The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

Archive for the month “February, 2011”

The Forgotten Man

When Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York, a lot of people thought it was just Melo that would make an impact on this team. Well, in case you didn’t know, one of the most clutch players in the NBA, Chauncey Billups, was included in that trade. Many, including me at times, thought he didn’t have enough left in the tank. Well, if he wasn’t there in a Knicks uniform when the Knicks played the Heat Sunday, the Knicks would not have won the game.

Chauncey bounced around a lot in his earlier career. He played for Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota before he landed in Detroit. And while he was in Detroit, he finally got his chance to star. Chauncey relished the opportunity in Detroit and became the unquestioned leader when the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004. Billups won the NBA Final MVP Award for that win in the Finals against the Lakers as well. Billups, through the years, has developed three things that is now allowing him to flourish as a Knick.

Billups is unquestionable in control of the Knicks. When the Knicks have been on the court recently, you always notice that he is the only one talking when they are huddled up. He commands that respect in the huddle and he realizes that in order for this team to run smoothly, he has to take control, set his stars ( Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire) up to succeed and also get the other role players in their correct spots.

Another thing that you notice about Billups is he has no ego. When you’ve played for as many teams as Billups has, you learn to value everyday you play in the NBA. Billups knows that he isn’t the star of this team, but that his role is to help this team function correctly. He doesn’t care who gets the credit. To be honest, Billups just wants to win and he just does what needs to be done to achieve that. Whether he needs to feed Anthony the ball, feed Stoudemire the ball or take the offense on his shoulders, Billups is willing and able to do whatever needs to be done.

All these things are crucial to the makeup and the DNA of Billups, but perhaps the most important element Billups brings to the Knicks is clutch play down the stretch of games. Mr. Big Shot, his nickname he earned while in Detroit, is always known for making the big shot or play down the stretch. For example, in New York’s 91-86 win versus Miami Sunday night. Chauncey scored 7 or his 16 points in the 4th quarter, including a big 3 pointer that put the Knicks up 1 with 1:01 left to play. He’s made these plays for a while now and quite honestly, I’m shocked Miami would even let him get a sliver of an opening.

The Knicks will continue to adjust and tinker with their lineup for the foreseeable future. They will probably try more guys and may even cut down Chauncey’s minutes, but there is one main thing they need to understand: when its winning time, Chauncey needs to be on the floor. To be honest, he doesn’t just need to be on the floor for the rest of this year. He needs to be there for a while because he fits perfectly with this team. The Knicks need to make it a priority to keep Billups in New York.

Drama In Detroit

Last night the Detroit Pistons lost to the Philadelphia 76ers. They only played 6 players, with Will Bynum playing all 48 minutes. They didn’t have 6 players due to injury though. The reason they only played six players was due to an issue before the game.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Chris Wilcox all missed shoot-around before their game yesterday. It was said that two of them missed the bus, one had a headache and the other was resting an injury, but a source close to the team said they were holding a protest. These players aren’t happy with their coach.

Coach Kuester is known for being hard on his players and doing what he feels is right, not necessarily what each player wants done. He’s ruffled some feathers with his rotations, his assessment of who gets playing time and his decisions on what strategies to use down the stretch of the games. So, with his personality, he is going to have disagreements with his players at times. That’s to be expected. But, are the issues that serious that a protest needs to be held?

What happened to communicating with your head coach? The actions by these players was downright awful. They may have been trying to send a message, but they also let their teammates down as well. With all this being said, it seems that there isn’t any type of control in the Detroit organization. GM Joe Dumars needs to make a decision. Is he going to let his coach be disrespected like that or is he going to side with the players and let them just do what they want until they get what they want?

If I were Dumars, I would take immediate action against these four players. I think the only way these players learn that you don’t pull these type of stunts are two ways. The first way you teach them a lesson is to make them inactive for the rest of the year. The second way you show them who’s boss is you take money away from them. It isn’t like they are helping the Pistons win anyway. Whatever Dumars decides to do is on him, but he definitely needs to take action and take action fast before this team and organization gets even more out of control.

One Big Move

Everyone is still buzzing from the Carmelo Anthony trade to the Knicks and the Deron Williams trade to the Nets, but one trade just took one team to the serious championship contender level. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded F Jeff Green and C Nenad Kristic to Boston for C Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson. This trade may not mean all that much to the casual basketball fan, but this trade was a huge deal for the Thunder.

