Archive for the ‘Collaborative Posts’ Category

We must protect our history.

“I may never go back to Cooperstown — it wouldn’t be a sacred hall anymore.” – Goose Gossage.

Goose Gossage is against the idea of including suspected steroid users in the Hall of Fame. He’s not alone, more than 60% of the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) writers left Bonds, Clemens and Sosa off of their ballots. Two things motivate the writers: punishing the alleged users and protecting of the Hall of Fame. Steroid re-wrote the history books and now baseball purists are looking re-craft the narrative once again, but for whom?

We must protect our history.

“My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them” – Spike Lee.

For Spike, slavery is pain, slavery is about the heroic triumph of his people, and it’s his heritage. Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” re-writes Spike’s history by cataloguing the brutality of slavery through the use of a spaghetti western. By urging others the boycott, Lee and other critics of “Django” cling to the notion that the slave narrative must be fashioned in a particular manner. 

We are a country that attempted to scrub history by removing the “n-word” from Huck Finn and slavery from the Civil War in an attempt to simplify historical narratives. Confronting nuance has never been our strong suit. But it always felt as though the national pastime’s obsession with history would allow it to maneuver the nuances of their own history.

The MLB used to be a societal trendsetter. Think about it for a second. The MLB (with an unmistakable assist from Branch Rickey) leapt ahead of American society by placing Jackie Robinson (an African-American) on a whites-only field. By the time the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, every team fielded at least one black baseball player. Far before southern society ripped down their “Whites Only” signs from schools, water fountains and other publics spaces, African-Americans stole the show on nightly basis on the baseball diamond.  

Rather than ignore the MLB’s problematic relationship with the Negro Leagues, the Hall of Fame enshrined many of the Negro League greats into the Hall of Fame. They accounted for their embarrassing policies during the early decades of their inception.

There’s a lesson to be learned from that. Let’s put some ice on that black eye.

The steroid era, however, has caused baseball writers and analysts trouble alike.  It seems as though many have agreed to usher in the “post-steroid testing” era by muting their mentions of those who prospered during the steroid era. During Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown season in 2012, there were many prominent journalists who proclaimed Cabrera had the greatest offensive season in the past 40 years; a slap in the face for anyone with 20/20 vision watching Barry Bonds from 2001-2004.

Baseball has lagged behind most of society when it comes to the steroid issue. Some of baseball’s prominent names are linked to Performance Enhancing Drugs: including, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro. It’s no longer 2006, where we can delude ourselves into thinking that PEDs were limited to Bonds, Canseco, Sosa, McGwire and Clemens. Steroids were as pervasive as amphetamines in 70’s and 80’s and spitballs were in the early 20th century.

Instead of having an adult discussion about how to reconcile the steroid era, with their vote this past Wednesday has decided to redact the black mark, rather than embrace it as many of us have over the past few years. No one was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013. It was the second time in 42 years and the first since 1996.  They would like you to believe that the careers of Barry Bonds, who holds the record for MVPs (7), Roger Clemens who holds the record for most Cy-Young award wins (7), Sammy Sosa (most 60 HR seasons) and Mike Piazza, the greatest hitting catcher are not Hall of Fame worthy.

Redacting the steroid era by omitting its best players is a counter-intuitive venture. Very few approve of the way the BBWAA handled this year’s vote. For every year we move further away from the steroid era, the closer the baseball community will have to come to embracing the PED era and its participants. The Hall of Fame voters already seem petty given their recent history: denying anyone who even hinted of PED use, Ron Santo and other absurd practices that keep deserving candidates off the first ballot. Keeping out some of the greatest players of all-time without banning them completely from baseball has the potential to ruin the legitimacy of the Hall of Fame.

Cleansing and sanitizing history into a neat narrative never works. Especially not in a social media driven society that does not follow the old static “baseball purity” narratives that are more fit for 1980s audience than one in 2013.  The Hall of Fame is the final frontier in baseball conventional wisdom. The walls are crumbling, the times are changing, hopefully they figure out before it becomes too late.

