Saturday, October 20, 2012

AC'S Spotlight-Top 10 Storylines to begin the 2012-2013 NBA Season


It's an understatement to say I'm excited for the NBA season to get under way, as we're getting close to just 1 week away from Ring night in Miami on October 30th. I think of how the season ended with LeBron getting his first title, and how you'd think the excitement would die down, but truth be told there's way too many juicy storylines that will captivate the NBA fan throughout the season. 10 storylines to cover the start of the season? Why not?

1. The Title Defense of LeBron and the Heat

Someone tell me a better story then LeBron, Wade, and Bosh breaking through to win their 1st title as a trio, then have everyone try to stack their team up to beat them. They will have challengers galore in the Lakers, Thunder, Spurs, Celtics, Knicks, Pacers, and more. The Celtics and Pacers have a pure dislike for the Heat, bred through hotly contested playoff series. The Thunder lost to the Heat in the NBA Finals, the Spurs were close and to some maybe still are. The Lakers have tried to build their own top heavy roster with the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Even with all of this though, Miami is still king of the mountain, and more importantly, they got better.

In adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to the fold, the versatility of this great squad will be that much more daunting to deal with. In all honesty, think about how potentially lethal a lineup of James, Wade, Allen, Lewis, and Bosh could be? How do you guard that? Like my pal Sean Grande told me this summer, you don't. Of course, all of this is about the rise of LeBron James.

As a basketball fan it was pretty awesome to see LeBron reach that apex that great players get to, and it's something that you don't see often, so in the conference finals and Finals, when he figured it out, it was beautiful to see unfold. His ability to post up (which we've all been waiting for), and survey a defense, and that defense being helpless being forced to pick between allowing Bron to score or find teammates for wide open looks was basketball at it's best. So now that James has the monkey off of his back, what's next?

Now that he has one title, how many more can he get? Can D-Wade's knee hold up as he gets another year older? How will the additions fit in to the fold? Who do the Heat matchup bad against? Are we seeing the beginning of a dynasty? LeBron and the Heat have all these questions to answer, and I look forward to watching the process. After all, it's harder to defend the title than win it.

2. Lakers Championship Dreams begin and end with Dwight

I know what you're saying, the Thunder should occupy the #2 slot here. It's a little unsual that the Western Conference champs are not thought of first, but you have to talk about what the Lakers did this summer. After losing to OKC in the 2nd round, the thought about the Lakers was that we were getting close to the end of the Kobe Bryant era. That 6th title he was trying to tie Jordan with was going to just be elusive. The Thunder were younger, faster, hungrier, and most of all, better. What could the Lakers do to improve their squad?

First came July, which saw Steve Nash get traded from Phoenix as the Lakers swooped in and got one of their more fierce rivals from the last 10 years. Nash was apart of a Suns team that beat the Lakers in two of three playoff series in recent memory. Nash was the face of the Suns, and to see the Lakers add him to the core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum was intriguing. My first thought was; this makes them better, but better enough to beat the Thunder? Not quite. Then came Dwight.

We all followed the Dwight Howard saga with frustration and annoyance last season as he waffled back and forth between staying and going. I've written on many occasions on how Dwight can't be a leader; he's just not capable. You never would've envisioned him going to the Lakers as it seemed as if it was Brooklyn or Bust. When the Nets trade fell through, and they went ahead with their plans, the Lakers remained that OTHER team for Dwight. Dwight could say what he wants, but this was the 2nd best situation for him other than Brooklyn.

Yes there will be pressure, but with Kobe, Nash, and Gasol, Dwight won't be required for 28 and 15 (unless you think like Shaq)  and won't be the central voice in the locker room. At least not yet. This is an opportunity for him to erase a very negative year. With all of the drama, we forget how talented and capable of a player he is. The questions will come in the crucible of the postseason. Can a healthy Dwight make up for all the defensive deffiencies that the Lakers have? How much does Kobe Bryant really have in the tank? Can Steve Nash stay healthy at age 38? Can they play together? How about the bench? Is it good enough to spell the starters? All these questions, but I still think that when it's all said and done, Dwight will decide whether the Lakers will be holding up the trophy in June.