The Thunder were expected to be the real deal this year with F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook, but they have struggled defensively compared to last year. They are still a good defensive team, but what they lacked was a physical presence in the post that could play great post defense and get critical rebounds down the stretch. No one on their roster before the trade brought that to them. Now insert Kendrick Perkins. Perkins is the type of rugged, rough defender and rebounder the Thunder have been looking for. He’s more physical than any other post presence they have and he also has one thing no one on the Thunder has: championship experience.

Another issue with the Thunder at times has been bench scoring. Sure, G James Harden has given them that, but other than him, no one off their bench has been consistently putting up points. Now insert Nate Robinson. Robinson may be small, but he is a dynamic scorer. This is the same guy who put up huge numbers at times for the New York Knicks before heading to Boston. I think with the Thunder’s fast break style, Robinson will be allowed to flourish once again like he did when he played for the Knicks.

Overall, the Thunder are now a better team than they were before the trade deadline. Now they are equipped to take on the top dogs in the West. I’m pretty sure the Lakers and the Spurs already didn’t want to play the Thunder, but after this trade, I know they don’t.

Interview With Tony Barnhart

There’s some things in the South that are staples: college football, hot summers and Tony Barnhart. Barnhart has been covering collegiate sports for a very long time in the South and has reached iconic status in the SEC. Here’s what we talked about when I caught up with him.

patton26: How did you first get involved in covering collegiate sports?

Tony Barnhart: I actually thought I was going to be a football coach. I decided against that after a while. What first got me hooked was in February of 1973 when I was at Georgia Southern. I got to go to a college basketball game and sit on the sideline and write about the game. It excited me the next day to see my name in the paper next to my story. I stayed at Georgia Southern one more year and then I decided to transfer to Georgia and go to journalism school because I knew then what I wanted to do, cover collegiate sports.

patton26: Were you at any point an athlete?

Barnhart: I actually played football in high school. I wasn’t a great player, but I enjoyed the game and I had great respect for my coaches.

patton26: For those that don’t know, what sports do you cover?

Barnhart: For most of my career I covered college football and basketball. I covered college football and basketball for 24 years for the Atlanta Journal Constitution before starting my own freelance business. Now, 90% of what I cover is college football.

patton26: Who was your role mode or role models growing up?

Barnhart: My high school head coach , Coach Veazey, was one of my role models. Most of my high school coaches were my role models. I still stay in touch with some of them to this day. They were very good men.

patton26: Any advice to any younger broadcaster/writers trying to get into the business?

Barnhart: Learn how to do everything. Learn how to write, do video, talk on the radio, etc. In today’s world, you have to know how to do it all.

patton26: How has family played a part in your career?

Barnhart: My family has been very supportive. My mother was hard on me growing up. She stayed on me about my academics but she also taught me an appreciation for writing. My dad taught me the love of sports.

patton26: What is your most memorable moment in broadcasting?

Barnhart: I have had a lot of them, but my most memorable moment was in 1984. Jesse Outler and Furman Bisher were two of my writing heroes. They both worked for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. When I got hired in 1984 to write for the Atlanta Jounal Constitution, I had to attend the Georgia vs. Clemson game to write on it for the paper. When I got to the game, I found that my seat placed me right in between my sports writing heroes. Bisher was on my left and Outler was on my right. At that moment, I felt like I had arrived in journalism.

patton26: Who was the most memorable athlete that you covered?

Barnhart: Before I worked for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, I was working in North Carolina. I actually covered Michael Jordan and I was at the game in 1982 when Michael Jordan, a freshman at North Carolina at that time, hit the game-winning shot to win the National Championship for North Carolina over Georgetown.

patton26: How do you handle issues with players or coaches when they’ve had issues about what you’ve wrote about them?

Barnhart: Its the nature of the job. Not everyone is going to agree with you. But when you write, you have to be accurate and fair. You can’t be sloppy. I’ve had disagreements over the years with some coaches. They didn’t like what I said and we butted heads, but at the end of the day, we smoothed it out and were fine.

Tony Barnhart is truly a class act. He continues to provide great writing and great commentary for all of us sports fans. If you haven’t heard him or read his work, you definitely are missing out.

