Draft Week Frenzy

By: Michael Dunham

For a draft class that is being thought as one of the weekest in recent memory, the week leading up to the 2009 NBA Draft has been nothing short of crazy.  The 1st round of the draft was really no surprise, as everyone had Griffin first and Thabeet second but some of the trades and major names moving around has created quite the buzz.

San Antonio started the week off when they traded Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto to the Bucks for Richard Jefferson.  This makes the Spurs a lot younger and puts another All-Star caliber player on the court to work with Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker.  The negative in this trade is the Spurs bench gets a lot shorter with the departure of these three players.  The Bucks gain a large amount of cap room with this trade and sets them up with the ability to make more big moves.

The next major trade was the Timberwolves sending Guard Randy Foye and Forward Mike Miller to the Wizards for a 1st round pick and three players, including Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila.  This gave the Timberwolves the 5th, 6th, 18th, and 28th picks in the 1st round.  The Wizards benefit from the trade by getting two strong position players to help them reach their aspirations of making the playoffs and, if Gilbert Arenas can return to his play before he got hurt, maybe even a finals appearance.

The biggest, literally and figuratively, trade of the draft was the Suns sending ‘The Deisel’ Shaquille O’Neal to Lebron and the Cavaliers for former Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.  This trade makes Cleveland the favorite to reach the NBA Finals out of the Eastern Conference by far.  It also makes it far less likely for Lebron to leave in 2010 to possibly play for a major market like a New York.  While Ben Wallace is no Shaquille O’Neal, if he can return to the defensive form he had while in Detroit, he can help the Suns a lot as he will not be neaded to score.  Also, Sasha pavlovic should be a solid bench player to come in when Steve Nash needs a rest.

From one blockbuster trade to another, Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets was traded down to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie.  This really helps the Magic even out the playing field with the Cavaliers in the battle for best in the East.  With Jameer Nelson expected to be back and 100 percent at the start of next season, the Magic had no need for Rafer Alston and traded him while he was at his maximum worth.  Vince Carter will now be the two guard in a starting line-up that includes Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard.

The last major deal before the start of the draft sent Jamal Crawford from Golden State to Atlanta for 2nd year player Acie Law and Speedy Claxton.  This trade could help the Hawks resign current free agent Mike Bibby.  For the Warriors, the trade opens cap room as Crawford was set to make $20 million in the next two years and was not in Coach Don Nelson’s plans for the teams future.

While the draft has come and gone, the trades will still continue to happen.

Major names still likely to move are Houston’s Tracy McGrady, whose injuries and poor play have forced the Rockets to shop him, and Elton Brand of the 76ers, who, in his first year as a Sixer, had a down year while making nearly 14 million dollars.  Celtics Guard Rajon Rondo will likely be traded after his dispute with GM Danny Ainge.  Other players who could possibly be traded include David Lee, Jordan Farmar, Ray Allen, Jerry Stackhouse, Travis Diener, and Ime Udoka.

The first round of the draft had no big surprises and went as follows:

1st- Blake Griffin (Clippers)

2nd- Hasheem Thabheet (Memphis)

3rd- James Harden (Oklahoma City)

4th- Tyreke Evans (Sacramento)

5th- Ricky Rubio (Minnesota)

6th- Jonny Flynn (Minnesota)

7th- Stephen Curry (Golden State)

8th- Jordan Hill (New York)

9th- DeMar DeRozan (Toronto)

10th- Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee)

11th- Terrence Williams (New Jersey)

12th-Gerald Henderson (Charlotte)

13th- Tyler Hansbrough (Indiana)

14th- Earl Clark (Phoenix)

15th- Austin Daye (Detroit)

16th- James Johnson (Chicago)

17th- Jrue Holiday (Philadelphia)

18th- Ty Lawson (Minnesota – to be traded)

19th- Jeff Teague (Atlanta)

20th- Eric Maynor (Utah)

21st- Darren Collison (New Orleans)

22nd- Victor Claver (Portland)

23rd- Omri Casspi (Sacramento)

24th- B.J. Mullens (Dallas – traded to OKC)

25th- Rodrique Beaubois (Oklahoma City – traded to Dallas)

26th- Taj Gibson (Chicago)

27th- DeMarre Carroll (Memphis)

28th- Wayne Ellington (Minnesota)

29th- Toney Douglas (Lakers)

30th- Christian Eyenga (Cleveland)

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

USA shocks Spain!

By:  Michael Dunham

When I heard that the USA was playing Spain I figured I would watch and get a good laugh at the pounding that would ensue.  The only thing is, despite my enourmous American pride, I thought I would be laughing at the pounding those dirty Spaniards would put on America.  Instead, I saw one of the greatest performances under extreme duress I have ever seen.

The game started just as I figured it would, Spain, the number one ranked team in the world, was constantly in the American third of the pitch, shooting shot after shot at goalie Tim Howard.  Every time the U.S. would attempt to move the ball to the other side of the pitch it would get stolen back and the barrage of shots would continue.

Finally, in the 27th minute, Clint Dempsey succesfully moved the ball to the Spanish third where he fed Jozy Altidore who fought off Spanish defender Capdevila’s best attempts at the ball and found the back of the net.  GOAL!  I was stunned.  Was the fourteenth ranked team in the world actually beating number one?! All of the sudden, America had a chance.

After the chaos of the goal completed and Altidore put his shirt back on after his yellow carded celebration, I realized, ‘America is still playing Spain, the number one ranked team in the world.’ I chuckled at myself for thinking that America could win and continued watching the game.

The Spainish attack continued as strong as before, but still, no goal.  The halftime whistle blew and the teams went to their locker room where I figured Bob Bradley would make some adjustments to help his defence out and put some more pressure on the Spanish side.

Instead, the opposite happened.  Spain made adjustments and their offense was even stronger than before.  I have never seen a game where a team was winning the game and their defence looked amazing, yet the commentators talked about how the United States would loose if they did not change their tactics.

When Spain’s pressure seemed to be at its peak, the US broke into the Spanish third and, just like before, found a way to make the most of a hopeful situation and score again.  After a cross by Donovan, Sergio Ramos chose to take a touch before clearing the ball and Clint Dempsey snuck in and poked the ball off Ramos’ foot and into the back of the goal.  Now the US really did have a chance!  2-0 over Spain! WOO!!  Then again, I realized they were playing Spain and there was still about 20 minutes left in the game.

The game continued as before in a fashion of:  Spain shot, Spain shot, clear, Spain shot, then it would all repeat again.  It was only made tougher when, in the 86th minute, Michael Bradley was red carded on a play that was a questionable yellow at best.  The next 10 minutes where likely the longest in the lives of most of these United States soccer players.  Think about this situation; you are playing the number one team in the world, they are on a 35 game unbeated streak, although you have a 2-0 lead, you have been outplayed in every facet of the game, if the amount of pressure being applied were to be weighed, it would make a sumo wrestler look in shape, and let me repeat THEY ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE WORLD!  If I were any of those players out there, I would have broken down and cried.  Luckily for America and viewers worldwide, I was watching the game on my couch like the rest of you.

87th minute: 2-0

88th minute: 2-0

89th minute: 2-0!

90th minute: 2-0?!

91st minute: 2-0!!

92nd minute: 2-0!!!!

93rd minute: 2-0!!!!!!!!

The Americans have done it!  U-S-A! U-S-A!  I think i did a backflip while celebrating.  This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen!  I am screaming like a schoolgirl who just got the latest gossip feed!  This is the best gossip I have ever heard!!  HAHA Spain in your face.

I know that anyone else who watched the whole game was doing something similar if the watched the game start to finish.

When I think about the game I can’t help but think of the similarities between this game and the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice.’  Both games were against teams ranked number one in the world while the common thought was that the Americans had no chance.  Both games were in the semi-finals of a major international tournament; granted the Olympics or the soccer equivalent World Cup is on a different level than the Confederation Cup, it is still a similarity none the less.  Most importantly, the United States won both games.

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Categories: Soccer, Sports

One game to Decide it all

By: Michael Dunham

The College World Series match-up between the first ranked University of Texas Longhorns (50-15-1) and the third ranked Louisiana State Tigers (55-17) has been nothing short of spectacular.  With LSU winning game 1 in dramatic fashion, Texas bounced back to win game 2 and force a winner take all game that is destined to be one remembered for time to come.

Game 1 was one of those games with a flair for the dramatic.  After seven innings Texas was able to gain a 6-4 lead that was only to be erased in the ninth inning by Sean Ochinko’s 2 RBI single.  In the top of the 11th LSU’s DJ LeMahieu scored from third off of a single from Mikie Mahtook and it would turn out to be the game winner.

The rain before game 2 did not damped the power of anyone’s bats.  In fact, it seemed to make them more powerful.  All 6 of the games runs came in the first three innings and then the pitchers were able to gain their footing and dominate there on out.  While Texas had a dominating lead the whole game, it seemed like LSU was just one Texas mistake away from making it a close game.  Luckily for Texas, that mistake never came and they were able to win 5-1 and in convincing fashion.

Until making it to Omaha, Russell Moldenhauer was not known for his power at all.  In fact, he did not have a single home run before he walked onto the grass at Rosenblat Stadium.  Since then he was looked like Barry Bonds on steroids (HR hitting Barry Bonds).  He has tied the CWS record for most Home Runs in Omaha with four.

Who would have thought that going into the final game of the CWS, LSU’s biggest fear is the explosiveness behind the bat of a guy who has 4 homeruns on the season?

If LSU is able to win game 3, they will be tied with Texas for second most Division I Baseball National Championships at 6.  Texas hopes to avoid this tie by gaining their 7th National Championship and becoming one closer to Southern Cal’s 12 National Championships.

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Categories: Baseball, Sports

Finals preview: Lakers vs Magic

By: Michael Dunham

Unfortunately, the Kobe-Lebron matchup we all, including the NBA, wanted to see was put off for at least another year by Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.  Instead we will get to see the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Orlando Magic in the NBA finals.  While this match-up will not generate the revenue that a Kobe-Lebron finals would have generated, it will undoubtedly be just as exciting to watch.

The Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in six games and a times were dynamite on the court.  The problem that could get in the way of the Lakers on their quest to get their 15th championship, and 10th in Los Angeles, is their hot and cold unpredictability.  In both the Western Conference Semi-finals and Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have been up and down.  They will go out and win by 20 or 30 then the next night they will lose by the same amount.  This rollercoaster type basketball could, and in my book will, be what costs the Lakers the championship.

The Magic have taken the role of underdog and run with it.

They have been placed under the radar all season while they quietly beat all of the “great” teams in the league.  Even though they had taken the regular season series from the Cavs 2-1 i thought the Magic wouldn’t be able to show up like that in the playoffs and they proved me wrong.  They turned a 5-5 game into a Lebron-5 while the rest of the Cavs flat out did not show up.  I think the Magic will take advantage of the fact that they will be written off as not good enough again and use it to their advantage in the series.

I am not going to make the same mistake that I made in the Eastern Conference Finals and write off the Magic and that is why I am picking them to win their first NBA championship in 6 games over the Lakers.

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

Champions League Final, Man U’s to loose

By: Michael Dunham

May 27th is the biggest soccer, or futbol, day in all of Europe and around the world.  As Manchester United prepares to face FC Barcelona for the UEFA Champions League Final, all eyes turn to Rome in eager anticipation.

As we wait, all we can do is predict, analyze, and, for those die hard fans, hope our team wins.

United likes to get an early lead and then sit on what they have so they will likely come out of the gates strong and look for an early goal.  If they do not have the lead by the 20th minute then Barcelona is sitting in a good position and will likely have the momentum.

Barcelona has lost their last two league matches, and even though those games did not matter in the bigger picture, a team like Barcelona needs the momentum of a few wins when going into such a big game, against such a talented team.

Injuries could be a major factor on how both teams perform in the final.  Barcelona’s Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta are both questionable for the game and, if they do not play, could put a huge damper on Barcelona’s ability to score.  While Manchester will be without Darren Fletcher, who was suspended from the game, they will be getting back captain Rio Ferdinand who will be returning from a calf injury.  While he will be returning, it is uncertain how well he will be able to perform during the game.

I think that Manchester will score one early and the game will be equalized with a late Barcelona goal to send the game to penalties where Manchester will take the cup for the second year in a row.

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Categories: Soccer, Sports

Lebron vs. Kobe, the showdown

By: Michael Dunham

Of all the stars and big time players in the NBA, two men stand above them all.  Thats right, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.  Ever since it came time to vote for mvp it has been of great debate whether Lebron has taken over the reigns as the biggest star in the league.

Ever since the days of Shaq and Kobe, Kobe has been the face of the NBA and the most loved and hated player in the league.  After he famously had Shaq shipped off to the other side of the country, Kobe haters have argued that he can’t win a title without Shaq and that Shaq is what made Kobe great.  Those on the other side of the arguement say that ever since Shaq left Kobe has single handedly carried the Laker team on his back.

Lebron has been a huge star and basketball icon ever since his senior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Akron.  When he was drafted into the NBA out of high school he was instantly a star, winning the Rookie of the Year award his rookie year and making his first all-star team in year two.

It has been hugely hyped that Lebron’s per (player efficiency rating) was a record high 31.76 this year, which makes Kobe’s 24.46 look miniscule, even though its 10 points higher than the league average.

What really makes a great player and an NBA icon is what they are able to do in the playoffs.

Lebron has increased his per to an incredible 43.39.  He has also improved from his season average in every major statistical category, including ppg from 28.4 to 34.7, rebounds from 7.6 to 9.3, and steals from 1.6 to 2.0.  Kobe has countered by improving in most major statistical categories but not by as big of margins.

With a Lebron vs Kobe finals matchup looking inevitable I think that the winner of the finals will take home the crown as the face of the nba; for the next year, at least.

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More to read:

Cavaliers vs Magic preview:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/preview-cavaliers-vs-magic/

Lakers vs Nuggers preview:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/preview-lakers-vs-nuggets/

Kobe Doin Work review:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/kobes-doin-work/

Categories: Basketball, Sports

James Harrison not to join Steelers at White House

By: Michael Dunham

James Harrison recently told reporters he would not be joining the Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers when they join the President at the White House later this week.  When asked why he would not be joining them he said,

If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl;So as far as I’m concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won.

When I heard this I was absolutely shocked and a bit dumbfounded.  I didn’t vote for President Obama but if he wanted me to join him at the White House I would accept in a second because I realize what a great honor that is.

Secondly, of course he would have invited Arizon if they won.  It has been tradition to invite and honor the winner of all major sports championships at the White House.  This doesn’t mean that the President does not respect you or what you have accomplished, it means the exact opposite.

It means that the President wants to meet and honor the best players and team in the sport and you are lucky enough to be included in that.  James Harrison needs to get out of whatever alternate reality he is in, rethink his decision of not going, and cherish the honor that has been bestowed before him.

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Categories: Football, Sports