My Thoughts on the Upcoming NBA (2014-15) Season

            The 2014-15 National Basketball Association season will be a very interesting one. Between several scandals and several trades, even former players and sports analyses might not be able to predict who could win the NBA Championship as easily as they had in previous years. Some of the trades I have witnessed along with other fans make me wonder if some of the coaches and the owners are desperate for a title, and whether or not some of the players are in touch with reality.

            LeBron James is going back to Cleveland…whatever. First of all, the 24-hour coverage on that announcement was annoying, because it cut off the feedback on other world and sports news. The conflict in the Middle East and on the Russia/Ukraine border had started again, and coverage on the World Cup Final was suddenly ignored in the United States. Ironically, this announcement and coverage on all of the ESPN and NBA channels reflected on how seriously the rest of the world takes the World Cup and the sport of football in general. Don’t the citizens in Cleveland have anything better to do than cheer and/or jeer over one player? Yes, he is one of the best players in the league and of all time, but now those fans are eager to purchase another LeBron James jersey because they all burnt their last ones.

            This brings up my next point about “King James.” I don’t know what is going on inside his head, but someone needs to tell him that he cannot please everyone. Look at what the Miami fans did to the murals! Seriously, he is returning to Cleveland for only two seasons, and—on top of that—he decides to reclaim the #23 jersey that he used to wear while playing there. These teams do NOT freeze in place when players go elsewhere; and yet, he goes back and forth like it is not big a deal. I have nothing against the city of Cleveland, or LeBron James but—think about it—if the Miami Heat had won this year’s Championship Title, then would he have decided “to return home”?! Think about it. I don’t know what will happen next season, but Cleveland fans better keep in mind that the Cavaliers is NOT a one man team! Yell at the entire team for losing a game and not just LeBron James!

            Time to state the obvious: The Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty has ended. Unless the next generation of superstars make it onto that team’s roster, there won’t be any more Championships for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant—for all of his accomplishments as a NBA player—is a whiny little brat who cannot grasp the concept that one, he is getting old; and two, he cannot assume that hiring a coach of his choosing (and one that will listen to his instructions) will guarantee a winning season. The Lakers are no longer the “go to team” it once was, Dwight Howard left after one season. And, let’s face it, Jeremy Lin is not going to help the Lakers win a championship title. He did not help the Knicks nor the Rockets. Sorry Kobe, but at least you have your 5 Championship Rings.

            The Knicks have been one erratic team. First of all, does Carmelo Anthony realize that he was the “backup plan” for New York, and he was signed there after negotiations for LeBron James fell through?! Sorry, but he is NOT the player the Knicks need in order to win a championship title. Next, if he keeps hogging the ball and refusing to acknowledge the rest of the team, then the team cannot win the games. Last, all games count! Carmelo Anthony cannot play at his best when the Knicks play against Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, and Indiana. Is he really acting that bratty believing that he’ll be praised for only beating the “better teams”?! If he keeps this up and if the rest of the team does not do anything about it, then the Brooklyn Nets will win a championship before the Knicks.

            The only team—as of right now—that I might feel any pity for is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and the rest of the 2011-12 roster surpassed the expectations placed on them by making it to the NBA Finals. However, they say: “winning while early in the career is not good in the long run.” The team has been able to advance to the Conference Finals this season, but they will not go beyond that round unless the players check their egos and learn to work together as a team once again, they will never win a Championship Title. I believe they still have a chance to win at least one.

            The only thing I will say about the Los Angeles Clippers is that a new owner should not affect the way the players play during the season. However, in the long run the decisions this owner makes will either benefit the team or harm the team. Let us hope that Steve Ballmer (if he does “purchase” the Clippers) has more common sense than Donald Sterling.  

            Those are my current thoughts on the NBA and what may or may not happen next season. On the one hand, these are not related to anything that could happen next season. I won’t be making any predictions of my own until the start of the season. On the other hand, I could be wrong about everything I have stated and the opposite could occur during the upcoming season. The only thing that will most likely happen next year is that the San Antonio Spurs will repeat their previous year. Only time will tell.

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American Soccer versus Global Football

          As of right now, this World Cup has had everything: hyped fans, teams that shocked everyone for good and bad reasons, players who performed bizarre acts, and bribed referees. This World Cup has once again proved that top countries fall and ‘low-performance’ countries can go far (Spain and Costa Rica); I am aware that many fans already know this, but I am talking to the “fans” who have been surprised by what they have seen so far. This event has also demonstrated why the United States still has a lot learn if they wish to advance beyond the knockout round.

          Football, or soccer as it is called in the U.S.A. and in some parts of Canada, is a global sport which requires all players to have skills in ball handling, knowledge of the game, endurance and speed, and all-around talent. The interesting issue about football in the U.S.A. is that the Men’s team is the struggling team as opposed to the U.S.A. Women’s team. Since its start in 1991, the U.S. Women’s team have won two World Championships (1991 and 1999) and have come in second or in third place in the other previous tournaments. Please explain to me why people do not take female athletes seriously! At least their soccer team has won championships which is more than I can say for the Men’s team.

I have played the sport enough to see both the obvious and the discreet amongst the Men’s team. First of all, until several years ago, the ‘goal kick’ was taken by the defenders instead of the goalkeeper. Next, the Men’s team (and also teams at colleges and universities) believe that having players from nationally ranked teams will provide a winning team. Where do these coaches and sponsors get such theories? Just because one player was on a championship team does not mean that the one player did it on his own! Haven’t we learn anything from the events surrounding LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony? Also, just because an individual displays talent at a young age does not mean the same talent will be there in adulthood. Look at Neymar! He couldn’t even score in the quarterfinal before he got injured! Yes, there have been plenty of footballers who have been able to develop such talent as they got older (i.e. Messi, Pelé, Rooney, Ronaldo—all 16 years-old when they got signed to play professional football). However, the United States of America have yet to distinguish such talent in this sport. In addition, any player who immigrated from another country in order to play for the U.S.A. should be looked at more closely…Julian Green. Choose players with the talent and you might get closer to winning a championship title! Observe and learn from the Women’s team! Last, I hope everyone worldwide learned from Qatar. Bribing works. Look how many referees have been bribed! This issue was spoofed on a recent episode of The Simpsons. I’m not saying it is the right thing to do, but no true football fan should be surprised that it happens. Just saying…F.I.F.A. (the Fedération Internationale de Football Association) had better give the next host slot to the U.S.A.

Another key aspect of the sport of football and the event of the World Cup are the fans. Also known as hooligans, these fans make fans of hockey, basketball, baseball, and American football look like drunken idiots. So far, in the World Cup (2014), we have seen betting on whether or not Luis Suarez would bite someone during the tournament (which he did), porn stars offering long orgy sessions after their country wins a match, and fans abandoning ship (literally) as a form of celebration. Fans riot when they win and they riot more they lose, but the referees remain unscathed. There is one essential thing to understand about all football fans: there is a ‘code’ in which all fans follow. Hence, this is why most of the fighting takes place at the stadiums, the clubs, and the bars. Plus, people in these communities know which colors and/or jerseys can or cannot be worn during certain days. This is similar to rivalries found amongst the fans of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia! You do NOT wear the markings of the opposing team in their region unless you are trying to start a fight, or you are a fan cheering for the ‘Away’ team at the ‘Home’ team’s stadium. Several fans have also died from this form of devotion. A Chinese man died after five days of sleep deprivation because he wanted to watch the World Cup live (China is 11-12 hours ahead of Brazil). All of these fans display true and bizarre enthusiasm.

If the United States of America want to see their chances of winning in Men’s Soccer improve, then the denizens of the country have to get excited about it more than once every four years. Similar to how fans of Star Wars and video games always talk about them regardless of there being new movies or new games, there is always something to talk about. It is the same with football with news on players, leagues, and tournaments. Look at American football! There is an entire channel for the National Football League and the season is only five months long! The European and the Latino seasons are much longer!

For now, let us all enjoy the remainder of this enormous sporting event, and learn from all of the bizarre activities displayed on international television and the Internet. Keep the politicians out of the sport, form a team that consist of good, strong, and fast players, have a decent theme song, and be discreet about which countries and/or players the referees get to screw over, and make sure all of the citizens in the host country are willing to participate in the activities. Go Germany! Go Women’s U.S.A.!