The View From Mt. Airy 07-29-16

images@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Legends of The Dome appeared to be wildly successful. Looked like a repass for a loved one who was loved by all and left here far too soon. Kudos to the many Rams all-timers who came out, mixed, mingled and reciprocated the love and adoration of the St. Louis faithful who gathered more than likely, for the final time, to express their love and respect for the “Greatest Show On Turf.”

That being said, it’s time for the Arch Angels to redirect their collective sports energies.

Once upon a time, there was a wildly successful St. Louis sports franchise. They dominated their division, owned the Lakers, and are one of the few NBA franchises that can claim a win over the dynastic Boston Celtics in an NBA Final. The St. Louis Hawks, who landed in the Gateway City in 1955 after 4 last place finishes in Milwaukee (http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nba/stlhawks/stlhawks.html) and immediately turned around their fortunes behind a young Bob Pettit, who in the Hawks first season would win the 1st NBA MVP Trophy and lead them to the NBA Finals with a 33-39 regular season finish followed by an upset of the Lakers in the Western Division finals which was one of the most remarkable playoffs ever. The Hawks won Game 1 by a  single point. Lost Game 2 by 58 points, and won the decisive Game 3 by a single point. Total aggregate of -56 points but they moved on. The early Hawks would win consistently and would leave St.Louis for Atlanta in 1968 after winning the division with a 56-26 record under coach Richie Guerin and an imposing roster led by Paul Silas, Sweet Lou Hudson, Lenny Wilkens, Jumping Joe Caldwell and the Pride of Prairie View, Zelmo Beaty. For years I heard the story of failed attendance as the reason for their departure but upon further review that doesn’t resonate as truth. The Hawks didn’t break records, averaging just 6800 paid per game, but the ENTIRE league avg. in the Hawks final season was just 6,749 paid including the champion Celtics, whose paid attendance average was just 8,670 per game. Look it up. The New York Knickerbockers were the only team over 10k in average attendance in the ’67-68 season and I still can’t figure out the move to Atlanta, especially when you factor in that in the Hawks first season in Georgia, they would average just 4,427 per game and wouldn’t crack 6,000 per until their 6th season in the south. Why this walk down memory lane? Why this opening of a nearly 50-year old wound? Because if I’m a St. Louis sports fan, I’d be thinking its time we got our focus off the traitorous, despicable Rams and their carpetbagging owners who will soon find that not only is the grass NOT greener in the City Of Angels, but the bank account isn’t either. There is a reason why the Rams and Raiders left, and yes I know that TV pays the bills in today’s NFL, but empty seats resonate still. Goodbye.

Beat the NBA drum. Remind them of the storied tradition of the St. Louis Hawks. Show Adam Silver the St. Louis Blues history of drawing huge crowds in a market where everyone assumed the NHL had lost their collective minds expanding into, despite having never won a Stanley Cup. The Blues now have nearly half of a century of selling out the St. Louis Arena (CheckerDome), Kiel, oops I mean, Scottrade Center.

The infrastructure is there. Beautiful NBA ready arena. Lustful fanbase that has been simmering for years in the shadow of the Chicago Bull dynasty, and now looking over their shoulders and seeing the sold out crowds partying in OKC. It’s time St. Louis. Gather your elbows and begin to beat your NBA drum. The league will expand in the next the next four years under the billions and access to every market guaranteed by their historically wealthy 24 billion dollar, 9-year deal. The league wants always to expand by two, maintaining an even number of teams that makes scheduling and conferences sure numerically. Seattle gets the first franchise. Write it down. Until Kevin Johnson rode to the rescue of the city of Sacramento, the Kings were headed to the Emerald City 2 seasons ago. The city had broken ground on a new arena and the league was prepared to welcome back am amazing an supportive fanbase that had nothing to do with the Sonics departure to Oklahoma City in the first place. The city of Seattle still owns the rights to the colors, name, all trophies and records of the original franchise under the settlement allowing the ownership under Clay Bennett to jump ship in 2008. They are a lock to be the first city in any future NBA expansion.

That leaves St. Louis. The natural geographic location for the second team. What other choices are there. Adam Silver and the NBA don’t need Vegas in the way that the NHL does. NBA history has been littered with hints and instances of manipulation. I don’t think they want their product across the street from a sports book as a playoff Game 7 takes a left due to a referee’s whistle.

I’ve gotta believe the NFL thirsty  citizens would grab 10,000 NBA season tickets on day 1, even with the knowledge that the expansion product in year one would most likely be an assembly line of end of the benchers (think Nik Stauskas) and problem contracts and everybody’s NBA knuckleheads (think Nick Young). Sounds like fun to me.

