Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Real Story Behind The Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan Feud.








All of a sudden, in the wake of the LA Clippers' choking away the Houston Rocket series, a feud between Clippers' point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Jordan is taking center stage. Is there really a feud? If so what's behind it?

According to three sources close to the Clippers, here's what's going on. It's basically a clash of attitudes. One source referred to Paul as a "mini Jordan," meaning he thinks of himself as the Clippers' answer to Michael Jordan. Remember, Michael was the hard-nosed, dictatorial leader of the Chicago Bulls in their '90s heyday. Paul has tried to assume that lofty, tough-guy,.Jordanesque position as leader of the Clippers, but he has run into some opposition. One player who doesn't relish that attitude is DeAndre Jordan, a hang-loose, laid-back kind of guy.

The essence of the feud is that Jordan doesn't like Paul's pushy, bossy attitude. To Jordan, it feels like he's being shoved around and he doesn't like it. When Paul came to the Clippers a few years ago, Jordan was still raw and just a promising player, while Paul was a hot-shot All-Star. Jordan was just a second-tier player, so he had to take a subservient position to big-time Paul. But since then Jordan has blossomed into one of the top three defensive players in the league. He's a potent force who's actually more valuable than Paul. Finding another first-rate point guard would be a lot easier than finding an athletic, shot-blocking, top-notch rebounding rim-protector like Jordan.

Quite simply, Jordan has become a huge force on the Clippers--and he knows it. He feels he's above being pushed around by Paul. But Paul only knows how to be one thing--a pushy leader. That's his way. It doesn't please his teammates. Rumor has it that when he left the New Orleans Hornets in 2011, some of those players were happy to see him go.

He and the Clippers' other star, Blake Griffin, clashed when Paul first came to the team. Griffin, then, was the No.1 guy but Paul asserted himself right away as top dog. Griffin balked. There was bad blood between them for well over a year, before they finally declared a truce. When Doc Rivers came to the Clippers, replacing Vinnie Del Negro as head coach, his first order of business was to smooth relations between his stars.

Actually, this Paul-Jordan feud is nothing new. These two have been at odds since last year. The conflict has just been getting steamier in the last few months. Rivers has had to do what LA Lakers' head coach Phil Jackson did with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal--play referee. Jackson's biggest job on those championship teams wasn't dealing with Xs and Os but playing mediator between those two, making sure they didn't kill each other.

There have been many flareups between Paul and Jordan, report the sources, including some heated locker-room arguments and some conflicts that have been visible at court side during games. So far, though, the beefs have been neatly covered up. That's been possible because the LA media isn't as blood-thirsty and tabloid-oriented as media in other big cities.

One of the issues is that Paul has been riding Jordan about his horrible free-throw shooting. Sources say Paul thinks Jordan hasn't been working hard enough to improve this weakness. Jordan, however, resents Paul butting in.

Another problem, report the sources, is that Jordan is miffed at Paul doing his Michael Jordan imitation when he hasn't had the success that Jordan had. Michael helped the Bulls win many championships so his teammates felt obliged to succumb to his harsh leadership tactics. Paul, however, hasn't even been able to lead the Clippers to a conference championship game. So DeAndre resents him acting the tough-leader role when he hasn't lead them to anything close to a championship.

The feud is surfacing now because DeAndre is about to become a free agent. He can either sign a max deal with the Clippers, for $100 million, or go to another team for less money. Dallas has been mentioned as a possible new team for Jordan, a Texas native who was born in Houston and went to Texas A&M.

Clipper fans fear that if Jordan is not on good terms with Paul that may push him to leave Los Angeles. That's not necessarily true. There have been horrible fights between NBA players, sometimes to the point of fisticuffs, and that never forced the warring parties to jump ship. Do you think things were smooth on those Michael Jordan championships teams?. Actually they were plenty rocky. That was also true on Pat Riley's Knick teams and, way back in the old days, there was plenty of player strife on Bill Russell's Celtic teams. Recently, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a mess for months, but the players, led by LeBron, resolved the conflicts. Problems can be successfully handled internally. They don't have to break up teams.

This is where Rivers comes in. It's up to him to smooth over any problems and convince Jordan to stay with the Clippers. My guess is that he will stay. Paul and Griffin learned to co-exist. So can Paul and Jordan. If Jordan leaves, blame Rivers for being a lousy mediator.

By the way, expect a bunch of media stories in the next few weeks quoting Clipper players and various other sources denying there's any rift between Jordan and Paul.

Ignore those stories. That's just publicity b.s.






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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Clippers Will Beat Rockets In Game 7









Look for the LA Clippers to climb out of that hole they tumbled into Thursday when they lost game 6 at home to the Houston Rockets, 119-107. But losing is the wrong word to describe what happened. What the Clippers really did was choke the game away.

It was really ugly. So, naturally, were the late-game stats. With about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Clippers were ahead by 19 and cruising. Then they barreled into an iceberg, turning into the Titanic. They were outscored 40-15 in the fourth quarter, a historic playoff turnaround. Actually they just scored 12 points in the fourth. It was 15 because Chris Paul.buried an uncontested three-pointer at the buzzer. At one point during that epic collapse they went nearly seven minutes without a field goal.

But that's all past. Forget that colossal choke. Sunday is a new day for the Clippers, a day of redemption.
The Clippers you see Sunday won't be that wobbly outfit that turned to jelly with the game on the line on Thursday.

In Thursday's game LA was pressing ferociously in the fourth quarter, pressing so hard on offense they forgot to play defense. The Rockets scored so easily because the Clippers defense was non-existent. LA players, crippled by the pressure, slipped into a mental fog and visibly slowed down, making the Rockets several steps faster. The more the Clippers pressed the more they crumbled. For the Rockets it was almost like pregame practice. Coach Doc Rivers was no help. He was powerless. He had never seen anything like it. He didn't know how to stop the bleeding.

The strangest part of the loss was that Houston's fourth quarter blitz happened with their best player, James Harden, who hadn't played very well most of the game, on the bench. The Clippers were mostly destroyed in that quarter by two so-so role players, Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, who scored 29 of the 40 fourth quarter points.

Here's why the Clippers will win Sunday. First of all, in the back of their minds on Thursday, they knew they had another game, that Thursday's game wasn't the end of the series. That sense of urgency that usually short-circuits such meltdowns wasn't in play. But now they have that sense of urgency. For another thing, this game is more important to the Clippers. Winning it means they go to a conference finals for the first time in franchise history. That gives them extra motivation. The Rockets have won NBA championships so it's not as crucial to them.

The game is particularly critical for Chis Paul, one of the great point guards of the last decade. He has never been to a conference final, never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. This game is his chance to finally silence his critics. Even if the Clippers get to the finals and lose, it won't be so bad for him. But not reaching that level, once again, will gnaw at Paul and pump up his critics for the entire off season. He's desperate to win this game and his desperation will fuel his team.

One key stat is in the Clippers' favor. Teams that get a 3-1 lead in a seven game series win it 96% of the time. However there's another stat that works against them. In game7s in playoff history, the road teams have prevailed overwhelmingly, 24-95. But the Clippers can offer a stat which counters that one. They have been pretty good in game7s in recent years with this core unit. In the last three years the team has won its last three game7 efforts, including one on the road in Memphis in 2012. And, don't forget, just about two weeks ago, the Clippers beat the Spurs in a grueling game7, a team that's far better than the Rockets.

Another thing in the Clippers' favor. The Rockets wouldn't have won without spectacular games by Brewer and Smith. Those guys are unlikely to run wild again. The Clippers will see to that.

One more thing. The Clippers are favored by 2. Odds makers and gamblers have a sense that Thursday's game was an aberration, a blunder that, odds are, won't happen again on Sunday.

The worse in this series is behind the Clippers. They won't slip into that abyss in consecutive games. They are too talented for that.








Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Fix--Aftermath







A funny thing happened on the way to the fix of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Pacquiao's bum shoulder got in the way.

There was certainly a plan for a Pacquiao win. Would Mayweather have gone through with it and spoiled his spotless record with a loss? We'll never know.

The dream outcome would have been a close, action-packed Pacquiao win. That would have guaranteed a rematch that would have done two things--set up another whopping,  money-making, pay-per-view bout and kept interest in boxing alive among casual fans in America for another year or two. But Pacquiao's ailing shoulder ruined that plan. It turned out there was little action in the fight because, with only one good shoulder, Pacquiao couldn't make a dent in Mayweather's steel-curtain defense. The fight, a Mayweather cruise, was a snooze-fest for all except the knowledgeable boxing fans who appreciate the nuances of the sport.

This is what happened, according to sources in touch with both Pacquiao's camp and the depths of boxing's seamy underworld. A plan for a Pacquiao win, which made sense and was on the table, wasn't possible because, with his bad shoulder, no one would believe he could beat Mayweather. A healthy Pacquiao couldn't realistically beat Mayweather, so a wounded Pacquiao would have no chance. A Pacquiao win would look like what it was--a fixed fight. That plan, say the sources, was nixed when it was clear Pacquiao was hurt.

So what was left?. Just to capitalize on the inside info about Pacquiao's shoulder, which had been carefully guarded. The sources say the word dribbled out about Pacquiao's bad shoulder days before the fight. Naturally some who knew took advantage by betting on Mayweather. The wagering, of course, report the sources, was handled smartly and discreetly, with relatively small bets, scattered worldwide, made through many proxies, so there would be no.spikes to arouse suspicion. Apparently some people made a lot of money on this inside info.

Where do things stand now? A rematch is certainly possible once Pacquiao's shoulder heals. Since people now know he wasn't really healthy, this effort against Mayweather doesn't really count. The rematch wouldn't generate the same, high-level interest, particularly since this fight wasn't exciting and both aging fighters would be even older. But there would still be a decent payday for all concerned.

And the fix? We'll have to see which way the wind is blowing then.







Friday, May 1, 2015

Mayweather--Pacquiao Fight Fixed? You Bet It Is






Is the mega-million-dollar superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fixed? Damn right it is.

There have been rumblings for months, from deep in the bowels of the gambling-boxing-gangster underground, that things will go according to a script in this fight. Forget who's the better fighter. Forget who has the longest reach or superior footwork or the quickest, deadliest jab or who's more skilled at dodging jabs. None of that matters. It would matter if this was just fighter against fighter. But that's not what this match is all about. It's about money, about business..

What matters in this case is the business of boxing. What will happen in this fight is what's best for business, what will make the most money for those involved, what will make money for gamblers who know the script.

A Pacquiao victory makes sense, since it would set up a rematch, which would be the best thing for the sport.

There's another fortune to be made from a rematch. If good guy Pacquiao whips bad-boy Mayweather, that would set up a lucrative rematch. Mayweather would win that, setting up a third, best-two-out-of-three bout. Fans would be enthralled, the pay-per-view business would be booming and boxing would be, for the next year or two, a prominent sport.

But if Mayweather wins easily, boxing is dead. It's that simple.

Here's the problem. Boxing, a dominant American sport in the first half of the 1900s, is on its last legs in this country. Most of the American public doesn't give a damn about it. So, after this huge Mayweather-Pacquiao payday, boxing would be dealt a knockout blow if Mayweather pummels Pacquiao. These are the only fighters who matter on a national level. Pacquiao is the only fighter who has a chance against Mayweather, who has already announced he'll quit after one more fight, one that he'll certainly win since, after Pacquiao,  there's no real competition. That would mean no more big pay-per-view bouts. Mayweather could retire.undefeated, at 49-0. But his chances of making millions would also retire. Mayweather, who's made $420 million in his career, is a notorious spendthrift, like Mike Tyson was at his worst. Insiders insist that he's a candidate for bankruptcy. So money-hungry Mayweather surely doesn't want to derail the gravy-train.

Is fixing a fight possible? Of course. What nearly destroyed boxing in the last half century is flagrant corruption--bribing officials, boxers taking dives, etc. You think those shady elements have abandoned the sport? No way. People who know how to make a dive look good are still around. Fixing a fight is much easier than fixing a basketball or football game since there are fewer people involved.

By the way, if Mayweather wants to win this bout, he could do it. According to knowledgeable insiders, against a dedicated, focused Mayweather, Pacquiao wouldn't have a prayer.

A Mayweather win is a victory for honesty. But it's also a victory for stupidity since it would deal a death-blow to the sport and eliminate the possibility of a big-bucks rematch, taking money out of Mayweather's pocket. There's a crooked plan in place. Mayweather just has to follow the script.

Does honesty or corruption rule in this fight.? I'm betting on corruption.







Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Winston vs Mariota? Winston By a Mile







All this fuss about which Heisman Trophy QB should be No.1 in Thursday's draft, Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, is wasted energy. It's obvious. The Tampa Bay Bucs have the first pick and they should use it to draft Winston.

Why? Because he's more ready to be a pro QB than Mariota. He's a version of Andrew Luck when Luck was coming out of Stanford. He's linebacker-size, can make all the required throws and is fairly elusive for a big man. Ignore all the arguments that makes Mariota look equal to Winston. He's not. Mariota is a super scrambler and has terrific speed but those qualities don't make him equal to Winston. Mariota is not nearly as accomplished a passer. According to some expert observers in the NFL underground, Winston is already better than half the QBs in the league and he hasn't even been to a NFL camp. These observers see Mariota as a potentially decent QB after several rocky years in the league.

Being drafted by Tampa might be lucrative but it won't be any fun. This Tampa team is a mess. The QB picked by Tampa is stepping into a disaster area. Without question he'll get off to a slow start. They have a horrible offensive line and no first-rate power RB to take the pressure off the rookie QB, who is going to be battered unmercifully. Winston comes from a Seminole system that's closer to what's run in Tampa and other pro teams. He can adapt faster to the Tampa system than Mariota. In his first few years at Tampa, Winston would unquestionably be a more productive QB than Mariota.

Here's what's wrong with Mariota. Yes, he can make the throws used to measure a QB's arm strength and can make them accurately. Yes, he's a good citizen. But too many are blinded by his speed and athleticism. They think those special qualities make him a better prospect. But they are overlooking and woefully downplaying something crucial and obvious. He has to unlearn so much from all those years in Oregon's QB-friendly spread system. That's MAJOR. That system, which works well against less skilled college defensive players, is designed for easy reads by the QB and gets receivers open quickly. For a fast, speedy QB like Mariota, it's a dream situation. Arguably he's the best spread QB ever. Like any good college spread QB he piled up great numbers against modestly talented college players. But it's way different in the pros, without the comfort of that system, which allows the QB to start a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. In the NFL the receivers won't be as open and the reads will be a lot tougher. Another rap against Mariota is that, against the best college defenses, he made slower reads and, faced with a strong rush, abandoned the pocket way too soon. In the NFL such tendencies would sidetrack offensive threats.

Oregon is not a QB factory. That system masks all sorts of weaknesses that show up when Duck QBs transfer to the pros. Look for Mariota, like all spread QBs making the transition to the NFL, to struggle early on. If he starts out in Tampa, with those crappy offensive players, he will REALLY struggle. Wherever he goes, Mariota will stumble his first few years. He's also very likely to get injured. No way will he be a good pocket passer right away, so he'll rely more on running, which is more dangerous in the NFL because the defensive players are so much bigger, stronger and faster.

While he's a far better choice than Mariota for Tampa, Winston does have his flaws. For one thing, he threw 18 interceptions last season, which is a serious red flag. Also, he's very immature, with the mentality of a college frat boy. What you read in the media was the tip of the iceberg. A lot more problems were handled quietly, without media scrutiny. In some ways he's a more talented version of Johnny Manziel. That juvenile mind-set might have a lethal effect his work ethic, which could hurt his rookie season.

But if Winston, who's loaded with talent, approaches his job with some maturity and works reasonably hard, he'll have a decent season and be far more productive for the Bucs than Mariota would ever be.









Friday, April 10, 2015

How Boneheads Baalke and York Ruined the 49ers








To angry Niner fans, San Francisco 49ers' general manager Trent Baalke and owner Jed York are
irresponsible, short-sighted egomaniacs who put themselves before the team. Their colossal blunder has set the Niners back three-to-five years. It's becoming more and more clear that this is a broken team--and these are the jokers who broke it.

Their stupid move? Firing head coach Jim Harbaugh at the end of last season. It was completely unwarranted. Riddled with injuries and unsettled by the looming loss of their coach, the team stumbled to an 8-8 record and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in Harbaugh's four years as coach,  But his first three years were incredible. He's the first NFL coach ever to reach the conference championship game in his first three seasons on the job. That record alone should have bought him several more years as Niners' head coach.

But here's what got him fired. Baalke and York had been butting heads with him all last year. It was no secret that they hated each other. Harbaugh had little respect for either of them, considering them meddling clowns who were full of bad ideas and were constantly interfering with his efforts to do what he thought was best for team. Make no mistake, Harbaugh is surly, hard-headed and hard-boiled, with limited "people" skills. He's a rigid no-nonsense guy who doesn't massage egos or play office politics. But he's also a great coach.

Harbaugh considered Baalke and York clueless obstacles and treated them as such. They couldn't stand that. By last summer it was clear that Harbaugh was done as the Niner coach. Baalke and York weren't going to put up with a coach who disliked and disrespected them. No matter that Harbaugh was the team's best coach since the great Bill Walsh and one of the two or three best in the history of the franchise. No matter that, in just a few years, he had transformed the Niners from doormat to powerhouse by emphasizing rushing and killer defense. But even winning a Super Bowl couldn't have saved Harbaugh's job.

Harbaugh was a lame duck last season and the team knew it. Consequently, the locker room was a land mine of emotions. Players aren't going to perform well in an atmosphere riddled with uncertainty and toxicity. Key injuries, particularly to the line-backing corps--the heart of the defense--didn't help. Under those circumstances, coupled with a power surge by teams in their division, an 8-8 season was pretty good.

Bottom line--Baalke and York screwed up. They dumped an excellent coach because they couldn't get along with him. Harbaugh is like many great coaches--difficult to get along with and more than a little crazy. Vince Lombardi was a mean-tempered bully who was hated by everyone. Bill Belichick is an abusive ass who treats people like pawns. Bill Parcells was like that too. Tom Landry was arrogant and nasty. So is Nick Saban. But this is the cream of the coaching crop. They're hard to get along with but they win and win and win. Their bosses should just accept that they are miserable bastards, leave them alone and let them go about coaching. But Baalke and York couldn't do that.

Replacing Harbaugh with a first-rate coach would have been acceptable. But there was a problem. Top coaches weren't interested in the Niners. Word was out in coaching circles that working for Baalke and York is no picnic. Why would a first-rate coach, with other options, go to a place where a giant like Harbaugh got the boot for a stupid reason like a personality conflict with the bosses?

So what did Baalke and York do? They hired an underwhelming, inexperienced nobody, Niner defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. They replace greatness with an obscure position coach whose only head-coaching experience is leading the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe for ten games, winning six, in 2006. This guy isn't dynamic, has little credibility and doesn't command respect the way Harbaugh did. That superb coaching staff assembled by Harbaugh? Mostly gone. Tomsula has been hiring a new staff. So far, however, none of the new coaches has been that impressive.

Meanwhile there has been a blizzard of changes involving key players. Workhorse RB Frank Gore, the heart and soul of the team, signed with the Colts. Pro-Bowl offensive guard Mike Iupati jumped to division rival Arizona. Top-notch linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland have retired, while defensive end Justin Smith is considering it.. Defensive end Ray McDonald left to join the Bears. The status of  super LB NaVorro Bowman, who missed last season with severe injuries, is uncertain. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who has been shopping himself around the league, has one foot out the door. None of the recent Niner signees, like RB Reggie Bush and WR Torrey Smith, are game-changers. Meanwhile, in the midst of all these changes, struggling QB Colin Kaepernick, who will be operating behind a much weaker offensive line, has to reverse his drastic regression. Don't be surprised if he has another lousy year.

This is a team in turmoil. If Harbaugh was still in charge, he could, while fighting off Baalke and York, probably successfully navigate the Niners through these troubled waters. But can the new guy, Tomsula, do it while he's learning how to be a head coach and busy earning the trust of skeptical players? Wouldn't count on it.

What Niner fans can count on is a mediocre season. In fact, don't count on a good season for at least the next two or three years. The Niners will be in rebuilding mode. With boneheads at the helm, though, you can imagine how that's going to go.










Monday, March 23, 2015

UCLA Coach Steve Alford, Good or Lucky?








All UCLA fans aren't cheering about Steve Alford coaching the Bruins into the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row with a convincing 92-75 win over Alabama-Birmingham. The detractors are the legion of Alford haters. They're bitching and moaning because he now boasts two Sweet 16 appearances in two years at UCLA. Alford, whose job was in danger just weeks ago, now has two years of job security at least. That's the last thing Alford haters want to hear.

Until last week, this had been a horrible UCLA season, including a grim five-game losing streak, listless, undisciplined play by some of the starters, lazy second-half defense in way too many games and an embarrassing 7-point half against Kentucky on national TV. The general feeling was that the Bruins were a lousy team. There were rumors that some fat-cat boosters were pooling funds to pile up the $10 million needed to buy out Alford's contract.

Here's why the Alford haters, and there lots of them, hate him. They insist he's a crappy coach, that the Bruins are often out-coached and unprepared. They hate how he uses players, how he develops players--or doesn't develop players. They grouse about his misguided offensive sets and contend that he's a bad bench coach. They hate that he starts his son Bryce, barely average most of the season, at point guard. The haters weren't even impressed by the Bruins 28-9 record last season. Considering that great pool of talent, featuring a bunch of NBA draftees, that record, argue the haters, indicates gross underachieving.

When the Bruins were bounced out of the Pac12 tournament a few weeks ago, it seemed like their season was over since the experts didn't think they were good enough to make the NCAA tournament. The consensus was that Alford had better come up with at least a Sweet 16 team next season or he was through.

Alford haters were rejoicing. Then....

All of a sudden, against all odds, the Bruins get into the NCAA tournament--and as a surprisingly high No.11 seed at that. That was Break #1. Then they beat SMU via a controversial, rule-stretching basket-interference call on Bryce Alford's game-winning three-pointer. That was Break #2. So they advance instead of going home. Then there was Break #3. Their second-round opponent, 14th seeded Alabama-Birmingham, knocked off powerful Iowa State, which would have been a much tougher opponent for the Bruins. So all the Bruins had to do to make the Sweet 16 was beat UAB, a team they had easily whipped in preseason.

Presto, riding a string of breaks, the Bruins cruise into the Sweet 16. On the ropes just a few weeks ago, the same guy who was being called a bum and a loser, Alford is now being hailed as a great coach. Suddenly he's the next Wooden.

Alford haters are fuming about this turnaround, contending that Alford did no exceptional coaching these last two games, that the Bruins simply took advantage of a string of breaks and he was just along for the ride. The haters contend that, long term, the program still isn't in good hands, that Alford will continue with his subpar coaching and questionable decisions.

