Thoughts on Rory,NFL Free Agency and the Kentucky Wildcats for Monday


Rory McIlroy isn't in any way like Tiger, but when he tosses a club into a pond he still needs to be held to the same standard.

As hard as I am on Tiger Woods, I’m a little disappointed that the sports media world hasn’t been a little harder on Rory McIlroy after he chucked his 3-iron into pond on the par five fifth hole at Trump Doral. One ESPN writer even went so far as to say “it wasn’t all negative.” Wait a minute… Why do we crush Tiger Woods for moments of anger that are a simple as a curse word but McIlroy gets a pass? Sorry but if you’re going to continue to push golf as a game of honor then demand it from all players not just some.

National Football League’s free agent frenzy is underway with some surprises and some some very expected moves. Ndamukong Suh will reportedly sign the richest deal for a defensive lineman ever on Tuesday when the formal signing can begin. Suh will get $60 million in guaranteed money as heads to the AFC East to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were thought to be major players for Suh but in the end the first rumored team to want him has gotten him.

Randall Cobb surprised a few people with his decision to stay in Green Bay for less money.

In a bit of a surprise, Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers after it appeared there was no way they would be able to afford him. The Raiders reportedly offered him as much as $11-12 million per season but Cobb made a decision that far too many players do not. He chose less money and the chance for team success over anything else. Cobb continues to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and will benefit from having other talented receivers around him.

I’m not sure I understand what the Philadelphia Eagles are up to in terms of their running back situation. They traded LeSean McCoy who is arguably in his prime years and now are rumored to be looking at former 49ers’ running back Frank Gore who is absolutely on the downside of his career. Granted, if they sign Gore, he’ll make much less money than McCoy would have but at the same time isn’t McCoy a better fir for the Chip Kelly offense?

No pun intended by this but what a tough break for the San Francisco Giants who have lost outfielder Hunter Pence for six to eight weeks. Pence, who played in all 162 games last season was struck on the forearm which fractured while he was batting. The defending champion Giants really have no room error in their quest to return to the playoffs. With the Dodgers already poised to be the division’s best team, the much-improved Padres will not be easily dismissed in 2015 either.

The Kentucky Wildcats achieved a perfect 31-0 regular season on Saturday with a win over SEC rival Florida. The arguments will be far and wide as to whether the team needs to lose in the SEC Tournament in order to capture the National Title. My take is that there will be pressure on these kids one way or another. They’ve been the overwhelming favorites to win the title since the season began and losing in the conference tournament will not make a bit of difference in the amount of pressure these players will face. Should UK lose somewhere in the next four weeks, the hindsight will be ridiculous. Just let the kids and John Calipari navigate the waters. There will be rough seas ahead one way or another.

Usually by this time in the NBA season I have a firm grasp on who I think will win the title but to be honest, I think any team in the Western Conference is capable of winning the championship while in the East I have faith only in the Hawks and Cavaliers.


2015 NBA Championship Odds Updated

Odds makers have updated their NBA Championship odds with the futures price of the Chicago Bulls going up and down like a roller coaster.

Chicago has seen its odds go up and down the last few weeks due to injuries. The Bulls odds went up to 20 to 1 from 8 to 1 last week following the news of guard Derrick Rose injuring his meniscus. When it appeared that Rose would likely return to play this season, odds makers moved the Bulls down to 10 to 1, according to Bovada and topbet.

Then Bulls guard Jimmy Butler sprained his elbow and could be out up to 6 weeks. As of Tuesday, when the new odds were released, the Bulls were back up to 14 to 1 o win the NBA Championship.

According to betonline and, the Oklahoma City Thunder has also been hit by injuries and that that has impacted their odds for the championship as well.

Last week, the Thunder was one of the top 3 to win at 9 to 2 after a 7-game winning streak. However, on the new list, the Thunder had dropped slightly to 6 to 1. Russell Westbrook had minor surgery on his cheek and missed Sunday’s game, but is expected back for Wednesday’s game. Kevin Durant however will be out for another 3 to 4 weeks. Nevertheless, the team is in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

San Antonio is now one of just five teams listed on the futures board with odds in the single digits to win the NBA title, as the Spurs were adjusted to 8 to 1 from 10 to 1 the week before.

