This could be a bit aggressive considering we were once two wins away from going to the NBA Finals, but I dare say that this moment in Timberwolves history provides more reason for Wolves fans to be excited about our team than any other point. We are currently blessed with a talented young core that hopefully can “grow up” together and blossom into a title contender within the next few years. With so much to be excited about, I thought I’d share precisely what I love most about each of our young core guys, which I’ll define as under 30 and could factor in to our potential future playoff runs.
The Golden Gophers are 5-0 to start the 2010-2011 men’s basketball season, and I couldn’t be happier right now. To start undefeated is one thing, but to beat two major conference opponents including a Final Four participant from the year before, a top-10 team, and 5 teams that all could possibly end up in the NCAA tournament this year is another. Here are some thoughts I have to share about this young season thus far, and some predictions going forward.
1. Settle down Gopher faithful! Settle down!
I’m as excited as the next fan, but I have to keep reminding myself that we’ve seen this before from Tubby Smith-coached Gopher teams. Anyone else remember beating #9 ranked Louisville on a neutral court in December of 2008? Or how about beating #10 ranked and eventual national runner-up Butler last season in November at the 76 Classic? We’ve seen Gopher teams that can have early non-conference success on neutral courts. We tend to sneak up on teams because our program isn’t that prominent. Both of those big wins helped us get selected for the Tournament in March, but they still didn’t translate into success in conference play or victories at the Big Dance (Gophers are 0-3 in postseason tournaments under Coach Smith). Furthermore, this North Caroline team is a pretender top-10 team in my eyes. They lost yesterday to an un-ranked Vanderbilt squad, and they didn’t even make the NCAA tourny last year. They are hype and reputation, which is purely what makes up pre-season college basketball rankings. I was actually more impressed by beating West Virginia on Sunday than the North Carolina win. Now, all of that being said, I do have some reasons to be more optimistic about this past weekend than I just suggested we should be. Last year when the Gophers knocked off Butler, they got content and laid an egg against Portland. Last year when the Gophers played out of their minds for 3 1/2 games in the Big Ten Tournament and proved they should be chosen on Selection Sunday, they got content again and got dismantled in the 2nd half by Ohio State. Both years in the NCAA tournament, it seemed like the Gophers were always just “happy to be there”, instead of believing that they could go on a Sweet 16 run. So that’s totally what I expected out of them when they beat North Carolina Friday. I thought they’d play West Virginia close for a half, and then lose by 15 since they were probably thinking, “We got our 2 wins, including one against a top-10 team. We’ve had fun in Puerto Rico, so let’s not worry about this game.” But that’s not what happened. They didn’t panic when Casey Mitchell was lighting up the scoreboard in the first half. They played their game, and were simply the best team in Puerto Rico this weekend. I’m optimistic that this year will be different, but I still will take a “wait and see” approach to this team. They have to prove it to me in January and February against the Michigan States and Purdues of our conference.
2. MVP: Al Nolen.
Trevor Mbakwe was honored by the people who put on the tournament as MVP, but Al Nolen was snubbed, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, Trevor was a game-changer, and he had the most consistent numbers to merit the honor. But Al Nolen is clearly the leader of this team when he’s on the court. He and Blake Hoffarber make up our dynamic senior backcourt, and they both are great leaders by example (and great players), but Al stands alone as the alpha-dog when he’s out there. He’s not the scorer that Demetri McCamey and Kalin Lucas are, but he’s a better defender than both of them, and West Virginia had absolutely no answer for him thanks to his quickness. Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzula both were hardly heard from, and when Tubby asked Nolen to stop Casey Mitchell, he did about as good of a job as anyone could hope against possibly the hottest scorer in the nation right now. Al dives to save loose balls, and he uses his quick hands to deflect passes and pick dribblers clean. And even though he’s not a great scorer, he provided offense when he knew his team needed it with a great driving layup and then a huge clutch 3 both against North Carolina, and then hitting all of those free-throws against West Virginia. My only hope is that Al can continue this brilliant play in Big Ten play, where the opponents are all very aware of quickness.
3. Blake Hoffarber, underrated?
It’s hard to believe that a guy that hits so many big shots could be considered underrated, but in my mind, he still kind of is. In this young season Blake has not only hit his share of 3’s and other big shots, but he’s also been passing the ball so well, playing rather good defense, and even filled in with a little back-up point guard duty. Blake is a smart player who sees the floor well for a non-point guard, and even though he lacks great ball-handling skills, he makes up for that with superior passing and great knowledge of Tubby’s offense and where others are going to be. I was impressed with his leadership in that tough North Carolina victory when the Tar Heels had just erased a 5 point deficit, Blake came right back with a big 3, and then an awesome feed down to Mbakwe in the post that set him up for an easy dunk to bring the lead right back up to 5. Blake is an elite outside shooter, and in truth, he isn’t elite at really anything else, but he is a very good player who does so much more than knock down 3’s. I think we’re all going to realize just how valuable he is when next season we realize we don’t have him anymore.
4. New Guys
How do I sum up this group? Mbakwe is a force and takes this team to another level in post-play. Austin Hollins has shown some promise and has a nice-looking jumper. Chip Armelin can occasionally knock down a shot and shows a decent amount of poise. Mo Walker needs to lose a few pounds and then decide to never launch a 3 pointer as long as he’s wearing a Minnesota uniform, but hasn’t been that bad. Maverick has yet to impress me or even allow my blood pressure to settle down to normal levels when he has the ball. I guess what I’m trying to say is: This group intrigues/scares me at the same time. They’re a rather raw group of kids, but I think in a season or 2 Tubby could turn them into basketball players (except Mbakwe, he’s fine). I’m glad we have these guys, but outside of Mbakwe and Hollins, I’m hoping we don’t have to see most of them very often this year. I think Devoe Joseph’s return will take up any of the minutes that Armelin and Maverick were seeing, and even some of Hollins’, but Mo Walker will always need to give the occasional sub for one of our top 3 bigs who get in foul trouble. Let’s hope he matures quickly, because we’ll lean on him the most out of these freshmen.
We got through the hardest part of our non-conference schedule without losing, and so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t finish that part of the schedule 12-0. The game @ St Joseph’s would be the only game I would pause and look at since we’ve never been a great road team under Tubby, but I still say we win it. I’m not gonna go game-by-game, but looking at the Big Ten Schedule, we should be able to get to 12-13 wins as long as we can survive that tough start. Along with a win or two in the Big Tournament and this team is looking at possibly 25 wins which would help us land around a #4 to #6 seed considering how tough the Big Ten is this year and our non-conference success. I know I’ve already mentioned how we all need to settle down, but I just want to be optimistic. It’s more fun. So I’ll say we go 12-6 in Big Ten play, and then grab a #5 seed, win our first game in the Tourny, but then come up just short of the Sweet 16. I hope the Gophers can outperform my somewhat scaled back expectations, but like I said before, I’ll believe it when I see it.
I’ve been so busy/lazy that I haven’t gotten around to writing a post in almost a month now. Oddly enough, my last post was written in celebration of Randy Moss’s return to Minnesota, and now, his short run with the team is over, and I’m forced to end my silence. So it’s a testament to both how long its been since I’ve written a blog post and how short a time Moss was back with the Vikings.
I went with the analogy in my last post that I’m married to the Minnesota Vikings, and despite their infidelity by cheating on me with Brett Favre, I was willing to forgive them and pretend like I didn’t know because they bribed me with a big diamond ring (Randy Moss). Well, now I’ve found that it was a cruel joke, and they really don’t care about me, because they took the ring away from me. That was the last straw. I’ve moved out of the house, but I’m not filing divorce papers, because we have to stay together for the kids (Adrian, Percy, Tarvaris, Sidney, etc.). I’m sure one day, they’ll grow tired of those whores (Favre and Childress) and I can forgive them, move back in the house, and we can all be a happy family again. The only way the marriage could actually end is if they leave me (Zygi moves the team when he can’t get a stadium done) or they die (the NFL contracts them). I can’t actually go through with filing the divorce papers, because my self esteem is not capable of finding another love (team). This is more like an act of defiance in hopes of getting their attention. A cry for help, if you will.
