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25 questions I’ve asked myself #2

The Heat just won back-to-back NBA Championships and the draft is only days away. The NFL offseason is at the very interesting point where for the most part teams have their rosters in place and are now just going forward to training camp. Baseball is in full swing as we prepare for the midway point and the NHL is right in the middle of an incredibly Stanley Cup finals.

What is there not to love about sports? Seriously, it’s constant action and there is never a dull moment (oh well, hold on, I’ll actually address this a little later).

But with the NBA Finals just ending let me jump right into things starting with the NBA.

1. How viable is the success of the Big 3 moving forward?

Big Three

In the three years since bringing Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh together the Miami Heat have made it to three-straight NBA Finals and won the last two. This is their era but how long will it last. It’s weird to say but it is hard to see how Miami won their last two titles. They have the best player in the world, no doubt and Wade will probably be a Hall of Famer one day in his own right but those two and Bosh take up nearly all of the Heat’s cap room and leave them with almost nothing else. It is just unbelievable to think that a team could possibly win Game 7 of an NBA Finals series when only five players score and they get zero points from the person who is supposed to their their third-best player.

I don’t think the Heat can keep winning championships by staying content. It looks good having three big time players on the same team and a solid emerging point guard like Mario Chalmers but if the Heat get rid of Bosh and clear up some cap room they could get a decent center as a replacement for much cheaper, stick with Udonis Haslem at power forward and use the rest of the money to build their bench.

Use that money to take a gamble on Greg Oden at a bargain price, get some shooters like Kyle Korver, J.J. Redick, Corey Brewer or Ronnie Brewer and this team is reloaded and ready to win more championships.

2. Is the Spurs era of greatness over?

Gregg PopovichIf Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich both retire then I’d definitely say yes but with their big three on the downside of their careers (well at least Duncan and Ginobili are) the dominance will have to end some time. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal are all very good players but they are far from the three Hall of Fame caliber guys the Spurs are led by now. But the big issue is that right now Manu Ginobili, who is coming off an absolutely horrible finals series, is a free agent who will demand top dollar. It is impossible to imagine the Spurs let him leave but during this year’s playoffs it was obvious that his play is deteriorating. During the finals Ginobili was a turnover machine and he constantly took terrible shots throughout the entire postseason.

More than likely he’ll be back but can they also bring back starting center Tiago Splitter? And where does free agent Gary Neal fit in this whole thing? The Spurs very well may be the Baltimore Ravens of the NBA; a team led by some of the best players in their era but they are all either at the point of retirement or nearing retirement and the tough decisions need to be made now. Duncan is under contract and could probably still play at a high level for three years but should they keep Ginobili? History tells us that 35-year-old wings who have built their game around their athletic ability fall off at a lighting speed and maybe the playoffs were the beginning of that drop. It just seems stupid to think the Spurs would let a lifer like Ginobili leave as a free agent but who makes more sense to sign, a 35-year-old shooting guard well past his prime or a 28-year-old center heading right into his best days and a 28-year-old combo guard capable of shooting the lights out of the place on any given night?

3. Is Houston the next super team?

I think they’ll come up just short. I do think they’ll get Dwight Howard but Chris Paul looks like he’s staying with the Clippers with the addition of Doc Rivers. With that said, though, I think the Rockets can still make a play for another big free agent or possible make a trade for a veteran like Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.

All of a sudden Houston is become a sexy place for athletes to go. It’s becoming a party city, it’s not far at all from the beaches of the Gulf or the Galveston Bay and it’s a steady franchise. Plus, it’s in a division where the players get not only national but world wide exposure thanks to Yao Ming having made it one of the most popular team in the Eastern Hemisphere.

