Bosh Set To Migrate West?

After talking about it for years, the NBA’s free agent bonanza during the summer of 2010 is upon us.  Some of the best players in the sport are about to make possibly the biggest decision of their professional lives.

Oh you didn’t know?

Names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, and Dirk Nowitzki just to name a few, are entering free agency this summer.

However, the domino effect is expected to happen after the big three (James, Wade, and Bosh) make their decision.  As the discussions and arguments begin to stir about where these free agents are likely to land, the normal candidates are of course the front-runners.  Rumblings of New York, LA, Miami, Chicago and any other destination with bright lights, warm weather, or both are on top of the list.

However, apart from all of those so-called “sexy” destinations I am here to make the case for one free agent superstar to head to the Northwest.  Of the 30 teams in the NBA I may be the first to say the best destination for Chris Bosh this summer is to migrate west to Portland.

The Blazers are one of the youngest teams in the league and have maybe the best of the young talent in the league.  Combine that with the signing of savvy veterans Marcus Camby, Juwan Howard, and Andre Miller last season, the Blazers are fit to make some noise in the Western Conference.

I know Portland hasn’t been the destination of choice for big name free agents for the past, oh, 40 years or so, but maybe that needs to change.

Before I dive into dialogue, I know most of you are already yelling at this article about salaries, contracts, and cap space.  More importantly, that the Blazers don’t have enough to sign a player to a max contract like Bosh is set to receive.   However, my theoretical situation includes a sign and trade.  Bosh would resign with Toronto for a max deal and be traded to the Blazers for LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Fernandez.

For this deal to occur three things have to happen.  First, Toronto must want to make the deal.  Second, Portland must want to make the deal.  And finally, Bosh must agree to the deal and be willing to sign with Toronto before he is traded.

Here’s how things, in my opinion, should play out.

Why Toronto would make the deal

Of all the superstars in the league that are set to be free agents this summer, Toronto seems to be the favorite to lose its current star.  Not a single playoff series win in his tenure with Toronto, it’s not hard to see why Bosh is ready to play for a contender.  Combine that with Bosh turning to Twitter for free agency advice, asking his followers, “Should I stay or should I go?” This makes the case for Bosh staying in Toronto very weak.

The Raptors, knowing this, should now be looking to get at least something in return for their superstar rather than just letting him walk.  If Bosh is going to leave anyway Toronto might as well get a long, athletic perennial all-star in Aldridge to replace him, and a sharpshooting wing, whose best year in the NBA was when a fellow countryman ran the offense.  Could the new Spanish connection be Calderon to Rudy?

Why Portland would make the deal

Many Blazer fans may think that this is a lot to give up to bring in one player, especially since the team has yet to play a whole season together with everyone healthy.  However, with all the injuries last year, one player who remained on the floor most of the time was Aldridge.   Likewise, while Aldridge was on the floor most of the game, his presence in the post and on the boards, especially in fourth quarters, was mostly invisible.

In my opinion there is no reason why at 6’11 and being as athletic as he is, Aldridge should grab less than seven rebounds a game.  In 2010 Aldridge recorded an astounding 38 games with seven or less boards and a mere 24 double-doubles.

On a defensive minded team like the Blazers, Aldridge was more about getting his own offensive numbers each game.  With this in mind, Blazer fans must be questioning whether Aldridge is slowly turning into former Blazer, Zach Randolph.

And for the second year in a row, Aldridge was mostly a non-factor in the playoffs. Shooting under 40% from the field, 70% from the line, and only one double double in the first round series is not going to get it done for a championship caliber team.

While Rudy may be thrown in this sign and trade merely for contract purposes, the major second year slump by Fernandez didn’t help his case.  The lack of effort shown in the second half of the season, a year filled with injuries, and the constant cry for more minutes may have run this Blazer right out of town.

Overall, the Blazers are getting a better shooter, rebounder, defender, and leader in Bosh than what they are giving up in Rudy and LaMarcus.

Why Bosh would make the deal

The kink in this whole situation may be courting the man this is all about, Chris Bosh.  In order to convince Bosh that Portland is where he should be, General Manager Kevin Pritchard will need to sit down with him to discuss his options.  This is how that conversation should play out.

Bosh: How would I fit in the Portland system?

