Category Archives: Hornets

NBA Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

With the NBA Season getting ready to start it’s only right that we answer a few questions in regards to awards, playoff seeding, finals predictions etc…. Please be sure to sound off and voice your opinions and enlighten us on your predictions.

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in scoring?

  
Hornback: Kevin Durant

Fort: Kevin Durant

Carter: Kevin Durant

Who will lead the league in rebounds?

  Hornback: Andre Drummond

Fort: Hassan Whiteside

Carter: Deandre Jordan

Who will lead the league in assists?

  

Hornback: John Wall

Fort: John Wall

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in PER? (Player Efficiency Rating)

    
Hornback: Anthony Davis

Fort: Anthony Davis

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in usage percentage?

  Hornback: LeBron James

Fort: Carmelo Anthony

Carter: James Harden

What will be the top 5 offenses?

   
Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Carter:

  1. Clippers
  2. Warriors
  3. Thunder
  4. Rockets
  5. Heat

What will be the top 5 defenses?

    
Hornback:

  1. Jazz
  2. Warriors
  3. Bucks
  4. Grizzlies
  5. Wizards

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Wizards
  3. Cavaliers
  4. Bucks
  5. Thunder

Carter:

  1. Bucks
  2. Bulls
  3. Pelicans
  4. Warriors
  5. Jazz

Awards Predictions:

Who will be this season’s Coach of the Year?

  

Hornback: Alvin Gentry

Fort: Erik Spolestra

Carter: Jason Kidd

Who will be this season’s Executive of the Year?

  
Hornback: R. C. Buford (San Antonio)

Fort: Pat Riley (Miami)

Carter: John Hammond (Milwaukee)

Who will be the season’s Rookie of the Year?

  Hornback: Jahlil Okafor

Fort: Emannuel Mudiay (Winslow very close 2nd)

Carter: Karl-Anthony Towns

Who will be this season’s Most Valuable Player of the Year?

  Hornback: James Harden

Fort: Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook

Carter: James Harden

Who will be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year?

  Hornback: Rudy Gobert

Fort: Dwight Howard

Carter: Anthony Davis

Who will be this season’s Sixth Man of the Year?

  Hornback: Isaiah Thomas

Fort: Louis Williams

Carter: Isaiah Thomas

Who will be this season’s Most Improved Player?

  
Hornback: Derrick Favors

Fort: Jordan Clarkson

Carter: Rudy Gobert

All NBA 1st Team

Hornback:
Steph Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Anthony Davis
Dwight Howard

Fort: 
Russell Westbrook
James Harden
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Anthony Davis

Carter:
Chris Paul
James Harden
LeBron James
Blake Griffin
Anthony Davis

All NBA 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
DeMarcus Cousins

Fort: 
John Wall
Steph Curry
Paul George
Lamarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin

Carter:
Steph Curry
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
Demarcus Cousins

All NBA 3rd Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kevin Love
Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Chris Bosh
Marc Gasol

Carter:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Pau Gasol
Marc Gasol

All NBA Defensive 1st Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

Fort: 
John Wall
Jeff Teague
Kawhi Leonard
LeBron James

Carter:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

All NBA Defensive 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Serge Ibaka
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Paul George
Anthony Davis
Deandre Jordan

Carter:
Michael Conley
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Serge Ibaka
Deandre Jordan

All NBA Rookie Team

Hornback:
D’Angelo Russell
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Jahlil Okafor

Fort: 
Emmanuel Mudiay
D’Angelo Russell
Justice Winslow
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Carter:
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Playoff Predictions

  
DeShawn Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Spurs
  3. Rockets
  4. Clippers
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Jazz

Ryan Fort

  1. Thunder
  2. Warriors
  3. Rockets
  4. Spurs
  5. Clippers
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Mavs

Tyler Carter:

  1. Spurs
  2. Warriors
  3. Clippers
  4. Rockets
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Suns
  8. Kings

  
Hornback:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Bulls
  5. Raptors
  6. Heat
  7. Bucks
  8. Detroit

Fort:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Heat
  5. Bulls
  6. Raptors
  7. Bucks
  8. Pistons

Carter:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Bulls
  3. Heat
  4. Raptors
  5. Wizards
  6. Bucks
  7. Hawks
  8. Pacers

Final Four

Hornback: 

Spurs vs Warriors
Cavaliers vs Wizards

Fort: 

Thunder vs Rockets
Cavaliers vs Heat

Carter:

Spurs vs Clippers
Cavaliers vs Heat

Finals Predictions:

  
Hornback:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 7

Fort: 

Thunder vs Heat Thunder in 6

Carter:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 6

What Makes Him so Special?

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Great players are often defined by legacies, accomplishments, and other stellar achievements. When a great player has a team that fails, we put the onus, the blame, on them. Being held accountable is the responsibility that comes with being great- there is no way around it.

Over the past few decades, the NBA has seen a number of great players fail to win. Dominique Wilkins, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Charles Barkley are some of the guys who headline that list.

For a long stretch Kobe (for not winning without Shaq) and LeBron were ridiculed for their teams failing efforts. Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady took some heat. Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams were mocked. Even Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki had moments of scrutiny as well.

There hasn’t been another guy in NBA history who has been protected and excused for his teams mishaps like Chris Paul has been. He’s the most clean slated superstar ever. We give him all types of praise when he really shouldn’t receive anything at all. He hasn’t done anything.

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Every year there’s a new excuse for Paul’s failures. The excuses have ranged from him having a bad coach to his supporting cast being mediocre. It’s everyone’s fault but his year in and year out.

Recently, when the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Rockets Chris Paul was not called out for his play or for his leadership. Fingers were instead pointed towards Griffin for being too young and mistake prone, Jordan for missing free throws, Doc. Rivers for his poor coaching and Clippers not having a bench. (Same downfall and reasonings occurred during his first year with the LAC when Vinny Del Negro was coach. While in New Orleans he didn’t have that great of a supporting cast.)

As the “best” player, the captain, the floor general of a team shouldn’t you be the one who’s held accountable for when things go wrong? Since when do players who rank in the Top 5 ( present day) get a pass and receive little blame?

He doesn’t have an NBA Championship. He doesn’t have an MVP award. And he has not been past the second round of the playoffs.

Outside of Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul is the most underwhelming superstar to have played in the postseason the past 15 years. Instead of bouncing out of the first round like T-Mac, CP3 lasts until the second. That’s not great.

Chris Paul is the only allstar caliber guard not named John Wall or Damian Lillard, who has not been to the Conference Finals. Guys like Mike Conley, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Klay Thompson etc. have all played in a Conference Finals.

After just three healthy years Stephen Curry has already passed up Chris Paul in terms of playoff success. Maybe even career wise.

When you look at a few of the great point guards Paul is compared to each one has something to hang their hats on, and he does not.

•John Stockton appeared in a couple of NBA Finals and is the All-Time Assists Leader.

•Magic Johnson was a 5 time NBA Champ, 3x MVP and 3x Finals MVP.

•Gary Payton won a Defensive Player of the year award, appeared in a few NBA Finals and owns a ring.

•Isiah Thomas was a Finals MVP.

•Jason Kidd appeared in multiple NBA Finals and owns a ring.

•Oscar Robertson was an MVP and NBA Champion.

•Steve Nash was a 2x MVP and was on the cusp of the making the NBA Finals a few times.

Young guards Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose already have MVP awards; Curry has a shot a legitimate shot at winning a ring right now.

With young guys already accomplishing things he hasn’t is it safe to say he’s been leaped over in time? Is Chris Paul as good as we thought or did we overrate him?

Think about it. What has Paul accomplished in his career that stands out and will be remembered? He has no awards that stand out on his resume.

As of now Paul’s three biggest accomplishments have been his endorsement deal with State Farm, bringing the cities of Oklahoma and New Orleans to the NBA landscape and winning Gold medals with Team USA. Other than those feats Paul has accomplished next to nothing.

With the new wave of talent and guys like Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, John Wall and a few more coming into their own time is steadily ticking for Chris Paul to accomplish something of great importance.

He might be the best point guard of his generation. But what exactly does that prove if he doesn’t have the catalog other great players have?

Numbers aside, he has to prove that he’s that guy. And the only way he can do that is by winning. Win an award. Win a championship. Hell, get past the second round.

Twitter: @RyanDFort or
@Fortonsportsinc

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I’d love to hear/see y’all’s thoughts & opinions on this. Comment below and share your feelings.

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.

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Kobe Bryant: Facing A Reality

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THE INTRO

When I first started watching basketball, Michael Jordan was no longer that guy. Gary Payton was washed up. Karl Malone was ring chasing. John Stockton was taking up space. Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon were gone. Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller were shells of themselves. Patrick Ewing was no where to be found, and Clyde Drexler was out. The league itself was vastly different.

When my interest in the NBA peaked, Allen Iverson was dominant. Tracy McGrady and his cousin Vince Carter were stellar. Shaq and Kobe were a hell of a tandem. Kevin Garnett was elite. Dirk and Steve Nash were coming into their own. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were making noise in the East. And Tim Duncan was just extremely boring. (I know I left off guys like David Robinson and Jason Kidd off but y’all get the point.)

Out of all of those guys though, there was no one I liked more than Kobe Bean Bryant.

Kings v Lakers

MY STORY

When it came to Kobe there wasn’t anything you could tell me.

You couldn’t diss his game, talk about his personality, or belittle him in any way without me being ready to argue.

In my family and amongst my small group of friends, everyone has had atleast that one specific guy they watched faithfully and would go to war for.

My father’s guy was Magic; my uncle’s guy was Jordan; my mom’s guy was Isiah Thomas; my great grandfather’s guy was a tie between Larry Bird and Julius Irving.

They followed their guys faithfully, like I’m doing now and tried to tell me it’s not going to be a happy ending. I didn’t really believe them until that foresight became a reality.

Personally I thought they were full of s#!% and didn’t know what the hell they were talking about; until I sat down and thought about each player.

MJ’s downfall was him coming back and playing at age 40 for the Washington Wizards. Larry Bird’s career couldn’t continue because his back was out of sorts. Isiah’s career ended after he tore his Achilles. Magic on the other hand retired due to the HIV/AIDS situation. He later came back and wasn’t the same guy.

My guy is in the same boat at this point in time.

A few years back I was in denial. I’ll own up to it. I had just witnessed the Lakers lose in five games to a hungry OKC team (2012) that featured the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In response, I looked for excuses to help Kobe out.

The thing is, there weren’t any.

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THE OBVIOUS

In that specific series, Westbrook was tearing him apart, Harden was giving him buckets, and Durant was giving him fits with his length making it hard for him to score. As a matter of fact, James Harden was playing him tough defensively as well. The whole series in general wasn’t pretty. Kobe couldn’t get to his spots, he couldn’t contain anyone and he was a step slow.

