*Be prepared for THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN BLOG coming very, very, very soon. A blog featuring me, Monponsett, Die Cast, Coztanza, Pre-Jock, Quick Slants and more. This thing should blow everyone away!!!
*A few months ago, the NBA and the players association were saying all the right things about getting a new deal done. They said they didn't want to follow the NHL's dark path. Well, it seems that they just very well might. Last night, the owners cancelled a meeting with players reps today...and haven't rescheduled. Word is that sides are being drawn and that the owner's past moves may come back to haunt them. Mainly, during the 1998-99 lockout, the main drive by the owners was to take the power away from the agents. They won that battle [I mean, how much has David Falk's name been in the press lately?]. What came out of that were max salaries, a luxury tax, rookie salary scale and limiting where a player can go and make his money. Despite what you think [and some issues], the system seems to have worked. Since then, most of the biggest names in the NBA retired...and new stars have emerged.
However, the NBA wants more. They want to slash the max number of years in a contract [from the 6-7 years now to a 3-4 year max], impose a Super Luxury Tax that further penalizes billionaire owners, impose an age limit, and making the yearly increase smaller [from 10% to 5%]. Normally, when these negotiations go on, I side with the owners. Not this time. I agree with the age limit, but I don't think what is going on is ruining the game. All those new proposals do is keep owners in line with rules. Under the current rules, owners get trigger happy and sign marginal players to long bad deals...then are stuck with them. Under the current rules, owners are scared to miss out on drafting thenext Kobe Bryant that they pick Kwame Brown #1 overall. Under the current rules, owners can go over the high cap and pay a tough tax...which the billionairs [Cuban, Allen] don't mind.
Why would the players agree to any of this? They gave up a lot to get the system that is currently in place. Why should they give up more so the owners feel better? Billy Hunter, the NBPA head, recently gathered the 12 most powerful NBA agents and had them agree to tell their clients to reject the NBA's current proposal. Again, the agents are willing to peeve off the owners and they effectively were wiped out of the NBA landscape. This will be a war.
*Keep up to date on the NBA playoffs by going to NBA.com or for quick little reviews and previews of each game/series....go to SPORTZ' HOOPS LAND
*Rex Chapman has recently told reporters that people around the Kentucky Wildcats program discouraged him from dating black chicks. They didn’t want to get fans riled up. NO! You are going to tell me that there is racism afoot in the UKKK program? I’ll never hear of it! I mean, so the SEC was made up of schools that famously wouldn’t even play other schools with black players. I still hear Kentucky fans use the word "colored" when describing certain players. This isn’t a blanket observation....not everyone is like this. I love the TreeSoup's The WildCat Blog....a great great blog for a team I really don't care for. But, I’ve lived in the Bluegrass state for now 6 years [on the other side of the river from Cincinnati]...and I’ve never met a black Wildcat fan.
*Speaking of NCAA hoops in my area....the Cincinnati Bearcats and coach Bob Huggins have agreed to not agree...and Huggs will coach out his final two years of his contract. Huggs had a "rollover" 4-year deal that basically added a year to his contract after every season. But, after last year's DUI arrest...the university prez decided to delete that. She's not really a fan of Bobby. Their GM Goin is....but he's moving on after this season and the new guy may not bow down to Huggs wishes as Goin has. It is a catch-22 for everyone involved. Huggins brought back the Bearcats from the garbage in the 1990s into a consistent tournament team. However, those teams are built on somewhat shady characters who are known more for their "thugness" than anything they've contributed off the court. They also have one of the worst graduation rates in the country....and many people feel that he cannot recreate his C-USA success in the demanding Big East. Does this mean the end of Huggins in Cincy? Hard to say. He could ride out his deal and head elsewhere [maybe to his alma mater West Virginia if Beline moves up to a cushier job]. Coaches in those upper-mid-major conferences [Atlantic 10, WAC, Mountain West, C-USA] may take a shot at him to get their programs off the ground.
*Speaking of the Big East....Temple [who the Big East essentially kicked out of their football conference] has agreed to join the Mid American Conference. Not a bad move for Temple in football....but a sad one for hoops. The Atlantic 10 isn't an elite hoops conference...but with Xavier, Dayton, GW, Charlotte, St Joe's and Richmond...they have a very nice stack of talented programs. If the A-10 could figure out how to dump St. Bonnie and Fordham [heck, La Salle too], they may turn into more of a bigger conference. It is a coup for the MAC, as having Temple in their conference ups their exposure on the East coast. For football, Temple gets to avoid the hell which is D-I independency.
