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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hornets to Seattle? This Rumor Again?

There is chatter again suggesting that the Hornets may be Seattle-bound. That may just be wishful thinking. Or it could be an attempt to gage reaction and take Seattle's temperature on their desire for another team. A Steve Ballmer-owned team. In case you forgot, there used to be a team in Seattle known as the SuperSonics. They won the City's only Championship trophy in 1979 and were bought and sold by a coffee tycoon to an out of state group that moved the team. Remember all of this? Sounding familiar? That was three years ago.

Most seem ready to dump the financial burden on Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer's feet to buy a team and fund a new arena. Ballmer tried to buy the team from Bennett to prevent the Sonic’s move and has been long rumored to want to bring a team back to Seattle. Rumor has it he recently cashed in nearly a billion in stock, giving him the immediate capital needed to do both. But with the lockout looming, is this really a good time to buy?

It's a new day and age for both Seattle and the NBA. Seattle is doing just fine. They avoided pumping millions into an arena during the worst economic recession in memory. In hindsight it was a blessing, despite the fact it cost the city a franchise. It was a fiscally responsible decision despite the emotional loss. And meanwhile the NBA is in big trouble; bankrupt teams, a lockout looming, player unrest, the LaBron debacle and the threat of team contraction to stanch the hemorrhaging losses of league revenues.

The Hornets financial woes forced the NBA to buy the team out from notoriously bad owner, George Shin until a new owner can be found. The Hornets continue to struggle in New Orleans. Attendance is down nearly 10 percent despite having super-star Chris Paul and a team in the playoff hunt. Has enough 'post-Katrina' time passed to allow the team to move without it being considered politically incorrect?

Some will try and compare a potential relocation of the Hornets to Bennett's hijacking the Sonics and moving them. That is total nonsense. They'll say supporting the move is hypocritical. Make no mistake - it isn't the same thing. That argument holds no weight or leverage and embracing it is ignorance.

Bennett bought the team and went public from day insisting he wanted to keep them in Seattle, period. Later it was proven via emails he had no intention at all of ever following through on that. His subsequent actions removed any doubt about his agenda the whole time: moving the team to OKC. That was a hijacking. The Hornets situation is different for several reasons; the team is broke and the city cannot support it financially. That was not the case in Seattle. The city always supported the team when the product on the floor warranted it. Like any pruduct, if you make it worth consuming, people will. Offering up the worst product possible, as Bennett did to Seattle, and complaining when they didn't buy it up, is the ultimate hypocrisy.

The Hornets will be leaving New Orleans, period. Destination? Unknown. The NOLA market cannot sustain the team, be it from lack of fan interest or lack of fans with money buying tickets. Make no mistake; this team is gone and it will not be from a hijacking. Whether or not Ballmer is the answer remains to be seen. What

I want to know if Bennett will be cooperative in returning the Supersonic name and logos to Seattle should a team return there. And will Stern tuck his tale between his legs and publicly support both a team and the Sonics name being returned to its rightful place; Seattle.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blunder Playoff Primer!

Congratulations to the Blunder on making the playoffs and to Durant, the regular season scoring leader. That is fantastic for the OKC fans. I am surprised they ended up the eighth seed, as I thought they would go higher. The match-up with the Lakers is an interesting one, with a few variables that will likely determine who advances.


Lakers; 57-25 (first in Western Conference) vs. OKC Blunder; 50-32 (eighth in Western Conference.

Team matchups: The youthful Blunder should be energized for their first playoff series, and appear to be less banged up then the Lakers. In my opinion, Kobe Bryant is fast wearing out and beginning to break down from years of endless games. I think this may actually be Bryant's last chance for a title. Being in Los Angeles I am inundated with Lakers on talk radio, local news, etc, and I really believe this signals the decline of Bryant, arguable one of the top talents to ever put on the jersey. He has simply played too many games in his career - and it's the games outside of the NBA that have hurt him and prevented him from ever fully resting and recovering properly. With Bryant and Bynum banged up, I give the health edge to the youth of the Blunder.