That series against OKC ended a four series stretch of Kobe struggling. Against Dallas in 2011, he struggled against Shawn Marion and others from that championship team; losing 4-0. The series prior to that, he struggled against Chris Paul and his no help Hornets; winning 4-2, and in the series against Denver prior to the OKC matchup, Kobe struggled against the fast paced Nuggets. That series went the distance 4-3 and was more about Andrew Bynum.

That series against OKC ended his Postseason career.

At that point in time, the writing on the wall was very clear to everyone else outside of me, Kobe was in his decline.

That offseason he participated in the Olympics where he was out of place and out of sorts. It was as clear as day that he didn’t belong on the court with a few of those guys. It was so obvious to the point where Coach K was reluctant to play him in certain stretches.

Even with the putrid performances in the Olympics, I still believed. Especially when the Lakers landed Dwight Howard and Steve Nash that same offseason.

When the those trades first surfaced, I was as hype as anyone. I thought Kobe would be rejuvenated and eager to play (as he always is) and I started stating a lot of other things that you generally say when a player has lost it.

But again, I was over hyped and I continued to look past the new Kobe’s obvious deficiencies in skill.

REALITY SETS IN

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During that season I wrote an article (Are You Talking About Kobe Bryant) talking about how Kobe was better than ever and stating that he was beating Father Time. From a numbers perspective I was right, but from a physical standpoint he wasn’t getting the same looks or shots that I was accustomed to seeing.

After working hard, all season long, to get the Lakers into the playoffs; Kobe’s Achilles popped days before the postseason.

I couldn’t help but shed a tear when ESPN aired his injury statement. I knew his best chance at getting ring number 6 was gone. And I also knew he was never going to be the same again.

When Kobe said he was going to comeback better and defy the odds I regained a slimmer of hope. I thought that because he was determined and hungry along with the fact that he loves to prove people wrong, then he would come back elite.

I was wrong…..

In the 2013-2014 season, after playing in 6 games Kobe broke a bone in his knee. All I could do was throw my hands up and accept it for what it was….Father Times never loses and Kobe is no longer Kobe.

He was just K.Bryant from that point on. The guy who played in six games and averaged a measly  14pts, 6ast and 4reb… No longer special.

I, as I’m sure many Lakers fans did, sulked over that demoralizing season. The Lakers were bad. Kobe was gone. What do you do now..

The NBA as a whole became unfun for me. I truly wasn’t ready to face the truth and I also didn’t have anyone else to cheer or root for. I was just uninterested.

After the season concluded and free agency along with the draft went by, I finally got over my depression. I had heard that Kobe was looking better, more fit, slimmer, and healthier.

I sat and pondered about Kobe and his recent years some more and decided I’d give it one more go. He had just turned 36 and basically had a year off.

With 36 being a fairly decent age and him having a year off for rest and to get healthy; I felt he would regain his old form…. Dumb I know.

A month or so before the season started, ESPN produced their yearly NBA Players Rankings. At first glance I was furious at how wrong they did Kobe by placing him at #40 on the list.

Guys who hadn’t accomplished anything thus far in their careers (Love, Wall, Kyrie etc) were ahead of him and I didn’t understand the reasoning until the season actually started…

This year Kobe was officially washed up. He would chuck up shot after shot. Committ turnover after turnover. And he would also get beat off the dribble damn near every defensive stance….

I mean he still had the same “I’m gonna come at you” mindset as he always did, but his ability just wasn’t anywhere close to prime Kobe.

After a series of minor injuries and players, as well as pundits, speaking out about his current style of play; Kobe became more of a facilitator.

That role suited him more since he wasn’t capable of dominating the game from a physical stand point. By using his IQ and unique passing ability he was able to prolong his season and delay the inevitable injury that was soon to come…

On Thursday, January 22nd, Kobe’s season was over. He had torn his rotators cuff in a game against the Pelicans the day before…

Three straight seasons…. Three straight season ending injuries…

TODAY

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As much as I hate to say it…. Kobe is done…

He can no longer stay healthy. He can no longer dominate games for long stretches. He can’t keep up with anyone defensively..He’s no longer that guy.. And the old guy won’t ever be returning.

Kobe’s mileage finally caught up with him: All of the long seasons that resulted in Finals apperances.. All of the playoff runs that resulted in 3rd and 2nd round exits…The hardwork he put in trying to comeback from injury… Playing in the Olympics. Everything.

ESPN was accurate when they declared that 39 players were better than Kobe. I was just too blind to see it.

Now opening my eyes I see how Rose, Bledsoe, Wall, CP3, Westbrook, Lawson, Rondo, Curry, Kyrie, Lillard, Dragic, Lowry, Parker, Beal, Ellis, Butler, Klay, Harden, DeRozan, Wade, LeBron, Durant, George, Leonard, Melo, Dirk, Love, Randolph, Griffin, Bosh, Aldridge, Davis, P.Gasol, M.Gasol, Dwight, Cousins, Noah and a few more are all better players at this point…

Now that the word is in and we know Kobe is out for nine months, we have to ask ourselves: Was that his final game?

He’s under contract for one last year after this season.. The Lakers are tanking and no one seems interested in joining a rebuilding project. I mean why should he return? He’s the 3rd leading scorer in NBA history. A 5x-NBA Champ, an MVP and is universally (peers wise) regarded as the ”Best Player” of his generation and has been deemed as the second best shooting guard to ever play the game… There is nothing left for him to prove at this point that will have any significance on where he places in NBA history.