Memphis might just be the best bargain in the NBA at this time. The Grizzlies have the NBA’s third best overall record yet is only sixth in the betting with odds of 12 to 1.



Duke in Hot Water Plus Take it Easy on LeBron People

Coach K
Coach K
I certainly hope Mike Krzyzewski did all the right things pertaining to a former player's alleged sexual assault.

Duke University is finding itself once again embroiled in a sexual assault case but this time around it isn’t the storied LaCrosse program. This time around the stakes are much higher because the spotlight is now on the most prominent person at the University and that would Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Back in late January, Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon for “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.” Now as it turns out, Sulaimon is alleged to have been in two different sexual assaults at the school.

Both accusers allegedly told people about the alleged attacks but did not go to anyone of authority. Options included the Durham Police as well as the Office of Student Conduct on campus. According to ESPN, the two women chose not to got to authorities because they feared what could come from the Duke fan base. If you think that line of thinking is wrong then read the story about the reporter who covered the Jameis Winston case in Tallahassee, Florida.

He was barraged with death threats and was attacked at every turn for simply doing his job as an investigative reporter.

I have no idea if what took place with Sulaimon and the two women involved but that won’t be the biggest story about this by a long shot if there is evidence that Mike Krzyzewski knew about this and did nothing. Coach K has power beyond belief on the Duke campus but people also said the same thing about Joe Paterno and Penn State and we know how that ended up.

If ESPN’s sources are accurate, then Krzyzewski did indeed know about about the alleged assaults as far back as as March of 2014.

I am in no way suggesting that this is on par with the events of Penn State; hopefully nothing ever will be again. But this can’t be waved away, not in 2015 where the media and more importantly social media are everywhere. We’ve already seen a legendary coach taken down for not doing enough. I sure would hate to see it happen to another.

Fans need to check their memories a bit when it comes to the greats missing shots like LeBron did.

Take it easy on King James

I’ve written in these very pages before that I will never view LeBron James in the same stratosphere as Michael Jordan and the most simple reason why is the lack of a killer instinct. That said, the people throwing darts at James for his two missed free throws with just four seconds remaining in Houston the other night need to chill out.

“Jordan would have never missed those! Kobe wouldn’t have missed those either!”

I’ve got news for you folks… Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant missed plenty of game-winning shots during their careers. To say they didn’t means you have not seen enough of either of them because I’ve seen it and I know many others have too.

Like I said, I will never be able to place James above His Airness simply because he lacks the titles but just as importantly he lacks the killer instinct that drove Jordan so hard. That’s not his fault, it’s just how it is. Either way, lay off LeBron for crying out loud. There isn’t a professional alive who hasn’t missed key shots down the stretch.

Sometimes I wonder what universe you people are living in when you say “Jordan would have never missed those.”

The First Sunday in March Brings Many Thoughts From Across the Sports’ Spectrum



The dent in Russell Westbrook's face is pretty evident in this photo.

With numerous goings on in numerous sports, I’m giving you a little bit of everything as the third month of 2015 begins.

There was a time when it was extremely rare for fans to get a hold of hats, shirts or jerseys of their favorite teams and while that difficulty no longer exists the Pittsburgh Pirates have to wish it still did. With the revealing of “Jihadi John” of ISIS this week, a photo of him surfaced wearing a Pirates baseball cap and it has sickened not only the fans but the Pirates’ organization. It’s too bad you don’t actually have to do something to prove your fandom.

Remember the saying, “Do you want another hole in your head?” While a hole is not what Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has after being kneed in the head inadvertently by a teammate. Westbrook had a clear ‘dent’ on the right side of his face and he had surgery to repair the zygomatic arch bone which is officially part of the cheek. He’s out for today’s game against the Lakers and will be re-evaluated this week,

Kentucky rolled to another SEC victory yesterday as they knocked off a pretty good Arkansas team. I have a really hard time seeing the Wildcats get beat before the NCAA Tournament begins. Yes, they could face some challenges in the SEC Tournament but once tourney time hits I expect them to be even better.

