The In-Jury’s Out: Kobe Bryant & Derrick Rose

kobe1

Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose are two of the most exciting players the NBA has to offer. Kobe has been the face of the NBA for years, especially  after  Michael Jordan retired. Rose is a rising star in the place where Jordan made basketball relevant,  Chicago. However, these stars have been dealt tough obstacles to overcome in their careers with brutal injuries. Kobe, on the back end of his career, suffered a torn  Achilles injury at the end of last season. Rose, whose career is blossoming, tore his ACL in a playoff game two seasons ago and had to miss the entire 2012-13 season. Without these superstars, their teams are helpless and irrelevant. Without these superstars, the NBA is without two key franchises to its growing brand.

Two seasons ago Rose and the Bulls were positioned to challenge the Miami Heat when Rose injured himself in the first round of the playoffs against the 76ers. Last year, to the dismay of all NBA and Bulls fans, Rose sat out the entire year including the playoffs. The team still had Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, but no one ever could take it  seriously as a contender. The Bulls  even matched up against the Heat in the playoffs and stole Game 1 in Miami, before they proceeded to be eliminated. You know you have come to desperate measures when the most exciting guy on your team is 5 foot 7 and that’s being generous. Nate Robinson provided a spark for the Bulls, but a spark that size is not a good recipe for success.

With Rose returning this year, the excitement and expectations are back in Chicago. Through ten games, they are 6-4 and have handed the Pacers their only loss of the season. However, Rose has struggled a bit and seems rusty. This is nothing surprising, given the injury he endured, and he should become stronger as the season progresses along. Rose wasn’t built in a day. He has hit a game winning shot against the Knicks and made some explosive plays that would make Wyle E. Coyote say, “Wow! That’s explosive.” His athleticism is unprecedented for a point guard and his ability to attack the hoop is a spectacle to watch. The Heat and Pacers should take notice.rose2

Bryant tore his Achilles tendon last year, and then tore all hope from every Laker fan. Since the Kobe-Shaq era ended, there has arguably been no player more important to his team’s success then Bryant. He is the brains, heart and courage of the team as he leads his players down the purple and yellow brick road. Just like the Bulls last year, the Lakers — barely — made the playoffs, but no one could even consider picking them to advance without the Black Mamba. The San Antonio Spurs swept the Lakers like a pushbroom after a garage sale.  Dwight Howard is no Kobe, not even close.

Even with Dwight, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, the Lakers looked like a lottery team without Kobe. We all know how determined Kobe is to return quickly this year. He has been able to overcome injuries throughout his career like he was a Terminator Machine. Entering his 18th season, Kobe faces his most serious injury ever, and many experts out there are saying he is done and will never be the same. Maybe this is a reality Laker fans must face. Maybe not. The Laker organization has money saved up to rake in some top free agents next season.  Names like LeBron and Carmelo Anthony come to mind. Before this bridge gets crossed, it must be seen how Kobe plays when he returns. And his team desperately needs him.

The Lakers version of Robinson this year has been Steve Blake. Or as they call him, the “White Mamba.” The White Mamba has hit a game-winning three pointer on the road against theRockets this year, but more often than not, the Lakers have been mediocre and inconsistent. They have indeed shown glimpses of greatness from a bunch of young talent, but they seem to only play like this against lowly teams. Their leading scorer is averaging 13 points a game. Kobe can put that up in a quarter, maybe half a quarter.

The Los Angeles Lakers are very important to the NBA. Having won 16 titles, the NBA does well when the Lakers are doing well. The Lakers cannot do well without Kobe. It’s like watching the Dark Knight without seeing Batman in any of the movie. It is like trying to win in chess without your queen. Having a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich is not the same without the Peanut Butter. And the Lakers as just a jelly sandwich are going nowhere. Soggy. Kobe’s team needs him, and he needs his team. The Lakers and the NBA anxiously anticipate the Mamba’s return, and hope he can overcome the toughest injury out there to flourish again on the court.

Kobe BryantThe Lakers and Bulls are more than capable of challenging for a championship this year. Most would agree that Bulls roster is more primed for a playoff run, but if Lakers can get healthy, you never know. The West is very much up for grabs. The success of the Bulls and Lakers fortunately and unfortunately is highly dependent on one player. With  Rose, the Bulls have shown this year that they are a force to be reckoned with even a matador would be scared of. Without him, there is no optimism or chance in Chicago. In LA, a new era of mediocrity is moving in quickly, with Kobe  as the last hope to restore some order to Staples Center. The Lakers without Kobe are only a contender for a lottery pick.

It remains to be seen if the Bulls and Rose bloom throughout the year, prepping for a playoff run to challenge the Heat and Pacers. If Rose does not return to form, it will  surely be only a two-team race to the NBA Finals. The Lakers need to hang in there until Kobe gets back. Even at this stage of his career, I am very confident Kobe can resume playing at a high level. How high? This is the most important question of the year. The Lakers, the NBA and this NBA fan are hoping the Black Mamba has some venom left.

 __________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Paul Culley
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
http://www.facebook.com/thecover4
http://www.twitter.com/thecover4

Why Larry Fitz Needs To Be Like KG

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 12.05.43 AM
After a 58-0 loss to division rival Seattle, the Arizona Cardinals have lost nine consecutive games, dropping their record to 4-9. Yes, that means they began the season 4-0, a record that had a few people believing that placed them amongst the elite teams in the league. Those few who were so willing to look past the glaring hole the Cardinals have at the most important position in all of sports are now eating crow. Just as another writer for the site touched on Mark Sanchez possibly being the most “unfortunate” quarterback in the league, Larry Fitzgerald is so “unfortunate” he’d probably be happy to take either one of the Jets two shaky QBs.

Larry Fitzgerald is THE best receiver in the NFL. Yes, better than A.J. Green, Andre Johnson and Megatron. His work ethic is unparalleled (watch his pre-game warm-up drills), combined with his size, strength, speed and hands. Factor in his physicality and blocking ability and you have a skill set possessed by no other receiver in the League.

The last time Fitzgerald had a decent NFL QB was the Cardinals’ NFC Champion 2009 season with Kurt Warner at the helm and Anquan Boldin on the other side of Fitzgerald. That year, Fitz had 97 receptions for almost 1,100 yards and 13 TDs. The following year with Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall throwing him the ball, he caught 90 for 1,137 but only 6 Tds. Last year with Kevin Kolb and Skelton he posted a career-high 17.6 yards per catch on 80 receptions. These numbers are all in spite of having terrible quarterback play amplified by an even worse offensive line. Trading for Kolb was supposed to be the answer but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field and even if he could, it still doesn’t appear that he’s a starting QB in the NFL.

Fitzgerald signed an 8-year $120 million extension prior to 2011 season to remain loyal to his one and only team, so he will be there for the foreseeable future. It is that loyalty that may be his Achilles heel. Many may remember when Kevin Garnett was in Minnesota; it was his team, no doubt. He was one of the top five players in the league and he and Tim Duncan went back and forth as the best power forward in the NBA. Garnett wanted desperately to win in Minnesota but they were at their max potential and would never get past the likes of the Duncan’s Spurs or Kobe’s Lakers. KG realized this and before the 2007 season he did what was best for himself as a player and requested a trade.

In the NFL, trades are far less prominent and I don’t foresee Fitzgerald requesting a trade but, it is every player’s goal to win their respective championship. Garnett requested a trade and was able to win a couple of titles. As someone who values loyalty and appreciates Fitzgerald for it, I hope he takes a page from KG.

____________________________________________________________________________
Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Jonathan Van Ness
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
http://www.facebook.com/thecover4
http://www.twitter.com/thecover4

America’s Favorite Pastime: Past its Time

Derek Jeter isn’t the only one upset about the state of the MLB right now.

The Cover 4 will feature a number of writers to cover a variety of topics. This article is by our very own Long Island Sound, Sports Activist.

It can easily be seen throughout sports and pop culture in America that the NFL, NBA, and soccer are on the rise, and the once glorified sport of baseball is on the decline.  No one finds this more unfortunate and painful to present than yours truly, but the days of Peter Gammons and Timmy K are now gone.

As a preface, society in general has become faster and faster over the last decade.  Information cannot come quicker.  First, the email. Next, the text message. Now, the capability to do both on a phone.  Need to scan? Oh, there is an app for that.  Any project from construction to video game development cannot be produced fast enough because owners want their new toy to sell to consumers.  With all of the enhancements and societal shifts, baseball has happened to stand pat with regards to technology while providing a slower product.

Taking the sports on the rise individually, developments can be seen in each aspect that generate its current prominence.

The most watched and followed sport right now is the NFL.  Some may ask why?  “South Park” portrayed it best by every child in America can be diagnosed with ADD by a doctor, but the fact is we have a very limited attention span as humans.  Each NFL team only plays 16 games, ultimately resulting in every game being important.  Each Sunday (Thursday and Monday now) there is an underlying story other than winning and division standings.  For example, the Colts played the Titans last week.  Was that the Game of the Week for CBS? No, but people wanted to watch Andrew Luck develop. Is Chris Johnson done, and is Jake Locker a NFL quarterback?  How did that game turn-out?  Each and every game on the schedule presents an underlying story that is watchable.  Also, the sky rocketing of fantasy football has only driven popularity; making neutral office workers tune in for work place bragging rights.  Plus, when was the last time you watched a Marlins vs. Astros game?  2003, when the Killer Bs took on Beckett, Burnett, and Dontrelle?  Exactly.  ALMOST A DECADE AGO.

