Girl Chat Sports – Episode 43 w/ Kris Londyn

The ladies are back from their first biweekly break and Kris Londyn, a singer, an actress and a sports fan, joins the ladies talking Cowboys minus Romo, Warriors without KD, and how she became a country singer. Also, Ms. Londyn will also be seen on the upcoming Netflix series “Dear White People.”

Also Melissa explains the pros and PROs of watching the NFL Combine…hint…Arms…Bench Press…Vertial…Arms…Broad Jump…ARMS…we think you get the idea. March Madness Selection Sunday is coming up, Spring Training continues and Tim Tebow continues to bomb…

Listen in!!!

Next Episode 3/22/17.

Catch the show right here…Girl Chat Sports – Episode 43 w/ Kris Londyn

You can catch the show on Youtube as well.

Russell Westbrook headed to The Big Easy?

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To the fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, this statement will resonate with you: It’s so hard to say good-bye. Kevin Durant, the team’s star small forward, is now a part of the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors. Durant has been a model of consistency for the Thunder, and his presence on the court for them will be missed. Fans in Oklahoma City are not pleased with Durant’s decision to take his talents to Golden State.

However, the fans are not going to like what happens next. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s All-Star point guard, is scheduled to become a free-agent in 2017. Since Durant is no longer with the team, no one knows if he is willing to sign an extension. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported this: “If Westbrook chooses not to extend his contract this summer, multiple league executives told ESPN they believe the Thunder will consider fielding trade offers for Westbrook.”

Let’s be honest. Westbrook is not going to sign an extension, so the Thunder should just look for trade offers now. The New Orleans Pelicans is a team that may try to trade for the five-time All-Star. New Orleans is on the cusp of being a great team in the West. Led by power forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are ready to go deep into the playoffs and compete for a championship. Davis, a three-time All-Star, is arguably the best big man in the NBA. He can play with his back to the basket, rebound, stretch the floor, and play incredible defense.

Davis isn’t the only player on the Pelicans with a lot of talent. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are exceptional players who can score and play defense on the perimeter. New Orleans also drafted Buddy Hield out of Oklahoma with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Hield can score from anywhere on the court, and he is lethal from beyond the arc.

New Orleans should trade Evans, Holiday, and multiple draft picks to Oklahoma City for Westbrook. You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should this trade happen? Well, the Pelicans need another player to take some of the pressure off of Davis. Furthermore, Evans and Holiday are not stars, but they are good players. Oklahoma City needs to start rebuilding. Evans and Holiday are both young players who have experienced success in the NBA.

Last season, Evans averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. Holiday averaged 16.8 points, three rebounds, and six assists. Both players are quality starters.

Having a team that consists of Davis, Westbrook, and Hield would immediately strike fear into the hearts of opposing players in the NBA. Teams are not going to double-team Davis in the post if Westbrook and Hield are on the perimeter.

New Orleans deserves to win a championship. Westbrook would increase the Pelicans’ chances of winning one because of his scoring and passing abilities, explosiveness, and defense. Davis and Westbrook would make a great one-two punch. Don’t you agree? 

“The Big Four” in Golden State?

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The Golden State Warriors already have two phenomenal sharpshooters like point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson. Shouldn’t that be enough? Don’t forget to add in power forward Draymond Green, one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Sure, the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking NBA Finals defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s all in the past. Golden State is looking forward to making a huge splash in free-agency by luring in Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant.

According to cbssports.com’s Ananth Pandian, the “Warriors’ front office is planning on sitting down once free agency starts with Durant to discuss the opportunity in Golden State.” Golden State, along with other suitors, are scheduled to meet with him when free-agency starts on July 1. Durant is one of the best players in the NBA, and he is a lethal scorer. He stands at 6-foot-9 and weighs 240 pounds. Durant is a threat from beyond the arc and in the paint.

He can shoot 3-pointers as well as anyone in the NBA, and he is fearless when driving to the hoop. Durant’s playing style is reminiscent of George Gervin because he is smooth and patient with the ball in his hands. Last season, he averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and five assists per game.

You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should the Warriors pursue Durant in free-agency when the team does not need any more scorers? If you were watching the NBA Finals, then you saw the Cavaliers play tight defense on Curry, Thompson, and Green and left players like small forward Harrison Barnes open from beyond the arc. While Cleveland allowed him to take uncontested shots, he kept missing. He shot 35 percent from the field in the Finals, according to desmoinesregister.com’s Tommy Birch.