Mariota and Winston each have questions about their games heading towards the draft.

In what is already a weak quarterback class, both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have separate issues that teams considering them will have to contend with as the draft approaches. Winston’s issues are obvious; can he mature enough to make off-field problems a thing of the past? For Mariota, the issue might be bigger. I worry about him having to take traditional three, five and seven step drops at the pro level. It might not sound like a big deal but trust me, it is.

RIP Anthony Mason. The former New York Knick was the epitome of basketball in the mid-1990s when the game went from a fast-paced, back and forth style to an aggressive, physical style ushered in by the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons. Mason played with the Knicks and Patrick Ewing when they made the NBA Finals in 1994 and lost to the Houston Rockets. Mason was consistently at the epicenter of the chaos in the sometimes brutal and physical Eastern Conference Playoffs. Whether it was the Jordan-led Bulls or the Alonzo Mourning Heat, Mason was a physical presence not to messed with.

The Cleveland Browns did their due diligence in getting Josh McCown to come to them for the 2015 season. McCown will not be any kind of savior for Cleveland at 35 years of age but with Johnny Manziel in rehab and Brian Hoyer likely heading elsewhere, the Browns acted wisely to get a veteran QB into the fold. McCown was 1-10 last year with Tampa Bay and perhaps the reason the Browns liked him was that his one win was over the Steelers. Still, one has to wonder just what the direction of the Browns is.

While the NFL toys with the idea of one or possibly two teams in Los Angeles, a new study says a new stadium there would immediately be a terrorist target. While terrorism is nothing to joke about, why should we assume that a stadium in LA would be any more of a risk than one in New York or Chicago or Kansas City for that matter? Obviously bigger cities are better targets for terrorists but I don’t think we can just say the others aren’t susceptible as well.

Golden State vs. Cleveland Could be Preview to NBA Finals

Most sportsbooks are calling the matchup on Thursday night in the NBA between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, the most likely matchup for the NBA Finals this season

Most of the shops following the Derrick Rose injury this week, now consider Cleveland an even heavier favorite to win the Eastern Conference.

According to Bovada and, the Cavaliers are currently -180 to make the NBA Finals and Chicago had been dropped to +1500. Out West, Golden State is +220 to take that conference title.

A Finals pairing between the Cavaliers and Warriors is currently paying +250. The pairings next highest include Cleveland/Oklahoma City at +650, Cleveland/Memphis at +800 and Atlanta/Golden State at +1000.

That makes the game on Thursday in Cleveland even that more of a big deal.

If bookmakers are correct in this matchup between Cleveland and Golden State does end up being a preview to the championship, this game would be the only reference point for the matchup.

The first head-to-head game between the two teams cannot be used as a comparison since star forward LeBron James did not play for Cleveland.

Golden State was victorious in that game 112-94. Golden State enjoyed an edge of 36-3 in points on the fast break and recorded 35 assists on 43 field goals.

The loss at the time was Cleveland’s fourth straight and the Cavs would eventually lose six straight. However, since James returned from two weeks on the sideline Cleveland is 17-2.

Nevertheless, Golden State is 21-5 over its past 26 games overall and has won 16 of 19 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

One the MVP front, Stephen Curry remains at -300, the overwhelming favorite. James is third at +500, with Houston’s James Harden sitting second at +350 and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in fourth at +1000.

With the consistency Curry has played with all season and the way his team had taken the West by storm and leading the NBA with the best record overall, it will be hard to un-seed him from the top.

Curry scored 51 points on February 4 and is averaging 28 points per game during the month. He scored 32 on Tuesday night after sitting out a game over the weekend with a sore ankle.

Kyrie Irving is a great defender for Cleveland, but Curry was not fazed the first time they met this season as he scored 23 points, had 10 assists and just one turnover.

NBA is Finding More Reasons to Shorten It’s Regular Season

Adam Silver wants to explore a shorter regular season and I can see why.

I mentioned last week that National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver was contemplating changes to the season schedule. To be honest, the owners are unlikely to be in favor of any changes that reduce the number of games. With each team currently hosting 41 games, the reduction of any means the reduction of gate money.

