Superbowl pick!!

After almost two weeks of waiting; Superbowl weekend is finally upon us. The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Arizona Cardinals in a match up of David versus Goliath. Mind you, this is nothing like last year’s Superbowl when the Giants faced off against the Patriots; several experts and fans are actually giving Arizona a chance in this one. The big question that will be answered on Sunday is how will the Steelers defense match up against the Cardinals offense. Arizona’s offense has put up points during the playoffs, but has also relied on its defense to force turnovers to get them more opportunities to score. Pittsburgh has relied on its vaunted defense all season to shut down opponents and keep games close for them to win it at the end. However, it seems that several are expecting the Steelers to blow out the Cards. But I beg to differ. This season, the Pittsburgh defense has faced five top notch receivers (one of them they saw repeatedly); and here is what those wide outs did in their respective games:

Andre Johnson 10 catches for 112 yards (Week 1)
Derrick Mason 8 catches for 137 yards (Week 4)
Plaxico Burress 3 catches for 15 yards (Week 8)
Reggie Wayne 6 catches for 114 yards (Week 10)
Randy Moss 4 catches for 45 yards (Week 13)
Derrick Mason 3 catches for 23 yards (Week 15)
Derrick Mason 3 catches for 41 yards (AFC title game)

What I take from those numbers is that a great receiver can get open against the Steelers defense. However, their defense does show the ability to adapt to the team after one meeting (which is irrelevant in this case because they have not faced Arizona this year). Because of all their zone blitzing, Pittsburgh will occasionally leave either a corner or a safety in a bad match up with a receiver. Most think that this is where Fitzgerald should get touches, but I would be inclined to believe that the whole defense will be cheating towards him; which should allow guys like Breaston and Boldin to find some openings. So I see Larry Fitzgerald making possibly one or two big plays but then rest of will have to come from the other receivers. That being said, even if Arizona gets its passing attack to perform adequately, there is no way they win the game if they are unable to stop the run. If Willie Parker is getting snuffed for 2 yard gains on every down, prepare yourself to induct Kurt Warner into the Hall. So as you can see, I am going with the Cards in a huge upset and Warner retires after the game. Believe it.
Quick note: Think about this for a sec, not only are both quarterbacks playing to win a Superbowl, but they are also playing to get into the Hall of Fame. Now this might seem ridiculous as a statement considering Ben Roethlisberger’s age; but it’s really not that ludicrous. Think about it, with that defense, Big Ben will win his fair share of games (regardless of his stats) and will probably make a couple more appearances in the AFC title game; people normally judge quarterbacks on wins people and Roethlisberger already has a bunch of them. So add all those wins with two Superbowl wins and he gets in down the road. Now regarding Warner, I touched on him around the midseason point pertaining to his legacy with another SB win. Warner won one of the best ever played Superbowl’s in 1999 against the Titans and then made another appearance in 2001 and lost to the Patriots. As it stands right now, look at Warner’s resume:
* #1 all time in passing yards per game at 259.9 yards per game
* #4 all time in passer rating at 93.8
* #3 all time in passes completed per game at 21.2
* #38 all time in passing yards
* 1999 & 2001 NFL MVP
* twice named 1st team All-Pro
* 2 Superbowl appearances
* 1 Superbowl win
* 1999 Superbowl MVP
add another Superbowl win and he’s in the Hall of Fame right?
Arizona wins 23-20

Last game

Last week's game was so uneventful that I completely forgot to metnion it. We won by 17. There. LOL

Remembering #3


The Houston Rockets went on the road and won a huge game in the Palace of Auburn Hills against the Pistons. Now normally, this in itself should be a big story; Artest and McGrady teaming up to take down the likes of Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson. However, something else caught my attention: AI’s fourth quarter performance. Look at the game’s boxscore : http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=290125008 . Nothing jump out at you right? Now look at his minutes, he played 34 minutes. Once again, nothing earth shattering until you remember that AI almost never sits. Well on this day, Iverson sat practically the entire fourth quarter. So his performance in the final quarter was squat. The Pistons preferred to go with Stuckey, Hamilton, Prince, Wallace and McDyess for most of the quarter. To Iverson’s credit, he was the team’s biggest cheerleader but was still visibly uncomfortable and distraught in the late stages of the game during timeouts. For years, I have argued that Iverson was a Hall of Famer but that his game was not conducive to winning a championship. Although I still feel the same way, I can’t imagine that this is what Dumars had in mind. So I bring the question: could AI be on his way out of town….again?!? Let me school you guys on the principles of NBA math 101: Expiring contract + player with talent = trade.
Let’s put this in practice: Allen Iverson’s contract + Allen Iverson’s game = trade.
But who would the Pistons be able to get IF they traded AI? Glad you asked. The Pistons could propose this three team trade: Iverson goes to Atlanta, Mike Bibby and Acie Law go to New York and Stephon Marbury goes to Detroit. This trade immediately solves the Pistons starting five issue and gives them a pretty good back up point guard. If you look at the finances of the deal, all three players involved in the trade have an expiring contract. So all three teams get the chance to shed salary at the end of year; in the meantime every team got better. Detroit has a solid point guard to sub in for Stuckey and possibly step up in the fourth quarter if needed while the Knicks get the prototypical point guard to run the D’Antoni offense that involves a good shooting point guard capable of making good decisions (by the way Law’s contract expires in 2010) and the Hawks get Iverson that helps them sell tickets and be a highflying playground team that could challenge the lower tier teams of the Eastern Conference come playoff time (just so you know, I ran the trade on ESPN.COM’s NBA trade machine just to make sure it worked, there you go http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=366~61~3219~509&teams=1~18~18~8&te=&cash=) . So the question is, should the Pistons pull the trigger on such a move? The truth is the former Georgetown Hoya does not fit with the Detroit team, and if the team truly wishes to contend for a title, they will need to change things a little. If not, come the month of May, don’t expect to hear DEE-TROIT BASKET-BALL!

Next game

Next game: Sunday January the 25th 2009.
SBG will try to get their 9th win of the season as we face off against a tough team called the Mid 30's. Don't let the name fool you, these guys can ball and play hard. Game at Pavillon Sportif Jean-Eudes @ 2:30pm.....

SBGTV

All Star weekend


I've heard several stories of what happens during NBA All Star weekend. Regardless of the city, the ambiance is said to be amazing. The athletes are seen in public places and are captured by numerous cameras and camera phones in the heart of the city. For one weekend, the city gets an incredible boost of hype as players and celebrities invade the hot spots. I bring this up because the NHL All Star game is this weekend in the heart of downtown Montreal. But here's the weird thing though: had one of my boys not mentioned it to me, I would have had no clue that it was happening this weekend. I have not seen anything in terms of publicity that would point out that the city was hosting such a huge event. The freaky thing is Montreal is a hockey city and it isn't something that you can forget. Every day, I conversate with someone that confronts me about not liking hockey or the Canadiens; hell I was shocked to learn that some of my friends were huge hockey fans. So make no mistake about it, Montreal is not a hockey town, it is the hockey town. That being said, is the sport of hockey run so badly that the league failed in marketing their midseason classic in the host city? Well it certainly seems as such to me. Perhaps the NHL could a little something from the other major sports leagues.
For more info on the Montreal Canadiens, read this:

SBG 8-1

The Silverback Gorillas went into last weekend with an undefeated 7-0 record. Unfortunately, we came out of the weekend with a 8-1 record after losing to Parasco 72-69 in Pointes-aux-Trembles on Saturday. The Parasco big man had a field day rebounding and scoring inside against our tired defense. Not to make excuses, but just stating the facts. We know we will see Parasco down the line and as usual it should make for some good drama. However, we rebounded on Sunday with a 105-74 win against Freshmen in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

One big thing came out of our two games this weekend: Qwest's haircut has taken his game to a new level. After pulling a Carmelo, and cutting his hair after a loss at NHL (he said he was going to cut his hair regardless), it seems as though Q has come into 2009 with a whole new swagger. He has decided to take the ball to the hole now with more authority and more conviction. Qwest is now attacking guys off the dribble like he used to do in 1999 (rest of the league should be scared). On Sunday, he attacked Freshmen to the point that they drifted away from him and gave him all the space in the world to shoot; as a result, Q dropped four three pointers in the fourth quarter alone. We're hoping Qwest's resurgence takes us all the way to the league title. Stay tuned

Championship Game Picks

After a perfect showing in the first round, I stumbled a little in the divisional round going 1-3. Nevertheless, I think I get it done this weekend in picking both title games. The road to the NFC Title game has taken some unexpected turns but here we are with a great match up. The AFC also had some upsets, but nothing shocking as all four teams this weekend hope to win and get closer to their ultimate goal. Let’s do this….












Philadelphia @ Arizona
The Eagles completely destroyed the Cardinals in their Thanksgiving game and that game was the one in which we saw Donovan McNabb rise from the dead. He came back from his benching to lead his team to what was at the time the biggest win of the season. Arizona on the other hand split their remaining regular season games after losing to Philadelphia with two huge blowout losses (21 point loss to Vikings and 40 points loss to Patriots). Consequently, several picked the Cards to falter in the playoffs while several hopped on the Eagles bandwagon (going so far as to compare them to last year’s Giants team) and proclaimed it their year. My best guess says that the majority of people will look for Philadelphia to advance. Mind you I am not the majority of people. Kurt Warner struggles with the football in bad weather such as cold temperatures, snow, rain and wind. Once the climate goes bad, so does Warner’s game; he tends to put the ball on the ground a lot. The forecast for this Sunday? Hot weather in a game that will be played at Arizona. All the blitzing that the Eagles do will leave Boldin and Fitzgerald matched up a few times one on one time with a corner without safety help. That will be a huge deciding factor in this one. Quick note: When you’ve been a losing franchise for a long time, your fans tend to have very low expectations. But once your losing franchise starts winning, your home crowd can carry your team to a whole different level. Anyone remember a few years ago when the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs and took apart the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks? Well the Golden State crowd carried that team in all of their home wins. Expect a crazy fan base on Sunday in Arizona with a boat load of bandwagon jumping celebrities attending the game. Rod Tidwell should be there along with Jerry Maguire to renegotiate Tidwell’s contract; Terrel Owens will make a cameo so he can jot down the plays that Arizona runs to get Fitzgerald open and then have them sent by UPS mail to Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett; expect Beckham to be there (seriously that dude is at every sporting event) and have a short interview in which he says although football is not rugby, he’s always been a Cardinals fan and Shaq will be in Toronto for a game against the Raptors but will be interviewed by ESPN’s Stuart Scott after the game:

Stuart Scott: How you doing big man? So I heard you got a prediction on the Philly-Arizona game?

Shaquille O’Neal: Yea, as you know I now live out in Phoenix, so I’m going with the home team.

Stuart Scott: Way to stay close to home. But I was told you had a shocking revelation for us. Was that it? Cuz I mean, Diesel, you never shortchange us!

Shaquille O’Neal: Yea yea, you know I always take care of you.

Stuart Scott: Yes indeed, so what’s up?

Shaquille O’Neal: Well you know Kobe is from the Philly area right? Although me and him never spoke, I’ll bet you right now that he’s an Eagles fan. So ask the Eagles how my ass tastes.

Stuart Scott: Diesel, we’re on live television here…..

Shaquille O’Neal starts freestyling:
“Today Kobe won’t do it without me,
Just like last year when he lost to KG;
Out in Arizona they call me B.I.G..
Yes just like the new Notorious movie;
Out in LA they call you Kid Kobe,
AKA Mr Me or better yet the Eagle Colorado pussy…
HA HA HA, get it? Eagle Colorado?
Kobe tell me how my …….”television signal cuts

Arizona wins 27-24















Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
You want a rivalry? I’ll give you a freakin rivalry! Let’s see if we have one on our hands
Divisional opponent that you see twice a year and hate: CHECK
Bad blood between both teams: CHECK
Game decided by refs that one team felt was stolen from them (everything counts in a rivalry): CHECK
Match up so hyped that all sports channels will replay highlights of their two previous games that were only decided by a total of 7 points: CHECK
Placing a bounty on a player of the other team : CHECK (Hines Ward)

I think this one qualifies. The Ravens won’t do what the Chargers did last week and wait for Roethlisberger to make a mistake. No sir. Rex Ryan (Ravens defensive coordinator) will throw defender after defender at him to tear his head off and have him carted off the field on a stretcher. The beauty of this game is that Dick Lebeau (Steelers defensive coordinator) will be doing the exact same thing to Joe Flacco. The two best defenses in the NFL going head to head for a third time this season with the winner going to the Superbowl. The thing about this game, no one picks rookie QBs to do well in the playoffs because it just doesn’t happen. So the idea here would be to pick Pittsburgh to win; everything else being equal between the teams, that’s the one big thing that stands out. That being said, Flacco is already in uncharted territory, and I think he does just enough to get the job done; kind of like what he did against Tennessee. The thing about this game is it needs no hyping, no one can pick a clear cut winner without hesitating at least a little and these teams will give us perhaps the best defensive game of the year with the outcome to be decided at the end. I can’t wait to see footage on Ray Lewis; he gives the best sound bytes of the NFL and possibly all professional sports. When he talks, regardless of what he says, I’m ready to go sack a quarterback; and I’ve never played football! So on the road, in Pittsburgh, the Sugar Rays prevail in a big game that will be replayed countless time on NFL Replay and ESPN Classic.
Baltimore wins 20-17

SBG'in

The Silverback Gorillas' next game will be on Saturday January the 17th @ Polyvalente Pointes-aux-Trembles. TIp off is at 6:30pm. This will be the first game since the holiday break and therefore some dudes might not be in the best of shape. We'll try to do our best as we face off against one of our toughest rivals in a gym we have not yet won in. Tune in for updates, or better yet come to the game.

SBG Productions (just always wanted to write that lol)

NFL Divisional Round Recap

Baltimore @ Tennessee
Pick: Baltimore wins 16-13
Reality: Baltimore won 13-10
There’s a scene in the movie Semi-Pro in which owner/coach/player Jackie Moon (played by Will Ferrell) is posting up some dude just outside the paint and keeps calling for the ball. Once the ball is thrown in to him, he throw right back to the guy on the wing saying he doesn’t want but once the wing player catches the ball he asks for it again and back and forth they go for a whole possession (we’re talking a good 20 seconds of back and forth passing people). In a nutshell, that was the game between the Titans and Ravens. Every time Tennessee got into scoring position in the red zone, they gave the ball right back to Baltimore whether by interception or fumble. In the end, the Ravens defense just kept bailing itself out of trouble and gave its offense enough chances that it could march down the field and kick the field goal to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Like the rapper Biggie, fans will look at the Titans and say shoulda could woulda……..


Arizona @ Carolina
Pick: Carolina wins 30-20
Reality: Arizona won 33-13
So the masses picked the Cards to lose to Atlanta and they won; then they were picked to lose in Carolina but won again; and now hosting the NFC Championship Game (say that out loud and see of anyone looks at you funny, seriously try it) the line opens up against Philadelphia as even. I just think it’s funny that a few weeks ago I was arguing with Philly that Kurt Warner might have a spot in the Hall of Fame because of his MVP trophy, his Superbowl MVP achievement and the possibility of being the only starting QB in the NFL not named Tom Brady to have multiple SB rings. Granted, Warner still has to defeat the Eagles to get to the big game but I liken him to Robert Downey Jr. Remember how big he used to be as an actor? Then he fell of the face of the earth (like Warner with the Rams, Giants and Cardinals) and then came back in full force and with style in the movies Iron Man and Tropic Thunder. Warner for his part got the team that was once the laughingstock of the NFL to win a division title, win their opening playoff game, win on the road in the divisional round and now host a conference championship game—quick side note: if this were baseball, we would impatiently be waiting for weekly urine samples of Warner—that his team actually has a chance of winning. Seriously, I wouldn’t believe this story if I saw it in a movie…..All that’s missing now is for Rod Tidwell to make it onto the field for the coin toss and I guarantee an Arizona win and trip to the SB.








Philadelphia @ NY Giants
Pick: NY Giants win 24-17
Reality: Philadelphia won 23-11
At this point, McNabb can throw out the CV in the trash, but just in case he screws up real bad in the next 4 weeks (NFC title game and possible Superbowl appearance) he will make sure to keep it updated so he can ditch the Eagles fans once he gets the chance. For my part, I am really rooting for McNabb to take a look at all his options once the season is up because no other superstar faces as much criticism and disrespect as much as Donovan McNabb.

McNabb CV
Played basketball and football at Syracuse University
Possess a Degree in Score Equality Studies
Here are my season highlights:
*21-33, 361 yards, 3 TDs vs St Louis in Week 1 (win)
*17-36, 194 yards, 3 TDs 1 INT vs NY Giants in Week 10 (loss)
*27-39, 260 yards, 4 TDs vs Arizona in Week 13 (win)
*19-30, 191 yards, TD vs NY Giants in Week 14 (win)
*12-21, 175 yards, 2 TD vs Dallas in Week 17 (win to get into playoffs)
*23-34, 300 yards, TD, INT vs Minnesota (win to advance to divisional round)
*22-40, 217 yards, TD pass, TD run, 2 INTs vs NY Giants (win to advance to NFC title game)
*Extremely resilient as you can see by my success in one of the worst sports towns in the US (possibly the worst)
*Can and will work with anyone; I got along with T.O. for a whole year which says a lot about me
*Loyal to a fault; was so good for so long in Philly that I became the bad guy because of the expectations I created for myself and the team
*When I say Philadelphia sports figures, you think of Rocky Balboa, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Eric Lindros, Allen Iverson, Donovan McNabb.
*NFC Title game appearances without Terrel Owens: 5
*NFC Title game appearances with TO: 0 (some of you might point to that Superbowl year, but Owens didn’t play in the playoffs; he only played in the SB)
*Interviews on TV in which I’m crying for more attention and almost disregarding the team: 0
Additional references shall be provided upon request


San Diego @ Pittsburgh
Pick: San Diego wins 20-17
Reality: Pittsburgh won 35-24
Here’s an a rhetorical question for you: if Ben Roethlisberger is just standing in the pocket thinking about what he’s going to eat after the game while making his reads down the field because he is not getting pressured (and is completing long balls down the field), what’s stopping you from bringing the house at him when you know he has a tendency to hold on to the ball? This drove me crazy as I was watching the game. The Chargers kept sending four or at times five guys after Big Ben without success; then throw everyone you have at him, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, safety, corner, the team mascot, the public relations person, the GM, the punter, the kicker, defensive coordinator, the offensive coordinator, the injured (and in street clothes) LaDainian Tomlinson, the guy that drove the Chargers bus, the guy that flew the plane from San Diego to Pittsburgh. You get my drift? With your season hanging in the balance, you have to explore every possibility and San Diego did not. The Steelers on the other hand did exactly what they needed to do. The Chargers were limited to 17 seconds worth of time possession in the third quarter; there goes the game; thanks for coming. The Steelers looked like the best overall team left in the playoffs; next week’s AFC Title game should be a great one.

NFL Playoff Picks

After going 4-0 on wildcard weekend, ladies and gentlemen I’m back! A lot of skeptics out there say that I got lucky which is quite possible but I might as well try to ride out that lucky streak right? Without further ado, this weeks playoff picks.

Baltimore (11-5) @ Tennessee (13-3)
People seem to forget that through most of the season, Tennessee was the most feared defense in the NFL with their ability to attack the quarterback. I remember watching a Titans game this season and thinking to myself that the quarterback looked as helpless the Joker’s first victim in the Dark Knight. However, in recent weeks, the Titans hard hitting defense has been somewhat forgotten because of the more “glamorous” Baltimore defense. The Ravens ability to produce points with their defense has the rest of the league raving about them and with good reason. This weekend, the two defenses collide and the one that forces the key mistake or mistakes will probably get the win. Although Tennessee’s front four has been dominant all year, I’d rather put my money on the dude. Who is the dude? The dude is someone like Michael Jordan, Jay-Z, Usher, LeBron James, Sean Combs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Walton and Flavor Flav; basically he’s the best at what he does (Flavor Flav is the best at looking a fool in case you wondering about his credentials for the list). Baltimore has two of those: Sugar Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Remember the movie Above the Rim? Duane Martin’s team had the dude. Any Given Sunday had Steamin’ Willie Beamin. Last year’s Superbowl champs (NY Giants) had Eli Manning and Michael Strahan. The champs from the year before (Indianapolis) had Peyton Manning. Who does Tennessee have? While you’re busy trying to figure that out, pencil the Ravens into the AFC Championship game.
Baltimore wins 16-13

Arizona (9-7) @ Carolina (12-4)
Imagine this completely hypothetical scenario: you just recently began working for Star Choice (Canadian satellite company) as a sales rep. Your job requires you to make presentations to huge companies on the services you offer with the hope of getting them to purchase in bulk quantity. Your goal is to get 20 companies to sign up with you by the end of the year or else your work year is considered a failure thus resulting in no bonus pay out. In addition, it gets tougher to sell your products the more you advance in the calendar year because of the weather conditions (tougher road travel and installations are more complicated). Now by November 30th of the year in question, you get your 15th client; two weeks later, so around December 14th you get your 16th client. So you start chest bumping with your boss, slapping high fives and grab a few brews because you’re close and you’ve never made it to this level before. So Star Choice is fairly happy with your output. On the other hand, you have Comcast that is competing with you and has the same objective but keeps their focus. Instead of wasting time celebrating an expected sale, they are still hard at work trying to get new clients. So who do you think has the best chance of getting 20 companies to sign with them? It has to be Comcast right? Well Comcast is Carolina and Star Choice is Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals celebrated last week’s victory against the Falcons like a Superbowl win. So you have to imagine that the season is over from their perspective right?
Carolina wins 30-20



Philadelphia (9-6-1) @ NY Giants (12-4)
A few weeks ago, Philadelphia settled for a 13-13 tie against the Cincinnati Bengals, here are some of the reactions that followed the game by Eagles fans on radio shows:
“We’re tired of Donovan, get him out of here”.
“How could he not know the rules?”
“We don’t need Donovan anymore”

A few weeks later, a rejuvenated McNabb has led his team to the playoffs with a win against the Vikings and now Eagles fans want the Hall of Fame renamed the Hall of Donovan, the McNabb Temple or the Hall of McFame. All of a sudden, the Philadelphia faithful think they are headed for a Superbowl berth. Well let me tell you, Eagles fans are more delusional then the women they bring on the Maury show (the guy proves he’s a deadbeat, and you think that a paternity test proving the child is his will suddenly make him a saint? Get with the program ladies, these nukkas don’t care, they just want the free trip to the show). Expect the Giants to dominate the game but the score will give you the impression the game was close because of a final touchdown drive that will make the score more respectable. I’m still on the Donovan McNabb Curriculum Vitae watch….
NY Giants win 24-17


San Diego (8-8) @ Pittsburgh (12-4)
All season, I’ve been telling people that Roethlisberger would not be able to hold up during the year because of all the hits that he keeps taking due to his offensive line and his refusal to get rid of the ball. In the last game of the regular season, we saw Big Ben go down with a concussion. And here we are two weeks later ; and he will be under center taking snaps. I’m not saying he can’t pull it off, but is this really the ideal situation? Put it this way, if you had to rob a bank right now Joker style; would you do it with a former boxer that took too many hits to the head (think Rocky Balboa) knowing he might not physically be able to perform but also could be having flashbacks that he’s in the ring during the heist? So with that in mind, you go with the dude that’s played quarterback the best this season: Philip Rivers. And by the way, I just can’t bring myself to pick the Steelers, people say they know how to win but I’d rather say they’ve caught some lucky breaks (the play that was called a touchdown against the Ravens at the end of the game on third down when it was not a touchdown is a great example) and that luck runs out real soon. Quick note: What happens if the Chargers make or actually win the Superbowl with LaDainian Tomlinson watching in street clothes while Darren Sproles is named Superbowl MVP? Remember, Sproles is a free agent. So would San Diego consider cutting Tomlinson “Shaun Alexander style”? Couldn’t you see Tomlinson trying to sabotage his team’s playoff run? Also, keep in mind that San Diego’s best defensive player (Shawn Merriman) has been sidelined since Week 1. Although football is a completely different game then basketball, try to imagine the Celtics making the playoffs and winning their first round matchup as the #3 seed without Kevin Garnett. Wouldn’t that impress you at least a little?
San Diego wins 20-17

A Path to Greatness: Denver Nuggets

Eminem once had what was said to be a feud with Benzino (circa 2003) on the count of Benzino deciding that he did not like Em because Slim Shady’s sales outweighed his. Back then, Eminem was on top of the game and people just couldn’t get enough of his candid humor in his rap songs. His ascension led him to be on the song Renegade with Jay-Z (in the same year as the Benzino beef); and most people swear that Marshall outperformed Hov on the track. At first, my intent was merely to use the Eminem-Benzino situation as a historical reference, but then I realized how much he actually fit with the post itself. Eminem’s had drama throughtout his life and throughout his rap career. Between his relationship with his mom, being blackballed by the media and his well publicized problems with his then wife Kim; the Slim Shady’s seen it all. Marshall Mathers life story is somewhat similar to that of Carmelo Anthony. Since being drafted in 2003 after winning a national championship at Syracuse, Melo has been painted as the poster boy for everything wrong about professional sports. Think about it, his appearance in a documentary about guys from his old hood (the Stop Snitchin’ documentary) was almost as controversial as Mike Vick’s trial (which is ridiculous). In addition, Anthony had that falling out with Larry Brown in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and most recently Melo was called a pussy for sucker punching a Knicks player (Jared Jeffries I think) at Madison Square Garden and then sprinting backwards faster then Usain Bolt (can’t say I disagree with the assessment of the media on that one though). But here’s the thing though, if you win, the public will forgive almost anything. Think of guys like Michael Irvin, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady; win and all is forgiven. So essentially, Melo’s biggest transgression is his inability to get his team at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Year after year, Anthony’s Nuggets have made it to the playoffs only to lose badly (while 2003 draft classmate LeBron James had made it to the Finals once and Dwyane Wade has won a title) in the opening round. The Denver Nuggets record in the playoffs since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony is 3-16; take a look at the series recaps:
Lost to 4-1 Minnesota in first round;
Lost 4-1 to Los Angeles Clippers in first round;
Lost 4-1 to San Antonio in first round;
Lost 4-0 to Los Angeles Lakers in first round.

Now couple that with Carmelo’s averages:
Career regular season averages: 24.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 46.1 fg%
Career playoff averages: 21.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 38.9 fg%

If I were a Nuggets fan, I would be unforgiving as well towards the team; not because of the first round losses, but rather because they have not been able to compete in the playoffs. The Nuggets thought that they would be able to contend for a championship by bringing in Iverson , but that coincides with the last two playoff appearances (versus the Spurs and Lakers). After seeing the lack of success of their group, Denver management decided to retool the team somewhat and trade away Marcus Camby (but kept Nene and Kenyon Martin; figure that one out). The next move afterwards was to ship out Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups. The move has made even the most skeptical of fans start to take interest in what’s happening in the Mile High city. The trade for Billups has changed the make up of the team; they no longer need to rely on a frenetic pace to beat teams, instead they can now play in the halfcourt because they have one of the best point guards in the league setting up shop for them. Billups has made sure that Carmelo is the guy; and not the B option like he was when Iverson was around. With the pecking order now established, everybody gets their shots and no one can complain. The Denver Nuggets are no longer a Rucker League team, they are an NBA basketball team that relies on set halfcourt offense instead of one on one play with the first guy touching it getting to shoot (yes I’m talking to you J.R. Smith). The result is a 25-12 team which is currently third in the Western Conference. The Denver offense is 3rd in points per game produced but only 21st in points per game allowed. Obviously they have strides to make on defense but the team has improved enough to be considered a legitimate contender.
However, if Denver hopes to advance in the playoffs, they will need for Carmelo Anthony to take his game to another level; I’m talking about “Eminem writing the song Stan” level, talking about Eminem freestyling on the set of 8 Mile against the extras from the movie and killing the dudes there (in the special features on the DVD). In other words, Melo has to be able to rebound better, pass better, defend better, lead better and make plays in the clutch (not just scoring) to get his team further then its ever been. The world has watched a new generation of stars composed of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul and Deron Williams elevate their games and play big when their biggest was needed in the playoffs (win or lose); the same can only be said of Carmelo Anthony when playing with Team USA. The day we see the Melo that we saw playing in red, white and blue playing like that in the powder blue and gold; the Nuggets will become a very good team possibly a great one in this current NBA. Let’s hope we see it in this year’s NBA playoffs. Quick side note: It makes absolutely no sense right now to be talking about playoffs matchups, but something tells me that Denver might face off against Houston. So we’d have the “first round bust” playoff series. McGrady and Yao have never been out of the first round, and same applies for Anthony. Mind you, the Artest-Anothny battle would be one for the ages. Just keep an eye on that for now, Houston is the seventh seed in the Western Conference and might actually stay there. Let’s hope we get that as a first round series.

NFL Wildcard Picks

Atlanta (11-5) @ Arizona (9-7)
The obvious game. You know, the game where the pick just seems completely obvious for reasons that make a boat load of sense. You know, reasons like: Arizona’s sucked since they clinched their playoff spot, they can’t run the ball, their defense is aight but not AIGHT, Atlanta can pound the ball and control the clock, they pressure the quarterback well and have built their record by beating good teams in the NFL. So what gives then? Well folks, when a game seems too obvious, that’s because it is. Matt Ryan has led his team to a very good season but picking a rookie quarterback on the road in the playoffs is a big (insert expletive) question mark. Kurt Warner usually struggles in bad weather; and I’m being kind when I say he struggles. When faced with bad weather, Warner is worse then a an incarcerated boxer trying to throw a fight; he repeatedly fumbles and misses his open receivers. The forecast for Saturday mind you is partially cloudy with a 10% percent chance of rain. So essentially, Warner should be able to have a good performance and complete long balls to Boldin and Fitzgerald. Funny thing is I was going to pick Atlanta to win at first but something troubled me about the pick. You'll get the answer on what it is that troubled if you keep reading.
Arizona wins 31-27

Indianapolis (12-4) @ San Diego (8-8)
Chicago Bulls vs New York Knicks; Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield; Prodigy of Mobb Deep vs any other rapper; Dylan from Making the Band vs Puffy; Mike Vick vs State of Virgina; loud black men vs paternity test and/or lie detector test on Maury Show and Randy Moss vs any corner in the NFL. No matter how good you are, there is always someone else that just seems to have your number. Indianapolis has lost three out of their last four games against San Diego with the last lost coming in last year's divisional playoff game. The Chargers usually beat the Colts in these tight games that seem as though they could have gone either way; but the reality is that they almost always control the tempo of the game. They run the ball well against Indy, always set up good screen plays and know when to go play-action. As a Colts homer, I have become accustomed to seeing this. However, the one thing we have on our side is that Norv Turner is not coaching us. If Indy figures out how to run the ball in this one, they win. However, after 16 games of not being able to rush the ball adequately, I have to think that the Colts go home early again.
San Diego wins 27-24

