Welcome ladies and gentlemen! It is finally here! MLB’s Opening Day!

At long last the baseball offseason is over. It’s time for teams to show the league and the nation what they have learned during their break. Here are some of my pre-season picks for this season and who I think will be I think will be in the World Series.

AL East

Boston wins the division since they spent the most money in the offseason. The higher the payroll, the better chances a team has to win the World Series. The past winners have proven that.

New York Yankees will make the postseason as the wild card.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox will win this division because they have the easiest inter-league schedule in the entire Major League. Shut Up Nick! assures that the White Sox will win this division

AL West

Texas Rangers have way too much experience after their improbable run to the World Series last year. Expect to see them in the post season again.

NL East

This division is easily the best in baseball in my opinion. Look for the Philadelphia Phillies to win the division with about 93-98 wins. I expect their bullpen to dominate hitters and their lineup to struggle hitting the ball. Utley is beat up and the rest of their hitters are getting old. Yet, they should have enough to hold off my favorite team and the most underrated team in the National League, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves should coast to 90 wins behind the bats of newly acquired Dan Uggla, young gun Jason Heyward, and the old balls, Chipper Jones. Jones should be ready to go and I expect a huge bounceback season from him to show the media that he’s still got it. Philly wins the division and Atlanta wins the wild card.

NL Central

I look for Cincinnati to win the division. No one in the media is picking them, but I think that Joey Votto proves he isn’t a one season mistake. Within this division, every team has a chance to win it, minus the Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis lost a valuable pitcher but can definitely expect Albert Pujols to have a monster contract year before he says screw you St. Louis and leaves them ala LeBron James. It’s gonna be “The Decision with Albert Pujols 2.0.”

NL West

Sorryboutcha San Francisco. I expect the LA Dodgers to win the division. New manager. New feel. New life. I expect the players to  play hard for Joe Mattingly on their way to the division title.

Bold Statement: The Atlanta Braves upset the Philadelphia Phillies on their way to the World Series, where they lose in a game 7 to the Boston Red Sox.

Thank you for reading Shut Up Nick! and as always, Go Braves!

When one says that “Bigger is Better,” I can’t agree with them in the terms of basketball and football. Bigger food portions? Can’t fight that when I eat it all. Anyhow, in sports, it has come to my attention that the sports world doesn’t need that extra portion sometimes.

Let’s take a closer look at things by starting with the NCAA College Football and their bowl system. In the past few years, the NCAA has tacked on several bowl games and it has ballooned up to a whopping 35 games. The top 70 teams make a bowl game to top off a season’s success. The problem is that teams can make a bowl game despite having a losing record, like finishing at 6-7 for example, since only 6 wins are required to become bowl eligible. What does this mean? More football does not mean it’s good football. Yes, some of the seats may be sold, but the majority of the seats are empty at the Little Caesar’s Bowl featuring a tasty matchup between Florida International and Toledo. Yawn. It’s time to cut these games and tell college football teams that you have to be actually had to have a winning and successful season to earn a bowl bid. Hopefully one day, it will become prestigious again to get invited to a bowl game, not expected.

My proposal? Let’s cut these games with the reasoning for low attendance and for the sake of good football. Warning: Some of the names of these games are all real and not made up….They are just stupid. And here are the bowls that we can get rid of.

1. The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Let’s get rid of this game because it usually is not a good game. This bowl is smart by getting big time mid major schools that aren’t in the power conferences to play in it every year. It’s usually not a good game and is typically very lopsided. Bad matchups and low attendance are reasons for it. Despite as cool of a city Las Vegas, bowls should be in warm weather. Let’s cut this one.

2. Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl: It’s in Detroit and typically features Central Michigan. No history and pageantry behind it as well.

3. Humanitarian Bowl: How would you like to be a player from well anywhere and you are bowl eligible. You are keeping your fingers crossed for a nice, warm place to celebrate your football season and word gets around to you that your team will be playing in Idaho! It’s just a bit of a downer..Cut it.

4. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Need I say more?

5. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

6. Meineke Care Care Bowl.

7. Poinsettia Bowl

8. BBVA Compass Bowl: It’s formerly known as the Papajohns.com Bowl in case you didn’t know. What you didn’t know this!?!?!

9. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.