Coaching; this isn't even close. Brooks is nice, but has not had to coach one game that mattered in his entire career - and that is not a knock against him at all. This is his first opportunity and unfortunately for him he's going up against a master in Phil Jackson with his ten rings and Zen master attitude. Jackson will own the refs and the games and give the Lakers every strategic advantage possible to win games and the series. Edge: Lakers.

Intangibles. Unfortunately for OKC, they are also going up against the establishment now, and this is still Kobe and LeBron's league. Durant has had a great season, but all the calls going his way will be going to Kobe and the Lakers. That's just the way the NBA is - they desperately need a ratings bonanza at that'll come only via a high profile and/or big market matchup. That will entail at least Kobe and/or Lebron in the finals. Preferably together. Preferably meaning preferable to the NBA's agenda, which is money, of course.

The Blunder should have a strong outside game and will transition well, but will get killed in the paint as Bynum (injured or not) will make it tough in the paint. OKC has no good answer for their inside game. They will get owned there and at the free-throw line and that'll be the major difference in the actual games, in my opinion. Add in coaching expeerience, playoff experience, the NBA's need for a big market and a Kobe to make a deep playoff run...and these all favor the Lakers.

The NBA also needs as many games as possible for the revenue, and will string this series out to six games, balancing the need for game and TV revenue with the necessity to prevent Kobe from burning out completely. They need the dream match-up of Kobe vs LeBron - it's a series that will maximize ratings and revenue for the league.

I predict the Lakers in six games, perhaps in five if the league feels the need to keep Kobe healthy. It'll be one and done for the Blunder, but what a great season they've given the fans in OKC. Now, sadly, the fans get a look at what the NBA is truly all about...hype and marketing and revenue. Durant vs. Kobe is a nice first round marketing match-up - but the bigger picture is Kobe vs Lebron.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OKC'S Durant Dilemma

OKC faces its first major decision; when to show Durant the money. The smart move would be to sign Durant now to a long-term max deal and lock up the face of the franchise. Signing him now is a no-brainer. According to a couple of articles I've read, he suggests he is happy in OKC, so sign him now while that's still the case. Protracted negotiations could change his mind. That’s when the true colors from both sides will be revealed.

Of course, KD could just be saying all the PC things we expect athletes to say these days. Is it genuine? There's no way for us to know until the fire gets hotter. Is the OKC brass working on a deal or will they wait for the new CBA to be ratified which will likely lower the price teams can offer up?

This is the dilemma OKC now faces; signing Durant long term now at a higher cost and keep him happy, or wait for the new CBA to reduce the limit, and face alienating the face of the franchise. It's a very interesting situation: OKC's first loyalty vs. business decision...and the ramifications will likely determine the fate of the franchise. The longer the situation plays out, the worse it gets for OKC. Durant's value to the franchise is worth overpaying him, even in light of the likely new NBA economics about to be unveiled with the upcoming CBA.

As Durant's agent applies pressure to get a max deal done before the new CBA deal, his influence could sway Durant to start considering other options if OKC stalls. His handlers can start the process of disengaging Durant from OKC, justified by claiming KD's being slighted or 'disprespected' as is the popular term among players, proven by OKC's refusal to move quickly. If Durant is indeed happy in OKC and can be locked up before he reaches his prime or a better offer emerges, OKC needs to step up now and get it done. If not, you leave the door open for KD to to ponder his value on the open market. He can jump ship to a number of other teams. Any suitors can provoke him by questioning why be loyal to OKC? If they 'value him' so much, why aren't they showing him the money? Pretty simple and effective logic. KD's agent will do what KD wants, but will certainly keep him in the loop on all offers. If it drags out, KD may start listening to them.

Don’t go cheap with the face of the franchise who is already getting less than his market value. Durant is young and impressionable. With a happy Durant in OKC, the team can stay relevant and competitive. Without him, they'll fade into oblivion.