3. Thunder Up! Are they ready for the Final Step?

Kevin Durant averaged over 30 points in the NBA Finals last year and he didn't play nearly as well as he could've. THAT in itself is a great sign for the future of the Thunder as they continue their climb to an NBA title. In most to all cases; young teams don't win. The Thunder were trying to defy logic as just three seasons ago they were a bottom feeder in the NBA. Now, they're trying to lick their wounds and get ready to try and dethrone the Heat, and get through the Lakers and Spurs not to mention the rest of the Western Conference.

KD, Westbrook, and Harden are going to be interesting to watch in the regular season. Their intensity level off of losing in the Finals, and the way they manage trying to go after the best record in Basketball is going to be fascinating. Is their hunger level the same? Do they believe they'll need homecourt throughout? Despite still being a young team, they've had plenty of experience in the last three seasons. Yes, they will fight and be right there for a title, but how they go about that process in their play is something to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Another issue with this team is Harden's impending Free Agency. With the Thunder still being a small market team and the deadly luxury tax looming will they maintain their core 3 with Ibaka as well? I believe they will. It's hard to believe that they won't resign Harden when push comes to shove. Also, I think Harden is just a really good fit with these guys. He just needs to play better in the Finals. He played great throughout the season and playoffs, and just ran into trouble in the Finals.

Lastly, Westbrook and Durant's cohesion on the court. In big spots, I saw improvement in Westbrook's play in the playoffs. That consistency from the point guard position will be crucial, and more crucial than anything else. He has to be able to run the team and be able to put his own ego aside. I will be intrigued to watch that. Are they ready to win? We shall see.

4. Is there too much policing in the game?

I have to wonder after the NBA's latest attempt to police the game with the 90 second time limit on pre game rituals and the flopping fines/possible suspensions, is much too much? I'll start with the pregame rituals.

What is it with commissioners (see Goodell, Roger) and being hypocrites? With the 90 second rule, the NBA says that they're trying to speed up the game, and start the game faster. Well, how about when Western Conference Finals in San Antonio or Oklahoma City start at 9pm at night on the East coast? How about Eastern Conference Finals in Miami and Boston starting at 8:30 pm when they don't need to. Or to take it a step further, those wonderful late games on TNT that start at 10:50! I mean, come on, that's not conducive to anything productive either. I just find it funny how people/groups/corporations are hypocritical about certain aspects of how they run things. Let's talk about flopping.

Don't get me wrong, as a Knick fan when I saw LeBron in Game 1 against NYK last year really act as if he got whiplash from a car accident. It was pretty embarassing to see someone of LBJ's character and physical stature going into pure movie actor mode. So when you think about flopping, you can see some of the reasons that they've gone to the system, but the problem here is, can you really determine what a flop is or not?

I just think it's too difficult too, and fines? Eh... not really a fan of that either. To me, it just sounds like a lazy response to a lot of criticism from fans and teams alike. If there was a fool proof way, then I'd agree, but there's not, so I don't.

At a certain point the NBA has to let certain things be what they are. As we're seeing in the NFL, having control of everything doesn't necessarily make things better. Just a thought, or three.

5. The 2nd best team in the East is....

Logic would tell you the Celtics because of all of the pieces they've added to a battle tested, formidable group. Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Sullinger with a returning Rondo, Pierce, KG, Bass, and Bradley makes the Celtics a dangerous team. They have the chance to be Miami's biggest threat. Just like anything else though; there are questions.

Can KG and Pierce get through an entire season healthy? You'd think that they would, with Doc Rivers being Popovichesque with the way he handles older players minutes. Is the supporting cast good enough? Is the frontcourt good enough to rebound on a nightly basis? Sure, they have a high ceiling, but they're not the only team threatening.

With the Knicks, they can add all the old guys they want, it's about Carmelo Anthony leading the team through his effort and unselfish play. He's said all the right things, but it's getting late in the game for Melo. 10th year in the league, and it's time to put up or shut up. He's next in line, he's got to get it done. He has to find a way to build chemistry and cohesion with Amar'e Stoudemire and the rest of the Knicks. The Knicks have made plenty of improvements, but those improvements mean nothing if Melo doesn't mature enough to lead. Has the time passed him by? No. Time is running short on him and this team's window though.

The Sixers and Pacers are both on this list as well. You'd have to be worried about Andrew Bynum and his knees, because without a healthy Bynum, then they slide down the totem pole. The Pacers have made some changes, and are relying on the development of Paul George. Can he graduate to being the best player on the team? Remains to be seen. The Pacers got some great experience in their 2nd round tussle with the Heat, but do they translate that into better and more consistent play? Should be interesting to watch.