Okay, enough with that drawn out analogy. Let’s look at the reasoning for why Brad Childress would act so recklessly and throw away a 3rd round draft pick. I guess the reports are that besides Randy’s interview where he complained about not being listened to in gameplanning and complimented his old team and coach a little too much, a big reason why Randy was let go was because he decided to act like a child and completely humiliate the caterer who served the team meal after practice Friday. Certainly, this is an indefensible act. It wouldn’t matter if they actually had served the team crappy food or not, there’s just no excuse for Moss to treat anybody that way. Along with this there are also the times in games where Moss clearly isn’t giving 100%. A lot of people are pointing to the pass he could possibly have caught after he had drawn the PI call in New England this past Sunday. Whether he really could have or not, only Randy knows, but the point is he should have at least tried. Back when I played football, I was so hungry to catch every ball that ever came my way, and I for sure would have laid out for that, otherwise I would have gotten chewed out by the coach and put on the bench. (For the record, while I don’t condone Randy’s lack of effort, I doubt he could have caught the pass, because while Randy doesn’t give effort many times, he doesn’t typically avoid catching passes. It’s on plays where he isn’t targeted that he pulls up and trots, not the ones where he’s thrown to. You be the judge.)
So that’s the case against him, and even I, a blind supporter of Randy Moss, can admit that he was out of line in these instances. But I still want him on my team. The first question you have to ask Brad Childress is, “What did you expect?” He doesn’t deny that he takes plays off sometimes, and we all knew that he’s had a checkered past. Controversy seems to follow him around. Next, I’d like to ask Brad about this ridiculous quote of his “we want good people that are good football players”. What is that supposed to mean? How exactly does he define what a good person is? Apparently texting pictures of your penis to women that aren’t your wife is okay. So is getting caught for drunk driving multiple times. He’s no longer with the team, but at the time, Dwight Smith didn’t get immediately cut for having sex with a woman in a public place. I’m not trying to be judge and jury of what is a “good person” myself, I’m just trying to figure out Brad’s line of thinking. Finally, I would want to ask Brad, “Why couldn’t you just discipline Randy like the authority figure you’re supposed to be, rather than just running from the confrontation by cutting him?” Randy entered this locker room where he expected it to be functional and organized like his former team, the New England Patriots, but instead found a locker room that was run by veterans like Favre, Hutchinson, the Williams Wall, etc. and didn’t really respect the head coach, because frankly, the head coach has allowed it to become that when he caved on his “culture of accountability” policy by letting Favre skip training camp and all that came with that. Randy was running amok within this franchise, and nobody had the stones to stand up to him, because they already were afraid to stand up to Favre. Now combine all of that with the fact that Moss was underutilized and you can see why he got frustrated and felt the need to lash out at others. Unfortunately, he decided to take his frustration out on some poor, unsuspecting caterer, and that’s really all on Randy. But I think I have a handle on why he did stuff like that. Check out this take by Cris Carter on why Randy is the way he is. It’s quite telling to me. I’m about to become armchair psychologist now, so just bear with me on this, please. So Randy grew up in a home where his father wasn’t really in the picture, but instead was raised by his single mother, and today, he doesn’t respond well to flaky male authority figures. Hmmm…. Sounds to me like the lack of a father in his life has caused him to lose respect for male authorities who don’t properly respect him and give him the structure he needs in his life. It makes perfect sense to me. I’d probably be bitter about not having a dad growing up, too. Now, you can say that he still doesn’t have an excuse to act the way he does, and I think you’re still right, but isn’t this even more of a sign that Childress is the wrong guy to lead this team? A true leader of men should have come down on Moss sternly to tell him the way things were gonna be from the get go (the way Carter did in ’98, and Belichick did in New England). If I had been coach, the answer to Moss’s bad behavior lately would be to give him a 1/2 game or full game suspension, and let him know that we wouldn’t tolerate that type of treatment of others. But to just cut him and throw away your investment? It’s idotic. I take Childress cutting Moss as his pathetic attempt to prove to the league that he still controls this team, since so many people are laughing at him for letting Favre run the squad, only he took his frustrations out on the wrong guy. And in cutting Moss, he acted alone without consulting those above him in the organization, and thus he’s in trouble for that. My prediction is that Childress doesn’t survive this off-season as the head coach.
