The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

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

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Playoff Time Is The Chicago Bulls’ Time Too?

(Derrick Rose picture via http://www.bleacherreport.com)

The playoffs have finally descended upon us and now it’s time to separate the contenders from the pretenders. People have talked about the Miami Heat. People have talked about the Oklahoma City Thunder. But is anyone talking about the Chicago Bulls? And if people are, should they?

The Bulls once again had a big regular season. In this strike-shortened season, the Bulls finished with 50 wins, obtaining the best record in the NBA and locking up homecourt advantage for the entirety of the playoffs. But this year, they did it most unconventionally.

The Bulls brought in veteran shooting guard Richard “Rip” Hamilton from the Detroit Pistons in hopes of him being able to relieve some of the pressure on Derrick Rose. But what the Bulls didn’t expect was the injuries to pile up. Rip hasn’t even played 20 games this year, as he has dealt with a groin and shoulder injury. He’s been back in the lineup for a good stretch, but can we expect to see the old Rip Hamilton or will we see him continue to breakdown like he has all year?

Rip hasn’t been the only player with an injury this year. Derrick Rose suffered five separate injuries this year and missed a ton of the season as well. Luol Deng also is playing with a torn ligament in his wrist and has been toughing it out all year. He has missed some games as well. But despite all of this, the Bulls have made it through. And some may wonder why or how they have. They have made it through because of their bench.

At some point and time, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III, CJ Watson, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and Ronnie Brewer have stepped in and picked up the slack for the Bulls. With this added experience, the Bulls have an advantage with depth and potency coming in off the bench.

But is this more experienced bench going to be able to help the Bulls make it to the next level? The answer is no. The Bulls will only go as far as the star power of Rose and the veteran leadership of Rip will lead them. When Rose gets doubled, Rip is their best threat and playmaker and he has to be effective. Another huge factor will be the play of Carlos Boozer. The Bulls brought him in to help lead their team and now it’s time for him to step up. He disappeared in the Miami series last year and has played uneven against them this year. He has to give them something in the post so they can at least have a little bit of a semblance of a post game. In the end, defense can only carry you so far and the offense has to step it up. It should be interesting to see if they are ready or if they are just following the same path they did last year in their Conference finals’ embarrassment versus the Heat.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the Bulls are ready to take the championship this year or do you think their regular season was Fool’s Gold?

#SportsBlogMovement
http://sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com

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TESM’s Interview With Former NFL Punter Craig Hentrich

A position on the field that everyone overlooks is a punter. They can change the game with one swing of their leg. And no one was better over their career at punting than former Packers and Titans punter Craig Hentrich. I recently caught up with Craig and here is what we talked about!

MP: What are you up to these days Craig?

CH: I actually teach punting/kicking thru my company, Legacy Kicking. I am also getting started on building furniture as well. My third job is golf, but I haven’t played golf since October.

MP: How did you get into golf and become so good at it?

CH: I started golfing around the age of 12. I think that I’ve always had good hand/eye coordination. That and I’m always looking for a new challenge to master and that helped me as well.

MP: Who were some of your idols growing up?

CH: My parents were my idols growing up. My dad was a hard worker. He worked the same job for 35 years, was never late and never missed a day. That and when he came home, he spent time with his kids. My mom was a homemaker and they worked well together. As far as sports, I was a huge soccer player growing up. I used to go watch the Major Indoor Soccer League games when I was growing up all the time and those guys were my sports idols.

MP: How did you hone your punting craft?

CH: I honed it through hours and hours and hours of practice. I actually would catch myself doing things and make corrections.

MP: What positions did you play growing up besides punter?

CH: I actually played quarterback and safety in high school. I ran the wishbone offense. Of course, I couldn’t run that in college. When I got to college, I actually pulled double-duty as a punter and kicker.

MP: What makes a good punter?

CH: Consistency and dependability makes a punter good. And by consistency, I mean that the punter drops balls inside the 10 or unleashes a big punt and is unselfish with what he needs to do for the team.