Right now, it's the Celtics, but I'm sure opinions will change as time goes along.

6. How good can the Brooklyn Nets be?

Sorry Nets fans, I had to leave them out of that last topic because quite honestly I don't think they'll be in the conversation for 2nd best team in the East. It's pretty cool to have the team in New York, and the Barclays Center is a tremendous arena, looking forward to attending games there this year. Yes, the Nets added talent, but are still flawed as well.

They broke the bank to add Joe Johnson, they overpaid Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries to name a few, and Deron Williams was resigned to a max deal which in the last year of that deal he'll be 34-35 years of age. The buzz is great for the city, and the Nets won't be a bottom feeder, but what is the ceiling?

They're going to be a bad defensive team, and that's a fact. They just don't have those types of players. Brook Lopez is a good to very good offensive player, but he's not a shot blocker and doesn't protect the rim like you'd want your 7 footer to. Everyone else in that starting lineup is a marginal defender at best. There will be a lot of high scoring games and high pace games with the Nets, but they'll be giving up a lot of points. Their offense as soon as they get it together will be really good, they have too much talent offensively not to be. I just think they're a lower seeded playoff team, which for this year is a start, but 3 years from now? Not sure. Shouts to Rafelito for calling them out on the bad defense before I saw it for myself.

7. Are The Spurs done?

Regular season wise, no. Their pace of play very much like the old Suns just throws teams off and is hard to gameplan for. Tony and Manu as long as they're healthy are still very good, Duncan is serviceable, and the supporting cast is solid. I just don't think they're title contenders anymore.

To answer the question from a championship standpoint, yes. Their window has closed. It's Lakers or Thunder, then everyone else. When the Thunder just overwhelmed the Spurs in the final 4 games of the conference finals with their talent and athleticism, the writing was on the wall. Truth be told, it happens.

I love Leonard, like Green. Captain Jack is still very good in the Spurs system. Their big 3 is older andthough, and have had their time. They'll have a good record, but they're going to run into another team in the playoffs who are just better than they are talent wise, and these days, that's enough to beat the Spurs.

8. Does stacking your team up really work that well?

The Celtics are trying it, so are the Lakers, and the Knicks, and others throughout the league. The arms race to beat LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Plenty of the playoff hopefuls and title contenders are trying to get as many veterans and good players as possible to line themselves up to take their shot at the Heat, but does that really work?

You have to have a very solid plan in order to do that, and not all teams have that solid plan. I'll take the Clippers for example. They added Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, and Grant Hill to a team of Paul, Griffin, Butler, Jordan, Bledsoe, and Chauncey Billups. How are all of these guys going to play? They're not. How are they going to deal with lack of playing time with some of them being proven vets in the league? Can't answer that question. I just find it to be very risky to just try and assemble your team that way and see what happens. You can't force chemistry. It isn't that simple.

It isn't just with them. The Knicks have added a ton of veterans, will that work? The Celtics have a ton of guys who can play, how does Doc figure that out? It's easy to say that you can, but the Miami situation was special because of the greatness of James and the ability of Wade. These other teams don't have that. I'm expecting these teams to take time to gain that chemistry.

9. Jeremy Lin, continuing sensation, or does fairy tale come to a crashing halt?

I don't really care what anyone says, but J Lin didn't want to stay with the Knicks. He wouldnt've participated in that game of chicken with the Rockets and Knicks if he really wanted to stay. Fact of the matter is this in my estimation; he became an overnight superstar, whether deserved or not is a question for another day, but he was incredibly popular and for good reason. Lin also let a little bit of that stardom get to his head.

I can't blame him for that though. It happens, when you live the story he's lived, that's bound to happen. Props to him for getting the guaranteed money while he can. This isn't the NFL when you're Matt Forte and can get lowballed and then get injured and not get paid. The NBA gives that opportunity, so who's to blame Lin for getting his paper. With that being said, when you get that money, you have to perform.

Is that knee injury completely healed, does Lin have the drive to lead a team? Is he that good? All of these things will begin to be exposed this season. We're going to find out, and sometimes like every underdog story, sometimes you have to hit the dirt. I think this will be a rough season for Lin in a lot of ways, and we will learn a lot about his character and how much it really has changed.