Imagine if Durant was the one attempting all of those open shots. He would have made most of them. Barnes’ abysmal shooting percentage in the Finals is one of the reasons why Cleveland forced a Game 7 and avoided losing the series 4-1.

If Durant does sign with the Warriors, he would bolster their starting lineup and take a lot of pressure off of Curry. Besides, Barnes is scheduled to become a free-agent, and the Warriors are not interested in re-signing him.

Durant would give the Warriors another lethal scoring option, and a player who attracts double-teams. Some fans do not want to see Durant play for the Warriors because they believe the team already has a lot of talent.

Those fans are correct, but great teams are always looking for ways to improve. It’s clear that Durant wants to play on a team that has the talent to win multiple championships. Is there a better team to sign with than Golden State? No.

Sfgate.com’s Rusty Simmons said, “Thompson and Curry will be part of the Warriors’ full-court press to reach an agreement with Durant when free-agency opens this week.”

The Splash Brothers are trying to help the Warriors’ front office make a splash in free-agency. Will it work? Golden State better hope so. If it does, folks, say hello to “The Big Four.”

Follow me on Twitter @KaleelWeatherl1

Ten For Tuesday: March 1 Edition

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(St. Louis, MO)

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

Welcome to my new weekly column entitled “Ten for Tuesday”. I hope you all will enjoy the debut edition, which touches on yesterday’s Rams feature, the St.Louis Cardinals, why I’m not necessarily hyped about the prospects of MLS to STL, what Mizzou Football must do to regain elite their elite status, the good and bad of the NFL Combine, the mystery of NBA Pre-Draft Measurements, the wonder that is Stephen Curry and much more.

With that said, I hope you will enjoy week one of “Ten for Tuesday”.

Let’s get to it:

1- For those who missed it, I penned a feature yesterday named “Monday’s Missile: Los Angeles Rams Not Worthy of St. Louis’ Support”. It has proven to very controversial and his elicited very strong, passionate responses from folks all over the nation. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the rather brief read, I’d love for you to take a moment to do so. Whether you love it or hate it, I’d enjoy hearing your take on the feature. Hit me up on twitter via @RealShaneGray and let me know how you feel.

While on the topic of the aforementioned feature, I’d like to make a couple things clear that I didn’t touch on yesterday:

One, I wish no ill will whatsoever towards the Rams players. Obviously, they had nothing to do with the move. I interviewed several of them on different occasions over the last few years, and think the world of guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn, free agent wide receiver Brian Quick and former Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, all of whom were great people, great interviews and wonderful assets in the community.

Two, I wish to congratulate any and all CLASSY fans from L.A. who will get to watch the Rams return to Cali. I don’t blame them for being excited. Not at all. As for those who want to bash St.Louis and the fans here, however, well… that’s another story altogether.

2- With the Rams moving on, I plan to turn more attention back to the St. Louis Cardinals. I will be honest and admit that much of my focus turned away from the Redbirds after the Rams came to St. Louis. As a child, though, I was an absolute die-hard, live-and-die Cardinals fan. They were my first true love in regards to a sports team. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my passion for the game even after playing it in college.

As probably everyone is aware by now, the Redbirds are in the thick of Spring Training in preparation for the 2016 Major League Baseball campaign. Can they hold off the rival Cubs? Will the Pirates again make major noise in the division? That discussion will come on another day and I look forward to diving into some Cardinals coverage this year.

3- Switching gears, a group of prominent, local investors — including Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and former #STLNFL Task Force co-head Dave Peacock, among others — recently united to form #MLS2STL and are exploring the possibility of bringing an expansion MLS franchise to St. Louis. (In case you missed it, here’s the full story.)

While I have nothing against MLS and am all for anything that would be a positive for the region, I do have one significant reservation about bringing an MLS team to the city.

Why am I so lukewarm on the MLS2STL? Here’s why:

I don’t believe St. Louis is currently viewed by many as a four team region. If true — and I have reason to believe that is indeed the case — I’d prefer our third professional club to be something other than an MLS franchise.