They can continue to follow a script written for yesteryear and risk irrelevancy.

Spike Lee learned very quickly after his critique of “Django Unchained”, that it wasn’t enough to just express an objection a portrayal of slavery written by a White American.  Substance and nuance was essential to any real critique of the movie and protesting the movie without viewing the movie in its entirety was insufficient for a more sophisticated public open to new ideas. Newer faces in the African-American media community, such as Toure, came out in support of the movie with an in-depth analysis of the movie more appropriate for times.

The steroid era records still stand; the numbers are still etched in books without asterisks or footnotes.  Bonds still has 7-MVP awards and Clemens still has 7 Cy Young awards.  It’s there. Tarantino will continue to collect Golden Globe and Academy Award recognition, despite the protests of a few.  Nothing will change and baseball has not and will not step in to alter those numbers.

One day Bonds, Clemens and the others will have their plaques in Cooperstown.

Until then we all get snicker at those old and out-of-touch writers of the BBWAA.

Bob Costas recited the end of Jason Whitlock’s December 1st article urging the NFL to cancel the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium. Costas received quite the backlash from the public, who didn’t think it was the appropriate time to “debate” gun-control. I quibble with this characterization for two reasons. Bob Costas did not debate the gun-control issue, he opined about gun-control, which whether we like it or not played a role in deaths of both Kassandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher. Whether or not it was the primary issue is irrelevant, Costas’ essay is a platform for him to give his opinion about a subject concerning the sport of football. He did not ask to repeal the 2nd Amendment, he spit a cold hard truth about the platitudes we use when tragedy strikes sports.

 

The irony of it all is that the point both Costas and Whitlock were attempting to make in their respective essays were reinforced by the responses by many in the public. “There’s no place for political commentary in Sunday Night Football.” Sunday night football and Monday Night Football and national televised sporting events have always been political. From the 5000 sq. yard American flags draped on the field to the passionate singing of the National Anthem at every game. When players showboat or don’t look the way we think they should at a particular position, we comment and boy do those comments always toe the line of racial and cultural politics. But when the issues aren’t easily dismissed by saying something along the lines of “this isn’t a racial issue,” “he doesn’t play the game the right way,” or “player safety” the public tends to cower away from the issue and decide that sport is not the place to play out those so-called political agendas.

 

Unless it’s tied up in feel good story, an answer or a human interest documentary we have very little room in the sports world to address the deeper political issues that play out on a regular basis. Whitlock wasn’t too far off when he compared NFL on Sundays to church, there are some things we aren’t allowed to bring into the Church. Guns are one of them and this past Sunday, Costas brought guns into our sacred grounds and the senseless unproductive mudslinging commenced. 

I was too poor to go to Cooperstown when I was younger. But I was obsessed with baseball statistics. I borrowed books in the library to study up on all things related to the history of the MLB. One of the impressive feats I remember reading was Reggie Jackson’s three home runs on three pitches in the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers.  But like I said before, I was only concerned with statistics and the statistical anomalies that would pop up from time to time. 

 

When I finally got access to the Internet, I searched the baseball Hall of Fame and found Reggie Jackson, a man whom I only identified as a Yankee, naturally wearing a Yankee hat. I began to read articles related to Reggie Jackson, I soon discovered Reggie’s contentious relationship with the Yankee brass, specifically George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin. While Jackson was widely revered in Yankee circles, (he participated in Old Timer’s games and he’s enshrined in Monument Park, the Yankee equivalent to the Ring of Honor) he spent most of his Hall of Fame caliber years with the Oakland A’s. For as miserable as those years were dealing with the New York media, I don’t understand why Reggie Jackson was so gung-ho about being enshrined as a Yankee. His case was one of the one’s cited as the Hall of Fame changed the rules such that they (as in the committee) chose what hat they wore into Cooperstown. 

