BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer
NBA stars are becoming bigger than the game itself. And it’s making fans bitter; quickly turning them into haters.
Stars have always enjoyed special treatment. But when the power shift is so one sided that players like Dwight Howard can demand a trade the year before his contract expires, general managers are put in quite a predicament. Do they chance losing their star at the end of the season and have nothing to show for it or trade the core of the team that they’ve spent the past several years and millions of dollars building? And fans resent this. Not just fans of these teams, but fans of the game in general.
I’m a huge Denver Nuggets fan. I’m also a huge Syracuse Orangemen fan (yes, they are still the Orangemen to me, although the change to the Orange is growing on me). So When the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003 it was a dream come true. He took Denver, a perennial lottery team, to the playoffs in his first season. But after what happened with Melo last season, I’m a hater now. I hate the Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire (for no good reason) and Spike Lee (seriously, does anyone actually like that guy). I even hate the Lakers, and as I write this blog I’m watching the Knicks take on the Lakers. I’m rooting against the Knicks, but essentially that means I’m rooting for the Lakers!
Denver was between a rock and a hard place. Melo’s situation was different than the one the Magic are currently in with Howard. This was mostly due to the expiring NBA labor contract and the possibility that if Melo didn’t sign an extension before the end of the season he would lose millions of dollars in guaranteed money. He made it public knowledge that he would only accept a trade to New York so no teams were willing to trade away the draft picks and prospects that Denver was rightfully asking for in return. If the Nuggets didn’t trade Melo, they risked losing one of the top 10 best players in the league and having nothing to show for it. Personally, I think Melo was greedy enough and would have accepted an extension with Denver rather than lose millions. So Denver traded their star for a crop of young
talent, but none of them will ever fill the shoes of Anthony.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Oakland General Manager Billy Beane shipped the 27-year-old to the Boston Red Sox after trading starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzales earlier this offseason. The third major move by the Athletics this winter has now left the team’s pitching staff depleted and it doesn’t look as if Oakland will have one household name on its roster by the time spring training rolls around. They still could have guys like Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki still around, but don’t pencil them in on your scorecards until at least opening day because Oakland changes its makeup more times than Lady Gaga at a sold out concert.
Once again, the A’s received a heap of very young prospect and the organization should be delighted that their farm system should be one of the best in baseball. But none of the guys Oakland has acquired yet, are considered everyday Major Leaguers by anyone’s standards. For Bailey, the A’s received outfielder Josh Reddick, first base prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox. Oakland also shipped Ryan Sweeney to Boston after the outfielder spent the past four years with the A’s, primarily as a starter.
So it looks like Boston received the better end of the deal. No duh. That should be expected by this point by any Oakland fan. These moves seem like MLB suicide, but the transactions are completely necessary for Oakland’s future plans. It’s reported the A’s will move to San Jose sometime in the near future and to help pay for a new stadium, the club is trying to save money anyway possible.
That has left Beane in quite a predicament. I don’t think he’s ever seen a budget this small and now he’s going to have to fill a roster with only peanuts to offer. His three mega moves this offseason are just the start. And don’t be surprised if his highest paid player makes somewhere in the $4 million per year range. It’s always been like this is Oakland and it always will be, at least in the baseball market where money rules.
BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer
At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, and boasting a 4.35 40-yard dash and 44 inch vertical leap, Calvin Johnson has always been a man amongst boys.
Ever since being selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft, the wide receiver known as “Megatron” has made opposing cornerbacks look like small children, compiling 5,628 yards receiving and 48 touchdowns since entering the league. For years he was the only legitimate offensive threat on a horrendous Lions offense that consistently ranked in the bottom half of total team offense every year. Johnson’s progression has been further hounded by minor injuries that plagued his first few seasons. Yet as the Lions emerge into relevance for the first time in over a decade, a healthy Calvin Johnson is reaping the benefits and establishing himself as the premier wideout in the NFL.
