Month: February 2010

About Time You’re No Longer Children …………. You’re Grown Ups Act Like It !


About Time You’re No Longer Children ………….You’re Grown Ups Act Like It !

Have you ever noticed how a young child reacts when it is being scolded by a parent ? They tend to wail , scream and make as much noise as is possible in order to either get noticed or as a mechanism in the hope that the parent will abandon their punishment and then things will be at an end. Much as in the same way that both the NFLPA (Players’ Union) and MLBPA (Baseball Players’ Union) has behaved when it comes to their respective governing bodies’ stance on the illegal use of prohibitive substances. Each has had to be dragged into the twenty first century when it comes to dealing with this specific issue , its dangers and the ramifications from it all. Never mind the fact that you have the archaic remains and governing style of Commissioner Bud Selig overseeing major league baseball (MLB). And here too, he has to be held accountable for his intransigence when broached on the subject.

Gay Culverhouse, former president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right, accompanied by NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, center, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on legal issues relating to football head injuries.
Gay Culverhouse, former president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right, accompanied by NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, center, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on legal issues relating to football head injuries. photo appears courtesy of Assoc Press/ Charles Dharapak .............

Now with the NFL seeking to finally take a proactive approach on the matter , we shall see if both unions the MLB hierarchy are prepared to follow in step and recognize an adopted policy in terms of testing for ‘HGH’ (human growth hormone). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of the recent findings and the ban of UK rugby league player Terry Newton being banned. He has seen fit to initiate a communique’ with his counterpart NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on the subject . It has brought a sense of urgency stateside, as to what ought to be done and how best to go about implementing a testing protocol that isn’t overly intrusive but at the same time is equitable and above reproach.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

NFL hopes to test for HGH; MLB talks with union

By Ronald Blum , AP Sports Writer

New York (AP)—The NFL hopes to start testing players for human growth hormone, and Major League Baseball has started talks with its union to investigate the test that led to the suspension of a British rugby player.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday that the league had made a proposal to its players in January regarding HGH. Discussions are ongoing, he said.

“Our position is that HGH testing has advanced to the point where we are taking steps to incorporate it into our program,” Aiello said. “We have proposed it to the union.”

The NFLPA’s player development director, Stacy Robinson, said in a statement that the union “has supported research to find a suitable test that will detect sustained HGH use.”

“We believe in and collectively bargained for a system that supports the testing of all banned substances,” he said.

The NFL has used preseason blood tests since at least 2006 for cholesterol and tryglycerates. Baseball has had urine testing since 2003 but not blood testing.

“We have previously said that if a scientifically validated blood test for HGH is available, we would consider its utilization,” new baseball players’ association head Michael Weiner said. “But a single uncontested positive does not scientifically validate a test. There remains debate in the testing community about the scientific validity of this test.”

The issue of HGH testing has gained renewed interest in the wake of the United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority announcing a two-year ban Monday for rugby player Terry Newton, saying he had tested positive and become the first athlete suspended for using HGH.

The substance is believed by some to hasten healing but there is still a debate over whether it increases strength.

A blood test for HGH has been in existence since the 2004 Athens Olympics and available in the U.S. since 2008, according to United States Anti-Doping Agency executive director Travis Tygart.

Tygart said the test was available to professional leagues, but only through World Anti-Doping Agency labs.

“It’s one that’s been well-vetted, well-discussed,” he said by telephone from London. “Further research has been done to get it to a point where it’s scientifically valid, and we’re happy to help any entity that’s interested in having an effective test, whether we’re involved with their program or not, getting them comfortable with the validity of the science.”

While MLB can institute blood tests for players on minor league rosters, it must reach an agreement with the players’ association to start blood testing for unionized players on 40-man big league rosters.

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The NFL’s ‘point man’ on this all, appears to be Greg Aiello NFL Director of Communications. and he will on Goodell’s behalf look to deal with the union on this matter. The union will be initially represented by Stacy Robinson who is the Directory of Player Development for the NFLPA. Theirs is the task of initiating the approach to be taken by both parties in this matter. If they can be proactive in this , then surely the other major sports will follow ? Something most definitely has to be done rather than each governing body hiding behind the act as to an individual’s right of privacy. The NBA , NHL , MLS , NCAA and NASCAR , each has its own role to play in this all. . But if two of the four major sports can somehow come to some accord with their respective union counterparts on the matter . Then it would certainly give the perception to the public that they finally mean business when it comes to not only the illegal use of HGH steroids amongst athletes but also other banned substances. On the college level there’s no statistical evidence to show whether or not there’s widespread use of steroids or HGH amongst collegiate athletes. But surely, it has to be profligate amongst certain sports and athletes ? And with the secrecy of the NCAA and its less then openness in how it conducts its business affairs. Who really knows what is going on amongst the university campuses , it coaches, AD’s and the athletes themselves ?

    As they promised during All-Star Weekend, NBA commissioner David Stern and Players Association chief Billy Hunter will start talks on a new collective bargaining agreement earlier than ever before.
As they promised during All-Star Weekend, NBA commissioner David Stern and Players Association chief Billy Hunter will start talks on a new collective bargaining agreement earlier than ever before. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images / Bill Baptiste ..............

MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner , whose predecessor Donald Fehr , was the often viewed as a reptilian and chameleon like individual. Fehr , was less than truthful and during the steroid fallout concerning his union members . He was of the belief that his members’ privacy superseded the laws of the land. And even when he testified under subpoena in-front the House Government Oversight Committee. It were as if he were giving a well rehearsed testimony, as to how his members and the union itself had done everything to stamp out the illegal use of steroids within the game. But consider this, MLB has only an agreement to test for certain banned substances only with minor leaguers. Whereas, it has yet to reach a fully mandated agreement with the MLBPA as to what it can strictly test for amongst the active roster members on the teams within major league baseball. How asinine is this to begin with ? And what in God’s name is wrong with Bud Selig in his role as commissioner ? Much like the other members of MLB’s his executive committee , he’s proving to be a blithering and bumbling idiot !

MLBPA  Executive Director Michael  Weiner  , seated  left,  alongside   Red Sox  slugger David Ortiz.  The  player was  addressing   the  press  about a  failed   drug  test.  photo  appears  courtesy  of  UPI/ Mark  Talbot ...............
MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner , seated left, alongside Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. The player was addressing the press about a failed drug test. photo appears courtesy of UPI/ Mark Talbot ...............

Now it remains to be seen if NBA Commissioner David Stern will follow suit and urge his NPBA counterpart Billy Hunter and open a line of communication and discuss the matter openly. Therein, they too can adopt a strict protocol of testing also for HGH and not just the already mandated substances allowed under the union’s collective bargaining agreement. In many cases to me anyway , it does appear as if, it is the unions who are dictating policy and the hierarchies in question are merely abiding by those guidelines ! Is it any wonder the relationships between these parties are constantly strained to say the very least ? The commissioners simply cower in the corner while the unions run carte-blanch over every piece of policy that they seek to have to their benefit. Be it good or bad , just as long on appearance they get the upper hand.

Allan ‘Bud’ Selig , Commissioner of Major League Baseball, seated alongside President & Chief Operating Officer  Bob DuPuy . picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Roger Scott ……………..
Allan ‘Bud’ Selig , Commissioner of Major League Baseball, seated alongside President & Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy . photo appears courtey Assoc Press/ Roger Scott ……………..

For the fans and government alike , who may well be watching this all intently. It will be very interesting to see what materializes from this all , at the end of the day. All parties are best served by doing something proactive . Rather than waiting on a major tragedy to strike a major sport’s star or college athlete. The ramifications from that , would far supersede what has been going on recently. Remember this however, we’re dealing the unions and the governing bodies of sports. Their sole existence it appears to be financial gain at the expense everything that’s said and meant to be decent . So should we really be expecting anything else from them at juncture ? I await your comments on this very topic . By all means do chime in with a comment and I will do my utmost to respond to each appropriately.

Thanks as always for your continued support , it is greatly appreciated !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………….

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Tim Tebow Is Not My Role Model ……….. But Who Cares ……….?.




Tim Tebow Is Not My Role Model ……….. But Who Cares ………..?



In all honesty the hype being poured over Gators’ quarterback Tim Tebow, though not entirely unwarranted. It is now placing an insurmountable pressure on the young player’s shoulders. The NFL draft geeks are already gauging the player’s attributes. And given his lackluster display in the Seniors’ Game, I wouldn’t at present put a great deal of store it. Asides from that, the game on appearance was about as competitive tiddly-winks . There was no real determination there from the seniors , other than to impress the convened NFL scouts and general managers who were in attendance. If anything , what warrants being looked at , is the players have handled themselves under pressure during their game time decision making on the field of play. That if anything ought to be the overall determining factor. Rather than assessing a player by his 40 yard dash time and his vertical leap. Oh by the way , less we forget there’s all too important ‘Wonderlic Test’ ? Where would the NFL scouts , GM’s and coaches be without that ?

Gatots'  player  Tim  Tebow (15) and   his  coach    Urban  Meyer   discuss  their options  during  a  game.   photo   appears   courtesy  of   Getty Images/ Chris   Dickson ...................
Gators' player Tim Tebow (15) and his coach Urban Meyer discuss their options during a game. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Chris Dickson ...................



Now far be it for me to suggest that the amateur draft geeks out there aren’t entitled to their opinions. But trying to pick a player that’ll resonate with an NFL franchise and make them a contender . Well , in essence, it’s like picking a ‘penny stock’ and thinking that overnight it’ll become the next Berkshire Hathaway or Google stock that will go through the roof, in terms of its value. It’s a shot in the dark , that even the experts themselves aren’t completely sure of. But they too, try to convince us that they’re good at what they do. Here’s a caveat, when you have Mel Kiper Jr telling you that the likes of Ryan Leaf and Akili Smith will become future stars in the NFL. Then by all means look to see if Kiper has a shovel in his hands while he’s digging himself up from the knee high dung heap that surrounds him. Another reminder, at your risk don’t take or put much store in the advice being given to you by CNBC’s Jim Cramer. When a person of his alleged experience and success tells you that he failed to use due diligence while telling viewers to plow their life savings into AIG . Then you know his ass, also, has been sailing far too close to the wind for comfort !



