Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The 60th installment of the NBA All-Star Game was once again a huge success, as the league continues to have the best exhibition event of any on the four major sports leagues.

The West won, 148-143, as Kobe Bryant scored 37 points en route to earning a record-tying fourth All-Star Game MVP award in another great game.

However, what if the NBA held a fantasy draft for its All-Star Game, much like the NHL did for theirs this season?

The best way to do this is that the face of the host team goes up against the leading vote-getter or a chief rival in order to fill out a 12-man roster from a pool of all-stars chosen by the fans, players, and coaches. This way, we get to see the players become their own general managers and create their own "super teams".

Imagine Bryant and LeBron James as captains and that LeBron has the first pick. The drama would be intense to see if James remains loyal and selects his teammate Dwyane Wade with the No. 1 pick or if he backstabs Wade and selects another player.

Just ask the NHL, who saw a 33 percent increase in the Nielsen TV ratings this year from the 2009 All-Star Game (there was no NHL All-Star Game last year due to the Olympics).

The Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom and the Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal drafted and filled out their teams of 21 players two days before the game, and the result was a thrilling 11-10 game won by Team Staal.

About the game and the draft, Lidstrom said to Fanhouse, "I think it made for an exciting weekend. Everybody was anticipating the draft and [wondering] who was going to get picked first and who was going to get picked last."

The NHL's success of this concept should be an encouragement to NBA fans who would love to see their All-Star Game have an added twist to the current standard.

Will the NBA adopt this soon? Who knows, but it is just a thought that deserves good consideration.

Monday, February 14, 2011


On June 29, 2009, Blake Griffin traded in the wind-swept plains after being drafted to a team that plays in one of the best stadiums in the NBA when he was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Now, imagine playing at home in an arena where there are 16 NBA titles and many retired jerseys and numbers, but none of those artifacts are of your team.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Los Angeles Clippers and this is Griffin's team.

Sure, sharing the Staples Center with the Lakers might be cool (I guess), but it also means that no matter what you do, you will be like a red-headed stepchild.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, the Clippers have never won the Pacific Division title, made it to the playoffs only four times, and only won 35 percent of their games.

By comparison, in the same timespan, the Lakers are their on way to their 13th Pacific Division title, have only missed the playoffs twice, and won the Finals eight times.

As always though, the Clippers fielded young, talented teams with potential but never could keep those players on their team.

There were the 2001-02 Clippers, who made a serious run for the playoffs before going 3-10 to close the season. After the season, they traded an underperforming Darius Miles to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andre Miller, who led the NBA in assists. The starting line-up of Miller, Elton Brand, Quentin Richardson, Lamar Odom, and Michael Olowokandi was expected to lead the Clippers to the 2003 NBA Playoffs. However, they went 27-55 due to injuries and missed the playoffs.

The 2005-06 squad did something that the franchise had not done since moving to the Pacific coast--win a playoff series, when it beat Denver, 4-1, narrowly setting up an all-Staples Center 2nd round. However, the Lakers lost to the Suns in seven games in the first round and the Clippers fell to the same fate.

Problem is, the Clippers would be good, but either something bad would happen (SEE: Shaun Livingston), plans fail to pan out (SEE: the 2002-03 Clippers), or owner Donald Sterling would be shewd and not spend his money to retain players.

This year, the Clippers are quite the draw thanks to Griffin. The Clippers are currently sixth in attendance and draw above 17,000 every home game. While they are a long shot to contend for the playoffs this year, the future looks bright with Griffin, Eric Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan at the helm, and with Baron Davis as the experienced veteran.

As a result, Griffin will not only compete in the Rookie/Sophomore game and the Slam-Dunk contest, but he was selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game, giving the each the Lakers and Clippers representation for their home All-Star game.

Griffin is averaging 22.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, so one can see why the Clippers actually want to keep possibly the best player in the history of Los Angeles' "second" franchise and are willing to pull out all the stops to do so.

General manager Neil Olshey recently compared the relationship between Griffin and the Clippers much like to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder and said, "I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper."

There is a long way to go before thinking about tying down a possible franchise changer, but with the team showing potential, it cannot be ignored.

As for now, the Clippers will be the team to lose a game by a last-second flagrant foul (thanks to Griffin) or to lose to a team with a historic losing streak until the team matures.

Ever since moving the Clippers to L.A. in 1984, Donald Sterling has seen his team attend the lottery

more than the playoffs.

Blake Griffin became the Clippers' third No. 1 draft pick in team history in 2009.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After missing all of the 2009-10 NBA season, Griffin has shown that he was well

worth the wait this season with his play and nightly poster dunks.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

ANALYSIS: For the third time in six seasons, the Steelers will be competing for the NFL's biggest prize. Many wondered how Pittsburgh would handle Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension, but they passed the test with flying colors. Roethlisberger has proven to be clutch once again this postseason, leading a comeback against Baltimore and sealing the AFC Championship against the Jets two weeks ago. With a win, Big Ben can join an elite group of quarterbacks who have won at least three Super Bowls, a list that includes Troy Aikman and Tom Brady.

In just three years, I'd say Aaron Rodgers has filled Brett Favre's shoes quite nicely. Despite a so-so performance in the NFC Championship Game against Chicago, Rodgers led the Packers to become the second No. 6 seed to make the Super Bowl (Roethlisberger was the first in 2005). Consider the fact that Green Bay lost 14 players to injured reserve, including their star running back Ryan Grant, and it makes this run even more impressive. Grant's replacement, James Starks, has used this postseason to showcase his talents. The undrafted rookie from Buffalo ran for 263 in the playoffs and added a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game.

PREDICTION: Steelers 24, Packers 21

KEY MATCHUP: The Steelers' defense vs. the Packers' defense (Nos. 1 and 2 in scoring defense, Nos. 1 and 2 in Defensive Player of the Year, and two great defensive coordinators. Who can ask for more? Expect another chess match for both teams, because I doubt we will see the aerial attack that both teams displayed last year.)

MVP: Ben Roethlisberger (QB-Steelers)

-In his first two trips to the Super Bowl, Ben saw Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes get the Disney promos. Well, it's time for Big Ben to get some love. Expect him to spread the ball around and actually take over the game.