It'll be interesting to see how OKC plays their first big decision.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blunder Mid Season Report Card

Well, it's that time of year folks! Step right up and get your Blunder grades!

What a difference a year makes, huh? After Bennett's poaching and first year disaster, Durant and Co have quietly managed a very respectable and competitive season in the dustbowl.

Coaching; B. Scotty Brooks has the team playing well. Is it his coaching, or is it a matter of letting them loose and seeing what happens? SO far that has worked. However, the Zombie Sonics have not yet played any games under pressure. As the season winds down and post-season spots hinge on his coaching and team execution, we will see what Brooks and the Blunder are truly made of. Too early to tell.

Team: 30-21. Upside: One of the surprises of the season, for sure. All Star (and future ex-Blunder) Kevin Durant (29.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is playing lights out and carrying this team. Westbrook (16.5 ppg, 7.5 apg) and Green (14.5 ppg are contributing solidly as well. The supporting cast is a mixed bag with no real standouts. Durant gets an A.

Downside: Durant leads the team in rebounding - that is not necessarily a good sign. He is not a big guy and cannot be forced into a physical game...it will eventually hurt his real value – scoring. Come playoff time his supporting cast needs to step it up and be able to rebound and play disciplined half-court sets. Wide open play is great to watch but fundamental play and veteran leadership usually wins out in the playoffs. The Blunder do not have a legit veteran presence to guide them. Riding Durant will win games in the short term, but in the longer run they need an inside presence and a skilled vet to guide the team in crunch time.

Green needs to get more involved in assists. He averages less than two a game and has more turnovers (85) than assists (83) for the season. He's learning and will improve. Westbrook 16.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 7.5 apg is having a solid year and will only get better.

Overall team: B

Outlook: The second half of the season will get very interesting for the Blunder. They have thrived while playing pressure-free basketball and flying under the radar. They get practically no national exposure, a blessing for a young team. However, teams will not take them lightly and will be better prepared for them in the second half - no more sneaking up on teams. This is where their true colors (coaching, etc) will be revealed. The on-court trio of Durant/Westbrook/Green are solid. After that it's a big drop off in production.

Playoff scenario: They are well positioned for a playoff run. The biggest challenge this team will face now is pressure. Can they handle it after nearly three seasons of zero expectations? The media attention will pick up in the second half. I expect this team to play around .500 the rest of the way (48 wins is my expectation) and that could get them into the playoffs. They could be a dangerous team, or they could fold under the pressure. It remains to be seen. They cannot afford to get a first round match-up with the Lakers, so positioning will be everything. They could spell trouble for some teams, but not the Lakers. The grind and physicality of the playoffs could also force an early exit and be an eye opener for the young Blunder.

Presti: A. Good job keeping the ship afloat. He's a good executive who had the rare privilege of blowing up a team to build a new one. It's too bad it came at Seattle's expense, but that is not his fault. It's Bennett's.

Ownership: F. Bennett sucks.

Overall grade: B

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Will Proposed Change Doom the NCAA Tournament?

Yup, leave it to the NCAA to ruin the greatest college sporting event. According to the SBJ, the NCAA is considering opting out of it's 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS after this year's Final Four ur in April. The deal has three years and $2.131 billion remaining. And that's not even the most obnoxious part.

They are considering expanding the current 65 team format to...get this...as many as 96 teams. That is not a misprint. 96 teams playing in the tournament. The NCAA has its sights set on expanding to either 68 or 96 teams if it opts out of the CBS contract, according to the 12-page RFP. A 68-team field would add three “play-in” games to the current 65-team format, and a 96-team field would expand the tournament’s inventory by 31 games. Seriously?

Obviously this is an attempt to eliminate the NIT. I just gotta conclude this is a staggering act of stupidity and greed. Expanding the tournament will doom it to fan apathy. Too many games, too many teams without any chance of winning and over saturating the marketplace.

Sound familiar? It's called the NBA. And we all see how that's doing these days.

JUST SAY NO! Preserve the tournament!

http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/64712

Friday, January 29, 2010

Potential Tebow Fall-Out?

You have to wonder what the fallout from the Tebow situation may be. Will recruits with legit NFL dreams re-consider the athletic education they receive in college? Will quarterbacks seek out colleges where they are schooled correctly, as opposed to football factories like Florida where mega stats are racked up at the expense of learning the proper NFL skill set?

It’s one thing to win games and achieve stellar statistics, and it is a great achievement. However, we now know it’s not enough at the next level. NFL scouts distance themselves from stat-happy talent (aka RISKY) and lean toward well-skilled (less risky) talent. So, will this lead to a trend that pressures college coaches to TRAIN the athlete properly? How much emphasis will players and parents put into that...the idea of literally getting an education.

Sure, everyone wants to lay at the big high profile schools...there’s no question about that and they will always get huge recruits. Outside of the QB position, it probably doesn’t matter. But it seems like Florida/Tebow is the perfect example of the problem – high profile - many wins – huge stats – lots of trophies – zero NFL career. Who’s the last stat happy Gator QB to play in the NFL? Hell, WSU has put more QB’s in the NFL – Super Bowl winning ones. If you’re a high school QB with dreams of playing in the NFL – will the Tebow situation influence their decision to go to schools like Florida where you win on Saturday but leave behind any chance of playing on Sunday?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blunder Bulled Over, Drop Third Straight

Ok, here's the familiar Blunder we know and love - on another losing streak! Chicago reached the .500 mark for the first time this season as they crushed the Blunder in OKC on Wednesday night, 96-86. It was the fourth straight win for the Bulls and the third loss in a row for the Zombie Sonics.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant, led OKC with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Durant and Westbrook combined for 52 points. The rest of the Zombie Sonics combined for a paltry 34 points. Brutal. Five Bulls scored in double figures.

Jeff Green, who finished with 24 points and nine rebounds commented about the Blunder's current losing streak, "It's only a three-game losing streak," Green said. "It ain't like we've lost 11 in a row."

No, but they did lose 14 in a row last season. In celebration of that landmark lowlight, the Blunder opened the 4th quarter with 14 straight missed shots. Yay!

Lowlights: Durant and Westbrook both had four turnovers, Nick "Get Me Outta Here" Collison had two rebounds and zero points in 21 minutes.

There was an announced crowd of 17,562...another non sellout for the team supposedly on the brink of the playoffs. Looks like OKC isn't really into the NBA.

Blunder: 21-24 (losses come first!)
Next loss: Thursday vs Denver.
Hilarious "celeb' sighting: Mark Clayton of the Ravens and Tommie Harris of the Bears, former teammates at Oklahoma, sat courtside and each threw an autographed corndog, er, football into the crowd.

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Losing Streak Grows as Cavs Dump Blunder

It's getting ugly out there on the road for the Blunder - Two losses in three nights, 88-86 against Memphis and 100-99 to the Cavaliers, who were forced to start Daniel Gibson for the first time since 2007 due to injuries to to Mo Williams and Delonte West. Not to worry, because Lebron ran the Cavs' offense most of the night, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter and sealing the win with a monster block on Durant with .9 seconds remaining.

It was the 20th loss for the Blunder...21st if you throw in the $1.6 million that shady owner/worldclass douchebag Clay Bennett lost when he 'settled' a lawsuit for ripping off the Seattle fans.

Lebron James was one rebound away from a triple-double as he went off for 37 points nine rebounds and 12 assists. I rarely pimp movies on here, however I highly recommend seeing MORE THAN A GAME, the LeBron James story about his High School basketball team in Ohio. It's awesome - do not miss this movie.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant, as always, led the Zombie Sonics with 34 points and 10 rebounds, his 18th straight game with at least 25 points. The kid can play. It'll be devestating for the franchise when he leaves, as expected.