With the MLB and NHL deeply rooted in the Gateway City, that realistically only leaves room for one other major pro sports league/team, and I’d personally hate to reduce or remove any future hopes for an NFL expansion team with truly committed local ownership and a 30 year plus iron-clad lease, or even a chance at an NBA franchise at some point down the road in exchange for MLS. I could be wrong, but I think the presence of MLS would greatly reduce any chances of eventually making a run at having a team from either of those two more prestigious leagues,and if that is indeed true, that bothers me.

As for the NBA, keep in mind that Stan Kroenke relative Bill Laurie nearly locked up an expansion team even WITH the NFL and three other pro teams in town. With that considered, IF a legitimate effort were made at a time when there are but two major pro teams in town rather than three, I think it could certainly get done.

4- Speaking of the Association, Stephen Curry continues to amaze me. To me, he’s the best player in the League right now. He’s the best scorer and best shooter, he’s money in crunch time, he’s a willing and effective passer and he can D up when the chips are on the line.

In short, if there’s one guy in pro basketball that I’m paying to watch play right now, it’s Curry… and nobody else is a close second at the moment.

5- Last year, the Missouri Tigers football program fell off and fell off hard, going 5-7 in a year filled with off-field controversy, on-field struggles and the eventual resignation of Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who ran the show at Mizzou for 15 years, leading the Tigers to ten winning seasons, 10 bowl games, six bowl wins and a combination of five Big 12 North/SEC East Division championships.

After a down year, what does Mizzou need to do to get back on track?

To me, the most glaring hole on the Tigers roster a year ago — and something that was always a strong point during Missouri’s best years within the Pinkel era — was a deep, productive receiving corps.

Last season, the Tigers lack of depth and overall talent at receiver was undeniable, and the offense struggled to produce points and generate big plays largely because of it.

If Mizzou is going to get back to its winning ways and again become a power in the SEC, they need to get their wideout talent back to something close to the level it had been prior to the 2015 debacle.

6- I have always enjoyed the annual NFL Combine, and watched it extremely closely when covering the Rams and preparing for draft-related articles from 2011 through 2015.

That said, the Combine can be either a blessing or a curse for NFL talent evaluators and NFL teams — depending on how it is utilized.

When game tape is kept as the priority, the combine is a fine tool to further evaluate prospects. When the combine is used strictly as a complimentary tool to hone in on what a player has done on the field and fine tune evaluations, it is great.

But when scouts and teams take the bait and move someone up or down a draft board based more upon the combine than what a player or players actually did on the gridiron, teams are asking for major problems.

The combine is fine to help refine grades on a given player, but when the grades become based more upon the combine stats than the football stats, teams are begging to end up drafting busts.

7- Speaking of the combine, the NBA Combine has always been fascinating to me in regard to the measurements, and — more specifically — the height measurements.

At the NFL Combine, players are measured only once, and in their bare feet. But at the NBA Combine, prospects are measured early in the morning (when players are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch taller than they would be late in the day), and are measured both in their bare feet and in their shoes.

As many of you are probably aware, in-shoe heights are commonly used on rosters in college or pro basketball. One can argue about whether that makes sense or not, but its been a common practice in recent decades to either list players in roughly their shoe heights or add anywhere from a half-inch to over two inches to a player’s barefoot measurement.

For example, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love was measured at 6’7″3/4 without shoes at the 2008 pre-draft camp, but has been listed at 6’10” throughout his pro and college career.

Former Cavs guard and rumored lover of Lebron James’ mom Delonte West was measured at 6’1″1/2 barefoot, 6’2″3/4 with shoes while being listed at 6’4″ for portions of his pro career.

John Starks, who starred for the New York Knicks during the Patrick Ewing era, admitted to a 6’2″height while playing with a 6’5″listing.

Finally, former Oklahoma State standout Byron Houston — from way back in the Big 8 days — measured just 6’4″ barefoot while being listed at 6’7″ both in college and the NBA.

On the other hand, there are always a few players who use their barefoot heights and are even taller without shoes than their listed heights. Longtime legend Kevin Garnett is one of those players, listed at 6’11” while being been measured at 7’1″ in shoes. Another future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Durant, is listed at 6’9 but stands close to 7 foot on the hardwood in shoes.

In general, when you see a player’s height on a roster, you can bet it is either an in-shoe listing or roughly an inch to an inch and a half above their barefoot height, but it’s always interesting — to me at least — to see the extremes of the over-inflated listings or the few who utilize their barefoot measurement.

