Rose Sidelined With Another Injury; Legacy In Doubt

Another championship contender is no longer a threat as the Chicago Bulls lose their superstar point guard for the remainder of the season. Derrick Rose who has plagued with injuries over the last four years is once again sidelined with another knee injury. He will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee; the same knee he injured in 2013.

Rose has been looked at as the savior to a city starving for an NBA championship since the departure of Michael Jordan. The Chicago native brought great promise and hope to a city which hadn’t had any in over a decade.  He brought the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Championship in 2011 and was the first player to do so since Jordan in 98. He was awarded the league MVP that season and was the youngest player to ever win the award.

Following that season it seemed like the sky was the limit for this kid. He had signed a 5-year extension worth $94.3 million, which at the time seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately for Rose and the fans of Chicago, everything went downhill, and fast. During the first game in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Since sustaining that injury, Rose hasn’t played a full season and missed the entire 2012-2013 season.  

The downward spiral that’s become Rose’s career since he sustained that initial injury has been catastrophic; not just for him but the Bulls organization and their fans.

During the 2010-2011 (MVP) season, Rose played 99% of the games averaging 25.0 PPG & 7.7 APG. Over the next four seasons (including this one) he’s played in a total of 33% of the games and averaged 19.5 PPG & 6.1 ASP. While his stats look pretty similar, his playing time has significantly decreased. He went from playing almost every game in 2010-2011, to barely making it on the floor the four following seasons combined.

Watching Rose continue to get injured has to be taking a toll on the Bulls front office. They invested a mini fortune into this kid and unfortunately haven’t received much in return. They’ve paid Rose $52.8 million over the last three years while he’s played sparingly (if at all) and trying to recover from injuries.

Once Rose’s NBA career comes to a close, I fear that it’s going to be headlined with the phrase, “What If…” For all his talents, the poor kid just can’t stay healthy. If he hadn’t sustained that injury during the 2012 playoffs, there’s no doubt that Chicago would’ve won an NBA title. Now, they’ll be lucky to make the playoffs in (if) any upcoming season(s) with a “healthy” Rose, let alone winning a championship.

Derick Rose entered the NBA with such promise that it makes what has happened over the course of the last few years so devastating. No one ever wants to see an athlete sidelined with an injury, but it sucks that much more when it’s a superstar who had singlehandedly rejuvenated a cities hope in their team.

I hope Rose comes back healthier, stronger and rejuvenated.   He’s a great player who’s shown such resolve and determination throughout these hardships.   Everyone loves a comeback, and if it happens, his would be one of the best; I know I’ll be rooting for him.

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Knicks Continue to Fall; All Eyes on Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson took to twitter Sunday night to lambaste the Knicks for their 18 point loss to the Cavaliers earlier that day. He wrote, “Each NBA game is an opportunity for players to show their “best” nature and please the basketball gods…and those who know what “it” takes. Today’s game vs. Cavs gave basketball gods heartburn and those that know what “it” takes/means a smh.”  The Knicks record stands at 10-45, worst in the NBA.

Jackson was brought on by the Knicks to be the president, but was really brought to New York to “save” a franchise that couldn’t seem to get out of its own way. He signed for an absurd amount of money ($60 million over five years) given that he had never been the president of an organization.

To put it plainly, Jackson has struck out with every move he’s made, or tried to make. During the offseason he tried his best to court one of his former players, Steve Kerr to the Knicks for their head coaching vacancy. Kerr opted to take the Golden State coaching job instead (smart move) and Jackson was left to scramble and try to find a coach that would implement his triangle offense. In the end Jackson ended up hiring another former player in Derick Fisher, who’s been floundering since the first game of the season.

Jackson’s personnel moves haven’t fared any better. Trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for a package that included veteran point guard Jose Calderon, and the drafting of Cleanthony Early, haven’t provided wins. If anything, it looks as if the Knicks are taking a step backward.

There’s no denying Jackson’s resume as a head coach; the man won everywhere he went. He benefited from coaching Michael Jordan during his tenure in Chicago and Kobe Bryant while in Los Angeles. He coached two of the greatest to ever play the game and produced championships because of it.  

Jackson’s failures in his new job are the latest example of how athletes, coaches, GM’s, etc. can be legendary in one aspect of a given sport but not all. Keeping it with basketball, Michael Jordan has been struggling since he took over the Charlotte Bobcats back in 2010. Arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time has been one of the worst owners in the league he once dominated.