 

Here are some other situations similar to Jackson’s: http://espn.go.com/page2/s/hat/HOF.html

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This brings me to Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has never truly been welcomed to the Bronx. He was a clear upgrade from Aaron Boone the year he arrived in a Yankee uniform in 2004. He was a part of the team with one of the all-time great Yankee lineups never to win a championship:  (the famed 3-0 collapse) and (murderer’s row and Cano). 

A-Rod didn’t make the case for himself either, having poor postseason efforts, where he consistently underachieved, especially in so-called “clutch” situations. Money was not an issue for the Yankees as they realized true multiple MVP season that they had the best player in baseball if not one of the top-3. 

However, to be truthful, A-Rod never stood a chance. It was Derek Jeter’s team. The beloved 4-time World Series champion (at the time) would never take a backseat for A-Rod. Jeter didn’t exactly always give Rodriguez his most resounding endorsement either. Not to mention the most beloved manager in Yankee history, Joe Torre, batted a slumping A-Rod, 8th in the 2006 ALDS vs. the Tigers. Has there have been a bigger slap in the face to a reigning MVP than to be demoted to 8th? A-Rod kept his cool through all of it. He couldn’t win.

Until he did. The 2009 New York Yankees World Series Championship should read: Alex Rodriguez becomes a “Real Yankee” [Sidebar: Full disclosure, I am a Yankee fan. I love being a pretentious snob when it pertains to my Yankee fandom. But the “Real Yankee” trope is about as obnoxious as we can get. I’ve never heard that associated with anyone in my lifetime except A-Rod. He’s the only guy who dealt with that. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a “Real Yankee” as much as us Yankee fans were overprotective of our patron saints of the 90s and early 00s, Joe Torre and Derek Jeter.] Hitting over .360, A-Rod was finally worth the money and the headache. 

 

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWnPHkYqidE]

 

Since then, he’s been God-awful. He’s hit below .200 in four straight postseasons series. His 2012 postseason campaign was both comical and painful watch simultaneously. If his 3-27, 12 K performance wasn’t bad enough, the media caught wind of A-Rod being, well, A-Rod. A new faux-scandal emerged involving A-Rod flirting with an Australian model during Game 1 of the ALCS. Not to mention, there were talks of trading Alex Rodriguez to the Miami Marlins in the MIDDLE OF THE ALCS. 

 

Alex Rodriguez has been kicked around and stomped on by the fans, the Yankee organization and the guys within the clubhouse. I’m not sure how he can look back at his years with the Yankees as media whipping boy and fall guy for all that has gone wrong with the New York Yankees since he’s arrived. The contract doomed him in many ways, but Alex has suffered enough. [I’m leaving myself wide open for my sympathies for a man who will make nearly $130 million over the next 5 years for being basically a glorified role player. And I’m okay with that] Dozens of fan bases would have killed for a guy who has produced like Alex Rodriguez. Most fans would be happy to say they were able the witness one of the 10 best players of all-time play for their city. Not New Yorkers, not Yankee fans. I hope when it’s time for Rodriguez to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame [still up for debate considering that whole PED admission] he wears another hat. The Yankees never deserved him. 

 

Don’t insult me. I know Miguel Cabrera is going after the Triple Crown and I will even concede Cabrera has been one of the best and most consistent hitters in the past three years. But don’t tell me that he’s having the best hitting season since Carl Yestremski in 1967. For some reason this has been a very popular narrative over the past few weeks while we (maybe 2% of the country) have been enthralled in Miguel Cabrera’s chase for the Triple Crown.

 

I’m not going to try to poo-poo Cabrera’s accomplishment, it’s a statistical anomaly in baseball. We should marvel at Cabrera’s accomplishment and even give him the MVP as he’s spearheaded the Tigers’ run to the AL Central Division title. But to try to debate that this is one of the top seasons of all time is embarrassing.

and irresponsible. Off the top of my head I can think of names such as Ted Williams, Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa even Alfonso Soriano who have had better seasons than the one Cabrera’s currently having.

 

Yes I get it, Cabrera’s numbers are as follows .329/44/137, impressive by any measure. But if we’re going to argue that the simple fact that he will win the Triple Crown is the reason why this is one of the great season of all-time, forgets that the Triple Crown is a very subjective statistic. Just last year Cabrera’s Triple Crown numbers this year wouldn’t hold up as a Triple Crown season. Why? Because there would be four players (including Cabrera) who would have hit for a better average. If Cabrera hit two less Home Runs, wouldn’t the MLB hand the MVP to Mike Trout? Probably. The accomplishment alone should not merit Cabrera anything more than an MVP nod. Let’s not get carried away with aligning Cabrera’s seasons along side some Pujols, A-Rod and Sosa’s seasons. Not to mention, Barry Lamar Bonds.

 

Again, don’t insult me. I was old enough to see Barry Bonds 2001-2004 seasons. I know what I saw. I saw offensive domination like no one had ever seen. Forget Bonds’ 73 HR season where he also hit .328, drove in 137 RBIs and set the record for walks, 2002 is the most devastating season a player has ever had without crushing more than 50 Home Runs. .370/46/110 with 198 walks. This is a season no one has ever come close to matching. Let’s not even mention that 2004 was not too far behind 2002.

 

The media should stop pretending that those Barry Bonds seasons didn’t happen. I can understand that Bonds was the face of the steroid era and the single-season and career Home Run records are forever tainted. But it’s important to remember that it did happen. If the media really wanted to do the job correctly, provide the necessary perspective. We can’t erase Bonds from the record books and not talking about those seasons won’t make the reality of those seasons any less true. So again, don’t tell me this is one of the best offensive seasons of all-time. 

Point/Counterpoint

Posted: September 23, 2012 in ALL II, Bunker, Collaborative Posts

Defense of Goddell – ALL 2

Per usual with the legal sphere and rich folks (especially in sports), we get a bunch of confusing statements, juicy headlines, and more questions than answered.  Earlier this week, Jonathan Vilma finally met with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his involvement with the Saints bounty program, the story that will not go away.  Soon thereafter the meeting, the public learned that Vilma and his attorney were given a signed affidavit (available here) of Gregg Williams’ statements pertaining to the bounty program.  Not being a legal scholar, I know that the penalty for lying in an affidavit is perjury and that is something people should not want to face because it’s a BIG deal.  (Note: I am a PhD student in political science, not a law student.  I will leave the legal side open for my more legally inclined colleague) The kicker in all of this is the new rush to present affidavits on the situation.  Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsburg suggests 30 players are ready to defend Vilma.  Vilma took to Twitter to suggest Williams was bullied into signing this.  Everyone is confused as to why its dated September 14, 2012.  All of this does not matter to me because until further notice it appears as bad for Vilma as it did before.

The first thing that bothers me is the quickness for people to dismiss the genuine nature of the affidavit.  Most people acknowledge that the statement mirrors the exact information he gave to the NFL back in March.  Most people complained that they did not believe the evidence the NFL had and some recently suggested Williams was backing out of his statements; the affidavit seems to double down on the genuine nature of the statement.  Maybe this is the contrarian opinion but this seems more than reasonable since this is going back in front of a court.  I suppose it’s also contrarian to not hate the commissioner but I digress.

The other part of this that gets me going is the public’s willingness to be on board with the 30 players willing to support Vilma.  This, to me, sounds similar to the Lance Armstrong situation that everyone sided with USADA on a month ago.  Remember Lance being confronted with more and more people in trouble and giving testimony claiming he doped?  Remember Lance saying he didn’t and could bring many more teammates, coaches, etc. to support his side?  Remember no one giving a damn that Lance could do that?  I do. I do. I do.  Vilma is now in a similar situation and everyone seems to be siding with Vilma because Goodell is a bad man.  Having a bunch of players pop up to your defense does not mean you didn’t do anything.  It means you have people that said you didn’t do something other people said you did.  Why does Gregg Williams get no credibility but Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and others do when making statements after testing positive and “in the clutches of the man?”

