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It’s Time For The Magic To Trade Dwight Howard

The NBA Draft is coming up this week and that means many story lines for many teams will take a twist through trades and picks.  The biggest possible trade story leading up to the Draft is will the Magic trade Dwight Howard away for some great picks or even top level players.  I have no faith that the Magic will take advantage of teams wanting Howard and wanting him now.   Teams like the Houston Rockets are trading players and moving up in the 1st round with 3 picks in the top 20 as of Tuesday.  Howard’s contract is up in 2013 and the Rockets want him prior to his contract expiring.  The Magic might have a good opportunity to do something about their “Dwight Drama”.

Dwight Howard on draft day 2004 after being selected with the 1st overall pick by the Magic.
(Getty Images)

The Story of Dwight Howard and the Magic has been a complicated one.  The Magic drafted Howard out of high school in 2004 with the 1st overall pick.  Howard over the years has developed into one of the best big men in the game and has had some success with the team.  Howard led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals where they were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games.  The Magic have been contenders in the Eastern Conference for the last few years in large part to Howard.  Dwight Howard has however also brought a lot of controversy to Orlando with his talent.  He had a very public feud with the Magic’s former Head Coach Stan Van Gundy.  It got really ugly during last season and Van Gundy was fired earlier this summer.  Howard also brought drama near the trade deadline when he was not signing his clause to come back for his final year of his contract.  He ended up signing hours before the deadline and the Magic did not trade him.  It was a smart move for the Magic to put the pressure on Howard and to not trade him at the time when a trade for him would not yield enough in return for the Magic.

I say the time to pull the trigger is on draft night.  The Magic could possibly be offered some really good deals and should strongly consider every one they receive.  The Magic need not look to far into their past to be reminded why they should get rid of Howard before his contract expires.

In 1996 Shaq left the Magic for the Lakers in a similar situation where the team was not willing to give him exactly what he wanted and headed elsewhere.  Shaq left and the Magic had nothing to show for it, they would have gotten a mega trade if they would have just looked around instead of fooling themselves that they could resign him.

Dwight Howard has made it no secret that he would like to play for the soon to be Nets of Brooklyn or for the Dallas Mavericks.  The relationship between the Magic and Howard is just too volatile for it to continue.  The Magic for a long time have been fooling themselves again that like Shaq that they can resign the star.  I think there is no way he would sign with the Magic again even if the money was right.  Howard is an awesome talent but he is just not going to stay with the team any longer than he needs to. The Magic cannot afford to have Howard leave and get nothing in return.  He is too good of a talent and a player of his caliber could yield players that could build this team for the future. The Magic owe it to the city of Orlando and their fans to send Howard packing.  So as the saying goes “THE TIME IS NOW!”

Lebron Is Not Free From Scrutiny Yet

Lebron James with the one prize that eluded him for over 9 years.
(Photo By: David Dow/Getty Images)

So the craziest thing happened on Thursday night, well maybe it was not so crazy after all.  Lebron James and the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship over the Thunder.  James who is one of the best players in basketball captured his first NBA Title.  It should be no surprise that he won a ring but for many it is.  James has had many ups and downs during his 9 year career and had 2  failed Finals opportunities.  It was what he had done in those 9 years that made a lot of fans skeptical.  He should a lot of immaturity and also made a lot of bad decisions when the pressure was turned up.  He was able to overcome all of that but he still has not won the hearts of many.

Lebron showed how much he had grown up during this playoff run.  He not only had his best playoff games and stats ever but he also handled the loses and the dealings with the media better.  Now of course James is not the only player on the Heat but he is their focal point and as he goes so does the team.  The Heat are a talented group with two other superstars in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade plus a good cast of supporting players.  They can win without James but need him to win it all.  He came through big during this post season and we should be seeing more of this in the years to come.

The “James Haters” are still out there and they are showing everyone that they are not going anywhere.  In many ways James created a lot of this himself.  He turned a lot of people off during his time in Cleveland with his behavior during their failed post season runs.  His biggest offense would have to be the way he left Cleveland and let the world know where he was going.   In a live prime time special James from a Boys and Girls Club in Ohio told the world he would be going to…Maimi, really?  James may never let that one down.