MP: Who do you think is the best punter in the NFL?

CH: I have two that I like a lot. Shane Lechler of the Oakland and Mike Scifres of San Diego. Both always seem to hit the big punt at the right time when their team is backed up.

MP: What are your thoughts on BountyGate in New Orleans?

CH: I think it’s blown way out of proportion. The NFL is an emotional game and it’s a way to get guys mentally ready for the game, not a way to send guys out to hurt people.

MP: What made you take to punting so much?

CH: Punting is a very difficult thing to master. There’s thousands of great kickers and very few great punters. I’m always looking for a great challenge and punting is something that I can never master.

MP: Will there ever be a punter in the Hall of Fame?

CH: Yes. I read a quote from John Madden and he said “Ray Guy was one of the best defensive players I’ve ever coached.” Punters, in my opinion, are becoming more important because the game is being played more by field position. And punters are field position players.

Many thanks to Craig Hentrich for the interview. Be sure to catch up with him at Legacy Kicking(www.legacykicking.com) and also be looking for him at a golf course near you!

(Picture of Craig Hentrich via http://www.bleacherreport.com)

#SportsBlogMovement

TESM’s Interview With NFL Legend Warren Moon

When you think of legendary NFL quarterbacks, recent legends like Brett Farve and John Elway and the current greats like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning come to mind. But another great quarterback that has to be mentioned in the same air is Warren Moon. I recently caught up with the legendary quarterback and here’s what we talked about!

MP: Who did you model your game after growing up?

WM: To be honest, I didn’t really model my game after anyone. I had versatility in my game. I could throw on the run, play-action pass, run if I had to and I could stand in the pocket and take the hit as well. That versatility allowed me to last in the league for so long and also allowed me not to be pigeon-holed as a particular style of player.

MP: Who were some of your idols growing up?

WM: Most of my football idols were minorities. I can remember growing up watching Roman Gabriel and James Harris play quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. I also watched Jimmy Jones, who was a great quarterback at USC and in the Canadian Football League, and Marlin Briscoe, who was the first black quarterback to start a game in the NFL. Another guy I watched growing up was Joe Gilliam. Jefferson St. Joe drew me in with his flash and the strong arm that he had. Roger Staubach was a guy that I kept up with as well due to his scrambling, running ability and his propensity for making big plays. But for the most part, I idolized guys that looked like me and most of them happened to be in the area of the country where I grew up, Los Angeles. I grew up as a Lakers, Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams fan.

MP: For those that don’t know, Warren does broadcasting of NFL games as well as having his own sports marketing company, Sports 1 Marketing. Warren, what do you feel has made your career after football so successful?

WM: I prepared myself beforehand educationally and financially. I actually did radio and other things while playing to prepare myself for life after football to see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I pretty much had my plan in place for life after football during my playing days.

MP: What inspired you to give back to your community through charitable organizations?

WM: So much was done for me as a young kid with organizations like Little Leagues and Cub Scouts. I just wanted to use the platform that I had to help people that were less fortunate.

MP: Have you ever thought about coaching?

WM: I honestly never have. Coaching is a full-time commitment and I have tremendous respect for them. But I have so many other things that I like doing and coaching wouldn’t allow me to do all of them.

MP: Anything that you wish you could have done differently in your career?

WM: You always go back to certain big games that you lost, but as far as my career, I would say that I could have worked even harder. There’s always more work that you can do to get better.

MP: You played in the Canadian Football League and the NFL. Besides the rules and field length, what were some of the differences you saw in the Canadian Football League and the NFL?

WM: Players were more athletic in the CFL, especially defensive linemen because of the ground they had to cover. The game in the CFL was faster. You had 20 seconds to get the next play called when the ball was spotted. There were so many ways to score in the CFL. Every kick and punt had to be returned or you were giving up points. For example, if a field goal was missed, you had to bring it out of the endzone or it was a point for the team that missed the field goal. Another big difference is we only had three downs in Canada instead of four like the NFL.

