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Archive for the month “July, 2013”

The Buzz Is Back, But Are The Detroit Pistons?

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons

  The Detroit Pistons were a team that was down and out after the 2012-2013 season. The team that was expected to at least be a little bit better this past year continued to slump. But the bright light heading into this offseason was the money the Pistons had available. The only question was who the Pistons would go get. Well, after adding point guard Chauncey Billups, forward Josh Smith along with re-signing backup point guard Will Bynum and bringing in Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome, plenty thought the Pistons were done trying to add to their team. But little did we know that another trade was about to go down to shake this team up just a little bit more. The Pistons agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks that will bring point guard Brandon Jennings to Detroit for Brandon Knight, forward Khris Middleton and center Slava Kravtsov. Immediately, the Pistons made yet another addition that has some folks even more excited than when Josh Smith signed. But before the Pistons are crowned the darkhorse in the East, there are a couple things, or should I say players, that really concern me about this team.

  Some view Jennings, who signed a three-year, $24 million-dollar deal in his trade to Detroit, as an upgrade from Brandon Knight and talent-wise, that is true. Jennings is definitely an explosive player and he can carry a team offensively at times with his scoring. But he is also shoots a lot to get those points. And while there are a few point guards that shoot the ball a lot in today’s NBA, they all shoot a better percentage than Jennings (career 39.4% shooter). Along with that, he isn’t exactly known as a distributor of the basketball. Heading to Detroit, he must find the balance of getting his points and making his teammates lives easier on the court. Hopefully under the tutelage of veteran Chauncey Billups and head coach Mo Cheeks they can finally get Brandon to understand the balance that’s needed to make this team better under his leadership at point guard. This is certainly going to be something to watch next season.

  Another big player to watch is the aforementioned Josh Smith. The former Atlanta Hawks big man was looking for a big deal this offseason and ended up landing that big contract in Detroit. He, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combine to make a really physically gifted frontcourt. But beyond the athletic gifts, how do these three fit on the basketball court together presuming all three start this year? Defensively, Smith will have to guard small forwards in the NBA. Some matchups will be better for him than others, but for the most part, he has been guarding power forwards all his career. Will he be able to make the adjustments to guarding small forwards more? It should be interesting to see how the first matchup with LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony goes head-to-head. Heck, in his own division it will be interesting to see if he can keep up with Luol Deng of the Bulls and Paul George of the Pacers. Offensively, Smith is more of a mid-range shooter. But with this team and the pieces at power forward and center, Smith has to shoot more to spread the floor. And after seeing Smith shoot three after three in Atlanta, it’s very scary to think about him potentially shooting three’s more. And it is a downright mortifying thought when you think about the 28% career clip that he shoots from three. How the Pistons use these three talented big men is definitely going to be something to watch.

  With what the Pistons have, the best option would be to run because I can see their halfcourt offense being interestingly bad with the new pieces. Even with the new additions, the best that I can see this team doing is 7th or 8th in the East. And with that finish, that means an early exit again for the Pistons. For Joe Dumars’ sake, he better hope this works out. He has made blunder after blunder starting with the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and the signing of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Only time will tell if the signing of Smith and the trade for Jennings will resurrect the reputation he once had as one of the best front office guys in the NBA. If it doesn’t he may be getting his pink slip pretty soon.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP and hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General for more conversations on sports and other topics.

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With The New Additions, Can The Pacers And Nets Knock The Miami Heat Off Their Throne?

(Photo via Getty Images)

(Photo via Getty Images)


The Miami Heat are the reigning champions. They escaped sure defeat in Game 6 on the heroics of LeBron James and Ray Allen to come up with another championship. The veteran Spurs just could not muster enough to win in Game 7 as the Heat pulled away in the end. But going into next year, the Heat will not only have competition from the West but from teams in their own conference. Looking at the Heat as the barometer, the Indiana Pacers and the Brooklyn Nets made some interesting changes to bolster their team. But is it enough for them to beat the Heat come playoff time?

