Saturday, July 28, 2012


Team USA
Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE/ Getty Images

With the Olympics beginning today I had to reflect upon the recent comments made by a couple of the USA Men's Basketball team members.  Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have expressed their feelings regarding their ability to "beat" the 1992 Dream Team.  The first group of NBA players who were allowed to compete in the Olympics for their country. 

This has been an interesting debate recently and has lit a fire in me due to having watched that team religiously having just graduated from High School at that time.  The assembly of that team made the summer that much more enjoyable.  So it got me thinking about the hypothetical possibility of these two teams matching up and who would ultimately come out as a winner. 

To me the answer was a simple one.  The Dream Team would easily handle this group of "racehorses" for which Kobe has described them. 

He and LeBron James, who also made comments, and are going the back up their team as current members and they should say they can handle the Dream Team.  In a way they would be looked at as weak if they didn't show their confidence in their abilities and fellow teammates.  You lose serious street cred if you don't pump out your chest and show confidence and no fear.

Kobe is fearless and exudes confidence.  His comments and game show that.

The roster on the original Dream Team was stacked with future Hall of Famers of which only one player on that team is not in the Hall (Christian Laettner).  The team was lead by arguably the greatest and most competitive player in the history of basketball in Michael Jordan.  He started each and every game with Magic Johnson as his backcourt running mate.  They were joined by a rotation of Scottie Pippen/Chris Mullin, David Robinson/Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone/Charles Barkley as the players in the paint.  Along with Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, and John Stockton on the bench. 

This team was loaded with a massively huge frontcourt group and would easily dominate the post area.  The current Olympic team has one center in Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love as a power forward.  Ok Chandler was voted as the NBA's defensive player of the year but really that is your answer to Mr. Robinsons Neighborhood and others.  Tyson wouldn't even be in Robinson's same state let alone able to stay in his hood.  The sheer size and defensive ability of the Dream Team would allow the tenacity of the guards/small forwards to take chances and know they had the rim well defended for help.

The defensive pressure and intensity was much different back in the day than that of today.  Today's players like to "get theirs" and almost have defense as an afterthought.  This Dream Team would rather decimate and humiliate you and make sure you didn't score than to "get theirs".  

I like where LeBron is currently in his career having just hoisted the NBA championship but he still isn't at the level of Jordan especially at that time in Michael's career.  LeBron is a freak of nature with his Magic like ability and power game to go with it.  But Jordan was at his peak and I will take that over any player at any time in their career.  If the game was on the line and I needed someone to take the rock it will ALWAYS, I REPEAT, ALWAYS be Michael Jeffery Jordan.

Jordan is the ultimate competitor and would be licking his chops for this chance!

The current Olympians have some great young talent in LeBron, Keven Durant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Carmello Anthony, and Russell Westbrook.  They are fast and play at a sprinters pace.  They also rely a great deal on jump shots.  Even a great shooting team has off nights and with little to no interior game it leaves them very vulnerable. 

It has even been said by Coach K, who was an assistant coach with the 1992 Dream Team, that there are teams in this Olympic tournament that could beat them.  The average margin of victory for the original Dream Team was just shy of 44pts and was only trailing their opponents ONE time in the tournament.  This years team just recently won a game by 6pts. 

I realize the competition in 1992 was less then what the world has to offer now.  The players from their opposing countries in '92 were more star struck and wanting autographs and photos taken with Jordan, Magic, Bird, and company.  They were rock stars in every sense of the word and were treated as such. 

The countries playing now are well represented with NBA talent, (Tony Parker, Manu Ganobli, Pau/Marc Gasol, Tiago Spliter, Luol Deng, etc) and not worried about playing another "Dream Team" and feel they will have a great chance at success and winning.  When you are used to playing against these players on a nightly basis there really is no difference when you see them now other than pride in country.  I really don't call this group of USA players a Dream Team because it is assembled this way now regularly.  It is old hat.  The original was new and en vogue.

T. Parker and M. Gasol are gunning for this "Dream Team".

When asked about the comments made by Kobe, Jordan stated, "to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done... Remember now, they learned from us. We didn't learn from them."  The '92 Dream Team were the trend setters and this current team is following in their footsteps. 