Oh, did I forget it also means lost money on team gear, food, beverages and arena parking?

There is one way owners can recoup the lost income however and that’s to raise prices on all of the above and that worries me. Ticket prices are already preposterous and so are concession prices. It’s pretty much to the point where you need to have a kidney ready in order to pay for a round of beers.

What’s so interesting is that at a time when the National Football League is flirting with adding an extra game or two, Silver is instead looking to go into another direction. I don’t think we need to worry too much about NBA owners heading to the streets to look for hand-outs though.

I think where you’ll see things change isn’t so much with the NBA’s regular season but with its’ preseason. For years the league has pushed preseason games out of the country in an effort to drum up more support for the game. With places like China and many countries in Europe hosting NBA preseason games, the wear and tear on players has increased.

You might ask how top players are getting worn down by playing just a few minutes in meaningless preseason games but it’s the travel and time changes that take a toll. This, at a time when players are supposed to be getting ramped up for the grueling 82 game schedule.

I’m guessing that Silver will seek a reduction in preseason games and perhaps limits to out of country games as well. Regardless of his decision you can rest assured the NBA’s owners will not be losing money.

Kevin Durant is seeing himself back to the bench following another procedure on his bad foot.

On a separate yet very connected story, injuries are all the rage in the NBA today. If you needed further evidence of why Silver wants to reduce the regular season schedule than look at the news from the league today.

Kevin Durant, who is trying to get his Oklahoma City Thunder back in the playoff race, had a medical procedure done his previously injured foot and will be re-evaluated in a week or so.

Also on the bench for the next week or two is New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who is out with a sprained shoulder suffered in Saturday night’s game against Miami. This is not the first time that Davis has missed some time this season and like many others is part of the motivation for a shortened regular season.

Last but certainly not least is Boston’s Jared Sullinger is who out for the remainder for the remainder of the season with a bad left foot. While both Sulinger’s Celtics and Davis’ Hornets aren’t exactly going anywhere related to the postseason, they do represent young stars of the league.

Adam Silver needs players like these to be on the court whether their respective teams are in the playoff hunt or not. Each time one of these young guys is out that will most definitely reduce the number of butts that were going to be in seats.

Now it could be just “one of those years” in the NBA but if Silver is concerned about it then there must be something of a real and natural concern.


Durant Becoming “Marshawn” of the NBA, Plus More Thoughts on All-Star Weekend

Kevin Durant isn't happy with the media. I hope he knows what he's doing.

Have you ever looked at a picture of the United States from space during the night when all of the major cities are illuminated and the rural parts of America are as black as space itself?

Kevin Durant may need to look at that picture.

The National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player has been quite ornery of late with the media and over All-Star Weekend it didn’t get any better. What does this happen to do with a map of the US at night?

There’s been a tremendous amount of speculation that Durant may leave Oklahoma City in free agency following the 2016 season and his most likely landing spot would be his hometown of Washington D.C.

Now if I’m the Thunder and I get the slightest breeze of him leaving, then I’m going to do my best to work out a trade before next season starts but this is easier said than done.

What Durant needs to consider following his rant against the media this past weekend is that D.C. “ain’t no OKC.” Meaning, that if he thinks the media is tough while he plays in the heartland then what does he expect when he heads to the East Coast?

Durant came off sounding like the NBA’s version of Marshawn Lynch when he said, “To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to.”

Durant at times seemed offended by the media claiming they had more power than even the players did.

I’m not real sure where all of this is coming from. It’s been a rough year for Durant who has missed significant time with injuries and is fighting to get his team into the top eight in the very difficult Western Conference.

He claims he’s “growing as a man” and I can respect that. I just hope he understands the spotlight will only get more intense should he choose to return home to Washington.

I didn't give LaVine enough credit for his performance in the Slam Dunk Contest but I still think it needs to go.

All-Star Weekend Thoughts

I didn’t mean to be hard on Zach LaVine Saturday. The kid was spectacular and put on probably the greatest performance since Michael Jordan or Dr.J in a Slam Dunk contest. Despite his success, I still think the Slam Dunk Contest needs to go. It’s highly unlikely you’ll see a guy like him nail all of his dunks the way he did and that’s part of the problem.