What would silence the haters and make them eat a heavy dose of crow? A win over Gonzaga, a team the Bruins lost to in preseason, that would elevate the Bruins to the Elite Eight. Beating a team with superior talent and exceptional coaching would show that Alford has something special.  

This Gonzaga game is the biggest of Alford's career. He needs a win or a very, very close loss. A Gonzaga rout would be fodder for the haters, who would go after him mercilessly, citing that berth in the Sweet 16 as a fluke. How will Alford respond? By this end of this game we'll have some idea what he's made of.







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Denver's Dumb Decision To Keep Peyton Manning









Back in the 1800s, hard-boiled cynic P.T.Barnum, convinced that most people are gullible birdbrains, made his famous declaration, that a sucker is born every minute. Unfortunately for Denver Bronco fans, some of those suckers wound up running their team. The management was just suckered into signing QB Peyton Manning for another season.

Talk about your monumental blunders. Talk about guys wearing blinders. Talk about guys with their heads in the sand.

It was clear at the end of last season--that Manning is finished as a starting QB. He has a dead arm. He blamed his horrible second-half tailspin on a bum leg, but that was nonsense. He's now saying his injury has healed so he'll be the old Peyton again this season. Bull crap. He may have just passed his physical, but they're not going to measure his arm strength. After all those years of bullet passes, his arm has simply died.

He ended last season with a whimper, leading Denver to a playoff loss to the Colts, registering a mere 4.59 yards per catch in that game, one of the worst ypc tallies of his career. He was throwing more picks than TDs and couldn't throw with any accuracy beyond ten yards. His long passes had zero zip. What killed their offense is that linebackers and secondary players on opposition defenses were crowding around the line of scrimmage, playing medium and deep passes casually because they knew Manning was lofting easy-to-defend floaters in those areas. That crowd around the line of scrimmage also decreased the effectiveness of the excellent RB C.J. Anderson.

I'll say it again, like I did in a recent post. Manning's arm is dead. He'll be 39 later this month. Age is not only catching up with him, it's kicking his butt.

Manning took a pay cut, from $19 million to $15 million. That's supposed to be a bargain? Well, it's really robbery. He's worth maybe a third of that right now. At this point Manning is merely a decent back-up QB, nothing more.

The boneheads in the Broncos front office will learn the hard way. Here's how this drama will play out--guaranteed. Manning will look OK, with limited work and coddling, in the preseason and maybe in the first few games. Then that arm will flame out, just like it did last season, but only much sooner this time, since he's older and the arm is weaker. He'll start throwing picks and powder puff passes and the Broncos will start losing. Backup QB Brock Osweiler, who's underdeveloped because control-freak Manning was hogging all the playing time, is not ready to be a starting QB. The revamped offensive line will be a negative since it won't have had time to jell. The defense is very good but not good enough to carry a team with a wilting offense. That extra burden will break the defense.

New coach Gary Kubiak will wonder what the hell he got himself into. New Chicago Bears head coach John Fox, who coached Denver last season but was fired after the team tanked in the playoffs, will be snickering and relieved that he got out of that Bronco mess.

The front-office folks who signed Manning to another year will finally fess up and admit: "We got suckered."








Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kobe Bryant Is a Thief, Robbing The Lakers








LA Lakers' star Kobe Bryant is a thief.

He's not wearing a mask or carrying a gun or doing anything covert or sneaky but what he's doing is still plain old robbery. The Lakers are paying him a fortune--$23.5 million annually, the highest NBA salary--for what? What are they getting in return?. Next to nothing. He's so injury-riddled he played just 6 games last season and struggled through 35 this season before being forced, once again, to end it prematurely. At 36, his body is simply broken down. Each of the last few seasons different parts have failed--first an Achilles tendon, then a knee, then a shoulder. Next season, probably some different body part will flame out. He'll be a year older and even more vulnerable to breakage.

Yet, he did an interview on the NBA network recently announcing he's coming back next season, the final year of that insane two-year contract. He even confessed having doubts about what his body can endure now. And he's still going to show up to collect another $23.5 million?