*People are all of the sudden playing the game of "if you knew then what you know now....who would you pick #1 overall in 2003"? LeBron or Wade? I love what Wade is doing in Miami...as I was predicting before their rookie seasons. But, c'mon....you still have to go with LeBron. Aside from making a bone-headed decision to fire his agents....what has LeBron done to not keep his King title? Oh, yeah, he didn't make the playoffs. But could Wade have made the playoffs with the cast that surrounds LeBron? The media is giving a licking to LeBron just as they did on Melo....but all three of the guys will be All Stars for years to come. In a couple years, LeBron will either have a nice cast around him in Cleveland or he'll be set on another team [uh...Lakers?]. And, hey, Darko Milicic has a ring and none of those guys do. Ironic, eh?
*I wonder if Latrell Sprewell is rethinking his stance on the Timberwolves' preseason offer of 3-yrs and $21M?? He said he could barely take care of his family with that kind of money. I guess he'll be checking into a cardboard box after this season.
*Has an NFL franchise suffered the highs and lows as much as the Carolina Panthers? They hold the record for longest losing streak in a season....the 15 in a row they lost in their 2001 1-15 season. Two years later, they are in the Super Bowl. Last year....they were 1-7 in the first half of the season....and 6-2 in the second half. They've had one of their receivers convicted of murder [Rae Carruth], a running back gunned down by his wife [Fred Lane], their star QB quit on them [Kerry Collins], their original star and LB coach recently passed away from cancer [Sam Mills] and have had only two winning seasons in franchise history. Heading into the 2005 season, they'll lose their All Pro kicker [Sauerbaun] in a cap move that was also designed to rid them of a pain in the rump.....they lose All Pro linebacker Mark Fields due to his Hodgkins Disease returning....they lost their All Pro wide out [Muhammed] to free agency....and they have a steroid cloud hanging over their heads. But the team is still pretty good. Aside from Muhammed...their offense will be pretty intact, including getting back Steve Smith after missing him for 15 1/2 games last year. Their defense will be solid as usual....and they play in a division where only the Falcons are perceived as an elite team.
*I'm still laughing at Saved By The Blog's line of "Kevin Federline is the luckiest piece of white trash in the history of mankind." [Saved By The Blog]. He also has a hilarious pic of Steve Nash on his draft day. Dude looks like that actor Alan Cummings.
*I said this before the season....but don't sleep on the San Francisco Giants. Despite Barry not being around...the team has talent. They can hitand have good enough pitching to hold up. Not to mention that Felipe Alou is one of the better managers in the league. If Barry ever does come back...look out.
*MLB has give the city of Miami [or the area of South Florida] until June 9th to come up with a stadium plan or...........uh......or....uh. They didn't give any consequences for not getting a deal, but it is to be believed that if the Marlins wanted to bounce out of So-Flo than baseball won't stand in the way. Even if it is Las Vegas. Yep, To be honest, I would force the Florida Marlins to move to Tampa [they could keep their name] and force the Devil Rays to go to Vegas instead. Then the Vegas team would add a 5th team to the AL West and the AL East could stay at 4 teams and everyone would get even more Red Sox-Yankees games they crave.
*I really think that the "Big 4" commishes better wow Congress in their hearing or they will enforce a uniform drug policy that covers all sports....which is exactly what I think is the whole deal anyways. Doing this would cover not only professional sports, but amateur ones as well. While I don't think it should get into any kind of big raid....but I think putting scarlet letters on certain players that they cannot make a livelihood will be most effective. Just look how the scarlet letter has effect both Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds....and the image of Mark McGwire.
*The entry deadline has passed...and there were 66 underclassmen that declared for the NBA dratt. Most of those that didn't sign agents can return to college over the next few weeks. But, there are still some dumb people out there. While it is sometimes smart to just test the waters to get a feel of what you need to work on....you only can do that once. You can only put your name in and then pull back once. The next time you are in there. Case in point, LSU's Brandon Bass. He wasn't sure whether he should declare or not. If he declared [which he did], he had to stay in the draft no matter what. That's because he declared after last season as a freshman, foolishly, and then pulled back and stayed at LSU. If he hadn't had done that...he could easily declare this year...and if things weren't looking good he could return and try again next year. The poster child for this dumb move in 2005 is Kentucky's Randolph Morris. He had a marginally alright freshman season in Lexington...but nothing to make anyone drool. Next season he should have a chance to shine. He may still get to play a soph season in KY...but what happens after next season? If he declares, he must stay in the draft. Again...dumb decisions abound.
*How about this kid, Curtis Heroman, who also declared for the NBA Draft. Trouble is, he didn't play college ball. Well, sort of not. He played hoops at LSU....just not for the Tigers and not in an SEC tilt. He was on their intermural squad.
*Word is that UNC will move to the Big Sky Conference in 2006. Oh...not the UNC you think of. It is the University of Northern Colorado. UNC is also the home of the "Fighting Whiteys" intramural team.
*D'Angelo Williams' Heisman campaign has already begun. Why wouldn't it? I mean, he is one of the top backs in the country...but you gotta work overtime for people to take a long look at voting for a Conference USA player for Heisman. I mean, with the current Heisman winner still in school...as well as the main candidates from last year....this may be a tough sell.