Once guys miss a dunk, the thrill starts to leave fans immediately. The NBA needs to find something that creates the type of excitement and drama that the Three-Point Contest does and I’m not sure what that is but I’m open to ideas.

No sport relies on its’ individual stars the way the NBA does and not having them out there more often hurts the product. I really think if you created a H-O-R-S-E tournament or trick shot contest you’d bring the stars out. For one, neither would require much physically of the players and that’s about 90% of the battle right there.

As part of a HORSE contest, you could have kids come out and call shots for the players or at least the locations on the court. Maybe even do teams where kids are selected to participate with a particular player. This would be great exposure for the league and could easily be used to raise money for charities as well.

Again, LaVine was incredible but I don’t see that happening every year. Ideas for change are still needed.

Bullets Are Back for a Frigid Sunday

Zach LaVine is a worthy slam dunk champion but wouldn't it be nice if some actual stars participated?

I’m not sure where you are on this Sunday in February but I hope you’re warmer than I am. It’s always a real eye-opener when you look at the digital readout on the counter and it says “minus.” Ya, that’s not good but let’s talk some sports.

-I stopped watching the slam dunk competition a long time ago because it got stale and rarely did any of the game’s top stars actually participate. With that thought in mind I give you last night’s Slam Dunk Champion Zach LeVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I just watched his dunks and I admit, they were pretty darn spectacular. The problem is that most casual NBA fans have no clue who LeVine is. He averages about seven points per game. I’d rather watch LeBron take on Kevin Durant in H-O-R-S-E.

-The New York Jets yesterday decided not to extend running back Chris Johnson who now becomes a free agent. Johnson becomes just another one of those running backs who had a couple of big seasons and then petered out.

-Major League Baseball is apparently toying with the idea of shrinking the strike zone for 2016. Since new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred took over, he’s mentioned outlawing the defensive shift against pull hitters and now wants to make the already small strike zone even smaller. If you want more offense Mr. Commissioner then how about having umpires use the original strike zone? Then maybe hitters would be more apt to swing more often?

If this man recruits your son, I'd look elsewhere.

-By trade, most college football coaches are salesmen. They have to sell themselves, their school and their program in order to get the talent they desire. That said, if Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino ever sent so much as a post card to my son I’d send it back express with a big middle finger on it. Many high schools in South Carolina have now banned Petrino after he pulled a scholarship offer promised to a player. Yes, it’s a business, but it doesn’t have to include people like Petrino. Just look at the way he’s conducted himself wherever he’s been.

-UFC President Dana White has a growing problem whether he is willing to admit it or not. More and more of his fighters are testing positive for everything from cocaine to performance-enhancing drugs. These aren’t his middle of the road fighters either. Guys like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva have tested positive after recent fights and White has to recognize that this isn’t a good look for his sport.

-NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the state of his sport yesterday and he touched on a couple of issues that I think fans will like. First of all, he wants to tweak the schedule to get players more rest and that includes cutting back on preseason games. He also appears to be open to altering playoff seeding as well but that may take awhile. My hope is that Silver also decides to cut back on regular season games period. There are too many games that are meaningless especially ones where the top players are getting rest.

-I have no idea how the game of cricket is played in terms of rules but I can tell you that India defeated Pakistan in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. What I find most interesting is that these are two countries that politically, ethnically and religiously despise each other. Yet once again sports has shown that nations can get along for a little competition every once in awhile.

All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shooting Competition Odds

NBA All Star weekend continues on Saturday with the three-point contest. Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks is the favorite to win.

This is one of the biggest and most intense competitions during the NBA All Star weekend. The Foot Locker Three Point competition will pit eight of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA against one another.

Odds for this competition were posted on Bovada and topbet with Kyle Korver the favorite at 13 to 5 followed closely by Golden State’s Stephen Curry who is at 14 to 5.

Korver is the only NBA player who is currently shooting over 50% from downtown. He is hitting an incredible 52.3% of his attempts from three-point territory.