With one game left to play in the 2011 NFL regular season, Calvin has amassed 85 receptions, totaling a career-best 1,437 receiving yards with a league leading 15 touchdowns. In addition, he is 2nd in the league with 25 25-plus yard receptions and 1st in receptions of 40-plus yards with nine. Much of Johnson’s impressive production can be attributed to his stellar rapport with gunslinger Matthew Stafford, who has finally proved he can stay healthy over the course of a full season. Other offensive weapons include veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie burner Titus Young, promising tight end Brandon Pettigrew,
and the running back trio of Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, and Kevin Smith (too bad they all keep getting injured). Now that the Lions offense contains other playmaking weapons, defenses cannot key in solely on Calvin, which has allowed him to take his game to a higher level.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
The world of National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball is on hiatus right now with the long college break.
I figured this would be the opportune time to start my newest weekly blog that will highlight and rank Wyoming’s eight NJCAA Division I men’s basketball teams. The hardwood has been full of excitement through about the first third of the Wyoming college hoops season and this week’s rankings indicate just how close a handful of teams are at the top. There are currently five (more than half) teams in the Cowboy State’s junior college ranks that have already hit double-digits in the win column. And if those teams can stay hot, this may just be one of the most exiting years in Wyoming junior college basketball.
Now without further holdup, here’s how Wyoming’s eight junior college teams stack up as of Tuesday, Dec. 27. These rankings will hold until at least Jan. 8 because of the holiday break. Records and stats are compiled from Njcaa.org and are upheld believed to be accurate information for this blog.
• Top spot, top scorer: The Trappers may not have the best record of Wyoming’s eight teams, but they do have the NJCAA’s ninth best scorer in freshman Chris Hansen. The Fort Collins, Colo., native is tearing up the junior college hardwood this season, scoring 20.9 points per game and hitting a jaw dropping 52 3-pointers in NWC’s 16 games this season. For having such a dynamic player who only seems like he’ll climb up the scoring leader’s board, it’s the Trappers who get the No. 1 ranking in the premiere of the Wyoming college hoops rant.
• Taking down the Generals: NWC has also shown that it’s one of the top JUCO teams in the Cowboy State by sticking it to perennial powerhouse, the Sheridan Generals. The Trappers defeated the formerly ranked NJCAA top-25 ranked team 79-69 in their last game Dec. 10 in Powell. Any matchup against the Generals should be considered a statement game and the Trappers made theirs in early December. NWC has shown it can beat the state’s toughest teams and at least hang with some of the best in the nation. The only two losses the Trappers have suffered came to No. 5 Salt Lake Community College and the always respectable Western Nebraska Community College. And the NJCAA top-25 poll voters must gave noticed, casting NWC a few votes for the top 25.
• Snubbed for top billing?: I must apologize to the Mustangs for not picking them as Couchside’s No. 1 team. After all, the NJCAA does have Western ranked No. 11 in its latest poll Dec. 13. But since the distinguished ranking, the Mustangs lost to Snow College 69-64 in their final final game before the holiday break. The loss was Western’s first of the season and just Snow’s second, proving that the Mustangs’ only defeat must have been a tough pill to swallow. Although perfection has surpassed the Mustangs, I expect big things from the squad and perhaps the matchup of the year when Western travels to Powell for a clash against the Northwest College Trappers.
• It must be chemistry: It seems Western’s power comes from more than just one player. Actually, it comes from every single athlete in the starting five. Led by D.J. Stennis, who averages 12.1 pointers per game, the Mustangs’ other four starters also average double-digit scoring figures. Greg Meacham is one of those threats and lights up the scoreboard from downtown, hitting 33 3-pointers this in 14 games.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
With the NBA season ready to to tip off Sunday, it’s time to actually start thinking about basketball again.
The season, which was cut short due to labor disagreements, will jam pack 66 games into 124 games and test every single team more so than the regular 82-game campaigns. It may be hectic on the professional hardwood this season, but hoops fans should be excited about the shortened schedule because it’s sure to provide a playing field that is more equal.
Young teams that can come out of the gates blazing could end up winning the title this season with the advatages of young legs. Teams with larger cores of veterans may struggle because breaks will be short, off days will be erased and fatigue will hit harder than ever before.
This season should be one to remember. And there should be a plenty of curve balls thrown at the fans. But do not fear, Couchsideshow.com is here to prepare you for what should be a season full of surprises. We don’t have quite the resources to preview all 32 teams, but here’s a look at the top sixsquads and how each one could win the NBA Finals crown in 2012: