Where Does Melo Go From Here?

Nothing seems to be going right in the life of Carmelo Anthony at the moment. Phil Jackson recently gave a press conference in which he said, “I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”

He is unwanted and, according to Jackson, unneeded in New York.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there are reports coming out that he and his wife of seven years will be getting a divorce after rumors that he got a stripper pregnant.

Carmelo’s life and career are at a crossroads. The question that begs to be answered is, where does Melo go from here?

Career Accomplishments

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: AP Richard Drew)

Carmelo is a legend at Syracuse University. In the 2002-03 season, Carmelo led the Orange to their first national championship. He averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was also named the tournament’s most outstanding player that season. His future was bright and he was picked third overall in the 2003 NBA draft.

Carmelo has also been a successful international basketball player. One could argue he is the most successful basketball olympian in United States history. Melo has a record of playing on four Olympic rosters, and a record three gold medals. Melo also holds the record for most points scored in a USA Men’s Olympic game with 37 against Nigeria in 2012.

He is first all-time in each of the following: games played (31), career points (336), rebounds (125), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), 3-pointers attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71). He is also second all-time in 3-pointers made (57).

Carmelo’s NBA career hasn’t led to as much hardware, but he has still had a great career. Melo is a 10-time all star, has been named to an All-NBA team six times and was the scoring champion in the 2012-13 season.

One of his best accomplishments in the NBA was when he led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Championship in 2009, but fell to Kobe and the Lakers 4-2.

Carmelo has scored 24,156 career points in 15 NBA seasons. He has over 3,000 assists and over 6,000 rebounds, but a championship is what eludes him. The Knicks have openly said he will be better off chasing that ring somewhere else, but where?

The Path to A Ring

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

Melo has few options if all he is looking for is a ring. Those options include the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.

It would be foolish for the Knicks to release Carmelo Anthony, but it may be their only option. Melo is under contract until July of 2019 and has a no-trade clause. He will veto any trade that is not to a championship contender, or a trade that leaves the new team without the pieces needed to win that elusive title. If the Knicks really want to part ways with Melo, they may have to just cut him.

Boston

The Celtics would be a great fit for both Melo and the team. Boston managed to get the No. 1 seed in the east despite only having one major option on offense in Isaiah Thomas.

Adding Anthony would bring in an easy 20 points per game and veteran leadership to a team that tied for the third youngest team (25.6) in the NBA. Both Melo and the Celtics would help one another in trying to win a ring.

Los Angeles

One team that is often mentioned in Anthony rumors is the Los Angeles Clippers. The team is loaded with talent, but fails to make an impact in the history books.

Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are close friends who both need to validate their careers with an NBA championship. Neither wants to go down in history like Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, John Stockton or Karl Malone.

If Anthony is cut, this would be his ideal spot. A team with Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan could only get better by adding Anthony. The Western Conference is loaded, but this makes the Clippers a legitimate threat rather than just a bump in the road out west.

Cleveland

The last team that Melo could sign with, if cut, is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Melo is just as close with LeBron as he is with Chris Paul. Cleveland may win a title this year, but if they don’t, it’s because they ran into a Warriors team that loaded up with Kevin Durant. The answer to that would be to get Anthony and his scoring. He would take pressure off Kyrie and LeBron.

The Cavs are in less need of Melo than Melo is of the Cavs. Signing with Cleveland would prove that all Melo wants is that trophy. He wouldn’t be in the spotlight or the face of a franchise, which is something Melo has never experienced. Signing in Cleveland would all but guarantee him that ring he so desperately wants.

Conclusion

Carmelo Anthony

(Photo Credit: http://clutchpoints.com)

As Carmelo enters the twilight of his playing days, he is focused on one thing: winning. Knowing that  the Knicks no longer want or need him will make him seek a team that does want him.

He will also need a distraction from his personal problems, and finding another team can help with that. It is hard to see where Carmelo goes from here, but one thing is for certain: his playing days in New York are over.

 

 

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Delray Beach Open

Late February Tennis Tidbits

In pro tennis, February is mostly about breaking down January’s Australian Open and gearing up for two big American hardcourt events in Indian Wells and Miami. Even so, there are a few stories out there. Here is a brief spin around the tennis world.

Federer Keeps Defying Father Time:

Australian Open champion Roger Federer returns to the tour next week in Dubai. Not only did he win his 18th Grand Slam immediately after a five month layoff, but the 35 year old announced that he has signed a deal play his hometown event in Basel, Switzerland through October 2019.

Roger Federer

Photo: bbc.co.uk

Even though the game has slanted towards older players in recent years, winning a Grand Slam at 35 is still quite remarkable. One of few things that tops it is Federer making his intentions known to play at least two more full years. He had been very coy about retirement until now.

Playing until you are staring down your 40th birthday is virtually unheard of. Despite that, Federer is competitive and healthy. As long as that remains the case, he will honor his commitment to do just that. The longer players like Federer stick around, the better off the sport is.

