NBA competition changes for worse


Eleven years ago, 2006, was a great year for basketball. The NBA playoffs came around and almost every team in the 16-team bracket had a legit shot at winning a title.

Young stars like Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Tayshaun Prince were split apart. Seasoned veterans like Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki were all on separate teams fighting for the NBA crown.

There was no “Big 3” that came together via free agency. The teams featured in the playoffs were not teams who constantly tanked either. It was great basketball to watch. The Heat were a No. 2 seed when they won the East. The Mavericks were fourth seed in the West.

Nowadays, we are lucky to see a No. 2 seed even compete in the conference finals. In 2007, an eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors upset the No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks. There was parity in a once fun league.

The worst part is the news media chooses to make this acceptable. The news media have made it seem like this is the new norm. Glorifying teams like Philadelphia for tanking and playing the lottery. Or praising the Cavs for luring Lebron back with shiny players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Fast forward to present day. The league is filled with 18 to 19 year old kids who are not ready to be in a man’s league. Imagine being a 19-year-old guarding Lebron James. I am sure it is not too pleasant. The NBA was once a fun league that had diversity. It was fun to watch knowing that anyone could win a seven-game series. Hopefully we see that day where teams do not tank to try and win. Hopefully the league will be as fun as that 2006 season.

MLB tries international branding


There is nothing better than the sound of the crack of the bat and a bag of peanuts being opened.

The sounds of opening day bring joy to many ears and has become not only a country wide phenomena, but a global one as well. What is different from back then to now though? It really is a simple answer: the coverage by the news media.

Events like the World Baseball Classic bring so much national attention to the sport and other countries love it. Although the event is held in the United States, it involves countries that predominantly play baseball.

ESPN and the MLB, along with their own network, have done a fantastic job of coverage as far as international baseball has gone. They have shown tremendous love to players like Ichiro and they help not only the player brand themselves but the sport.

The Pro Day craze out of control


Pro day is a special event sacred to schools, coaches, scouts and most importantly, athletes.

After the NFL Combine that is held annually in Indianapolis, many teams want to see more. Players are more than happy to showcase their abilities all over again repeating the drills they just did a month ago; but why are they so eager to do these drills all over again? It is due to the high volume of news media exposure. For some players, they do not receive an invite to the combine, so this is their one and only chance to showcase their skills.

Pro day has become an event so big it is unimaginable to think that players would deny participating unless they could not walk. And the news media has allowed this to happen. The NFL Network along with ESPN sends multiple correspondents to schools all over the nation to cover these pro days. The schools holding pro day announce what scouts have representation at pro days, along with head coaches. It has become beyond crazy how much attention these days garner.

Yet, it only helps the schools and players. Potential recruits look at this as an opportunity to participate in these pro days one day. Maybe it can be them getting this attention one day.

March Madness = pressure on athletes


That tournament in between February and April is really madness.

Every year we all fill out our brackets, choose a Final 4, and hope that our eventual champion doesn’t get knocked out in the second round. The NCAA Tournament has become a monster in itself. These 18 year old kids continue to garner more and more interest from the NBA as they want them to go pro so early.

It is actually ridiculous how much pressure these kids are faced with. For instance, schools like Kentucky, Duke and even Kansas are asking so much from kids fresh out of high school. In large part, this is due to the news media’s coverage of this tournament.

If you go on Twitter anytime there is a game during March Madness, the feed is going crazy for kids who were in high school just a year ago. ESPN, CBS, Yahoo and so many more media outlets milk the competitions.

“Get a perfect bracket and you will win a billion dollars,” they try to entice us with. When a favorite is upset by a “Cinderella” its always a nice story, but who is really happy that George Mason made the Final 4 other than George Mason fans? The news media blow it up like this large thing, but in all reality, people are upset because it costs them in the long run.

The news media are putting so pressure on young kids in college. Now, the coverage of the big dance as they call it is really phenomenal. They even have an app where you have the ability to live stream all the games. But lets take the pressure off of the kids for once. We are all here to watch and have some fun with basketball.

Free agency frenzy returns to NFL


Every off-season period in the NFL brings something new.

Free agency is a time where fans can get a sliver of of hope that the new players signed to their team can make a championship impact.

If you go back two years ago, the biggest signing was Ndamukong Suh who, at the time, signed the biggest free agent contract ever for a defensive player with Miami. Moves like this generate great excitement towards a franchise. It gives fans hope that this will be the move to carry their teams to the title. Championships are usually won in April via the draft, but with good spending in free agency, teams can set up a nice future.

News media coverage of free agent seems to grow more and more each season. With NFL insiders like Adam Schefter and Jeff Ian Rapoport, it is always fun when they break news.

ESPN even runs an entire special show devoted to free agent signings. It is what fans want. They want to see what team got who to help improve them at a certain position. Guys like Schefter and Rapoport are always answering the phone on air to break news. As a fan, I want max coverage. Twitter is now the go to source to break news. When a big story breaks, Twitter seems to have the details and reactions first.

The NFL free agency frenzy is upon us. Fans, teams and even the news media are starting to feel the excitement, yet the pressure that builds up with free agency.

Debate over court storming returns


Court storming has been a trending topic on college campuses and in the national news media as of late.

Storming the field or court has been a long-lasting tradition after “upsetting” a high ranking team. After Miami beat Duke on Saturday, many people criticized the university saying it was too dangerous. Web sites like “State of the U” came out saying “who cares, they’re college kids.” Everyone seems to have an opinion on this matter.