Pritchard: If this trade went through Chris, imagine this starting lineup.  Marcus Camby in the middle, you at the 4, Batum at small forward, Roy at shooting guard, and Miller running the point.  If that weren’t enough, we would have possibly the best bench unit in the NBA.  Imagine a healthy Oden and Przybilla, along with Webster and Bayless in the second unit.  Throw in Dante Cunningham and you have five potential starters coming off the bench.

Bosh: I do like that but I’m not sure if I would like being in Portland.

Pritchard: Why don’t you ask your teammate Hedo Turkaglu if he is happy with the decision to ditch Portland to go to Toronto?  Plus, Portland has one of the best fan bases in the NBA.  Just this year we surpassed 100 straight sellouts.

Bosh: What about the rest of the West?

Pritchard: With that starting lineup and bench unit we will outmatch anyone in the West.

Bosh: I’ve heard what people are saying.  It seems like Miami would be the best fit for me.

Pritchard: I understand why you would think that and want to go there. However, if you went to Miami take a look into the future.  Even with you and Wade in Miami, all the pieces of the puzzle aren’t there, especially in the East.  Assuming Lebron resigns with Cleveland, you are not beating Cleveland for the next 10 or 12 years, you are not beating Orlando for the next 8 to 10 years, you’re not beating Boston for the next two or three years, and you’re probably not beating Atlanta for the next 6 to 7 years.  So yes, go ahead and sign with Miami, but you will be nothing more than an above average team that wont go anywhere in the playoffs.

Or, you can come to Portland, be the final puzzle piece, and win multiple championships.  It’s up to you, but if you want to win and win now than Portland makes the most sense.

While Portland Oregon may not be the sexiest destination out there, players need to look beyond the rain and the cold and the 7:30 start times, and instead look inside the community, the fan base and the team.  From now until July 1st the free agent market will endure a frenzy of rumors and speculation.  While the rest of the class may have the nations minds spinning, Bosh should save us all the trouble and pick up a pen and contract and make his way to Portland.

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Davies’ long road back comes up short

Earlier today the United States’ provisional World Cup roster was released. Of all the big names that took up the 30 man roster the story was about the one that was left off; Charlie Davies.

The U.S. forward has been recovering the last few months from a horrific car accident last October.  In the accident Davies suffered a broken elbow, femur, tibia, fibula, and fractures to his face.  Fighting for his life, many thought that Davies might not walk, let alone play soccer, ever again.  However, Davies defied the odds and just seven months after a crash that could have taken his life was back on the pitch playing again.

Even with all the rehabilitation is the past months it was clear that Davies was not at 100%.  But still, manager and coach Bob Bradley struggled over the decision to leave Davies off the roster.

“‘[The Davies decision] has been incredibly difficult,’ U.S. manager Bob Bradley said in a broadcast interview with ESPN on Tuesday. “Charlie has shown so much heart in his work to get back from his injuries. We’ve monitored all of his workouts, we’ve had people [in France], we’ve observed him, and he remained part of the consideration right up until yesterday.”

Even though Charlie Davies’ name wont be on the US roster this coming June, he sure will be a part of all the players’ heart. I’m not sure of all the rules, but I would love to see Davies along the sideline in South Africa for nothing more than an assistant coach or simple moral support.  Not enough can be said for the stunning road to recovery that Charlie Davies has endured the last seven months, and I for one hope that this is just a speed bump along his return to the game.

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Playoffs…Are you kidding me…Playoffs?

As the NBA’s regular season is coming to an end, and playoffs are about to begin, I have decided to discuss and compare the different playoff formats for popular sports.  Much discussion has surfaced over the years as to which format is the “best.”  But best for whom?  Best for the fans, the leagues, the players, the media, or possibly another source?

As the major sports go, there are only two which the playoffs offer a “one and done” high intensity format: the NFL and the NCAA basketball tournament.

The NCAA basketball tournament is the only of its kind where a team’s record is not the basis for getting into the postseason.  In fact a group of individuals who have no connection to the teams at all, single handedly pick who gets to play and who doesn’t.  One could argue that conference winners allow teams with good records to be guaranteed a spot in the tourney.  However, in conference tournaments, even the last place team can go on a run and win their spot.  What happens when the tournament is filled with under 500 teams?

Imagine if this were the case in other sports.  Even in a down year like the last, there is no way an NFL committee would have let the Miami Dolphins make the playoffs over Tom Brady and the Patriots.  And don’t even get me started on the Yankees and Lakers.  Because of this, even with the madness, the NCAA tournament is not the optimum post-season format.

The NFL playoffs may be the only format that puts so much pressure on individual games.  Not only is it one loss and you’re out, but it happens only one day a week.  It is no coincidence that churches throughout the country incur a significant drop in attendance during January.

So much hype that goes into every game, and being the most watched sport in America has to make the NFL the best, right?  Wrong.  The NFL requires their champion to win the least amount of games in the post-season.  Division winners must only win three games to be crowned champion.  In some sports three games doesn’t get you out of the first round.

The MLS, yes I said the MLS, has a pretty interesting playoff format. You probably haven’t heard about it, (because no one really pays attention to the MLS) but I’ll go over the basics anyway.  No matter the sport, the argument stands that it’s s always for the best teams to play for the championship.  How does the MLS get around this; no restrictions on divisions.

That’s right, the MLS sets its seeds in the playoffs by the best 8 records in the league, period.  This means 6 teams could go from one conference, as opposed to 2 from the other.  Don’t smirk; it has already happened twice.

I would be interested to see how this approach would fair in something like the NBA, where in recent memory, the 10th and 11 place teams in the west have a better record than the 7th and 8th in the east.

However, the MLS loses out because if it truly were the perfect playoff format, it would cause you to be able to name an MLS player not named Landon Donovan.

The MLB and NBA have fairly similar playoff formats.  Along with the NHL, these sports have learned that teams must play multiple times if the best team is to be decided.  However, some say it takes the excitement out of the game.  Newsflash, the first eight innings in baseball takes the excitement out of the game.    Plus, if the whole purpose is just to see the Red Sox vs. Yankees, what is the point of watching any of the other games?

I will say that the MLB format, and really just baseball in general, allows us to see the players grow from a star to a legend.  Only in the MLB can a roll player like Hideki Matsui win the World Series MVP and go down in Yankee lore.  (And then not be offered in free agency).  The MLB postseason also shows the fans the grit and determination of pitchers who usually sit out an entire week between games, only sit out three or so days.

The problem with the MLB is not what lies in the “post”, but more the “season.” When I watch starting pitchers play after three days rest, come out of the bullpen, and play through bloody socks, I can’t help but wonder why the first 100 games are even played.

As the NBA post season arrives, I must say this format takes the cake.  While that may not have been said a couple years ago, switching the format of each series to seven games made it all but a lock.

While I personally like the 2-2-1-1-1 format better than the 2-3-2 as played in the finals, either way makes for a fantastic series.  The NBA is the only system that forces a lower seed team to make a run and do it for a continued period of time.

In just last year’s playoffs, fans were captivated by the young Bulls who took the savvy Celtics to seven games in possibly the best playoff series of all time.  Or just two years ago when an 8 seed in Golden State beat the favorite and number 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks.  Both of these series’ are what the playoffs are all about; oh, and these were just in the first round!

I cannot wait to see what happens this year.  While the NBA wins my award for best playoff structure for now, there is no telling what could happen in the future.  As some expand to 95 teams, new formats like the FedEx Cup in Golf, or the growing popularity of aggregate in soccer overseas, I will say there is still room for improvement.  Overall, no matter the sport, each post season captivates fans new and old, and provides memories for years to come.

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Canada Skater Shows Her Heart and Makes Ours Melt.

Tonight I did two things I have never done before.  One, I cheered for a non-American in the Olympics.  And two, I was fully entranced in watching figure skating.

While I will be the first to tell you that I am definitely a fan of the more mainstream, hardcore, popular, no matter what you call it, non figure skating sports, tonight, that was not the case.  Minutes before Canada’s Joannie Rochette took the ice to skate her short program in this years Winter Olympics, I learned that her mother passed away of a sudden heart attack just two days ago.  Rochette, already skating with the weight of the host nation on her shoulders, now was seemingly skating with the weight of the world.

While announcers can announce, analysts can analyze, and bloggers can blog, there are no words that can describe, or even imagine what Rochette must have been going through.  In a sport that takes so much concentration it astounds me that she was able to even stand on the ice.

Though she was able to do much more than just stand.

Over the next two minutes I watched in amazement as a young women gracefully smiled, spun, and jumped along the ice.  All the time I was thinking how could she be doing this after such a tragedy? I couldn’t even concentrate and I wasn’t the one skating! The performance was flawless.  Clearly not qualified to judge any sort of skating competition, I still found Rochette’s routine to be of incredible stature.  Receiving a personal short program best, Rochette glided her way to the third best score of the night.  Whether you or I or anyone else believes it or not, there seemed to be a higher power at work in the rink tonight.