Anyhow, I’m starting to come to grips with this terrible sequence of events, but I’m still not going to root for this team while Childress is head coach (well, we’ll see how long that lasts). It’s plain to see that we’ll never win a Super Bowl under him or with Favre at quarterback, so please, Zygi, just give us a clean slate as soon as possible. Why not fire Chili and give Leslie Frazier the interim job, and then bench Favre for T-Jack to find out if they both have the ability to lead this team/offense, and at the end of the year decide if you want to keep either or both of them? If they succeed, great! You can keep what you’ve got. If they fail, almost as good, because you’ll know that you have to clean house and start over with a new coach and then draft Ryan Mallett (fingers crossed) to be the quarterback. Of course, as the now legally separated wife of the Vikings, I know them too well, and know that instead they’ll stick with both of those whores too long, then substitute McNabb or David Carr or Matt Leinart or some other crappy washed up quarterback who will only be around for a couple of years for Favre and repeat the process over and over again. So, where do we go from here? I don’t know, but the ball is in your court, Zygi.
22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:22-24
That was what I thought of when it became apparent that Randy Moss, who is my favorite football player of all time, would be rejoining my favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings. The analogy of the prodigal son is not a perfect one for the Vikings and Randy Moss, but the point is he perhaps acted ungrateful of what he had at home in Minnesota (even if he is from West Virginia) and so he tried to find happiness in Oakland and New England. But when he was underappreciated, he let everyone know, and now it has brought him back home to Minneapolis, where the state and fan base of the Vikings will collectively run to him, throw our arms around him and kiss him.
I could not be any happier, well, actually if that Favre guy was gone…but even that jerk old man can’t rob me of this joy. As much as I dislike Favre, I love Moss 10 times more. As I mentioned in My Worst Sports Heartbreaks post, I was devastated the day we traded Randy Moss, and so you can imagine that re-acquiring him would make me just as happy as I was sad that day we lost him. I’ll never forget where I was when I found out Moss could be coming back to Minnesota. My buddy Jizzy texted me while I was at work on Tuesday at 4:34 PM Alaska time with this:
“Strait cash homey, Randys comin home!!!”
My heart almost leapt out of my chest. I thought it was a joke or some mistake. I looked online for confirmation, and it wasn’t on the big ESPN headlines on the main page, but when I checked out the NFL page, there was a headline saying that the Vikings and Patriots were talking about a trade. Now I was in distress. I’ve gotten my hopes up for a lot of things before, and so if this turned out to be a tease, I was going to be upset. Well, before I went to bed that night, all of the reports had changed to say that the deal was all but done. I was now convinced he was coming, and when I laid my head down to sleep, it must have been 2 hours before I was unconscious, because all of the great memories of Moss in purple those first 7 years of his career were all coming back to me. Very final season of Lost-like. When I woke up the next morning, the deal was finalized, and I was so happy I could dance.