The Pacers pushed the Heat to the brink last season in the Eastern Conference Finals. But in Game 7, their youth showed up as point guard George Hill and wing player Paul George disappeared at the wrong time. The one thing the Pacers had that damaged the Heat a lot last postseason was their post game. Big men Roy Hibbert and David West were hitting the Heat with body blow after body blow and the Heat could not do anything with them. But the one thing that hurt the Pacers inside was they did not have that third big man to give the Heat problems. Well, the Pacers think they have resolved that issue. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Pacers have acquired veteran forward Luis Scola and sent forward Miles Plumblee, guard Gerald Green and a protected 2014 1st round draft pick to Phoenix. This move, along with the re-insertion of sharpshooter Danny Granger and swing forward Chris Copeland, makes the Pacers a stronger offensive team while still retaining the toughness that they are known for. Imagine if they would have had Scola, Copeland, Lance Stephenson and veteran point guard CJ Watson coming off the bench. They would have been even tougher last year.

But with the additions, the Pacers are still missing a lead guard to initiate the offense. George Hill is good, but he is not a point guard. And we all saw what happened with him at point guard when the pressure picked up against Miami. His uneven play cost them big time. They don’t necessarily need a star point guard, but a guard that won’t turn the ball over in crucial times. And other than Hill, the only other guy that can initiate that offense is the newly acquired Watson. If the Pacers could rely on a guy like Granger or Paul George to initiate the offense, then maybe they would be fine with Hill (who is really an undersized shooting guard) playing the point. But because of no solid addition at the point guard spot, the reservations are still there about the championship aspirations of this team. For the Pacers’ sake, they better hope Hill has learned from last year and will be better when the pressure comes his way.

In Brooklyn, the thirst of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for a championship is real. And to quench his thirst to make the Nets a serious contender, he has thrown money and caution to the wind. The Nets made a trade that brought them veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics. Immediately the expectations of the team went through the roof as some touted them as the biggest contender to the Heat. The starting lineup they now boast will be Garnett and Pierce at the forwards, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams at the guard spots and Brook Lopez at center. But not only will they have those guys starting for them, the Nets re-signed backup big Andray Blatche, signed forward Andrei Kirlenko to backup Paul Pierce, brought in guard/forward Allan Anderson to backup Joe Johnson along with having the aforementioned Jason Terry to backup Deron Williams. This team has all the tools to make a run.

But one thing that has to be looked at is the age of their key additions. Paul Pierce has been an incredible player for Boston his whole career, but over that time he has broken down. Injuries have taken away some of his explosiveness and with that, some of his effectiveness as a player. Signing Kirlenko was a good thing, but if he is playing more than Pierce when it really counts, then the Nets basically wasted money to bring him in. Another thing that may be an issue with Pierce is how he fits in Brooklyn. After being in Boston so long and becoming a legend there, how will playing in a new city for a new team for the first time in his career affect him? It could be excellent, but it could also be something that goes like Joe Namath when he played for the Los Angeles Rams. Kevin Garnett has been very durable during his entire career, but last year he started to show signs of breaking down. He ended up missing 14 games last season and he also had the lowest rebound and point totals of his career last postseason. Garnett brings intensity and passion when he plays, but what happens when your body is telling you that it cannot produce like it used to? It seems like in the case of Garnett and Pierce they are battling two enemies: the Heat (as the defending champions) and Father Time. The Nets will need these two to be at their best to win the East. We shall see if they can get it going when the time is right.

Both squads made perceived improvements. But in the end, it is still in question whether it is enough to defeat the Heat.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton The General for more conversations on sports and other things.

Major League Baseball And Its Neverending Problems

the faces of PEDs
Baseball has been fighting an uphill battle. They have been trying to get their popularity back for years after the performance-enhancing drugs scandal that rocked the sport in 2005 with Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro. Every year it seems like the more baseball makes strides forward, the ugly side of the sport comes back again. The last time PEDs came up was when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 2012 season after a failed drug test. Braun appealed and the slugger was found to be innocent due to the reported incorrect storage of the sample he gave. All seemed to be well and baseball was on its way back to clearing its name. But that all came to a screeching halt this year with the latest scandal to rock the baseball world.

Apparently, Ryan Braun was a part of an even bigger web of deceit than anyone was aware of. He, along with Alex Rodriguez and reportedly 20 other people, were involved with a Biogenesis lab in Florida that had allegedly issued PEDs to major league baseball players. What makes Rodriguez and Braun stand out even more is that they were the ones who were the most connected. And now the circumstances of their fall are about to go down. The first shoe to fall was Braun. After putting up a fight the whole time claiming innocence, he finally succumbed to the pressure of living a lie. Braun has been suspended by Major League Baseball without pay for the rest of the 2013 season. And he only has himself to blame. He lied repeatedly and in the process stole money from the Brewers organization in the form of a multi-million dollar extension to be the face of the franchise. So in conclusion, he is not only a liar but a thief. He robbed the Brewers and as of right now, he will still be able to be a millionaire while having his reputation tarnished forever.

Alex Rodriguez was someone that many people have perceived as a polarizing figure for a while. He has always been uber-talented, but some felt he still lacked a little something. And with the later admissions of PED use while a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003 and the sorted past of close calls with steroids, it could be seen that he has been masking his use of steroids all this time. Even though he claimed that he had been clean the entire time he was in New York, most never believed him because of the stories he told as to how he got the steroids. Anyone remember the story about his cousin giving him something he bought in Puerto Rico? A-Rod claimed he didn’t know what he took was illegal and if he even took it correctly. That explanation alone sounds fishy. So when he was implicated in this scandal this time, no one really believed that he was innocent and apparently Major League Baseball doesn’t either. As a result of all the mess that A-Rod has done in their eyes, baseball officials are reportedly seeking substantial penalties against Rodriguez, with talks of a lifetime ban. Some are going to say that it isn’t the correct decision because this would be his first suspension. But for that explanation, there is only one answer. When you get in trouble, you never get to pick your punishment. So in this instance, if he is indeed guilty (which from all indications and reports he is), then he has to accept the punishment. And with the reported misleading of investigators to go on top of potential use of PEDs, he has become the biggest target of the investigation and could be the prime example made. Both he and Braun made their bed. They chose money over morals and now these are the consequences.

But Major League Baseball isn’t exactly free of any blame either. Baseball benefitted off the popularity created when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire had their historic summer. In fact, some considered Sosa and McGuire the saviors of baseball. And it was at that point that the majors began to promote the long ball. Baseball put all these guys on a pedestal while turning a blind eye to all the things that may have been happening behind the scenes. This goes all the way back to 1987 and the days of McGuire and Canseco in Oakland when they were the Bash Brothers. Baseball has forever been turning a blind eye to what has been happening while they have been obtaining financial gain from it. In my opinion, the league has more than an issue with Braun, Rodriguez and any other people that are going to come out. It has an issue with how they do business. And quite honestly, this sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

In the end, Bud Selig and his crew call the shots and they have to be the ones to make it better. And if they want to do that, they must get a “Two Strikes” policy. The first punishment should be at least 100 games suspension without pay.  And if someone was crazy enough to test that policy again, they should be banned from the game. Sure, both decisions can be appealed, but there is no excuse for not knowing what can and cannot be done. And also, if you are punished with a suspension, your contract should be voided right then and there. All the guaranteed money that you have coming with that contact, including bonus money and incentives, should be cut off as well. If baseball wants to try and rid themselves of the problem, they have to become tougher. Another big problem is the players association. They must understand that their rules are helping protect the people that are bending them. And in turn, it is making the players as a whole look worse and worse. If they do not work with the commissioner, then this problem will never get better.

We shall see how this one pans out but one thing is for sure: baseball is out of control on a lot of levels. And honestly, there may not be an end in sight for this.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP  or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General  for more sports discussions.

The Dwight Howard Experience Moves To Houston

dwight howard rockets

After Chris Paul announced that he would re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers,
Dwight Howard was the biggest free agent on the market. The Golden State
Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta
Hawks were all in the bidding for his services. Slowly but surely he began to
eliminate each one until it was down to Los Angeles and Houston. In the end, after
much pondering, he picked the Houston Rockets. Immediately the stock in Houston
got a little bit better while the Lakers are left with none of the pieces from
the trade they made to get Howard from Orlando to begin with.

 With Dwight in Houston, the pressure is on. He left $30 million on the table to go and join the Rockets. And after leaving the Lakers (which is something that most players don’t ever do) the only justification in moving away would be to win a ring. At the present time, Houston is in a better position to make runs to the title than the Lakers. And that is due to the presence of an emerging star in James Harden. The smooth shooting guard has been electric for the Rockets ever since arriving in Houston via trade last season. With these two together, they make one of the best big man/guard combos in the NBA. But how they work together will be the key.