4. Are the Lakers done for?

No, they’re still the Lakers so good players still want to play for them, just like the Yankees in baseball and Cowboys in football. Kobe Bryant still has some left in the tank but this team does need to figure things out quick. More than likely they’ll make the playoffs again even with Dwight Howard pretty much out the door and honestly I think that will help Pau Gasol be more effective but they are so old as a team they just need some sort of youth to develop. With no first round draft pick that might be hard to do. If they could steal Tiago Splitter away from the Spurs that would be an idea situation for them, then again, even without Howard they are over the cap so making any sort of play for anybody on the free agent market just isn’t possible. Man I really don’t know what this team will do.

5. Why was Lionel Hollins fired?

Lionel Hollins

What is with all of these NBA teams thinking they are better than they are? There was no reason Lionel Hollins should not have had his contract renewed, it’s baffling. They just won the most games in their franchise’ history. They have a very good core group of players and they are pretty young and very capable of being good for a long time and they worked great in the system they were in so why the hell did the Grizzlies get rid of him?

The only thing I can think of is that he wasn’t getting along with the ownership or his general manager so they felt a need to go another way but now what do they have? Nothing. George Karl isn’t going there. Doc Rivers isn’t going there. Phil Jackson isn’t going there. Neither one of the Gundy brothers are going there. Why would they get did of them? It makes no sense.

6. What is next for the Celtics?

Good team, good organization, good franchise all know when to make the tough business decision they need to make in order to ensure their long term success. The Baltimore Ravens just had one Hall of Famer retire but they let another one just walk in free agency without even making him an offer. It sounds crazy but they had to do it because sticking with an aging Ed Reed was not going to help them win championships.

That is pretty much where the Celtics are right now. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will both be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day but both are clearly well past their primes and it seems like it is time to move on, especially after trading Doc Rivers. They should built the team around Rajon Rondo and let Jeff Green develop into the big-time player that we all saw he could be early in his career and let Jared Sullinger be a double-double machine while Brandon Bass provides serious toughness in the paint. Try to get DeAndre Jordan in a deal and put him in there as the center. Then all you need is to find a shooting guard and we got a nice team that can win now and in the long run.

7. Who will replace Doc Rivers as Boston’s coach?

Rivers’ assistant Kevin Eastman is an obvious candidate for the job and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has been linked to the job as well but I really like Lionel Hollins. Obviously I think he’s a very good coach and he’s the kind of guy who just seems to fit into the Boston Celtis system. Hollins runs a very tough defense but with the Celtics ready to turn the team over to point guard Rajon Rondo who better to take over than the guy who just helped Mike Conley, Jr. develop into one of the most dynamic floor leaders in the league.

8. Who is my sleeper in this NBA Draft?

Phil PresseyWithout giving away too much before I release my final mock draft that is coming very soon I think we all know who generally is going to be picked early and who some late picks will be. While I made it clear when I labeled Giannis Antetokounmpo my No. 1 overall draft prospect that it all depends what player goes to what team to determine who is going to develop into a good player I really like Phil Pressey as my sleeper. The guy isn’t particularly big but he does what you want a point guard to do: make good passes. Forget about the high scorers in college, while they are clearly talented it doesn’t always make you a good NBA prospect to be a guy who constantly has the ball in his hands and has offenses designed around you. You have to work up to that in the NBA so late round picks needs to adapt and Pressey was never the go-to-scorer at Missouri but he was able to lead them on offense. He’s very quick, very athletic and very crafty as well. Pressey can take over games with his passing and in the NBA unselfish passing point guard always find a place for themselves. Just look at Steve Blake, who is much more limited athletically than Pressey is.

Well, enough speculation on what teams should do in the NBA moving forward and let’s move on to the Stanley Cup Finals…

9. How exciting is this series for a very casual hockey fan?

As I mentioned last time I truly regret not knowing hockey but my eyes have been glued to the television during the Stanley Cup Finals, as they usually are every year, and it’s incredibly. I know what is going on during a Hockey game, I just don’t follow the ins and own and transactions and trends of the players and teams but I’m loving this series. It started off with a huge bang with three overtimes where both teams had endless chances to get the finals goal but great plays or an occasional miss play kept things going. I walked into work the next morning after staying up until 3 am hating life but it was fun while I was staying up watching it. Then two more overtime games. Talk about a close series. Even as a guy who doesn’t really know hockey I knew this would be a close series but this is ridiculous. Chicago has a chance to end it on Monday but it sure would be exciting to see Boston extend it to seven.

10. Is contraction the only way to save the NHL?

Expansion, contraction and relocation has always been something that has interested me and I’ve always kept close tabs on team’s working income’s, fan bases, media markets, etc. And I’ll say right now that yes, contraction is needed in the NHL, among other sports. I’m giving a little bit of a preview for a future featured article I’ll be writing. Of the five major sports leagues in America (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS) four of them are over-expended. During the 1980s and 90s when the economy was great and people were spending money those leagues decided to capitalize on it but now in this sort of economy not that many cities can support the teams.

And I’m out of hockey stuff so we’re jumping to the NFL…

11. Um…what the heck is wrong with you Aaron Hernandez?

Ok I really don’t like to pass judgement on legal situations until they are settled in the court of law because I have no legal background and I don’t think it is fair to judge a person before we truly find out what happened but Hernandez is in a world of trouble right now and it doesn’t look too good for him. Whether he is convicted of anything or not Roger Goodell will more than likely suspend him and I wouldn’t be shocked it he had to miss this entire season and it couldn’t come at a worse time with Rob Gronkowski all banged up.

Maybe when we called the Patriots crazy for loading up on tight ends we were all wrong. Maybe they saw the bad off the field concerns that caused Hernandez to drop multiple rounds in the draft and the party-hard lifestyle of Gronk and wanted to be ready. Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui aren’t elite tight ends but they are definitely solid starters that the Patriots could depend on. Maybe Bill Belichick just outsmarted all of us in his preparation.

12. What one offensive player is headed for a breakout season?

Coby FleenerThe NFL is an offensive league. Growing up in Baltimore watching those phenomenal Ravens defenses over the year I still love defense and hard-hitting 10-7 games and but I completely realize that offensive is the key to success in the NFL. Just look at the Ravens winning last year with a bad defense, the Giants and Patriots having the two worst defense in the league two years ago, the Packers, Colts, Saints; all of them had dynamic offenses and terrible defenses when they won. It’s how it goes so I’m looking for that one guy I think can be a huge breakout player this year. And we all know since teams don’t even run the ball anymore it has to be a tight end of a wide receiver.

I’m going to go with Coby Fleener. I really liked him last year and he didn’t really do anything but I think it was just a year too early. Forget about his history with Andrew Luck in college, the simple fact about it is the NFL is really making tight ends a huge part of their offenses because they are such a match up problem and Fleener was far and away the best pass-catching tight end in last year’s draft. With a year under his belt, a better offensive line (so he doesn’t have to be used as a blocker as much anymore) and the loss of Donnie Avery the Colts will have a spot for him in the passing game.

13. Are their any remaining free agents who could make an impact if a team signs them?

Casey Hampton, Nick Barnett, John Abraham, Eric Winston, Leroy Hill, Peyton Hillis. These are all good players still on the free agent market. Age is the big reason they are all still available because teams probably have no interest paying them what they want but they’ll all catch on somewhere before the season, whether it be a team trying to get somebody to replace and injured player or realizing that they just need some help. None of them will be the difference between winning a Super Bowl or not but they can all definitely help a team.


14. Who is the next American stud?

While not one of the biggest, most popular sports in America the United States has done a great job developing tremendous tennis players throughout history. Just going back 50 years there has always been at least one dominant men’s singles player atop the sport. In the 60s it was Arthur Ashe. In the 70s it was Jimmy Connors. John McEnroe dominated in the 80s and in the 90s, while the US was at it’s best, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Michael Chang were some of the best around. Well Andy Roddick was the American face of the spot from 2000 to 2012 and it’s been about six months but still no American has stepped up and become a top player in the world. It’s just weird. The US always had somebody ready to take over the reigns of the sport when the guy before him retires but since Roddick called it a career we don’t have a top guy.

This is no disrespect to guys like Sam Querrey, John Isner or Mardy Fish, they are all quality players but let’s be a little realistic, none of them could be viewed as a serious grand slam champion. Even when Roddick was at his worst we all still felt he could walk away with a victory at any of the major tournaments.

John Isner

For a while we all thought it could be Isner after he became famous from his two-day long match against Nicolas Mahut. In singles competition Isner, currently ranked No. 21 in the world, is 180-121 with six titles but he hasn’t gone too far in any of the tournaments. His best outings were at the 2011 US Open and 2012 Olympics where he went to the quarter finals but didn’t last too long.

Querry is 196-156 with seven titles and is currently ranked No. 19 but has never been past the third round in any tournament.

The 31-year-old Mardy Fish may be too old to make the jump to being the face of the sport in America though he does have a decent record of 296-210. He’s currently ranked No. 43 in the world and went to the quarter finals in the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open but hasn’t really been a contender for a few years.

At 26-years-old Isner has the best chance to become a major contender, especially with his great serve and very nice agility despite a huge frame but we have yet to come close to that tournament run that gets him there.


15. Tiger Woods why must you keep teasing us?

We all want the comeback and we thought he was there where he regained his No. 1 World Ranking not too long ago after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, his third victory this year and thanks to an impressive victory at THE PLAYERS Championship on May 12 he’s kept his top ranking but a fourth-place finish at The Masters and horrible 65th place victory at the Memorial Tournament just leaves you scratching your head.

Muirfield Village Golf Course is a touch course and it’s far from a major tournament so most of the big-time players don’t really go all out while playing it but he couldn’t do anything right that day. He has three more shots to win a Grand Slam this year so hopefully we’ll finally get the comeback that despite the No. 1 ranking just doesn’t feel complete.

Ok enough of the fun, somewhat obscure niche sports, let’s move on to baseball…

16. If the season ended today is Chris Davis the AL MVP?

Out of nowhere look at this guy. Chris Davis is hitting .336 with 70 RBIs and a league-high 27 home runs and is just killing it for the Orioles. He is definitely an MVP Candidate right now and should be the AL first baseman during the All-Star game but as dominant as he is I still can’t give him the MVP if we were handing it out today. That would have to go to last year’s triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who is leading the majors with a ridiculous .370 batting average and 75 RBIs, while tied for fourth in the majors with 20 home runs, (tied for third in the AL). Nobody on the planet is a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera, not even a remarkably hot-hitting Chris Davis.

17. Why are there so few good rookies?

Yasiel Puig

Does anybody else find it sad that after 19 games Yasiel Puig is probably the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year? I’m not saying the guy hasn’t been amazing; since making his debut on June 3 he’s hit .463 with six home runs and 12 RBIs. Last year we saw Mike Trout, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper all came up and dominated and are still dominating but this year there aren’t any big-time rookies, not even still down in the minor leagues.

If Puig keeps things up he’ll definitely have a dominant season but I just think it says something that 19 games worth of stats is good enough to win the award right now. Atlanta’s Evan Gattis leads all rookies with 37 RBIs and 14 home runs right now…eh.

18. Is it time to start believing in Toronto?

Not just yet. The Blue Jays are the hottest team in the league, winning 11-straight games and moving up to fourth in the AL East, where every team is above .500. The last time I wrote this column I gave up on the Blue Jays but now they look like the team we all thought they could be. Unlike the pitiful Angeles or Dodgers.

But hang on one second. We shouldn’t forget about all of the bad stuff we saw all season long just because the Blue Jays are on a hot streak. They have to lose eventually and the key will be what they do after they lose. If they respond from their loss by going 7-3 in the next ten games then yes, we should star believing in the Blue Jays but if they go 4-6 then it might be safe to say they were just one a hot streak and didn’t figure things out for good.

19. Which LA team has a move likely chance to turn things around?

Alright, neither LA team is any good and neither will even sniff the playoffs. While they have high-priced players and big names they also have really cheap bad players to make up for all of the spending. It’s not a good mix because all throughout their lineup there is room for improvement. But the Dodgers definitely have the better chance at turning things around for no other reason than their division is pathetic.

The Dodgers are only 8.5 games back in their division where they division-leading diamondbacks are only 41-34. If they get one a small hot-streak and then just play .500 ball the rest of the year they may end up seeing the postseason. Just don’t count on it.

20. Other than Chris Davis what player is the biggest surprise this year?

Jeff LockeI still don’t even know who Jeff Locke is for any other reason than I have him on my fantasy team but unlike Matt Harvey, Dominic Brown or Pedro Alvarez who showed great potential before I had no expectations for Locke. Like I said, I didn’t know who the guys was and never heard about him as a minor league player but through 15 games he’s 6-1 with 63 strikeouts in 89.1 innings with a 2.01 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Maybe he can help the Pirates end their steak of 20-straight losing seasons.

21. Why isn’t college baseball in the mainstream?

College football and college basketball are sometimes just as popular as their professional counterparts but the big professional spring sport just isn’t popular at the college level and I don’t think it ever will be. Professional baseball is still incredibly popular despite all of the problems it’s facing but I think the problem with college baseball is that is is so diluted. The best players from high school go to the majors right away but that isn’t all. If that were the only problem then college basketball wouldn’t have been popular when Kobe and Lebron were going straight into the NBA. College football and college basketball players can compete in the NBA or NFL right away but college baseball players are still over a year away even after four years. It would be like watching high school football every Friday on television, it just wouldn’t be very interesting.

On to some soccer…

22. Should I pay some apologize to Jurgen Klinsmann now?

I had my doubts about this guy when they kept losing but after four-straight international victories and three-straight World Cup qualifier wins the US Men’s National Team is flying very high and are very fun to watch. We all have dreams that the US makes some miraculous run and win the World Cup and while that probably won’t happen next summer at least I think we can all really believe they can make that some great run that gets American’s into soccer.

23. Is there a place on the USMNT roster for Landon Donovan?

I have a lot of respect for Jurgen Klinsmann sticking to his guns and keeping Landon Donovan off the national team because he has not been fully committed to the squad and hasn’t been playing through the hard times so now that they are on the right track he’s keeping his guys who have worked through it and keeping Donovan off the roster. To Klinsmann you get your spot on the roster based on merit and not reputation. But come on, Donovan better be on this team moving forward. I understand he hasn’t been a part of the team so just simply adding a guy isn’t the greatest of moves but this very well may be the greatest American soccer player ever. If the United States has any hope of making that run they need their best players on the roster and Donovan is clearly needed.

We got a big MMA fight coming up…

Anderson Silva24. Does Chris Weidman stand a chance against Anderson Silva?

No. Chris Weidman doesn’t have the skill or experience to defeat Silva. He’s a fine fighter with a great wrestling background but with only nine fights under his belt there is no way he has the know how to beat such a dangerous fighter like Silva.

Last but not least, my little rant…

25. What else can we do besides watch baseball this summer?

Once the Stanley Cup finals are over we’re at the point in the season where there is nothing major to pay attention to other than baseball. Summer is the only time of the year that we don’t have a bunch of things going on. From September to October we have MLB, NFL, and college football. From October to January we have the NFL, NBA, NHL, college football and college basketball. From January to March it’s the NBA, NHL and college basketball. From March until July we have MLB, NHL, and the NBA. From July until September we have MLB. It’s great for baseball that they are by themselves but sometimes we just nee a little variety. It’s good that every two years we either have the Olympics or World Cup but those years in between it’s boring.

We need something else we can pay attention to. Maybe a huge MMA tournament ever two years, and I’m not talking something like Bellator either. All of the major promotions around the world have to be in on it. Or maybe the MLS can become more popular ad we can follow that every summer.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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