Interview With Charles Davis

Charles Davis is had a successful career in college football. He was a great player at the University of Tennessee and he has continued his success in his broadcasting career including working for the Big Ten Network and also various analyst appearances on NFL football broadcasts. Here’s what we discussed when I caught up with him.

patton26: What was it like playing at UT when you were there?

Charles Davis: It was terrific once I got through my redshirt year and actually got on the field. I had dreamed of playing at UT, and doing so fulfilled that dream in a big way. Ups and downs? Definitely, but overall, I wouldn’t change much.

patton26: What was your most memorable moment(s) while attending the University of Tennessee?
Davis: Graduating, on time, from Tennessee in four years. Getting my graduate degree in History, playing for the Vols and most importantly meeting my wife.

patton26: How was the transition from football player to broadcasting
booth/broadcasting studio?

Davis: It took awhile. I finished playing in 1986, and did not get into broadcasting until 1997, so the transition was a gradual one, not an abrupt one at all. You always miss playing, but broadcasting keeps me close to the game, and gets the adrenaline pumping in a different way.

patton26: What did you do in between your last year of playing in 1986 and 1997?

Davis: I actually worked all the way until 2000 before I just did broadcasting as my main occupation. I Interned with the SEC Commissioner’s Office in 1988, coached defensive backs for the University of the Pacific in 1989, was the director of the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs from 1990 to 1994, was the assistant athletic director at Stanford University from 1994 to 1996, helped open Disney’s Wide World of Sports and was there from 1996 and 1997 and I also was the tournament Director for the Disney Golf Classic, a PGA TOUR event, from 1998-2000. My last year as tournament director Tiger Woods won the tournament.

patton26: Who were some of your role models growing up?

Davis: My parents, teachers, coaches. I was a huge fan of former UT QB Condredge Holloway and former LA Laker PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson as a kid.

patton26: What sport do you like to cover most? College football or professional football?

Davis: I like them both, they each have their charms. The passion/pageantry of the college game is tremendous, while the Pro game possesses the best players in the game, and each game can truly be contested on a nearly equal basis.

patton26: What do you feel your impact is on the African-American community?

Davis: I’m not sure that I have an “Impact.” But, perhaps people can see me working, and feel pride, and those who might want to break into the business have another person to look at, and say, “I can do it, too.” Many have come before me to help pave the way…I hope that in a small way, I’m doing the same.

patton26: What advice would you give any up-and-comers trying to break into the broadcasting/professional sports coverage world?

Davis: Be knowledgeable, thorough, honest, and fair. You have to know your sport, subjects, nuances, charms, and warts of what you are covering. And, don’t forget to work at it everyday.

Many thanks to Charles Davis. Davis may be a well-known person in the broadcasting world, but he is also a down-to-earth individual who isn’t too big to reach out to the everyday people of society.

The Everyday Mailbag- 2/22/11

Another week brings another group of good and interesting questions! Let’s see what America wants to know!!!

Q: Whats up with the comments of former Florida head coach Urban Meyer referring to other schools in the SEC and why he thought he didn’t want 2 compete against that?
-David D., Murfreesboro, TN

A: I understand what he said, but the message is coming from the wrong person. He’s had 31 players arrested while he was at Florida, so he’s the same rogue coach he was talking about. The SEC coaches do recruit at all cost, but these are the things that make these programs great and make the SEC the most hated yet great conference in the nation.

Q: Is Nebraska’s victory over Texas enough to push them into the NCAA tournament?
-Nic R., Lenexa, KS

A: I think the win actually put them on the bubble for the tournament. Before that win, they weren’t on my tournament radar to be honest. So, no the victory over Texas wasn’t enough to put Nebraska in the NCAA tournament.

Q: What are the pressing issues for the new NBA CBA?
-Cyrus P., New York, NY

A: The pressing issues with the new collective bargaining agreement are length of contracts and money that owners are supposedly losing. The owners want to shorten the contract lengths and also lessen the amount of money per year. What the players are wanting is for the owners to show them how this is happening so that a resolution can be come to. The issue is the owners won’t give that information up. Another thing being discussed is a possible franchise tag in the NBA.