REFLECTING BACK 

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Kobe’s demeanor and personality wasn’t liked by many.

People didn’t like the arrogance and cockiness that was coming from a sidekick (to Shaq) who wanted to be like Jordan. They would often ridicule his ambitions and aspirations as he was nothing more than a lesser version of the original. And they would also belittle his game by saying he was a ball hog and that he couldn’t pass.

It was just too soon for someone to come in and be the heir to ”His Airness”.

People often cite Kobe for piggy backing onto the likes of Shaq. They’d state that Kobe wasn’t doing anything and Shaq would do all of the work; when in reality Kobe would be the one to close games and facilitating making sure everyone was contributing. Those minor details will forever be overlooked because of how Shaq dominated the Finals’ boxscores.

By tying in the attitude factors, Kobe’s quote on quote ”Piggy Backing” on Shaq, the fallout between him and Shaq, and Phil Jackson’s quote on stating how he was ”uncoachable”, you can see why people hated Kobe so much. Throw in the rape charges and loss of endorsements and you’ll begin to see why Kobe’s fan base is a bit lackluster.

Unlike Bird, Magic, LeBron, Durant, Jordan and Doc.J, Kobe’s fan base is much smaller. Allen Iverson’s fan base may be greater because of his impact on to the whole NBA landscape.

Kobe is the NBA’s version of Tom Brady, both great players, but disliked because of their personality and accomplishments.

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ACCOLADES 

Even though his career may not fully be over, (it needs to be) he accomplished everything he should have. (Outside of two more MVPs and a few more scoring titles)

2x Olypic Gold medals

25x 50pt games

5x 60pt games

Slam Dunk Champion

MVP

2x Finals MVP

2x Scoring Champ

5x NBA Champion

9x First Team All Defense

3x Second Team All Defense

11x All-NBA First Team

2x All-NBA 2nd Team

2x All-NBA Third Team

17x Allstar Selections

4x NBA All-star Game MVP

All Rook 2nd Team

2nd Most Points in a game (81pts)

3rd All-Time Points Leader

2x Best NBA Player ESPY Award

Numerous Lakers Records

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CONCLUSION

Coming back shouldn’t be an option. He’s done enough to make a claim as a Top 10 player of all-time. The only thing he should do is accept the reality for what it is…..His time is done. Y’all have accepted it, I’ve accepted it and now he needs to accept it.

No one beats Father Time

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Ryan Fort

Twitter: RyanDFort, Fortonsports Inc

NBA Season Preview (2013-14)

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To use a quote from LeBron, ”Its about damn time!”

After four long months the NBA is finally back, and to add on to that this might be the most anticipated and could quite possibly be the most competitve season in recent memory! During the offseason you had big named coaches swithcing places, big time players changing teams and players dissing each other to help create rivalries. Blockbuster trades happened as well like the KG, Paul Pierce trade, the Igudola trade and the Brandon Jennings trade. The offseason had everyone impatient and weary as they waited for the season to come around. And from the way things look now, this season should be ten times better than last season.

Before We Start
If you haven’t been under a rock this whole time you should know that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Andre Igudola and Andrew Bynum have all changed teams. Garnett and Pierce went to Brooklyn, Howard went to Houston, Bynum went to Cleveland and Iggy went to Oakland. You should also know by now that Doc Rivers left Boston and went to Los Angeles to coach the Clippers. (Smart move by him I know.) The other things that you should know or have an idea about is how Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Danillo Gallinari are all injured, and how Derrick Rose is returning from an ACL injury. And I almost forgot, the Heat signed Michael Beasley and Greg Oden! Now that I’ve filled you in on some of the main things we should be good to go.

Eastern Conference
This year the East should be very competive! There should be battles between seeds 1-4, and then another battle between seeds 6-8. (The 5th seed should be locked up by the Knicks in case you were wondering.) Each team in this conference got better, unless you’re the Celtics or 76ers. Every other team has a legitimate Playoff shot.

The Philadephia 76ers are going to be god awful. They’ll be lucky to win five games. With Nerlens Noel shut down for the season, who might’ve been their best player, (reminds me of Bynum last year) the 76ers will have to rely on Evan Turner; a former number two draft pick who also happens to be a guy who has never averaged over fifteen points a game. Hopefully they’ll be able to get the number one pick in the draft.

The Milwaukee Bucks should be better this season. Yes, I know they lost their two best players in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but if you look you’ll see that they added better pieces. To replace Jennings and Ellis they signed OJ Mayo and traded for Brandon Knight. Those moves made them younger. The Bucks also added solid veterans in Caron Butler, Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour, Carlos Delfino and Gary Neal to help out their bench and small-forward woes. And if Larry Sanders contiues to improve watch out!

The Boston Celtics are going to be without Rajon Rondo for a while. Maybe Rondo should sit this season out while he recovers from his ACL injury like Rose did. That’ll give Boston a chance to draft one of those big time players in the upcoming draft. But um, as far as the team goes, nothing seems to gel. Don’t be surprised if Rondo wants out!

The Orlando Magic aren’t going to be that good either. There should be alot of trade speculation in regards to where Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson end up. Other than that this team will end up having another top five pick this season. Oh and Oladipo should win ROY.

The Toronto Raptors can actually be a legit team. The only problem with them is that they’ll have to rely on the likes of Rudy Gay and Demar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson, Novak, Tyler Hansbrough, Landry Fields and Augustine are good enough to help them make a run at the 8th seed right? Or will the Raptors look to trade Gay? As of now he’s not a framchise guy…. Decisions, decisions.