What??!!! Is he kidding? Another year of this robbery?

Bryant is barely worth one quarter of that monumentally inflated salary. It'd be different if the Lakers were an excellent, well-stocked unit that didn't need that money to hire better players. But they're a rotten team, staffed with untalented nobodies. They desperately need Bryant's salary to rebuild.

It's the Steve Nash fiasco all over again. The Lakers stupidly paid Nash, who had one foot in the NBA grave, millions and millions, only to watch him play, not very well either, a handful of games. They're still suffering from that blunder. Clearly they didn't learn from it. They signed Bryant to a fat, equally dumb contract instead of offering him a much smaller amount, in keeping with his production. If he had refused that reduced-salary contract they should have showed him the door. The NBA is a business. There's no room for sentiment.

There's another reason Bryant is a liability. Because he has a reputation for being a selfish, difficult egomaniac, free agents have avoided this team like the plague. Do you think Kevin Love or Kevin Durant or any other big-time player wants to play for a Laker team anchored by an aging superstar with a diva-like mentality? The quicker Bryant is gone, the faster the team can start some serious rebuilding. They sure can't do it while he's still on the team.

The Buss family, which runs the Lakers, gave Bryant, despite his age and injuries, that huge two-year contract to repay him for what he's done for the team all these years. It was a nice gesture but, man, has it ever backfired. They figured he'd be healthy and at least be a box-office attraction. But it hasn't turned out that way. This is the reality. Bryant is playing--when he can play--like an old man, the team stinks and attendance is way down.

If Bryant really cared about the Lakers, who've been good to him, he'd walk off into the sunset, void the final year of that contract, save them a fortune and let the rebuilding get underway. But, unfortunately for the team, he's returning next year. Bookies are already taking bets on how long he'll last. The over-under is one month.

It's time for Bryant to go away. He doesn't need the Lakers' money. He's ridiculously rich, having enough money to live lavishly for several lifetimes.

The Lakers showed him love and respect by giving him that two-year contract, which has hurt the team..He could show them some love and respect by retiring--now.

I used to admire and respect Bryant, but not any more. I don't like thieves.








Monday, February 2, 2015

Seattle Coach Pete Carroll Is An Idiot






About two years ago I posted a story calling Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll an ass.
That charge now requires an amendment. Carroll is not only an ass but he is, without question, also an IDIOT.

What he did at the end of Sunday's Super Bowl is the definition of idiocy. It certainly cost his Seahawks the game. With about thirty seconds left, trailing by 28-24, and Seattle with a second down at the one yard line of the New England Patriots, Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson threw an interception to safety Malcolm Butler on a quick pass over the goal line. Wilson, of course, screwed up but he should never have been placed in that high risk situation, having to squeeze a pass over the middle in among several players..

But, first of all, what in the hell was he doing passing in that situation? Everybody in the stadium, including the Patriots defenders, thought he was going to hand off to RB Marshawn (Beast Mode) Lynch, who hits the line like a runaway tank. He had just battered the Pats for four yards and was salivating for another carry or two, to try to score the winning TD. So just give him the damn ball and let him do his thing.

But Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had other ideas. They decided to fool the Pats and throw a short pass instead of turning the ball over to Lynch, a play that's as close as possible to a sure thing.
Here's another reason not to call a pass in that situation. Let's say the pass had been successful and the Seahawks were ahead 31-28, there was enough time, about 20 seconds, for the Pats, whose offense was in high gear, to get the ball and move into position for a tying field goal.

Bevell may have called that boneheaded pass play but Carroll shoulders the blame because he obviously had been informed of the call and had the power to overrule it. That play had disaster written all over it. If they had to try a pass they could have at least tried one less dangerous, like a corner route or one deep in the end zone. But over the middle? That's like jumping into quicksand.

That idiotic play call will haunt Carroll for the rest of his days. Here's hoping he has many, many sleepless nights and, over and over, wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming the name of Patriots' safety Malcolm Butler.