Phil Jackson is revered in basketball circles as the greatest coach of all-time, yet he’s completely missed the mark as the president of the Knicks. Only time will tell if he can put the pieces together and get this franchise back on track. If I was James Dolan, I’d demote Jackson to head coach and wouldn’t think twice about it. Jackson cemented a legacy of greatness patrolling the sidelines not by watching the games from the luxury suites.

Carmelo Anthony is not a Superstar in the NBA

The NBA has begun the second half of its egregiously long season without one of the best in the game; Carmelo Anthony. Maybe I should rephrase that opening statement to read, without one of the best front-runners in the game.

There’s no denying Anthony’s offensive greatness. For his career he’s averaged 25.3 points per game with a 45.5 shooting percentage. He’s won a scoring title (2013) and is an 8-time All-Star. When he’s career ends he will be considered one of the best scorers to ever play the game; but not one of the best.

In comparison, many NFL pundits consider Peyton Manning the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time, but not one of the greatest to ever play.

In the NBA landscape, Anthony is still considered a “superstar”; but should he be? His teams have made it out of the first round of the playoffs only twice in his ten year career. While his performance offensively doesn’t diminish (25.7 ppg) come postseason time, he doesn’t do anything to help elevate his team to the next level.

Anthony plays a selfish game. He needs the ball in his hands at all times in order to be successful. He’s not much a passer averaging 3.1 assists per game and doesn’t rebound nearly enough (6.5 per game) given his 6’8, 240lb frame. His lack of leadership was apparent while he was in Denver and has been exposed to the extreme since he forced a trade to New York to play with the Knicks. Other than being an excellent offensive player, what attributes does Anthony display to deserve the acclaim of “superstar” in the NBA?

It was reported today that Anthony will miss the rest of the season due to season ending surgery. There’s nothing wrong with an athlete needing surgery, unless it can be proven that, that athlete was prolonging the surgery so they could be the center of attention at an All-Star game in their teams’ arena. Obviously there’s no way of proving this without Anthony coming out and admitting that he knowing prolonged the surgery, but it was pretty evident for any basketball fan to realize what was going on.

If this is true, it showcases that Anthony’s more concerned with his own brand/image than he is with winning. As an athlete he would understand better than most that you have a short time to win championships; and given the fact that his trophy case is empty. Rather than get the surgery early on in the season and guarantee a full healthy season next year, Anthony chose to continue to play so he would be eligible to play in the All-Star game which was being held in New York. It’s these types of decisions that showcase his lack of leadership and intangibles that make the great players legends.

In sports, especially basketball, there’s that famous saying, “There’s no “I” in team.” Well there is in an “I” in Knicks; and they’ll never win a meaningful game as long as that type of atmosphere continues to thrive.

 

Geno Auriemma’s Legacy & A Correlation to Gender Bias in Sports

This is the time when college basketball begins to reign supreme in the sports world. The NFL season is over, baseball is slowly creeping back into relevancy and the NBA +NHL have finally hit the mid-way point in their season(s). College basketball’s popularity is directly correlated to march madness which takes the nation by storm every year.

Every sports fan loves March Madness. Office pools along with ESPN & Yahoo bracket challenges give the fans what they want, an opportunity to feel like a part of it all.

Question. When you’re filling out your bracket, which league do you fill your bracket out for; men, women, or both? The majority of you who get involved with March Madness (and are being honest with themselves) will say men. To be honest, I’m willing to be most college basketball fans didn’t even realize that ESPN gives you the opportunity to fill out a women’s bracket (That was until President Obama started making it a yearly ritual).

Side note; although ESPN gives you the opportunity to fill out a women’s bracket, notice that if you win, the prize money doesn’t come anywhere close to the prize for winning the men’s tournament challenge.

For those who don’t fill out a women’s bracket, this isn’t a criticism. Rather, this is just one of many examples of the gender bias that is still rampant in the sports world. To prove my point further; if I mentioned that there was a coach who’s won 9 National Championships and has 14 Final Four appearances but isn’t recognized as one the greatest basketball coaches of all-time, as a sports fan you’d say I’m crazy; and your right, I would be. However, truth be told, the only reason he’s not, is because he coaches women’s basketball.

