan for eight games after the brawl, and he was traded to Milwaukee in the offseason.
September 7, 2011: St. Louis
A battle for the NL Central got ugly on this night, and Morgan found himself in the middle of it.
After he struck out against Chris Carpenter in the ninth inning, the two exchanged words. Although benches cleared, no punches were thrown. Morgan had to be restrained by his teammates and was ejected.
After the game, he decided to send out a tweet and called out the Cardinals:
Where still n 1st and I hope those crying birds injoy watching tha Crew in tha Playoffs!!! Aaaaahhhhh!!!— Nyjer Morgan - T Dot (@TheRealTPlush) September 8, 2011
At that point in the season, Milwaukee was on their way to the playoffs and St. Louis was not. When the season ended, the Cardinals got the last laugh.
June 27, 2012: Cincinnati
The final incident happened on Wednesday afternoon in the ninth inning of a Milwaukee victory.
When Cincinnati's Devin Mesoraco hit a foul ball into the stands along the first baseline, Morgan gave a great effort to try to catch the ball. However, a Cincinnati fan also went for the ball and the two got tangled up.
While getting out of the mess, Morgan appeared to extend his arm and give the fan a shove. As he walked away, he exchanged words with the fan (who had children with him). The ump had to step between Morgan and the fan.
All that is left now it is time to see if anything comes from this incident.
With a .233 batting average, the Brewers may decide to get rid of Morgan sometime during the season. He has failed to produce the way he did last year, and Milwaukee is out of the race.
The 31-year-old outfielder can be fun to watch when he is not getting in trouble. When he gets on a roll, he can lead a team to victory.
The league needs to review this incident and see if anything comes from it. If action is taken, Morgan may have trouble finding a job in this league.