My deepest sympathies go out to Joannie Rochette’s, and her family and friends.  For an athlete who went to the 2010 games with two parents, there must be nothing more difficult than going home with only one.  Joannie, I must tell you that in all my years associated with sports I have never been so touched by an athlete I never new, competing in a sport I never watched.  If you leave these games without a medal, know that you won over the heart of millions with the strength and courage you put forth on the ice tonight.

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Kurt Warner Calls it Quits

After 12 unbelievable seasons in the NFL, Kurt Warner, as expected, announced his retirement today.  As the sun sets on Kurt’s career as an NFL quarterback, it is clear that he is set for another incredible journey.  His story like one from a movie, Kurt Warner’s next question will not be asking paper or plastic, but if and when he will put his mark on the Hall of Fame.

His story could not have been better scripted: a grocery store bagger just trying to make ends meet, struggling through the arena football league.  He finally got his shot, as a backup quarterback on one of the worst teams in the league.  Not exactly the big break he was looking for.  Although, his big break, no pun intended of course, came early in the season when Rams fans saw their star quarterback bent awkwardly between two defenders.

As Trent Green was helped off the field, Kurt Warner jogged on under the wide eyes of 11 veteran NFL players and 80,000 worried fans.  20 games later that season Kurt jogged onto that same field, but this time he was playing for the Superbowl.  As he drove the Rams up and down the field scoring point after point, NFL fans, the media, and NFL scouts couldn’t help but wonder; “who is this guy.”  Forget talking about this guys’ career, in one season he took a relatively unknown team and made them the greatest show on turf.

At today’s press conference Kurt reminded the whole world why we have all loved watching him over the years, and still why we are all sad to see him go.  As I watched Kurt thank person after person who influenced his career I couldn’t help but think about who he has influenced.  Still great receivers in their own rights, both Issac Bruce and Tory Holt had their careers take off behind the strong right arm of Warner.  In only one season on the Giants, Warner went through training camp and started the season mentoring a young rookie by the name of Eli Manning.  And now, much like it was in St. Louis, we see Kurt influence greats like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin who rode him to stardom.  So thank you Kurt, from your fans, family, friends, and teammates alike.

The discussion now turns to life after football for Warner.  In this bloggers mind, there is no doubt that Kurt is a first ballot hall of famer.  Kurt holds almost every major regular and postseason Cardinals passing record.  He has arguably gone through his career and now has ended it the right way.  In an era where most football players’ head are too big to fit in their own helmets, Warner spent 12 seasons eating his humble pie the whole way.  It is clear that the NFL has truly lost one of its most heartfelt and passionate players today in Kurt Warner.  We sincerely wish you the best in all your future endeavors.

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Gone too soon, Chris Henry dead at 26

A breeze of somber news swept throughout the NFL Thursday Morning.  The day after Cincinnati Bengal receiver Chris Henry was rushed to the hospital with what was described as “life threatening injuries,” the five-year NFL veteran was pronounced dead at the age of 26.

The long troubled wide receiver seemed to be, for the first time in his life, on the straight and narrow.  Chris was in his second stint with the Bengals in his short career.  After run-ins with the law and suspensions by both the team and the NFL, Chris finally seemed to realize who he was.  In a June interview with ESPN Henry described his new look on life and his plans to be a better player, father, and person.  Henry, out for the season with a forearm injury, was in North Carolina presumably planning his wedding.

Henry’s death is yet another reminder of the Bengals’ troubled year.  With a dream season coming to an end, and Cincinnati having a strangle hold on maybe the toughest division in the league, Henry’s passing is sadly not the first tragic death the Bengals have had to deal with this year.

Just four weeks ago the team learned that their long time defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer’s, wife had suddenly died.  Death does nothing worse then ripe through a family.  While maybe not related by blood, any athlete will tell you that no family is closer than that of a team.  With hearts heavy with grief, the Bengals are expected to now put these thoughts aside and play a game on Sunday.  If the sudden death of two “family members” says anything it may just be that life is no game at all.

No matter what you believe in, something has to be said for the motivation that something like death has on sports teams.  Unfortunately this is not the first tragic death the world of sports has seen.  Teams seem to rally around each other when losing one of their own.  Think back to players like Pat Tillman, Nick Adenhart, and Sean Taylor.  This Sunday, even as Henry wasn’t scheduled to play had he been there, he will surely be watching from above and be sitting on the shoulders, minds, and hearts of all the Bengal players.

Sports Fan or not, Chris Henry’s death had us all take a step back and reflect on our lives.  Troubles with the law or not, Henry was dedicated to becoming a better player, person, and father.  If nothing else, one must feel for his three children who will now grow up without a father.   Henry’s good friend Chad Ochocinco may have put it best, describing his friend’s death as “…Never question the Man upstairs, but I don’t understand why Chris was taken so soon.”

As fans, we see athletes today as people larger than life.  We can only hope now that Henry is in a better place and that his death will not be overlooked.  My heart goes out to his children, his family, and his team.  As his teammates and friends rave about him, there is no question he will surely be missed.  Chris Henry dead at the age of 26.

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He’s back, Brett Favre to sign with Vikings

I won’t even say breaking news because I am sure we all knew in the back of our minds that Brett Favre would be Favrecoming out of retirement, again.  Today, pending a physical, Bret will reportedly sign a one year contract with the Vikes for between $10 and $12 million.

I am between a rock and a hard place on this one.  Brett was one of my hero’s growing up and I will always only remember him as a Packer.  However, as time goes on and he continues to change teams and keep us fans guessing my mind seems to wander.  Like many of you I am asking Brett; What are you doing?

As someone who has played sports my entire life I can sort of understand the fact that it is hard to walk away.  But the easy solution to that is don’t! If Brett were to come out each year and say “Well I think I got one more in me,” instead of having tearful press conference after tearful press conference, us fans would be more inviting for him to come back.  Now, I feel like we are more tired of this saga than interested in it.

One thing I cannot fault Favre for though is his passion for the game.  Yes, maybe favre joyBrett doesn’t go to camp, or have the greatest relationship with his new players, but when you see him on the field the joy on his face is like a father throwing the football with his kids on Thanksgiving.  The fact is that Bret can’t sit on the couch every Sunday and watch teams play when he knows that he could and possibly should be out there.   While I understand that I must ask Brett if there is a time when that feeling will ever go away?

During his decision process there has to be sometime when Bret thinks how badly this could turn out, right?  I mean, known as the iron man of football, he has to know that it would be better to leave the game as a starter for a team that didn’t make the playoffs, instead of having his arm in a sling.  Every season the almost 40 year-old has some minor ache and pain that seems to get work.  Every Sunday he always manages to get out there, and I will hate to see that come to an end in the second game of the season when something really bad happens (knock on wood of course).

But how can we be mad at Brett when he basically got what he wanted.   He got a big contract to the team of his choice without going to training camp.  Ask any player around the league and if that scenario was available to them each year they would take it in a heartbeat.

Now to the second piece of the puzzle, the Minnesota Vikings.

Can I fault them?  I don’t think that they have went through this process extremely well, but the finished project might look pretty darn good.  First and foremost everyone keeps saying that Favre has made their team better.

Newsflash, Michael Vick would have made your team better and he didn’t cost 10 or 12 million.

But, putting a veteran quarterback with a cannon for an arm next to the best running back in the league isn’t a terrible idea.  If things start to go south for Favre I’m sure the Vikings will tell him the same thing they told their quarterbacks Favre Interview Footballthe last 2 seasons; give the ball to AP and get out of the way.  As much as some fans hate this decision, defensive coordinators around the league are now tearing up their game plans and starting from scratch.

Second, what did this do to your locker room?  Name me a past champion from the past, I don’t know, forever, that didn’t have a solid locker room.  Steelers; solid, Pats; solid, Giant; solid (without Plax), Colts; solid.

Yesterday “unnamed” Viking players said that Favre was a done deal and always had been.  I wonder if Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfelds new that going out to compete at practice everyday?

Lastly, if you look a this signing from the business perspective it makes a lot of sense.  I know as fans all we see is players’ contracts when talking about money, but let’s look at the Vikes.  Out of 32 NFL teams the Vikings were dead last as far as team revenue last season.  YES, that means the 0-16 Detroit Lions made more money as a franchise than the Vikings.  Even if the team goes 8-8 this year every game will be sold out, every local and national television station will want to broadcast the game, and more #4 jerseys will be sold this week then anyone on the Vikings combined.  Low and behold if the Vikings don’t win games with Favre, they will make money, and in this economy you can’t fault them for that.

But while Favre is old and may be annoying us to no end with his mind games, he does know how to play football.  As much as we all are so tired of this story, it is no secret that we will all be on the edge of our seats to see how the veteran performs this Friday.


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