Most of James’ faults in the past could have been put away with the Heat capturing the NBA Championship on Thursday.  Except there is one more thing lingering around.  When he went to Miami in 2010 the Heat had this ridiculous pep rally event to show off James and he said something that will haunt him probably until he retires.  The great Lebron told the fans of Miami that they were not only winning 1 championship but 6.  Yeah he really said that.  Whether that will happen is unlikely but even if it was he made a bad move by saying that.  Because he said that it takes away from every championship he will win until he reaches that number.  The anti-Lebron fans and media will not forget that anytime soon if ever.

Lebron has accomplished great things in the league and has finally got the championship monkey off of his back.  He still has a ways to go to clear his image.  If he continues to mature and wins another championship or two it is possible the haters will disappear.  If he doesn’t then Lebron will be remembered not only for his incredible talent but also being known as the most polarizing player in the history of the NBA and maybe even professional sports.

The Kings Cup

The Kings Game 2 star Jeff Carter celebrates with hockey’s most prized trophy the Stanley Cup.
(Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings shocked the sports world during this NHL postseason.  At a time when NHL coverage on the news and sports channels usually takes a back seat to what is happening in the NBA’s postseason,  the Kings had all of the attention.  On Monday night the Kings won Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils. It was   their first Stanley Cup trophy in the franchises 45 year history.

It was an amazing year for the Kings who began the year with not very high expectations.  Some figured they could make the playoffs but no one had any idea what was about to occur when the season kicked off last Fall.

The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses.  When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs.  Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed.  The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games.  It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001.  The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real.  It was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals.  The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.

There were high expectations for the Kings by the time they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.  They were so dominant and seemed to breeze through the first 3 rounds.  The Kings did not lose any road games during the first 3 rounds of the NHL postseason.  The Kings had about a week off before the Cup was to begin.  Some were worried they might lose the momentum they had built up in the previous month of play.  Momentum ended up not being a problem for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Stanley Cup Finals started on May 30th between the Kings and the Devils.  Game 1 took place in New Jersey and the sports world was on the edge of it seat to see if the Kings could keep up their incredible run and capture the cup.  The Kings took game 1 in overtime by a score of 2-1 with a goal from Anze Kopitar.  Game 2 was a similar story when both teams were tied 1-1 after 3 periods.  The Kings received a goal from Jeff Carter to win the game 2-1 over the Devils.

Games 3 and 4 took place in L.A. at the Staples Center.  The Kings would blow out the veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur and the Devils 4 goals to 0.  As game 4 approached it looked like the Kings would get the sweep and make NHL History not only for their playoff run but their Finals run as well.  With game 4 came disappointment came with a 3-1 lose as the series would then head back to New Jersey for game 5.

Game 5 was another disappointment with a close 2-1 lose.  But the good news was that the series was headed back to L.A. for game 6 and the Kings were only 1 win away from the Championship.

Game 6 brought an incredible blow out victory.  The Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick was named the series MVP for his great play during the Finals.  Quick also had a great postseason overall winning 16 games and only losing 4 over the month and a half playoff season. The Kings defeated the Devils 6-1 and sealed their place in NHL History as one of the most surprising champions to have ever come out of the NHL postseason.

This Stanley Cup victory will never be forgotten by the hockey world or the sports world for that matter.  The city of L.A. needed this victory at a time when the Lakers and Clippers both were knocked out of the NBA Playoffs early.  The city of L.A. got red hot over the Kings outstanding postseason run.  Many casual fans that disappeared when Wayne Gretzky left the team for the Rangers in the late 90’s were back.  The American Hockey scene needed this victory as well.  This could spark excitement and push the sport even further in the American Culture.

The Kings are as they proved a very talented and young team that could dominate the NHL for years to come.  I know that many fans will be waiting for next season to see if the Kings return to their 2012 playoff form.  But until then we should acknowledge how great of a team this was and how much of a story book playoff run this 2011-2012 Kings team had.  Long live the Kings!

NHL History That May Go Unseen By Many

The L.A. Kings and the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals
(Getty Images)

The L.A. Kings are charging through the Stanley Cup Finals this week.  The Kings are up on the New Jersey Devils by 3 games.  The Kings have the chance to sweep the Devils in game 4 on Wednesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.  If the Kings win the Stanley Cup they will be known as one of the greatest playoff teams in the history of the sport.  It has been an improbable run for the Kings but they have shown everyone what they can do on the ice during this post season.  A sweep would make the 2011-2012 Kings story and legacy even greater.  The unfortunate thing about game 4 is that many fans will not be able to watch the broadcast and will miss seeing NHL history made on live television.

Game 4 of the Cup will be aired on the NBC Sports Network (NBCS).  NBCS is in far fewer homes than most cable networks.  The first 2 games of the Stanley Cup aired on the main NBC Network, if needed games 5, 6 and 7 will also be on the Network channel.  Due to scheduling issues games 3 and 4 were relegated to the fledgeling sports network.

Late last year the NHL signed a 10 year deal with NBC.  It was a good deal for many reasons.  It will bring more nationally televised games to the American audience.  Weekly hockey nights air during the season.  The playoffs also receive great coverage between the NBC family of networks.  The down side is what we are witnessing this week.  One of the most important games of the series for both teams will largely go unseen.

This television deal is however a lot better than what was previously in place for the NHL.  Most of the games were televised on VS. which this year became NBCS.  The problem the NHL had on the VS. Network was that many fans did not get the channel in their homes.  Even though there has been a name change there has not been a big increase in homes that receive the channel.  At least the NHL does get a lot of games on National TV now via the main NBC Network.

The NHL had better television deals in the past that catered to the national audience.  During the 90’s the NHL had a deal with FOX and covered the NHL and the Stanley Cup Finals very well.  Probably the best deal they have ever had in the US was with ESPN.  Even though ESPN is a cable network, it has a very wide reach and many people have access to the channel.  The NHL also received a lot more coverage on the networks flagship show Sportscenter.  The NHL’s relationship ended after the 2003-2004 season.  ESPN has cut a lot of hockey coverage in the past few years.  Hockey has seen a drop in popularity in the US due to the way the television coverage has been in the last 7 years.

I understand that television deals are a very complicated thing.  Their however is no reason why the Stanley Cup finals should not be carried in it entirety on the NBC Network.  The NHL needs to get this situation changed so it no longer happens.  The early parts of the NHL Playoffs can and should be on all the networks under the NBC umbrella, not the Stanley Cup Finals.  It is a great tradition with a even greater history and should be treated as such.

If you get NBCS in your home, I suggest you watch and enjoy the greatness of the Stanley Cup Finals and the story of a great Kings team.  If you don’t get NBCS there is only one thing you can do,  Wait for the highlights.

Player Report: Bryce Harper’s 1st Month In The Bigs

Bryce Harper
(Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Highly touted Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper was called up to the big league ball club on April 28th.  He was drafted 1st overall in the 2010 June MLB draft.  Harper has had a lot of hype and promise around him ever since he was featured in a 2009 edition of Sports Illustrated magazine.  He has been called a future legend by many in the sports media.  Harper has also been called immature and egotistical during his 2011 Minor League run.  Now we get to see how the 19 year old phenom develops into what could be an incredible baseball player.

Bryce Harper Has been at the Major League level for a month now.  So I figured it is time to take a look at the numbers and see how he has done.  The stats mentioned are compiled from his first 31 games at the big league level and took place between the 28th of April and the 2nd of June.

Harper has had 115 appearances at the plate.  From those at bats he has 32 hits, 16 base on balls and has been struck out 21 times.  His batting average is at .278,  at the plate he has fared pretty well for a player that just got to the show.  He has shown some power amassing 10 extra base hits and knocking 4 ball out of the park.  He has produced a good number of runs with 21,  Harper has also 11 RBI’s.

His debut came on the 28th of April in Los Angeles when his National faced off against the Dodgers.  Harper went 1 for 3 that night, the hit was for a double and he also batted in a run.  The Dodgers won that game by a score of 4-3.

Harper’s best game at the plate came on May 2nd against the Arizona Diamondbacks at home.  Harper went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs and 1 RBI.

He has been a really good part of the Nationals offensive production.  He has also been an asset to the club in the field.  Harper was brought up through his amateur playing years as a catcher but once drafted was converted to an outfielder.  Harper currently occupies the Right Field and has a rocket arm and really good fielding.

The most publicized event for Harper came May 6th when the Nationals played the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phillies star pitcher Cole Hamels nailed Harper in the back with a pitch.  It looked intentional but Hamels left no doubt that it was on purpose when he admitted it after the game.  Harper handled the situation with all of the maturity in the world and shrugged it off.  When Harper was asked about it later he just said that they were both competitive players and sometimes that happens.

This last month of watching Bryce Harper play has shown us a few things.  He was indeed ready to be called up from the minor leagues.  He has been the player the Nationals need to continue to compete in the tough N.L. East.  He has played well on both the offensive and defensive side.  Most importantly he has shown that he can be as humble as he needs to be right now to develop and improve.  I believe Harper is going to continue to get better and in a couple of years could in fact be one of the best baseball players around.

UFC Champion Jon Jones Arrested For DUI

UFC Champion Jon “Bones” Jones
(Getty Images)

On Saturday morning at 5am EST Jon “Bones” Jones was arrested in Binghamton, New York and charged with Driving Under The Influence.  He reportedly crashed his Bentley into a pole and was arrested at the scene of the accident.  No other vehicles were involved in the accident.  Jones is from the nearby town of Ithica, New York.  Jones’ management has confirmed he was arrested for a DUI but have not confirmed the details.

Jones is currently the UFC’s Light heavy Weight Champion.  He last defended his title at last months UFC 145 in Atlanta.  He defeated challenger Rashad Evans at that event.

As of the moment Jones is slated to defend his title against former Pride and Strikeforce Champion Dan Henderson at UFC 151 in September.

There is no word yet from the UFC of what actions if any that the company will take.  This is not a good situation for the UFC from the get go.  The UFC will likely face pressure to take action.  That could mean a fine or even worse a suspension for Jones.  Jones is the one fighter who is very talented, very young and could carry the company through the decade if he can continue to stay healthy.  Although he is not very charismatic and has not proven to be a big draw on Pay Per View, he does have a lot of potential to sell them a lot of PPV buys in the Future.  The UFC’s primary source of revenue is on PPV.

The UFC has had nothing but problems when it comes to fighters who are booked on shows pulling out.  A lot events in the last year and a half have seen many fighters pull out due to injuries in training and in a few instances failed drug tests.  This may be one situation where a fighter has to be taken out do to bad decision making.

With the television ratings declining and their deal with FOX not looking so great, this is a terrible thing for the UFC to have to deal with.  The UFC President Dana White has never been one to shy away from talking about a situation.  I expect White to address this situation in the next week.

Bryce Harper Is Ready For The Big Leagues

Getty Images

The Washington Nationals have been playing great this year.  Surprising many, but the excitement has just begun.  On Friday the Nationals called up their 19 year old phenom Bryce Harper from Triple A Syracuse.  He was called up when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the DL this week.  Harper is set to make his MLB debut on Saturday when he will be placed in the line up for in a game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  Harper’s debut on Saturday is the most anticipated debut of any player since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.

Harper was thrust into the national spotlight in May of 2009 when he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.  He was touted as being the next big thing in baseball, and possibly one of the best baseball players ever.  Later the year he left high school at 16 years old to obtain his GED in time for the 2010 June Draft. He had a short stint at a junior college before the Nationals selected him 1st overall in the June Draft.

Harper has everything one needs to be a great player.  He also has all of the hype as well.  Although some have questioned his maturity during his time in the minors.  He has been called “spoiled”, and been said to have acted arrogant on a number of occasions.  This is nothing new for the sports world.  There have been many sports stars with bad reputations that have flourished to become hall of fame players.  I feel he will grow up a lot in the big leagues and will mature very quickly.  While he has played well in the minors he has usually needed time to get settled in at each level.  This may be no different as the jump from Triple A to the majors is a big one.  I think even if he does struggle in the beginning he will ultimately turn out to be an incredible player at the big league level.

The Nationals want to win and they want to do it now.  That is why they feel this call up is the right decision.  I totally agree with them bringing him up and putting him in the line up.  Saturday is going to be a big night for Harper and the Nationals, who finally get to reap the benefits of this highly touted and paid phenom.