There we have 9 games that we can get rid of. If I actually had some say in NCAA business, I would beg of them to get rid of some of these bowls. Bring back good Football.

What’s good Readers?

Yes, that was my lame attempt at acting like a professional basketball player who has fans…

Anyhow. Let’s take a look at the Trade Deadline. We have yet to analyze the moves.

1. The Portland TrailBlazers receive Gerald Wallace.

Charlotte Bobcats get 
• F Dante Cunningham
• C Joel Przybilla
• C Sean Marks
• 2011 first-round pick (from Hornets) and 2013 first-round pick
• Cash considerations

The Blazers decided to be buyers rather than sellers at the deadline, hoping that this would be the piece needed to give them hope in the playoffs. I can’t fight the move by them. They make smart trade deadline moves that seem to work out, as evident by the Marcus Camby move last year. The Bobcats have given away Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Hall of Fame Coach, Larry Brown. Quite an overhaul, considering all these players are playing out of their minds or talent level right now. Fans better hope Michael Jordan has a plan, something he hasn’t had in his executive years yet. The Bobcats seem doomed to move to Vancouver…Just a thought.

2.

Celtics get:
• 2017 second-round pick

Kings get:
• F-G Marquis Daniels
• Cash considerations

Not a bad move. Pretty pointless though considering Daniels is hurt. Must be to open up a spot on the bench for Troy Murphy. I’m interested to see what Danny Ainge does after the Big 3 breaks apart. Yes, they are old, but they’ve gotta give into age eventually!?!?!

3.

Suns get:
• G Aaron Brooks

Rockets get:
• G Goran Dragic
• Future first-round pick

Nice move by the rockets. Brooks wasn’t in their long term plans and they really wanted to open the floor for Kevin Martin. First round pick is always sexy as we know. The Suns get a nice, young point guard that can learn from Steve Nash and be their point guard of the future once Nash’s contract is up. Good moves by both sides.

4.

Thunder get:
• C Nazr Mohammed

Bobcats get:
• F D.J. White
• G Morris Peterson

Personally, as a Thunder fan, I love this move. White has a lot of talent and can flourish in the right situation. Peterson is a nice expiring contract and will give the Bobcats some nice cap space going into the summer offseason. The Thunder get a defensive big and get some needed height out of some players that were never going to see the floor..besides DJ in the D-League.

5.

Grizzlies get:
• F Shane Battier
• G Ish Smith

Rockets get:
• C Hasheem Thabeet
• Future first-round pick

Good move for both teams. The scrappy Memphis team gets another defensive mind player for their playoff push. I think the Grizz could be real scary in the playoffs against the Spurs or a top seed. Great move to get Battier. They also got rid of Thabeet, who needed a change in scenery and the Grizzlies needed to drop him in order to move on past their awful draft that year.

6.

Cavaliers get:
• C Semih Erden
• F Luke Harangody

Celtics get:
• 2013 second-round pick

Doesn’t make any sense for the Celtics…

7.

Cavaliers get:
• G Baron Davis
• 2011 first-round pick (from Clippers)

Clippers get:
• F Jamario Moon
• G Mo Williams

Good move for both teams. The Cavs need draft picks, the clippers wanted to dump Baron and his fat ass. He’s always overweight..I’m surprised he hasn’t eaten himself out of the league.

8.

Hawks get:
• G Kirk Hinrich
• F Hilton Armstrong

Wizards get:
• G Mike Bibby
• G Jordan Crawford
• G Maurice Evans
• 2011 first-round pick (from Hawks)

Great move by the wizards to get Crawford who has loads of talent but is extremely raw. Bibby is now on Boston. The Hawks dumped Bibby, who can’t defend worth his life, to get a real defender in Hinrich. Interesting move. Either way, the Hawks weren’t going to make damage in the post season.

9.

Thunder get:
• C Kendrick Perkins
• G Nate Robinson

Celtics get:
• F Jeff Green
• C Nenad Krstic
• Future first-round pick (from Thunder)

Celtics needed to get a wing defender to guard a member of the “Heatles” in the post season, yet gave up their crutch while doing so. Perk will bring tenacity to the Thunder defense, something that it has never had in the paint. Great move on the Thunder side, while it’s still yet to be seen if it’s a good move by Boston. If Boston wins the title, no one will question it. If they lose in the playoffs, Green will be blamed and the trade will have backfired.

