Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Off-Season of Dreams

June 20, 2007
By Anthony Tripicchio

The NBA is a league which requires superstars to win titles. More so than any of the other major sports, if you don’t have a dominant player in the NBA, you aren’t going to win a championship.

The Spurs have Duncan, the Heat had Wade and Shaq, and the Lakers had Shaq and Kobe. Unless you’re the Pistons, (who only won one title and won’t win another with their current nucleus) star power is the formula that equates to championships in the NBA.

That brings me to a team with plenty of superstar contracts, but no superstar players. Of course, it’s the New York Knicks. The Knicks haven’t sniffed a title since Patrick Ewing was shipped out of town and they won’t until they bring in a superstar that can fill his Grand Canyon sized void. With Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett both potentially available, it’s enough to make a Knick fan dream.

Realistically, the chances of the Knicks landing either star are exceptionally slim but Isiah Thomas will most certainly throw his hat in each of the sweepstakes. There should be a phone line in Madison Square Garden connected to GM Mitch Kupchak in L.A. throughout the summer. Bryant and Garnett are rare breeds and players of their caliber come along about as often as a lunar eclipse.

Bryant is a better offensive talent than Michael Jordan. He can do everything Jordan could do on the floor and he’s a better long-range shooter. Obviously, Jordan is the better player because of his unmatched desire to win, all-world defense, and automatic mid-range jumper, but when you can say that an aspect of someone’s game is better than the greatest to ever play, that is impressive.

Despite Bryant’s incessant demands to be dealt, it sounds like Garnett is more of a lock to be traded. He can become a free agent after next year, and Minnesota wants to get something for him while they can. Isiah Thomas shouldn’t wait around for Kobe to be put on the market because the odds are that the Knicks won’t get him anyway. His focus should be to bring either of the superstars to the Big Apple as soon as possible.

The Knicks would present a package of Channing Frye, David Lee, and Jamal Crawford to initiate discussions in any deal for Garnett or Bryant. Thomas has made it clear that Eddy Curry is untouchable and that stance may hinder his ability to get a deal done. Regardless, the Knicks’ bargaining chips are less attractive than Chicago has to offer. Bulls GM John Paxson has repeatedly denied having talks with the Lakers about Bryant, though. If he doesn’t want to break up his young corps or the Lakers ask for too much, Kobe could be headed to New York based on the assumption that L.A. doesn’t want to trade him to a Western Conference rival.

With the best draft in recent memory upcoming in less than a week, the off-season is just starting to heat up. We might see some fireworks before the fourth of July this year.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The New York A-Rods

June 1, 2007
By Anthony Tripicchio

Alex Rodriguez is always in the spotlight.

Whether he’s amassing monumental numbers, tanning in Central Park, or gallivanting around North America with strippers, Rodriguez is always a topic of conversation. In New York, you’d think the Yankees never existed before A-God’s arrival.

The Yankees are the most storied franchise in sports. Somehow, they managed to win 26 championships prior to the acquisition of Rodriguez and they’ll win more after he’s gone.

Rodriguez obviously shouldn’t be the scapegoat for the Yankees’ current stay in the basement of the AL East. At the same time, he needs to be accountable for his actions. This team can’t be focused on winning when there is a new A-Rod distraction everyday.

The more you hear about Rodriguez, the harder it is to like the guy. He stayed at a different hotel than the rest of the team in Toronto, recently flew to Vegas on an off-day with his stripper companion, and continues to show a penchant for the occasional unsportsmanlike play on the field. He likes calling for pop-ups more when he’s running the bases than when he’s actually in the field.

The worst part about this whole situation is that we all should be praising Rodriguez for a tremendous start to the 2007 season. Instead, we’re consumed with the negatives. What you do in your private life is your own business as long as it’s legal, but keep it away from the public eye. PLEASE.

Derek Jeter is never caught in these compromising situations and he’s been here three times longer than Rodriguez. Then again, Jeter is the perfect Yankee, which Rodriguez has never been and never will be. Rodriguez is exactly the type of high maintenance superstar that the Yankees need to move away from to reestablish the dynasty years of the late 90s.

Of course, the Yankees had dynasties with high maintenance superstars in the past. Two guys named Ruth and Mantle also fit into that category with A-God. The difference is the media’s transformation from then to now. Then, the media was more than willing to protect the irresponsible stars they covered. It was commonplace for sportswriters to go out for a beer with players after the game in the old days. You’ll see flying cars before you see that today.

The Yankees and A-God are about to take on the Red Sox again tonight, whether they are ready or not. It’s time to put the nonsense aside and just play baseball. You know there are serious problems when the archrival GM is feeling sorry for you, though.

“Cash and the Yankees are going through what we went through last August - it's no fun," Theo Epstein told the NY Daily News. “When injuries and circumstances come together and give you short-term bad results, it creates a lot of distractions. You have to feel sympathy for someone in his position."

Enough distractions. So far this year, Rodriguez has responded to all of his critics with his bat. It’s time to do it again this weekend.