While there has been a certain amount of justification concerning Tim Tebow as a player and the fact that he’s a profound risk taker. What one can’t argue against is that he’s a proven winner. His body of work over the entirety of his college career has proven that. A two time national championship winner, Heisman Trophy winner and twice placing in the top 5. Tebow’s career has been amongst the most illustrious in all of collegiate football. And he’s by far the most renowned and revered player in the Gators’ history. But those facts alone won’t be what he’ll be judged upon , come NFL Draft Day in early April. It will be upon his abilities as a player and whether or not he has the physical and mental attributes to take the next step at the professional level . Players with lesser talent than Tebow have succeeded in the NFL. While others with what can be best described as being prodigiously talented , failed to live up the perceived hype and failed miserably within the professional ranks of the NFL. Many are already beginning to cast Tebow in the latter category . And others believe that he has the genuine ability to make as a professional in the NFL. Some of his detractors believe that because he’s not your proto-typical NFL quarterback. Then he’s doomed to failure and it would be in his best interest to become a converted tight-end or or fullback . Tiim Tebow believes that he can make it in the league as a quarterback and it is, his intent, to prove the naysayers wrong.


One of the gripes against Tebow’s coach at Florida, Urban Meyer. It was the very fact that the coach and his ‘coaching staff’ have never developed and produced a college quarterback who’s proven to be a success in the NFL . It certainly hasn’t happened with former Utah Utes’ player Alex Smith . And the former Utes’ player’s struggles have been well chronicled since he was taken number one overall in the NFL Draft by the San Francisco49ers in 2005 (click on link to view in full). And for the team’s front office and coaching staff , it has to proven to be a financial and competitive disaster ! As to what this would suggest about Meyer as a coach and that of his staff in being unable to produce a quarterback of moderate talent ? It would suggest that his main priorities are with winning and not completely with the genuine development of the players’ talents that have been made available to him.


Courtesy of Jaguars.com


Jags need what the draft has

Pass-rushers abound

By Vic Ketchman , jaguars.com Senior Editor

General Manager Gene Smith shouldn’t have to leave the value line of his draft board to address the Jaguars’ needs in this year’s draft. That’s the early forecast as the team heads to Indianapolis for this week’s annual scouting combine.

“The strength is on the defensive side of the ball. The strength is the defensive line. It matches,” Smith said of the talent in this draft and the Jaguars’ needs, which appear to be greatest on the defensive side of the ball.

Specifically, the Jaguars need to improve their pass-rush, which produced a league-low and franchise-low 14 sacks last season. The good news is that this year’s draft class is loaded with pass-rush prospects.

“I think it’s a good group. You’ve got some 4-3 ends and some 3-4 outside linebackers, plus, you have some interior defensive linemen,” Smith said.

Defensive ends selected in the first round of this year’s draft might approach double figures. It’s a group that’s headed by edge pass-rushers Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech and Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida.

The Jaguars will have either the 10th or 11th overall pick, depending on a coin flip at the combine with the Denver Broncos. Morgan and Pierre-Paul would figure to be early candidates for the Jaguars but Smith confirmed to jaguars.com that he’d like to trade down and acquire an extra pick or picks, and the depth of the pass-rush crop would suggest that Smith could trade down and still get his man.

Florida’s Carlos Dunlap, USC’s Everson Griffen, Northwestern’s Corey Wootton and Mississippi’s Greg Hardy are top prospects, and South Florida’s George Selvie, Virginia Tech’s Jason Worilds, Arkansas State’s Alex Carrington and Murray State’s Austen Lane are intriguing down-the-line prospects, and the list doesn’t end there.

The list, in fact, is so deep and the Jaguars’ need is so great that Smith could find a pass-rusher at the top of his board on multiple occasions. Smith said he will remain firm in his commitment to drafting the best available player.

Will you stick to it, he was asked?

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And for Tebow , he now has to prove to his detractors that he’s more than capable of playing in the NFL and worthy of being a ‘first round’ daft pick. Most have him as a ‘mid to late second round’ pick. And that’s when measured against the other quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. Amongst his peers at the position are Sam Bradford , Colt McCoy , Tony Pike and Jimmy Clausen . For the pundits who feel that Clausen may well be the ‘pick of the litter’ in what has been suggested is a very talented bunch of quarterbacks. Think again ? He’s ‘good’ but he’s not that good ! The only thing that has made Clausen look impressive was the mere fact that he had Golden Tate , as a receiver. Beyond that his temperament is questionable, as are his leadership skills and the qualities he brings in terms of his demeanor. And less we forget that under former coach, Charlie WeisNotre Dame was hardly thought of as a competitive footballing bastion , throughout his tenure with the program. Weis’ record bears this out, as does Clausen’s.


Hometown favorites, the Jacksonville Jaguars are thought to have Tebow on their radar as their number on pick in the first round. Commercially , it would make a great deal of sense but the team as a whole , is dire need of so much more than beyond that , of having the former Gators’ player, play in his home state. Jaguars’ owner Wayne Weaver is said to be greatly enamored with the player and his abilities. But when measured against his team’s greatest needs , it would prove to be more productive in using the pick more judiciously. Team GM , Gene Smith along with coach , Jack Del Rio and the coaching staff have a great deal of assessing to do , as to the team’s overall and most acute needs. And with the organization due to have the tenth pick in the first round , it will be interesting to see whether or not they follow the common thought process , that Tebow will indeed be their first choice in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft.


I’m neither a Gators’ fan or for that matter a Jaguars’ fans. However, it’d be nice to see some sort of competitive edge brought to the three professional NFL franchises within the state of Florida. Tim Tebow may well be the answer to the Jaguars’ prayers and then again it may not. He’s neither my role model but he’s damn well better than the likes of the so called can’t miss chances that we’d been bombarded with over the past few years at the quarterback position. In the end it will come down to the player’s desire to prove his detractors wrong and the environment where he’s placed in order that he might succeed. So lets see how things will actually unfold on the day for the player and the team who chooses to make him their first overall pick.


Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………

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SWV brings you ‘Rain’

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The rather delectable Bianca Gascoigne. Have fun while perusing the picture gallery. And remember, in order to appreciate the content in all of its glory. Just click unto each picture to view, up close and personal.

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Bianca Gascoigne , lingerie model and tv reality star in the UK.

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What Is It That Mark McGwire Is Said To Be Doing For The St Louis Cardinals …………?


What Is It That Mark McGwire Is Said To Be Doing For The St Louis Cardinals …………?

I’m not at all treating this with a great deal of skepticism but I do find it totally abhorrent that MLB has seen fit to welcome Mark McGwire ‘back with open arms’ ! Never mind the fact that after all these years , he has seen fit to finally admit that he lied to the public about his steroid use over the course of his major league baseball career. It’s even more preposterous that Commissioner Bud Selig feels that McGwire has atoned for his sins. McGwire hasn’t atoned for anything , he’s simply profited financially from being ‘a cheat to begin with’ ! But a buffoon such as Bud Selig, wouldn’t at all see it that way.

Mark  McGwire  seen  here  swearing  under  oath   prior  to  giving   testimony  having  been  subpoenad  by  the  House  Government  Oversight  Committee  .    photo  appears   courtesy  of   Associated  Press / Matthew  Robinson  ..................
Mark McGwire seen here swearing under oath prior to giving testimony having been subpoenad by the House Government Oversight Committee . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Matthew Robinson ..................

McGwire will report for Spring Training , where he’ll be part of Tony La Russa’s , coaching staff for the St Louis Cardinals. And McGwire’s primary role with the team , will be as its batting coach. Though it’s pretty safe to say, that there’s not a great deal that McGwire can teach to the likes of Matt Holliday or Albert Pujols on the St Louis Cardinals’ team. If anything, he’ll prove to be something of a mentor to the young players on this Cardinals’ roster , as they set about making a name for themselves in baseball and within the NL Central .

And though Cardinals’ fans seem to be forgiving of the player , judging by the respectful applause accorded to the player when he addressed them formally for the first time, upon the announcement that he was to rejoin the organization. As to what the Cardinals’ front office had to have been thinking concerning this maneuver, has to be open to a great deal of debate and conjecture, to say the very least. One can only surmise that much of his has been done at the behest of La Russa and certain members of his coaching staff. Though I’m also inclined to believe that principal partner William De Witt alongside Vice Chairman Fred Hanser and GM John Mozeliak all played a part in the decision making process that went on before a final decision was reached. And this to me is a clear indication that baseball tends to look after its own, especially when their deeds are deemed to have been egregious and of the most heinous variety. Forgiveness is one thing, when there’s a genuine act of contrition on the part of the perpetrator. But here, McGwire ‘lied to not only the fans but more likely than not he also to his teammates and the organization that was his employer at the time. What though to me isn’t all surprising , has been the continued denials by Tony La Russa at no time did he see or did it ever occur to him that McGwire and then teammate , Jose Canseco were using steroids in the Oakland A’s locker rooms , when all three were part of the ‘organization’ . That statement by La Russa rings ‘hollow’ to this day ! And it proves just how asinine his continued stance has been. Much like baseball’s complete stance on the ‘steroid issue’ to begin with.

McGwire  unleashes  his   wrath   with    his  now  all  too  well  known swing
McGwire unleashes his wrath with his now all too well known swing. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Connor Bart ...................

Courtesy of The New York Times

A Loyal Tony La Russa Remains Mark McGwire’s Biggest Booster

By Harvey Araton ,

Jupiter, Fla. — There is eternal defiance in 65-year-old Tony La Russa, from the tenor of his voice to the fountain-of-youth tint of his still-modish mane to the steroid taint of his new hitting coach that he steadfastly refuses to concede.

Fair warning to all Mark McGwire agitators attempting to infiltrate the camp of the St. Louis Cardinals: you will be subdued.

“He’s already explained and apologized more than anybody else in history,” La Russa said of McGwire on Thursday, the first official day of spring training. “As we go forward, anybody tries to interrupt what he’s doing in getting the team ready is going to be stiff-armed.”

Meeting with reporters last week, McGwire revealed that he had had two previous offers to return to the big leagues after retiring in 2001, but that he was too busy starting a second family to meet the demands of being a full-time hitting coach. When the time was finally right, who else could or would have run such dedicated interference for him like La Russa, his manager for all but one and a half of his 16 years in the majors?

Who more than La Russa could have made McGwire’s return almost sound like a human rights cause five years after his dissembling and disastrous performance during a Congressional hearing on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball?

After McGwire’s January confession that he indeed was a user for much of his career, La Russa said, yes, of course he was disappointed to have his longtime fears confirmed, but his support was unwavering. He even said he was not worried that McGwire’s revelation might affect his own reputation and Hall of Fame candidacy — albeit knowing that a manager’s fate is in the hands of the more fraternal veterans committee and not with the contentious news media.

For his part, during a session here with reporters, McGwire hailed La Russa as “my second father, my first manager,” who has “seen me grow as a person, as a hitter.”

Steroid component and controversy aside, there is a poignant narrative to their relationship, a testament to familial loyalty in La-La Land. Those who know La Russa well say they are not surprised by his fealty, or fearlessness, in the face of a public pushback.

“Tony has been doing controversial things his entire career,” said Dave Duncan, who has been La Russa’s pitching coach in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis. “He’s played a left-hander at third base, had a three-man rotation, batted the pitcher eighth. If he thinks it’s the right thing to do, he’s going to do it. Believe me, he’s got one thing on his mind, and it’s putting together a successful team, not what the media or the public thinks.”

Others, while commending La Russa for having the courage of his conviction, advise him to be mindful that he is the Cardinals’ manager more than he is a mentor to McGwire.

“On the one hand, Tony’s got that strength of character,” Sandy Alderson, who was Oakland’s general manager when La Russa and McGwire helped the Athletics win three American League pennants and the 1989 World Series. “On the other hand, you don’t want to be tone deaf to the situation.”

In a telephone interview, Alderson cited McGwire as “just one example” of La Russa’s allegiance to those he has worked and bonded with. He expressed confidence that La Russa would not allow McGwire’s presence to affect the Cardinals negatively.

“He will see what needs to be done and respond without altering his conviction, because that’s what he does for a living,” Alderson said.

But some people are left to wonder why La Russa did not push McGwire to at least acknowledge the likelihood that steroids had contributed to his late-career slugging surge, and had not just served his medicinal needs to surmount career-threatening injuries. Perhaps then the spotlight would be trained on Albert Pujols and the Cardinals’ defense of the N.L. Central title, not on McGwire and steroids.

On the subject of Pujols — who, fair or not, must deal with pervasive suspicions that follow all major league mega-achievers in the age of cynicism — the question can be raised: has La Russa made it easier for people to doubt his performance, if only because McGwire will be a continuous reminder of baseball’s innumerable performance-enhancement obfuscations?

La Russa said he did not hire McGwire without serious consideration of his effect on the team.

“The pros overwhelmed the cons,” he said, insisting that McGwire was less his personal reclamation project and more a man with a professional yearning to share a vault of hitting expertise.

Nor did La Russa have to beg or strong-arm the Cardinals’ front office to bring McGwire back into the organization, he said.

“I think I was trusted by our ownership to make the right judgment,” La Russa said, “and I would have been very disappointed if I wasn’t.”

That might, in retrospect, be interpreted as a declaration of leverage in itself. Although Bill DeWitt, the Cardinals’ president, supported La Russa’s contention that the call on McGwire was ultimately a managerial decision, he also suggested that it went beyond the normal rubber-stamping of a coaching hire.

“There were multiple discussions that there would be a lot of media,” DeWitt said. “But that it would also be a chance for Mark to say what he wanted to say for a long time.”

At least for the first couple of spring training days, reporters were still trying to coax McGwire into saying more. For the most part, he did not bite, and La Russa, on the subject of whether McGwire would be a potentially burdensome issue across the long and winding season, would not budge.

All teams have season-long distractions, he contended. The ability to deal with them is what separates the winners from the losers.

“Some have already judged that we can’t win because he’s going to be a distraction,” La Russa said. He paused, and with lips tightening, back arching and arm stiffening, he added, “I’ll take that challenge, like other challenges.”

Delighting in the defiance — that is what he does for a living.

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The fortunes of the Cardinals this season won’t be tied to the effectiveness of McGwire as a hitting instructor. But more so, to the tenacity shown by the team , as they look to defend their NL Central divisional crown. To say the under-achievement of the team last season didn’t come as a surprise , would be an understatement to say the very least. Moreover , there was the belief that La Russa and his coaching staff became entirely complacent and they did little to circumvent much of the malaise that was evident in the team’s failure to make it through the to NLCS series (2009) and to the NL pennant game. They fell short at the very first obstacle by being swept by Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 in the NLDS. Poor play allround by the team was reflected in the series’ loss, much to the dismay of their fans.

Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa addresses McGwire’s admittance that he used steroids. Who’s actually more complicit and culpable in this all ? McGwire, La Russa or both ?

This season however, a great deal will be predicated not only on the play of the reigning NL MVP , Albert Puols but also of his teammate Matt Holiday. With his now definite acclimatization to Busch Stadium in St Louis Missouri. We’ll be able to see whether or not he can be just as productive as he was last year for the team. Pujols , we know will be his usual stellar self , as he has continually exemplified that throughout his entire major league career with the Cardinals. And it appears almost certain that it is his intent to remain a life-long Cardinals’ player. Now comes the hard part, for the front office , as the player becomes a free agent at the end of the 2010 season. And it will be interesting to see the efforts made by John Mozeliak to retain the player and his services. It’d wouldn’t all be foolish to suggest that a ten year $200 million contract would be out of the question for the player. It’s not at all derisive and is commensurate with the marker value of a player of Pujols’ caliber.


On the pitching front if the team’s duo of aces in, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright can be as effective as they were in the regular season, last year . Then it augurs well for the team with and their pitching rotation that is also augmented by Brad Penny , Kyle Lohse , Ryan Franklin and Trever Miller . If the rotation can be remain healthy and productive. Then there’s no reason to believe why it is that the St Louis Cardinals can’t be viewed as a legitimate contender within the National League to challenge the supremacy of the Phillies and Dodgers within the ‘senior’ conference.

McGwire (right) seen here with then manager , Tony La Russa of the St Louis Cardinals. McGwire was recently hired as a hitting instructor for the team. Is anyone under the impression that Albert Pujols is in need of McGwirie's assistance when it comes to 'hitting' a baseball ? picture appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated and AP/Photos/ Rod Killion ......................
McGwire (right) seen here with then manager , Tony La Russa of the St Louis Cardinals. McGwire was recently hired as a hitting instructor for the team. Is anyone under the impression that Albert Pujols is in need of McGwirie's assistance when it comes to 'hitting' a baseball ? picture appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated and AP/Photos/ Rod Killion ......................

As to the outright contributions of Mark McGwire and what they will prove to be ultimately for the organization. It’d be easy to surmise that it all will be met with a certain amount of skepticism by the fans and public alike. But if there’s one thing that you can be sure of , it is that the baseball writers won’t at all be afraid to show their continued support of Mark McGwire to begin . It’s not as if any of them ever had the temerity to question the player’s efforts even when the evidence was there to suggest that all wasn’t above board . And that was even prior to the then allegations being made by Jose Canseco. The fraternity is that is major league baseball (MLB) is still rife with inanity , crass stupidity but most of all their unwillingness to hold others accountable when there has been indeed gross misconduct by a player. Could it be that what little common sense there is in the game , isn’t at all with the players, owners or the game’s hierarchy but with the fans ? That’s now how it all appears, as the writers themselves appear to be just as stupid as the entire game itself , in terms of its participants.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………..

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The Eagles sum up McGwire perfectly, as to what he was about with their song ‘Lyin’ Eyes’. His sole ambition was to cheat and nothing else beyond that. As he profited financially from the subterfuge that MLBPA , the league’s owners as well as the MLB hierarchy were all complicit in.

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Enjoy the ‘fineness’ that is Nicole ‘Hoopz’ Alexander . The reality star’s claim to fame, was that she appeared on the VH1 reality show ‘Flava of Love’ starring William ‘Buster’ Drayton aka ‘Flav Flav’. Don’t forget in order to get the best view possible of these pics’ of Hoopz. Then click on each of the pictures to appreciate. Don’t playa’ hate , just play the game.

Around The World Of Sports And The News In General


Around The World Of Sports And The News In General ………….

Well after the NBA All Star Weekend , the absolute over-hyping of the festivities and the uninspirational events themselves. The regular season of the NBA has resumed. First and foremost, the shock of hearing that Denver Nuggets’ coach George Karl will have to undergo chemotherapy for the treatment of throat cancer puts everything into perspective. It reminds us all of our own imperfections and our mortality. It must no doubt come as a complete shock the Nuggets’ players , as well as the entire organization , from the ownership of Stanley Kroenke on down to the very fans, themselves.

As to how this might all impact the Nuggets’ season remains to be seen. But I’m sure that Karl’s coaching staff and players will be able to carry on as he undergoes his medical treatment. Hopefully this will all lead to a speedy recovery and the total removal of the cancer . Karl has undergone a great deal in terms of his health over the past few years. As recently as 2008 , he underwent treatment for prostate cancer and that has since become benign and in remission.

The Portland Traliblazers in the hope of making a late surge in terms of their placement seeding in the Western Conference standings, have acquired Marcus Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw . This immediately impacts the Trailblazers on both ends of the floor , with having a player of Camby’s caliber , who’ll provide them with steady defense and some offense, as needs be. With the loss of both Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla, the team was in need of a ‘true center’. Camby can play the position with a great amount of deftness. And for coach Nate McMillan , this may well provide him that missing piece to the jig-saw.