Geno Auriemma is not only the best coach in women’s college basketball, he’s the best coach in college basketball; period. His numerous accomplishments trump every college basketball coach in America; the only possible exception would be Coach Mike Krzyweski (Duke Men’s Basketball; 4 National Championships). Here’s a brief list of his accomplishments during his 29 years as UCONN Head Coach:

  • 9 National Championships
  • 14 Final Four Appearances
  • 5 Undefeated Seasons
  • 6-time Coach of the Year
  • Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Auriemma and his teams are perennial favorites to win the national championship almost every year. He’s coached some of the best women’s basketball players in the world and his brand is synonymous with winning. However he doesn’t seem to get the recognition in the global sports lexicon that he deserves.

Outside of Connecticut and the occasional ESPN coverage (during the Women’s Final Four/National Championship), Auriemma and the UCONN women aren’t discussed nearly as much as they should be. If a men’s program was as prominent as UCONN, SportsCenter would be broadcasting live from their campus during every “big” game. Point being, there would be a hell of a lot more press and praise being sent in their direction then there is.

Just think about it for a moment. Sports talk radio would be buzzing about this team every college basketball season if it was a men’s team. The Duke men’s basketball team, who has had some great runs over the years but nothing close to the UCONN women, are talked about relentlessly during every basketball season. Other “powerhouses” like Kansas and Kentucky are always discussed and their coaches are considered the best in the game. Do you know how many championships those universities (Duke, Kentucky, Kansas) have over the past ten years; three. The UCONN women have four.

UCONN is a great example of the unfortunate gender bias that still runs rampant through our sports culture, especially college basketball. Given the success that a university like UCONN has had over the past three decades, you would think more would be said about their legacy among the elite in college basketball supremacy. Taking gender out of the equation, there isn’t a college basketball coach in the country that has the reputation or the championships that Auriemma has. The only coach in his “league” as far as accolades go, is (the previously mentioned) Coach Krzyweski.

Auriemma is one the greatest coaches of all-time. I will believe that until I see someone do it better than him. The winning culture that he has infused at Storrs is unlike anything we’ve seen since maybe the great Pat Summitt (another women’s coach who doesn’t get nearly enough credit). His accomplishments speak for themselves and it’s too bad that so many continue to overlook his coaching acumen.   The argument for whether or not he should be considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time shouldn’t begin with, “Well he coached women basketball.” Rather, it should begin and end with, 9 time National Champion, 14 Final Four appearances, and Hall of Fame coach.

The Double Standard: Athletes/Celebrities vs. Everyone Else

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, it’s a topic that usually strikes controversy and can hit a little too close to home for many. It’s an unfortunate and sometimes difficult topic to discuss, but given the recent suspension in the NFL, it’s topic that can’t be ignored.

Let’s start and state the obvious, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol shouldn’t be shamed for their addiction; it’s a disease. However, there are millions of people who deal with this disease and are still expected to get up every day and survive. Most (those who work) don’t get second or third chances with their employers when they get caught up with this vice. If they chose not to go to work or violate their employer’s drug/alcohol policy, they’re fired.

This is all common sense and probably redundant for many, but for the purpose of this piece, it’s important to remind everyone how “real life” works.

Professional athletes and other celebrities are given numerous chances that the “average joe” would never get. They are given fines and slaps on the wrists for crimes (and addictions) that others would be in prison for. Instead of being looked down upon, athletes are almost looked at as sympathetic figures through the eyes of the media for their “addiction” or “vices”.  Is anybody else noticing a double standard taking place here?

The latest example of a player given multiple opportunities to put his life in order is Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon was just suspended for a year by the NFL for violating the terms of his probation and testing positive for alcohol use; this is his 5th offense (college + pro) since 2010.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that this isn’t just about Josh Gordon; there are plenty of other athletes that have been given multiple chances to get their life on track and didn’t take advantage of it. I’m using Gordon as an example because he’s the most recent offender.

Below is a list of Gordon’s incidents involving drugs and alcohol.

College:

1)      Gordon was first suspended from Baylor in 2010 for being found asleep in a car (which he friend was driving) where police found marijuana.

2)      In 2011, Gordon was suspended indefinitely by head coach Art Briles, for failing a drug test and testing positive for marijuana.  

Pro:

He was drafted in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns.

3)    On June 7, 2013, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.  

4)    On August 27, 2014, the NFL suspended him for one year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy (sounding redundant yet?)