Korver is tied with both Curry and Wes Mathews of the Portland Trail Blazers with 161 shots made this season from beyond the 3-point arc. Both Curry and Mathews are hitting 39% of their shots from behind the line. Mathews is seventh in betting in this competition at 9 to 1.

According to betonline and, this is the fourth time Curry will be competing in the 3-point contest but he is still looking for his first victory. Klay Thompson, Curry’s sharpshooting teammate with Golden State who is hitting 44% from long range, has 151 made 3-point shots this season and is at 7 to 2 to win the competition Saturday.

San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli last season’s champion has connected on 38% of his 3-pointers this season and is sitting at 8 to 1 to win. Kyrie Irving the winner in 2013 as a rookie sensation is 7 to 1 to win. This season he has hit 41% of his shots from three-point land.

The Slam Dunk contest, which has lost almost all public interest, does not have odds because of it being an event that is voted upon. The contest does not have any real marquee players competing and that has made the 3-point contest that much more popular this season.

With the way Korver is shooting this season from long range, he will be tough to beat, but Curry is known to come up big under pressure.

Odds for Three-Point Contest

Kyle Korver (Atlanta) 13 to 5
Stephen Curry (Golden State) 14 to 5
Klay Thompson (Golden State) 7 to 2
J.J. Redick (Los Angeles Clippers) 6 to 1
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) 7 to 1
Marco Belinelli (San Antonio) 8 to 1
Wesley Matthews (Portland) 9 to 1
James Harden (Houston) 9 to 1

Kids are the Ones Who Lose in Little League Debacle Plus the Analytics Debate

Sadly, the kids will take the brunt of the team losing their title while no one will remember the adults who cheated.

When the folks who put together the “history” portion of the Little League World Series program next year get together I hope they try something new.

Instead of typing “2014 United States Champion: Jackie Robinson West” with a bold line struck through it symbolizing their stripped title, I hope they choose a different approach.

Maybe what they can do is type “Adults ruined this title for the kids.” That way, the gist of why these 11 and 12 year old kids had their accomplishment taken from them will be as delicate as a hammer to the side of the head.

Don’t get me wrong, we can’t be giving credit to teams that so blatantly violate the rules of the game in order to win and win only. But… Did these kids have anything to do with why they lost their title?

No, they sure as heck didn’t but it will be they who are remembered for having their United States title taken from them.

I wrote back in the summer in this very spot about my disdain for the over-abundance of Little League coverage by ESPN and you’re seeing yet another reason why I feel the attention is too much.

It’s not just the team from Chicago though either. We’ve seen plenty of controversy about other American teams as well as foreign teams and they are all trying to cheat the system in the name of winning and winning only. Perhaps one day what will actually matter is having kids from the same Little League organization play together and if they win the LLWS then so be it.

At least they’ll be able to say they did it fairly.

Charles Barkley doesn't like analytics any more than I do.

Analytics Debate Gains Another Particpant

It appears I’ve gained a new ally in my personal war against the analytic nerds. National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has jumped into the fray by ripping on Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey.

Barkley admitted that he’s never been on the Houston bandwagon the way some are, especially those that profess their sabremetric beliefs such as Morey does. I hate the analytics that have begun dominating sports so I can completely relate to what Barkley is saying.

In my opinion, there is nothing more important than the eye test. It doesn’t matter what sport we are talking about either because there’s nothing like being able to watch a guy and know whether he’s “got it or not.” Take the upcoming National Football League Combine where collegiate hopefuls will be put through numerous ringers so that teams can figure out which players to choose in the draft.

While there will be plenty of numbers, times and weights to be discussed, the vast majority of NFL scouts and coaches will use the most important factor in all of evaluation which is of course the “eye test.”

I can understand arguments about baseball and analytics because the game has relied on numbers longer than any other when you think about it. Go into any dugout and you’ll see three-ring binders full of information how how opponents fair against leftys and righties and at night and in the day. I really do get that part of the debate, but nothing will beat the ability to watch a player and see how he reacts in those same situations where numbers are being used.

Nothing personal analytics people but I just don’t think the numbers always add up.