Monday, July 30, 2012

Reflections on Opening Weekend of London Olympics

The Olympics are back.  The 30th Summer Olympic games have started and I'm watching as much as possible.  There were several things that stood out after this first weekend of games:

*It is one of those times where I wished I had cable or dish.  Many of the events are on live on the various networks of NBC (CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network, Bravo) and you can't see them unless you have cable.  And even in 2012 when a lot of sports events are streamed online or app, you have to have cable/dish accounts to access them.  Fail.

*For Michael Phelps, this is not Bejing.  Four years ago, he had a record medal haul.  So far, he's gotten a 4th place finish and a silver medal in relay.  It is a good reminder that one can't rest on history but have to focus on today.

*Another NBC gripe, still using tape delay when everyone can know the results through twitter or online.  No matter if you try or not, you find out.  It's 2012, you can show stuff live and still replay it later.

I'll probably blog some more about the games as they go along.  I'm enjoying watching when I can and what I can so far. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reflections on Ichiro Suzuki

Change, it is one thing that we can count on happening.  Time passes and things change.  This occurs in sports as it does every other realm of life.  Yesterday evening, the news broke that Ichiro Suzuki, long time Seattle Mariner, had been traded to the New York Yankees.

I was shocked in a lot of ways to hear this news.  I knew that Ichiro was in the last year of his deal but I didn't expect him to get traded, let alone to the New York Yankees for two minor league pitching prospects.  Along with being shocked, I was also sad.  Sad because he left the Mariners and also going to the Yankees.  Everyone who knows me knows that I don't like the Yankees.  I made reference to this in a post I made here several years ago.  So it'll be weird and sad to see Ichiro put on pinstripes the rest of the season.

It's also sad because it's another reminder that players don't stick with teams like they used to.  It makes what Chipper Jones is doing a rarity, playing with one team your whole career and retiring with them.  Yes I know Ichiro played in Japan before coming to the U.S. but the M's were his one MLB team.  He became synonymous with the M's like Ken Griffey Jr. & Edgar Martinez before him.  In my three years in Seattle, I loved watching Ichiro play in the outfield.

I'm sure when he retires, he will go into the Hall of Fame.  And when he does, he will go in as a Mariner which will be good.  In the meantime, seeing him not in a Mariners uniform and not wearing #51 will be another reminder that things change and time moves forward.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Random Sports Reflections

Reflections during the middle of summer...

*Didn't write about it last week but briefly wanted to address the Robinson Cano/Home Run Derby event.  (Full disclosure, I'm a Royals fan).  A lot was made of the booing (especially by the national media) for Cano and personally I think it was okay.  Ultimately, Cano should understand that words matter.  When he said a month before that he would pick a hometown guy for the Home Run derby, that people held him to that.  If he had never said that, I don't believe that he would've been booed as loud or even at all.  Words are important and what you say matters.

*Speaking of words and actions, Dwight Howard.  I don't think I've seen an athlete go from being so well liked to being so disliked over the course of a year like him.  I'm kind of dumbfounded how a seemingly bright and talented young man has made that transition to being a guy that people want on their team to a guy that they don't.  The way he has conducted himself the past year in Orlando is a great example of how not to act.  I definitely think he needs a good, mature mentor to speak into his life.  I believe that he's a talented player and can be a part of a championship team.  But his attitude definitely needs working on for sure.

*The Linsanity is gone in New York.  Jeremy Lin is going back to Houston.  Couple of things on this development.  One, it is interesting that Tebow comes to NY and then Lin leaves (just a funny coincidence).  Second, I think this was a bad play for the Knicks.  They could've had Lin back if they wanted him.  And to be honest, they should've.  He's a young, up and coming player who energized a city like no Knicks player in a decade or more.  I think they will be hard pressed to capture that magic again with this squad.  As for the Rockets, it'll be interesting how they will go.  But if he can energize that team and fan base, it will make for an interesting situation in the Lone Star State.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reflections on "The Dream Team" & Their 20 Year Anniversary

Twenty years ago this month is the anniversary of one of the greatest teams assembled in the history of basketball.  The Dream Team.  A team that was comprised of players who were Hall of Famers and arguably some of the greatest of all time on one team, playing for Team USA in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

The history of the Dream Team goes back to the previous Summer Olympics in 1988.  In those Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Team USA finished 3rd.  At the time, that was the worst showing for a USA men's basketball team in the Olympics.  Previously they had won gold in every Olympics that had basketball as a medal sport (aside from the controversial 1972 Munich games).  That coupled with the rule passed by FIBA (the international governing body) that allowed NBA players to play in international tournaments set the stage for the Dream Team.

Growing up during this time, I was a huge NBA fan.  And why not?  The players I got to see in their prime was a who's who of Hall of Famers.  So when hearing about they were going to allow NBA stars to play in the Olympics, I was super excited.  The roster was stacked to say the least:  Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner.  I remember that aside from Laettner, I was happy with the guys that made it (I personally thought that Shaquille O'Neal should've been the college representative).

I remember the buildup was huge.  There were Team USA merchendise everywhere.  I think somewhere I still have the Starting Lineup figures of the entire Dream Team roster along with the cups from McDonalds that they gave away with Extra Value Meals.

The team itself did not disappoint.  They steamrolled through the competition on the way to a gold medal.  Not only that, they made a cultural imprint on the game of basketball.  Their impact played a role in more internationals getting involved in basketball and eventually playing in the NBA.

The numbers speak for themselves.  11 of the 12 players (the lone exception being Laettner) and 3 of the 4 coaches (Chuck Daly, Lenny Wilkens & Mike Krzyzewski) are in the Basketball Hall of Fame as individuals and the team itself was enshrined in 2010.  Every Olympic team since has been compared to that team.  I don't think there will be another "Dream Team".  They were a one of a kind team.