What’s Up In the NBA?!?!

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Sports

Wow. I really don’t even know where to start in regards to this NBA trade deadline. So much has happened, I’m just blown away.

Let’s start at the trade that everyone was hoping would finally get done..in spite of the drama that ESPN created with the whole “Melo-drama.”

The 3 team trade that sent All Star and possible future Hall of Famer, Carmelo Anthony, to the New York Knickerbockers. It’s been extremely irritating as a sports fan since about June in regards to this story. This drama began last June at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding with an infamous toast by Chris Paul saying that ‘he would form a Big 3 in New York with Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire, that would be better suited for NBA Championships for many years to come.’ Chris Paul is one of my favorite players in the league, but was not thinking one bit when he made those comments. As we know, Amare went to the Knicks and has made them relevant on his own, bringing them up to over .500 in the standings. What Carmelo Anthony has done just makes me absolutely sick. His ego took the best of him when he decided to rip a perennial playoff contender apart so that he could win championships in a Knicks jersey. I’m sorry Spike Lee, but your team is no where near a Eastern Conference championship yet. Carmelo’s Ex-Nuggets were the best chance for Melo to get a ring around his finger. It’s sad to say that the NBA is no longer ran through the General Manager of the franchises for the most part and now resolves around what their star 20 year old, black athlete wants. It’s absolutely ridiculous because back in the day, Jordan would kill someone in their team offices if it were mentioned that they were going to acquire Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, or Patrick Ewing. It would have made those guys sick to their stomachs to play with Jordan. Where has the killer instinct gone? Why do players want to team up and win a championship together rather than rip the other’s heart out in the playoffs? It’s pathetic. Carmelo did give 7 years of his professional basketball career to Denver and Denver didn’t get a Championship contender together that had a real chance. It’s sad.  I definitely agree with Denver wanting to get Carmelo out of town so that they could avoid losing their star and becoming the next bottom feeders of the league like Cleveland and Toronto. Carmelo held the future of at least 10 people at stake. Chauncey Billups started his career in Denver, won a Championship in the Motor city with the Pistons, and came home to end his career. How’s he supposed to tell one of his best friends, George Karl, goodbye? How is he supposed to tell the fan base he loves, goodbye? I know that’s the business in the NBA but Billups deserved to finish his career in his home and not be just another piece that gets Carmelo his final wish.

My advice to small market NBA Teams? Don’t draft players with character problems or massive egos. Draft a guy like Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan. Get a high IQ basketball player, who cares about winning and beating the other guys rather than wussing out and joining them. I hope for Carmelo to utterly fail in New York. I hope Carmelo is unable to get out of the first round for the rest of his life in the playoffs. I hope he learns his lesson that he had something special in Denver with a great supporting cast, coach, cap space, and a fan base that adored him. Go away Carmelo. I’m fine with seeing you on billboards in the New York area, I just hope you are never raisning a banner in New York.

On to another issue, Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets. Wow. Words can’t describe how blown away I am. Deron Williams made Jerry Sloan throw his arms in the air and just say “I’m done with this kid!” and forced him into early retirement. Clearly this franchise was torn between “do we want Sloan? Our Hall of Fame Coach and Face of the Franchise for over two decades?” or “Should we side with our young all star point gaurd?” Utah just sent Deron Williams away to avoid becoming the 2012 drama of the year with the whole “Is he going to resign, will you trade him, what’s going to happen?” circus. That’s the word to describe what happened in Denver with Carmelo, Cleveland with Lebron aka ‘LeQuitter,’ and in Toronto with Chris “Fake Tough Guy” Bosh. Utah wanted to avoid the circus and show their fan base that no one player is larger than the franchise. That’s exactly what they did. Deron Williams found out about this trade this morning, just like America, on ESPN and SportsCenter. Pissed would be an understatement in how upset he was/is currently.

I applaud Utah. Yes, they just gave away the Northwest Division Title to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a couple years, but they didn’t want to become the small market team with an unhappy superstar looking to force his way to a certain team. The Jazz said screw you Deron, we don’t want your circus next year, and we are going to get one hell of a deal out of sending you and your problematic attitude away. Brilliant. Way to go Utah Front Office. New Orleans should take note if Chris Paul tries the exact same stunt. Small market teams need to stick together and prove to the NBA that they will not be pushed around and will not be contracted.