  James Harden likes to be the guy in control of the offense. And last year with the offense in his hands, the Rockets were one of the most explosive offenses in the league. The Rockets routinely ran pick-and-rolls with Harden at the controls. Adding Howard to the mix could potentially change the dynamic of their offense. While Dwight is more effective in the pick-and-roll, he has said that he would like to get the basketball more in the post. The problem with that is Howard is more efficient as a pick-and-roll player than he is when receiving the ball in the post. So going forward, do the Houston Rockets play to his demands and give him the ball in the post or do they stick with the pick-and-roll? A perfect solution would be to do a mixture of pick-and-rolls that highlight Harden and post ups that can make their new star happy. The onus will be on Dwight to get better in the post and make things happen when given the opportunity. With shooters like Chandler Parsons, Omer Casspi and yes, even James Harden, Dwight will have plenty of room to work with inside. The key in both styles of offense will be the effectiveness of Dwight. The more effective he can be in the post, the less we will see of the pick-and-roll offense. For the Rockets sake, they better hope that head coach Kevin McHale and Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon can make his post game better.

   Defensively is where Howard is best for Houston. Last year the Rockets had a big, physical center in Omer Asik. He defended opposing centers well, but he did not scare opposing teams as much as Howard can. Dwight makes the Rockets better defensively because he is an excellent weak side defender and shot blocker. That strength of Howard’s will help cover up for the weakness of Harden defensively. As good of an offensive threat as Harden is, he is very ineffective on the defensive end. Dwight can deter those shots that Harden gives up because of his subpar defense. Another thing that Dwight can add defensively is rebounding out of his area. Most big men can rebound within the area that they occupy, but only a few can step outside of the area they are occupying and go get boards. Howard can cover up for teammates missing block out assignments because he is so agile and strong. That ability adds to more possessions for Houston and allows them to also get out and run more.

   The spotlight is on Houston now. With the addition of Howard, they went from an up-and-coming team to a potential contender. Ultimately, this move begins and ends with Howard and Harden. How they co-exist and how Howard handles himself will be paramount to how this team does. It should be interesting to see what we get from Houston next season.

Mike Patton aka “The Sports General” is the
Sports writer for Freesworld.com. Follow him on Twitter @General_MP and on
Facebook at www.facebook.com/MikePatton32482

Some Keys To The Dating Game

black love

  In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to hear both sexes complain about not having a good man or woman to spend their time with. Mostly they say that there just are no more good men or women out there. I am happily married with a child on the way, but at one point in time I was a part of the dating pool. And like everyone out there, I had my share of ups and downs. The dating game can be draining but it is rewarding when you are focusing on the right things.

  Nowadays you can’t talk about relationships without talking about sex. Our world seems to be taken over by it. You see it all over television and movies, so much so that we have become desensitized to it. And to go along with that, sex has become one of the most essential parts of building a relationship for some people. But where folks go wrong in relationships is entering sex in before you even know the person that you’re dealing with. The most important part of the relationship is actually the friendship. To truly build a strong relationship, you must be friends with the person that you are trying to build something with. A quick test that you can use to judge the intentions of a person is to put physical limits on what you will and will not do. Doing this will allow you all to focus on building the essentials of a relationship like communication. It will also allow you to be able to get to know each other more than you probably would should you involve sex in too early.

  Another thing that has to happen is a self-examination. Many times, we are quick to pick apart the assets and deficits in someone we’re interested in. But what about yourself? Have you worked on yourself enough to say that you are suitable for someone? Often times people head into relationships thinking that their mate will complete them. The phrase “better half” comes to mind. But when you enter into any relationship, you have to know who you are first. If you know who you are, it can help you find who it is you are looking for without going through some of the trials and errors that leave people bitter and ready to throw in the towel.

   But one of the biggest things that seems to have taken over the dating scene is the focus on material things. The feelings of love and companionship have been replaced with the love of money, clothes and appearance. More and more you see people entering relationships due to the things that the other person can do for them material-wise. Eventually, those material things can only fill a need for so long and then the real core of the relationship comes out. And in an instant, the relationship is over. But if there is love in that relationship and both are on the same page, the material things come as icing on the cake. Nice things are great for any relationship, but if there is no emotional attachment then the relationship is going to have a short lifespan.

