[caption id="attachment_11370" align="alignleft"]Tiger Woods – Photo: Creative Commons / Keith Allison[/caption]The 2011 Masters tournament was great, but all is not necessarily right with the world, so don’t get it twisted. Anyone who includes golf as a game that at least makes for moments where things seem right with the Universe, appreciated the returned presence and golf prowess of Tiger Woods in the Masters. Augusta hasn’t been the same since Woods exploded with his first victory there in 1997. and whether good or bad times, he knows how to play there.
[caption id="attachment_11329" align="alignleft"]Target Field stadium – Photo: wikimedia commons[/caption]Last year the Minnesota Twins had the honor of being the toast of the nation with the introduction of Target Field, and the subsequent #1 stadium ranking by ESPN. Often it seems that the ‘cool’ people in this country don’t have immediate notions that Minnesota is a hip place to be. You would think that there might be enough recognition from the fact that there are more per capita Fortune 500 companies (21) than any other state in the union. You would also think that people from across the country would recognize how cool I am and be drawn to examine Minnesota closer. As local comedian Cy Amundson said in a recent show at Acme Comedy Club, after a similar bragging type of joke, “Welcome to the show”. (I’m guessing that type of joke sounds better on stage than in print.)
[caption id="attachment_11313" align="alignleft"]Matson running upfield – Photo: USF athletics[/caption]“He led by example. He wasn’t a big talker…if he told you something you could take it to the bank.”
-Bruce Matson, on his father Ollie
The 1972 NFL Hall of Fame parade winds along its two-mile route through Canton, Ohio. Barbara Matson, the 10-year-old daughter of inductee Ollie Matson, takes it all in from the backseat of one open convertible while her dad rides up ahead in another. Throughout the preceding days of ceremonies she has watched as a succession of unfamiliar people have come up to Ollie and shaken his hand or asked him to sign a piece of paper. Now thousands gather along the parade route, some shouting his name. He smiles, waves back. It is all very bewildering.
[caption id="attachment_11291" align="alignleft"]Jon Bones Jones [/caption]Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Jon “Bones” Jones made history Saturday night at UFC 128, becoming the youngest UFC Champion ever. Bringing home the title of Light Heavyweight Champion, 23-year-old Jones was up against Maurico “Shogun” Rua.
Despite Rua’s reputation as a well-rounded champion with many awards, including Fighters Only World MMA Awards 2010 Knockout of the Year, Jones entered the cage in full form, controlling the fight from the opening bell. Jones clearly dominated Rua through the first two rounds with unorthodox striking, speedy footwork, length, and cardio. Halfway into the third round after many cleanly landed blows, Jones landed a knee that put Rua down and the match was officially declared a TKO victory for Jones.
[caption id="attachment_11265" align="alignleft"]University of Michigan’s “Fab 5” during a 1993 game. Pictured (l-r) Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard. – Photo: Wikimedia Commons(Skotch3) [/caption]Much discussion has been born from the recent documentary about the famous Fab 5 of the 1992 University of Michigan basketball team. There were quite a few strong racial suggestions made by the young players of that, potentially, once in a lifetime team. Among those racial suggestions was the term ‘Uncle Tom’ when referring to black Duke University players that defeated the Fab 5 in the 1992 NCAA National Championship game.
[caption id="attachment_11215" align="alignleft"]Leslie Frazier – Photo: Minnesota Vikings[/caption]Of course there’s an NFL lockout, but I enjoy the commentary of former NFL coach Herman Edwards who consistently opens his discussion on the topic by flashing a sheet of paper that says “$9 Billion.” Edward’s explanation comes with the depth of a man entrenched in the game, but my general summary of that “$9 Billion” statement is: with that much money on the line, it’s gonna to get worked out.
The NFL owners are obviously your million and billion dollar type individuals, and usually those folks are willing to wrestle the buffalo off of a Buffalo Nickel just to save the .05cents. I suppose. I remember asking my mother why a Porsche was in the Wal-Mart parking lot back in the 80’s when the stores first broadly began springing up across the nation. To which she responded, “That’s how they got it, by saving their money and shopping smart.” Kids, take note.
[caption id="attachment_11163" align="alignleft"]phombo.com[/caption]The Miami Heat’s chickens seem to be coming home to roost. But actually the truth of the matter is that the NBA is a league of “runs” or streaks. Most of the games involve a consistent flow of comebacks in scoring by both teams. Whichever team has the biggest run on points, which the other team doesn’t match in their runs of points, will generally be the team that wins. If you break it down like that, then the rhythm of the NBA game simply matches the basic fluctuations of a person shooting the basketball and making a hoop; sometimes you get the hot hand (and sometimes the defense is just no good).
[caption id="attachment_11151" align="alignleft"]Scott Shultz – Photo: cblhoopsusa.com[/caption]Community Basketball League’s Jamar Johnson wonders why sports, isn’t about playing anymore
With the NFL spiraling toward a lockout and million-dollar NBA teammates squabbling amongst themselves, Johnson is concerned with what the pros are teaching the rest of us about sports and sportsmanship.
“Some people just love to play, and they’d like to see if they can play at a competitive level and maybe even improve their game,” said Johnson, organizer of the CBL, or Community Basketball Leagues (www.cblhoopsusa.com). “It seems like all the pro leagues, and even the colleges, like to focus on is hype, and good talent actually gets pushed away. In their hunt for the next Kobe or the next LeBron, they lose track of guys whose natural ability, teamwork and unselfishness would make them great additions. These are men and women who just love to play for the sake of the game, and it’s a shame that after college, only two percent of them ever get to play in the pros. It’s wrong that many of these talented athletes are prevented from making this game a part of their life after high school or college. Their competitive spirits and their talents need a place to shine.”
[caption id="attachment_11109" align="alignleft"]Wes Johnson – Photo: customsportscovers.com/[/caption]Lost in another of Kevin Love’s huge milestone statistical performances was perhaps the birth of “What the Wolves really need”. Rookie Wesley Johnson kept the intent look on his face during a stretch of game-winning offensive and defensive plays against the Golden State Warriors recently. That evening seemed to put a stamp on Johnson’s increased role now that former defensive prodigy Corey Brewer has departed for the New York Knicks. While his peer Demarcus Cousins, whom many preferred the Wolves draft over Johnson, is fighting in the locker room in Sacramento, and occasionally ‘beasting’ on the court, Johnson just keeps his steady look of determined intent through the highs and lows of his early growth.
[caption id="attachment_11000" align="alignleft"]Miami Heat’s “Big Three”: Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Lebron James – Photo: sportnewsite.blogspot.com [/caption]Though many came into the NBA season thinking that it might be a runaway “3-Peat” championship for the Los Angeles Lakers, the first half of the season suggests that my favorite team is getting old.
Ron Artest obviously hit his pinnacle last year in the playoffs and has not come down mentally since then – or at least that’s what his jumpshot is saying. Kobe Bryant is his usual narcissistic self, and thus can’t will his team to whoop-up on lesser talented teams like Michael Jordan did in the 90s. Bryant wants to engineer games rather than just go out there and “ball ‘em up” and then sit on the bench in the fourth quarter and enjoy the show…like Jordan and Scottie Pippen used to do. Bryant gets the ball stolen from his grasp a little more often, and gets his shot blocked much more as well. These are symptoms of old age (in basketball years). So as I often say, “Kobe! Pass the ball!”