NY & LA Pt.4 – The Venue

The Venue
If every city is a living breathing being, then every city finds it’s heart in it’s premier sports venue.

New York City – Madison Square Garden
IMG_2053
Madison Square Garden’s esteem and greatness easily goes beyond New York and makes it one of the premier venues in the world. Ali fought Frazier there. Sinatra sang there. It’s the home of the Knicks, the Rangers, the Johnnies, the Big East Tournament and countless other world class events. When you can trace a venue’s history back to before the invention of television, not only has it stood the test of time, it has become an icon.

Best Moment: The Guarantee
nhl_g_messier_sy_576
Mark Messier promises to win the Stanley Cup despite the Rangers being down 2-3. Then, in a triumph that has made Messier a hockey god in New York, they do it. Best of all? They beat Jersey to do it.
Honorable Mention: Yankee Stadium

Los Angeles – Staples Center
IMG_2054
Taking the Lakers from the Fabulous Forum, Staples Center has risen in recent years to be Los Angeles’ premier venue and somewhat interesting/not interesting night-life area. Home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks, the Staples Center has made it’s way to become the center of L.A. sports. It’s history may not have been around long, but they have been winning. Despite being opened in 1999, Staples Center has been home to 4 NBA Championships and a Stanley Cup. Not too shabby for a youngblood. (Also, the Kings beat Jersey to win too)

Best Moment: The Alley-Oop
Shaq
Despite the rumblings of the impending feud, Kobe and Shaq connect on a transcendent ally-oop that caps off a comeback to win the Western Conference Finals on route to their first championship together.
Honorable Mention: The Rose Bowl, The Coliseum

Madness Ensues: A Sunroot Guide to March In The NCAA

I’m a simple man. I don’t have all of the sabermetrics and fun stats for you. I don’t even know all of the teams playing this year. However, I’m the very guy you want advice from for your NCAA bracket. I’m not here to tell you who to pick. I’m here to tell you how to have a good time.

Here are Sunroot’s Simpleton DOs and DON’Ts

DO: Make a Bracket!
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 1.11.36 AM
No one is above having a little fun in March with a bracket. Even if you’ve never done it before, even if you dont know the teams, fill it out. You can find it here.

DON’T: Read Too Much
The analyses can be maddening and the wealth of information will paralyze you. Make choices, be decisive, be bold.

DO: Bracket With Friends
You’re gonna need someone to gloat to or be gloated at. It’s a healthy gloating. One that fuels the competitive fire inside you that will help you have a stake in these games.

DON’T: Explain
You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you chose the teams you did. Maybe you like their names. Maybe you like their mascots. Maybe you know someone who once applied to Middle Tennessee and you hate their guts. Whatever the reason you have for choosing your team, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
JonnyCashFinger
Tell them you closed your eyes and picked with this finger.

DO: Friendly Wager
It doesn’t have to be money. Maybe a chore or a meal. Having something on the line makes it more interesting for all parties. The key word is FRIENDLY.

DON’T: Judge
Nobody likes that guy by the water cooler who knows everything about all the teams and judges other peoples’ picks. THAT guy ruins this wonderful season. He is the grinch of March Madness.
skip-bayless-nba-playoffs-2012
Don’t be THAT guy. We all hate him.

DO: Follow Along
Half of the fun is having something to check on everyday. You want to know how your teams did and trust me, even if you didn’t care about the teams before, you will now. Here are some app’s to make it easy.

DON’T: Exclude Anyone
It might make you furious, but let those who don’t know anything about basketball to participate. They probably have a better chance to win than you.

Oscars Press Room
This will be her when she wins.

DON’T: Cheat
Make your bracket and keep it. Don’t make any adjustments or modifications to it after. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it. It’s called growing up. I’ve got Ohio St. and Michigan in the Finals. Bed’s don’t get scarier than that.

DO: Keep Score
The most common way of scoring is awarding points for wins based on rounds. For example
For picking winners in the 1st Round (64 Teams): 1 point each
For picking winners in the 2nd Round (32 Teams): 2 points each
For picking winners in the 3rd Round (Sweet Sixteen: 4 points each
For picking winners in the 4th Round (Elite Eight): 8 points each
For picking winners in the 5th Round (Final 4): 16 points each
For picking the winner of the 6th Round (Finals): 32 points each

DO: Get to Know Players
A lot of these kids have great stories and fantastic personalities. Get to know some of them and you might just find yourself hooked on college ball. It’s great to watch as your favorite college players become your favorite NBA players (see: John Wall – UK. Don’t See: Jimmer Freddette – BYU.)
Aaron-Craft1
This is Aaron Kraft. Don’t mind his rosy cheeks. He’s a veteran floor general and one of the best on-ball defenders in the country.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Mississippi vs Vanderbilt
This is Marshall Henderson. He’s got more than enough personality for the whole tournament.

DO: Root For Your Team
138956353_crop_exact
Don’t be ashamed to be a fan. Cheer and whoo and be part of the Madness that takes over our country for a few short weeks.

DO: Grieve on Facebook
Let it all out. You’re not too cool for mourning.

Ok. That’s it. Have Fun!

P.S. Enjoy the upsets.
9ec0d2faedfcf4b13ac8da8f83fbde4f
P.P.S. Suck it Duke.

NY & LA Pt.3 – The Fans

The Fans

New York City – Meritocracy
IMG_2051

The fans in the Big Apple ask for one thing: WIN. They don’t mind being the Evil Empire (see: Yankees) or the Underdog (see: Giants), as long as you get the job done. The old adage of “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” applies in to New York sports. If you can ball, you have the love of the masses. If you can’t, you can take the first flight out of JFK. Like New York weather, NY’s sports scene can be scorching one day and snowing the other. The fans are intensely passionate and fiercely loyal, but New York is also a cold, unforgiving place. Just ask Mark Sanchez and he will tell you the cold hard truth: that you’re only one butt-fumble away from being boo’ed in your home arena. Amare and Melo were once touted as New York’s white knights, the saving grace for a long-dead Knicks, and combined with Tyson Chandler, another Big Three. Now, whenever there’s an injury, there’s an endless barrage of  “Are the Knicks better without ____.” Except for Tyson Chandler—he’s great.

alg-arod-autographs-jpg
P.S. Remember when we loved A-Rod?

Los Angeles – Theocracy
IMG_2052
If sports is a religion, for Angelino’s it’s not polytheistic. There is one god. And it is the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe is their Pope and Staples, their Sistine Chapel. Don’t get me wrong, LA loves their other teams, but the Kings won the Stanley Cup and all Los Angeles could talk about was what to do with Andrew Bynum. Clippers are making the best run in their franchise’s history but the Lakers fighting for 8th seed bumps them off the headlines. It’s not that Laker fans aren’t fickle and clamoring for revolution when the Lakers have their struggles (see: Mike Brown, soon-to-be Mike D’Antoni), it’s that they are single-minded in their love or hate of their Lakers. There are no cross-town rivalries. There is no subway series and except for the minority of die-hards and band-wagoners, Los Angeles is Laker-Nation.

kobe-bryant-los-angeles-lakers
P.S. What a wonderful pope he is.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Knicks: A Conversation

20130315-020654.jpg
Me: I’d be happy if they lost by 5 or 10.
Thomas: Does that mean they’re down?
Me: Only by four.

Thomas showers

Tom: What’s the score?
Me: Down by ten.
Thomas: What?!
Me: What did you expect? They’re playing the tenth seed in the west.
Thomas: …

Me: Let’s see, who can the Knicks beat?
Thomas: Hmm…
Me: The Cavs maybe. Minus Kyrie Irving.
Thomas: Only if Kyrie is out.

silence

Thomas: The Wizards!
Me: Yes! The Wizards!

silence

Me: The Sixers?
Thomas: I don’t know about that.
Me: Maybe if Jrue Holliday is having an off day.
Thomas: Sacramento?
Me: They just beat Chicago by forty points.
Thomas: Oh.

THE END

Tagged , ,

Booing ‘Melo: How ‘Melo Stacks Up Against The NBA’s Other Prodigal Sons

Today the Knicks went back to Denver and got utterly spanked by the Nuggets. Melo went out with knee problems and Tyson Chandler went down with a “knee contusion” that for me, felt like this:
Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 1.13.19 AM

The Knicks’ playoff chances will come or go with Chandler’s health. He’s the foundation of the team and I don’t care how good ‘Melo or Stat might be, the Knicks don’t win a playoff series without Tyson Chandler. They don’t win the Atlantic Division either. Anyway, in other news, ‘Melo returns to Denver!

To an expected amount of boos. Let me tell you how this is similar and different than other recent All-Star exoduses. So how does ‘Melo stack up?

3. The Melo-Drama
Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks

What The Nuggets got for Melo: Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, 2014 1st Round Pick
Nuggets Record With Melo: 38 – 28 (.567 pct)
Nuggets Record After Melo: 44 -22 (.667 pct)
Melo’s Return Game: DEN 117 – NY 94

‘Melo might have complained about being in Denver a lot, but he sure got them some important pieces to build around. Without his fat contract, the Nuggets have also been able to accquire some other stars like Andre Iguodala. Denver can be mad at ‘Melo for leaving them or dissing their town, but they can’t say that he screwed over the franchise. Especially now that it’s obvious that Denver is a better team now without him.

2. The Dwightmare
dwight-howard-los-angeles-lakers
What The Magic got for Dwight: Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, Arron Afflalo and three future first-round picks.
Magic Record With Dwight : 37 – 29 (.561 pct)
Magic Record After Dwight: 18 – 47 (.277 pct)
Dwight’s Return Game: ORL 97 – LA 106

The Dwightmare seemed to drag on forever as the Magic locker-room was constantly bombarded with questions about Dwight’s future. Stan Van Gundy lost a job but Hedo Turkoglu kept his. Despite the criticism, Orlando got a fair amount of value in exchange for Dwight, including future picks that we’ve yet to see. On top of that, they dropped Jason Richardson’s ugly contract. However, the Magic are clearly at a disadvantage without the NBA’s best center and have fallen far from the perennial playoff contender they once were.

1. The Decision
lebron-decision

What Cleveland got for Lebron: Two 1st-round draft picks, two 2nd-round picks, Trade Exception
Cavs Record With Lebron: 61 – 21 (.744 pct)
Cavs Record After Lebron: 19 – 63 (.232 pct)
Lebron’s Return Game: CLE 90 – MIA 118

Of course The Decision is number one. This departure left the NBA with the most visceral reaction, because not only were jerseys burned in Cleveland, Lebron was booed in arenas all across the league for at least a year after the decision. He left his hometown team in a one-hour special that will live in infamy. In his defense, Cleveland management really did fail to put a winning team around Lebron. His absence took the Cav’s from the best record in the NBA to the worst, including a history streak of sucking. I remember when the Cav’s were like, “oh. Here’s Antawn Jamison. That will make it ok, right? Right?” He had his reasons for leaving, and he did raise a million dollars for kids, and he does seem like a genuinely good person, and he does have the best chance of catching Michael, but I think I’ll boo him for the rest of my life. When he won his first ring, I remember joking that now Lebron can go back to Cleveland and win one without the pressure. Now it looks like it could have a chance.

BTW: The pick used to acquire Kyrie Irving wasn’t even from Lebron’s trade. It was the Clipper’s pick that they traded for Baron Davis.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brains Over Brawns: Why The NFL Is The Smartest League Around

Today was the start of the NFL’s Free Agency and right off the bat, the League reminds you that it is quickly becoming the smart man’s game.

First off, some of the league’s best wide receivers made their way from good teams to amazing teams, in a sequence of events that should have you saying, “wait…what?”

1. Anquan Boldin
Anquan+Boldin+Super+Bowl+XLVII+Baltimore+Ravens+aHM4kZ9Mfsjl-e1363048537146
Boldin’s trade today was as much a surprise to us as it was to him. The star Ravens receiver helped the Baltimore lift the Lombardi trophy with 104 yards and a touchdown in their victory over the 49’ers. At 32, he’s not quite a young buck, but Boldin makes his living with smart plays a great football IQ, not necessarily with speed and athleticism.

His trade destination?
lgo_nfl_san_francisco_49ers
That’s right. The Raven’s just traded one of their star receiver’s to the team they just faced in the Super Bowl.

I know what you’re thinking. Well, if they traded him, the Ravens must have gotten deal they couldn’t refuse. Right? Well, let’s see. Pull back the curtain, let’s see what the Raven’s got for one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets?

Drumroll please…

That’s right! A 6th Round Draft Pick!

Wait, What?
Like “Q”, you’re probably asking what happened. What happened was that the Raven’s owed $6 million for 2013 and after failing to work out a different deal, the Ravens decided to trade Boldin in favor of just cutting him from the team.

It goes to show how an expensive defense and a fat QB contract for the Ravens can tie up the purse strings. Chalk it up to the 49er’s for having the great management in place to reserve cap space despite having the deepest roster in the NFl and collecting a veritable “gold mine” of draft picks.

2. Percy Harvin
Percy_Harvin_Trade_Vikings_Seahawks
Percy Harvin, unlike Anquan Boldin, is a true young stud. At 24, Harvin is a superstar receiver with ton’s of upside and has proven to be one of the best receivers in the league at gaining yards after catches. Adrian Peterson, (yes, THAT Adrian Peterson), calls Harvin the “best all-around player [he has] ever seen.” But no one is safe in the business of football, and Percy Harvin is packing his bags (not that he minds).

Where’s that, you ask?
seahawks
Yup. Harvin is going to Seattle (not unlike the Sacramento Kings. Womp Womp). Percy Harvin goes from a team looming on the outskirts of the playoffs (Minnesota) to a team that looks poised to be a contender for years to come.

Wait, what?
Why would the Vikes trade away one of their best players to a team that is already dangerously close to winning it all? Well, there are 67 million reason why. Harvin’s new contract will bring him $67 million including over $25 million in guarantees. Quite a chunk of change for Seattle. On top of that, Seattle gives up a 1st round pick and a 7th round pick this year as well as a mid round pick next year. Not a bargain like Anquan Boldin, but Harvin’s career has barely started.

Seattle has put itself in this position by assembling a talented roster while avoiding big contracts. I mean, look at Russell Wilson. The kid is a poster child for under-rated talent.
Russell-Wilson-Wisconsin_original_crop_650x440

Why This Makes The NFL Smart
It makes the NFL smart because more and more, people are realizing that under the current salary cap and CBA, the best managed teams are the winningest ones. Football is the embodiment of a team sport, and a sport where no one man can carry a team. That’s why it’s important to understand how to build a good, deep roster on a budget. The 49er’s are one of the best teams at it, and it’s paying off big time.

What This Means For The Future
nfl_g_victor-cruz_mb_400
It means Victor Cruz is going to be salsa’ing somewhere else unless he’s willing to take a pay cut. The Giants have too many holes to fill to pay Victor Cruz the top dollar he’s asking for (even though he’s earned it). Something will have to give. Sorry, ladies.

Tagged , , , , ,

NY & LA Pt.2 – The Coach

The Coach
Coaches set the tone of a team and occasionally, when they are transcendant, the tone of a city.

NY – Joe Torre
IMG_2045
This Yankees skipper took New York baseball (not you, Mets) from the dark ages into the age of the Dark Side. He built a team that people either see as a dynasty or an “Evil Empire.” Aside from countless accolades and championships, it’s his cool demeanor and his ability to bring together star personalities that he shares with LA’s iconic coach.

Honorable Mention: Tom Coughlin
Dishonorable Mention: Isiah Thomas

LA – Phil Jackson
IMG_2044
The Zen Master has coached some of the greatest talents and best teams to ever play basketball, but if you ask anyone if another coach would have had the same success, they’d laugh at you. Phil has had the honor of coaching two of the best shooting guards to have ever played basketball, but he’s also handled the egos that come with them. Not to mention two of the strangest men in the NBA in Dennis Rodman and Metta World Peace. His eastern philosophies and ability to mellow out the most volatile of personalities typifies Los Angeles, and they love him for it.

Honorable Mention: John Wooden
Dishonorable Mention: Mike D’Antoni

Bonus: Phil Jackson on Kobe vs. Jordan

The Age Of The Fall: An End To Heroes

TIME+Magazine+front+cover+-+Oscar+Pistorius (1)

Today, this issue of Time is hitting news-stands across the nation (not that people read, anyway). Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner, is out on bail and expected to be on trial in June for the shooting and killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steemkamp.