Philadelphia (9-6-1) @ Minnesota (10-6)
Anyone remember what happend on the "Best of Both Worlds Tour"? Let me refresh you guys' memory. Jay-Z and R. Kelly decided to collaborate together to bring in hip hop and R&B together in one album and promote it by performing shows throughout the country. When the tour hit Madison Square Garden, Kellz left the stage because he saw people in the audience carrying guns. Eventually it began to sound as an excuse as details started to come out stating that both artists seemed to have somewhat of a rift. Their beef can be summed up in one sentence: "Lemme do me on the tour and make sure I get the bigger cut." Although none of them never uttered such a thing, the issue of contention came down to money and who got the biggest shine on stage. This was a complete mismatch from the start; imagine Michael Jordan playing in the same backcourt as Kobe Bryant, just not happening for obvious reasons but people thought that they would be able to get it done. Fast forward to this weekend and it's the same thing. Several people are picking the Vikings to beat out the Eagles. The premise behind the pick makes sense: home team that plays in a dome, Philadelphia is good but not that good, Adrian Peterson is the most feared running back in the league and Minnesota plays the best run defense in the NFL. So people get fooled into thinking that the Vikes match up well with the Eagles until you realize that Philly will limit the rushing production of Minny, the Eagles don't run the ball and Tarvaris Jackson will face more blitzes this Sunday then he has ever seen in his all of his career games combined. That sound like a recipe for success to you? Just remember what happened on tour....
Hova: "Let me hear you Kellz!"
R. Kelly: "Best offfffff, both worlds!!!!"
That sounded promising at the time....
Philadelphia wins 23-20

Baltimore (11-5) @ Miami (11-5)
I previously mentionned (Arizona pick) that picking a rookie QB on the road is a big (insert expletive) question mark. However, I feel confident in picking Flacco here because his defense is just too dominant; therefore they won't allow him to lose against the Dolphins. So you see, if picking a rookie to win on the road in the playoffs is a big no no, there was no way I was going to pick for that scenario to occur twice in the same weekend. That makes sense right? And furthermore, just remember that the Ravens were the team that put an end to the whole Wildcat offense business when they were able to easily snuff it . So if they took out Miami's entire gameplan in Week 7, I feel entirely confident in their ability to do the same once again regardless of the Dolphins adjustments.
Baltimore wins 20-13

A Path to Greatness: Los Angeles Lakers

Alonzo Harris is a narcotics police detective. A dirty one. Mind you, he is not your usual dirty cop that accepts pay outs from mafia dudes or grants protection to hustlers. Alonzo is a different kind of breed of law enforcement. He goes after the drug lords and kingpins not for the sake of arresting them and putting them away, but rather to cash in on their earnings. In his biggest heist, he steals money from civilians in the hood to pay off a judge in order to obtain a warrant to get inside a drug lords' house, take the majority of the dudes bread and turn the rest of the money into evidence. Where am I going with this you wonder? Alonzo Harris (portrayed by Denzel Washington) is the bad guy; the guy that likes to bully people around and talk some sh*t just to show you he can talk some sh*t and then back it up if he has to (kind of lack a cross of 50 Cent and and Charles Oakley). In other words, Alonzo Harris is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have come out this year with a completely different swagger compared to last year. They are no longer the feel good Remember the Titans Denzel Washington; they have now become the enemy,THE bad guy of bad guys. This is where the Lakers step in. The Los Angeles Lakers are newly appointed narcotics detective Jake Hoyt (played by Ethan Hawke). Their job is to learn from Alonzo and then beat him. The Lakers lost last year in the NBA Finals to a Celtics team that pushed them around, bullied them, outhusled them and were mentally tougher. The Lakers took the loss in stride and have convinced themselves (along with help from the media) that the experience of losing on the big stage coupled with the return of Andrew Bynum will allow them to probably get back to the Finals and win. As it stands today, Kobe's squad has pretty much lived up to expectations with their ability to play at a high level and dominate their opponents earlier in the season. However, I will point out that recently the Lakers have taken the habit of playing to the level of their opposition. So it remains to be seen if the Lake Show picks up its pace once again after the All-Star break and starts peaking at just the right time. That being said, I still see a great basketball team in the making. Their ability to share the ball with one another is truly a joy to watch. Watching them play as one is just amazing. The crisp cutting, the off the ball movement, the great passing and the ability to see plays develop in advance is just outstanding to watch. Kobe's ability to turn it off and then turn it right back on is un-freakin-believable. He has finally figured out how to get his guys to play hard while saving his best for last to finish off teams (think back to last season’s Western Conference Finals against the Spurs). The one question that will remain until we see LA in June is this: will Kobe let his guys get punked around like last season or will he go down swinging? Midway through the movie Training Day, Alonzo drops a killer line on Jake that seems somewhat prophetic when looking back now: "In order to protect the sheep, you must become a wolf." Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all showed Kobe Bryant who were the wolves last season. Let's see if Kobe can elevate his game on the biggest stage in the NBA just like he did in the Olympics and carry HIS team to the promised land or will he be a disloyal fool ass bitch made punk?. This is the part where Garnett would ask Gasol: " You wanna go to jail or you wanna go home?" Hopefully we’ll all find out in June.

Training Day ending