10. ESPN's NBA Countdown, will the new recruits do the job?

From a media perspective, the NBA on TNT is the best studio show in sports. The ABSOLUTE best. When you compare it to anything else, it just doesn't. It has longevity and the guys that make that show go. Ernie, Chuck, and Kenny bring something to the show that no one else does, which is something really genuine. I know ESPN's NBA show is trying to improve that, and I'm curious to see how they do.

We can talk about the game itself, and it's players, but how the game is brought to us, how it's translated, how it's pontificated is just as important. ESPN was bad last year and had been bad in general for awhile now. They were just unwatchable. They took off Chris Broussard and Jon Barry and added Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose to the Magic and Wilbon tandem. Before I get to Simmons and Rose, just wanted to state some facts on the two guys reassigned. They were pretty bad.

Chris Broussard is a pretty damn good reporter and I respect what he does as a journalist, but he didn't fit on that show. There was too much of a personal bias when it came to talking Miami Heat/LeBron James especially when from game to game in the playoffs it was, "It was all Spolestra's fault!" to.. "Spolestra's done a tremendous job, what a great team!" It was thoughts like those that the knowledgeable NBA fan doesn't want to hear or see. There's nothing worse when it comes to analyzing sports then someone who isn't objective. (See O'Neal, Shaquille in terms of Howard, Dwight) By the way, Jon Barry was just awful, and everyone just deferred to Magic, who is no Charles Barkley.

I like Bill Simmons, and loved The Book of Basketball. It's probably in the Top 3 of Sports books I've read in my lifetime to this point. I enjoy his podcasts, and his columns. I just think at this point over saturation might be the thought here. He does the columns, and podcasts, and Grantland and to his credit has done a tremendous job cultivating that craft. It's because of Simmons' over the top and sarcastic style that I don't want him on this show. Certain people should stay in their lane, and I think he's one of them. I hope it's a great show, and rooting for his fan/social media perspective on the game. I just think it's going to be a little much.

As far as Jalen Rose is concerned, I'm intrigued to see what he does in this spotlight. Am I a big fan? No, not really. He couldn't be worse than Barry or Broussard though. I hope he brings the same honesty and analytical aspect of the game that fans would expect.  Some people will wonder reading this why is this important? I go back to what I wrote above, the way the game is presented is important, and I thought ESPN failed miserably in it's coverage of the NBA. Besides Breen and Van Gundy, they didn't have a lot going for them. I am intrigued to see how this new show plays out, too bad Stan couldn't agree on a deal. I would've liked to see him get a shot.

I'll have predictions later in the week, remember to check out AC'S Spotlight on Itunes!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: NBA Preview Shows with Mark Followill and Alex Kennedy


As we get ready for the NBA season, I had to track down some of my NBA pals to preview what's going to be a very fascinating season. There's so many storylines to get to, with the Heat defending their title and the Lakers attempting to field their own "super" team. I did two shows on the league, and I started off talking with Dallas Mavs TV Play by Play man Mark Followill about the Mavs and their philosophy and new faces going into the new season. Some really great stuff from Mark about Mark Cuban and the tough spot in trying to decide how to stay a contender after winnning a title. We also discussed a little baseball as the Texas Rangers try to pick up the pieces following a collapse to end the season. Much thanks to Mark who as always brings the goods to my show.

I also talked to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennnedy,  who does a tremendous job as always with his insights on the league. We discussed LeBron and the Heat defending the title, and the fact that they're far and away (for now) the prohibitive favorite to win the title again. We discussed Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joining up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, as the Lakers get ready to be the new team with the national microscope on them. How will Dwight Howard deal with L.A. and expectations? What about Mike Brown? Can he handle this team of stars?

In addition, we discussed sleepers in both conferences, which is always interesting to get into. You guys will enjoy that. NBA talk, you can listen below, or check me out at AC'S Spotlight, where the spotlight shines brightest on sports. There'll be more to come from me!

Alex Kennedy:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: MLB Postseason; To get Respect, hit with R.I.S.P


1-9, 5 strikeouts through 2 games in the ALDS is Alex Rodriguez. That's not good enough for the New York Yankees #3 lineup spot. What's also not good? 10 men left on base by the Game 2 by the Yankee team, a continuation from last year's struggles in the Division Series. I also have to mention Game 2 looking like a replay of many losses in the 2012 campaign for the Yanks. Bottom line, A-Rod deserves blame, but the team hasn't done much better.