What this comes down to is Roger Goodell and the NFL are not just picking on the Saints.  We are in a semantics war between pay for performance and pay for injury.  It’s a lawyer’s wet dream which means it’s time for me to bow out.  What I do know is that a bounty system did take place and that involved some players.  Now, no player is willing to rat on another. I get that.  But some player was involved.  Multiple players were involved.  While I am in no position to challenge someone’s motives, I do wonder if this is about integrity or the moolah lost.  If this was not a full season suspension, would we even be here?  Maybe.  I have no issue with Goodell looking to hold players accountable for their involvement in something egregious like a bounty scandal.  Hope the players implicated are the ones involved but to this day nothing has changed to point the finger of doubt towards anyone but Vilma and the three other’s fingered by the NFL.

 

Defense of Jonathan Vilma: Bunkie

I don’t know whether or not Jonathan Vilma is directly responsible with this pay for performance (some call it a bounty) scandal. He’s racking up legal fees by the day to defend his name and reputation, money I’m sure he’ll want when he retires. I can respect the way Vilma has gone about defending his innocence. When Goddell asked to meet with Vilma, Vilma refused, a move I first criticized. But what has become increasingly obvious is that Roger Goddell has relied heavily on hearsay and third party references to come to his conclusions about bounty-gate.

An independent arbitrator lifted the suspensions. That tells me that there is a serious lack of evidence on the side of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, the circumstantial evidence mounted against Vilma is convincing, but since when do we convict on such matters. While some may quibble with the idea that we still aren’t even certain that this was a bounty scandal, the distinction between pay for performance and bounty is very important. The NFL needs to go out and prove without a doubt that this Saints system was contributing to unnecessary violence that would not have happened were it not for this system. That’s tough to do. Especially when there’s no smoking gun. So in a desperate attempt to save face and pin the deed to Vilma, Goddell reached into the gutter to trot out the troll that he suspended indefinitely: Greg Williams.

Although I’m not a fan of the “Stop Snitching” era, this Greg Williams affidavit is exactly why that moniker was created. Greg Williams was the face of the bounty-gate, he received the most severe punishment of all. He’s desperate. Goddell’s desperate. They are both making a deal with the devil. For all of those who believed that Goddell had an agenda against the Saints, this helps give that notion A LOT of credence. I’m sure Goddell didn’t obtain this affidavit without giving Williams a little something in return. Vilma’s defense, although it sound childish, is valid: “The nfl has 1 affidavit saying i did it. I have NINE saying i didnt. Do the math. Hush haters”. The whole investigation and the subsequent suspensions were resolved via questionable circumstantial evidence, why can’t the defense be the same.

When it comes to NFL credibility, well, these are the same people who are telling us the replacement referees are doing a great job.

This Guy is Your Other Option

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fH8ihdEz4w]

Cheeks, the Editor-in-Chief, and ALL II return to discuss the Olympics, Team USA, Dwight Howard’s move to the city of Angels, and the PGA Championship.

Banned from Badminton

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Collaborative Posts

The Olympic motto translates to “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” This needs to be updated to accept newer more psychological forms of athletic battle. We’ve evolved as athletes since the First Olympiad and more importantly sports has become more sophisticated since then. I hate to break it to the IOC, but Pierre de Coubertine ain’t walking through that door any time soon. Which brings me to the subject of this article: the expulsion of the Chinese and Korean badminton teams from the Olympics. 

What is the goal for these athletes in the Olympics? I would argue to win. To win in an honest manner within the rules, but win nonetheless. There’s nothing illegal about working to give yourself the best advantage in the seeding of a tournament. The Chinese team looked to avoid playing the other Chinese badminton team and a loss would put them in a better position to win the tournament. Moreover, it sounds very patriotic. Why not put yourself in a position where your country’s two best teams can face each other for the goal?  

Tanking is a part of sports. It’s strategy. Not bush-league and far from illegal. When I first heard of teams “throwing” matches in the Olympics, I assumed it was because they were being paid off. Or there was some sort huge controversy surrounding both the Korean team and the Chinese team. I was almost proud of the possibility of Vegas invading and compromising the outcomes of an Olympic match. No need to outsource, America has got a monopoly on bribery and racketeering. I was perturbed to find out that these teams were disqualified for not trying hard enough to win. They were suspended for gamesmanship.  

Where do we draw the line? We will absolutely see certain teams rest their stars in the basketball tourney. Should they be suspended as well? How do we know when a team is throwing a match, game or event. If Phelps or Lochte takes it easy in the preliminary heats, should the IOC force the men to go home, because “trying your hardest” is the “Olympic Way”. The Olympics has in many ways remained behind the curve in many of athletic advancements, [Think about it. They actually BAN steroids, c’mon IOC catch up with the times]  media technology [tape delay], but there’s no reason they should  implement athletic morality into their governance.  

Allow the Olympics to be about winning and losing, then competition shall follow. Competition is not limited to effort, it involves strategy and gamesmanship. Don’t take that away from us. But, but Bunk what do we tell the kids? Turn to your child and say working smart is just as valuable as working hard.  Then tell them to hush, because you too are trying to figure out exactly “what is this sport called ‘badminton’”.  

 

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZDn0U0w78k%5D

Cheeks

Advertisements on NBA Jerseys
There are plenty of sports related debates that I find to be annoying and a waste of time because there is clearly a right answer. The argument over whether advertisements should be placed on NBA jerseys is certainly one of those debates. Like any multibillion business, the NBA strives to maximize their profit margin and jersey sponsorships seems to be a lucrative venture–speculated that it will net the NBA $100 million–that does not diminish or alter the quality of the game on the court. So, why do people disapprove of this? Because of “jersey” tradition? Because it might not be aesthetically appealing? C’mon. Those are very weak reasons to oppose this attempt by the NBA to gain more revenue.
ALL II
In an age where everything is corporately sponsored in sports, it seemed inevitable that professional jerseys would receive the same treatment among the major American sports.  The NBA appears to be the first to jump into the financial waterfall with two by two inch sponsorship patches on all jerseys (game worn and replicas sold in stores).  This does not offend my sensibilities because I generally don’t care for the existing sponsors at arenas or in other team sports – primarily soccer.  Naturally teams should be concerned about this new use of marketability as a controversial company willing to buy space may turn off fans, free agents, or other potential sponsors for anything related to the team.  Taking the macro approach, sponsorship in team sports is more complicated because a team consists of multiple personalities, interests, and preferences.  The Boston Bruins demonstrated this last season with Tim Thomas taking a politically unpopular stance by avoiding the ceremonial meeting of the President following their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship.  In individual sports a single entity can accurately convey his/her own preferences resulting in a greater connection to supporters.  This is why NASCAR attracts high levels of sponsorship success.  As a Jeff Gordon fan I consciously look to buy Chevy cars, drink Pepsi (if I decide to drink pop/soda), and support specific causes like campaigns to end hunger.  Ultimately the power of sponsorship is questionable in team sports (do Atlanta Hawks fans buy Phillips products since they attend the Phillips Arena?) but if money can be made and spent on the franchise I see no need to spend more than 300 words on it.  Expect this to be the beginning of a trend towards larger sponsorship and more money – a healthy climb to the rest of the sporting world in the 21st century.
Bunk

 

 

I’ll be the grandpa, I’ll make the argument that neither guy wants to make: Over-commercialization. I’m tired of faux controversies where companies begin to represent a political ideology and the masses begin protesting against them and asking sponsors to denounce. I can see this happening with the NBA very easily. I can see it now, “Chik-Fil-A denounces gay marriage, the LGBTQ community calls on the NBA and the Charlotte Bobcats to remove their sponsorship from their jerseys.” Here we go again, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News stories now become fodder for debate on ESPN. While that’s great for our blog and for ESPN it does take away from the game itself.

