Jan 25

NY Knicks 89 – Boston Celtics 86…Post Game Musings

photo credit: nesn.com

photo credit: nesn.com

Yes, they did play basketball in Boston last night. Surprising only if you followed the pregame news from most media outlets. They all seemed more concerned with the subsequent showdown, rematch if you will, between Carmelo Anthony and Keven Garnett, then the actual game. So much so they continued shoving it at us throughout the broadcast.

TNT’s play by play man Marv Albert pathetically whined, on and on, about the lack of crowd hostility. Albert continually voiced his bewildered, somewhat disappointed opinion, that Carmelo Anthony was only booed. I mean really Marv, were you and TNT hoping for physical confrontations in the stands and on the court? Pathetic!

What Albert, and TNT, failed to report was that TD Garden Security did a great job in keeping the fans focused on the game. Something the TNT broadcast either couldn’t, or was unwilling to do. According to Peter May of the NY Times, Security confiscated potentially disruptive signs and would not allow fans to display or wear anti Carmelo Anthony t-shirts which they purchased outside the arena.

One thing anything but Marvelous did mention, was how the Boston Celtics pipe in crowd noise to amplify the noise of the actual fans. Actually, mention would be an understatement. Less then Marvelous chose to go on a ten minute rant about it. All while a game was being played.

On the game…JR Smith continued his run on the sixth man of the year award. John Dorn of Bleacher Report has a convincing argument to make that case here.

photo credit: espn.go.com

photo credit: espn.go.com

JR was having a terrible shooting night, going 2 for 15 prior to making a huge 3 pointer with 1:11 left in the game. On the Celtics ensuing possession Smith teamed up with Iman Shumpert to force Paul Pierce into a crucial turnover. With 7.1 seconds left, and the Knicks up by 3, JR’s tight defense caused Paul Pierce (there will be no kiss blowing to the fans tonight) to dribble the ball out of bounds.

The NY Knicks solid team defense not only held the Celtics under 90 points, but also held Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to 6 points combined in the second half.

photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Good news on the injury front. ESPN New York’s Ian Begley reported Raymond Felton was cleared for full contact in today’s practice. Depending on how well that goes, he could be back in the lineup as early as tomorrow in Philadelphia for Knicks vs Sixers.

Felton’s return would provide a much needed boost to the Knicks. With his speed and quickness he immediately improves the team’s on the ball defense. His ability to breakdown an opposing team’s defense will facilitate ball movement and open the floor for his teammates.


Mike Woodson will be able to cut back on Jason Kidd’s minutes, leaving him fresh and more effective. Woodson will also have less pressure to push Iman Shumpert’s minutes, allowing him to continue his return from injury at a more moderate pace.

It also gives Woodson more lineup flexibility. With Shumpert’s ability to breakdown defense’s he may be more suited to come off the bench. It would improve floor spacing while playing with the second unit’s Amar’e Stoudemire, JR Smith, Steve Novak, and Pablo Prigioni.

photo credit: nydailynews.com

photo credit: nydailynews.com

Finally, congratulations to Tyson Chandler for being selected to his first All Star Game. It is well deserved.  I’m not a big fan of All Star Games but it must be a nice feeling to be recognized by your peers with that kind of honor.


Jan 22

Should New England Patriots Amend Gag Order?

The New England Patriots have done a good job of displaying professionalism with regards to the media. From top to bottom they do an excellent job of not creating billboard material for opposing teams. Likewise, they just go about their business and don’t respond to negative comments made by other teams about them.

Photo Credit: deadspin.com

Photo Credit: deadspin.com

It’s a shame the same can’t be said about the players wives. Does Bill Belichick need to extend his gag orders to include family members?

For the second year in a row a Patriots player’s wife executed poor taste in making post game comments following a devastating loss. This years culprit is the wife of last years victim. Sounds like the making of a reality TV show, (working title: “Really Dumb Comments by Patriots Wives”).

The latest sound bite, or rather Facebook Post, comes from Anna Burns Welker, wife of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. Following Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game she posted this on Facebook:

 “Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!”

Photo Credit :allbyhimself.com

Photo Credit :allbyhimself.com

Yikes! Way to show poor class in defeat. Let’s be clear, I’m not posting this to defend Ray Lewis. He certainly has the lawyers and money to defend himself. I’m also not about to defend the NFL’s Hall of Fame eligibility standards either. As we all know those standards are not written in stone, and subject to voter interpretation.

I will however, defend Anna Burns Welker’s freedom of speech, regardless of how ignorant that speech may be. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not standing up for her in defending that right. I’m defending that right in honor of all those who have fought and died, and all those who continue to fight, protecting that very right so many of us take for granted.

Now you may ask how I can call her comments ignorant when she was just taking the moral and ethical high ground while stating facts. Good question. Here’s my answer.

1. The comments were made after losing a game…a gameboohoo! Can anyone say sore loser! 

2. I can’t ever recall her taking the moral and ethical high ground with regards to Bill Belichick, his binoculars, and spy-gate.

3. I also can never recall her taking the moral and ethical high ground with regards to her husband’s former and current teammate Donte Stallworth. In April of 2009 Stallworth plead guilty to DUI Manslaughter after causing the death of a man while he was driving drunk. He spent a whopping 30 days in jail and then settled with the family to avoid a civil lawsuit.

4. I believe intelligent comments should discern the difference between acquittal and conviction. 

What’s most aggravating to me about these comments is they were written. First she had to think about them, then write them down, then proof read them, and finally post them. I guess even a Facebook Status can be posted while your feet rest firmly in your mouth.

To Anna Burns Welker’s credit she did issue an apology on Monday saying:

“I’m deeply sorry for my recent post on Facebook, I let the competitiveness of the game and the comments people were making about a team I dearly love get the best of me. My actions were emotional and irrational and I sincerely apologize to Ray Lewis and anyone affected by my comment after yesterday’s game. It is such an accomplishment for any team to make it to the NFL playoffs, and the momentary frustration I felt should not overshadow the accomplishments of both of these amazing teams.”

Well, I guess that makes it alright then! Doesn’t it?


Jan 20

Johan Santana…Come on Man!

Photo Credit: nesn.com

Photo Credit: nesn.com

NY Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana wants to represent his homeland, Venezuela, in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Are you kidding me? I’m all for national pride but this is not the way to wave the flag.

As things stand now, Santana is unable to qualify for the Classic without special clearance from the WBC. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, a player is disqualified from playing in the Classic if he was on the Disabled List on August 31, 2012. Luckily for NY Mets fans Santana was shut down on August 17 of last season.

Adam Rubin goes on to explain that the WBC has to insure the contracts of all players against injury. If the WBC is willing to insure Santana’s contract, they can give him a special clearance, thereby allowing him to pitch.

Santana is owed 25.5 million dollars for the 2013 season. The NY Mets hold a club option on him for an additional 25 million dollars for the 2014 season. The NY Mets will most likely opt out of that, in which case they would have to pay off 5.5 million dollars to Johan. Thanks to Michael Baron of Metsblog.com for providing those numbers.

With the WBC having to insure 31 million dollars in guaranteed money it is highly unlikely they will grant Santana the needed clearance to pitch. Santana’s going to get his money regardless, so he can afford (literally) to be selfish in the name of patriotism.

Photo Credit: edition.cnn.com

Photo Credit: edition.cnn.com

Yes, that’s right, I said selfish. At years end, Johan Santana will have made 137.5 million dollars, over 6 years, from the NY Mets. That’s quite a lot of money for someone who has had as much down time, due to injury, as him over the past 2 years.

I understand that the WBC only comes around every 4 years, and since Santana will be 38 years old when it comes around again, this is probably his last legitimate shot at playing for Venezuela in it.

Maybe it’s me that’s being selfish. However, as a NY Mets fan I feel I have that right. I want to see Johan Santana healthy for the full season, pitching for the NY Mets. I don’t want him risking injury by pitching competitive baseball in March. That’s when he should be in spring training, gradually building his strength, and getting ready for the regular season.

Jan 18

Lance Armstrong Comes Clean

Lance Armstrong

Photo credit; thenewsworld.info: Author: George Burns

Lance Armstrong has finally come clean (pun intended). It’s been a long time coming but he finally tells all…or does he?

I sat and watched his interview with Oprah Winfrey last night, an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back, and learned nothing new. Oprah asked all the right questions, and Armstrong answered them exactly as I thought he would.

No new revelations here. He only confirmed most of what I, and many others, believed all along. He illegally enhanced his performance throughout his career, including all seven of his Tour de France victories.

For seven years I sat on the edge of my recliner, watching Lance’s super human efforts, applauding him with each pedal stroke. It seemed too good too be true…turns out it was.

I knew performance enhancing drugs were rampant in professional cycling. My intellectual side told me what Armstrong was doing was not possible without illegal help. I chose to hang my hat on the fact that he never failed a drug test.

Was I just being naive? Probably. Did I care? Probably not. Here’s the thing, I was watching the legend of a great American hero unfold before my own two eyes. I was able to justify it in my mind. It was easy too do…he never failed a drug test. Done!

As it turns out, Armstrong justified it in his mind too. So he claims. It was just part of the routine…”check the air in your tires, grab your water, take your EPO,” he tells Oprah. A routine he intimates was being done by everyone else also. His justification was not the same as mine. He knew he was dirty…I believed he was clean.

So why come clean now? Why on the worlds stage? It doesn’t get much bigger then an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Is it guilt? I don’t think so. Is it remorse? Doubt it…did he look remorseful to you? Certainly not to me. Ask the long list of people, whose character he attacked, careers and lives he ruined over the years, what they think.

All over the air waves and everywhere in print today I hear and I read the two adjectives, cold and calculating. That is exactly as I see it too. He seemed completely emotionless…then and now. Always cold, forever calculating.

I feel Oprah Winfrey is just another pawn in Lance Armstrong’s chess game of life. Another someone for Armstrong to use as a means to get what he wants. A means to an end. Another victory. I fear it will be years before we ever know exactly what those ends are. If even then.

Before my own two eyes, I now see unfolding the legend of a greatly flawed American anti-hero. Cold and calculating. A shame. Never to be victorious again. Forgive him? Not up to me, I wasn’t wronged. Believe in him? No way, I’ll never allow myself to be duped by him again.


Jan 16

James Dolan…Secret Agent Man

Big Brother is indeed watching…or more appropriately,  listening. This latest chapter of “life imitating art” comes compliments of Madison Square Garden chief, James Dolan. Mr. Dolan brings to life all the magic of George Orwell’s “1984” in his latest spy thriller.Vector Illustration by jtoons

James Dolan, as first reported by Newark Star Ledger columnist Dave D’Alessandro, armed two of his employees with parabolic microphones and fancy recording gear and ordered them to opposite ends of the basketball court during Knick games. Their sole purpose was to monitor every spoken word by, and directed at, NY Knicks star and MVP candidate, Carmelo Anthony. This task was to be done, presumably, from the opening tip off to the final buzzer.thespecialistsltd.com;

The audio production was to be delivered to Mr. Dolan, for his ears only. In maintaining his shroud of secrecy, Dolan has not said why he is doing this. Let the speculation games begin!

images (1)

Photo Credit: NY Post

Spy-gate began when Melo came back from serving a one game suspension for confronting the Boston Celtics aging veteran, Kevin Garnett, over what Anthony believed to be inappropriate comments made by Boston’s resident big mouth.

Perhaps Mr. Dolan feels the only way he can stick up for, and protect his star player, is by compiling audio evidence of the over the top chatter directed Anthony’s way. This sentiment is also shared by Matt Shelter, while thinking out loud in his Buckets Over Broadway Blog.

Although well intended, Dolan’s actions only draw unnecessary attention to Anthony and the team. Good or bad, trash talking has been a part of the NBA for a long time. A few years back, the NBA initiated a crackdown by having Officials issue technical fouls for taunting and excessive trash talking. At present, these rules, like most in the NBA, are selectively enforced. Dolan’s audio tapes will not change that.

Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Best case scenario for the Knicks is for Dolan to abandon his not so clandestine actions, and for Carmelo Anthony to just play the game. It’s no secret Melo gets physically beat on more than any other star in the game. It’s also no secret that the Officials protect him less than any of those same stars.

The Knicks are at their best when Anthony is a complete player. When he’s scoring, passing, rebounding, and playing solid defense. He needs to stay focused. No more arguing with the Refs when they look the other way as he gets knocked around under the basket. Stop complaining when they don’t allow him to play as physical on defense as they allow defenders to play him. Just play on!

If Anthony can do that, and ignore all the talking from the less talented players, then maybe James Dolan can retire his spy gear, and we Knick fans can sit back and enjoy the results.


Jan 14

Open Letter to Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, was fined $50,000 for being critical of NBA Officials. The fine is the result of his tweeting,

“Im sorry NBA fans. Ive tried for 13 yrs to fix the officiating in this league and I have failed miserably. Any Suggestions ? I need help”

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 6, 2013

following his team’s overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets on January 5th, 2013.

Photo Credit: vibe.com

Photo Credit: vibe.com

Dear Mr. Cuban,
I’m sorry to hear about your most recent fine for what was decided, by the powers that be, to be yet another criticism of the NBA Officials. I feel partly responsible for this. Other then stare at my TV game after game, in bewilderment, ranting at the injustices perpetrated on us, by the men and women with the whistles, I’ve done nothing!
Upon reading your tweet, I did not think you were criticizing the officials. I thought you were just being critical of yourself for miserably failing to fix the problem over the past 13 years. Unfortunate the NBA didn’t see it that way.
Photo Credit: latimesblogs.latimes.com

Photo Credit: latimesblogs.latimes.com

Well, I heard your call Mr. Cuban, and I’m going to do my best to answer it. I think the first step to fixing a problem, once we recognize it exists, which we all outside the League Offices do, is identify why the problem exists. Then we can go about solving it. In my opinion it could be one, or a combination of, the following reasons.

First, can it be the game itself? Have the players become too big, and so fast that the Officials just can’t keep up?  NBA players can be incredibly quick at times, and in a split second that quickness can be missed by the naked eye. I don’t see more video reviews as a viable option as it would only only slow the game down to a crawl. Perhaps the simple answer is to add another ref or two on the floor. Let’s position them in areas with good sight lines of the play without their getting in the way of the action.
Second, maybe the NBA needs to more clearly define the fouls. Fouls should be more definitive and less interpretative. A perfect example is the moving screen. It’s very frustrating to see one play happen repeatedly, the exact same way, yet be called three different ways, in the same game. If the player setting the screen moves, then foul on him. If he doesn’t move then no foul on him, and a foul, or no foul, on the defender or ball handler based on their clearly defined actions. Good luck seeing any consistency to this call as it stands now.

Photo Credit: welcometoloudcity.com

Photo Credit: welcometoloudcity.com

Third, can the Officials just be that bad? If so, then it’s up to the League to get them better. Develop more and better classroom and on the court training. Have them get better conditioned, they do have to keep up with some of the best conditioned athletes in the world after all. Also, if a grading system is in place, improve it. If there is no grading system then implement one and hold the Officials accountable. The Officials who continually grade poorly, let them work on their craft in the D-League. Conversely, promote to the NBA those D-League Officials who continually grade well while officiating D-League games.
Photo Credit: deadspin.com

Photo Credit: deadspin.com

Fourth, are some Officials corrupt? I hate to go here, but Tim Donaghy, who will forever be a black eye to the sport, proved this possibility could exist. I don’t believe this to currently be true. I like to believe the good in everyone and will continue to believe the NBA Officials are men and women of high character and integrity. If this is someday proven otherwise then I’d want to see the guilty prosecuted to the fullest.

Fifth and final, is David Stern the problem? Next month he will be Commissioner for 29 years. No question the league has grown in leaps and bounds under his leadership. Has the officiating experienced that same growth? I don’t think so, and you don’t seem to believe it either. His biggest contribution here is to gag the players, coaches, GM’s, and owners from ever speaking publicly about it by holding hefty fines over their heads. You know this better then most! Until David Stern admits the problem exists…there will be no solution.

Photo Credit: nj.com

Photo Credit: nj.com

Does Stern have his favorite players? Favorite teams? Does he have the games officiated accordingly? These are questions asked by fans often. Like reason #4 above, I like to believe the good in all, but in his case I find it harder to do day by day, and game by game.
In conclusion Mr. Cuban, don’t give up the fight. You are our last voice in this matter…our only remaining Jedi. Please see this through to the, hopefully not bitter, end. February 1, 2014 can’t come soon enough!
Your #1 (non Maverick) fan,
Larry D


Jan 12

RG3’s Knee…Who’s to Blame?


Photo Credit; businessinsider.com

Robert Griffin III underwent successful reconstructive knee surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. I’m happy to hear this . As a die hard NY Giants fan, and knowing that Big Blue will have to face him at least two times a year for the next ten plus years, I still think it would be a shame if he couldn’t come back and play to his full potential. That’s the amount of respect and admiration I have for this man and his talent.

The question being asked now is, who is to blame for this?

I’m not an authority on everything football, nor am I a medical professional, heck, I didn’t even sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, but even I could tell RG3 was hurting and it was affecting his game. He was slower then usual, with poor lateral movement, and limited cutting ability. He was limping noticeably and slow to get up several times. His knee finally gave out on him.


Photo Credit; keepingscore.blogs.time.com

Terry Bradshaw, on his weekly radio spot with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on New York’s WFAN, talked about how, as a professional athlete you just want to be on the field, regardless of an injury. Your mindset is to block out the pain and go as hard as you can. He didn’t think the Redskins were wrong for putting him out there to start the game, but he thought they should have changed the game plan, taking out the read option plays.

As reported in Huffington Post, RG3 said he felt fine and that it was his call to stay in the game. Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan was fine with that decision too. Even though he saw that RG3 was not exactly the same, he insisted that leaving his Quarterback in the game was in RG3’s best interest. In RG3’s best interest? Greg Doyle of CBS Sports has some interesting thoughts on that here.

Leading up to the game, Washington Redskins team physician Dr. James Andrews said, as reported at Yahoo Sports, “he’s doing a lot better this week, but he’s still recovering and I’m holding my breath because of it.” Dr. Andrews continued to say, “he passed all the tests, and all the functional things we do, but It’s been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you.” Dr. Andrews was seen several times on the sidelines in conversation with Griffin.


Photo Credit: beyondthebets.com

I understand RG3 believing it was his call to make, and he wanted to stay in the game. I greatly admire his strength and courage to play, hurt the way he was, and knowing that he could injure himself further. It should not have been his call to make. I also understand the pressure on an NFL Head Coach to win, and the difficulty of a team physician, who is paid by the team, to actually act and make decisions like a doctor should. Somebody needed to step up, do what was best for RG3’s health and safety, and save him from himself. Mike Shanahan and Dr. James Andrews did not do that. I hold them both equally responsible for what happened.


Jan 11

Baseball Hall of Fame Gets Shut Out

Well, the Baseball Writers Association of America has finally voted, and there will be no Hall of Fame Class for 2013. You might say they pitched a shutout. That’s to bad. I really felt there were some worthy, drug free, candidates on the ballot. Unfortunately, these clean players will always have their careers compared to those who chose to use drugs to enhance their performance.

When it comes to the arguments regarding performance enhancing drugs and the Hall of Fame, I get them, but I don’t agree with them.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Photo Credit; Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

I understand the morality argument. On one side the Hall of Fame wants players of moral character, and on the other side there are players already in the Hall of Fame who have morally challenged issues in their lives. You can make a case for both sides and have a very interesting debate. My problem is, I believe steroids to be a legal issue, not a moral one.

I also understand the argument that “he was deserving of the Hall of Fame before he started using steroids“. I certainly don’t agree with this one either. A player gets elected for his whole career. By voting him in based only on the portion of his career prior to his making a conscious decision to use drugs, you’re giving credit to all the superhuman numbers he put up in his steroid years. Again, a very interesting debate can be had on this issue.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Photo Credit; brewcrewball.com

The last argument I’m going to discuss is “players should only be held accountable since drug testing was implemented in 2003″. Steroids have been illegal in the US since October 5, 1990, and placed on Baseball’s banned list June 7, 1991. Just because it took Major League Baseball 12 years to get around to testing for performance enhancing drugs, it doesn’t exonerate those players who used drugs prior to testing. They’re are just as guilty as those who used after 2003.

I don’t believe anyone who was found guilty of using, admitted to using, was listed on any investigative report for using, named on any “anonymous” drug test list for using, or accused by coaches, managers, trainers, or other players of using performance enhancing drugs should ever be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I do, however, have one exception to this belief. To me, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a museum to baseball. In that capacity it should cover all of baseball history, both good and bad. Build a new wing, adorn it with pictures (not plaques) and records of the steroid users, and call it the Wall of Shame.


Jan 10

Hip Hip Hooray…

After 113 days the National Hockey League lockout has finally ended. All that’s left is a short training camp and then it’s let the games begin.

Who were the winners and the losers? That’s an easy question to answer. So easy, I don’t even have to read the new agreement, or even know what the disputed issues were, to answer it.


Photo Credit: bostonherald.com

The billionaire owners will be making more billions…that’s an easy win for them.

The millionaire players will be making more millions…yep, that’s an easy win for them too.

The ancillary workers…those who work the food concessions, the souvenir hawkers, the ushers, the folks who keep the arenas clean, even the Zamboni driver, weren’t given a chance to earn their paycheck…not so easy for them, huge losers.

How about all the lost revenue for the Bars, Restaurants, and Shops surrounding the arenas? Yep, losers there too.

The fans? They’re big losers also. Who’s going to ultimately pay for all this over the next 8-10 years? That’s right, the fan is, through increased ticket prices.

Then there’s poor little old me. I don’t go to nearly as many games as I used to prior to the last work stoppage. Maybe only a couple a year now (and that number will be going down). But guess what I just received? There was a message waiting in my inbox that starting with the next billing cycle my Cablevision bill will be going up $5.00 a month. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Thank you Garry Bettman, you know what you can do with your apology!

Jan 10

Amar’e Stoudemire…to D or not to D?

That is the question. A question that arose for two reasons as a result of Amar’e Stoudemire’s recent return from injury against the Portland Trailblazers.

Reason #1…the visible proof in which Stoudemire sadly looked lost on the defensive end of the court. He was repeatedly caught out of position, leading to many easy baskets for the Trailblazers, and frequent one on one instructions with Head Coach Mike Woodson.

Reason #2…Amar’e Stoudemire’s comments regarding his past defensive, or should I say lack of defensive training:  “I think having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help. I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career. So to now have a coach who actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays, it’s going to be helpful. I’m going to take it as a challenge, accept the challenge, and try to improve as a player”.

 Photo credit: Jim McIsaac;

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac

Please read the whole quote. All four sentences. It seems most people are focused on the first two sentences only. As a long time NY Knicks fan who only cares about winning, I’ll concentrate on the last two sentences. 

There’s a huge difference between telling someone to play defense and teaching them how to play defense. If I tell you “that’s your man…don’t let him score”, I told you to play defense…but what did I teach you? If I take you on the side and show you how to guard your man…where to stand on this play, or how to move on that play…when and how to switch to another man, and when and how to switch back to your man…and how to rotate along with your teammates, so five men play like one team, then I’m teaching you how to play defense.

Amar’e Stoudemire has already shown a willingness to change his game for the good of his team. At coach Woodson’s request he spent time this summer with Hakeem Olajuwon in order to learn and develop a post game. I’ll take Stoudemire’s word when he says “…I’m going to take it as a challenge, accept the challenge, and try to improve as a player”. 

My one piece of advice, and I quote the immortal Yoda, “there is no try…only do”. And I believe he will.