Lowlights: Nick Collison had 5 fouls in 19 minutes and a paltry 2 points on 1-2 shooting. I think Nick hates it in OKC and I doubt he is back next season. Ibaka had 3 turnovers in 19 minutes. As a team the Blunder shot only 38% from the field, and defensively they were caught cheating (Bennett's influence, no doubt) in the paint and were penalized for a three-second violation.

More Corndogs! More Losses! More Blunder!

Blunder: 20-24 (20 losses...losses always come first in OKC!)
Next Loss: Wednesday vs. Chicago.

To Do List: See MORE THAN A GAME.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bennett Loses Another Lawsuit

SEATTLE – Professional liar and dirtbag Clay Bennett, owner of the Zombie Sonics, has tentatively settled a federal class action lawsuit brought by the team's season ticket holders, according to Seattle's KING 5 News. Bennett has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle the claim.

The season ticket holders claim Bennett breached a contract by not allowing them to renew their seats after the team left for Oklahoma City in 2008. Bennett did not deny he was in the wrong. Nor did he deny he was a world-class douchebag.

The settlement affects about 800 people and means the cowardly Bennett won't testify again in Seattle, where he is loathed. A judge just needs to sign off on the deal.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spur's Rookie Dominates OKC, Blunder Lose Again!

It's beginning to sound like a broken record around here; Blunder lose again! Weird!

Rookie DeJaun Blair's career high 28 points and 21 rebounds led the Spurs past the the struggling Zombie Sonics on Wednesday night, 109-108. The Blunder, unable to lose in regulation, dragged the game into overtime before conceding defeat.

Blair, the All-American center from Pitt who was passed over in the draft because of concerns about his knees, showed teams that passed on him in the draft what he could do. The Spurs selected him 37 overall. The Blunder, foolishly, passed on him and now will live to regret it. Much like they must regret moving to Tornado Alley where they cannot sell out games, even against elite teams like San Antonio. Damn shame that is.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant had 35 points on 14-31 shooting in 47 minutes.

And now, the lowlights:
The Blunder trailed by as many as 19 in the first half and scored a season-low 18points in the first quarter. Only four Blunder managed to score in double figures. Nonads Krystac went 0-2 in nine minutes for zero points and one foul. Durant had seven turnovers and Toshe Sefalosha had five fouls in 38 minutes.

Blunder: 21-17, tied for third place.
Next loss: Friday at Dallas.
Weather Alert: A magnitude 3.3 earthquake shook Jones, Oklahoma. Panicked residents were calmed when it was revealed the trembler was merely Clay Bennett's corndogs settling in his stomach.

More corndongs! More losses! More blunder!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Latest Buzz: N.O. K.O.'s O.K.C.!

The Blunder suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Hornets of New Orleans on Wednesday, 97-92. The team that was once the show in OKC, returned for another ritual beat down of the Blunder. It was the Hornet's 10th straight win against the Zombie Sonics, their fourth in a row overall, pushing over .500 for the first time this season at 17-16.

Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points in 39 minutes. He fell short of 30 points for the second straight game after going a franchise record seven straight games scoring 30 or more. Kid's a stud. If, like me, you believe KD moves in free agency, it'll be a dagger in the Blunder fans hearts as the face of the franchise leaves. Unfortunately, such is life in modern sports. Loyalty is a memory.

Lowlights: Collison went 0-for-2 in 18 minutes for zero points. He did have a personal foul. I heard it was a good one. Sefalosha went 1-for-5 in 25 minutes. Jeff Green led the team with four fouls in 41 minutes and Durant had four quality turnovers.

The Blunder certainly have improved over last season's debacle. Of course, improving on a 23 win season is almost a certainty. It's nice to see the players improving

Announced 'attendance' was 17,836. Even with the bloated numbers, it was another announced non-sellout in OKC. Surprising that OKC didn't rally for their beloved Hornets appearance. Then again, like McLendon said, "we'll be happy just to break even".

Blunder: 19-16, tied with Utah for third.
Next loss: Indiana on Saturday the 9th.
Current weather trauma: WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT.