Time Mag Sux

The SEVEN
27 June 2014
I. Mississippi (Tea Party) Burning

How ironic is it that in 2014 –
just 50 years after Freedom Summer…
50 years after the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner for seeking to get Blacks registered to vote in Mississippi…
50 years after Fannie Lou Hamer was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” at the Democratic Convention…
Just 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964…
the Mississippi Republican political establishment candidate, Sen. Thad Cochran, needed to recruit Black Democratic voters to hold on to his seat in a Republican primary against a Tea Partier.
II. Disco Inferno…burn this mother down

Were I friend or kin to officer Bowe Bergdahl, I’d be burning up inside, or wishing I could legally burn down the offices of Time magazine after their “Was He Worth It” cover. I bet if it had been their editor being held hostage it would have been worth it.

They ought lose subscriptions over that.
III. The Heat Is On…Melo?

So Carmelo Anthony opted out of his Knick contract, as he said he would all along, as was his right. No surprise. But now new GM Phil Jackson basically wants ‘Melo to work for less than the $12 million he himself is getting, and has begun creation of a “Carmelo’s greedy” narrative if he walks. No surprise Carmelo hasn’t jumped at that.

Clearly he wants a shot at a ring while still in his prime, which he may not get if remaining in the Big Apple. In light of the Spurs’ recent playoff clinic, I’m just not so sure he’d get one if he takes his talents to South Beach. The number of balls used on the court might pose a problem.
IV. King James Version

So LeBron James opted out of his Heat contract, as was his right. He did so to give the Heat more financial flexibility, or to test the free agent waters, or to put Miami Heat on Pat Riley to remake or retool his roster. But am I the only one who thought it strange that Riley felt he needed to call a press conference to call LeBron out?
V. Chump

One day years ago, walking in Times Square, I see a big commotion, and ask a guy what was up. Muhammad Ali, I was told. Luckily no cars were coming as I raced across the street, or I’d be writing this from up top.

As a fan addressed him as “champ,” Ali playfully turned and asked him if he had said champ or chump. “Champ,” said the fan. “I would never call you chump. You’re bigger than I am.”

“Did you say bigger, or n__gg__?”

Not too long after that the Central Park Five were arrested and ultimately jailed for years for the “crime of the century” that DNA proved they did not commit. Finally the City of New York has agreed on compensation for these men, bringing much-needed closure to this case. Of course Donald Trump – the taker of full-page New York Times ads excoriating these boys at the time – is unhappy. Another instance where the would-be presidential candidate seems to have to hold on for dear life to his incorrect stance…as in the birth certificate matter.

Did you say Trump, or Chump?
VI. Redskins

If owner Dan Snyder doesn’t change that name soon, he’ll be the next chump.
VII. Omar Minaya vs. Sandy Alderson

Is it too early to say that Minaya’s “Los Mets” were much better than Alderson’s money ball team?

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
13 June 2014
I. Now I Can Die In Peace

…was the sign a long-suffering New York Rangers fan held up after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup after a forty-some year drought in 1994. Now they are almost halfway towards a drought of the same length, and seem to be not likely to reverse that in these Stanley Cup finals, down 3 games to 1. That said, the Rangers have provided excitement and a great human interest story in the area, even for non-NHL fans, with their numerous comebacks throughout the playoffs, as well as the way the team rallied around Martin St. Louis following the passing of his mother – and seemed to take their play up a notch afterwards.

Meanwhile, off the ice, the NHL competition committee is looking into some rule changes. I wonder if they have heard of my two-point goal proposal?
II. Know Your Neighbors?

In 1994 the New York Knicks played in the Finals as well as the Rangers, and Ranger hero Mark Messier brought the Stanley Cup to the Knick locker room after they had won to motivate the Knicks…who went on to lose in seven games to Houston. Should the Rangers come back to win this year, they will find no one down the hall to show the Cup to except for Phil Jackson and new head coach Derek Fisher, both of whom have seen numerous championship trophies.

And they may not see another soon…despite the great career as a player and leader that Fisher has enjoyed. Just because Fisher knows the triangle offense, that won’t mean automatic success; he’s not bringing Kobe along with him.
III. Off Pitch

Over in Queens, in the latest of the New York Mets’ post game concert series, New York native 50 Cent will be in concert tomorrow night. Were I able to go, I would surely enjoy hearing his hip-hop classic, In Da Club…which kids are surprised to see on my phone/iPad, right after Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

I could, however, do without seeing him throw off the mound….after his horrible first pitch a few weeks back where he threw it closer to the club than home plate. Google it if you haven’t seen it.
IV. Monday Morning Quarterback

After last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, when Indiana’s Roy Hibbert kicked butt against everyone in the Miami middle, the Heat obviously thought that they would meet up with the Pacers again and should try to fortify the center position. So they went and signed the oft-injured Greg Oden, who had not played in several seasons due to injury. If he could give three good minutes, I’m sure the thought was, those might be the minutes that make the difference in the series.

Little did they know that – upon meeting Indiana again – Hibbert would be of little consequence in the series. In retrospect, they might have done better getting another skilled wing player to help against San Antonio…but then again, maybe not. The Spurs are the greatest TEAM of this generation, the greatest since the ’70’s era Knick teams…and far better than them, by the way. During these playoffs they have made four very good to great teams look foolish, Miami just being the latest. The basketball “purists,” wherever they are, are surely smiling.

P.S.: If you had lived in a village where NBA games are not broadcast for the last few years, and just returned last week, you might think that Kawhi Leonard is better than LeBron James. As long as there is anything near equivalency between these two, the Heat are doomed.

V. Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey…

After seeing his smug mug so many times on TV when opposing the President, I can’t say I’m sorry to say Goodbye to Eric Cantor.
VI. Blowing In The Wind

How many more horrific school shooting incidents have to happen before we ramp up gun control measures?
VII. That Other Cup

Happy World Cup to soccer fans!

 

 

Spurs-Heat Volume II

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
5 June 2014

 

As I prepared to write about Spurs-Heat II, I decided to pull up what I had written in advance of last year’s series. So here it is, my 2013 analysis, followed by my analysis of this year.

Bunch of things to talk about…but the big news today is that the start of the NBA Finals is just hours away! The new kings of the block, the Miami Heat, taking on the veteran San Antonio Spurs in their last hurrah…or not, as the case may be. The spectacular LeBron James versus “The Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan. A bid for dynasty status by the Heat, or the cementing of such by the Spurs. A great matchup is on tap!

Here, then, are 7 reasons why the Spurs…or the Heat…will win:

I. LeBron James

King James is now just about universally crowned the greatest hoopster in the world (sorry, KG, but I still believe your time is coming in that regard), and because of that and his tremendous all-around game, the Heat have an excellent shot at repeating as champions.

2014: LeBron is better and more efficient than last year. No change here.  But his opponent for much of the series, Kawhi Leonard, is a beast-in-training. Don’t sleep on him and his potential contributions.

II. Tim Duncan

Roy Hibbert of the Pacers is a fine young center, probably soon to be the best center in the league – but right now, he is not quite the offensive equal of Tim Duncan. So if you thought Chris Bosh and company were having a hard time with Hibbert, wait until they see Tim Duncan. Duncan’s dominance down low may carry the Spurs to their fifth title.

2014: Roy Hibbert gave the Heat very little heat in the Eastern Conference finals this year, but expect Tim Duncan to continue to torch the Heat front line. Possible difference: San Antonio center Tiago Splitter is a year more experienced and better.

III. Chris Anderson and Ray Allen

Who knew how much the Heat – they of the Big 3 – would lean on mid-season pickup Chris Anderson in their series against Indiana. Anderson was arguably the difference in the wins in Games 1 & 3, and his Game 6 absence due to suspension (for trying to go WWE on Tyler Hansbrough) may have played a large part in their getting blown out.

The Birdman is an active big man that provides a great passing outlet – in terms of being able to finish at the rim – for James and Wade on their drives. He can be a difference maker. As for Ray-Ray, I know he shot a lower percentage from three-point range this year with the Heat than he did getting his passes in Beantown from Rajon Rondo – but certainly he can’t shoot as inconsistently in this series as he did against Indiana. If he shoots well, the floor spacing is that much better, making it even easier for the slashers to drive to the hoop and making it extremely tough to guard the Heat.

2014: The Heat would not have won a thing without these two last year, and their contributions will be vital again. If Birdman is not himself physically the Heat will have problems, as he is their top rim protector. Ray seems less consistent than before…is that due to age? Will he be there in the clutch for them?

IV. Tony Parker

If the Heat guards don’t do any better job of containing Tony Parker and keeping him out of that lane than his western conference playoff opponents have done so far, it could be a long series…or, rather, a short series…for the Heat. Parker was being mentioned in an MVP capacity at times during the regular season, and that type play has extended in the post-season.

2014: Likewise, if Parker is not himself physically, the Spurs will have problems, despite the fact that their bench is the best and performs more like the starters than any bench I have ever seen. The problem is that Parker brings a late-clock break-down capability that the second unit players don’t.

With that said, Patty Mills is a tremendous shooter coming off the bench, and his impact will probably be felt.

V. Home Court Advantage

Home cooking is always tastier…or at least I always felt that way in my house. And should this series go 7, the Heat – by virtue of their amazing 66-win season – will host the deciding game – which could be the deciding factor in terms of who raises the Larry O’Brien trophy at center court.

2014: This year the Spurs would host the deciding game.

VI. Pop

I don’t know if Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA, or the second or third-best – but I give him the edge in this series. Pop didn’t care about the best record, as he took a fine for sending his starters home prior to a game against the Heat, and continually rested people when he felt the need – so much so that OKC overtook them for the best conference record. Still, he got them to this point – and has had a week to study the Heat in depth. The coaching edge may put the Spurs over the top in this series.

2014: Pop remains a tremendous coach, and still gives the Spurs an edge in this area. His defensive schemes against LeBron are more effective than any in the league.

VII. Dwyane Wade and Manu Ginobili

D-Wade has been hurt throughout the playoffs, to the point where we – or he – did not know what player would be taking the court from day to day. Fortunately for the Heat, it was the just-about regular D-Wade that was on the floor in Game 7 against the Pacers. Meanwhile, Manu Ginobili may still be recovering from mid-season injuries, as he did not look like himself during the Spurs’ short run through the playoffs so far. Fortunately for them, they haven’t really needed the superstar Manu (though his big three-pointer against Golden State did help).

If Wade is back to being D-Wade, the Heat are a very tough team to beat. Likewise, when Ginobili is on his game, he is an X-factor – as very few people are able to guard him. So in terms of who will emerge victorious, it may just come down to which of these future Hall-Of-Famers is most like their norm.

2014: Both Wade and Ginobili seem in better shape, injury-wise, than a year ago. The rest given them by their respective coaches throughout the regular season has worked. So each of these guys is better equipped to be a difference maker for their team.

2013: In any case, this could be a series for the ages!
2014: In any case, this could be a series for the ages again, which would be great on the heels of the Clippers situation!

My prediction: Spurs in six.