It would appear that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ hierarchy is unsure of entering the fray and acquiring Suns’ center/power-forward Amar’e Stoudemire . It’s been widely reported that both LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal would welcome the player within the Cavaliers’ organization. And if anything with the team acquiring Stoudemire. It would no doubt make them the ‘prohibitive favorites’ in the Eastern Conference, ahead of both the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. The sticking point may well be whether or not the player will commit to signing a long term contract with the team, as he’s now in the last season of his present contract, which pays him $17 million for the 2010 season. Never mind the fact, with the ongoing negotiations between the league’s hierarchy (NBA) and the Players’ Union (NBPA). The very fact that the league and its owners are said to be looking for a broad based 20 % cut in the league’s operating costs. This will no doubt put a great deal of responsibility on how a number of teams will now go about replenishing their existing rosters and how they come to dealing with their impending free agents. Salaries asides, the players have an obligation to listen to whatever the league is proposing before placing their own offer to the league’s management committee and David Stern.

The tensions between the two sides has been heightened by the distrust between Stern and his union counterpart, NBPA Executive Director, Billy Hunter. If these two individuals can’t sit down and discuss their grievances with some accord . Then there’s every reason to believe that the impasse between the two sides will end up in a major labor dispute leading to the possible shutting down of the NBA. Greed has a way of bringing out the worst in people no matter what your original perception of them might’ve been. In the case of both the players and the league , they’re essentially no different from the guys who run the ‘boiler rooms’ that promote the nefarious insider trader dealings, that we’ve all so often have hear about. Stern and the owners would have you believe otherwise. Would you trust him anymore than you’d trust ‘the word’ of your state Senator or Congressman ? Think about it before you answer ?

Fact or fiction? The latest word coming out of the Minnesota Vikings’ front office , is that they’re prepared to wait right up until the OTA’s (organized training activities) start for players – for the return of Brett Favre to the team . But is said to be pressing his local congressman to initiate a bill in the House , for it to be further endorsed and passed in the Senate , that would raise the retirement age for men. Brett it is rumored, wants to play until age 75 ? The sad fact is , this will be how the off-season in the NFL will play out. The never-ending stories as to …’will he or won’t he’ scenario as to Brett Favre, will provide more of an impact than the upcoming NFL Draft, itself. The fact that once again the indecision of the player and with him in essence holding the Vikings hostage speaks volumes as to the real persona of the player to begin with. What’s even more astounding has been the gullibility of the players on the Vikings’ roster. They’ve lauded the player because of their success this past season , never once thinking as to what the future may well bear , should things not have gone as they no doubt predicted and wanted. Now their obvious self-centered antics and the fact that their post-season display showed us how much of a fraud they were. They’re either wanting hang Favre from the highest rafters or they’re prepared to wait for whatever decision is forthcoming from the player ? One has to ask the question of Vikings’ coach Brad Childress and team owner Zygi Wilf. Did they not foresee any of this happening in the off-season ?

Where would we all be without Brett re-retiring ? How much more and longer can the human psyche take of this crap ?

As to the ‘paeans’ within ESPN , I’m sure that they’ll devote a great deal of coverage to this one story, as if it were of grave importance to the nation. I’d hate to think how the likes of Chris Mortensen and John Clayton would conduct their work day if the ‘Favre saga’ weren’t in existence ? But then again, this is the gristle that burns the fires of the ‘so called stories’ that ESPN feels is newsworthy and worth bringing to an audience.

So let me get this straight, having come off a great regular season, only to succumb to the New York Jets in the wild-card round (24-14) of the playoffs like a porn star in the midst of several sex toys. The Cincinnati Bengals thought it worthwhile to bring in both Matt Jones and his namesake, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones for tryouts. Both players have ran afoul of the law and their play if anything hasn’t been anywhere near what was expected from players who were said to be talented ? Matt Jones the former Jaguars’ wide receiver was signed to a one year incentive laden contract. ‘Pacman’ Jones for his part proved to be not as successful. That latter scenario shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the player’s lack of productivity with the Dallas Cowboys. But then we are talking about America’s Team where everything that glistens just doesn’t happen to be gold. More like a shade of rat’s urine by my way of thinking ! And where for Jerry Jones having built a $1.65 billion monstrosity , he can’t put together a team worth shit !

Courtesy of NFL.com

Reports: Bengals sign Matt Jones, pass on ‘Pacman’ after workout

From NFL.com Wire reports

Matt Jones found his second chance with a team known for giving them.

The former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver signed a one-year deal Friday to join the Bengals, according to multiple published reports. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported the deal is worth worth around $700,000. The Bengals’ official Web site reported the deal likely will be close to minimum salary with incentives.

“He’s had troubles like Chris (Henry), but I give (team president) Mike Brown credit,” Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco told the team’s Web site. “He’s not afraid to give people second chances.

“I just want to say, ‘Thank you.’ Matt can play. I think it’s great. He’s fast as hell and he (doesn’t drop anything). He gives us height and that is something we’ve been missing a little without Chris. He gives us a presence and another weapon for Carson (Palmer) to use.”

The move is a low-risk agreement similar to the one that brought troubled running back Larry Johnson to Cincinnati for the last half of the 2009 season.

Jones, who’s 6-foot-6 and regarded as a speedy red-zone threat, also had an offer from the Tennessee Titans, according to various media outlets.

The Bengals’ official site had reported that Jones worked out for the team Thursday, and former Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman threw him passes. Former Titans and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who like Matt Jones has a checkered past and didn’t play last season, also worked out for the Bengals but reportedly wasn’t offered a contract.

Since Matt Jones didn’t play last season, he can sign with a team before the March 5 start of free agency.

The Bengals’ priority during the offseason is to improve a passing game that ranked 26th in the NFL despite a full season from quarterback Carson Palmer. The Bengals lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the Seattle Seahawks in free agency after the 2008 season and tried to replace him with Laveranues Coles, who struggled. Chris Henry broke his arm and later died after a fall from a truck during a domestic dispute.

Jones was the Jaguars’ first-round draft pick in 2005, but he started just five games in his first three seasons. His best season came in 2008, when he had a career-high 65 catches for 761 yards. He also was arrested in Arkansas and charged with cocaine possession in July of that year.

In a plea agreement, Jones was ordered to participate in a league-sponsored program that provides substance-abuse counseling. He also had to undergo random drug tests. The NFL suspended Jones for the final three games of the 2008 season for violating its substance-abuse policy.

The Jaguars waived Jones last March after he was jailed for violating his plea agreement. Jones failed an alcohol screening and told a judge that he drank beer while golfing with friends.

Jones has 166 receptions for 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns in four NFL seasons. He played quarterback at the University of Arkansas, but the Jaguars moved him to receiver after drafting him.

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Having lost Chris Henry to his untimely death . One can well understand the team’s need to have another offensive presence on the Bengals’ roster. But the the lack of productivity from both Chad Ochocinco and that of running back Larry Johnson , showed us how one dimensional and uncreative this Marvin Lewis’ coached team had become. And with the return to form of Carson Palmer , the failure of the Bengals was only heightened by their poor post-season showing. This had to have proven to be a great disappointment to the Bengals’ fans and to the ‘front office’ of the organization .

It’ll be interesting to see how Matt Jones acclimatizes himself within the organization. And at the same time the mindset has to be for Bengals’ owner Mike Brown and that of his general partners. The thought is , that this may well be the last chance for Marvin Lewis to prove his worth as the coach. It’s safe to say that another poor showing and the only option left to Brown will be Lewis’ abrupt departure at the owner’s behest.

It’s not often that I revise my decision concerning an organization. But that very thought is now on my mind when I look at the Oklahoma City Thunder of the Western Conference of the NBA. My reasons behind this, was the reprehensible way in which the city of Seattle was treated not just by the current ownership of the Thunder under the auspices of Clay Bennett. But the whole subterfuge created by David Stern and the half-truths told by ‘he’ , Bennett and the NBA hierarchy in trying to coerce the city to build a new facility for the team at their own expense. When an amicable agreement couldn’t reached between the two parties concerned. In this case the Seattle Supersonics (Thunders’ previous persona) and the city, a financial settlement was reached, wherein, the Sonics left the city altogether, for the state of Oklahoma and that city bearing its name.

Oklahoma City- <strong> Kevin Durant<em> (#35)</em></strong>  of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Thunder fans celebrate the victory over the Dallas Mavericks on February 16, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The Thunder defeated  the Mavericks <strong> 99-86 </strong>. photo  appears  courtesy  of  NBAE/ Getty  Images/ Lane Murdoch  .................
Oklahoma City- Kevin Durant (#35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Thunder fans celebrate the victory over the Dallas Mavericks on February 16, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Mavericks 99-86 . photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Lane Murdoch .................

Thunder GM Sam Presti struck lightning in a bottle with the drafting of former Longhorns’ player Kevin Durant. And with Durant alongside Nick Collison , Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook , this ‘Thunder team’ has been one of the truly pleasant surprises of the NBA season. And for team head coach, Scott Brooks ,this has to be even more than he could’ve dreamed of in his second year as an NBA coach. Not only that but Brooks has his team playing a solid brand of entertaining basketball. And the home fans are only too eager and pleased to see their team play. Furthermore , the Oklahoma City Thunder in their new guise, might just be on the cusp of making the post-season and garnering a berth in the playoffs. At present they hold the 5th best record within the conference with a mark of 31-21 (ten games over .500).

