If the NBA is still hoping for an image makeover, the newly begun offseason isn't helping. While everyone should be talking about Thursday night's draft, and the possibility of the first dominant, old-school center to hit the game in a long while, most basketball-related oxygen is getting used up talking about multimillionaire players whining that they want to be traded. Kobe Bryant, enough. Kevin Garnett, sit down. Paul Pierce, shut up.
Bryant is a complicated guy, and not in a good way. He's obviously supremely talented, but is there a more entitled athlete alive? His off-the-court festivities have been well-chronicled (and the gag money he gave that young lady in Denver must've paid off, because her tell-all book doesn't appear to be coming out any time soon), and when it comes to managing Lakers personnel, he's not very good. Shaq? Bye-bye. Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown? You're not good enough. Kobe is a guy who wants to be Michael Jordan so badly, and not just on the court. He wants to be loved, he wants to be revered. I'm not sure if anyone's ever made this comparison, but he's A-Rod. He changes his persona every season, sometimes multiple times a season. He's funny Kobe, serious Kobe, goofy Kobe, trade-me Kobe, teammate Kobe, selfish Kobe. He recently allowed fans in a shopping mall to record him on their camera phone telling them he hates his team.
Garnett hasn't exactly directly asked for a trade, not yet, but it's a badly kept secret that he's tired of losing in Minnesota, and will force the Timberwolves' hand next year if he's not dealt this summer. Oh, except if you try and trade him someplace other than Phoenix, his agent will say, "no way." Hold on. This guy's making $21 million a year, tops in the league, and he's telling you where he'll play, too? Man, this dude should offer to wash the cars of every fan he's ever played in front of, by way of thank you. And Pierce? Dude, you just signed a three-year contract extension worth $59 million. Did you not know you were signing a deal with the Boston Celtics? Did you suddenly think Boston was going to win a title? You knew what you were getting into, man. Shut up and count your money.
Sure, athletes are spoiled everywhere. But NBA, thy name is entitlement.
Here comes Thursday's NBA Draft. Obviously Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are going to be the first two picks. Who do you have going number three?
Bodog Bookmakers, We have Al Horford predicted to go third. He's an NBA-ready, long and athletic big man. Horford will have to improve his low-post game, but it will come easy to him, as he wants to get better and is a very coachable kid. Of course the third pick belongs to the Atlanta Hawks, who have a history of making some peculiar choices in the last few drafts, passing on Brandon Roy last year and the even more mind-boggling move of taking Marvin Williams over both Chris Paul and Deron Williams a couple years back. What magnifies the mistakes of the past two years is that Williams plays the same position as Horford; on top of that the Hawks are in desperate need of a point guard.
A record 8.8 million fans flocked to interleague baseball games this summer. I guess that's enough of an argument...it's here to stay. What are your thoughts about how interleague went this year, and about the unbalanced schedule in general?
BDB, This year's interleague schedule was far more entertaining than past years'. There were enough storylines behind the match-ups to make the games more than just a chance to watch the NL versus the AL. The Subway Series was extremely popular with bettors; believe it or not, those games actually had handle that would rival a playoff game. We had the pleasure of seeing Junior receive a warm welcome in his return to Seattle, and then belt a couple home runs to pass Mark McGwire on the career list. While this year was entertaining, MLB does need to consider going back to a balanced schedule. It's not fair to some teams who have a "rivalry" with the Yankees, while their true divisional rivals are paired with the Devil Rays. In the past, when a team won the pennant they did it with the same schedule as their rivals. They didn't get the chance to play bottom-feeders like Kansas City or Tampa Bay 19 times a year.
The Bears waiving Tank Johnson is pretty big news, even though ESPN will no doubt hype it into submission. Do you think he'll sue? Do you think he'll win? Do you think it'll make a difference in NFL players' conduct? And do you think it hurts Chicago's chances of a Super Bowl re-appearance?
BDB, I have to thank Tank, Pacman, Michael Vick and the Cincinnati Bengals for keeping us entertained during the less-than-exciting NBA Finals and a light sports schedule. I don't see Tank Johnson suing, and if he did, he doesn't have much of a case. Roger Goodell would have all of the NFL's resources behind the Bears. Goodell is making an effort to clean up the league and won't allow a genuine bad guy like Johnson to beat the system through a lawsuit. What this crackdown will do is deter the borderline players, the ones thinking about extracurricular activities. It won't deter the Tank Johnsons or the Pacman Joneses, but it might keep Jared Allen from getting behind the wheel after a few too many drinks again. Meanwhile, Chicago has a few things other things to worry about this off season that could keep them from a return to the Super Bowl. There is a good chance Lance Briggs could hold out, and Rex Grossman needs to improve enough to win a few games in case the defense ever falters.
It was inevitable that the French Open would come down to Federer and Nadal. Do you (and the bettors) see that happening at Wimbledon, too? Who's the third choice on your board?
BDB, Both Federer and Nadal have been playing out of this world. Everyone is backing Federer to win at Wimbledon, while Nadal is a distant second. We have Andy Roddick third on the board at 10/1 but the player not named Nadal or Federer that people are betting on is Fernando Gonzales at 40/1.
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