Eastern Conference Power Struggle

As we enter the final stretch of the 2015 regular season, things are really starting to heat up in the NBA. Especially the Eastern Conference.

1.Atlanta (43-12)
2.Toronto (37-18)
3.Chicago (35-21)
4.Cleveland (34-22)
5.Washington (33-22)
6.Milwaukee (31-23)
7.Miami (23-31)
8.Charlotte (22-31), (Brooklyn, 22-31)

 

The Atlanta Hawks are really sitting pretty at the top of the conference with a 5 game lead over the second seed. They look as though they will hold on to that spot for the remainder of the season unless they suffer an epic collapse.

It’s the 2 through 5 seeds, where it is really getting tight. Any slippage between those teams could result in losing home court advantage throughout the first round.

The Cleveland Cavaliers as of late have been playing terrific basketball winning their last 15 of 17 games. Everyone on the Cavs roster is healthy and their new pieces are taking the team to another level.

The Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, meanwhile, have been very up and down lately. After beating the Cavaliers before the All Star break, the Bulls looked like they were primed to get back to their regular form, but that wasn’t the case as they lost their first game back to a feisty Detroit Piston team. The Wizards as well suffered a loss in their first game back, when the red hot Cavs trounced them by 38 points on their home floor.

At the Bottom of the conference we have the injury riddled Miami Heat and the mediocre Charlotte Hornets.

The Heat can’t seem to catch a break as they unfortunately have lost their best player, Chris Bosh for the rest of the season due to blood clots in his lungs. Despite a wonderful trade where they acquired PG Goran Dragic from the Suns, they will not be making any noise in the playoffs without CB.

The Hornets are tied with Brookyln, and have picked up their play recently and could very well move up into that 7th spot. Brooklyn hasn’t gotten any better since the all star break, so expect Charlotte to break the tie, but there is nothing about them that says they can make someone sweat in the first round.

In conclusion the Hawks may finish with the best record, but the Cavaliers look like the best team in the conference right now. You can expect a drastic change in these standings in the next 2 months, that’s for sure.

IMG_1293

Advertisements

Tom Brady: The Modern Day GOAT

IMG_1667

This past Super Bowl game highlighted the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady versus “The Legion of Boom”. This game was a legacy game for Brady; for all of those that doubted him and for all of those who believed him to be a cheater after the recent AFC Championship Game.

With the entire nation watching, Brady struggled early on in the first half but by the 4th quarter he had turned it on by picking apart the #1 defense of the past 3 years. With an amazing drive down the field that ended with a touchdown to Julian Edleman; the Patriots had taken a 4 point lead. The Seahawks had the ball with roughly two minutes remaining.

I honestly can’t remember that much of the drive as I try to recollect what happened. I know I see Russell Wilson chunk the ball down the right sideline, trying to test Malcolm Butler down the field and make something happen. Then with Malcolm Butler playing tremendous defense, somehow someway Jermaine Kearse hits the ground, kicks the ball to himself, then it bounces off of both hands and then makes the catch. I officially believed the game was over and that the football gods would never allow Brady that final ring.

The next play Marshawn Lynch gets an easy run all the way to the goal line and it seemed to all be over. Then some kid named Malcolm Butler, who just let potentially the game winning catch happen on his watch, jumps the slant route at the goal line and the rest is history.

IMG_1947-1

The question now is, who is the greatest quarterback to ever play?

In most NFL fans’ eyes the top two are Joe Montana and Tom Brady. If you’ve read my article ranking the top 15 QBs of all time, I had Joe Montana at #1. I also claimed that if Brady could get the 4th ring that had eluded him for so long, that the debate for greatest of all time could become legitimate.

IMG_1946

I would like to start off saying I do not care about somebody being undefeated in any championship format. Montana being 4 for 4 or Brady being 4 for 6 does not matter to me at all. If anything, I find it more impressive that Brady was able to make many deep playoff runs. Actually lets start off with this.

Montana played 15 years and Brady up to this point has played in the NFL also for 15 years. (Even though technically Brady wasn’t given a chance as a starter until his second season.) Montana has 4 one and done’s. Which means he went to the playoffs four times without winning a single game.

In those 4 games, Montana had 817 yards (roughly 204 yards a game), 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. The reason I bring up these stats is to show that these games lost can be put on Montana’s shoulders by not throwing a single touchdown in 3 of the 4 games.

Brady has 2 one and done’s. In those two games he threw for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Again blame can be put on the shoulders of the quarterback in this situation because you’re not helping your team if your TD:INT is 1:1.

Joe Montana in 1989 cultivated the greatest post season run that has only been matched by one player since. In that ’89 run, Montana threw 78% for 11 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. The most touchdowns in a post season for Brady happen in this past playoffs in which he threw 10 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Montana is 16-7 in the playoffs compared to Brady’s 21-8.

Postseason Edge: Very slightly Brady

Now to the regular season comparisons. Montana has six 10+ win seasons. Brady has double the amount with twelve 10+ win seasons. The one year Brady didn’t have 10 wins, he went 9-7. Brady brought together one of the greatest offenses of all time in 2007 when he threw for 50 touchdowns with 8 interceptions, doing so with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

Montana had one season with 30+ touchdowns compared to Brady’s five 30+ touchdown seasons. It’s good to note that in Montana’s sole 30+ touchdown season with 31 total TD’s; Jerry Rice had 22 touchdowns that season making up for 70% of Montana’s touchdowns that season, and Rice consistently made up for about 50% of Montana’s touchdowns every year he was there.

Brady’s best year with 50 touchdowns, Randy Moss accumulated 23 touchdowns making up only 46% of his touchdowns. Brady led a team to only the 2nd ever perfect record in a regular season going 16-0.

Regular Season Edge:Brady

Another thing to note about each quarterback. Brady’s team went 11-5 with him out for an entire season when Brady went out in the very first game of the season. Montana went down and was replaced with young prospect Steve Young who went on to win a Super Bowl without Montana being in the picture. In this argument though I have to give it to Montana because the 49ers got really lucky finding Steve Young who could be argued as the most efficient quarterback ever.

Now the surrounding cast. Montana had Jerry Rice, who by many is seen as the greatest football player to ever play, John Taylor who was a legitimate threat opposite of Rice, and Roger Craig who was a threat from running and receiving recording over 1,100 yards from scrimmage in 7 straight seasons. Brady has had Julian Edleman, who was huge in this past Super Bowl and was named to the all pro team, Randy Moss who I believe and many others believe to be the second greatest receiver ever, Wes Welker who I do believe was good but I can’t help the fact that he became a 3rd or 4th option when he went to Denver, and Gronkowski who I believe if he can stay away from injuries, will go down as the greatest tight end of all time.

All of the weapons I named for Brady came after his initial 3 rings. Montana didn’t have most of the weapons I listed for his first 2 rings but also had arguably the greatest defensive player to fall back on with Ronnie Lott and an overall loaded defense. Not to say that Brady didn’t have his own defense to fall back on, as they were the firepower of those first 3 championships. Both quarterbacks had great coaches and are even in that aspect.

One of the biggest arguments to look at when comparing the two is the fact that there was no salary cap back then. The San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, and a few others were loaded with money to pay guys.

Throughout Brady’s whole career a salary cap has been put in place. Brady makes it easier on himself a bit by constantly taking pay cuts to sign other guys, but the Patriots are not able to go out and get the top free agent every off-season. All around Montana just had a lot more help. Brady hasn’t had any of his weapons besides Gronk who has been riddled with injuries most of his career, and Welker for more than 3 years.
Edge: Brady

In conclusion I see the arguments both ways. If you say anything different than me, I’m not going to say you’re wrong; I’ll just give the facts as I see them, but Brady has a slight edge in every aspect. I can’t shake the fact that the one and only time he had a top 10 receiver he almost went 19-0 and threw for 50 touchdowns.

He could have 6 rings right now if not for Mario Manningham making one crazy catch, and Eli throwing into double coverage after the pocket broke down to some guy named David Tyree who caught the ball on his helmet making arguably the greatest catch of all time.

You can argue that Montana in his Super Bowl appearances never let the game be close enough for that to happen, but he also didn’t face the teams Brady did. Brady beat the “Greatest Show on Turf”; which is still recognized as the BEST offense of all time; the Eagles lead by Donavan McNabb, Terrell Owens, and Andy Reid; plus this last Super Bowl where Brady beat the Legion of Boom who beat down statistically the greatest offense ever two Super Bowls ago 43-8.

Brady has done as much if not more depending on how you look at it, with less than Montana had. The greatest quarterback to ever live is out on the field and is looking to extend that legacy even further. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.

IMG_1686

Twitter: @Deshawnhornback
Twitter: @Fortonsportsincorporated
Also follow fellow writers
@AyeMrCarter24 @RyanDFort & @RmonAllen

Is Going Pro Worth It?

     Disclaimer: This article is written as food for thought, and not meant to shoot down anyone’s dreams. However, please keep an open mind when reading.

Athletes across the country work hard in perfecting their sport of choice, and many are forced to partake in sports because it’s their only chance of getting out of the tough lives they live. However, some athletes play sports to follow a false dream of making it big and making “tons of money.” I’ll break down these true statistics, so that a reader could possibly change their mind and do something different where there’s a near 100% chance of succeeding.

Let’s start with the most popular sport in the United States, football. As of 2014, there were 1,122,000 high school football players across the country. During the 2014 season, there were 90,136 NCAA football players across all divisions (D1, D2, D3, JuCo, etc.). Using these numbers, you can hypothesize that 8% of high school football players go on to play in college. We can be lenient with these numbers considering that many athletes play for fun, but given all adjustments, the percentage never reaches above 10%. For these college players to go pro, those chances dip to 1%. Yes 1%. So by using basic statistics, the chances of going all the way from high school to the NFL is .08%, or 8 out of 1000 players. Pretty low odds considering so many high schoolers have these outlandish dreams of going pro. However, the worst has yet to come. As hard as it may believe, but this isn’t even the hardest sport to make it big in.

Next, we’ll break down the statistics for the internationally growing sport of basketball. With 541,000 estimated high school basketball players and only 32,190 college basketball players, 6% of players continue their career to that second level. However, here’s the difference between football and basketball. There’s an ever-growing number of international players coming to the United States and taking places on many teams. There aren’t any exact numbers for the amount of players, but it should still be understood that the competition is growing; which is a good thing for the sport. Now, to get to the NBA it’s near impossible. With only 439 total NBA players, the percent chances of getting to the NBA from college is 1.3%. But one key fact is that most of those roster spots are taken. There’s an average of 5 spots per team, so there’s truly 150 spots. This takes the percent of going from college to the NBA down to .4%. Once again, using statistics the chance of going from high school to the NBA is .02%. To make that easier to grasp, only 2 out of 1000 players will have a CHANCE of making it. There are some other underlying issues hurting athletes as a whole.

To be honest, too many athletes put all their fruit into one basket. So many players get the great opportunity of getting to college to play the sport they love, but neglect their future. A whopping 51% of college athletes major in General Studies. Which in the real world equates to nothing. So, if a player doesn’t make it pro, then what are they supposed to do? Well the answer is simple. Nothing. There’s nothing they can do because their time in college was wasted going after the pros, rather than getting a good major and preparing for the future. Here’s an idea. Many of these athletes have great personalities, are fun to be around and enjoy sports, so why not major in journalism. As proven by the late Stuart Scott, players and fans alike love when sports journalists have a little “swagger” which makes the typical interview entertaining. I personally am tired of seeing the same old personalities on many sport broadcasts (especially ESPN and FOX), so why not get some more relatable faces on the air and help some young kids out. Just an idea.

 

Super Bowl XLIX

So here we are, after a long wait Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived. This game could turn out as one of the best ones yet, as the defending champions Seattle Seahawks look to defend their crown against legend Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The match ups within this game are so compelling, that it is literally the closest thing to a toss up you can get in a Super Bowl. On one side you have 2 of the best players at their positions in Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski going up against one of the most fearsome defenses in NFL history, the Legion of Boom.

The Gronk vs Kam Chancellor matchup is the one that has everyone salivating at the mouth as it could very well be the one that decides the game.

The Patriots have been the most creative team in football on offense by constantly moving receivers and tight ends and it really gives defenses fits. Even though we did see the Legion of Boom dominate a record breaking offense last year against the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos, it’s a tough call on which group will get the best of each other. However, it will surely be the hottest sight of the game.

On the other side of the ball we have a Seattle Seahawk offense fresh off a incredible comeback vs the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game. It will be very interesting to see how Russell Wilson rebounds from his worst statistical performance of his career, but he seems to be very confident going into this game. The catalyst of that offense though, is Marshawn Lynch as he is coming off an offensively explosive second half vs the Packers.

This will surely be the Seahawk offense’s biggest challenge of the year as they play the red hot Patriot defense led by arguably the best corner in the game; Darrelle Revis. Revis is joined by former pro bowl receiver Brandon Browner, who played with the Seahawks last year, and who has brought that LOB swagger to New England.

The Patriots front seven is no slouch either as they possess a multitude of athletic linebackers such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. If they can find a way to slow down Beast Mode and keep Wilson in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm, Seattle will be in for a long day. Clearly there are a good amount of different matchups that we just can’t wait to see; so much so that it’s hard to tell which one will be the most impactful.

After 2 weeks of being under a microscope because of the deflategate scandal, the Patriots can finally play football, but their are concerns whether all the speculation has slowed their preparation for the defending champs.

There is also a lot of legacy riding on this game as well as Tom Brady tries to inch closer to Joe Montana with 4 Super Bowl rings. On the other hand Russell Wilson will try to become the youngest player in NFL history to get 2 Super Bowls.

Then, we have the Legion of Boom who will try to cement their legacy as one of the best defenses of all time with wins over both Manning and Brady; something no other defense can ever say they’ve accomplished.

This is the most hyped up Super Bowl in recent memory, and it surely does have the star power and story lines to back up that hype. Also, if there is one thing that is going to be certain about this game, it’s that Seattle will not run over New England like they did Denver last year. This will be a good old fashion thriller.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 26-23

IMG_1220-1