8- With the concussion issue coming to the forefront in the NFL, particularly after Will Smith’s blockbuster “Concussion” movie, has it changed how you feel about your son, brother, nephew or cousin playing the game?  I’d love to hear your take on the topic. Hit me up on Twitter (@RealShaneGray) and let me know how you feel about your loved ones playing football.

9- Speaking of movies, let’s play make believe for a quick second and pretend that YOU are going to star in a sports-related feature film. If you were the star and had your pick of women to play the role of your wife or girlfriend, tweet me her name and why you chose her using #NTheZone and #MyLeadingLady. It will be interesting to see what women y’all have been scoping out.

10- Finally, on next week’s N The Zone Podcast with Palmer Alexander (@thelegendkil) of the St. Louis American and Arlington Lane (@TheATrainSTL), we will be introducing a new segment entitled “Ask Shane/Get at Gray”. For those following me on twitter, DM me your question/questions, and I will answer a few of them over the air next Sunday. For those whose answers are chosen, we will let you know by tagging your twitter handle when tweeting out the segment. I look forward to the inquiries.

Thanks for reading…

 

THE ASSOCIATION REPORT: Second Edition

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In the second edition of “The Association,” the primary focus is on the professional level…the NBA.

Here we are in the month of February and the Oklahoma City Thunder is playing like they want to be in the NBA championship once again, even without their floor leader Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson is definitely picking up the slack at the 1 position, Serge Ibaka playing magnificent ball at the 4 position and DEFINITELY should have been an All-Star this year (we’ll talk about that later) while Jeremy Lamb, 3-point veteran Derek Fisher and defensive specialist Thabo Sefalosha providing great contributions from the bench. This team has been on a roll have blown out opponents in the month of January…including their 17-point win against the Miami Heat. The person behind those epic wins is their MVP for not only the team, but the league as well…Kevin Durant.

Durant is without a doubt playing the best basketball of his career. It was ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that said about Durant that he can play “any of the 4 positions.” He can. He really can. He’s a great ball-handler, he can handle the wing positions and he can post up on just about anyone. He definitely a player that is hard to guard…just ask LeBron James. In their matchup on January 29th, LeBron may have won the point battle, 34-33, but it was Durant who had the last laughs. On three different occasions, Durant buried 3-point shots in the face of James. Both guys are definitely valuable to their respective teams, but you almost can’t go against either of them. LeBron is actually having a down year…at least if you are talking about his scoring average (which is at 26 points a game), but the other numbers have remained consistent. But the guy everyone is talking about in circles…is Durant. He clearly has made it known to fans and haters that he’s tired of being second best. So far, he’s the best player. I can hear the LeBron fans immortalizing the great Ric Flair’s line, “To be the best, you got to BEAT the best.” Still, Durant is the best player.

One team you should definitely watch for is the Golden State Warriors. This team is young, energetic, highly-entertaining and VERY exciting. I haven’t seen them look this good since the days of Run TMC (TIM Hardaway, MITCH Richmond, and CHRIS Mullin). If you are looking for a “one season to the playoff” team, this is not the team for you. Mark Jackson’s boys will be in the playoffs for a while. Stephon Curry playing all-star ball as usual. He needs to make sure to let his game do the talking and not his mouth. Klay Thompson is a dead-eye shooter and can give opposing guards fits. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are very solid in the post…but health will be the issue for these two. The addition of Andre Iguodala was genius by Golden State. He doesn’t have to be THE guy for this team, all he has to do is play his role where he’s needed. I can’t forget about young guys Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and the recent acquisition Jordan Crawford (from Boston), they bring punch off the bench. The Warriors are as young as the recent Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. It may look a little far-fetched that they would be in the NBA Finals this season but they have the right pieces to make themselves a championship contender.