I understand why the arenas have to be commercialized and sponsored and hijacked by big business. Big business = money that the state/city doesn’t always have to shell out to for arenas. (Although we are well aware that if the city doesn’t dish out a good portion of money for the stadium you can kiss your team good-bye). It’s not enough to have arenas filled with advertisements, players who are pimped out for shoe companies and other merchandise, now even the 12th man is wearing enough to have him represent some corporate entity he has little no affiliation with.

There’s also the aesthetics. No longer can I look at a Knicks jersey and think back of other men who wore the same uniform. The Boston white and green will now be littered with multi-colored advertisements that will eventually overshadow the name on the front of the jersey as well as the back. Is nothing sacred anymore?

 The 2003 class is the only class to have successfully defeated the Generation X class. Wade, James, Bosh and Darko Millicic have played a role in championship teams. So while the Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Nowitzki, Garnett era is coming to a close, they still have a few more runs left in them. Instead of waiting for those guys to fade away for good (Shaq faded way as ungracefully as any once dominating player has ever faded), I’m waiting for this Generation Y squad to take over. Here are the list of 80’s babies that need to take over the next decade and slip some rings on their fingers. Moreover, here are the guys who now have the pressure of getting a ring to validate themselves in this era. 

 

 

1)Derrick Rose

Yes, I know he had he ACL injury, which buys him about 2 years and maybe a built-in excuse as to why he will never will a championship. We can always point to the “he was going to be great, until he tore his ACL” as the reason why Rose never made the leap. However, I take issue with Rose (or Chicago Bulls fans) who suggest that given a healthy rose, they would have hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy. Not so fast. It seems fans forgot that they lost to a lesser Miami Heat team the year before in 5 games. But of course “the humble one” Rose will get a pass for awhile, but the pressure will soon mount, especially given the fact he plays for his hometown. His hometown may never turn their back on him, but the rest of us will if he can’t stop the Miami Heat freight train from getting “Not 1… Not 2… Not 3…”

 

 2)Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo went from considered being the best scorer and closer in the league to being compared to the likes of Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady as great scorers, who were selfish to ever make the players around them better. Whether or not one thinks this is unfair, Carmelo has never lived up to the hype of being LeBron James’ number 1 rival. When they both left college, they were anointed the next Magic and Bird, although their games bring a lot of media coverage and hype, it’s been a mostly one-sided affair. In the words of Jay-Z, Carmelo has went from top 10 to no mentioned at all. With all the pressure of delivering in playing for New York City, Carmelo has to bring the Knicks deep into the playoffs. 

 

3) Kevin Durant

KD is only 23. But he’s been to an NBA Finals and was almost considered better than LeBron James at a few points during the season. But as the old adage goes: TO BE THE MAN YOU GOT TO BEAT THE MAN. He’s the heir apparent to the King’s throne, but the King’s still in his prime. Sooner or later Durant has to become a better defender and rebounder. To drag in another platitude, youth is wasted on the young, and while Durant is a fan favorite now, a few more failures will bring about “Can he win the big one?” questions.

 

4)Chris Paul 

Considered by many the best “pure” (what ever that means) Point Guard in the history of the game. But Chris Paul has never made it out of the second round. Granted he’s never had much talent surrounding him and he’s always been stuck in the highly competitive West. But at some point and it’s coming soon, criticism is going to come his way. Whether it’s the “injury prone” label or the “overrated” label, it’s coming. CP3 may not need to win a title to avoid the criticism, he definitely needs to make it to the conference finals in the next few years.