Just another day in the NBA…Insane.

Recently I was just messing around watching old NBA highlights on YouTube. I stumbled across a movie called Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team. Great documentary telling the story of the Seattle SuperSonics. It began by giving the history of the franchise and really showing a sports how dedicated this fan base was. Being an Oklahoma sports fan, an avid one I would say, I knew the Oklahoma side of the story. I knew how we got the Sonics franchise that later became the Oklahoma City Thunder, how Kevin Durant is a future Hall of Famer and how bright the future of the NBA in OKC looked. I had thought that since the city of Seattle and the state of Washington didn’t put money into KeyArena/a new successor facility that meant the fans weren’t interested in basketball anymore.

When Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz bought the franchise, he promised to fans that the best days were yet to come. As soon as he took over as owner of the Sonics, he traded away star and future Hall of Famer Gary “The Glove” Payton. He not only sent away the franchise star, but alienated the entire fan base. He prevented the team from getting better through working their way back up through the NBA chain. His ego and perceived image of what was going to work did not show results on the court. A fan base can only take so many losing seasons before they just stop caring altogether. Shultz sent bad vibes to the players and broke up a championship caliber team as soon as he arrived. He tried to get a new arena year in and year out. Every year he tried to go to the city and state governments since 2001 when he took over the franchise. It’s hard for a state to pony up millions of dollars to pay for half of the stadium costs when he wasn’t putting any real effort to make the team better. They Sonics had only one winning season since he bought the team. Not only did he alienate the fan base, but after doing everything he could to get a new arena. He did try as hard as a Seattle native could have tried to his defense. His downfall was selling the Seattle franchise to Clay Bennett and his group of business buddies from Oklahoma City. Shultz bought the franchise for 200 million dollars. It was valued at 234 million when he sold it. Bennett bought it for 350 million, almost 120 million more than valued price. Bennett is a smart business man and knew that he could take this team out of Seattle by alienating them even more, blowing up the roster, cutting costs, no advertising in the city, and by gutting the roster and getting draft picks that the franchise could use in their new city(OKC).

 

 

It’s Shultz fault for selling the team to out of towners. If he wanted to be respected and revered by the Seattle community, he would have sold the team for less money to Seattle natives. It’s quite unfortunate that Seattle, the nation’s 14th largest media market, doesn’t have a professional basketball team. Gary Payton has said time and time again that he will not have his jersey retired in Oklahoma City and that he will work to the end of the earth to make sure that Seattle gets another NBA team. He’s gonna have to work hard to get that stadium, that’s for sure. They need to convince the billionaires in Seattle to work together and build a privately owned arena that is suitable for large scaled conferences, professional hockey and of course the NBA. Convincing NBA Commisioner David Stern that Seattle is NBA ready may a task. Stern is bitter at Seattle fans for not building his league a new stadium. Stern doesn’t care that the team was in Seattle for 41 years, he just views the league as a business.

Here’s the documentary called Sonicsgate. It was won multiple sports movie of the year award and is something that every Oklahoma City Thunder fan should see. It’s a great insight into the sage that was the Relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

NFL Coaching Carousel

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Sports

What a regular to season to remember in the National Football League! From redemption stories, to disappointments, and concussions, this season has been anything but regular. What we expected to happen this season, didn’t. It felt like week in and week out, the unexpected happened. The NFL coaching carousel has never been as crazy as it has been this season. With a potential lockout on the horizon, NFL franchises are wanting to find their new head coach to lead them through the potential lockout, with the goal to be better when/if the 2011 season begins.

Let’s take a look the NFL Head Coaching Jobs. Starting by each division

NFC West-

Arizona Cardinals- Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt is definitely safe. Although the cardinals struggeled this season and failed to win arguably the easiest division in NFL history, Whisenhunt lead them to division titles and even a Super Bowl during his tenure there. Definitely safe.

Seattle Seahwaks- Head Coach Pete Carroll is absolutely safe. Rarely in the NFL do head coaches get just one year, especially one with the coaching success that he has had. Seattle has hitched their wagon to Carroll and plan to ride it and see where it leads them.

San Francisco 49ers- Already Fired Head Coach Mike Singletary. They want to win desperately and regain some respect. Singletary wasn’t the man for the job. He couldn’t pick a quarterback and when he did,  he just argued with them on the sidelines. He’ll make a great defensive coordinator somewhere in the league. Who can they hire? Well they want ideally Jim Harbaugh of Stanford. He’s done an incredible job with the Stanford football program. The 49ers would convince him that he wouldn’t have to move and that he needs a new challenge in the NFL. I believe Harbaugh stays in college at Stanford. It just seems too good to be true. I think they go after Tennessee head coach, Jeff Fisher.

St. Louis- Steve Spagnu0lo.  Safe. Safe. Safe. Lead them from 1-15 to either 7-9 or 8-8 depending on tonight’s game against the Seahawks.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles-Andy Reid. They love him in Philly….and they booed Santa Claus.

Washington Redskins- Mike Shanahan has had an awful year, but he’s safe. the Redskins have no better options than him.

Dallas Cowboys-They Fired Head Coach Wade Phillips earlier in the year. They have several options, but I believe that they will remove the interim title and make Jason Garrett the head coach. Otherwise, Jon Gruden may be an option. I’m 100% sure that Jerry Jones makes Garrett the head coach. He’s seen enough to know that Garrett is head coach material.

New York Football Giants- Head coach Tom Coughlin will return next year. He’s a great football coach and the Giants are aware of that. Expect minor tweaks to be made to this team in the offseason. Maybe Bring back Plaxico Burress? He’ll be out of jail and maybe can redeem himself like Mike Vick.

NFC North-

Chicago-Lovie Smith can expect a contract extension. Safe.

Green Bay Packers- Mike McCarthy is definitely safe. He’s kept the Packers relevant despite many injuries.

Minnesota Vikings. Expect to see interim head coach Leslie Frazer back next season. He’s the right man for the job.

Detroit Lions- Call me crazy but I think the Lions, lead by Jim Schwartz, are poised to have a nice season next year as long as the schedule is manageable. They need a healthy season from former number one pick, Matthew Stafford, but they are headed up sooner rather than later in my mind. Expect 8 or 9 wins at most. Call me Crazy.

NFC South-

Easiest Division to decide. Head coaches Mike Smith of Atlanta, Sean Payton of New Orleans, and Raheem Morris are all safe for years to come. Raheem Morris of Tampa Bay has filled this roster with talented rookies and can expect to be there for many years to come.

Carolina Panthers-John Fox’s contract expired and his time is now out in Carolina. He’s had a really good run and can expect to be a head coach somewhere next year no doubt. They need someone like a Jeff Fisher but probably won’t get him. There are no rumored coaches interested in the job. The appeal is that they will have the number one pick. Ideas are Jon Gruden, Jack Del Rio if he’s fired, Rob Ryan, or dark horse Mike Singletary.

AFC East-

Buffalo’s Chan Gailey, NY Jet’s Rex “I Have a Foot Fetish” Ryan, and arguably the best head coach in the league, Bill Belichick are all no brainers and staying in their current positions next year.

Miami Dolphins- Head Coach Tony Sparano can expect to be jobless by the end of the month. His players quit on him in the last few games and the Dolphins need a new leader. Look for Bill Cowher to be interested in the job. I think this is the job for him to get back into the NFL. It’s a good roster that needs some tweaks and Cowher is the man for the job. He can challenge the Jets and Pats for AFC East Supremacy.

AFC South-

Indianapolis Colts-Don’t need to talk about the AFC South champs.

Houston Texans- Expect Gary Kubiak to be back next season. He’ll be back next season according to NFL sources. He’s gotta get a new defensive coordinator. Mike Singletary maybe? That would be a perfect fit and may be the solution to Houston’s defensive problems.

Jacksonville Jaguars- Jack Del Rio was a dead man walking before this season. His Jags actually had a surprising season and I expect him to be back next season. The Jags don’t have any better options so they’ll keep him around and try to continue to build from last season.

Tennessee Titans- Jeff Fisher has been the face of the franchise since 1994 when they were in Houston. He’s lost control of the team though. He’s an extremely loyal coach and trusts veteran coaches and players and doesn’t change them up very often. I expect owner Bud Adams to let Jeff Fisher go. He’ll take the side of Vince Young in the Jeff Fisher/Vince Young debacle. No one knows who Bud Adams may be interested in hiring since it’s been so long since the franchise has had another head coach. Expect to see Jeff Fisher back somewhere as a head coach in the NFL next season, either in Minnesota, Denver, San Francisco, Miami or anywhere looking to upgrade to a proven NFL leader who is hungry for a Super Bowl.

AFC North-

Baltimore, Pittsburgh can both expect their head coaches to be back for many years to come.

Cincinnati Bengals- Expect Marvin Lewis to be gone next season. It’s time for this divorce. He lost control of the team with the whole Ochocinco and T.O. experiment. It’s time to move in a new direction. Expect the roster to be exploded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chad Ochocince, T.O, and Carson Palmer all to be gone next season. I think Marvin Lewis becomes the next head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. I expect them to hire outside the box. I’m going to go with John Fox, former/current Carolina Panthers head coach who has been fired as of yesterday. Most likely: John Fox. Dark horse:  Brad Childress.

Cleveland Browns- Expect Eric Mangini to be gone next year. President of the Browns, Mike Holmgren gave him a one year trial run and it didn’t work out. Candidates are Rob Ryan…and pretty much a bunch of no name coaches.

AFC West-

Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego all will keep their head coaches.

Denver Broncos- They need a face of their franchise, besides Tebow. They need to bring in a coach who has faith in Tim Tebow. They need to trade Otron to the highest bidder and try to build on Tebow. Dark horse for the job…Urban Meyer. How cool would a Florida reunion be in Denver and the NFL? It definitely would make the Denver media happy.

The King of the Crossover

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Sports

Recently, I was searching the main topics on the ESPN home page and came across the debut of Allen Iverson in a Turkish League. He accounted for 15 points for the Turkish team, Besiktas, in the loss to Hemofarm. It’s kind of saddening to see that Iverson is no longer on a team in the NBA. AI, who has a career average of 26.7 points per game, is one of the most prolific scorers of all time. The four time scoring champion of the NBA and former 2000-2001 NBA Most Valuable Player is now playing in Turkey.

It’s remarkably sad how his career has been derailed over the past 3 NBA season. Let’s start from the top. At age 17, a young Iverson was with some thugs at a local bowling alley is Hampton, Virginia. While hanging out at the alley, a shouting match broke out among Iverson’s gang and a group of white young men. Eventually a fight erupted and it became a whites vs. blacks match. Iverson allegedly hit a woman in the head with a chair. Iverson was convicted as an adult on the felony charge of maiming by the mob. Apparently it is a rare to hear that in Virginia, since this designed to fight lynching. Crazy as that is, rumor and Iverson told people that he left the alley as soon as the fight began. Iverson calimed that “That’s crazy! And what kind of man would I be to hit a girl in the head with a damn chair? I would rather have them say I hit a man with a chair, not no damn woman!”

The public support that Iverson received in Hampton was incredible. It became a major issue of race in the city. Blacks for Iverson and the white folks against him. Eventually, Iverson was sentenced with 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended. After Iverson spent four months in prison, Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, pardoned the young AI saying that there was not enough evidence. That was and will be for many years the biggest controversy in Hampton due to the racial tensions primarily.

A year after his whole controversial jail sentence, Iverson was recruited to Georgetown by the legendary coach John Thompson. AI left Georgetown after just two seasons. He was drafted first overall by the 76ers in the 1996 NBA draft, went on to win rookie of the year. He even crossed over the greatest basketball player of all-time in his rookie season. (Link below) Clearly AI was destined for greatness. One can only dream of crossing over Air Jordan. What would it be like to practically break Jordan’s ankles trying to steal the ball from you? Ask Iverson. He’s one of the only guys on the face of this planet that has just make “His Airness” look just plain silly.

AI went on to win multiple scoring titles, win an MVP, lead Philly to the NBA finals, and change the game of basketball. “The Answer,” as some people nicknamed him, wasn’t your normal face of the NBA type of person. His appearance was often criticized as being too thug. The tattoos, sagging jeans, the cornrows, the swagger just scarred people. His “thug friends,” constant cussing, fixed scowl, and hip hop clothing brought a change to the NBA. Some people thought he was a threatening black man with swagger. His cornrows were the first on anyone’s head in the NBA. He didn’t want to change his image. He wasn’t clean cut and didn’t want to wear a suit to and from game days. He was burned alive for not being a great leader to his team for not wanting to give his all at “practice.” He said “it’s not a game, not a game, we talking about practice.” He mentioned the word “practice” over 22 times in just a couple minute interview after a game. (For video check link below)

I believe we are all lucky that he never changed. It’s become standard for many ball players to wear the long protective sleeve that AI patented, the cornrows, and for players to bring the swagger to the basketball court. Iverson was the toughest basketball player I have ever seen in my life. He would get knocked down, injured, and take a physical beating every game yet would get back up and keep fighting. He’s definitely is one of the toughest pound for pound people on this planet.

Let’s fast forward to 2006, AI demanded a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. The franchise granted it to him and sent him to Denver. He deferred to Carmelo Anthony and they became a dominant duo in the NBA. The only problem was that they were never able to win any playoff series. After two seasons where the Nuggets imploded in the playoffs, they sent him packing to Detroit for Chauncey Billups and other compliment pieces. While the Nuggets flourished with Billups replacing Iverson, the Pistons struggled mightily with Iverson. Denver went on the push the eventual champion Los Angeles to six games in the Western Conference finals, much farther than they had made it with Iverson running the offense. Meanwhile, AI started strong scoring 20 points per game in Detroit, only to have back problems end his season early.

Iverson then was a free agent and signed with the Memphis Grizzlies and complained openly that he should not be coming off the bench in any situation. After several games, he left the team citing personal reasons. Reports came out that Iverson was about to be divorced by his long time wife and had built up a huge debt gambling. Stephen A. Smith, one of the smartest and most knowledgeable NBA reporters, said that Iverson was either going to “drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.” He had already been banned from casinos in Atlantic City and Detroit. With his life in shambles, AI turned back to Philadelphia to finish the 2009-2010 season. When his press conference came on the television, I realized how much Iverson loves the city of Philadelphia and how grateful he is to the franchise when he cried in tears of joy while announcing he would finish his career at home in Philly. On December 7, 2009, Iverson came back home to Philly in front of a amped up, sold out crowd at the Wachovia Center. It was only fitting that the game was against the team that sent his career into a downward spiral, the Denver Nuggets. Although the 76ers lost the game that night, AI was introduced and given a warm welcome home by everyone in the arena. Showing his thanks and dedication to the franchise, Iverson kissed the 76ers logo at mid-court and was happy to be home yet again. He finished off the season and has clearly gotten his life back into order somewhat. Apparently he is not longer drinking as much and re-found his mentor in John Thompson, his former college coach at Georgetown.

So why isn’t this guy in the NBA? Why is he playing in Turkey? Although his personality and ego will never allow him to be a bench player, why doesn’t an NBA team at least try to put him there and make him feel wanted. How can one of the top 25 all time greats not be playing in America when he can still contribute to a team? His attitude isn’t right some may say, or he still thinks he can play like he did when he was 25. Well if I was the GM for a NBA team that was already a playoff contender, I’d do anything in my powers to convince Iverson that he is wanted, that he can win the championship he has long deserved, that he can bring back glory to his name, that he can show his toughness on the NBA court once again. Convince Iverson that he can be the 6th man off of the bench and still make an impact. Tell him you will put him in the game in the fourth quarter and in clutch possessions near the end of games. Why would I want him on my team? Because he has heart and doesn’t just play for the paycheck, he plays to win. Although Iverson is only a shell of his former self, he can still cross over almost anyone in the league and make anyone look silly at any time of the game. How awesome would it have been if the Oklahoma City Thunder had signed AI? GM Sam Presti convinced him that he is best and most dangerous off of the bench. AI would have taken the pressure to score off of Kevin Durant and would have been the spark that could have pushed the Thunder to the NBA Finals.

I can only hope that Iverson gains his way back into the NBA. I hope he signs with a contender in the Western Conference not named the LA Lakers, thus finishes his career coming off the bench, with his ego checked, crossing over LeBron James and the new Big Three in the NBA Championship. It would only be a fitting ending for the King of the Crossover, Allen Iverson.