In 2014, Sportscenter did a piece on how court storming in college basketball was affecting how schools bolstered security. It even showed a clip of Coach K at Duke stopping kids from running on the court after a huge win against archrival North Carolina.

Sportscenter proceeded to show more clips of court storming gone wrong. More news media outlets showed kids falling out of wheelchairs, cheerleaders getting trampled and even players were getting injured. The argument lives on and is carried by the news media simply due to the fact that it is dangerous and could result in serious injury, and the school could be liable.

The news media are hot on this debate. Many will argue let kids enjoy college. Many will argue how dangerous it is. But this is a topic I do not see losing steam any time soon.

Make NBA basketball fun again


Imagine Magic Johnson flying across the country to Boston and teaming up with Larry Bird to create a tandem that no one would be able to stop.

Imagine Michael Jordan, the one that they say is the greatest player of all time, leaving in free agency to join the team he could not beat in the playoffs in the Detroit Pistons.

Super teams in this new NBA are killing the sport. So many fans of the game have refused to watch this season until the inevitable Cavs-Warriors finals happens. Teams like the early 2000s Detroit Pistons or 2008 Boston Celtics were perfectly constructed with the right element of trades, drafting and free agent signings. Never did Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett choose to be traded to Boston nor did they lose to Boston in the playoffs the year before.

For those that argue about Lebron James leaving for the Miami Heat, he never lost to the Heat and took a sizeable pay cut to win.

Now, we look at the team that is the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant took a near max deal to join with the already favorite to win the Western Conference to form a super team. And next season, he will take a max along with Steph Curry.

Lebron left Miami to go to a team who already had a young super star and traded for another superstar big man.

Basketball is no longer fun to follow due to these super teams. I cannot watch a sport knowing my team will not even win in the playoffs because The Finals have been set for three straight seasons now.

I challenge Commissioner Adam Silver to make NBA basketball fun again. Spread out the talent so that we the fans who pay our hard earned money can feel the rush and excitement once again.

Oakley, Knicks’ owner battle each other


Imagine playing a bulk of your NBA career in the Mecca of basketball.

Fast forward to 2017 and imagine being kicked out of the place you called home for so long.

The Charles Oakley and James Dolan situation has become so messy. First of all, Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, is already a not so popular figure in New York. But Dolan and team president Phil Jackson continuously put underachieving teams on the court.

The NBA veteran Oakley, retired but a huge fan favorite, gets no love from the Knicks as he describes it. And it is strange because usually organizations treat legends like Oakley with the utmost respect.

But this sage continues to play out. It started when Dolan invited many Knicks’ legends to be honored, Oakley not one of them. Since retiring, Oakley said he has had to buy his own seats on StubHub. Seriously? Imagine if the Celtics made Larry Bird buy his own seats.

Oakley was then kicked out of, banned, then reinstated into Madison Square Garden after arguing with Dolan.

The Knicks are a hot mess on the court, but from a PR standpoint, they are not looking too successful either. Charles Oakley vs. James Dolan might be one the better battles in sports right now.

Top running back commits to Miami


It has been over a little more than one week since National Signing Day wrapped up with Miami gaining the No. 12-ranked recruiting class in the nation for 2017 according to Rivals 247.

Coach Mark Richt is already off to a hot start recruiting for 2018. Highly talented running back Lorenzo Lingard took an official visit this past Tuesday with another one scheduled for two weeks from now. It did not take long for the No. 4-ranked running back in the nation to commit to Miami. He posted on Twitter on Thursday night how excited he was for this opportunity.

Lingard is a highly coveted recruit with offers from all over the country. Clemson and Texas are still hot on his trail. It is typically early for a recruit to commit this early, but this is a huge haul for Miami.

Looking at the numbers that Lingard has put up in high school explains why he is such a highly regarded recruit. He averages about 11 yards per carry. Yes, he averages a first down every time he touches the ball. The 6-foot, 180-pound running back is hot on every school’s radar, whether running back is a position of need for a team or not.

Heat are the hottest team in the NBA


Just three seasons ago, Miami was in its fourth consecutive NBA Finals against soon to be champions San Antonio Spurs with the “Big 3” still fully in tact.

Fast forward to 2017 and Lebron James is playing in Cleveland, Chris Bosh is nearly forced to retire with blood clots and the impossible happened when Dwyane Wade left Miami this past summer to play in Chicago. In all honesty, this season has been miserable for Heat fans. This season was drawing many parallels to 2008 when Miami started to “tank” by trading key pieces and trying their best to lose in order to gain a top pick in the draft.

This season was not far off from that awful 2008 season. There were rumors sputtering about Miami trading starters Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Miami was just 1-10 in one 11-game stretch and things were going south. But one staple that Coach Erik Spoelstra and team President Pat Riley really hammer into their players is the “Heat Culture.” No matter how bad a Miami Heat roster may be, the team always seem to compete.

Miami is on a nine-game win streak at the moment. Noted draft bust Dion Waiters is playing like a super star right now averaging 20 points a game during his last 10 games. He has hit clutch shot after clutch shot, including the game-winning buzzer beater against the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors. Other role players like Willie Reed, Wayne Ellington and James Johnson have stepped up as well. Miami is doing this all without young starters Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.

Miami is now three games out of a playoff spot in the East. This might not be the best thing for Miami considering the team would more than likely be a first round exit if it did, in fact, make the postseason, but Miami Heat fans should definitely enjoy this ride while they can.