The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

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

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Brandon Knight: The New Mr. Big Shot In Detroit

With the eighth pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Kentucky G Brandon Knight. Knight never worked out for the Pistons any before the draft. Some are even wondering what Joe Dumars and the Pistons brass was thinking. Well, I have a thought on what they saw. Brandon Knight looks like a young version of Chauncey Billups in my eyes. I’m sure some would think I’m crazy for comparing him to Billups, but a few things are very comparable between the two.

Chauncey Billups earned his nickname while in Detroit. And he continues to earn his nickname with clutch plays and shots at the most critical of times. As critical as the plays Billups made, Knight was just as critical for his Kentucky team. He could have missed five shots in a row, but when its clutch time, he’s got the ball and he’s coming through. That ability to make the big shot at the most critical of times make these guys special.

Leadership is also a common factor amongst these two guys. Billups was known to be the general on the floor when in Detroit, Denver and when healthy, New York. You could see him taking control of huddles and barking instructions as the game came down to the wire or if his team wasn’t playing that well. Coach Calipari had to yell and scream to get the attention of his young team at the beginning of this past season, but as the season went on, Knight took the reigns from him and began to be more vocal and more of a leader.

Billups was a leader and a clutch player while in Detroit. He brought a championship and many victories to an organization that hadn’t had great success since the Bad Boys in the late 80’s/ early 90’s. The Pistons are far removed from those days when they were contenders, but they’ve now got their new leader. Knight’s a new guy to town, but a guy who will hopefully bring some success back to Detroit and become the next great Piston legend.

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Is The Star Falling?

Things seemed to be going well. Los Angeles Sparks PF Candace Parker was playing very well. She was scoring, rebounding and leading her team in each and every game. And Parker was healthy for the first time. Then, all of a sudden, one move and she goes down again. Parker tore the meniscus in her right knee during the later stages of their game against the New York Liberty. It just seems like the injury bug continues to bite her and its so unfortunate.

Parker was expected to go down in history as being one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all-time. She is 6’5″, can shoot, handle the basketball, rebound and block shots. Unfortunately, with the greatness that was expected, injuries have followed. She’s had knee and shoulder injuries that have hampered her during her whole professional career.

Parker is obviously the biggest star in the WNBA. For the league, this is a huge hit. The WNBA was depending on Parker and rookie SF Maya Moore to carry the league and possibly bring some fans of women’s college basketball to the professional level. For the WNBA to survive, either they must take another direction in their marketing plans or put more into Maya Moore. Whatever the plan is, Parker hasn’t proven that she can stay healthy enough to carry the WNBA back to the popularity the league had when it first was created.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Parker. I believe she will come back strong and be resilient in her battle with injury. I have enjoyed watching her play, but the Sparks and the WNBA have to be concerned with the frequency of her injures.

The Everyday Mailbag-6/28/11

During the dog days of summer, when the sports are not as lively, the Everyday Mailbag brings the excitement still. Let’s see what the Sports World want to know!

Q: Do u see the Knicks making any big moves for a C in free agency?
-Chase G., New York, NY
A: I do not see the Knicks making any big moves for a C in free agency. They are pretty strapped cash-wise with Billups, Anthony and Stoudamire, so that limits what they can do and the fact that there’s uncertainty with the hard or soft cap for next year doesn’t help either.

Q: Out of all the guys rumored to be traded, who do u see being traded first?
-Joey K., Los Angeles, CA

A: I believe that Josh Smith will be out of Atlanta as soon as the new CBA is reached. Ownership and Smith don’t see eye to eye and I believe the Hawks have gone as far as they can with him there.

Q: With Winnipeg receiving the Atlanta franchise, how do you see realignment working out in the NHL? Is there a chance the Preds lose the rivalry they have built with the Red Wings?
-Jabbar L., Nashville, TN

A: I believe that realignment will happen and the rivalry with the Red Wings and the Predators will be no more. The Predators are the obvious team to get moved to the East because they travel the most of any team during the season to the West when they’re actually located in the South.

Q: Why did the Knicks pick Iman Shumpert with the 17th pick?
-Steven H., Westbury, NY

A: The reason the Knicks picked Iman Shumpert was because of his defensive capability. Shumpert is a 6’5″ guard that can guard the point guard, shooting guard and possibly the small forward position. With all that being said, he was the wrong pick for them. Florida State’s Chris Singleton was the correct pick. He’s 6’9″ and has the size and quickness to guard the point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward position. And he, not Carmelo, would have given the Knicks the best chance to guard LeBron James. Melo isn’t a consistent defender and he never will be.