  I don’t profess to be an expert in relationships. In fact, I would say that I have made my share of mistakes. But in those mistakes, I learned a few things and was able to find a beautiful woman to spend the rest of my life with. Hopefully what I’ve learned can be a blessing to others who are looking for that special someone to spend the rest of their life with too.

 

Being Followed: Thoughts On The George Zimmerman Trial

(Picture courtesy of www.mostphotos.com )

Welcome back to The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog! The revival of The Everyday Sports Blog comes with the introduction of my wife, Tiffany Patton and a variation away from sports. As we all know, the George Zimmerman trial just concluded and Zimmerman is walking free after being found not guilty. There was much outrage and anger with the decision across the country. But also with the end of the trial there were many questions and thoughts going through everyone’s minds. Well, my wife took the time to express her thoughts in this blog. Without further adieu, here are her thoughts about the whole thing.

When I was a teenager I had an experience with being followed and it was VERY SCARY. I was walking home at night from my best friend’s house when I noticed it was happening. It was very dark and most of my walk was in a residential area with very few escape routes. Now anyone that has taken a middle school biology class has heard fear produces one of two responses: “fight or flight”.  I was preparing my mind for both. Once my followers tried to approach me and engage me in conversation, I ducked into a neighborhood store (thank God it was open) and they left me alone. If that didn’t work, I was prepared mentally to do whatever I had to do to defend myself.  I assumed that they had intentions to harm me so what would be the point in engaging in any conversation.

What baffles me is how anyone can justify Trayvon’s murder because he choose the “fight” response, because he choose not to engage in civil dialogue with someone he probably assumed meant him harm. Any other response is actually the opposite of what we teach our kids. We teach our kids not to talk to strangers, especially creepy ones that are following you. And if you do get approached by said creepy stranger, we teach our kids to yell, bring attention to yourself and fight if necessary. That’s what he did. So why is Trayvon being held to a different standard than any other American child? The “acting suspicious” argument keeps coming up but I still have not been told what that means. I’ve heard the hoodie is the reason, but a hoodie can’t “act”. I’ve heard he should have responded differently when Zimmerman approached him, but he was deemed “suspicious” before the interaction occurred so that too makes no sense. Furthermore, in addition to what I stated above as reasons he should not respond civilly to someone that is following him, there is another very logical reason: because he just didn’t have to. That’s right, he was walking down a street, he knew where he was going and he didn’t have to respond to Zimmerman if he didn’t want to. It’s a choice I’ve made many times in my teenage and adult years and one I’m sure I’ll continue to make. I’m a free American: I’m free to talk to or not talk to whomever I please.

In my heart of hearts I don’t believe Zimmerman set out to kill that young man. But I do believe that for reasons that he has not stated, he already decided that young man was a criminal that needed to be dealt with. What were those reasons? For his supporters please tell me what reasons you feel his categorization of this young man as suspicious and the subsequent actions that followed were justified? And why is Trayvon held to a different set of rules than any other American child? I think when you really honestly answer those questions then you may have a new understanding of why black America is outraged, saddened and quite frankly afraid for our children.

I think whether or not you believe race and gender played a major role in this whole affair (as I and most of black America feels), this verdict should make you very concerned for ALL of our children. Now the very subjective categorization of “suspiciousness” is a reason for adults to follow and approach your children. And when they don’t get the response they were looking for, your child may end up dead. The precedent has been set. There will be more Trayvon’s and more Zimmerman’s and they will be from all races, creeds and backgrounds.

I refuse to live in fear for God has not given me that spirit. He has given me a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. I refuse to live in bondage, for whom the Son sets free is free indeed, no matter how this world views me. That is how I will live and how I will teach my children to live. They will not live in fear and they will understand that the true battle is not against flesh and blood. The true battle is against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But faith without works is dead, so just as I was equipped as a child, my children will be equipped. They will live with an awareness of the world we live in and they will be equipped to respond. R.I.P. Trayvon Martin. I will continue to pray that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard the hearts and minds of all who loved him.

(Picture courtesy via www.kharmasworld.com )

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