5)      On February 3rd 2015 Gordon was suspended for a year due to testing positive for alcohol use.

Gordon is the latest example of an athlete that has been given multiple (5) chances to clean up his act and has yet to do so. The sad part is, rather than calling him out for making dumb choices; former professional athletes are coming to his defense. Cris Carter (Hall-of-Fame Wide Receiver) who’s an NFL analyst for ESPN, has defended Gordon publicly multiple times stating that the NFL should step in and help Gordon with his addiction(s); and that the Cleveland Browns shouldn’t give up on him.

First off, why the hell should the NFL have to babysit a player that they’re paying to do a job? Last time I checked, Gordon is an adult who is aware of the concept of right and wrong. Secondly, how many chances does somebody deserve, especially when they keep making the same choice over and over again? The guy’s been given 5 chances, 3 in the NFL alone.  Again, I come back to my opening premise; that athletes and other types of “celebrities” are given civil liberties that aren’t granted to everyone else. What makes it even more egregious is that they commit the same crime continuously, get suspended and then reinstated into their respective league and act as if they’ve done nothing wrong. They’re coddled all their lives and because of that, believe that they’re entitled to act any way they so choose.

It’s frustrating to watch professional athletes waste their talent because they can’t seem to get their heads out of their asses. They’re blessed individuals who are given an opportunity to do what they love for a living, and they’re pissing it away as if it’s something that’s owed to them.

As a sports fan, it angers me to see athletes throw away these opportunities; there are so many who dream to be where they are, and yet they act as if it’s common place. This isn’t a topic that’s fun or even entertaining to talk about, but it is something that needs to be discussed and taken much more seriously than it actually is.

One Play Defines Two Legacies

It was announced yesterday that 114.4 million people watched the Super Bowl, making it the most watched show ever in the U.S. That means 114.4 million people saw one of the greatest football games of all-time and the worst decision in Super Bowl History.

Anyone reading this watched the game, so there’s no reason to be redundant and get into a summary of what we all watched. The pick thrown by Wilson was without a doubt, the dumbest throw I’ve ever seen by one of the smartest players in the NFL. Before we go any further, let’s just touch on that. Prior to the Super Bowl, all the pundits and analysts were lauding over how smart Wilson was and how he never makes that one decision that will cost his team the game. Ironic isn’t it; that he made the play that not only lost his team a championship but altered his and the opposing quarterbacks legacy forever.

Brady:

Brady will now go down as the greatest quarterback of all-time. He holds practically every postseason record imaginable and just beat (arguably) one of the best defenses in league history. Brady beat the defense that a year earlier bludgeoned Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos in embarrassing fashion.

**Side note: That whole “who’s better” debate between Brady and Manning is laughable at this point**

He won that elusive fourth Super Bowl and his third Super Bowl MVP in the process; matching Montana for the most all-time. Not to mention, he brought his team back from a 10 point deficit and scored 14 unanswered points to win the game. It might not have been his usual comeback route, but that doesn’t diminish the final product in any way.

Wilson:

Being known as the quarterback who brought down Manning and Brady in consecutive Super Bowl’s would have etched his legacy in Canton before his career even got started. That’s not the case anymore. It’s not so much that Wilson threw that pass and cost his team the game, it’s the fact that it never should have come down to that play. Wilson had two big opportunities to seal the game for the Seahawks (after Brady’s 2nd interception and the following drive) and didn’t get it done. That interception is (unfortunately for him) is going to be on highlight reel forever. I’m not trying to damn the poor guy because he’s only played in the league for three seasons and has just as many rings as Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers; but that interception is the type of play that can haunt a player for the rest of their career. Wilson came into the game with the possibility of being recognized as one of the biggest superstars in the league, and came out as just another promising young star.

Conclusion:

The Patriots and their fans are going to be celebrating this championship well into the offseason. Their franchise quarterback will be considered by many as the greatest of all-time and “Spy-Gate”/“Deflate-Gate” speculation will begin to die out rather quickly.

The Seahawks and their fans will have a very long offseason filled with many unanswered questions. The 2015 regular season can’t come soon enough for Coach Carroll who will be hounded with questions regarding his decision making on that fateful play.

Final Thought:

This game was going to define player’s legacies regardless of the outcome. However, there’s no way anyone would have predicted that one play would impact not only the players legacy, but the legacy of the sport itself.