Let me play devil's advocate; if you take away all the tack on runs the Yanks got in the ninth inning of Game 1, you're left with Russell Martin's home run as the only real clutch it of the series thus far. Now the other team does deserve credit as the Orioles have done a tremendous job in clutch situations. Relievers Darren O'Day and Brian Matuz have gotten big outs in big spots helping the Orioles keep the Yankee offense at bay.Make no mistake about it, the Orioles will scratch and claw, and push the Yankees to a 5th and deciding game the way this is going.

The Yankee offense for all the names just continue to not get it done. Yanks down 2-1 on separate occasions with runners on 2nd with 2 out, have Nick Swisher(1 for last 33 w/ RISP in postseason) and Robinson Cano leave runners on base. It just isn't good enough. The prevailing theory is to move A-Rod down in the order, but the rest of the lineup hasn't exactly excelled in clutch situations.

They wasted a gutty performance by Andy Pettitte last night. They now find themselves at home, in a position they would like to be, win a 3 game series at home to advance. The problem is they could've buried the Orioles last night, and make the next 3 games in Yankee Stadium that much more of a nightmarish and daunting task. For right now, it's a 3 game series with the upstart Baltimore Orioles, the team that never went away, and it's a race to 2 wins. The Yankees are supposed to win this series, but weren't they supposed to beat the Tigers in Game 5 at home last year? Again, when they get on, you have to get them in. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: Blown Call gets everybody crazy, but does it matter?


Before I say a word on the game, anyone who hasn't seen the play that occurred at the end of last night's debacle in Seattle needs to see it. An absolutely stunning ending to a crazy game and a continuation of the NFL replacement official issue.

So what can you say about this situation? It's an utter disaster from a legitimacy standpoint, and the NFL gets a huge black eye. It does, no doubt about it. The funny thing and the honest thing is that everyone from Steve Young to Rafelito thinks that it doesn't matter. Can you blame them? As much as people have complained about these officials, are you going to stop watching the games? I know I'm not, so if you're expecting Roger Goodell to show the motivation and sense of urgency to resolve this issue, it's remote and unrealistic at best. If it's that big a deal, don't watch the games I say to the public.

I'm going to continue to watch my football. Just like when people complain about the refs in the NBA, it creates water cooler talk. The twitter world was ablaze last night with jokes, anecdotes, and more about the decision making or lack thereof regarding the replacement officials. How many WWE references were there? I just find it pretty funny that everyone is willing to criticize but no one is willing to turn off their TV set.

The NFL is a multi billion dollar industry, with ratings out the butt and popularity that dwarfs all the other sports. So they may get a bit of a black eye and the real dead on purists of the game will continue to be upset. I love this game, and I enjoy my football every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. You can't tell me it isn't fascinating from a storyline perspective though. How will this end? Trust me, you'll be tuned in.

Oh yeah, lost in all of this talk about the refs, The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and New Orleans Saints all have losing records. You're talking about Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees. This is why we watch. To be continued.

Monday, September 24, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: Even when the Jets win, they lose


Before yesterday's game against the Dolphins, most Jets fans were thinking this; (don't lie you all were) "This game is one we have to get, and we have to hope that the Niners thrash the Vikings so we can be their trap game next week, and if we go 2-1 in our stretch of 3 home games against San Fran, Houston, and Indy we'll be feeling good about ourselves." Think about it, a win against Miami means 2-0 in the division and an appeasing win after the physical demolition the Steelers put on the Jets last week. Ah, what a win can do for confidence. Yeah, right.

So in the aftermath of one of the worst games ever played, and it was exactly that, the Jets walked out with a 23-20 win(?) against the Fish. They were horrible on offense with the exception of Santonio Holmes, who had his 1st 100+ yard receiving game since 2010. Mark Sanchez threw 2 more INT's which is just an illustration of his penchant for making poor decisions at the absolute worst time. The Jets were off of 2 straight turnovers, the 1st leading directly to a touchdown, the 2nd leading the Jets on another drive in Miami territory. So of course, the Jets have momentum and then give it right back as Sanchez underthrew Cumberland in the endzone. At that point I was saying to myself, only the Jets can make these games give a fan high blood pressure regardless of what situation it is. It gets better though.