Next, the NBA has fallen into its greatest player class since the days of Magic and Bird.  Jordan carried the league through all of the 90s to hand it off to Shaq, Kobe, and the Spurs.  Beginning with Kobe and now LeBron, the NBA has aligned itself into mega-powers across the corners of the nation.  From Miami, LA, NY/Brooklyn, and OKC, the NBA has founded powerhouses throughout the country with competitive markets in-between much like an equally balanced Risk board.  Also, the underprivileged, athletic youth in America tend to take on basketball because of the minimal price to play. All you need is a ball and hoop.  A great amount of young athletes are now taking to the NFL and NBA, which diminishes the actual athletic talent pool from baseball.  It can be argued the MLB actually has Triple A teams in the majors.  The Houston Astros are a minor league team with a hill in centerfield.

Lastly, this may come as a surprise to some but soccer is on the rise in the US.  The common argument with soccer is that team USA is not globally competitive. While this statement has been true of past teams, USA has arguably become a better team in the recent decade.  It may come as a surprise to some but a large portion of the recent successes of Soccer in America can be attributed to the EA Sports FIFA video game series.  The FIFA series has gained steam in the past five to six years; gaining a large followership across the country. Concurrently, playing the game increases fans knowledge of the game and players, while conveying the intricate skill of the sport.

Soccer is 90 minutes (+/- 5) with a 20 minute half.  One can leave their house in 110 minutes guaranteed (not a cup game in this situation).  We all know the common exchange, “When are you heading over?” Typical reply, “After the game!”  If that game is Red Sox vs Yankees, that could be 2.5 hours if ’07 Beckett shows up or 4.5 hours is Dice-K and Phil Hughes get after it; that just does not work for us anymore.  Today, everything we download has a defined “time remaining”.  Twitter has 140 characters; short and sweet.  We are a right now culture that is phasing out the leisurely “watch a ball game” because we have things to do with limited time.  Additionally, the advancement of technology has made information and knowledge transfer faster, but the amount of information demanded has increased with it and those expectations are burdensome.

Overall, it hurts to admit, but baseball is behind the times of right now.  Growing up playing and loving baseball, the product that is presented on a day-to-day basis does not suffice with 162 games defining a regular season.  To quote Colin Cowherd, “Baseball is like the stubborn Grandfather who still doesn’t have internet, it’s not cute anymore; just old.”

Long Island Sound

The Cover 4 Featured Sports Analysis

http://www.facebook.com/Schlegel22?fref=ts

How the West was Won

I’m not a Laker fan nor do I claim to be on the Laker bandwagon. The only time I ever rooted for the Lakers was when my boy Shaquille O’Neal was Kazaaming the streets of LA with his sidekick Kobe Bryant.

Who will ever forget the alley oop that Kobe sent to Shaq  in Game 7 of the 2000 West Finals against the Blazers?! One of the best moments of my young life. Too bad Shaq and Kobe let their egos get in the way because they would still be winning rings (okay maybe not but they would have won plenty more).

Gives you chills doesn’t it?

Although I’m in a serious relationship with football, my first love was basketball but we all know white men can’t jump and my basketball dreams went out the window real quick.

I love the offseason, sometimes more than I love the actual games. Player movement and free agency just gets me so excited; I love the idea of wooing players to join the team or trading pieces to get to the championship. When the rumors of Dwight Howard being traded surfaced I thought he would be a Net. The idea of Howard being traded to the Lakers was near impossible. As the trade rumors began to progress, I figured there was no way other GMs would let this move happen. If it did then Bynum & Gasol MUST be included for competitive balances sake. The Lakers would have to part with their entire squad. Wrong.

KD5 and the rest of the Thunder team have a very bright future but when news broke that the Lakers acquired Nash & Howard, I sent in my ticket to the sports book for the NBA Finals. (Call Kendrick Perkins the Howard stopper if you please. He has only slowed Howard down and has lost about 60 pounds since).

Nothing against any team in the West but a combo of Kobe, Howard, Nash, Gasol plus some solid bench players (Jamison is still a solid player at his old age) sounds unreal, on paper of course.

Nash won’t need to carry the team like he did in Phoenix and should be a very effective player with the Lakers. Nash may not be the best defensive player (to say the least) but he  does has Howard protecting his back. The former two-time MVP will be running the pick ‘n roll for days.

Howard and Gasol give the Lakers one of the biggest front courts in the NBA; Gasol will no longer need to take any pressure off Kobe and can be the effective role player he really is (Gasol may be the worst star in the NBA. He has so much talent but doesn’t know how or when to put it all together).

When Kobe Bryant finally passed Shaquille O’Neal in the ring count, numerous sources reported Kobe was taunting Shaq; he was eying that moment for years. Now that he has surpassed the Diesel, the Black Mamba has his sight on something bigger: passing the almighty Michael Jordan. But can he do it?

Kobe and crew have a dream squad for Laker faithful. The team has one of the best players of all-time, the most dominant big man in the game, one of the smoothest point guards in the past decade, Ron ron defensive skills and a few other pieces to bring a championship home to LA.

We all know that championships aren’t won on paper nor in the offseason but if the Lakers can mesh together, they look poised for another Championship run and a probable meeting with the defending Champion Miami Heat.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: