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Race to the heisman

By: Michael Dunham

With most teams regular seasons complete and conference championships on the horizon, it is make or break time for all of the serious Heisman contenders.  This weekend is the last chance for them to make an impression before the award is handed out for the 75th time on December 12.  Here is where each hopeful stands coming into the last week for them to make an impression on the voters.

Colt McCoy, Texas

McCoy is statistically one of the top throwing and running quarterbacks in the nation.  Leading the country in completion percentage (71.8%) he also has thrown for 27 touchdowns (8th in nation) with only 9 interceptions (9th in the nation) to counter.  While he has not been asked to run the ball very often, the one game he has gotten free reign to run he did so by running for 175 yards, including a 65 yard touchdown run to help seal the win over the rival Aggies.  He also produces the strongest career resume out of any of the Heisman hopefuls.  He recently became the all time winningest starting quarterback in ncaa history when he recorded his 32nd career win over Kansas.  He also has 13,060 career passing yards and 112 touchdown passes.

Mark Ingram, Alabama

Ingram has put up monster numbers as he has helped lead his Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season and a showdown against the University of Florida for the right to play in the National Championship Game.  A huge game against Florida could be exactly what Ingram needs to surpass Colt McCoy as the leading Heisman Candidate.  Ingram has 1429 yards (6th in nation) on 221 carries, giving him the highest yards per carry of anyone with more than 220 rushing attempts.  The sophomore has performed his best when it mattered most, namely against LSU (144 yrds rushing) and Mississippi (172 yrds rushing).  He also has a career high 246 yards rushing in a 20-6 win over South Carolina.

Toby Gerhart, Stanford

Gerhart, the darkhorse of the Heisman race, leads a surprise Stanford team just like he leads everything else in the NCAA, overwhelmingly.  His 1736 rushing yards leads all of FBS by nearly 200 yards and he has done it on 311 rushing attempts, 26 more than 2nd place.  He also has 26 rushing touchdowns, yet again the most in the nation.  Gerhart has come on strong as of late, rushing for at least 175 yards in three of the last four games and only failing to eclipse the 100 yard mark twice throughout the season.

Tim Tebow, Florida

Tebow is all but fallen out of the Heisman race and is only where he currently is because he won the Heisman two years ago.  While he does have the 6th highest quarterback rating in the country, he is also 60th in the nation in yards and 41st in the country in touchdowns.  While he is the leader of an undefeated Florida team that has a very good chance of winning the National Championship, he is no longer the greatest football player in the NCAA.

To me, the race is a toss up between McCoy, Ingram, and Gerhart.  I would give my vote to McCoy because he has played his best at the end of the season when it mattered most and his teams national title chances where threatened the most.  Also, his career resume makes me like it even more, as it shows he has been doing this for four years and now deserves to be rewarded for it.  While Gerhart has been amazing, he came on to the scene a little too late and has not consistently performed throughout his college career.  Ingram may not get it this year, but being only a sophomore he will likely get it in the next year or two when McCoy, Gerhart and Tebow have all graduated.

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Categories: Football, Sports

Monday morning headlines: Week 1

By: Michael Dunham

LenDale White will stomp on the terrible towel, but Steelers will stomp on him. Running backs score more than anyone else and it is inevitable that the Titans will get down on the goal line, put in LenDale, and he scores and stomps all over a terrible towel.  Unfortunately for LenDale, Troy Polamalu and his flowing locks won’t appreciate it very much and will stomp all over LenDale and the rest of the Titans offense.  Steelers take the opener 17-7.

Minnesota wins Favre’s Viking debut, no thanks to Favre. Minnesota will win this Sunday, but its not because Brett Favre is a spectacular quarterback, it’s because Cleveland is terrible.  All those people putting Minnesota in the great team category just because they have Favre need to realize: Its not the Favre that Minnesota lost to all the time back in the Green Bay days, he’s old, he has a torn bicep, HE DOESN’T EVEN THINK HE CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THE WHOLE SEASON. Minnesota will win its first 3 then spiral down, quickly, and for Favre, painfully.  Vikings 21 – Browns 10.

Lions loose…shocker. The Lions will be leaps and bounds better than they were last year (winning one game would be leaps and bounds better than last year) but they will still be a terrible team in the bottom 5 of the league.  Matthew Stafford will come to his own over the course of the season but he will struggle in his first NFL start.  Simply, Stafford does not have the targets or talent around him to waltz in and tear it up his first time out.  27-10 New Orleans over Detroit.

The Vick hype won’t mean anything until McNabb finds a way to lose his starting job. Just like Christmas comes every year (and the Eagle fans subsequently beat up Santa), so does that game where Donovan McNabb does not start, either because of injury or because he gets benched for a rookie quarterback out of the University of Houston.  When the inevitable happens it will be up to Vick to perform and dethrone the man responsible for him coming to Philadelphia.  Vick won’t be able to play until week 3 but even then it will only be 5-10 plays a game at most.  Carolina over Philly 27-20.

Cowboys will be 1-0 when they open their new stadium. Tampa Bay will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year and the Cowboys will surprise some people and do better than expected.  The Cowboys, Buccaneers game will be like when teams like Florida or Texas play teams like Southeastern Missouri State.  The game will count on both teams records but for one (Dallas) it will be an extra preseason game and for the other (Tampa) it will be a chance to pull off that upset that defines their season.  Dallas 30 – Tampa -14.

Giants blow out Washington in search of becoming repeat NFC East Champions. The NFC East is by far the most talented and difficult division in the NFL.  That being said, the Giants are much better than the Redskins.  Watching Jason Campbell pull himself off of the turf will just get boring by the end of the game because he will have done it so many times.  The Giants offense won’t be as good as in previous years but will have no problem moving the ball against Washington.  Giants defeat the Skins 17-3.

Green Bay starts run to NFC North title by beating Chicago in division bout. Green Bay and Chicago will be the two best teams in the NFC North with the Vikings underachieving and the Lions going 2-14.  The game will come down to the wire but the cheeseheads will take it in a nail biter.   Packers over ‘da bears’ 21-20.

San Diego vs. Oakland get lowest Nielsen Rating in Monday Night Football history. Seriously, who is going to want to watch this game?  Two smaller market, West coast teams playing a game that does not start until 10:15 on the East coast.  Outside of the maybe 1/4 of California residents who watch this, America won’t even know that a football game is going on.  Poor game decisions like this are part of the reason Sunday Night Football is taking over what Monday Night Football used to be.  Just like Shawne Merriman’s first game back after his steroid suspension, he will go out and get an insane amount of sacks but then disappear for the rest of the season. San Diego will win 24-7 in a game that will cost ESPN thousands.

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NFL Power Rankings [Preseason]

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Categories: Football, Sports

NFL Power Rankings [Preseason]

by Michael Dunham

With the NFL preseason officially started, its time for all of you die hard football fans to get out your foam finger, drinking hat, and, of course, your favorite teams jersey.   The closer that the beginning of the season gets, the clearer each teams possible performance level becomes.  As of right now, the picture looks a bit like this:

1.  Pittsburgh Steelers – Being that they are the defending Super Bowl champs, an arguement is not really that necessary, but for those who want one, here you go.  Ben Roethlisberger is entering his sixth NFL season and already has two Super Bowl rings.  That alone is unprecedented, but what is even scarier is that he is just reaching his prime and has basically the same team that won a Super Bowl last year.  As long as Rashard Mendenhall can be a strong no. 2 back and James Harrison can be as good as he was last year the Steelers are primed to repeat.

Key addition(s): Keiwan Ratliff.

Major Loss(es): Larry Foote, Bryant McFadden, Nate Washington

2.  New York Giants – Although the Giants will definetly be without Plax this season, they will, barring another injury, have Osi Umenyiora.  The Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last year and with the addition of one of the best pass rushers in the game will be even better.  If Domenik Hixon can do what a No. 1 receiver is required to do, the Giants should be a force to be reckoned with.

Key Addition(s): Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard.

Major Loss(es): Derrick Ward, Sam Madison, James Butler, R.W. McQuarters, Plaxico Burress

3.  New England Patriots – The only reason they aren’t No. 2 is because of the questions concerning how Tom Brady will bounce back from that season ending ACL injury.  With the firepower on that offense and the standards of the Patriots defense, Tom Brady’s performance could either shoot the Pat’s to the top or could drop them severely.