Any team within the conference who might view the Thunder as a ‘soft target’ and ripe for the taking should be aware that they’re not as soft a touch as some might believe them to be. They’ve more than held their own against many of the heavyweights within the conference . And in some cases they’ve actually upended those teams with a more than a deserving win. And at the center of this all , has been Kevin Durant. Were this not any other season wherein , the play and form of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James weren’t at their very best. Then quite possibly Durant would be unanimously be on the ballot as the top player and an almost certain league MVP winner. But I’m sure at some point in his future that will be one of the accolades that the player will have adorning his trophy cabinet. But for the moment his exhilarating play has fans across the NBA admiring his skill-set and overall talent. And he has now accomplished what neither Bryant or James have yet to do in their storied careers. That is to post 25 consecutive games of scoring at least 20 points or more. That has been the prowess shown by Durant throughout much this regular season. And if you were under the mistaken thought that his talents were only at the offensive end of the court. Then you’d be sadly mistaken as the players knows how to get his hands dirty in making his defensive presence known. He leads by example and his teammates willingly follow.

Now it’s too late but the once beloved Tiger Woods will speak publicly for the first time , since the brouhaha over his numerous extra marital affairs. Hey Tiger, screw one skank , live like a King, screw several of them along with a couple of porn stars. Then I suggest you see your general practitioner as a safe bet. What else can this a_shole say that will deflect any of the attention that he’s been receiving courtesy of the print , tv media as well as the paparazzi ? They haven’t had this much excitement since Gary Hart and his infamous statement concerning Donna Rice ….’catch me if you can ? What a friggin’ moron ! I’d now put Tiger up there in the same atmosphere as Hart , as to his sheer stupidity and naivete’ !

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Tiger to end months of silence on Friday


By Doug Ferguson , AP Golf Writer

Marana, Ariz. (AP)—Tiger Woods will end nearly three months of silence Friday when he speaks publicly for the first time since his middle-of-the-night car accident sparked stunning revelations of infidelity.

However, his agent said Woods will not take any questions from a small group of media.

“This is not a press conference,” Mark Steinberg said Wednesday.

It will be Woods’ first public appearance since Nov. 27, when he crashed his SUV into a tree outside his Florida home. Woods’ only comments since then have been made through his Web site.

Steinberg said Woods is to speak at 11 a.m. Friday from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home of the PGA Tour.

In the days before Woods’ accident, a National Enquirer story alleged the world’s No. 1 golfer had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess. Following the crash, a stream of women came forward to claim they had romantic relationships with Woods.

Woods admitted to “infidelity” in a statement on his Web site in mid-December and has been on an indefinite break from golf ever since.

“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children,” Woods said at the time. “I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.”
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While I once was an avid follower of Tiger and the sport. With his fall from grace my interest in the sport has completely waned. If nothing else I probably won’t even take that much of an interest concerning his impending return to the Tour. But it’s pretty much safe to say that his peers in the game as well as PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem , will welcome him back with open arms. As to the corporate sponsors of the Tour and Tiger’s own commercial endorsers. They no doubt will see this as something of a god-send , as well as a blight. They’ll sell their products as always and Tiger will be there front and center , as their favorite ad-man on the move. TV ratings will spike, once Woods is back on the Tour and I’m sure so, too ,will a new cast of buxom beauties looking to be added to Tiger’s ever increasing number of ‘skanks’ , who’ve come forward to say that they’ve had sex with the golfer. There’s nothing ‘like laying the wood to some rough’, especially ‘some prime piece of rough’ of the female variety as the case maybe and dependent upon how one views these women ? Safe to say though, that each of the now 21 women that’ve come forward to parlay their stories into seeking some sort of fame and fortune , will be looking to the likes of Larry King and Gloria Allred to provide them with a ‘voice’. Whoever says that sex doesn’t sell ought to consult Allred and these women for advice !

Alex Rodriguez’s memory, much like his already well documented private life has been filled with flaws and a great deal of lies. A-Rod’s cousin ‘Papi Chulo’ must be now wishing to lay into the player’s ass ! Oh Alex, you lie so well ! Asshole ! Something that Tiger could learn from ?

Woods’ impending return to the PGA Tour will be provide its corporate sponsors and the associated industries that derive much of their business from the Tour with a great deal of joy. There’s going to be a great deal of heartache for the player, as the fans will no doubt mock him. At the same time those who are forgiving of the player may well come out to show their support for Woods. But I think that in all probability, it will be a considerable amount of time before the nation , let alone fans of the PGA Tour will be all that forgiving of the golf superstar.

Well here ends my take guys on the world of sports and some of its news in general. Anything that has happened recently that has caught your attention that you also may well feel is a ripe topic for discussion ? Chime on in with a comment and your very own take. Thanks as always !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

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John Legend ‘Green Light’ feat’g Andre ‘3000’ Benjamin

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And for the guys who love a rump-shaker here’s Melyssa Ford. Sit back and enjoy . I most certainly did ! For more of Melyssa , click here.

NBA All Star Weekend …………….It’s Here And In Texas ……..


NBA All Star Weekend …………….It’s Here And In Texas ……..

Well the ‘NBA All Star Weekend’ is almost us upon and the ‘teams’ riding high in the Eastern and Western Conferences of the NBA can take somewhat of a rest. And for the game’s major stars such as Kobe Bryant, who has been riding a wave of niggling injuries. This ought to provide him with some time to rest and recuperate before resuming the remainder of the regular season. The troubling aspect of this all , is that without him the Los Angeles Lakers become somewhat of a pedantic and lackluster team . And with both Bryant and teammate Andrew Bynum said to be on the trainer’s table with worrisome injuries. It makes you wonder who on this Lakers’ team is actually capable of stepping up to the plate , should the unthinkable happen ?

The <strong> NBA logo </strong>  for  this  season's <strong><em>  2010 NBA  All  Star Game </em> to  be  held  in   Cowboys'  Texas  Stadium  in  Arlington  Texas</strong>.    all  rights   reserved   @  copyrighted  material  ..............
The NBA logo for this season's 2010 NBA All Star Game to be held in Cowboys' Texas Stadium in Arlington Texas. all rights reserved @ copyrighted material ..............

And with the NBA’s mid-season gala event being held at the Dallas Cowboys’ Cowboys’ (Texas) Stadium in Arlington , Texas. It begs the question, is this Jerry Jones’ way of making it up to the Cowboys’ fans after his venerable Cowboys team’s lackluster postseason display ? Either that or he had to beg NBA Commissioner David Stern for the chance to ingratiate himself amongst the NBA fraternity and its fans. That asides both of these publicity hungry hounds in Jones and Stern will do their utmost to make sure that event goes off without any serious flaws. Personally , I’d rather have seen the event staged at an NBA venue , rather than at the Cowboys’ ostentatious edifice. Never-mind the fact that at the cost of $1.65 billion to be built , Jones has to find a way for the venue to be cost effective and pay for itself. Now one or two more questions I’d like to pose . How much is the staging of the event costing the NBA hierarchy ? And was the venue offered free of charge to the NBA for its mid-season showcase event ? Because Jerry Jones doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who does anything for free !

<strong> Mark Cuban<em> kisses his wife</em> Tiffany Cuban </strong>on the red carpet during a NBA Tip-Off Party as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 11, 2010 at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. <strong><em> photo appears courtesy  of NBAE/Getty Images/</em> </strong> David Sherman  .........
Mark Cuban kisses his wife Tiffany Cuban on the red carpet during a NBA Tip-Off Party as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 11, 2010 at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ David Sherman .........

With the ongoing saga of an underachieving team , it’s not as if the Cowboys can be seriously considered to be a contender within the NFL . Besides, the team has to first find a backbone and then wipe away the yellow streak that’s across its back and literally a mile wide ! I know that the ‘paeans’ within ESPN whose craving for the Cowboys , is literally almost disturbing as their ‘near homo-erotic’ love-fest bestowed upon Brett Favre . That one could surmise that having Cowboys’ Stadium filled with 40,000 rabid NBA fans is a lot better than having the stadium sitting idle for a few week until its next staged event. It’s not as if the Cowboys’ or their fans , will be getting the chance to stage a post-season game there anytime soon ? Having won their division , the NFC East , they shot ‘their wad’ much like a guy with ‘ED’ (erectile dysfunction) and also suffering from ‘premature ejaculation’. And needless to say, that the ’34-3′ shellacking that they suffered at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings brought a great deal of joy to the ‘Cowboy haters’, myself included !

Former NBA player <strong>Rick Fox </strong> and actress <strong> Eliza Dushku <strong> arrive on the red carpet during a NBA Tip-Off Party as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 11, 2010 at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. photo appears   courtesy  of  <em> NBAE/ Getty Images/ </em> David  Sherman ...................
Former NBA player Rick Fox and actress Eliza Dushku arrive on the red carpet during a NBA Tip-Off Party as part of the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 11, 2010 at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ David Sherman ...................

It has often been said that the NBA All Star Game and its surrounding festivities , is by far the best of the All Star Games , with regard to the four major sports. As to the veracity of that argument . I think it would become a bone of contention between the fans of the four major sports, hockey (NHL) , football (NFL) , baseball (MLB) and the very game of basketball under the auspices of the NBA . I think it’s pretty much safe to say that baseball’s All Star game creates more excitement than the other three sports combined. It’s more competitive than that of hockey’s main midseason showcase. Albeit, that Bud Selig’s edict of the winning league being given homefield advantage throughout the entire postseason , just merely adds that extra bit of spice to it all. But more so, over the three fun packed days of their extravaganza , the fans are more appreciated by the players and given every access to them. Not necessarily the case with the NBA , where for the players on hand it merely becomes one big party. As to the NFL’s Pro Bowl Game , well there’s about as much interest in that game, as there would be in the National Spelling Bee ! Hockey as such, basically brings up the rear , as it does with everything else nowadays, in terms of its overall relevancy on the sporting landscape. And the game’s hierarchy along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman are still struggling to bring it back to any semblance of decency. And that’s in spite of having two of the game’s biggest stars in, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin create a much needed rivalry within the sport.

<em>(L-R)</em> NBA Legend <strong>Alonzo Mourning</strong>, Cookie Johnson, and NBA Legend <strong> Earvin "Magic" Johnson </strong>pose for a photograph during Zo and Magic's 8-Ball challenge on February 11, 2010 at Centennial Hall at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.  photo  appears courtesy  of  NBAE/Getty Images/  Gary  Dineen  ............


Former NBA star Alonzo Mourning is seen here alongside Lakers’ legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson and his wife Cookie Johnson at a charity event (Zo and Magic’s 8 ball challenge) staged by both players at Centennial Hall at Fair Park in Dallas Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Gary Dineen…….

Courtesy of NBA.com

Kidd replaces injured Kobe; Lee steps in for Iverson

Dallas, Feb. 11, 2010 — Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd and New York Knicks forward David Lee have been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace injured West All-Star guard Kobe Bryant (ankle) of the Los Angeles Lakers and East All-Star guard Allen Iverson (personal reasons) of the Philadelphia 76ers, respectively, in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in Dallas.

Kidd, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time All-NBA First Team selection, will be making his 10th NBA All-Star Game appearance. Lee, in his fifth NBA season, has recorded 30 double-doubles on the season for the Knicks and will be making his first NBA All-Star appearance.

West All-Star head coach George Karl and East All-Star head coach Stan Van Gundy will determine which players will replace Bryant and Iverson in the starting lineup.

The NBA All-Star Game will air live on TNT, ESPN Radio and in 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages worldwide at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 14.

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The festivities surrounding this NBA All Star Game will no doubt be very lavish and ostentatious , given the fact of the venue and the league’s and Jerry Jones’ willingness to publicize the event and make it like no other. And that includes its predecessors and no doubt future All Star events. Such has been the hype behind this all. That it’s easy to forget that a number of the game’s biggest stars won’t be competing at all due to injury. As alluded to earlier , Kobe Bryant will not be participating in the game itself. And neither will Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers . To my mind , even placing Iverson on the Eastern Conference ballot and the actual idiocy of having him voted in, on the starting roster , goes to show the lack of integrity and knowledge behind the NBA’s system. Iverson hasn’t played or contributed much to his team this season. And one has to now wonder why it is, that he’s still playing ? If he were a race horse, he’d have been euthanized long ago, such has been the extent of his prolonged rehabilitation from recurring injuries.

Texas  Stadium  , home of  the  NFL's <strong> Dallas  Cowboys </strong> and  the  venue  for  the <strong>  NBA's  2010   All  Star   Game </strong> and  a number  of  officially  associated   NBA festivities.  The  <strong> $1.65 billion   strucure </strong> is   situated  in  Arlington  ,  Texas.   photo  appears  courtesy of <strong> Associated  Press</strong>/  Mark   Harris  ...................
Texas Stadium , home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and the venue for the NBA's 2010 All Star Game and a number of officially associated NBA festivities. The $1.65 billion strucure is situated in Arlington , Texas. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Mark Harris ...................

The game itself won’t be the only event taking place throughout the weekend’s festivities . There’ll also be the ‘Slam Dunk Contest’ with all the athleticism and excitement one would come to expect that specific competition to elicit. There’s also the ‘Rookies vs Sophomores’ of the NBA in a pre-highlight game , the 3 point shooting competition, as well as the H.O.R.S.E Skills’ Competition. And with the NBA having taken an almighty ‘PR hit’ with the ” Gilbert Arenas, Javaris Crittenton fiasco”. The NBA hierarchy are hoping that all of the weekend’s events go off without any perception of trouble or with any of the game’s stars being involved in anything untoward. With faltering attendance at the majority of NBA games throughout much of the season so far. It has to be said NBA Commissioner David Stern needs all the publicity that can be had from the event to be seen in a positive light. Anything short of that and they might as well hold next year’s event in outer Mongolia , for all that it’d be worth.

As for the piece-de-resistance the game itself will be replete many of today’s biggest stars in the NBA. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the three day weekend will be the none appearance of LeBron James in the ‘Slam Dunk Contest’. All of the posturing to be had and that took place with him last season, at the event. Wherein , front and center he initiated and intimated that he would be a willing participant in the 2010 event. Suffice to say , that there’s about as much chance of him competing in the event, as there is of Brett Favre emphatically announcing his immediate retirement from the NFL. Much like Favre is eager to seek the empathy of the fans, so too is LeBron James. He says and does all the right things as merely a PR image gimmick. But when it simply boils down to it , he’s no different from any self absorbed athlete looking to make sure that his image remains pristine in the public eye. As to whether or not he’ll come up with an excuse as to his none appearance in the event. It remains to be seen what stance he will take.

Dallas, February 11th, 2010.  <strong> Deron Williams </strong>(#8 )of the Utah Jazz unveils a photo of himself during the Ene-be-a Milk Press Conference, at Jam Session presented by Adidas during All Star Weekend  in Dallas, Texas. photo  appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty  Images/ Jack  Arent  ...........
Dallas, February 11th, 2010. Deron Williams (#8 )of the Utah Jazz unveils a photo of himself during the Ene-be-a Milk Press Conference, at Jam Session presented by Adidas during All Star Weekend in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Jack Arent ...........

With both conference starting rosters affixed , the respective coaches will be George Karl for the Western Conference and Stan Van Gundy for the Eastern Conference. No doubt a great deal of fun will be had between the players of the respective conferences as they look to usurp each others’ bragging rights as the outcome of the game ? And with the likes of Jason Kidd , Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash , Tim Duncan and Amar’e Stoudemire on the West’s roster , looking ‘stare down’ and ‘beat’ LeBron James, Dwight Howard , Chris Bosh , Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo from the East. In all likelihood this game will be more about fun than that of one having a competitive edge and feel to it. After-all the league and its hierarchy uses this event more as a publicity image expose’ , it’s than meant to be meaningful, in terms of being a competitive match-up. As it’s merely affording the fans a chance to get to see the stars that they’ve become aligned to , up close and personal. The trouble is, as what expense to their own personal pockets ? Prices for many of the ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ NBA events being staged, aren’t exactly cheap. And even though there are said to be a number of ‘free events’ that allows full access to the fans in order to meet and greet the NBA stars as well as a number of ‘Hollywood stars’ and entertainers on hand. The chances are, admission prices for a number of the premiere events will be beyond the affordability of ‘most’ of the NBA fans in attendance.

Though for myself , it may well prove to be a last minute decision as to whether or not I’ll be watching the game. I for one just hope that it’ll be a meaningful and entertaining event for the fans watching on television as well as for those in attendance at the game. This may well prove to be a one off staging of the event at such a venue. But if it should to be an outright success then it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the decision were made to stage the event in other domed NFL stages across the country over the next few years. As we’re told …..change is good but in reality how much change is really for the better ? The NBA continuously looks for ways to re-invent itself and its image , in order to remain fan friendly but even more so , to appease their corporate partners. Without them, Stern and the NBA hierarchy knows that they wouldn’t be able survive or make the sort of money that they’ve now been making and will continue to make , ever since he took over the reins as the NBA Commissioner. The NBA’s profitability, much like the commissioner’s authority over the last 25 years (length of Stern’s tenure to date) has never come into question under David Stern and it never will !


NBA All Star Game starting rosters click here to view the participants for both the Eastern and Western Conference.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

Who  wouldn't want to <strong> 'batten  down  the  hatch' <em> with this  voluptuous  beauty  ?  </em> British   model and  aspiring  actress and  wannabe  singer  Keeley  Hazell</strong>.   There've   been   many   'good  things'   to  have   come  out of  Britain and  Keeley  Hazell   certainly is  one of  them   !
Who wouldn't want to 'batten down the hatch' with this voluptuous beauty ? British model and aspiring actress and wannabe singer Keeley Hazell. There've been many 'good things' to have come out of Britain and Keeley Hazell certainly is one of them !

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Snap gives it to you straight up ‘outta the box’ with…………. ‘ I Got The Power ‘

If You Can’t Beat ’em Join ’em ……As In Keepin’ Up With The Joneses …… The NBA Had Better Keep Themselves In Check …………..


If You Can’t Beat ’em Join ’em ……As In Keepin’ Up With The Joneses …… The NBA Had Better Keep Themselves In Check …………..

As many of you are no doubt aware the NFL has its growing labor problems with the NFLPA . And at this moment in time coming, of a monumentally success of Superbowl (SBXLIV) and the fact the event was the most watched televised event television history. One would’ve thought this would be enough an indication , wherein NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his counterpart, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith would be on the same when it came to negotiating a renewed and improved collective bargaining agreement ? Well, the chasm between the two sides and the acrimony that exists would lead one to believe that there would be a better chance of a negotiated ‘peace agreement’ between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s.

Now it appears that the chasm between the two and their respective parties is now beyond any conceivable acknowledgment where the two can come to some accord. And with a March 5th deadline approaching for an agreement to be reached. Failure to do so will either lead to a work stoppage or the mere fact the upcoming season will go ahead but without there being the NFL mandated salary cap under which all of the teams operate under. I’ll leave it up for you to decide the sort of mayhem envisaged were that scenario to take place !

NBA  Commissoner <strong> David  Stern </strong>  is  seen  here  seated  beside     NBPA  Executive  Director <strong>  Billy  Hunter  </strong>  at   last   season's   NBA  All   Star   Weekend.   The  two  answered  questions   posed to  them  by  the  convened  press  and  surrounding media.   photo  appears  courtesy  of   <strong>  NBAE/Getty Images/</strong>  Bill  Baptiste  ....................
NBA Commissoner David Stern is seen here seated beside NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter at last season's NBA All Star Weekend. The two answered questions posed to them by the convened press and surrounding media. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Bill Baptiste ....................

Now comes word that the NBA and its hierarchy are said to be facing the very same dilemma with its union counterpart, in the form of the NBPA (NBA Players’ Union) and their wish to renegotiate the terms under which their present collective bargaining agreement has been set up. NBA Commissioner David Stern and his union counterpart NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter , while having something of a cordial relationship. Both sides are known to be wide apart as to what each views as equitable as to how they can reach an amicable accord to an agreement. Chances are that both sides are prepared to play ‘hard ball’ while at the same time showing their intransigence at the acuteness of the situation. The gravities of which , would be compounded were there to be a labor stoppage and lockout, initiated by the owners and that of the NBA hierarchy.

Courtesy of SB Nation

NBA Labor Negotiations : Praying A Lockout Doesn’t Happen

Feb 8, 2010 – We’re still over a year away from the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the fireworks have already started.

In a nutshell, here’s the problem: with declining attendance numbers, the bad economy and escalating player salaries, owners are losing a lot of money under the current model. To get some of that money back, they’ll fight for a redistribution of what’s known as “Basketball Related Income,” i.e. whatever revenue comes in. They want a larger slice of the pie, to put it simply. They also want to roll back salaries and potentially change to a salary-cap system that more closely mirrors football’s hard cap

The players understand all of that, but while they’d likely accept a slight decline in player salaries, they’d like to keep the system pretty much the way it is. That means no fundamental changes, only minor ones.

They probably won’t like the owners’ first proposal, then, which will be presented to NBA player representatives during next week’s All-Star weekend. Ric Bucher of ESPN reports:

The proposal, a source familiar with talks said, includes rollbacks that could reduce maximum guaranteed salaries, both for veterans such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, as well as up-and-comers like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, to almost a third of what they would have been eligible for under the current agreement.

Perhaps the biggest shocker: The owners’ proposal includes a provision that would require any pre-existing deals to be revised to conform to the new deal’s limits.

The value of a maximum contract would fall from $120 million plus to $60 million (and $50 million for those signing their first extensions of their rookie contracts). But that’s not all. The owners are also pushing for the abolishment of all cap exceptions, which thereby creates a hard cap like we have in football. To make matters worse, the owners want less than half of every long-term deal to be guaranteed, which would allow teams to just cut players after a certain number of years if they like.

Jeez. Why not ban agents while you’re at it?

Predictably, the players who have spoken out are less than thrilled. Adonal Foyle, who is the vice president of the Players Association, called the proposal “ludicrous,” “rash” and “unfair.”

“A system like [the new proposal] would be too restrictive, and it doesn’t jibe with what we think the league is. We have been willing to negotiate a guarantee that we don’t get over a certain threshold, and no other businesses do that. We hold back 9 percent of our income so that the owners can make sure they are covered on the back end. We have given up a lot of stuff, and they have given up a lot of stuff, so I think to start off a negotiation in this rash a term, I think it’s unfair,” Foyle said.

In an interview with SB Nation’s Phoenix Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun, Louis Amundson, Phoenix’s player representative, agreed, though he seemed a bit more willing to compromise.

“I think the main thing, we don’t want to see an NBA where there’s no guaranteed contracts like the NFL and where they reduce the number of years for guaranteed contracts. Because then it just makes it so hard for the guys coming in and the draft pics. That’s a stiatuion I think we are going to stay firm on. But there’s other issues that I think are a little more grayer that I think that the union is a little more willing to compromise on. So we’ll see. It’s early and there’s still a whole lot of issues to cover.”

Amundson also talked about the issue of public perception.

“You don’t want to turn off any of the fans and I think in this economy I think both sides ideally are going to have to compromise a bit with the dollar figures. We make a lot of money and so do they but it’s a good business so there’s a lot of money involved so that’s part of it. That’s part of the biz.”

That strikes me as the key issue here. During the last contentious CBA negotiations in 1999, the players were ultimately forced to make several concessions because they could not get the public on their side. They complained too much about being underpaid and “fighting for their survival,” which isn’t exactly what the average Joe making 1/20th of your salary wants to hear.

It’ll be interesting to see how they approach things this year.The owners’ initial proposal, which is so incredibly drastic, was put in place with that in mind. The owners likely feel they can lowball the players because they have superior public relations and know the players will suffer more if they strike. The key for the players this time is crafting a better PR strategy and making sure they can create leverage among the public.

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And while neither Hunter or Stern have been forthcoming, with a formal public statement on the issue. There have been rumblings of discontent from both sides, without there being any open accusations being directed from one party against the other. But it’s clear that once that impasse has grown wider then the gloves will come off. And then things for all sense and purpose could become extremely dirty and somewhat unsavory. While there’s no denying that a lockout would hurt the NBA irrevocably . One has to now wonder what the mindset happens to be amongst the parties concerned and in particular whether or not they might happen to care what the ‘NBA fans’ might think of this all ? Clearly those concerns have yet to manifest itself with anything responsible that has been forthcoming from either party. As I’ve alluded to earlier , neither side has yet to respond with a public statement to media. So selective and secretive have been both David Stern and Billy Hunter on this issue. That you would probably have to hire a soothsayer to find out what either of the two are said to be thinking on this very matter at this moment in time.

Guaranteed salaries in imminent new contracts for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would be reduced under an owners proposal to almost a third of what they would have been eligible for currently.
Guaranteed salaries in imminent new contracts for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would be reduced under an owners proposal to almost a third of what they would have been eligible for currently. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Andrew D. Bernstein .................

Courtesy of ESPN.com

Proposed CBA would limit LeBron deal

By Ric Bucher ESPN The Magazine

The NBA will put its marquee players on display in next weekend’s All-Star Game in Dallas, but the party-like atmosphere is sure to be chilled when the stars learn the details of the collective bargaining agreement offer presented at the end of January by commissioner David Stern to players’ union director Billy Hunter.

The proposal, a source familiar with talks said, includes rollbacks that could reduce maximum guaranteed salaries, both for veterans such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, as well as up-and-comers like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, to almost a third of what they would have been eligible for under the current agreement.

Perhaps the biggest shocker: The owners’ proposal includes a provision that would require any pre-existing deals to be revised to conform to the new deal’s limits.

The current deal is set to expire as of July 1, 2011. The league’s owners have the option to extend it one more year, but they’ve already made it clear they don’t intend to.

“The league has to be careful,” said one agent who requested anonymity. “If the top players are united against David, that’s going to make for a tough fight. It could get very ugly.”

Presenting a new proposal nearly 18 months in advance of the current deal’s anticipated expiration is unprecedented, several sources said. Doing so right before All-Star Weekend also seems odd, particularly since Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the weekend’s host owner, has crowed about the event drawing a record 100,000 fans and a surrounding spectacle dwarfing that of the NFL’s Super Bowl XLIV.

“It’s the most dire economic time, so they want to take advantage of that and scare the players now,” the agent said. “It is a negotiation. This is what you do.”

The total value for a veteran maximum deal would be well under $60 million and for players currently on rookie salary-scale deals well under $50 million, the source familiar with the proposal said. Fully guaranteed maximum deals also could be a thing of the past, with the proposal allowing for less than half of any contract to be guaranteed.

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In order to read Ric Bucher’s article in its entirety
just click on the link provided herein
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The greed that exists within professional sports is no different from that of Wall St or for that matter another other large corporate enterprise that seeks to get bigger. The real problem becomes an issue when greed is then supplanted by deceit, lies and a great deal of corrupt practices and actions from both sides. Though neither party would be willing to confess that they are prepared to stoop that low in order to get an advantage over the other. But the real problem however, lies in the fact that the only person who tends to get hurt in the end , is the consumer , as in the most ardent of NBA fans. These are the ones who spend a great deal of money to attend the games and see a bunch overpaid high priced stars display their extensive and vast array of skills. But who for the latter part couldn’t much less about the fans or what they might indeed think. And the same too can be said of the NBA’s hierarchy and that of the owners as well. Where in large part ,the greed of all of the parties concerned , seems to have no boundaries whatsoever !

The NBA can ill afford to meander down the same path as that of the NFL and without deference to anyone. But it appears that they too much like their counterparts are willing to act in the same extraordinary fashion . As I’d alluded to in an earlier article entitled …..”Calmer Heads Ought To Prevail ……..But We’re Talking About The NFL and The NFLPA (Players’ Union) Here …….. So What Gives ? (Click on the link herein to read the piece in its entirety) Greed in no matter what form it takes , it has a tendency to bring out the darker side in us all and that’s without exception. And for the likes of the NBA, its hierarchy and that of the NBPA , that now appears to be the case ! It’d appear that they are unwilling to keep themselves in check , in order to give the impression that they do indeed care about the game. In all honesty ,that care only goes as far as to where they view the origin of the next almighty dollar !

‘Money’ by Pink Floyd .

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………

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Budding  actress  and   model <strong> Naureen Zaim </strong> seen  here   posing  for <strong>  Maxim  Magazine</strong>.     Young  Naureen  has  let  it be  known  that  she wants  to  be  taken  seriously   in  every  facet of her  career.  And   looking  at  this  picture I can  understand  why  !
Budding actress and model Naureen Zaim seen here posing for Maxim Magazine. Young Naureen has let it be known that she wants to be taken seriously in every facet of her career. And looking at this picture I can understand why !

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum ….. As If Not Being Placed In A Straight Jacket Wasn’t Enough ………… The Business of Sports …………The Raptors Are Said To Be Making Oodles of Money ………..


The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum ….. As If Not Being Placed In A Straight Jacket Wasn’t Enough ………… The Business of Sports ………… The Raptors Are Said To Be Making Oodles of Money

Recently in responding to a fellow blogger’s website An Epic Mess http://epicmess.wordpress.com/ . A co-respondent tried to suggest that Toronto Raptors of the NBA was a soundly ran NBA business franchise. Now far be it for me to suggest that this individual was wrong his assumptions. He stated that because the franchise had made in excess of $25 million for the fiscal year 2008 , I believe. He intimated that this made the team is one of the better ran franchises teams in the league.

<strong> Chris  Bosh, LeBron  James </strong> and  <strong> Dywane  Wade </strong> ,  three  players   who  at  the culmination  of the   2010  NBA  season  will  become   three  of  the  most  sought  after   and  desired   unrestricted  free  agents   on  the  open  market   in   terms of  NBA  free  agency.    photo   appears  courtesy  of   Getty  Images  / Kyle  Bostwick   .......................
Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dywane Wade , three players who at the culmination of the 2010 NBA season will become three of the most sought after and desired unrestricted free agents on the open market in terms of NBA free agency. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images / Kyle Bostwick .......................


Now far be it for me to suggest that the individual was misguided in his facts, or the statement that he was trying to represent. But based on the Raptors’ own declining figures in terms of its dwindling attendance and the mere fact that in 2009 the the organization was a recipient of several million dollars that was part of the NBA hierarchies’ bailout of amongst 16 franchises ( recipients shared $250 million spread amongst 16 franchises ) around the league decreed by NBA Commissioner David Stern. I somehow feel that this individual was trying to paint a pastel mosaic picture that just wasn’t there concerning the Raptors’ organization. As part of his argument he stated that because the team came under the umbrella ownership of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Inc.- this made the franchise a noteworthy business entity. The group also owns the NHL’s , Toronto Maple Leafs , Toronto FC of MLS, and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. And they also own and run the Air Canada Center in Toronto, home to both the Maple Leafs and Raptors. The estimated book value of the concern is said to be in the region of $1.65 billion . That would make it amongst the most valuable sports conglomerates in the world. Though not necessarily the best ran sporting conglomerate but it’s all in the eye of the beholder , as they say.

Toronto Raptors forward <strong>Chris Bosh</strong> (right) shoots over New Jersey Nets forward <strong> Kris Humphries </strong>  during first half NBA action in Toronto on Wednesday February 3, 2010.  photo  appears  courtesy of  the  The  Canadian  Press / Frank  Gunn  ......
Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh (right) shoots over New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries during first half NBA action in Toronto on Wednesday February 3, 2010. photo appears courtesy of the The Canadian Press / Frank Gunn ......

What this individual however, failed to take into account was that even though the Raptors were part of this vast entertainment and media conglomerate, it was still in part not making the projected profits that its board and investors had come to expect. Profits of a small entity that is part of a larger conglomerate can always be made to look all the more impressive, even if the overall picture of the organization is said to be a good one. And that case can be made here for the Toronto Raptors. But when you look beyond that and you ascertain that the franchise was the beneficiary of the NBA’s largess to the tune of $20 million as part of a one time financial bailout, in terms of a loan from several major financial institutions. It does provide something of a misleading picture of what goes on within the inner workings in the day to day environment of a number of franchises around the league. Somehow, this is something that this individual may have failed to understand or he may well have chose to overlook that very fact. The irony here is that the franchise still struggles to make its presence felt in the league, despite ambitious efforts led by its ownership through its President & General Manager, Bryan Colangelo. And through the makeup of the board and that of its parent group , Colangelo alongside Senior Vice President & Head of Basketball Operations, Maurizio Gherardini and head coach Jay Triano have assembled a roster that they believe will be competitive enough to pose a serious challenge and compete not just within the Atlantic Division but also within the entire Eastern Conference ,as well as the rest of the NBA.

<strong>Sonny Weems (#24) </strong>of the Toronto Raptors finishes the in-bounds alley-oop pass with the thunderous one handed jam during a game against the New Jersey Nets on February 03, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. photo appears courtesy of  <strong>  NBAE/ Getty  Images/</strong> Ron Turenne  ..............
Sonny Weems (#24) of the Toronto Raptors finishes the in-bounds alley-oop pass with the thunderous one handed jam during a game against the New Jersey Nets on February 03, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Ron Turenne ..............

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

CAA stands at head of 2010 free-agent class

By Marc J. Spears , Yahoo Sports Writer

For 35 years, Creative Artists Agency has represented many of Hollywood’s top power brokers. Steven Spielberg. Tom Cruise. George Clooney. Will Smith. Tom Hanks. Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts. Nicole Kidman. Bruce Springsteen. The list goes on and on.

Less than five years ago, CAA decided to expand its reach into the sports world. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts signed on. The agency landed global soccer star David Beckham, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, giving it access to some of sports’ most marketable personalities. CAA’s basketball portfolio also has steadily grown after noted NBA agent Leon Rose joined in 2007 and Henry Thomas followed. The agency now counts Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Tony Parker among its clients – not to mention LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

James, Wade and Bosh, of course, are the names on the tongues of every NBA executive these days. All three will be free agents this summer, the headliners of what promises to be the deepest and most heralded free-agent class in league history. That all three are represented by the same agency only adds to the drama and intrigue. It stands to reason that CAA – an agency which wasn’t doing much sports business as recently as five years ago – will now have some influence on how the NBA’s power structure shifts for the future.

“When you have those type of players,” New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn said, “that’s power in itself.”

Thorn’s Nets are among the teams hoping to lure at least one of the three stars this summer. The New York Knicks and Miami Heat – Wade’s current team – also figure to be among the top bidders. In addition, the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and perhaps even the Dallas Mavericks will have (or potentially have) significant salary-cap room to spend on a free-agent pool that could also include Amar’e Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Rudy Gay, Shaquille O’Neal and David Lee.

James, Wade and Bosh obviously figure to be the biggest movers and shakers, provided any of the three move at all. The trio’s current teams still hold strong hopes of re-signing them. For all of LeBron’s flirtations with New York, the Cleveland Cavaliers have given him a roster that now owns the NBA’s best record. The Heat have been a disappointment, but they also will have enough money to pair Wade with another top-level player should he decide to stay. And though Bosh has been pegged as the one most likely to leave, the Toronto Raptors’ recent success has at least quieted speculation they will look to deal their franchise star before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

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In order to read Marc J Spears’ article in its entirety
just click unto the link shown .
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(L-R) Oklahoma City Thunder Owner, Clay Bennett joins MLSE Chairman <strong>Larry Tanenbaum (MLSE are the  owners of  both the  Maple  Leafs  &  Raptors) </strong> and Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf as the Toronto Raptors host the New Jersey Nets on February 03, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  photo  appears courtesy  of   <strong>   NBAE/Getty  Images/ </strong> Ron  Turenne  .....................
(L-R) Oklahoma City Thunder Owner, Clay Bennett joins MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum (MLSE are the owners of both the Maple Leafs & Raptors) and Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf as the Toronto Raptors host the New Jersey Nets on February 03, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Ron Turenne .....................

At present the Raptors (27-23) are the fifth seed within the Eastern Conference and sit in second place behind the division leading Boston Celtics (31-16), the third seed within the conference. The LeBron James’ led Cleveland Cavaliers (40-11) having posted the best record in the NBA are naturally the number one seed within the conference.

The aspirations of the Toronto Raptors aren’t different from any other franchise within the NBA and that’s in striving to win an NBA title. Granted, their situation becomes all the more difficult when they have to contend with the likes of Cavaliers, Celtics , as well the Orlando Magic , Miami Heat and a now resurgent Atlanta Hawks within the conference. From there, they face the obstacle that were they to make to the NBA Finals , they would have deal with an almost certain Western Conference foe that’s sure to be far more dominant a team. The problem is that scenario cannot be envisaged by anyone with a knowledge of the game. Quite simply put, the Toronto Raptors just aren’t good enough to be the Eastern Conference’s representative, much less be viewed as a potential NBA champion. Their roster hasn’t any real depth and as a unit they’ve been far too inconsistent to be viewed as a serious NBA title contender. They merely exist to be an above average regular season run of the mill team. Nothing more, nothing less !


In light of that fact and the situation now arising as to the impending future of their lone superstar on this team , forward Chris Bosh and the very fact that he’s about to become an unrestricted free agent at the culmination of this season. It doesn’t exactly augur well for the franchise. It’s thought that the player will eschew the choice of remaining with the Raptors and seek out a better offer via free agency. He’s amongst the most desired of players that are about to land on the free agency market in the offseason. But that could be predicated upon the fact that Raptors could seek to trade him prior to or on the trade deadline of February 18th (3:00 PM EST). Thought that’s a remote possibility, there’s no reason to believe that GM , Bryan Colangelo won’t be willing to listen to offers for the player, if the price is most definitely right. They could still build around the nucleus of young talent that there is on the team led by their young center, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon . They could become the focal point of a team that could challenge for future honors within the NBA. But for the present it remains to be seen what the ‘hierarchy front office’ will do concerning the impending free agency of Chris Bosh. All that we know is that the situation now becomes rife with a great deal of speculation and the unending rumors concerning the player’s future. So much for this being viewed as a cash rich laden franchise that’s said to be ambitious. It’s one thing to look the part , it’s another thing to actually carry out the very things that make it a reality. As for my co-respondent on this very issue . I think he’s somewhat under the mistaken impression that Raptos can co-exist alongside the likes of the Lakers, Cavaliers , Celtics and Spurs in name only ! Merely because they’re part of a wealthy sports’ conglomerate. Like I said in the title of this piece …………”The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum ….. As If Not Being Placed In A Straight Jacket Wasn’t Enough ………… The Business of Sports ………… The Raptors Are Said To Be Making Oodles of Money”. What do you think that they’re actually doing ? To my mind they’re merely spinning their wheels and aimlessly going nowhere !

Click here to view the Toronto Raptors’ current roster.

Busta’ Rhymes gives you ‘Arab Money’ feat’g the usual cabal of stars lending a hand. Amongst them are Akon, Diddy, Ron Browz, Lil’ Wayne and Swizz Beatz.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………….

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<strong> Taraji  P.  Henson </strong>,  noted   actress   and   former  Golden  Globe  & Oscar nominee  for  best   supporting   actress  for  role  in  the  movie <strong> " The Curious   Case  of   Benjamin   Button " </strong>    The  movie  starred   Brad  Pitt  and   Oscar  winner   Cate  Blanchett.    Taraji  is  <strong> 'pretty  hot' </strong>   don't  you think  ?
Taraji P. Henson , noted actress and former Golden Globe & Oscar nominee for best supporting actress for role in the movie


Taraji P. Henson, noted actress , former Golden Globe and Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie ‘ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. The movie also starred Brad Pitt and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.