Q: When do you think the NFL lockout will end? Do you think a deal could get done this week?
-Jeremy W., Winnepeg, Canada

A: I think the lockout will end in a couple weeks because the owners don’t want to lose money in revenue and the players want to get their paychecks. Much needs to be ironed out first, so a deal this week is unlikely.

Q: How do you feel about the NBA draft? Winners/Losers?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I feel that the draft was a weak draft overall, but as far as a winner and a loser, I would say that the Utah Jazz did well with their pick of Enes Kanter. He is a beast of a big man on the offensive and defensive end and will spell the end of Al Jefferson in Utah soon. The pick of Alec Burk was ok. He just isn’t that great a shooter to play shooting guard to me. As far as a draft day loser, I will take the Chicago Bulls. They had a hole at SG and they passed on Marshon Brooks, who could have gave them more offense and a playmaker beside Derrick Rose.

Q: Do you see any way that an NBA lockout can be averted, given the present circumstances?
-Ken L., Silver Valley, NC

A: I don’t think the lockout can be averted at this point, but the only way I see it possibly happening is if the owners decide to work with the players instead of dictate to them.

Q: How and what do you think MLB should do for new playoffs format, or if anything?
-Bobby C., Sacramento, CA

A: I don’t think the MLB should do anything to change the current format at all. If the MLB tries to expand the playoffs any more than they are currently, then you have a watered-down product.

Thanks to all who had questions for me this week. Keep the questions coming folks. And remember, if you have sports questions, I have answers!

Is A Hard Cap Really Good For The NBA?

The 2011 NBA Draft was last night and a lot of players achieved their childhood dreams. Some moves were booed and others were cheered by the crowd as NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the picks. But now that the draft is over, the NBA negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement now take center stage.

The players and the owners seem to not be on the same page. The owners want a hard cap, shorter contracts and less money and they want to keep the escrow from the 2010-2011 season for themselves. The players like the soft cap, want the same type of money and feel the escrow should be shared with the player. Well, I hear all these points, but the toughest point to sell will be the hard cap. Looking at the hard cap and the things it with current salaries, all NBA fans should be worried.

When you look at the hard cap, it would basically prevent teams from going over the league set minimum amount of cap space. This would mean teams like the Lakers, whose payroll is $90 million, would be in trouble. The Big 3 in Miami would be forced to breakup due to the fact that their salaries alone take up almost all the cap space and with no wiggle room, Miami wouldn’t be able to sign veterans to their minimum or even rookie to their rookie contracts. Another example of a team that would be in trouble would be the New York Knicks. They are paying hefty salaries for Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire. No solft cap means less of a chance they can have some manueverability to get pieces they need.

My message to the owners is they need to think long and hard before settling on a hard cap. I understand that most of the teams in the NBA are losing money, but the hard cap won’t make it any better. That means more players out of jobs in the NBA. That means more teams not as competitive as they could be. This means you possibly not seeing the money you used to make come playoff time because you couldn’t get that piece you needed to make the playoffs. Now make your decision based off those statements owners. Does the hard cap look so appealing now?

My Thoughts On The Top 5 Picks Of The 2011 NBA Draft

This week will be a truly special week for a lot of young men. They’ve put in the time. Now is their time. The 2011 NBA Draft is Thursday and the hype machine is starting to spin its wheels. And just like the hype is building for the draft, the anticipation for who is going to get picked where is also heightening. I’ve looked at a few mock drafts and I have to say, I have some serious disagreements with how they have things shaking out in the Top 5 picks. So, I figured I would come up with my thoughts of how things should shake out in the Top 5 picks.

With the 1st pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…Derrick Williams. I know a lot of people think the Cavs should select Duke freshman Kyrie Irving, but here’s my reasoning as to why I would select Williams. Williams was a terror in the PAC-10 at Arizona, playing both on the perimeter and in the paint. At the pro level, he will be a SF and he will fit exactly what the Cavs need. In fact, the SF position is more of a position of need at this pick than PG.

With the 2nd pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…no one. The Wolves trade down with someone who is in love with one of the bigs in this draft. The Wolves need a SG desperately and at the number two pick, there simply isn’t a SG worthy of that pick. If the Wolves trade back into the teens, they will be able to get Washington State SG Klay Thompson, Providence SG Marshon Brooks or Colorado SG Alec Burks, which would be good value for their pick. I think they could possibly make a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks here and then Milwaukee could go after one of the foreign players like SF Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic.

With the 3rd pick of the NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select…Brandon Knight. Knight might not be more talented than Kyrie Irving, but he fits the system of the Utah Jazz better than Irving in my opinion. Irving’s strength is his penetration, but the Jazz offense is predicated on the pick-and-roll. Knight almost exclusively ran the pick-and-roll while at Kentucky and with the tutelage of Coach John Calipari, he should be well-versed and ready for the NBA.

With the 4th pick of the NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select….Kyrie Irving. They Cavs get their PG of the future, but not exactly in the order they expected. He should benefit from the tutelage under coach Byron Scott and veteran Baron Davis, if Davis has his head on straight. Also, with Irving going here and a veteran being present, he shouldn’t feel as much pressure to come in and be the man at PG.

With the 5th pick of the NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select… Kemba Walker. This little guy can flat-out score. But other than being able to score, he can defend and also he can lead. Now, I will say I do have my reservations about whether he will be the second coming of Johnny Flynn in the NBA, but only time will tell. In the meantime, the Raptors desperately need a PG because Jose Calderon can’t stay healthy and has proven better as a sub and Jaryd Bayless is still inconsistent.

These are my thoughts on the 2011 NBA Draft Top 5. I hope everyone enjoys watching their teams trying to get better. I know I will be watching to see what teams improve and what teams fall on their face again.

The Everyday Mailbag- 6/21/11

Basketball is over. Its baseball season now. But sports questions for any sport are always in season. Without further adieu, here are the questions the Sports World wants to know!

Q: Who do u see coming out of NL and AL and which one wins WS? Your gut feeling.
-Bobby C., Sacramento, CA

A: I see the Phillies coming out of the NL and the Rangers coming out of the AL and I have the Phillies winning it all this year.

Q: Will the Minnesota Twins trade Fransisco Liriano? Lots of rumors floating around that he’s on his way out of Minnesota.
-Jeremy W, Winnepeg, Canada

A: I think we’re headed down the same road the Twins went down with Johan Santana when he was getting big-time. The difference is that the Twins were in the race with Santana and they are fading fast with Liriano. If this trend continues, I see Liriano getting shipped out of town at the All-star break. But the deal has to be right for Minnesota. They have proven in the past that they will hold on to players until they get the right deal.

Q: Will the Albert Pujols injury have any effect on his upcoming free agency and his want of an long term deal?
-Lee L., Chicago, IL

A: I don’t think the injury he suffered will affect him in free agency. He suffered a forearm injury. When he comes back, he will be sore and he will be a little gunshy, but I think he rounds into shape and is fine by the end of the year. And also, he has a whole off-season to rehab his forearm if it doesn’t heal properly or if they’re lingering affects. He will get that long-term deal he wants.

Q: Why do you think the mainstream media has ignored the fans during the NFL lockout? Don’t they matter?
-Russ G., Boston, MA

A: I don’t think its that the fans don’t matter, I think the mainstrean media just understands that it all comes down to the players and the owners in terms of getting an agreement reached, not the fans.

Q: ‎​How soon before the NBA has a new deal in place?
-Joey K., Los Angeles, CA

A: I’m really not sure when a new NBA deal will be in place. I’m thinking that we could be headed down the same road as the NFL because the players and the owners seem to still be far, far apart. One of the big issues is guaranteed years in a contract. The owners want to take away some of the guaranteed years on contracts. Of course the players don’t like that.

Q: Will LeBron bounce back next season? Will he silence his critics?
-Steven H., Westbury, NY

A: LeBron will bounce back next season and silence his critics only if he does two things. He must work on his game and he must accept that he isn’t going to be loved by the NBA fans like he was when he played in Cleveland. He needs to stop worrying about the outside forces and work on his game. If he does that, he will bounce back. If not, expect him to continue to come up short.

Q: There is debate as to who is better overall as far as career Shaq or Bird it’s split, what your take?
-Bobby C., Sacramento, CA

A: I think that both were superstars in basketball, but Bird had a better career because he was effective his whole career. Shaq wasn’t effective for the last four years of his career. And also, Bird played at championship level his whole career. Shaq didn’t.

Thanks to everyone who participated and all who viewed this week’s mailbag. Hope everyone enjoys the sports week that awaits us. And remember, is you have a sports question, I have an answer!