Key Addition(s): Fred Taylor, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway, Shawn Springs

Major Loss(es):  Matt Cassell, Heath Evans, Jabar Gaffney, Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, Ellis Hobbs

4.  Indianapolis Colts – They lost Head Coach Tony Dungy as well as Marvin Harrison and Dominic Rhodes, but they still have the one thing that makes that franchise so great, Peyton Manning.  All Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett, and Bob Sanders (if he can stay healthy) is do what they have always done: Make sure they allow less points than Peyton can score.

Key Addition(s): Adam Seward

Major Loss(es): Marvin Harrison, Dominic Rhodes, Keiwan Ratliff

5.  San Diego Chargers – If they can avoid being the biggest bust in the NFL for the second season in a row, they will no doubt be a division winner and could possibly get a first round bye.  This is not so much because of how good the Chargers are, but also because of how terrible the rest of their division is.  Having, i mean getting, to play Oakland, Denver, and Kansas City two times a piece, the Chargers should at worst go 5-1 in the division, what they do in their other 10 games will determine how good they really are.

Key Addition(s):  Kevin Burnett

Major Loss(es): Igor Olshansky

6.  Philadelphia Eagles – After losing three offensive starters over the offseason, we will see how good Donovan McNabb really is this season.  It also does not help that the Eagles lost All Pro safety Brian Dawkins and play in the toughest division in all of football.

Key Addition(s):  Leonard Weaver, Matt Wilhelm, Michael Vick

Major Loss(es):  Correll Buckhalter, L.J. Smith, Tre Thomas, Jon Runyan, Brian Dawkins, Sean Considine

7.  Atlanta Falcons – The addition of Tony Gonzalez help elevate Matt Ryan into the elite level of quarterbacks in the NFL.  The defense will need to step up over the course of the season or the Falcons can easily drop from the 7 spot.  Also, the fact that Michael Vick is no longer their problem can do nothing but help them.

Key Addition(s):  Tony Gonzalez, Mike Peterson

Major Loss(es):  Grady Jackson, Rod Coleman, Keith Brooking, Lawyer Milloy

8.  Dallas Cowboys – I think that the ‘Boys have really been underrated coming into this season after the disappointments of last season but with the releases of T.O. and “The Pacman” and the offseason for Romo and Williams to create that QB – WR chemistry, the Cowboys could come out and surprise a lot of people this season.  Plus, it cant hurt that they will be playing all there home games in their new, 100,000+ fan stadium.

Key Addition(s): Jon Kitna, Igor Olshansky, Keith Brooking

Major Loss(es):  Terrell Owens, Chris Canty, Pacman Jones, Kevin Burnett, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Keith Davis

9.  Tennessee Titans – The loss of defensive crazy man Albert Haynesworth really hurts the Titans defense, but this is still basically the same team that went 13-3 and obtained the best record in the NFL last year.  The battle between Tennessee and Indy for first in the AFC South should be one of the best in conference battles in the NFL this season.

Key Addition(s): Nate Washington, DeMarcus Faggins

Major loss(es): Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Jones, Justin McCareins

10.  Carolina Panthers – After an offseason where the Panthers did absolutely nothing and were handed the 2nd hardest schedule in the NFL, look for them to come a bit short of the 12-4 record they had last year.

Key Addition(s): None

Major Loss(es): D.J. Hackett, Ken Lucas

11.  Arizona Cardinals

12.  Baltimore Ravens

13.  Chicago Bears

14.  Miami Dolphins

15.  Minnesota Vikings

16.  Green Bay Packers

17.  Washington Redskins

18.  New Orleans Saints

19.  Seattle Seahawks

20.  Buffalo Bills

21.  Houston Texans

22.  Cincinnati Bengals

23.  San Francisco 49ers

24.  New York Jets

25.  Denver Broncos

26.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

27.  Jacksonville Jaguars

28.  Cleveland Browns

29.  Kansas City Chiefs

30.  St. Louis Rams

31.  Oakland Raiders

32.  Detroit Lions

Agree?  Disagree?  Post your top 10 in the comments section!

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Categories: Football, Sports

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

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

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