While the New York Knicks have been the NBA’s biggest primetime drama (yeah they moved out the Lakers), the important piece of the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has suddenly become an ultimate prize for other suitors. As the rumors continue to fly out about where ‘Melo could be going…whether it’s Los Angeles, Chicago or even staying in NYC…the question is: Is he worth it? It will depend on what squad decides to put him on their roster. If it’s the Lakers…you’re asking for trouble. As much as Laker fans want him there, he’s not the answer to their equation. Maybe a Kevin Love added to the mix could make it a championship contender but I just don’t see it. Yes, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics pulled off doing Big 3’s to help them win championships, but those teams were very different compared to what other NBA squads are trying to combine and make their own.  If he goes to the Clippers, it’s going to have to be in exchange for star Blake Griffin. Griffin could work well in NYC, he does like to run and the Knicks are a running team. The longshot is Chicago…yeah they don’t have Derrick Rose but they could use a scorer, the bad part is they won’t have a good defender unless head coach Tom Thibodeau can help him a great deal. Who wants an effective scorer but poor defender for their playoff-bound/championship contending team? I would choose Chicago. That’s not because I’m a Bulls fan either.

(I’m going to try to be nice with this one) The beginning of the month saw a 30-year tenure for David Stern come to an end. Stern took the NBA to an international phenomenon, taking the game all over the world, and even returning with some of the Non-American’s best players. Stern made the NBA very marketable…turning people like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James into household names. He even was the brainchild with the WNBA and did his best to bring substance to his league. Adam Silver takes over the commissioner’s position and hopefully will bring a lot more positivity to the league.

A-Train

The Heat Dominates The Thunder

I will not elaborate so much on Miami Heat win in game 4, although Miami Heat is one game away of claiming the NBA Championship!  Oklahoma Thunder played a magnificent 1st qtr of game 4, defense was there, and the offense was there from everybody. OKC came out strong and played as hard as they could. This was their game to win, they needed this to be a 2-2 series, but now they are down 3 games to 1. I watched this game with my heartbeat racing as if it was me on that court last night.  I felt the pace of the game and I felt every bump from each foul, I felt the frustration and the urgency to win. Unfortunately, despite Russell Westbrook’s 43 points, Harden’s 10 rebounds and Durant’s 28 points, it wasn’t in the cards for them to win.  Lebron James and his “whole” team came through last night! Chalmers may have played the best game of his career with 25 points.  Last night proved that no matter how good OKC is, Durant and Westbrook cannot and will not win the championship alone. D. Fisher needs to produce a few hot 3’s he is famous for and K. Perkins will need to sit his attitude on the bench and dominate the paint, it is evident that OKC needs him. OKC may squeeze out one more win, but this series is in favor of the Miami Heat, but I will be cheering OKC, all the way.

Gyb…THE ROOKIE!

Congratulations To The 2012 NBA Champs…Oklahoma City Thunder!

YEP! It got your attention and trust me I know it’s a bit too soon to say that. I got happy and started writing again. But anyway, this team is the new hottest team in the NBA. I mean “C’mon son!” This team despite all the crap they have dealt from fans and the media. Damn, that makes me a part of all of that. I mean look at the past series; they walked over the defending champs in Dallas, destroyed the Lakers in 5 and ran 4 straight on San Antonio after being dropping the first 2 on the road. If you remember the 2nd game, that loss was very close which meant a turnaround was clearly coming. It’s almost clear that this team…is a team. Timely shooting from (the should have been MVP in) Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook with his significant drives (although mixed with bad shot selection), James Harden and Derek Fisher with their deadly 3-point shots and timely defense from Serge Ibaka, guard Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins.

SIDEBAR: Man (sighs) I wish Thabo was still in Chicago but former coach Vinny Del Negro downplayed him (in my opinion).

Going back N THE ZONE…This Thunder team could be on the brink of a nice playoff run if this team stays together (which will be so tough). This is a strong team. If they have to play the Celtics, I think the Thunder could take them down. The same can be said if they played the Miami Heat, and the TV ratings for this matchup would be stronger and greater than the Celtics. I mean after watching Games 3, 4, and 5, you would think that the Thunder would not let up and have San Antonio force a Game 7. Well, It looked like that wasn’t going to happen in the 1st half, but my father told me that San Antonio was done because all their energy was gone. He was so correct. As I watched that 3rd quarter, the game shifted in the opening minutes. OKC buried shot, after shot, after shot till they were down by only 1. It didn’t stop there. They went harder and harder until there was enough time to celebrate a Western Conference title. I can’t say it enough. This is not because I don’t like the Heaet. This is because the Heat don’t have a team compared to this one. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about stats for this team. This is a team with such championship significance on the roster like Fisher and Perkins. And I think Durant and Westbrook look ready to celebrate a championship in Oklahoma City.

And I don’t think they anyone can stand in their way.

The A-Train