Q: Is this one of the worst NBA draft classes ever?
-Cyrus P., New York, NY

A: I wouldn’t say its the worst draft class, but if by worst you mean no stars that will be in the draft, then this is the worst draft class.

Q: What’s your definition of an MVP?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: My definition of an MVP is the most indispensable person on a winning team. The difference-maker. Someone who, if he/she wasn’t on the team, the team would lose and have a significantly different record without.

Q: What OTHER NBA trades would you like to see happen?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: Well, besides the Carmelo trade, I would like to see the Rockets’ Courtney Lee get traded to the Bulls and the Bobcats’ Stephen Jackson traded to a contender like Dallas.

Q: Given that a huge majority of the Denver Nuggets have expiring contracts, which teams would best fits each of them should they not renew their contracts this season?
-Kareem H., Nashville,TN

A: J.R. Smith- The Bulls or Hornets would be a good fit for him. They could use his scoring punch at the SG spot.
NeNe Hilario- Houston or Golden State could use him for low post scoring.
Kenyon Martin- I really can’t see him helping a playoff team down the stretch.

Q: Who is the first Black quarterback to play at the University of Tennessee ? And what did he accomplish?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: The first black QB at the University of Tennessee was Condredge Holloway and he led UT to three bowl appearances from 1972-1974 and he went on to star in the Canadian Football League. He was named MVP of the CFL in 1982 and won the championship the following year with the Toronto Argaunauts.

Q: How does the East shape up now that Camelo and Chauncey Billups are in NY? Will the Knicks be contenders or pretenders?
-David D., Murfreesboro, TN

A: The East won’t change up too much in my opinion. The Bulls, Celtics, Heat and Magic will still be the Top 4 teams. The only changes will be in the lower 4. The Knicks would be the 2nd best team of that bunch. Ultimately, I think the Knicks will be pretenders with Carmelo and Billups. Next year will have to be their time to make a move in the East. It will be interesting to see how patient the New York fans will be.

If you have any questions, feel free to send them to dangerous_316@yahoo.com. All questions get answered.

An End To The Melo Drama

The Melo Sweepstakes is over. Carmelo Anthony was traded, finally, to New York in a deal that included a lot of moving pieces. Melo, along with PG Chauncey Billups, F Reynaldo Balkman, F Shelden Williams and G Anthony Carter got shipped to New York for F Danillo Gallinari, F Wilson Chandler, G Raymond Felton, C Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 1st round pick and 2 2nd round picks. A lot of Knick fans are rejoicing and screaming that this was a good move, but in my estimation, this is a means to an end.

With Melo there, the Knicks do have two capable scorers now, but there are some pressing issues that wil need to be addressed. Carmelo has never been known as a defensive player. Neither has Amar’e. I wonder who is going to play defense for this team? Your stars are supposed to be your leaders on defense, so there’s a potential issue. And Knick fans will tell me that D’Antonio has never emphasized defense. That is true, but D’Antonio has never won in the Conference Finals either.

Another issue is neither Carmelo or Amar’e have ever been known to be assist guys. They are both scorers. So, who is going to give up shots so the other one can score too? This should be interesting watching them figure that out. And for Knicks fans, you’re going to have to be patient while they figure that out.

Another point is when you look at this team how its constructed, there isn’t any depth behind the starting 5 of the Knicks as they are currently constructed. If the starting 5 gets in foul trouble, then the Knicks will be in trouble. Who are they going to bring in? Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Shelden Williams? That doesn’t sound too comforting to me.

I know this trade was probably made for the future in hopes of going to get Chris Paul or Darren Williams in 2012, but in the meantime, I hope the Knicks are ready for a little more mediocrity. We will see if the Knicks fans are patient enough to wait on the contender to grow in the Big Apple. Only time will tell.

Who’s Really The Victim?

The NFL and the NBA are both about to enter into dangerous territory. Both leagues are headed towards lockouts this year. The NFL’s lockout would happen March 5 if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn’t reached and the NBA’s lockout would happen in June. Some serious issues are being discussed in both leagues. I’m not trying to discount those issues at all. But for the fans of both leagues, we are going to be the biggest victims if they don’t get this thing figured out.

Now I’m not going to pretend like I know all the issues on both the owners and players sides. I’m not there in the room with them and I can only go off the information given out. But there is one thing I can say: both sides are making good money owning teams and playing sports respectively. This lockout wouldn’t necessarily be as harmful to some of the players in the league monetarily, provided they managed their money right, but this would be a cataclysmic blow to the popularity of these sports. Major League Baseball would be the first to tell them that.

Major League Baseball was very popular and had captured the hearts of America. It was by far the most popular sport. Then came the strike of 1995. The players decided that if they couldn’t get what they wanted, they would walk out. This by far hurt the popularity of the game. It hurt the popularity of the game so much that football began to take over its spot as America’s pastime, a crown football hasn’t relinquished since.

If I had my way, I would find a way to make both sides happy and do it quick because any stoppage in play hurts the product as a whole and mostly hurts the fans. Without the fans, there would be no revenue coming into stadiums, there would be no huge television contracts or no merchandising deals. I hope the players and owners are thinking of what all is at stake as they sit at the bargaining table and try to keep this ball rolling instead of letting all the momentum fall by the wayside.

For The Love Of Sports

Today I attended an annual event held by our local sports radio station(104.5 The Zone) in Nashville called Sportsfest. The event was outstanding. Not only were there speakers like former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis, former Titan Eddie George, current University of Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, Titans coach Mike Munchak, Charles Davis and Tony Barnhart, but there were also thousands of fans there who put down their allegiances today for the love of sports. There were Alabama fans. There were Auburn fans. There were Pittsburgh Steeler fans as well as Titans fans there as well. Not once did you hear of an incident where these fans were at each other’s throats.

In light of the poisoning of the trees at Toomer’s corner this week, one thing was shown that I say today: togetherness. Auburn and Alabama have a fierce rivalry, but you should never cross the line like Harvey Updyke did. That’s not exhibiting any sportsmanship at all. That’s just downright wrong. I applaud all the Alabama fans that said as much and that are donating money to help in the aftermath of this atrocity.

This show of class is what sports should be about. I understand that when people cheer on there teams, there’s a rivalry, but how far is too far? We must all remember that in the end we are all sports fans and in the end its just a game, not life or death. I wish more people would have been there to observe the genuine love for sports that was exhibited today. I personally thought Jerome Bettis was going to get booed more than he did because he was in Titan country. To my surprise, he actually was cheered and applauded for his merits more than anything by Titan and Steeler fans. That’s what sports is about: respect. You earn respect by the way you play and uphold the integrity of the game, not by who you played for. I look forward to more fans learning these lessons in respect in the future. Unfortunately, there will be some slip ups along the way, but as long as we’re pushing towards making things better, that’s the main thing.

Its Now Or Never

The Nets and Nuggets have struck a deal. The deal in place would send SF Carmelo Anthony, PG Chauncey Billups, PF Shelden Williams, PF Reynaldo Balkman and C Melvin Ely to the Nets for PG Devin Harris, PF Derrick Favors, PF Ben Uzoh, PF Troy Murphy and 4 1st round draft picks. This deal is all depending on Melo signing a 3 yr/ $65 million extension. Now all Nets fans are rejoicing and getting excited, but hold on. This deal isn’t done yet.

The Nets and the Knicks ownership groups are flying out to Los Angeles to meet with Anthony to discuss a deal with him. Carmelo has already said plenty of times that he does not wish to go to New Jersey. He wants to go to New York. New York needs to step up to the plate. They want him, but they have been dragging their feet. Well, since they have dragged their feet the whole time, the Nets have swept in. Now the Knicks have to make a decision.

The Knicks have been rumored to have to give up PG Raymond Felton, C Eddy Curry, SF Danillo Gallinari and SG Landry Fields for Anthony. If I’m the Knicks, I have to go get Melo now. At first I was saying they could wait until the off-season to get Melo to the Big Apple, but now the Nets have really stepped up to the plate.

Time will only tell what Carmelo says and agrees to, but at this point, I think it is a forgone conclusion that he will not be in Denver much longer. The Knicks cannot let this deal between the Nets and Nuggets happen because after losing LeBron, Melo was their next target. Melo could help them become more serious contenders and also the money would be free for the Knicks to get a PG like maybe a Chris Paul through a trade and then the Knicks would really have star power and contender written all over them. With all this said, I think Melo ends up in New York playing for the New York Knicks. Nice try Nets.

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