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Buss & Kupchak Just Teased Laker Fans…Twice

by Akiem Bailum

On Twitter: @Li495Akiem

And as we know, no one likes to be teased, especially this much.

Remember back in your school days when there was someone you had a huge crush on and really wanted to talk to that person. Surprisingly, that person starts talking to you first and things start to go extremely well for about until you find you that he or she’s already taken.

Heart. Broken.

Laker fans can now relate.

A few days ago, we found out that the Los Angeles Lakers had indeed parted ways head coach Mike Brown after only their first 5 games. The Lake Show had become a boring infomercial as they had lost 4 of their first five in the regular season and went 0 for 8 in the preseason (if it means anything).

Laker brass had all but admitted that Mike Brown’s implementation of the “Princeton Offense” that involves continuous ball movement and spacing out was not compatible with this star-studded Laker squad.

With the unceremonious Brown-out taking place in LA, all eyes and indications seemed to turn to Phil Jackson. The number one question was did Phil even want to coach anymore. After numerous reported conversations Mitch Kupchak & Jim Buss had with Phil, the vibes were positive that Phil was preparing to come back. He even cancelled a speaking engagement in Chicago to prepare to return to the Laker bench.

Of course, when you are an 11-time champion in Phil Jackson, you come with a rather hefty price tag. Reportedly, he demanded $10 million a year, full power over basketball decisions, and the ability to take off the majority of road games (most likely to those games contested east of the state of Texas).

Phil clearly wanted the job. The fans were preparing for Phil to take the job. Reportedly, Dwight Howard even wanted Phil to get the job.

Phil didn’t get the job.

Instead, that went to former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni. The entire Southern California region spat out their morning coffee as they heard the news. So was Phil himself.

D’Antoni’s price tag isn’t as hefty as that of the 11-time champ. He’ll only be paid $12 million over 3 years (3 years guaranteed, 4th year being a team option).

Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, for whatever reason, just teased the entire Southern California region into believing that Phil Jackson would be returning to run things once again. If it’s one thing you don’t do, it’s tease Laker fans. Los Angeles is first-and-foremost a Laker town with no professional football team (for now) in that city. Many in Laker Nation are ticked enough that not all of the team’s games are available on TV in the region because not every cable company has agreed to carry their new network.

There’s been much speculation as to why Phil Jackson didn’t get the job. It could’ve been because the Triangle Offense was incompatible with Steve Nash. It could’ve been because his demands were too high.

And let’s not forget that whole thing about him dating Jeanie Buss. Even when he’s not visible, he’s still very close to the team.

If they felt the Triangle Offense wasn’t compatible with this cast of characters on this team, why even talk to or interview Phil? It’s clear that his relationship with the Buss family is so close-knit that they don’t know how to move on from him even if they want to. If they’re trying to move on from the Phil Jackson era, it’s admirable since he won’t want to coach forever, but the 11 championships are hard to pass up even if he wants more money.

Also, if Jim Buss didn’t give him the job because Jackson wanted to control the basketball making decisions, it’s clear that Jim Buss is nothing but a son playing with daddy’s toys.

Anyone who heard the Laker fans at the Staples Center on Friday Night knew that they had already made their choice with the chants of “We Want Phil”. Every indication was that they were going to get Phil. Given his track record in LA, that’s what makes this such an egregious tease.

That was only the first. The second is just around the corner.

Mike D’Antoni’s track record as a head coach is most remembered for his Phoenix Suns teams flaming out in the playoffs after having great regular seasons. D’Antoni was Nash’s coach in Phoenix. In 2005, they lost in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs—a team that actually did practice defense that year. In 2006, they’d lose in the postseason to the Dallas Mavericks.

D’Antoni’s style is to turn every basketball game into a track meet. The word “defense” is a foreign word to Mike D’Antoni.

That’s where’s the tease comes in. Every Laker game for the rest of the year just became the All-Star Game. D’Antoni’s style of ball will bring excitement, it’ll create highlight reels on Sports Center, and it will put fannies into the seats at Staples Center.

But, Laker fans are similar to fans of the Yankees or Manchester United. Anything less than a championship ring for the purple and gold is considered a failure of a season. D’Antoni’s track record does not exude much confidence that it’ll change in LA especially when he had those Phoenix Suns teams that looked like the league’s best team.

Plus, Kupchak and Buss have a bigger problem looming this summer if they fail to hoist a championship banner. Dwight Howard can leave Los Angeles after this year and they could find themselves in the exact same fix that the Orlando Magic did after this year. I saw when the media talked to Howard about the hire today and his body language didn’t look like that of someone who felt the team made the correct hire.

To make a long story short, if Howard doesn’t feel the Lakers are where he’ll win a championship, the Brooklyn Nets (where he really wants to be) are right there waiting.

Let the Showtime begin! Lights…Camera…Action! Take 1!

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Monday Morning Realist Week 3

by: Akiem Bailum, host of The Real Sports Talk’s “10 Minutes on the Clock”

 

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

 

 

This week, the NFL lost one of its most influential figures in Steve Sabol, the head of NFL Films. It is one of the major reasons why the NFL is the choice sport of Americans because he turned the highlights of NFL games into, almost, a cinematographic production that entertained football aficionados young and old. He will certainly be missed.

 

With several of this week’s game lasting the length of a Yankees/Red Sox game and going into overtime, Sabol will be looking down very proud of what will be a part of this week’s NFL Films highlight reels for this week.

 

Who Dat Did Dat Choke?

 

 

 

One common theme in sports is that for every great comeback, there’s an equally crushing collapse. The latest exhibit of that saying was today’s Kansas City Chiefs/New Orleans Saints matchup at New Orleans’ Mercedes Benz Superdome.

 

Both teams were 0-2 and in desperate need of an early season win. Both teams in their previous two matchups have given up (what is among) the most amount of points for a team with two losses so far. While New Orleans’ two losses were attributed to being a byproduct of their offseason adventures, the Chiefs’ two seemed to be more stunning as many had them as AFC West favorites.

 

Drew Brees & the Saints offense got off to a fast start by scoring 3 touchdowns & with 5:00 left in the 3rd quarter, the Saints had a 24-6 lead. It looked like New Orleans was back to their old selves and cruising to a blowout victory.

 

The Saints wouldn’t march in again to the end zone.

 

Instead, it was Kansas City who came back slowly, but surely. After a Saints kickoff, runningback Jamaal Charles let loose down the field to the end zone for a 91 yard score—the longest in Kansas City history. That lit a fire under KC as it gave them much needed momentum. Charles finished with more than 200 yards—a statistic that the Titans’ Chris Johnson would beg to have at this point. And outside of a Justin Houston safety, they won the game on the back (or should I say foot) of 4 field goals from Ryan Succop. Romeo Crennel also made some huge calls on 4th down. With all this, the Chiefs now pick up a much-needed victory sending the Saints to an 0-3 clip.

 

If anything can be deemed a lowlight, it was when replacement officials originally ruled a Shaun Draughn fumble and touchdown for the Saints’ Roman Harper when Draughn clearly was down.

 

In Brees’ post-game press conference, he took responsibility for where the team is right now, but also said “We’re running out of time.” They know the significance of being 0-3 in a division with the Atlanta Falcons in it. The truth of the matter is their defense has already given up 102 points in the first 3 games. That’s the biggest reason the Saints are 0-3, not Sean Payton’s absence. It may be having an effect on the collective psyche of the team, but Payton is an offensive guy. The problem is the defense—and why more Saints fans are calling for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s job.

 

Music City Miracle…Music City Madness

 

 

 

I’m writing this on the same night as the Emmy’s, so the Week 3 award for Best Game would likely go to an unlikely source….Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans. Jake Locker had a great game today throwing for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Johnson….not so much. The beat continued for him as he only mustered 24 yards on 14 carries. His new nickname is reportedly “CJLessThan1K”.

 

Matthew Stafford also had a great performance for the Lions. 33/42 for 278 & 1 touchdown. Calvin Johnson was Megatron today with his 10 catches, 164  yards, and 1 TD.

 

This was a game that included, late in the 1th quarter, a redux of the Music City Miracle from over a decade ago. Darius Reynaud threw a lateral pass to Tommie Campbell who took it in to the endzone 65 yards to make it 10-6 Titans.
Somewhere, Frank Wycheck and Kevin Dyson were smiling from ear to ear.

 

Wade Phillips probably winced as the original Music City Miracle lost him his head coaching job with the Buffalo Bills.

 

And after an onsides kick recovery, that opened the door for Shaun Hill to do his best impersonation of Doug Flutie. With time expiring in regulation, Hill launched a Hail Mary pass into the endzone where Titus Young was there to receive the long bomb. The extra point allowed Detroit to tie the game, sending it into overtime—where they lost 44-41 via a 26 yard field goal from Rob Bironas.

 

All that was missing was another Immaculate Reception. Or Tuck Rule…or a band on the field.

 

Hotter Than the Arizona Desert

 

 

 

Ok, raise your hand if you predicted in preseason that at the end of Week 3 the Arizona Cardinals would be 3-0 atop the AFC West….

 

Ok, put your hand down if you predicted this and aren’t from the state of Arizona….

 

Put your hand down, son…you’re from Beaufort, South Carolina.

 

In the Arizona Cardinals’ matchup vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cards won it as much as the Eagles gave it away. Prior to the game, the Eagles were -9 when it came to turnovers. The Eagles had to fix their ball control if they expected to maintain victories.

 

They committed 3 more turnovers against an Arizona defense that humbled Tom Brady last week. Brady was sacked last week by this defense 4 times.

 

Michael Vick was sacked 5 times by the defensive line of the Cardinals and was forced into some really bad decisions because the Eagles offensive line is flat-out awful. One of the turnovers was a fumble recovery from James Stevens who went the distance from 93 yards to make the score 24-0 at the end of the first half.

 

Give some credit to Kevin Kolb as well. He threw for 2 touchdowns, was 17/24 and 222 yards. Kolb outplayed Michael Vick. Having Larry Fitzgerald to throw to doesn’t hurt either as he had 9 catches for 114. I’ve always said the Cardinals could be postseason contenders if they got consistent quarterback play. The one year recently that they did with a rejuvenated Kurt Warner—they almost won the Super Bowl.

 

The Cards are now 3-0 for the first time since 1973.

 

 Not Living Up to the Hype

 

 

Not in the case of a team this time, but a game.

 

Coming into the week, the game of the week looked to be Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium. Matt Ryan & Philip Rivers have been looked at as 2 of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. If the Falcons were going to make a statement as to their Super Bowl aspirations, beating the Chargers would be a good way to do that.

 

They did that…and then some.

 

The game wasn’t much of a contest. San Diego didn’t score until the 3rd quarter (a Nate Kaeding FG) and the Rivers were clogged up from kickoff. 21/38 for 173 and 2 INTs—rookie year-esque numbers for Rivers.

 

Meanwhile, Matty Ice lived up to his name going 30/40 for 275, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. The Falcons proved themselves that for now they’re the best team in the NFC & are right there with the Houston Texans as one of the best teams in the league. Both Houston & Atlanta are 3-0. As for the Chargers, while only in Week 3, it will once again raise questions as to if this team is ready to play with the big boys of the NFL. Teams like the Falcons (or even in their own conference, the Ravens & Texans) are who they’ll have to get by if they have plans on booking flights to New Orleans this February.

 

They Won It For Torrey

 

 

 

Games like the New England Patriots & Baltimore Ravens matchup at M&T Bank Stadium are why many believe Sunday Night Football on NBC is the new Monday Night Football. Plenty of excitement, controversy, and emotion accompanied this one.

 

Prior to the game, Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith had received tragic word that his younger brother, Tevin James, had died in a motorcycle accident. He returned to his home in Virginia to attend to this heartbreaking family tragedy. Speculation then ran rampant as to if he’d play tonight for Baltimore.

 

He did play—and while not looked at earlier as much of an offensive threat, he was certainly the player of the week for Week 3. 6 receptions for 127 yards and 2 TDs. Joe Flacco looked to him 10 times. One couldn’t help but get flashbacks of 2003 on Monday Night Football when Brett Favre lost his dad & threw for 400 yards and 4 TDs at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum to beat the Raiders.

 

Clearly, the tragedy was a rallying point for the team as they wanted to win for Smith & his family.

 

Torrey Smith’s emotional performance turned out to be the difference as Baltimore beat New England by a final score of 31-30. That wasn’t before Lardarius Webb had a questionable call against him after what looked like a clean pick. He was assessed an illegal contact penalty for continuing to make contact with Wes Welker after 5 yards. For the rest of the game, the fans in Baltimore chanted “B*LLS***!” so loud it could’ve been heard in Annapolis.

 

Remember, that is a week after Joe Flacco ripped the replacement refs for saying they were affecting the integrity of the game. Not that the real refs are perfect, but there’s an issue with the replacement refs without a doubt. Players seem to be getting away with more contact and it’s leading to more injuries.

 

While the Ravens were victims of some bad calls, the Patriots feel they were the victim of one right at the end. With Joe Flacco driving down the field to win the game, it came down to a Justin Tucker field goal at the end. Of course, given that these two teams met in the AFC Championship Game last year, Ravens fans still get nightmares from seeing Billy Cundiff shank a chip shot that kept the Ravens from competing against the New York Giants in Indianapolis at the Super Bowl.

 

Tucker’s kick was hooked almost as badly as Cundiff’s, but he was at a closer distance, so his was barely good over the right upright as Baltimore won 31-30.

 

The Patriots seemed to think that the kick was not good and Bill Belichick tried to have some choice words with the referees at the end of the game.

 

I’d advise Belichick to do the same thing that I mentioned in last week’s Monday Morning Realist re: Joe Flacco—go to your boss. Bob Kraft is one of the owners that’s holding up a new deal with the original referees. If Belichick or other coaches or players have issues, explain this to your owners that’s playing hardball with the real referees.

 

As always, keep up with The Real Sports Talk for all the latest happenings & coverage of the NFL including The NFL Final Score with Tim & KJ!