The Washington Wizards just made a big move by trading for Marcin Gortat. The Wizards will now have inside scoring and will be able to move Nene back to his natural postion. Off the bench they’ll have Maynor, Webster, Harrington and Ariza. The starting lineup should be Wall-Beal-Porter-Nene-Gortat. Their season will be dependent on the play of Wall….That’s a tall order.

The Atlanta Hawks are going to be solid. Yes, losing Josh Smith hurt, but they added some quality depth in Elton Brand and Paul Millsap. Will they be contenders, hell no. But they’ll continue to be competitve. Al Horford is no slouch! Hopefully, they’ll be able to make some noise at the trade deadline.

The Detroit Pistons are back! With a lineup of Jennings-Stuckey-Smith-Monroe-Drummond, the Pistons should cause alot of problems against teams who like to play small ball. Oh and they have a leader and solid role player in Chauncey Billups. If things get rough he should be able to help guide them. They’ll be top ten defensively. Playoff bound for sure.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to make way for a run at LeBron. They added depth in Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark. Drafting Bennett will help. A.Varejao being healthy will end up being a plus as well. The two major problems the Cavs have are the durability of their stars. If Kyrie can stay healthy they’ll be a Playoff team without question. But if ANDREW BYNUM is healthy and continues his play from two years ago the Cavs may become Dark Horse Contenders…….But then again it’s Kyrie and Bynum we’re talking about. Neither player can stay healthy.

The Bobcats could be a Playoff team this year as well. Kemba should improve, MKG should get better and they also signed Al Jefferson. And if Jordan knew what he was doing on draft night, (history says otherwise,) the Bobcats just might have the steal of the draft in Cody Zeller! A roster that consists of Walker-Henderson-Sessions-Gordon-MKG-Biyombo-Zeller-Haywood-Jefferson is good enough to crack the East’s top 8, right?

The New York Knicks pretty much stayed pat. Yeah they signed Beno Udrih, Artest and traded for Andrea Bargnani but what does that do,seriously? None of them are prime time players or great role players. One player sat on Toronto’s bench and another sat on Orlando’s. The third player should’ve been benched three years ago. Either way it goes the Knicks won’t be too special this season. Thats why Melo is going to leave. Sorry Knick fans.

The Brooklyn Nets are loaded! With the additions of Garnett, Terry, Pierce and Kirilenko the Nets have scoring, depth and defense. Blatche, and Evans will be great hustle guys off the bench with Terry carrying the load and AK-47 playing defense. But one must ask, is Jason Kidd ready to coach a team this loaded? Is he ready to coach period?

The Pacers are coming! During the offseason the Pacers brought in Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland and have Danny Granger back. They have more depth, trade bait, another scorer and more shooters. Roy Hibbert got better and Paul George is now a top three shooting guard or small forward. The rest of the league should watch out.

The Chicago Bulls are going to be spectacular this year. Rose is finally back and is already talking about how much better he has gotten. With Rose healthy, Jimmy Butler improving and the signing of shooter Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls can beat anyone. They’ll have more scoring and the defense should still be stellar. They still aren’t going to beat Miami though.

The Miami Heat are still locked and loaded! ( This will describe how i feel https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/heat-still-nba-kings/) LeBron wants ring number three. Wade wants to show everyone he’s still a top ten player and Bosh wants to be remembered as well. The Heat should be able to coast through the season once again. And if Wade is healthy, Beasley’s head is on straight and Oden can play the Miami Heat might break the Bulls record of 72-10. The only thing that’ll keep them from breaking the record is boredom. I mean they do get bored alot, unfortunately.

East AllStars

Starters
PG- Rose
SG- Wade
SF- Melo
PF- LeBron
C- Lopez

Bench
Guards- Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Deron Williams
Forwards- Paul George, Josh Smith, Horford
Center- Hibbert or Bynum (healthy)

Western Conference
Usually the West has a clear cut favorite. This year no one knows what to expect from the West. There isn’t a team that stands out from the rest this season. Just like the East, the West should be very competitive, from top to bottom. Each team is one injury away from being doomed….The Suns are the only team who won’t have a Playoff shot.

The Phoenix Suns won’t be that good this season. They’ll be the Western Conference version of the 76ers. Just like Philly, Phoenix is tanking in order to secure a top pick. They’ll also be using this season to evaluate Eric Bledsoe, to see if he’s that guy.

The Sacramento Kings are down, and I don’t see them getting up. Cousins got paid, but is he a franchise guy? I’m sorry but the Kings are going to have hell if John Salmons is their best scorer.

The Utah Jazz are rebuilding, I think. By extending the contracts of Favors and later on Hayward the Jazz will have players to build around. Who knows maybe they’ll swing some type of unexpected deal. Sixth worse team in the league, worst case. At best this team can make a run at the Playoffs, for a couple weeks.

The Los Angeles Lakers are pretty much cooked. Kobe’s going to be out for a while and Nash is washed up. Gasol should play well. Hell, he might even get traded. On the bright side, they’ll have money to spend during the offseason. (MELOOOOOOOOOOO) If Kobe comes fast enough though they may be able to make something out of nothing. Maybe, just maybe the 8th seed isn’t too farfetched.

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to do anything. Kevin Love will continue to pad his stats while his team will fail to make the Playoffs yet again. I’ve never seen a “SUPERSTAR” win less than thirty games. OVERRATED, I THINK SO!!!! He’s not the best POWERFORWARD in the league, and he’s not a top tier player..But seriously, will Minny ever stay healthy? Chase Budinger is already out… Hmm haven’t we seen this before?

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to be exciting. They added shooters in Mo Williams and D.Wright, a scrapper in Lopez and Lilard will be better this year. Making the Playoffs can happen, but will it. Hopefully L.A. gets traded if things go south before February. (Thunder, Lakers, Bulls, Cavs maybe?) If he doesn’t get traded it’ll be another wasted year for him….. Could Portland swing a deal to land Rudy Gay?

The New Orleans Pelicans are going to be scary. If Eric Gordon can stay healthy watch out. They added a young Allstar point guard in Jrue Holiday and added a good scorer in Tyreke Evans. If they add one more guy they might be able to make a huge leap! (L.A. or Pau Gasol.) Are they Playoff bound? Yes! Without question. Maybe they’ll become contenders in a couple years. This team should be here for a while!

The Denver Nuggets are going to be fun to watch despite not having George Karl around. Losing George Karl and Iggy will hurt them alot, not having Gallinari is going to kill them as well. I’m sorry, but no Playoffs for them unless one of the top teams suffer a major injury.

The Memphis Grizzlies are still going to be a threat. Losing Hollins is going to hurt, but it’s not like he made their offense good. With the addition of Mike Miller, the Grizzlies will have the one thing they lacked a, consistent shooter. Miller will spread the floor for Z-Bo and Gasol which will make it easier on them….

The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t scare anyone as much. Was it because Durant got exposed? Is it because Westbrook is hurt? Some feel like Westbrook is their best player and without him they aren’t good… Others think this team has ran it’s course and it’s time for a break up…. I guess i’m the only one who believes Durant is coming! The bench should be solid and Durant should grow even more this season, Westbrook as well. Who can beat a team with two top five players?

The Houston Rockets need one year together. The Harden, Dwight duo could very well be the second coming of Kobe and Shaq. Both players are going to have a lot to prove this year. D12 has to prove he’s still the best center and Harden has to show us why he’s better than Kobe and Wade. It won’t be easy this year for Houston.

The San Antonio Spurs just won’t fall off. Ducan and Parker continue to keep the Spurs afloat despite their ages. The Spurs will without question be contenders. Evryone usually puts the onus on Parker, Duncan or Manu but not me. This season the Spurs’ success will be predicated on the play of Kawhi Leonard. They’ll go as he goes. Top ten small forward? I believe so.

The Dallas Mavericks are my Dark Horse contenders. Dirk will be healthy this season and will have way more help. ( Keep in mind his team was on pace to win 50 games last season.) The additions of Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Dejuan Blair, Devin Harris and Samuel Dalembert makes this team deep. They have guards, scorers, shooters, rebounders, speed, athleticism etc. They’re built like the championship team, except better.

The Los Angeles Clippers are serious now. They brought in Doc. Rivers who has already left his mark on this franchise. He’s changing their mentality and creating a culture. CP3 and Griffin also have more help with the additions of Jamison, Collison, Reddick and Dudley. Deepest team in the West? I think so.

The Golden State Warriors suprised everyone last season. Curry became a star, Lee was dominant and Barnes became a legit starter. This season the Warriors should be alot better after adding Igudola, O’neal and Speights. Bogut should be healthier this season as well as Curry. Thompson is going to improve the bench and Harrison Barnes is going to continue to grow. Let’s see how Mark Jackson’s team does in year three.

West AllStars

Starters
PG- CP3
SG- Kobe
SF- Durant
PF- Griffin
C- Howard

Bench
Guards- James Harden, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook
Forwards- Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki
Center- Marc Gasol

Playoff Prediction
EAST WEST
1.Bulls 1.Clippers
2.Heat 2.Warriors
3.Pacers 3.Rockets
4.Nets 4.Thunder
5.Knicks 5.Mavericks
6.Cavaliers 6.Grizzlies
7.Pistons 7.Spurs
8.Wizards 8.Pelicans

Top Players Going Into Season

1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Durant
3. Chris Paul
4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Stephen Curry
6. James Harden
7. Derrick Rose
8. Paul George
9. Tony Parker
10. Dwight Howard

(No injured players)

Awards

Rookie Of The Year – Victor Oladipo or Kelly Olynk

Coach Of The Year – Kevin McHale

Most Improved Player – Eric Bledsoe

MVP Race:

1.Rose (Winner)
2.LeBron
3.Durant
4.Paul
5.Harden

6th Man Of The Year – Klay Thompson, Lance Stephenson or Tyreke Evans

Defensive Player Of The Year – Dwight Howard or Roy Hibbert

Scoring Champion- Kevin Durant

All NBA Team (1)
PG- Rose
SG- Harden
SF- Durant
PF- LeBron
C- Dwight

All NBA Team (2)
PG- CP3
SG- Kobe
SF- Melo
PF- Love
C- Gasol

All NBA Team (3)
PG- Westbrook
SG- Curry
SF- George
PF- Griffin
C- Bynum (Healthy)/Duncan/Lopez

All Defensive 1st Team
PG- Avery Bradley
SG- Tony Allen
SF- LeBron James
PF- Serge Ibaka
C- Dwight Howard

All Defensive 2nd Team
PG- Chris Paul
SG- Paul George
SF- Luol Deng
PF- Tim Duncan
C- Marc Gasol

Finals Pick
Heat win 4-2 over Clippers

The Season Is Here
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Chris Paul, Dwight Howard. Stay or Go? Part One

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After years of waiting Dwight Howard and Chris Paul finally have a chance to be free agents and put an end to all of this talk about where they’ll end up playing next.

For the past two seasons Chris Paul has been playing for the Los Angeles Clippers alongside Allstar Power Forward, Blake Griffin; forming one of the best Guard-Forward combinations in the league. After leading this Clippers team to a franchise best 56-26 record, Chris Paul and Co. lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in 6 games that happened to be played in the first round of the Playoffs.

After the loss Chris Paul said “This stinks, and is unacceptable,” leading us to believe that he would look to play else where next season if changes didn’t occur.

Dwight Howard, on the other happened to be playing for the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers. This past year Dwight was supposed to be Superman coming to save Lois Lane, the Lakers, from falling of as contenders and into the pits of mediocrity. But instead of getting Superman the Lakers got an unmotivated, unhappy, injured Dwight Howard who seemed to want to play else where. As a result the Lakers went out and lost to the Spurs in 4 embarrassments. ( I didn’t consider those to be games.)

After the series ended and the season was over Dwight said he was going to go out and get away from everything. Essentially leaving his options open.

And now we’re just days away from Free Agency with the question “Should they stay, or go,” in our mind.

But let’s just focus on Chris Paul for now.

Chris Paul: In today’s game the PG position is stacked with talent everywhere. With that being said there aren’t to many places that need Chris Paul and there aren’t too many that can afford him either. The teams that can bring him in and that he’ll actually be attracted to are the Mavericks, Hawks and of course the Clippers. The longshot teams are the Celtics, Lakers and Knicks.

Mavericks: With Dirk and cap space the Mavs can make some things happen. Chris Paul would be playing alongside a better PF than Blake Griffin in Dirk and would also be playing for a very good coach in Rick Carlisle. Throw in Oj Mayo and Shawn Marion and you have a nice core that’ll be able to last for a couple of years. (By the way the only thing the Mavericks lacked was a Point Guard last season.)

Hawks: In Atlanta, Paul will have a chance to play with Al Horford who happens to be a tad bit better than Griffin overall (Sorry Blake). Atlanta will also have enough money to bring in Dwight Howard (sarcastic gasp,) retain the likes of Lou Williams and Jeff Teague and perhaps persuade Josh Smith to take less money. If that comes into fruition Atlanta would be the 2nd best team in the East. They’ll have the twin towers downlow; speed at the guard position as well as defense. Even without Smith, Atlanta would be a good place to go.

Clippers: The Clippers can offer Chris Paul the most money as well as give him everything he wants. This team is already loaded and could possibly improve some if they manage to get KG, Pierce and Afflalo. Throw in the chemistry, familiarity and continuity factors and that’ll make it even harder to leave. With Griffin, Crawford and others intact; Doc Rivers coaching and more help on the way, why should he leave?

Knicks/Lakers/Celtics: The only way these can happen is by sign and trade deals. Paul could go to the Lakers for a Nash package, or to the Knicks for an Amare’ package, but who would accept something as blasphemy as that? (Oh wait we are dealing with the Clippers.) And as for Boston, Rondo for Paul would be the only thing that can work, but didn’t Doc just leave Rondo? So yeah that scenario is highly unlikely.

In my eyes CP3 should stay with the Clippers, because of Doc Rivers and his coaching ability and the fact that the Clippers are progressing as a team. The same thing can’t be said about the other teams mentioned.

To Be Continued.

Comment your opinion below.

Twitter-Fortonsportsinc

Don’t forget about Harden!!!!

All season long people have talked about who’s winning MVP. LeBron, Durant, CP3, Parker, Melo and Kobe are the players that are frequently mentioned. Here and there people will mention the likes of Paul George and Zach Randolph, but not once have they mentioned James Harden. The ex-Thunder has his team humming without any other allstars alongside him.

He doesn’t have Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or Mario Chalmbers on his team; he doesn’t have Westbrook, Ibaka and Martin on his team; he doesn’t have Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger and David West on his team; he doesn’t have Dwight Howard, Antwan Jamison, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol as teammates; he doesn’t have Mike Conley or Marc Gasol supporting him; he doesn’t have Amare’ Stoudamire, Chandler, and J.R Smith on his team; he doesn’t even have a Ginobli or a Duncan on his team. All he has is Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, who are average role players on contending teams at best.

If you were to pair James Harden with a Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan tandem he’d have them in contention. For James Harden to have a team full of role players in the ultra competitive Western Conference, Playoff Hunt, consideration for MVP should be awarded and not over looked. I’m not saying he should win, but at least show him some love.

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LeBron James is King James

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The Chosen One, LBJ, BronBron, LeBron,  James, King James, The Greatest, The Frozen One, LaQueen, LeBrick, what ever the case may be everyone must take note of LeBron James and his superb play as of late. Matter of fact scratch that, people should take note of his whole career. Ever since he first came out of highschool people around the world had their eyes on him. People knew from the jump whether or not they would be a fan of his or a hater. His haters always criticized the things he did wrong or the things he didn’t do. Not once did they take a look at all of the things he did well.