St. Louis, from over here in the land of Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and the emergent Philadelphia 76ers, we’d welcome you back. Turn the page. Raise a collective middle finger to the pirates who stole your NFL team. Bury ’em. You had a great sendoff with the legends game.
Finally, you’ve got an owner in waiting. The two brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silva, who have made $800 million since signing away their rights to the St. Louis Spirits in the ABA contraction and merger which netted them $2 million and an NBA TV share in perpetuity (the best business deal ever made anywhere) that still reaps major benefits. Bring ’em to the table.
Times yours St. Louis. Can’t you hear the Scottrade Center in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals? Surely you can feel opening day. This one’s a natural. How about this? The St. Louis Sounds. Stop the NFL nightmares and begin the NBA dreams. Goodnight.

http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/01/09/nba-settles-perpetuity-deal-with-former-owners-of-aba-spirits/

Let’s Hoop – NBA First Round Playoff Preview

The A-Train here…I want to bring on our NBA contributor Robyn Browning and she has your preview for the upcoming first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Robyn, the floor is yours.Larry O'Brien Trophy

ROBYN:

The regular season ended on a historic and spectacular note with Golden State setting the record for most wins in the season (73) and Kobe Bryant ending his career with a 60 point effort to defeat the Utah Jazz, thus securing his name as a basketball legend. Now, the playoffs are here and hopefully the NBA will build off the energy of Wednesday night and extend it through the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the first-round series in order of seeding.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (8)

Golden State wins if they keep applying pressure on offense with quick ball movement, pressure defense with closeout double teams, and aggressive rebounding.

Houston wins if they take the red pill from the Matrix and become the team in an alternate reality in which Harden plays defense, more plays are run for Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard becomes a 70% free throw shooter.

Players to Watch: Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza

My Pick: Golden State in 4

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Cleveland wins if they become the playoff team we expect them to be. LeBron James will run the point, be efficient from the field, and open up spot-up shooters. Kyrie Irving must contain Reggie Jackson in pick and roll situations.

Detroit wins if they wear down Cleveland through offensive rebounding and pick and roll play with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. They must play with the same confidence and fire that led them to defeat Cleveland during the regular season.

Players to Watch: Andre Drummond and Cleveland’s three-point shooters (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Kevin Love)

My Pick: Cleveland in 5

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

San Antonio wins if they control the tempo and no one gets hurt.

Memphis wins if they transform into the Monstars from Space Jam.

Players to Watch: Danny Green, Spurs bench, and Jordan Farmar vs. Spurs point guards

My pick: San Antonio in 5

Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (7)

Toronto wins if they shoot well from the perimeter, drive to the basket, and get to the foul line a lot.

Indiana wins if they win Game 1 and fluster Toronto’s confidence. Indiana’s front court must get Luis Scola and Jonas Valaciunas in foul trouble.

Players to Watch: Toronto’s backcourt vs. Indiana’s frontcourt and DeMarre Carroll (Is he healthy?)

My Pick: Toronto in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder (3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)

Oklahoma City wins on talent alone. Russell Westbrook is too much for Deron Williams to handle and Kevin Durant can pour in points by the handful.

Dallas wins if they can contain the Thunder—not outright stop them defensively, outscore them, and coach Rick Carlisle changes the lineup so much that the Thunder stay off balance.

Players to Watch: Wesley Matthews (Can he keep up with Kevin Durant?) and Russell Westbrook (watch for a triple-double game or two)

My Pick: Oklahoma City in 5

Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)

Miami wins if their veterans will use their post-season experience to their advantage and Hassan Whiteside can defend the rim, keep fouls to under control, and wear down Al Jefferson.

Charlotte wins if they forget about the 2013-2014 playoffs when they were swept by the Heat, Kemba Walker’s mid-range game stays great, and Jefferson, Nick Batum, and Marvin Williams lock down Miami defensively.

Players to Watch: Charlotte’s defense and Jeremy Lin and his hair

My Pick: Miami in 6

Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trailblazers (5)

Los Angeles wins if they continue to play with confidence and overpower the Blazers in the post.

Portland wins if Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum break down the Clippers defensively to score inside and outside the paint and set up their teammates for easy shots.

Players to Watch: Lillard vs. Chris Paul (top-notch NBA point guard play) and Clippers bench

My Pick: Clippers in 6

Atlanta Hawks (4) vs. Boston Celtics (5)

Atlanta wins if Paul Millsap takes advantage of the Celtic’s frontcourt, especially on pick and roll plays and make the Celtics run half-court offense.

Boston wins if Isaiah Thomas continues to score as he has for over a month, get Atlanta to turn the ball over, and have more points in transition than half-court.

Players to Watch: Isaiah Thomas vs. Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder (Teague/Schroder turnover-prone & Thomas can capitalize in a major way)

My Pick: Atlanta in 7

 

You can follow Robyn on Twitter. Her handle is @robynbirdfly.

The A-Train Rant 21.0!!

Ranting-Homer

Happy New Year one and all, it’s time for the 1st rant of 2015…

  1. Stuart Scott is Mr. SportsCenter, I can care less what you think. Not being biased either.
  2. Pau Gasol is a blessing to Chicago. Thank you Jim Buss.
  3. Jimmy Butler is not only an All-Star, he’s playing like an MVP.
  4. Stephen Curry is amazing…maybe he should be the MVP.
  5. I dislike Steve Kerr still; that Warriors team will forever be Mark Jackson’s.
  6. The Atlanta Hawks will not go to the Eastern Conference Finals this season. I don’t give a damn how good they’re doing right now.
  7. Stan Kroenke gave the NFL the finger and was straight gangster with it.
  8. The Cleveland Cavaliers added two cancers to the team after trading one of them (Dion Waiters traded, received J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert)
  9. There’s no need for a committee for the College Football Playoff, just call it the BCS College Football Playoff and let the computers decide.
  10. Oregon will win the national championship; screw you Buckeye fans.
  11. I’m cheering for the Cowboys this weekend…just like you…I can’t believe it either.
  12. I’m not watching hockey until March/April…that’s when the real fun begins just like the NBA.
  13. I feel sorry for Marvin Lewis and Jim Caldwell…only of these men will get the short end of the stick.
  14. So when does baseball season start?
  15. Dirk Nowitzki is better than Larry Bird. (Became 7th all-time leading scorer in NBA history)
  16. “BOOYAH!”
  17. “Cool as the other side of the pillow.”
  18. “I ain’t gone say nothing, but that ain’t right.”
  19. Rich Eisen is awesome. Never forget your colleague and friend. Classy move.
  20. Shoutout to every sports team that honored Stuart Scott.

MORE TO COME…I THINK. STAY TUNED.

The A-Train

Follow the Train @thealaneii

Twitter: @nthezonesports

Facebook: N The Zone Sports

 

NBA WHEEL AND DEAL

ANNOUNCER:  THESE GENERAL MANAGERS DRESSED AS THEY ARE, COME FROM ALL OVER THE ASSOCIATION TO MAKE  DEALS AND SPEND MONEY HERE AT THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETPLACE, NBA WHEEL & DEAL! And now here’s the overseer of all the wheeling and dealing, THE A-TRAIN!

A-TRAIN: Thank you very much! Welcome to NBA Wheel & Deal! As you can see behind me, our general managers from all over the NBA have been literally WHEELING AND DEALING! The object of our game is to find the best valuable “pieces” to win an NBA championship! It’s that simple. Let’s go and check out the many different teams that are on the trading floor today!

**GOES TO BROOKLYN NETS GM BILLY KING**

As you can see, Billy King (along with Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov) has went and made a couple of deals to fill their championship pieces…but still is missing one addition, this upcoming season’s big prize…DWIGHT HOWARD! All of our teams are going after the grand prize, the big fella in Orlando…which has by speculation has angered many NBA fans and media alike. But in the meantime, the Nets have “wheeled and dealed” to keep their superstar point guard Deron Williams for close to $100 million. In addition by acquiring Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks for GET THIS…5 players! WOW! Some sure fire wheelin’ and dealin going on the Brooklyn side. Good luck to them.

**LOOKS AT ATLANTA’S TABLE**

Now, we move over to Atlanta, who had received 5 players via trade for Johnson. They are working very hard to provide a nucleus that could hopefully one day bring them a championship, in which the franchise hadn’t seen since 1958 when they were in St. Louis. No titles have come there way since being in Atlanta and no Finals appearances. It looks they are dealing even more as they are giving up Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz. Atlanta is also going for the big prize in Dwight Howard. Howard is a hometown guy and I wonder if they will have the world to give to him because that is what is going  to be needed if they want to win anytime soon. Good luck to the Hawks.

Before we move on to another table…let’s discuss the game’s grand prize. Let’s go over to our announcer and hear what’s at stake for the grand prize. Johnny?

ANNOUNCER: ONE OF OUR TEAMS COULD WIN…DWIGHT HOWARD!!! THIS ORLANDO CENTER IS LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME, HE’S ALREADY HAD HIS GM AND HEAD COACH FIRED, PLUS HAS PROVIDED HEADACHES TO THE MANY NBA FAITHFUL FANS! BUT JUST TO LET OUR GMs IN THE GAME KNOW, HE CANNOT SIGN WITH ANOTHER TEAM UNLESS HE IS TRADED. HOWARD IS STILL UNDER CONTRACT. BUT IF YOU ARE THE TEAM TO WIN HIM OVER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A 6-FOOT-11 INCH, 265 POUND CENTER, A TERRIFIC SCORER, A DOMINANT REBOUNDER AND SHOT BLOCKER, A 6-TIME ALL-STAR, A 3-TIME DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, AN NBA FIRST TEAMER AND DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAMER! IT’S ALL YOURS FROM NBA WHEEL & DEAL!!

Alright, you’ve heard about the grand prize and we’ve got more wheeling and dealing, including a deal that features Steve Nash, you come back for more NBA Wheel & Deal! WHY? Because the A-Train said so.

ANNOUNCER: NBA WHEEL & DEAL is sponsored by NO ONE! We’ll be back with more in a moment.

UPDATE: We have been informed to tell you that the rest of the broadcast has been cancelled! Apparently no one can make their mind about Dwight Howard, so we don’t care either. THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!