The NBA Lockout: A Price To Play … At What Cost?

~ The NBA scene has taken a turn for the expected worst. The league offically is in a lockout phase as a result of the owners and players being unable to come to a mutual agreement on what matters most in professional sports, the money.

Paying attention to what’s been going on in the NFL with their lockout (currently over 100 days and counting), the writing is clearly on the wall for NBA fans to prepare themselves to be without basketball for a long time to come.

 It was optimistic to think that the NFL lockout would be over by summertime. Optimism only gets you so far in this world before reality takes over. In this case, optimism has me believing the NBA will start it’s new season on time in the fall. Reality is looking at me with one hell of a side-eye right now.

 The theme to lock in on is the same as with the NFL, there is money on the table that needs to be divided up a lot better than it has been lately. Small-market teams need to be able to compete financially with the big-market teams in order to keep pace on the basketball court.

 While the NFL team owners have been making money, the owners in the NBA are claiming major financial losses. Reportedly, 22 of the 30 teams in the league lost money this past season. As for the players, they want a bigger piece of the revenue pie. Clearly, the system that was in place is not beneficial to either side right now.

 The fans are only left to wonder now how long this will take to get resolved. That’s not what the NBA wants to happen following one of their most exciting seasons in recent history. One thing that is evident is that the NBA can’t continue to lose a reported $300 million dollars. As long as that is the case, the owners are going to draw just as hard a line in the sand as the players have. This is going to last awhile.

 The end result will eventually be a reality check paid to both sides as we get closer to the start of the season. The threat of lost games is a major card that’s played in negotiations. It does not get played until the very end in most scenarios. It’s like the Joker or Ace of Spades card that we hold onto until we absolutely have to play them to win a hand in a Spades card game.

 Eventually, both sides will be forced to play their cards. It’s either that or jeopardize the momentum that has pulled in fan support. The NBA is coming off a very strong season with captivating storylines. The longer this drags on, the greater the risk of alienating the fans. The fans that pay for tickets to their favorite NBA team’s games, purchases their favorite team’s merchandise, and logs on to their favorite team’s website.

This league is global now and it’s expected that every few years, money and entitlement is going to become an issue of division. However it’s also expected that with everyday spent fighting over that money, the growing fear of losing even more money changes optimism into reality.

 It’s not a matter of will we see the NBA season start on time, it’s at what price will see it start on time.

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NFL > Plaxico Burress Leaves Prison & Begins A 2nd Chance

~ After spending nearly 2 years in prison on a gun charge, Plaxico Burress is a free man. The former New York Giant and Super Bowl MVP was recently released 3 months early for good behavior. The speculation will now begin as for where Burress will go to resume his NFL career. More importantly though, Burress gets a second chance at life with his family.

Burress pleaded guilty in August 2009 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to two years in prison. He’s come a long way since that night in a NYC nightclub when he  had a concealed handgun in the waistband of his pants. The weapon slipped down and discharged when he grabbed for it, injuring himself. The life as Burress had knew it, changed from that point on.

He has now paid his debt to society and gets to resume his career. There will definitely be a market available to him as soon as the NFL ends it’s Lockout status.

 He’ll be 34 years old when (and if) the season starts. The market for wide receivers this year is an interesting one. Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are available and now Burress is thrown into the mix. He says he has kept in shape while incarcerated and of course he’ll need to get in NFL game shape as well.

The buzz is strong that the Eagles are the front runners to land Burress. That would make for a very dangerous passing attack for Michael Vick. DeSean Jackson on 1 side and Burress on the other. The Giants appear to be moving away from any interest in bringing Burress back even though Eli Manning could still use that big target that helped him so much in their Super Bowl Run.

The two teams that I think will make strong pushes for Burress are the Jets and the Rams. They are also the most logical in my opinion.

The Jets are a big market team, Burress may still want to play in the New York area. The Jets are also a team that isn’t afraid to make a controversial free agent signing. They have questions to address at the wide receiver position. Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are both up for new contracts. 

The Rams could be a good fit for Burress. St. Louis isn’t New York City, and maybe that’s what he needs at this point in his life. The Rams have a young quarterback on the rise in Sam Bradford. They need to get Bradford a big name wide receiver to throw the ball to. The head coach of the team would be someone Burress knows pretty well, Steve Spagnuolo. (Defensive Coordinator of the Giants 2008 Super Bowl Team)

Burress now returns home to his wife, his son, and a daughter that was born while he was in jail. He has to do right by them and should be thankful that he has this second chance.

NFL Draft > Cam Newton Goes #1 To Carolina, Movers & Shakers

 

~ The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft was more exciting than many had thought it would be. The uncertainty around the draft due to the NFL Lockout left many thinking (myself included) that this draft would not have a lot of pop to it this year. There was quite a few surprises and a lot of that was also due to the Lockout. It may have also been due to the fact that there wasn’t a clear cut pick to bank on in this year’s draft. What the fans did see mostly (except for Atlanta and Minnesota) was their teams making the logical picks and trying not to gamble due to where the labor situation currently stands with the league.

Cam Newton Goes #1 To Carolina

The Carolina Panthers did what they had to do with this pick. Cam Newton is bringing star power behind his name. He’s bringing talent. Quite possibly cut in the Michael Vick mold as far as potential. Newton could also be a work in progress and eyes will be on him to see how he handles the big spotlight that comes with being the franchise player. However, for a team that has struggled on and off the field the fan base of the Panthers needed a shot in the arm. Newton had two things working for him here. He’s a quarterback and he was the biggest name in the draft. Carolina had to find a way to get fans in the building and the buzz Newton will bring is a big step forward.

Patrick Peterson Goes To Arizona at Number 5

I thought this was a good pick by the Cardnials because it shows they are focused on getting back to the level they were at that made them a Super Bowl team a couple of years ago. Everyone knows they need a quarterback and had Peterson beat the odds and went number 1, it would’ve been interesting to see what Arizona would’ve done to get a shot at Cam Newton. This team is looking to win now though and they play in the NFC West which is there to be taken. Patrick Peterson was the best cornerback on the board and was rated number 1 on many draft boards.  He give the Cardnials a potential “shutdown” corner and allows for them to look for a quarterback on the free agent market. It wouldn’t be surprising either to see Arizona look towards the future and perhaps look for a quarterback in the 2nd round of the draft.

Atlanta Falcons Trade The Ranch For WR Julio Jones

The Falcons were one of two teams in the draft that made a bold enough move to make you just stare at the television with the “Ricky Ricardo Confused Face”. The first trade of the draft was a doozy. Atlanta traded up from number 27 to the Cleveland Browns number 6 slot to grab Wide Receiver Julio Jones of Alabama. It was what the Falcons gave up to the Browns that had everyone scratching their heads. The Falcons sent their first-round, second-round, and fourth-round picks in 2011, along with a first-round and fourth-round pick in 2012 to the Browns. Great move if you’re a Browns fan. They get more opportunities to improve their team.

As for the Falcons, they clearly went after the best Wide Receiver left on the board after the Bengals took AJ Green at number 4. It gives QB Matt Ryan a dangerous passing attack with Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. The flip side of that is they basically gave up their draft this year to get Jones. The pressure will be on him early to step up and be a high impact player for a team  that went all out to to take the next step.

The Minnesota Vikings Take … Christian Ponder … Who??

This will be a name we remember for only one of two reasons. He’ll either turn out to be very good and be the shocker of the draft or he’ll be very bad and cost a few people in the Vikings upper management their jobs for taking him with the 12th pick in the 1st round. Christian Ponder out of Florida State has the chance to be the quarterback who replaces Brett Favre in Minnesota. Ponder was viewed by many to be a 2nd round pick at best. How did he end up going in top 15 of the 1st round then?

If you were to look at the draft board and how things played out, it put the Vikings in a very difficult spot. The 49ers were expected to take a quarterback at number 7 … they didn’t. That left Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert still on the board as the two next best quarterbacks available after Newton was picked earlier by Carolina.

The Titans then took Locker at number 8 which closed the door on the Vince Young era. This left Gabbert for the Vikings to hope that he falls to them at 12 … he didn’t make it past 10. The Jaguars surprisingly stepped in and took Gabbert at 10 and this is where the Vikings were going to have to roll the dice.

The top 3 quarterbacks are off the board, there is a wild card still available though. Ryan Mallet was projected by many to have 1st round potential. He’s also had some off the field issues that made teams back off him. The Vikings decide to go with Ponder and no team was more thankful probably than the Detroit Lions who took the best defensive lineman still available, Nick Fairley of Auburn.

Clearly the Vikings loved Ponder during the scouting process to take him so high. They could have addressed another need on the team and picked Ponder up later in the draft. It’s also alarming to Ryan Mallet’s camp that he’d get passed on in a obvious landing spot for him. This was the gamble of the draft because if Ponder ends up being a 1st round bust, it may set the Vikings back for seasons to come.

Notable Winners

The New Orleans Saints wowed everyone in the 1st round of the draft as they came away with 2 great picks. Cameron Jordan on defense at number 24 and Mark Ingram on offense at number 28. The Ingram pick was an aggresive one by the Saints, as they had to trade back into the 1st round with New England to grab the running back. Ingram was my sleeper pick in the draft and it was unfortunate that he fell so far in the 1st round. I thought he would have been a great fit with the Giants, Patriots or even the defending champion Packers. New Orleans will get a motivated former Heisman Award winner. It also creates a sub plot for the Saints, what will now happen to running back and former top pick Reggie Bush?

 

My hometown teams madeout pretty well in the first round as well. The Giants and Jets both addressed needs on defense. The Giants took cornerback Prince Amukamara and from everything mentioned about him, he has “shutdown” potential. The Jets made what I thought was the most logical pick of the draft so far. They grabbed Muhammad Wilkerson at number 30. Wilkerson gives the Jets much needed help on the defensive line.

What To Look For In Round 2?

Where does Ryan Mallet Go? The quarterback many project to have 1st round talent is still on the board. I’m looking for the Bengals to make a move for either Mallet or Andy Dalton. They already took the best receiver on the board in AJ Green. They still don’t know what will happen with Carson Palmer and they are in need of a quarterback.

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