So now my season is suddenly salvaged, whether we make the playoffs or not. I was emotionally detached until this trade. Favre had broken my spirit with his putrid performances, and I was describing my feelings toward the Vikings as “legal separation” since they were cheating on me with Brett Favre. I wouldn’t get a divorce, but it was me or him, and once he finally was out the door I would be back living in the house with them as one big happy family. But the Vikings going out and getting Randy Moss is like buying me a big diamond ring. I know they’re still cheating on me with Favre, but I’ll pretend to not know or care because I’m a materialistic pathetic shell of a woman (fan) who is too emotionally invested to give up no matter how poorly my husband (team) treats me.
But let’s not make this about me, let’s instead make it about a player being redeemed and coming home to his family (or greatest fans, same thing right?) and a team actually getting the upgrade at the position they needed it most. We should be better in the passing game now, and I can’t imagine how good we could be when Sidney is healthy and we have both he and Randy running deep routes with Percy and Visante underneath. If you can’t tell, I’m getting really excited. I also really like the idea of a super-motivated Randy Moss. Let’s look at some of his upcoming games:
Week 5: @New York Jets – He returns to the scene where he murdered Revis’ hamstring.
Week 6: vs. Dallas – He always kills the Cowboys because of them passing on him in the draft and since they were his favorite team growing up. Go figure.
Week 7: @Green Bay – He loves to kill the Packers, too, and he’s especially lethal in prime time.
Week 8: @New England – Hmmm…I wonder if there could be any motivation here.
I could go on and on, but the 4 biggest games for him will be these 4 first ones, and I expect him to crush it. As long as Favre’s arm can get it to him, that is. For all of those critics of Randy who say he isn’t a team player, I would note that he chose to practice today rather than try and use the leverage he had to force a new contract extension. He wanted to get to work to help this team and himself be successful. Favre held out for more money and needed others to beg him to come. Moss shows up and works even when his quarterback gets the extension that he doesn’t get. He let’s everyone know when he’s not happy and isn’t appreciated, but he’s just being honest. His game, however, speaks for itself. He’s not perfect, and I can’t defend some of his off the field shenanigans, but I love him unconditionally.
“32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” – Luke 15:32
Many Minnesota Vikings fans might consider last year a “magical” season. The old man came out of retirement and played his best season statistically, the team went 12-4 and nearly made the Super Bowl, and there were plenty of great memories made along the way. But I would describe last season in one word: failure. We had a Super Bowl caliber team, and we didn’t win the championship. We paid the quarterback 12 million dollars to be the difference between a division title and a league title, but in the end he choked when we needed him to “manage the game” rather than be the hero.
So now it’s a whole new season, and a lot of fans (probably the same ones that called last year “magical”) are thinking that the team will just pick up where it left off from last season, but I don’t see it quite the same. Until the NFC Championship Game, everything seemed to go according to plan last year. The chances of things going that well for us this season were pretty slim, and so of course, things have already started to go wrong. Sidney Rice is out for at least half of the season, and I get the feeling he’ll miss around 10 games. Percy’s migraines certainly aren’t going away, Cedric Griffen isn’t back yet, Sullivan is hurt, Chester Taylor is gone, etc. etc. etc. Combine that with a much tougher schedule and everyone else in our division seems to have improved, and in my opinion, we’re headed to a 9-7 season. Let’s take a look at the schedule, game by game.
Week 1: @New Orleans, Week 2: vs. Miami, Week 3: vs. Detroit, Week 4: Bye, Week 5: @New York Jets
I’m not saying it’s a lock, but I have a hard time seeing us going down into the Superdome and steal a victory right after the Saints hang their Super Bowl banner from the rafters and the fans are as rabid and loud as ever. I expect the Vikings to get the win at home against the Lions in Week 3, but Weeks 2 and 5 are games that I think we would have won easily last year, but are going to have trouble with in 2010. I think it’s possible that we get both W’s, since we actually have a long week to prepare for the Dolphins and 2 weeks for the Jets, but I predict a split. I’ll say we beat New York and drop one at home to Miami.
1st Quarter: 2-2
Week 6: vs. Dallas, Week 7: @Green Bay, Week 8: @New England, Week 9: vs. Arizona
I think Dallas will be tough, but I still say we get both wins at home. But in Green Bay, I think the Packers get a little revenge for the sweep we gave them last year, and Rodgers is most likely going to light us up. (You don’t know how much that hurts to type.) And I also think Belicheck is going to take Childress behind the wood shed and the coaching matchup will be enough to make the difference.
2nd Quarter: 2-2, 4-4 overall
Week 10: @Chicago, Week 11: vs. Green Bay, Week 12: @Washington, Week 13: vs. Buffalo
I say we split the season series with the Pukers, and get the easy win at home against Buffalo, but Vikings fans know what Julius Peppers and Donovan McNabb have done to this team in the past. (Mount McKinnie will be “the Matador” once again), and I think we drop those two games.
3rd Quarter: 2-2, 6-6 overall
Week 14: vs. Giants, Week 15: vs. Chicago, Week 16: @Philadelphia, Week 17: @Detroit
I think that it’s quite possible that we win all 4 of these games, especially since Rice should be back and this could be where we finally get into a groove, but I still say we drop one on the road since we have not been a good road team under Brad Childress, and it would be just like the Vikings to lose in Philly when I could see us needing that win badly to clinch a Wild Card berth.
4th Quarter: 3-1, 9-7 overall. Vikes get 6th and final playoff spot.
Real quick, I’m going to make my picks for divisions and playoffs throughout the league:
AFC East: New England, AFC North: Baltimore, AFC South: Indianapolis, AFC West: San Diego, Wild Cards: Miami, Pittsburgh
NFC East: Dallas, NFC North: Green Bay, NFC South: New Orleans, NFC West: San Francisco, Wild Cards: Atlanta, Minnesota
Wild Card Weekend: Pittsburgh over New England, Miami over San Diego, Minnesota over Dallas, San Francisco over Atlanta
Divisional Round: Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Baltimore over Miami, Minnesota over Green Bay, New Orleans over San Francisco
Conference Championships: Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Minnesota over New Orleans
Super Bowl: Minnesota over Baltimore
Wait!? I thought you were down on the Vikings, and now you’re picking them to win the Super Bowl? Unfortunately I made the mistake of picking the Vikings to beat the Ravens to win it all shortly after last year’s Super Bowl, and I’m going to stick by it, even though I had made the pick hoping that Favre would retire. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I think somewhere in the beginning of our schedule, Favre is finally going to go down with a career ending injury, and T-Jack will come in to lead the Vikings with the old approach of running the football, and playing tough defense. That’s what will lead to a 5-3 second half to the season and eventually the playoff run. Or at least that’s what I can hope for.
Thanks for putting up with pessimism turned into extreme optimism, but that’s the only thing I can cling to to make this season worth watching for me.
Well I’ve been blogging for a little over 6 months now, and I recently passed the 1000 mark for number of visitors to my blog. What better way to celebrate than to touch on a variety of different subjects in one my sampler platter posts?
1. Crossover Tour 2010: Serbia & Romania
In case you haven’t heard, I’m going on a mission trip to the countries of Serbia and Romania to put on youth basketball camps and play exhibition games against local pro teams. This will be my second year going on this trip, but my first time in Serbia. (Last year I went to Romania and the Czech Republic) I’m really looking forward to the fun and good work we’re going to do over there. If you want to find out more about Crossover, click here, and plus I’m linking to their website at all times under the “Ministries” category. I would appreciate any prayers for my team and me as I’m gone from July 24th to August 14th, and if you would like to get updates from me on my trip, shoot me an email at email@example.com and put “Crossover mailing list” in the subject line.