I’m not writing to defend him or indict him. There’s a million factors to consider including an entire culture in South Africa that is hella interesting to read. I’m writing this because I’m kind of sad. I’m sad about how so many prominent sports icons are in the news for scandals and shame.

Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius
Pistorius has been an inspiration to abled and disabled athletes alike and has become a poster-child for overcoming adversity. He’s a national hero and he and Steemkamp were the David & Victoria Beckhams of South Africa. Or Tom and Gisele, or Lamar and Khloe or whatever.

Lance Armstrong
oprah-lance-armstrong
Lance, even more than Pistorius has transcended sports into the realm of an inspirational figure. For years, he has vehemently and violently denied accusations of doping. Finally, in a strange awkward confession to Oprah (of course), he reveals his use of performance enhancing drugs in his Tour De France titles.

Joe Paterno
la-sp-sn-paterno-statue-ncaa-20120722-001
JoePa has been the face of Penn State Football forever, and was one of the most prolific and iconic college football coaches in history. He’s been an educator and mentor for countless student-athletes. Now it’s been revealed that he’s implicated to some degree in covering up Jerry Sandusky’s heinous acts.

What makes me sad is an inherent distrust of authority that is pervasive in our culture and we’ve adopted suspicion as a vaccine for deception. We’ve learned not to trust the icons. There’s always a scandal looming; a cover-up hiding in shadows.

I don’t know if I have a point or a message to go with this article. Well.. except I do. I realize as I write this that my motive for writing this is clear. I want us to keep believing in heroes. I want us to believe in a person’s ability to inspire a people.

We hunt for scandals and can’t wait to expose hypocrisy, but I don’t want us to lose faith yet. I still I believe in the power that leadership can have, and I don’t want to give up on passing skills and knowledge down from generation to generation. I don’t want us to live alone in a world that is only comprised of corrupt systems and conspiring leaders. I want us to keep believing.

NY & LA: Two Great Sport Cultures…Pt.1 – The King

Since 2010, I’ve split my time between New York and Los Angeles. These years have also been my formative years in sports fan-dom, so my loyalties have grown recently—not in the time I grew up in NY. For all the people who get wonder why I don’t particularly care for the Knicks, that’s the explanation in a nutshell. I’m starting a series of comparisons between the cities. This is the first installment.

The King
Every great empire must have a king. These are the sports icons, the living gods amongst mere men. We know the cities. These are their kings.

New York City – Derek Jeter – “The Captain”
IMG_2050
Derek Jeter IS New York sports. His easy charm embodies the blase attitude of the city while his fierce competitiveness captures New York’s determination and grit. Mr. November is the quintessential professional and New York’s most eligible bachelor. There are never stories about Jeter to distract the clubhouse, but everyone in the city has a friend with a story about Jeter in a club. A legendary career and an urban legend, Jeter wins the crown in Gotham.

Notable Stat: Jeter is 5 of 7 in World Series(es?). Judging by injuries to the Yank’s this season, it looks like that will be the number he’s retiring with
Crowning Moment:: The Flip. Jeter makes an unforgettable play that shows the instincts and ballsiness that has made him an immortal baseball icon.

Los Angeles – Kobe Bryant – “The Black Mamba”
IMG_2049
Without a question, Kobe is King of LA. The Black Mamba is Undisputed Dictator of the city of angels and you know what? He wouldn’t have it any other way. He seized the throne for himself by way of coup (sorry, Shaq) and has no intention of giving it up any time soon (sorry, Dwight). He has the most indomitable will that I, personally, have ever witnessed in sports and he’s won the hearts of Los Angeles by being a classy, larger-than-life figure that blurs the line between athlete and Hollywood celeb. And it’s not Angelinos, either. I’ve never seen a player who gets MVP chants in opponent arenas and I don’t know if I ever will again.

Notable Stat: Kobe has played enough playoff games to fill three full NBA seasons. He’s 5 of 6 in Finals and is showing that if you give him the chance, he’s going to make a run to tie Michael.
Crowning Moment: The Fourth – After years of hearing that Shaq won them the first three titles, Kobe gets the monkey off his back with his fourth title and first Finals MVP.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why The Knicks Will Sign Kenyon Martin

At the moment, Kenyon Martin is on his second 10-Day contract with the Knicks. I get the feeling he’ll be going full time real soon.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.