My Father, My Friend

Every year that Father’s Day rolls around, I realize more and more how lucky I am. Some people weren’t blessed with fathers in their lives. Well, I thank God I was blessed with a father in mine. He truly has been a blessing.

From a young age, my dad was into everything I did. He started my love for sports as a five year old. He introduced me to youth football, youth basketball and he also introduced me to youth baseball. But not only did he introduce me to these sports, he taught me about the games as well. My dad coached me for most of my life in basketball growing up and he was always present at every game, helping me with little hints on how to get better. My dad was at pretty much every single game I played. Me and my dad would definitely bump heads at times, but looking back in retrospect, he knew what he was talking about and I should have listened more.

As I grew older, my dad became more than just a coach and a help to my aspirations as an athlete. He began to give me life lessons. He would tell me how to handle certain things or situations and would always be an open book that I could ask for advice. Every year I realize more that I’m truly blessed to have a father who is not only looking out for me, but is one of my best friends. I don’t think I could have made it this far in life without some of the lessons that I learned from him.

But what makes my dad so special isn’t what all he’s done for me. My dad has been a youth coach for 20+ years in football and basketball. He still, to this day, takes time to give back to the kids in the Nashville area. But he not only coaches these kids, he tries to instill life lessons in them to help them along their way.

My dad is an inspiration to me. He not only raised me, but he helped raise a community of children. His toughness on me made me into the man I am today. And the plan and guidance that he gave me helped balance out the support that my mother gave me. I’m forever thankful for God blessing me with my dad. Without him, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I want to challenge all who view this post to take time out to call or speak to your father or spend some time with your father this weekend. But don’t limit that time to this weekend. Make everyday count. I love you Dad!

When Fandom Goes Too Far

The Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 in the NHL Finals last night, but there was another scene that was even bigger than Game 7. Plenty of Canuck fans rioted and plenty of people were hurt as the some overzealous fans seemed to collectively loose their minds in Vancouver over the hockey game. There were fires started and there was also a Bruins fan that was injured as well. This is just inexcusable.

I’m a fan of sports, but I know when to hold up on fandom, especially when it comes to people getting hurt. I think that sometimes as fans, we go too far with our passions for a team. What we tend to forget is that we aren’t the ones playing and that its just a game. After all, most of us do have to wake up and go to work, school or wherever the next day. I’m not saying that its bad to have a passion for your team, but when your passion spills over to people getting hurt, that’s when you’ve went too far.

In this case, hockey has now earned a black eye because of this incident. Hockey already has the worst commissioner in sports, Gary Bettman, and now they have one of the craziest scenes in sports history to deal with. This riot can’t help the image of a sport that’s trying to get back to the level of popularity it once was at. My hope is that the main culprits in this riot get punished and that order is restored. But one thing is for sure. This incident has damaged the NHL.

The Everyday Mailbag-6/14/11

The excitement of the NBA season has now ended. But just because that ended, doesn’t mean the excitement of sports has to end. The Everyday Mailbag is here still to quench your sports thirst. Here’s what Sports Nation wants to know!

Q: What type of effect do you see Mark Jackson having on Steph Curry and what do you thing about the Ellis Iguodola rumors?
-Mike, Waldorf, MD

A: This trade would add a defensive presence to an otherwise defenseless team in the Golden State Warriors, but they would lose some offense and play-making ability. For the Sixers, this would be like them having Allen Iverson again. Monta Ellis is an undersized SG with explosive leaping ability and quickness. This trade would give the Sixers more offense but make them smaller. I think that the Warriors should hang on to Ellis and only trade him for a big man that can score.

Q: ‎​Where will Dwight Howard playing next year?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: ‎​Dwight Howard will be in Orlando next year. I think the Magic will make every attempt to re-sign him and if he is to leave Orlando, it will be in an off-season trade after the 2011-2012 season.

Q: Do u consider Jordan the Greatest or one of the Greatest?
-Jae N., Nashville, TN

A: Yes. Of course. He is the greatest basketball player of all time. 6 rings, multiple MVPs. All-NBA defensive team for most of his career, a leader and a champion.

Q: The NBA’s official stance is they would like to see kids stay in College longer, do you believe this and if so, what should they do?
-Ken L., Silver Valley, NC

A: I think they would like to see more kids stay in college longer but only because of money. Stern feels like the product is suffering b/c of too much young talent and not enough league ready talent. He feels that is affecting the fans because they aren’t as interested in watching What he perceives as a watered-down product. And when fans don’t like a product, they don’t watch and that is ultimately affecting revenue.

Q: Should the Mets trade Jose Reyes? If so, who should we trade him for?
-Damon J., Atlanta, GA

A: I think the Mets should trade him and the Mets should trade him for young pitching and prospects. The Mets are a few years away from contending in the East and they need pieces and pitching. Now as far as the team he could be traded to, I would say its possible that he Could be traded to a myriad of teams, but for some reason, I see him as a possible in LA if the ownership situation gets worked out.

Q: ‎​What do you think of Erik Spoelstra?
-Joey K., Los Angeles, CA

A:I think he’s a good coach. He, like the Miami team, learned some things in this series that will make him a better coach. But, like in everything, the coaches get too much credit and too much blame as well. The players have to accept some blame as well from fans.

Q: Whats the deal with the NFL lockout?
-T.J., Memphis, TN

A: No new news so far. I’m thinking that the lockout will go on for a while and that the possibility of some games being missed is looking more like a reality.

Q: ‎​Will the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship next year ?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: ‎​The Heat will be the favorite and I think that if they learn from the events of this year, they will win the title.

Q: Does a certain big-time receiver get out of jail and make a great impact and pro bowl performance this NFL season?
-Dallah S., Manhattan, NY

A: I think that Plaxico Burress will have a good season, but he will not return to the Pro Bowl player he once was. Now I’m not saying he won’t be effective, but what I am saying is he will not be elite. Age isn’t on his side either.

Q: Yesterday, Jeff Van Gundy mentioned that during next year’s offseason, if Miami doesn’t win championship they should make a pass at Dwight Howard. So if you were Pat Riley, who would you give up, and who would you expect in return in addition to Dwight?
-Kareem H., Nashville, TN

A: I don’t think Dwight Howard will be in Miami, but if that trade were to happen, I think they would need to give up Bosh or LeBron. D Wade is not going anywhere. He will retire as a member of the Miami Heat. As far as who the Heat would receive with Howard, I think they would get a lesser piece like maybe a backup PG or a backup big man. We still have an off-season to go thru so we will have to see what players make up each team before that time comes or even if that time comes.

Thanks to all who participated and sent sports questions. And remember, if you have sports questions, I have answers! I answer every question that’s sent to me. Guaranteed.

Dallas Wins The NBA Championship

Going into this series, many thought that Miami had turned the corner and Dallas didn’t have the players to keep up with the Heat. Well, if this isn’t a lesson for everyone, I don’t know what is. I, for one, picked the Heat to win in seven games. The lesson I learned is that there’s no I in team and there’s also not a D, an L or a C.

The difference in the game was the fourth quarter and the supporting cast. During every fourth quarter, in every game, it seemed like LeBron was always tight. Well, in this game, all the Heat players were tight. They felt the pressure of all the expectations. They felt the pressure of “The Decision”. They felt the pressure of being the team that everyone expected to be great. They missed easy shots, free throws and had careless turnovers. And on the opposite side, the Mavs didn’t wilt under pressure, they relished it. Dirk was cold the whole game until the fourth. It seemed like he became that clutch player he always dreamed of being when he was in Germany honing his game. But it wasn’t just Dirk, Jason “The Jet” Terry was the man in the clutch as well. He hit big jumper after big jumper and backed up his talk that LeBron couldn’t guard him and would tire out on him. These two guys came alive and carried them to the finish line.

Help was few and far between for the Miami Heat. Heck, where was it most of the time? The Heat couldn’t get enough going around the Big Three to sustain anything. Besides Chalmers, I can’t name one other Heat player that reached double-figures outside the Big Three. To ask three superstars to carry a team through an 82 game season and the playoffs with minimal help is just crazy. The Mavs, on the other hand, got contributions from everyone that played. Sure Terry and Barea played well, but you can’t understate the value of Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and even Brian Cardinal. These guys hit big shots, played great defense and Kidd especially brought a calming influence to them when the Mavs were going through their toughest times.

My hat is off to the Mavs. They played hard and they played together. For Miami, evaluations need to be made. Can D Wade and LeBron James really co-exist? Is Bosh the best compliment to those two if they decide to keep LeBron and Wade together? Can the Heat make plays for anyone given their current salary cap and team structure? Those are questions for next year, but for right now, the Mavs are NBA Champions and its well-deserved. In the end, twelve were stronger than three.

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