MP: When you are doing broadcasting, what is your favorite part of calling NFL games?

WM: My favorite part would be when the game is tight coming down the stretch. You really have to analyze and anticipate what the next move is. The emotion begins to carry you and the game is moving so fast. You have to make sure that you are sharp on what you’re analyzing and saying.

MP: What do you think about the current NFL compared to when you played?

WM: It’s definitely different. It’s not as physical as reflected by the rules. The passing game dominates more and the money that these players are making is astronomical. They deserve all of it and I hope they understand what players went through before them to get what they are getting now. Another huge difference is the amount of social exposure with mediums like Twitter and Facebook. And that’s something that players really have to make sure they pay attention to and they have to watch themselves even more off the field.

MP: Who is your favorite quarterback to watch in the NFL right now?

WM: There are so many good ones, but I like watching Cam Newton. Cam is able to throw the football and can run. To be that fast and big and be able to think the game is exciting to watch. As he gains experience, he will be even better. My personal relationship that I’ve had with him since he has been out of college makes it even more interesting to watch him as well.

MP: Who was your favorite player to play with throughout your entire NFL career?

WM: I would say Tony Gonzalez. He was a young guy coming in the league in Kansas City when I was at the end of my career as a backup for the Chiefs. Me and Tony developed a bond and I became a mentor to him, gave some wisdom to him and watched him grow as a player.

MP: What advice would you give to players in the NFL or aspiring NFL players?

WM: I would tell them to continue to work on your craft and be the best that you can. There’s always someone behind you trying to take your job, so don’t become complacent, even when or if you reach stardom.

Much thanks to Warren for doing this interview with me. And remember to check out his company, Sports 1 Sports Marketing( http://www.sports1marketing.com) and also be on the lookout for Warren calling an NFL game near you!
(Warren Moon picture via http://www.knue.com)

TESM’s Inteview With ESPN Radio’s Freddie Coleman

ESPN Radio has been revolutionary in bringing sports talk radio to the forefront. One of the voices that many have gotten familiar with is Freddie Coleman. Recently, I got to catch up with Freddie and here is what we talked about!

MP: So, what’s it like to work for ESPN?

FC: I have been at ESPN for eight years and I kept waiting on that one bad day until one day, I just stopped thinking about it. Because a bad day here is still better than doing something that I’m not happy at all the time. I’m living out my dreams and doing what I love and that’s truly a blessing.

MP: Being that you work at ESPN, how do you balance your home life and your job?

FC: First, I’m lucky that I have an understanding wife, but she understands that when I’m away from the job, it’s family time. I don’t bring work home with me. When I’m at work, it’s work and when I’m at home, it’s home. I believe that you cannot bring work home with you and that you cannot let work define you.

MP: How did you first get interested in radio?

FC: Well, growing up as a kid in New York, I always loved radio. I listened to everything. But it was later when I went to college and hung around people at the college radio station, that’s when I made my decision that I wanted to make radio my career.

MP: Where did you grow up in New York?

FC: I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York.

MP: Did you play sports growing up?

FC: I actually played football, tennis and basketball in high school at Long Island City High School. I also played college football at Division II Mansfield University as well. I currently still stay active by playing on ESPN’s softball team.

MP: What position did you play?

FC: I played wide receiver.

MP: Growing up, what sports figure inspired you the most?

FC: Dr. J (Julius Irving of the Philadelphia 76ers) inspired me the most. He is my favorite player of all-time.

MP: What about Michael Jordan?

FC: As a Knicks fan, I’m morally opposed to Michael Jordan. He torched my team too many times.

MP: Who were some of your biggest influences in radio and broadcasting?

FC: Marv Albert has always been one of my favorites because of his sarcasm, dead pan humor and the way he calls the game. I also was heavily influenced by Keith Jackson and Chris Schenkle when they called college football games. Another radio influence was music radio host Chuck Writer. He had a major influence on me in high school.

MP: Best interview that you’ve ever had?

FC: It’s really hard to pick out just one. To be honest, not one interview stands out above any of the others because I’ve had the chance to talk to so many people like Shaq, Cedric the Entertainer, John Calipari, Bernie Mac and the list goes on.

MP: Where all have you worked in radio?

FC: I have worked for a Top 40 station in Portland, Maine, a Top 40 station in Poughkeepsie, I’ve worked for a Soul Music station in New York City and I’ve also been a program director in Poughkeepsie, New York and worked in TV in the Hudson Valley, which is one to two hours north of New York City.

MP: Have you ever had an interest in doing more television?

FC: Not really. To me, it’s not as much fun as radio. Radio is not as political and television is something that is really not on my radar to be honest.

MP: What advice would you have for young people aspiring to getting into radio?

FC: I would say that you have to make sure to be prepared. You don’t have to know everything, but make sure you do your homework. Also, be 100% real when you’re there. The more truthful you are, the most you build your credibility.

MP: What is your ultimate goal in broadcasting?

FC: I’ve never had an ultimate goal. I always just want to make sure that I love what I do and do what I love.

MP: What are some charitable things that you are involved in?

FC: I get involved with Coaches vs Cancer in New York City. Coaches vs Cancer is a program where coaches help raise awareness for prostate cancer. I’m always on board for these events.

Freddie not only is a radio host, but someone with great experience that has put in time to make it to the level he’s at now. Many thanks to Freddie for the interview.

Agent Zero Reinvented?

Gilbert Arenas was on top of the world three years ago. He was considered one of the top point guards in the NBA and he was one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA when he was “in the zone”. Then, just like that, Arenas hit the toughest stretch of his career.

Arenas and then teammate Javaris Crittendon got into an incident with each other where guns were brought into the locker room. This incident led to Arenas getting a lengthy suspension and putting a black eye on his career. That incident, along with knee surgeries, caused Arenas to fall from grace and tarnish what was once a promising career. The Washington Wizards were looking to move him. They lost all faith in Arenas being a solution and had deemed him the problem.

With the huge contract Arenas was under, moving him was no easy task. But there was one team out there that was looking to cause a major shakeup and that team was the Orlando Magic. The Magic traded Rashard Lewis to Washington for the services of Arenas in hopes that he would become the guy that everyone feared. Well, the magic didn’t return as Arenas changed teams. In fact, Arenas looked increasingly like he would never get over the serious knee surgeries and that he was a shell of himself. Gone was the explosiveness. Gone was the brashness. Gone was the guy we knew as Agent Zero.

After the NBA lockout, their was a clause created called the amnesty clause. This clause meant that teams could get rid of one bad contract and not have any repercussions in releasing that player. As soon as that clause came about, the first person many teams spoke about was Gilbert Arenas. Arenas, like most thought, was released by the Magic. He was thought to be done in most fans and GM’s eyes. After all, who wanted a guy with a bad knee who seemed to have lost his explosiveness and jump shot?

It took a while, but the Memphis Grizzlies, in March 2012, took a chance on signing the fading star with limited expectations. They were hoping to get the guy we all saw in Washington and not the guy in Orlando that looked pedestrian at best. Memphis was in need of more offense and a backup to Mike Conley, Jr. So far, Arenas has been on the money. But, he’s done it in a different way than usual.

Arenas used to be able to explode past you to the rim as well as shoot the deep ball. Now, with his explosiveness gone, he now plays off the ball a little bit better and has become more of a jump shooter than playmaker. Another noticeable difference is he is now giving effort on the defensive end. Arenas always had quick hands and feet, but he never seemed to have a ton of interest in that end of the court. Flash forward to now and he is deflecting passes and using his basketball smarts to make plays on the defensive end.

Arenas seems to have turned a new page in his career. He has scored in double-figures 3 of his 8 games with the Grizzlies, but not only has he done that, he has played with an intense desire to not only make this team better, but to revive his career. You could say he has reinvented himself, knowing that this may be his last chance to make something happen in the NBA.

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