2. BP Oil Spill: It’s about damn time
Well, I don’t follow the news too much outside of ESPN, but I heard about the oil well being plugged, at least temporarily, and I thought that was wonderful news. I hope that situation remains under control from now on and so the clean up can continue and eventually restore the Gulf of Mexico to its previous state. This had been going on for so long, that I had become quite numb to hearing that more oil was spilling, and to finally hear that it’s over is more surreal than a relief. However, it’s nice to know that it is over, and since these things are pretty tough to contain, let’s hope they learned a lot from this so we can be more careful and not let another one happen.
3. Gopher Football 2010: I got a bad feeling
My favorite college football team’s season is just around the corner, and I think it’s going to be yet another down year for the maroon and gold. This will now be Tim Brewster’s 4th season as head coach, and so he has no excuse if his team doesn’t succeed. He’s supposedly a great recruiter, but despite good recruiting classes early on, Brewster has failed to develop any of that talent and translate their progress into marks in the win column. As a Gopher fan, I’m tired of waiting through year after year of rebuilding, but it appears that I’ll have no choice but to endure yet another. Our average-at-best defense from last year lost a lot of key guys, and Adam Weber appears to be getting worse each season, which probably will continue now that Eric Decker is gone. I would like to see the prized MarQueise Gray get a legitimate chance to start at quarterback since Weber has never developed and hasn’t exactly led us to the Rose Bowl. I’m so pessimistic about the Brewster era due to what I’ve seen so far, that I would not be surprised if we went 0-8 this year in conference play. All 4 of our home games are tough opponents, and winning on the road in the Big Ten is not easy. Since I think that result is far more likely than the team going 6-2 or 5-3, my prediction is that this will be Tim Brewster’s final season as our head coach. I don’t think that’s a good thing for our program, but I do think that that is the reality.
4. “The Boss”: R.I.P.
You may have noticed that the one sport I never seem to write on is baseball. But after the death of George Steinbrenner, I was noticing something kind of disturbing in the reactions, and I felt obligated to comment. Some fans of smaller market teams, such as the Twins, despised Steinbrenner so much out of envy and jealousy, that they actually said stupid things like that he deserved to die and that they were happy that he was dead. Not only is this completely insensitive, and taking sports too far, but it’s also completely misguided, in my opinion. All George Steinbrenner did was care enough about winning (over making money) to actually spend the money he made with his team to improve his team, and played by the rules that Major League Baseball had in place. He was a nut, and a jerk sometimes, but ultimately he brought 7 titles to his team, and if he was your owner, you wouldn’t be complaining. I don’t like the Yankees, and I think the system is screwed up that they have their advantages, but that is all the fault of the League. Plus, how could you not love this man?
5. The Gallon Challenge
Did you ever think you could drink a gallon of milk in an hour? Well it’s not that easy. Back in the summer of 2006, I made a “mockumentary” type film about trying to complete the “Gallon Challenge” with some friends at Bible camp. I don’t know how I forgot about it for so long, but I rewatched it the other day, and so now I’m posting a link to it on here under “YouTube Videos”, even though it’s actually on Google Video. If you’re bored and have 23 minutes to spare, you may want to check it out. There are a couple good puke shots at least.
So I, just like every other NBA fan, was waiting ever so anxiously to find out where LeBron was going to end up for the next 5-6 seasons, and now we have our answer. Perhaps I was blinded by loyalty to the Bulls, or even too much faith in LeBron, that he wouldn’t do what he did and go to Miami. Clearly I was wrong. As it turns out, LeBron wasn’t “The Chosen One”, and he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to refer to himself as “King James” any longer. In my opinion, LeBron just conceded that Dwyane Wade is a greater player than him, and thus, he might as well join forces with him and Bosh on D-Wade’s team to just try and get as many titles as possible. What is LeBron’s greatest motivator? Does this decision tell us that it’s winning, because he thinks with these two guys the 3 of them will be unstoppable? Or is it living a beautiful life in Miami and hanging out with two of his best friends in the league and just having as much fun as possible? We know one thing, whether he thinks this is the best for his legacy or not, history will forever look at him as lesser than Jordan, Kobe, Russell and now even Wade because of this one decision. When Jordan struggled to beat Detroit, he didn’t join his friend Barkley in Philly to beat them. He knew he was the best and in time he would figure it out to be the greatest champion of them all. If the three of them had all teamed up in New York or any other “neutral” franchise, we could still say that this is LeBron’s team, but him going to Miami clearly puts Wade ahead of him. He just put a self-imposed limit on his own career’s ceiling, and I think that is the most disappointing thing for NBA fans, especially when we’ve seen how close he’s gotten to breaking through these past few seasons. I feel robbed. Cheated. LeBron dropped the ball on this one, and either he doesn’t realize this, or deep down he’s too scared to realize his own potential for greatness.