This match up would be eerily similar to this past NBA Finals where OKC had the fast racehorse team and Miami had the experienced veteran team.  It takes teams and players time to develop and be able to have their time. 

For the 1992 Dream Team it was their time and a time for the ages.  They have since been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 as a team and this doesn't happen often. 

I think that speaks for itself. 

So if it was possible to match these two very talented teams up for a winner-takes-all-bragging-rights contest I think there really is only one possible outcome.

And it made Charles Barkley LOL at the thought anyone would pick the alternative.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brought to you by...

"...due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention PowerAde at each grace..."
- Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

I know what you are thinking but this may be where we are headed.  

The NBA yesterday approved the usage of advertising on their uniforms going forward and it has me thinking where this will ultimately go.  The league has approved a 2-inch-by-2-inch patch that will be placed on the shoulder of the team uniforms.  It could happen as early as this coming season. 

They are hoping to generate close to $100 million by selling the "ad space" on their uniforms for all 30 teams.  The NBA has a group of corporate sponsors, of which they will decide, will be added.  The teams won't have the ability to sell the space no matter the amount of money offered to an alternative sponsor.  The league has a relationship with Adidas who makes the jerseys and will also be putting the ad chosen on their jerseys sold for retail.  Seriously!?!  Do consumers of their favorite players jersey really want the logo of a sponsor on their jersey too?   That is what beer league softball uniforms look like.  Plus the players these days are so inked up having anything else distracting could lead to seizures. 

The "Birdman" would surely welcome additional swag to his jersey!

For this instance lets imagine a Chicago Bulls uniform with a patch on the shoulder of say, Toyota.  Or the classic Celtics unis with a patch like Lamisil.  A patch selling Athlete's Foot Remedy!  I just don't like it.  I am a purest in liking to see the uniform stand for something on its own.  Think for a second if "The Logo" himself Jerry West was playing with that on his jersey.  It just takes away from the image we all  have grown up with and having in our minds of that classic look.

 Another logo on THE logo???  Blasphemy! 

MLB's Bud Selig was asked yesterday, on the Waddle & Silvy Show, his opinion and he said, "You learn to never say never, but you know, with us (MLB), uniforms are really important.  They're history."  He also mentioned seeing a Cub uniform and remembering what it was like as a kid.  This is what I feel when I think the uniforms should stand alone.  I understand this is a business but where does it stop.  It is a VERY slippery slope they are embarking upon.  

The patch on the shoulder today.  The full length leg on the shorts tomorrow.  Designing a logo throughout their numbers on the jersey in the future.  It obviously all starts somewhere and then it moves to tweaking where to locate other ads.  Sports like NASCAR and the EURO soccer leagues have been loading up their cars, drivers, and jerseys with ads for years and you can hardly tell what's there.  It all becomes a jumbled mess.  The only thing they haven't put a logo on is the windshield.  Oh wait, I think I saw that once before too.

"He sold the windshield!"

It also brings up a problem with the players who will be wearing the jerseys.  What if the corporate sponsorship the league decides to add to their jersey is Coke and the player wearing the jersey represents Pepsi?  I can already see the player covering up the patch with black tape to make HIS corporate sponsor happy.  Don't tell me that won't cause a problem of epic proportions.  We all know money talks.

The NBA will certainly generate revenue in this regard as businesses will flock to have their name anywhere that millions of people will see it.  This league that has salaries in the multimillion dollar ranges for its elite players needs to make up the difference somewhere in an economy that is suffering right now.  And in order to keep up with the Joneses you have to be willing to change.

They have sold arena names and every part of the game is sponsored in some way so why not this way too.  They will probably sell the court and painted area someday also.  Heck, the White Sox changed the start of their games to 7:11pm for their corporate sponsor 7/11 a few years back.  Genius if you think about it.  You have to keep up and think of new ways too sell your brand. 
As Ricky Bobby learned from his daddy, "If you ain't first your last."
And in advertising that is always true. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Jabari, Denied!

Jabari Parker #1 ranked prospect in the land.              courtesy 

Wayne's Worlds Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar once asked a friend, "If your gonna spew, spew into this" for which he was referring to a minuscule Dixie cup.

I think Illini fans are gonna need something much larger than a Dixie cup to "spew in" after hearing the news from Jabari Parker today.

The Illini fans will once again have to get over another top in-state recruit rejecting the home state school for what they obviously feel is greener pastures. 

Jabari Parker, who Sports Illustrated has called the best high school basketball player since LeBron James, made his top list of schools and rounded it nicely to 10.

S.I. cover boy Jabari Parker.

And ever so embarrassingly the University of Illiniois Fighting Illini were not one of them.  They didn't make the cut.  They really weren't even left at the alter.  They were left as clean up crew for after the party. 

The fortunate schools who did have the pleasure of seeing their names in the tweet he sent went as follows:  BYU, DePaul, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Stanford.  Jabari did make clear they were in no certain order.  Read into that all you want.

As Illini basketball fans it was just another indication of where the program is at this time.  It is at its lowest point in a great long while.  To not even be listed in the final 10 schools speaks louder than my daughter when she has her headphones on.

 The Orange Krush turned blue with the Jabari news today.

It has been said Jabari had a good relationship with Bruce Weber and Jerrance Howard which began in the 5th grade.  There is a great deal to be said for built relationships and creating trust in an untrustworthy world.  The change in staff at Illinois did them no justice in his recruitment. 

The new staff was really hand-tied in their ability to do damage control.  I believe John Groce did what he could to build a relationship with Jabari but it just wasn't enough.  I think when Weber and Howard were gone so was Parker.  He may not have said it publicly but he was thinking it.   

I don't think realistically the Illini had any chance to land this super talented player even if Weber and Howard were still here.  I really don't think any of the teams he listed have any chance to land this super talented player away from a cut throat recruiter like John Calipari.  He has shown when he wants a player he lands them.  Bill Self or Tom Izzo have had  plenty of success recruiting superstars but will have trouble landing him over what Kentucky has to offer.

Coach Cal has plenty to smile about these days.  Is Jabari the reason?

Of the other schools it has been documented Jabari has a relationship built with DePaul assistant Billy Garrett which is surely why they are on the list.  Because if it really came down to level of national notoriety at this time for basketball programs the Illini are in much better shape then the Blue Demons. 

To see him list BYU in his group due to his faith as a Mormon was not shocking either.  This goes along with his wanting a relationship with his final school and what better relationship than with God and your faith.  I think selecting them among his final 10 schools reaffirms his strength in his faith and shows what kind of person he is.  He also has to decide if he will embark on a 2 year mormon mission and put those NBA dreams on hold.  I really don't see it happening but then again I didn't see the Illini not at least being in his top 10 either. 

The bottom line is Jabari is going where HE wants to and it is definitely not Illinois. 

I am sure in the long run fans will forget that he didn't come to Illinois as he plays his one year of college ball and then scrams for the riches of the NBA.  The Illini will alter their focus and allow themselves to further recruit players who WANT to be at Illinois and will be there for more than one year. 

I am a true believer in things in life happen for a reason.  It is hard to explain or understand at the time they happen but hopefully someday you figure it out. 

So Jabari won't be coming down state to Champaign.  Nor will the Orange Krush be rooting on the "next LeBron James".  And the sickened Illini faithful will have to wait once again for their savior. 

So finally I will leave you with one more meaningful interaction between Wayne and Garth in regards to what Illini fans are probably feeling like at this moment.

 Illini Nation will not be "Partying On" tonight that is for sure!

"Uhm, Wayne?  What do you do if every time you see this one incredible woman, you think you're gonna hurl?" 

"I say hurl.  If you blow chunks and she comes back, she's yours.  But if you spew and she bolts, then it was never meant to be."

Obviously Jabari was never meant to be!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Now the the calendar has flipped to July and we are all soaking up the heat from the hot, hot sun it is time for the baseball trade talks to heat up as well.  The July 31st trade deadline is weeks away but that time will come and go in an instant.  And the debates on who from your favorite team will be dealt and for what in return. 

Some teams have already struck deals with the White Sox landing Kevin Youkilis for their much needed hole at third base.  The Orioles went for added power in getting DH Jim Thome from the Phillies.  Houston traded today Carlos Lee to the Marlins to fill that void at first base.  The next person could be you if your not careful. 

Thome's power will be welcomed in Baltimore. 

Teams in both leagues will be looking to add either a closer, an experienced reliever, a starting pitcher, a power bat, and or a utility player that can play multiple positions. 

This year is especially difficult to decipher due to having added more wild card teams to the mix.  If you are Team X and are within striking distance of a coveted playoff spot then there might be more buyers this year.  Teams that are looking to sell could find themselves in better shape with where the market is. 

I am really looking forward to the next few weeks as my Chicago Cubs will hopefully be big players in the trading game.  The Cubs have plenty of players of which can be had for the right price.  Heck just about any player on this team should be available to help stock our depleted farm system. 

You have to tear it down before you can build it back up.  I believe in the plan Theo has in place.  I am just glad to finally HAVE a plan for the Cubs.  To many years without one.  Yeah we have had some good seasons in the past decade but just like LeBron it don't mean anything without that ring.

The Cubs have a group of players for which I believe are most coveted by other teams.  It all starts with their starting rotation. 

It is not a secret that Ryan Dempster will most likely be moved to someone.  He has been solid this season and just hasn't had the luck from the team or bullpen to cash in on more victories.  He eats innings and when you are in a pennant race late in the season the less you use your bullpen the better.  He is on the DL right now but people and pitchers have been dealt on the DL before (Jake Peavy).

Could be the final glove flip-flap in a Cubs uni for Dempster?

It would be nice to get some young arms in return and I would expect him to stay in the National League.  The Cubs will most likely eat most of his salary to end the year. 

The Cubs other starting pitcher Matt Garza is also well sought after.  I think there are plenty of teams in the AL East that would love to add Mr. Garza to their rotation.  Especially his old team the Tampa Bay Rays.  He is young at 28 and does have good stuff.  Getting some quality young talent out of the Rays farm system that has been soooo good the past few years would be golden.

The next most likely to be moved is someone Cubs fans have wanted gone for some time.  Alfonso Soriano.  His value will never be any higher than it is right now.  He has been great this past month or so and his numbers are pretty good at .270, 15hr, 46rbi.  I know he could help an American League team in a DH role.  His defense is, heck he doesn't play defense so his role will have to be purely offensive. 

I will say he carried the Cubs those first few years of his tenure here and we wouldn't have made the playoffs without him.  Maybe he can catch lightning in a bottle for a contender and who knows?  The return from teams won't be any top prospect but getting him out so a younger player can develop in the majors would be worth it.  And the Cubs will eat his salary for breakfast, lunch, and dinner unfortunately cause no other team will touch that mess.  Not even the Yanks.

The Cubs have another player that unfortunately we weren't able to trade a year ago.  You have to strike while the iron is hot and Carlos Marmol's value has plummeted to depths unknown.  He was one of the best closers in years past and his ability to strike out opponents was amazing.  His control now rivals that of Nuke LaLoosh and he doesn't quite have Crash Davis as his battery mate now does he.  It would just be nice to again move a veteran player for something in return so another young player can gain much needed experience.

Nuke & Crash...describes Marmol's control to a tee.

The Cubs can do this also with their role players they have now.  Teams constantly look at this time for "fits" to their team to complete the puzzle.  It doesn't always need to be the big name.  Actually you will probably see more middle the road to just off the road players traded than the alternative.  Guys like Jeff Baker or Reed Johnson are perfect examples of the kind of player who could be dealt.  They don't bring a great deal in return but teams value their experience and having someone like that to insert in a line-up or bring off the bench in key situations eases a managers mind. 

It also lets those players actually play for something rather than just play out the schedule. 

This is where the Cubs are now and in the next few years.  The building process will take time and I am in it for the long haul.  I hope the rest of the fan base is as patient.  The last championship was 1908 and to this point nothing else has worked.  Finishing second or dead last you still didn't win the World Series and that is the ultimate goal.

There will be many losses ahead and many headaches along the way. 

Lets just hope Theo's plan is the remedy.