People said he’s not a scorer, but can’t name a year, besides his rookie season, when he didn’t average at least 27ppg. (http://www.nba.com/playerfile/lebron_james/bio.html#$/playerfile/lebron_james/bio.html, and yes 26.7 is rounded to 27 and does count.) So by looking at the link provided, not only does he score, he does it efficently; compared to “great scorers,” like Kobe and Melo. His naysayers are quick to point out the fact that he doesn’t attempt as many jumpshots as his peers, which as a result, is the reason why he shoots a better percentage. That claim doesn’t make any sense at all. In the game of basketball the best shot is a layup. After layup, it goes freethrow, 3pt shot and then midrange shot. The 3pt shot ranks higher because it provides more points and it changes your shooting percentage at the same rate a midrange shot would. With that being said he is a superb scorer.

On the defensive side you can’t find anyone better at defending the wings. On top of that he can guard all five positions really well, unless he’s guarding a great offensive center. When it comes down to playmaking, he is second to Chris Paul. (Even though that could be debated.) And for his size LeBron rebounds extremely well. Out of all the players in the NBA LeBron James and Rajon Rondo are the only players that can get a triple-double on any giving night. LeBron’s game as a whole is closer to flawless than anyone else’s game. No one on the planet, and I repeat, the planet, is as good a basketball player as LeBron James. The only person who scores better than LeBron in today’s league is Kevin Durant since he’s in the beloved 50’s, 40’s, 90’s club.

Substitute LeBron for Larry Bird, Kobe, Magic or even Jordan and he would make all of their teams better. LeBron would be devastating with Kobe and Magic’s Laker squads; if you put rookie LeBron in rookie Kobe’s shoes that specific Lakers team would have went to the Finals.( That team had Nick Van Exel at the one, Eddie Jones at the two and had Shaq patrolling the paint.) LeBron wouldn’t have lost a Finals series if he was in Magic’s place. The playmaking Magic did LeBron would excel in and on top of that LeBron is a better scorer and defender when compared to Magic.

Want to talk athleticism, LeBron is quicker, faster and stronger than the likes of Magic. Running ShowTime would be nothing to LeBron. Put LeBron in Bird’s shoes and Boston becomes better. The only thing Bird is better than LeBron at is shooting the basketball, nothing more. LeBron would thrive with McHale and Parish just like Bird did. Swap Jordan for LeBron and we’ll have a team that averages more points and features more scoring from players like Pippen and Rodman. LeBron is a better rebounder, passer, playmaker, facilitator, shot-blocker, heck he may just be a better defender point blank period. Jordan didn’t have to guard the type of athletes LeBron faces. Jordan didn’t have to guard an Arenas, a Kobe, a Wade, a Durant or a Melo; matter of fact Jordan couldn’t guard PF and C’s like LeBron can. Athletically LeBron is second to none. LeBron is more fundamentally sound than MJ is. I mean MJ is great, don’t get me wrong, but is he really better than LeBron? Jordan averaged 30ppg on 23 shot attempts a game, while LeBron averages 27ppg on 20 shots for his career. Time to do some math, since LeBron takes more shots in the paint than anywhere else and he was given three extra shot attempts, and made two of three, how many points would that equal? 31ppg is the answer. So in other words LeBron would have a higher career average if shot as many times as Jordan did, which equates to a better scorer, right? Some of yall are thinking i’m wrong because Jordan shoots 50% for his career and LeBron wouldn’t, but this is the funny thing about it all; by adding an additional three shots to LeBron’s shot attempts, with him making two of those, would make his shotchart look like this, 12/23, which equals 51.2%. That there would make LeBron James a superior scorer than the great Michael Jordan himself.

Some people like to bring up rings when rings equate to having team success. LeBron never played with a Scottie, Shaq, Gasol, Bynum, Artest, Rodman, Malone, Payton, Parker, McHale, Parish, Wallace, R.Wallace, Pierce, Allen, KG, Nash, Dwight, Manu, Worthy or Kareem until he signed with Miami and had Bosh and Wade alongside him. Back in Cleveland who did he have? Mo Williams? Delonte West? Washed up Shaq and Jamison? Big Z? Andy V? Larry H.? How many of those players questioned belong in the same class of the players named? Heck, if Jordan or anyone else went to bat with those, for lack of a better term, scrubs, they wouldn’t have won either. LeBron is so great you can put him on any team in this league and i repeat LEAGUE, and they would be a playoff team if not a contender. Lets sub LeBron for Durant; he’d have Westbrook playing better because LeBron would relieve the pg duties. LeBron would make Ibaka and Perkins better offensive weapons. Trade LeBron for Melo and the Knicks would be unstoppable. LeBron and Amare would wreck shop on the league. You can’t name one single player that isn’t compatible to LeBron. There is no way you could possibly do it. LeBron doesn’t hog the ball, crave the need to score, none of that; if anything he can be a little too passive at times and nothing more. LeBron playing on the Bobcats would be a lethal threat. Kicking it out to Ben Gordon for a triple, paving the way for Kemba and Henderson to score, defensive presence downlow in Biyombo, offensive postman in Mullens and a legit bench led by Sessions and Gordon whats not to love.  I made all of that sound good without mentioning M.Kidd-Gilchrist.

With that being the worst team in the league think about what LeBron could do with a Cleveland team headlined by Kyrie Irving or a Mavericks team headlined by Dirk. LeBron James is just that dude plain and simple. There is no denying it. Even if you aren’t a fan of him, (I’m not…. Kobe fan 24/7.)  you have to acknowledge how great he is and stop clinging on to hope that no one will ever surpass Jordan. Sure there may not be another Jordan, but in he same breath there won’t be another player like LeBron. He’s the greatest already, despite his career not being finished. He deserves his self entitled name, King James!

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