As the Dolphins got the ball back, and as they're pummeling the Jets overrated D down the field, All World corner Darrelle Revis, the best player on the Jets, has part of his leg go one way and the other part go the other way. We already knew it was bad. Non-contact injuries are the worst, you already know what time it was similar to Iman Shumpert vs. Miami this past spring. As we found out this morning, Revis is done for the season with a torn ACL. Admittedly, as I just read this news it's just another example of how when the Jets win, they lose. Is it disappointing? Yeah of course. Is it shocking? No, this is typical Jets.

I could mention the rest of the game how on both sides of the ball the Jets looked horrid and needed Dan Carpenter to miss 2 FGs in order to have a shot to win it. What sense does it make? As my dad and I sad after we watched the game yesterday. The Jets just aren't any good right now. Same old Jets? Seems that way.

Monday, September 3, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: NFL Preview Part V: The Predictions


As we're a couple of days away from the kick off of the regular season, there's nothing more fun than making the predictions. Will the Giants repeat? How about the Packers, will they continue to be the regular season juggernaut they were last year and finish off the season in style this time? How about the Patriots? Still the class of the AFC, but when they run into Eli and the Giants their luck runs out. What about teams like the Lions and Niners? Were they flashes in the pan? Or are they contenders for years to come? So much to get to, so let me go through divison by division then playoff predictions.


Patriots- 13-3 ( 1st seed)
Bills- 9-7
Jets- 8-8
Dolphins- 5-11

AFC North

Ravens-11-5 (3rd seed)
Steelers-10-6 (Wild card)
Bengals- 8-8
Browns- 4-12

AFC South

Texans- 12-4 (2nd seed)
Titans- 9-7
Colts- 6-10
Jaguars- 5-11

AFC West

Broncos-10-6 (Broncos win divsion, 4th seed)
Chargers- 10-6 (Wild Card)
Raiders- 8-8
Chiefs- 7-9

NFC East

Giants- 11-5 (3rd seed)
Eagles- 10-6 (wild card)
Cowboys- 8-8
Redskins- 7-9

NFC North

Packers- 14-2 (1st seed)
Lions- 10-6 (wild card)
Bears- 9-7
Vikings- 5-11

NFC South

Saints- 10-6 (4th seed)
Falcons- 9-7
Panthers- 8-8
Bucs- 5-11

NFC West

Niners-13-3 (2nd seed)
Cardinals- 8-8
Seahawks- 7-9
Rams- 4-12


Wild Card Weekend

Broncos over Steelers
Ravens over Chargers

Eagles over Saints
Giants over Lions

Divisional Round

Texans over Ravens
Broncos over Patriots


Niners over Giants
Packers over Eagles

Championship Sunday
Packers over Niners
Broncos over Texans


Packers 37, Broncos 27

Yes, I picked the Packers as the champs. I believe in Aaron Rodgers and that team. They should be motivated off of that divisonal round loss to the Giants and I believe they come back with a vengeance. In the AFC, I believe Peyton Manning is going to have a sensational year, win comeback player of the year, and lead the Broncos to a shocking season. Call me crazy, I just have a feeling. Giants/Cowboys kick it off shortly, I'll have picks for Sunday and Monday on Friday. Football's back!

Friday, August 31, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: Talking Hoops w/ Roland Lazenby


It's been awhile since I did a podcast, but as summer winds down I emerge once again. The Spotlight is back! I was fortunate to come back with a great show featuring author Roland Lazenby. He's written about 5 dozen books covering the sports world, especially basketball. He's currently writing a biography on Michael Jordan that will come out next fall. I was fortunate to have Roland on to talk a bit about the upcoming book, and a little bit of hoops as well.

Knowing his familiarity with the Lakers, we talked heavy on the arrival of Dwight Howard to LA, and how he'll co-exist with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol. Will egos clash on offense? How will they play on defense? Are they going to be good enough to beat the Heat or the Thunder? We talked about all that, and Kobe as he winds down his career. We also discussed how Mike Brown will deal with all this talent and whether he can coach them to a title.

There was discussion about the Heat and how they'll respond to winning a championship. Can they repeat? How will LeBron be different with the monkey off of his back? How about D-Wade? The Heat's chances are handicapped here.

We closed with talking about Phil Jackson, and whether we'll see him again in any capacity? Could he coach the Lakers again? Lots of questions and answers Roland and I speculated on.

I appreciate Roland coming on and hope to have him on again in the future. He's a student of the game and it was awesome to pick his brain on the NBA. You can find him on twitter here to follow his knowledge and insider info.

It's good to be back, and this is just the beginning. There'll be more to come from me, where the spotlight shines brightest on sports.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

AC'S Spotlight: NFL Preview Part IV: The Best QB In The Game


As another season of the NFL begins, one of my favorite debates is who is the best quarterback in the game.  We're fortunate to be in an era with so many great signal callers. Each of these Great QB's bring something different to the game. How do you rank them? Who's your Top 5? Top 10? I have my list. I've taken statistics, team success, playoff success, titles etc into account.

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Drew Brees
3. Tom Brady
4. Peyton Manning
5. Eli Manning
6. Ben Roethlisberger
7. Phillip Rivers
8. Tony Romo
9. Mike Vick
10. Matthew Stafford

Final Preview to come before next week, which is my favorite part, predictions! The season starts Sept 5 with Cowboys/Giants. Get ready!

NBA 2K13 All Star Trailer

Peep the new trailer for NBA 2k13 featuring a completely new All-Star weekend mode. Jay-Z's "The Bounce" adds a nice touch.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Album Review: DJ Khaled "Kiss The Ring"


DJ Khaled's been around the music industry for quite some time. Almost every year he drops a new project featuring all of your favorite rappers and producers in Hip-Hop and manages to get in his own chants and phrases usually to add some kind of "flavor" to the records. Kiss The Ring is his sixth project and with such a regal title, one would expect the album to be of regal status. Khaled's albums always seem more like compilations, rather than one uniform piece, and Kiss The Ring follows suit. There are some major highlights on this project like They Ready which brings the elite of the elite in J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar. The track features all artists on their A-Game, but J. Cole won with this verse:

And you know it don't stop, grindin round that clock 
Masterminding my second album, my first album just dropped 
Scored a touchdown on my first down, niggas thought I was gon' flop 
See I hustle like my momma but I look just like my pops 
And we still duckin cops, ride round and take shots 
Hennessy for my enemies, niggas know I'm takin they spot 
Cause that score up on the play clock show just how I came from way back 
Just like T-I-P told you ASAP but you niggas rappin like Aesop, Aesop get a grip 
Oh that's your dream car? Nigga that's my old whip 
Oh that's your dream girl? Nigga that's my old bitch 
Oh that's your new flow? Nigga that's my old shit! 
This that new KRIT shit, that Cole shit, them country niggas 

Kiss The Ring has positive moments like I'm So Blessed that features T-Pain sounding energetic and revitalized on the hook and Hip-Hop features Nas and Scarface rhyming over a classic J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production with scratches from DJ Premier.

For all of the strong moments and highlights on Kiss The Ring, there are some very weak moments as well. Songs like Bitches and Bottles feature very lazy verses from T.I. and Lil Wayne along a very lazy concept for a chorus recited by Future. Tracks like Don't Pay 4 It and I Don't See Em lack the passion and creativity that the other tracks featured and that plays a role in the album ending up disjointed.

This album rating will fluctuate depending on the listeners view of what a classic or quality album is. If the listener likes a fluid project with cohesion, then this will disappoint you. If you appreciate a project that features some high quality records then you will appreciate the efforts on this album. On each DJ Khaled album the listener will receive some high quality moments mixed in with some filler. If you're expecting a cohesive project you will be greatly disappointed, and you can only look towards the enormous guest list and producer credits as to why his projects usually lack cohesion.

Despite the lack of fluidity, this album features some very well crafted records and some highlights in the way a professional All-Star game is played. There usually really isn't any substance because there isn't anything on the line. Since a DJ Khaled album is more of a compilation, there's not going to  be a strict guideline of how it should be and that puts less pressure on all parties involved to approach the game like a playoff game. Like an All-Star game, there are always some great highlights that are remembered and at the end of the day we will remember those highlights more than the actual outcome of the game. That's what Kiss The Ring and all DJ Khaled albums are. We will remember I'm On One, All I Do Is Win, We Takin' Over, and all other memorable singles, but we will never remember the release and subsequent response to the entire project.

This album has some very strong moments and some weak moments as well and that's why I give it a 3/5. The good does outweigh the bad and that means DJ Khaled can at least shout "We The Better Than Average"