Month: May 2011

Love ’em Or Hate ’em They’re Still Baseball’s MVP


Love ’em Or Hate ’em They’re Still Baseball’s MVP

They’re the team that everyone either loves or hates as there’s no in between when it comes to the New York Yankees . Having won an unprecedented 27 World Series titles this is an organization that simply doesn’t rest on its laurel as it strives for excellence , the way that a new born baby thirsts for knowledge having taken its very first steps. Well for the Yankees this season may well be one where they’ll have to take baby steps as they try and figure a way out to be battle their way through the AL East and the rest of the AL as a whole . Never mind the fact that in the postseason that AL pennant isn’t a sure thing as some would like to believe.

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So much is expected of the team by their erstwhile fans that any slight hiccup won’t be necessarily tolerated but then again when it comes to being a fan of this organization you’re either thought of as being obnoxious or simply devout in your belief that they are the best thing in the game bar none ! In the AL East boasting a 27-21 record they (lead) stand a mere 1/2 game ahead of their most hated rivals the Boston Red Sox with the Tampa Bay Rays 1 1/2 games behind in third place. And as we have come to expect this division as usual will become a highly contentious and competitive one throughout the course of the season . So much so that to my mind I do believe that the wildcard entrant for AL will most definitely come from within this division ! To some that might not be a foregone conclusion but it has become a rarity for the wildcard to come from outside the division. That being said anything is possible and the improbable has been known to happen within the game , so why not this season ?

Coming off a convincing 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium the team now has a three game series facing the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. That series promises to be a very interesting one with the Mariners looking for some objectivity to their season given the inconsistency of their play overall . It remains to be seen whether or not Eric Wedge and his coaching staff can turn things around with this team and make the competitive within the AL West . Parent company Nintendo through its US subsidiary Nintendo USA have made a mockery as owners of this ball-club . Ambition and the will to win it would appear are the furthest thing from their mind. And it’s a pity to see the talents of Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez being wasted by an organization that simply is bereft of creativity and intelligence within their front office . It may well be that I’m proven wrong but I sincerely doubt it at this juncture !

In the Yankees 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays , pitcher , Mariano Rivera made his 1,000th pitching appearance for the New York Yankees a team record for the most appearances by a pitcher in team history and with it came his 572nd save for the team , the most ever by a pitcher and the most ever for a single team. Add in the fact his teammate Derek Jeter also looks to add to his own valid legacy within the organization as he approaches the 3,000 hits plateau . He now stands at 2974 a club record . But that in of itself isn’t the primary reason that both of these dominant figures within the Yankees’ dynasty still play the game. This duo have epitomized what the game has been about in terms of integrity and the fact that they’re well respected by their peers as well as the vast majority of baseball fans across the game’s panacea. I doubt the same can be said of the most recent players to have donned the Yankees’ pinstripes over the last decade and a half !

As the season unfolds and with it approaching the month </a? of June it will be very interesting to see how the team handles itself and whether or their pitching which I believe to be their Achilles’ heel can still be a threat . Beyond CC Sabathia and closer Mariano Rivera , there is nothing that would lead me to believe that this picthing rotation is a scare to anyone within the league ! Granted , there’s plenty of offense within this lineup with the likes of Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Alex Rodriguez , Nick Swisher , Robinson Cano and even that wily veteran Andruw Jones who seems to have found a new lease of life with New York Yankees. And that’s even with Jones platooning the DH position with Jorge Posada who seems to be undergoing struggles of his own , not just mentally but also physcially as well.

The one thing we can be sure of concerning the Yankees with the advent of both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner having taken over the reins from their late father George Steinbrenner III , no stone will be left unturned as this organization chases glory , no matter what the expense is said to be. GM Brian Cashman even though he’s said to have become somewhat frugal in terms of the team’s payroll we all know when push comes to shove he’s been given the go ahead this organization usually goes after a target and they usually end getting what they want even if it means having to overspend or delve into their top 10 prospects or for that matter within their minor league farm system in order to acquire a prospective free agent or to implement a trade. Money is of no object with a cash cow such as the YES Network there to provide the organization with a monetary treasure chest and the very fact that the team is still the biggest draw in the game by far let’s you know why it is that the organization remains the financial behemoth that it is . One of the most recognized and most valuable professional sport’s franchises in the world the organization hasn’t let the financial imbalance within the game impede its relentless steady march away from their MLB competitors. So much so, that I for one cannot see how the MLB league hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig can actually come to a decision , wherein they will ever try to mandate a hard salary cap within the game of baseball. And it certainly isn’t as if the team owners within the game possess the common sense to actually realize that it may well be needed if they are to stave off financial ruin for some teams .

While the Yankees are in the midst of their usual perfunctory season their crosstown neighbors , the New York Mets continue to do their best impression of the Titanic. What that organization and team brings to the game in terms of competency bears about as much comparison to the genuine belief that either the Democrats or Republicans in Congress actually has any idea as to what ails the country at present . It’s now being widely reported that hedge fund manager David Einhorn has bought a $200 million stake in the team . Given the Mets’ financial situation and the very fact that cash liquidity is needed with the organization and its two most prominent owners being defendants in a civil suit that involves team President Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon and their involvement in the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme scandal . I’ve got to ask myself what assurances were given to Einhorn that his investment is indeed safe ? Two hundred million dollars is nothing to be sniffed at and with the plaintiffs in this case said to be seeking the return of somewhere between $700 million to $ 1 billion said to have been received by the duo through an associate company under their ownership and command __ Sterling Equities Inc . I can only believe that Katz and Wilpon have assured Einhorn that his investment will not be at risk. But herein lies the caveat as the mediation process unfolds Katz and Wilpon have been economical with the truth and they certainly haven’t been completely compliant with the requests of the plaintiffs’ attorney in this suit .

Irving Picard representing the plaintiffs has stood steadfast in suggesting in that the defendants ( Katz, Wilpon , Sterling Equities et New York Mets) were aware the profits received were part of Madoff’s scheme that has defrauded some 7,000 plus investors of some $59 billion . Do you get the feeling that this story and the case still has a long way to go before it all comes to a satisfactory conclusion ? It’s not as if anyone is actually concerned with the achievements of the Mets on the field of play at present . With Wilpon in his recent interview granted to Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker Magazine gives you every reason to believe that the beleaguered owner must be at his wit’s end if he is now criticizing several players on the team . But then you simply cannot buy the sort of stupidity shown by Wilpon and then GM Omar Minaya as well as former manager Jerry Manuel ! The actions of that trio during the team’s slide into mediocrity might well give hope to the likes of the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners . But would that be asking too much also of the teams mentioned ? I will let you be the judge of that !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece how do you see the New York Yankees’ season going and are you of the belief that they can make a serious challenge and quite possibly win the World Series ? And what thoughts if any do you have on the investment made by David Einhorn in the New York Mets ? Has he been duped into a false sense of security or will his investment in the team be a worthwhile one ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, May 1, 2011. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …..

(2) New York Yankees’ Andruw Jones hits a two run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ………..

(3) New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada hits a double in the ninth inning off of Toronto Blue Jays closing pitcher Frank Francisco in the ninth inning of a baseball game that started a rally of runs to defeat Toronto 5-4 on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(4) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees celebrates with his team after hitting a game winning RBI in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ……

(5) Alex Rodriguez(13) of the New York Yankees looks after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ……

(6) Derek Jeter (2) 2 of the New York Yankees hits a two run single in the seventh inning to tie the game a three against the New York Mets on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(7) David Einhorn President, Greenlight Capital : The 39-year-old fund manager for the hedge fund Greenlight Capital has brought short selling into Wall Street’s lap with his public criticism of Lehman Brothers (LEH), the embattled Wall Street bank that has seen two top executives resign and its shares plunge roughly 50% since Einhorn made public his short position in April. His $6 billion fund has also waged a long-standing open battle against Washington-based small-business lender Allied Capital (ALD) since 2002; Allied’s share price has fallen by half since 2007. Getty Images / Paul Sprouse ……

(8) (L – R) Saul Katz, CEO of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, president of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon , chief operating officer of the Mets pose for a photo during Alderson’s introduction as the general manager for the New York Mets on October 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America …….

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Fool’s Gold And Then There Are The Fools Of The NFL …….


Fool’s Gold And Then There Are The Fools Of The NFL …….

The NFL Draft came and passed and in many respects to my mind it was something of a non-event. That being said in light of the fact that the draft took place seeing the ongoing litigation that is now between the league and the players’ union (NFLPA) it remains to be seen as to whether or not there will be an NFL season to be played at all. With the league having announced that there will be a schedule and that they also have a contingency plan in place I for one would like to know how it is that they intend to assure the NFL fans that a season will indeed take place . Given the fact that this September commemorates the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) , the Pentagon Building and the deaths of those on board United Flight 93 over Shanksville , Pennsylvania . In the aftermath of that event as the nation mourned the death of its citizens it looked to its biggest national sporting past-times to bring us all in unison . Both the MLB and NFL made sure that the nation would be seen as a nation undivided , strong in its will and purposeful in carrying on its way of life . Bud Selig and the baseball hierarchy did their utmost to make sure whatever was necessary to assure its fans the their games would go on , even if it meant a short postponement to commemorate the loss of the lives of the victims .

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The NFL was steadfast in its resolve in making sure that scheduled games took place the following Sunday in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda . . With the recent death of Osama bin Laden and thankfully so , I’d like to think that both the NFL and NFLPA would come to an accord and actually say …..”look we are going back to work and the games will be played “. Instead the team owners , league hierarchy and players alike acutely aware of their image are in fact now playing a game of chicken . And by the second all parties are coming across looking like a group of infantile kindergarten children at play , who then get into an argument over a stuffed toy .

Were there not to be any semblance of a season this year within the NFL I for one feel that it would be disservice to those lost on September 11th 2001 . We see all the usual national acts of patriotism in praising the military and rightfully so but surely commemorating these victims in a way that we have all become accustomed to , now seems almost inconceivable . There may well be those amongst you who feel that not staging any sporting events would be the right thing to do as the solemn thing to do in commemorating the victims would be to have a day of some vigil as an act national of pride and unity. The mere fact that the NFL hasn’t publicly addressed this issue but I do believe that they stand to lose a great deal more than image because the animus of the fans once they feel betrayed will go a long way in showing whether or not the NFL will be welcomed back with open arms .

While both the NFL and NFLPA awaits another verdict to be rendered by the 8th District Court of Appeals in this ongoing saga I can’t help but wonder how it is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith haven’t shown any common sense throughout this whole episode . At this juncture the longer the this debacle goes on the less relevant the NFL becomes in the eyes of its fans . The NFL Draft may well have heightened some interest as to how the teams fared but at the end of the day knowing the current premise and the idiocy we have all witnessed , it has to be said that perhaps in the overall scenario and how things continue to play out it might be best to do without the NFL season during the month of September.

So when it came to ineptitude last season in the NFL the Carolina Panthers stood head and shoulders abover everyone else in finishing with a 2-14 record . In doing so the Panthers were assured of the number one pick in the draft . The Panthers for their part followed protocol in acquiring Auburn’s 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton . Questions still remain unresolved concerning Newton’s actions while at Auburn but what cannot be denied he is indeed a player of extraordinary talent . That being said whether or Cam Newton’s game can be easily transferred to the NFL remains to be seen . And though the expectations are high for Newton and the Carolina Panthers their schedule may well dictate a situation wherein they will be a team that struggles over the course of the season .

Financially Cam Newton will be set for life and though the league has yet to come to a solid agreement as to how they will deal with the issue of rookie salaries and their underlying contracts . The Panthers’ fans will now pour over Newton’s every move in the ensuing months assesing his talents and how he carries himself. If Newton can have the the success attained by Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez as rookies within the NFL then the Carolina Panthers will go a long in knowing their choice was a prudent one . A five or six game improvement on last season’s showing would bode well for the future of the Panthers and if their picks from this draft and as recently as two years ago show signs in being productive then the Panthers could have quite a moderate season based on their own lofty standards.

For me the San Francisco 49ers remains an enigma as their front office continues to make personnel choices that simply make no sense . Denise York and her husband Dr John York continue to run this organization as if it were a personal bauble that’s on display but unfortunately the 49ers simply no longer commands the respect that it once had when Bill Walsh was leading them to unprecedented success . Now with Jim Harbaugh having assumed control as the successor to Mike Singletary as the team’s coach , it’s hoped that Harbaugh and his newly assembled coaching staff can lead the Niners to some semblance of success this upcoming season . Having left Stanford to coach the Niners it’s hoped that he can resurrect this organization and bring back some semblance to an organization that has been long starved of recent success .

I do believe that this season the NFC West could be as open a division as we’ve seen in a long time . The level of play there in recent years could be best described as rather average or mediocre at its worst. With teams such as the Seattle Seahawks , Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Rams it’s hard to envisage the type of football we may well see on display this upcoming season . Granted, a 7-9 record actually garnered the Seahawks a playoff berth last season but in reality it was simply an embarrassment to see such mediocrity on display albeit that they defeated the then reigning Superbowl (SBXLIV) champions the New Orleans Saints —- 41-36 in a game that if anything was indescribable as to the ineptitude shown by both teams .

Harbaugh in conjunction with GM Trent Baalke will now assess this roster to see where the real assets are and then seek make the necessary adjustments in the coaching strategy to meet the team’s greatest strengths . The one area where I do believe that Harbaugh will still have a problem is with the quarterback position . Having drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round of this year’s draft they still have David Carr , Alex Smith and Troy Smith , who between them have been effective as an act of flatulence would be in a thunderstorm ! If Jim Harbaugh can quickly address that situation then there’s a possibility that the 49ers could actually have something of a decent season not just within the NFC West but within the conference and across the NFL as a whole .

Defensively they’ve been inconsistent but the offense when pressed into action has been capable of putting up points on the board. But we may well see a gradual advance of the San Francisco 49ers this season as Jim Harbaugh sets to stamp his own identity on this team and organization as they seek a resurgence of the organization as a competitive force once again within the NFL . Harbaugh is simply too good a coach , merely to have given up his gig at Stanford if he didn’t think that he could succeed within the professional ranks of the NFL . I for one hope that he’s successful but I also believe that much of that success will predicated upon the latitude he’s allowed in running this team as the York’s and their son Jed York , team President , allows him in resurrecting the 49ers’ fortunes !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and as usual thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) WORLD TRADE CENTRE ATTACKS 2001: Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 approaches and hits the World Trade Centre’s south tower, bursting into flames and raining a hail of debris on Manhattan. A gaping hole in the north tower can be seen following a similar attack earlier in the day. Courtesy of Reuters ….

(2) A jet airliner is lined up on one of the World Trade Center towers in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. In the most devastating terrorist onslaughts ever waged against the United States, knife-wielding hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center on Tuesday, toppling its twin 110-story towers. AP Photo/Carmen Taylor ……

(3) Ty Law returns an interception for a touchdown after Mike Vrabel pressured Rams QB Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI. At the culmination of the 2001 season we had Superbowl XXVI , a game played between the New England Patriots and St Louis Rams . The Patriots would go on to defeat the Ram 20-17 .Staff photo by Michael Seamans ……..

(4) Lonie Paxton was in on the kick heard ’round the world. Adam Vinatieri, above, kicks the winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI. Staff Photo by Kuni Takahashi …….

(5) Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Cam Newton, right, gestures for a hand slap from Adam Smith of Make-A-Wish during an NFL football news conference at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …..

(6) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Carolina Panthers #1 overall pick Cam Newton from the UNiversity of Auburn during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(7) Defensive end Aldon Smith , center, the first-round draft pick of San Francisco 49ers, holds up a jersey next to head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, and general manager Trent Baalke at a news conference at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo / Jeff Chiu ……………

(8) Denise DeBartolo-York and her husband Dr John York – the owners of the San Francisco 49ers . photo appears courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle / Michael Macor ………………

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Who Let The Dogs Out ………. ?


Who Let The Dogs Out ?

Well now that the fallout in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers’ abrupt demise within the NBA Playoffs it appears that the repercussions and ramifications could be long lasting . We know that the team’s coach Phil Jackson will be stepping down and it’s presumed that a decision will be made by GM Mitch Kupchak in conjunction with the team’s principal owner Dr Jerry Buss as to who Jackson’s successor might be. Who could’ve foreseen the Lakers being swept in four rather lopsided games by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semi finals of the playoffs ? The Mavericks now await the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals .

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In light of what we’re now hearing it could well be that the remnants of this team will be torn asunder and be completely revamped . This much we do know, the only piece liable to remain untouched could well be Kobe Bryant . But inasmuch as that is a certainty I do believe that Bryant , himself , will go a long way having his own input as to the personnel decisions that will most definitely have to be made. A successor to Phil Jackson will probably come from amongst the ranks of the assistants on this coaching staff of which the leading candidates appear to Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons . It remains highly improbable that the hierarchy would go outside their stable of assistants to hire a coach unless it’s a high profiled experienced coach amongst the professional ranks . I certainly don’t believe that they’re liable to look amongst the collegiate ranks for a successor to Jackson !

It became pretty much clear that during this series the Lakers were mentally and physically outmatched and from a defensive standpoint this team was simply not there as a willing participant or competitor . The Lakers bench was never present and rarely did we see the best from Lamar Odom , Ron Artest , Matt Barnes and sparingly did we actually get a glimpse as to the consistency of either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol . The one consistent factor throughout the series for the Lakers was in fact the player of Kobe Bryant who was the leading scorer on the team throughout the conference semi finals .

I do believe that if anything the Lakers’ players came in with the mindset that as the two time defending champions all they had to do was to literally turn up and that the Dallas Mavericks would quiver in their wake. Complacency and naivete had set in and if anything Phil Jackson was simply out-coached by his opposing number Rick Carlisle . But consistently throughout the series the Lakers simply didn’t have an answer for Dirk Nowitzki , the very astute and intelligent play of Jason Terry , Tyson Chandler , J J. Barea and the unselfishness of wily veteran point guard Jason Kidd . These aren’t your Mavericks of old as they’ve become resolute and very much more defensively oriented with the combined play of Chandler and utility player Shawn Marion as they’ve provided the team with that much needed one ….. two punch from a defensive standpoint.

Now any thoughts that NBA Commissioner David Stern might have had for a proposed Finals’ matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the presumed favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference the Miami Heat , will now have to be placed on the back burner. The Heat are now looking to fully vindicate themselves by closing out their series against their heated conference rivals the Boston Celtics . Now 3-1 up in that series and with the Celtics ailing on a number of fronts it’s hard to see how Doc Rivers’ team will be able erase this deficit and actually come back and win this series outright. An aging roster of stars now seems to have met its Waterloo and this will most certainly have to be the last charge for Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen , Paul Pierce and Shaquille O’Neal .

As to the direction that may well be taken by the Lakers’ hierarchy as they look to rebuild I for one can’t really see them delving once again into the free agent market with the impending free agents that will come to the market . Granted , there may well be one or two desirable free agents but nowhere near the number that came to the market this past season . Mitch Kupchak will look to see where the deficiencies are on the roster and make the necessary moves to bolster a team that underachieved and that had performed well below the hierarchy’s as well as their fans’ expectations . This much we do know the this Lakers’ team of the 2010-11 season won’t in many respects resemble the one we’re liable to see for the 2011-12 season.

Game four of what’s now turning out to be an intriguing and suspenseful series brought a cumulative points total not often seen in an NBA playoff game . If I said you that the game between went into triple overtime and there’d be 256 points scored you would’ve probably thought that I was insane . But that’s what transpired on Monday night at the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee, as the Oklahoma City Thunder would defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 133-123 in a thrilling and exhilarating game . Russell Westbbrook and Kevin Durant would account for more than half of the Thunder’s output with the duo scoring a combined 75 points on their way to the team’s impressive win . Not to be outdone in all of this were Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol who each chipped in with 60 points between them for the Grizzlies.

Tonight’s game resumes the series in Oklahoma City in a pivotal game five where the victor take’s the reins and more likely than not will the upper hand in this series . To my mind for both coaches Scott Brooks and Lionel Hollins after this explosive and unbelievable offensive output where defense was simply left at the door I seriously doubt that the two teams will be able to reproduce another epic of this magnitude ! If anything tonight’s game should be somewhat less stressful for the discerning NBA tv viewer in terms of the suspense we could expect. Thrills and spills asides this series has indeed taken on a life of its own wherein the two teams seem to be evenly matched . Albeit that as the number eight seed in the Western Conference , few might have expected the Grizzlies to have made it this far in the playoffs . Should Randolph and his teammates prevail against the Thunder , then a much anticipated conference final’s match-up against the Dallas Mavericks awaits them.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the postseason unfolds were you at all surprised by the Los Angeles Lakers’ exit from the NBA Playoffs ? And which series to your mind of those played so far has been the most exciting to watch in your opinion ? Simply offer a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece and anything else you feel to be pertinent with regard to the NBA postseason .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) EL SEGUNDO, CA – MAY 11: Phil Jackson, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, speaks during his last official Lakers news conference at the team’s training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images …..

(2) Phil Jackson, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, hugs a Kevin Ding reporter for the Orange County Register as he leaves his last official Lakers news conference at the team’s training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……

(3) Lamar Odom (7) of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……..

(4) Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks with members of the convened press at the team’s facility at the Toyota Center in El Segundo, California. Getty Images / Kevirk Djansezian ……

(5) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, right, reacts to a dunk by teammate James Harden, left, in the second quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Wednessday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams …..

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard Daequan Cook, left, shoots in front of Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, right, and forward Zach Randolph, center, in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Oklahoma City won 99-72 . AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …….

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins shoots as Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen watches in the second quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki ………

(8) Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, left, shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka in the first quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki ……

(9) Oklahoma City Thunder forwards Kevin Durant, front, and Serge Ibaka, right, cheer in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Oklahoma City won 99-72. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ……..

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If at all interested do take time to participate in the above mentioned poll .