Now, before you start accusing me of contradicting myself because you may have read my post before free agency began, allow me to defend myself and my position. I really wanted LeBron in a Bulls uniform, because I thought the team around him would have been so perfect and my favorite team would have flourished. And even though I hate admitting this, LeBron would have been the clear cut #1 guy in Chicago, and my boy Derrick Rose would have been the #2. I also defended LeBron’s possible choice of Miami, as well, because I said that he probably wouldn’t win any titles if he stayed in Cleveland, and so who wouldn’t want to play with your buddies and run the league? So what I’m trying to say is, even though I feel cheated as a basketball fan, and disappointed as a Bulls fan, I defend LeBron’s decision. He really thinks that this will give him the most titles, and so I didn’t understand why people could be so angry with him for wanting to win? (Hold on for a sec, I’m about to go back and forth on this one a couple of times) I understand why Cleveland fans would be upset about him leaving. I’m a Minnesota sports fan, and so I’ve seen Moss, Garnett, Ortiz, Santana, Hunter, and Culpepper all leave my teams (not all the same scenario as this, I realize). It stinks to lose your favorite players. That being said, I think it’s ridiculous for their fans to hate him so much. The worst was Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert’s letter to Cavs’ fans. I don’t think he understands the concept of free-agency and that it was the rules of the NBA that gave LeBron the right to choose his team. Dan Gilbert just made a ton of money off of LeBron, and that’s how he repays him? Unbelievable that he could have that reaction. It was the logic of a pre-schooler. Now again, Cleveland fans and fans everywhere are now turned off to him for a better reason, and that is that LeBron had to have a one hour special on ESPN to make his announcement just as a way to let everyone know just how big we’ve allowed his ego to balloon over the years, and worse yet, he tries to make it okay by hiding behind his attempt at charity work by giving the money that came from it to the Boys & Girls Club. For this act, there is no defense. My best guess is that this guy is completely without any self-awareness. He’s clueless. And the funniest evidence of this is how he continuously refers to himself in the 3rd person.
So let me in conclusion say that even though we can all be appalled at LeBron’s ego and that everyone outside of Miami is disappointed that LeBron is giving up on greatness, people that think like Dan Gilbert need to grow up and realize that LeBron is a man that has every right to sign with whichever team he chooses. If you wanted to move to a certain city, should you have to gain the approval of millions of other people to do so? That is his choice and his choice only. No one has the right to say where he goes other than himself.
Now that it is all over, I’m somewhat glad that LeBron did go to Miami. This move makes me realize he’s not a true champion, and so why would I want him on my team? Plus, there is a big villain in the East now, and Chicago quietly is using all of their unused cap to get a lot better. I think my team is in good shape, and since chemistry and having a pecking order are such important things in the game of basketball, perhaps the Bulls will be the better “team” and the big 3 in Miami will blow up in their faces. At least, this is what I tell myself as a Bulls fan. As a Timberwolves fan, well, we’re just happy that we got Michael Beasley for nothing thanks to this LeBron signing. We still need a good shooting guard and Ricky Rubio to show up, though.
I do know one thing, it’s going to be fun to root against this team the next few seasons. However, I might find myself rooting for the Lakers in the Finals again, and that would stink.