Kerber is Searching for Answers:

2016 was a banner year for Angelique Kerber. She finished the year with the number one ranking, won two Grand Slams and grabbed an Olympic silver medal. Given that she started 2016 barely ranked inside the top ten, her rise is one of the most surprising in recent memory.

However, it is not 2016 anymore. Kerber failed to reach the quarterfinals in her Australian Open title defense and has lost the top ranking to Serena Williams.

Angelique Kerber

Photo beinsports.com

Her general lack of power and service variety have always made her vulnerable to big hitters that are on their game. In 2017, Kerber’s insane defensive skills have not been enough for her to get by on.

She has posted a record of just 6-4 this year, but has reached the quarterfinals this week in Dubai and is still alive there after avenging her Olympic loss to gold medalist Monica Puig. She must build on this event and do well in Indian Wells and Miami. Given her struggles on the clay courts that dominate the circuit from April-early June, if she cannot right the ship while still on the hardcourts, her time at the top may be over as quick as it started.

Del Potro is Back… Again:

 For the second straight year, 2009 U.S. Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro is making a return from a long injury layoff at the Delray Beach Open in Florida. Ever since 2010, the big hitting Argentine has been plagued by injuries to both wrists, resulting in three surgeries.

Since his first full time comeback last year, Del Potro has been forced to hit most of his backhands with slice. Fortunately for him, his serve and forehand are plenty good enough to make up for it. His wrist issues also do not allow him to train as hard or play as often as other players.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Photo: si.com

Del Potro returned to prominence last summer. He defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in route to an Olympic silver medal. He also led the Argentinean national team to a Davis Cup title. After this glorious flurry to close out the year, he was quick to announce he would not start 2017 on time due to general fitness concerns.

Known as “Delpo” to fans everywhere, his return got off to a solid start with a win over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson. He is still alive in his comeback event.

Even after all these years, there are a precious few guys who scare Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray. With 17 career wins over the “Big 4”, Del Potro is certainly one of those precious few. Thus, having someone like him still committed to the sport and capable of playing ata high level when managed properly is fantastic for the game.

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Alex Ovechkin, NHL, IIHF, IOC, Olympics, 2018, Korea, NLHPA, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Hockey, Wayne Gretzky, Washington Capitals, National Hockey League, International Ice Hockey Federation, 2018 Olympic Games, 2014 Sochi Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Olympic Hockey

Olympic Hockey: The NHL Abroad

Olympic hockey as you know it may never be the same again.

Players badly want to represent their countries in the upcoming Olympics, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL owners see no benefit in allowing their players to compete overseas. It is now up to Bettman to find a suitable solution to this problem.

But how did we even get here?

Alex Ovechkin, NHL, IIHF, IOC, Olympics, 2018, Korea, NLHPA, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Hockey, Wayne Gretzky, Washington Capitals, National Hockey League, International Ice Hockey Federation, 2018 Olympic Games, 2014 Sochi Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Olympic Hockey

Gary Bettman (left) and Donald Fehr (right). Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski, USA Today Sports

For the past twenty years, the NHL has participated in the Winter Olympics without interruption: Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, and Sochi. This young tradition may soon be coming to an end.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang a little over a year away, the NHL has not yet decided whether or not they will allow their players to travel to South Korea and represent their respective countries.

The main actors at play here are the International Olympic Committee, the NHL, and the NHLPA (Player’s Association).

The whole question of whether or not the NHL should participate in the upcoming Olympics began when the IOC announced that they would no longer front the bill for travel and insurance costs. The estimated cost to cover these was over $10 million. This left a sour taste in the mouths of many NHL owners.

 

According to Bettman

There is a “strong negative sentiment” among NHL owners towards halting mid-season and allowing their elite players to compete overseas in 2018. Their concerns primarily revolve around the almost certain revenue losses, which inevitably come with an Olympic break, and potential player injuries. Both pose serious problems for owners routinely responsible for hundred million dollar payrolls. For Bettman, the solution was a matter of compromise, but not between the NHL and the IOC. Instead, Bettman and the NHL approached the NHLPA with a deal.

In return for the NHL fronting the travel and insurance bills, suffering the revenue losses, and risking their most valuable players to injury, the NHLPA was asked to extend the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, thereby waiving their opt-out clause in 2019. This would have extended the current CBA well into the future, ensuring players the opportunity to participate in international hockey for another two Olympics. It was, however, categorically rejected by the NHLPA.

And so here we are

Everyone is waiting for a decision to come down from the NHL’s top brass about whether or not we will see the world’s top talent compete in Korea in 2018. Some aren’t waiting though.

Washington Capitals star, and NHL icon, Alexander Ovechkin has repeatedly stated that his will to compete in the Winter Olympics is greater than that of the NHL’s to abstain. Even if the NHL refuses to participate, Ovechkin has said that he “and other players will definitely come [to the Olympics]” in 2018 and represent Russia. He made similar statements when the NHL’s participation was up in the air prior to the 2014 Sochi games.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky gave his two cents, stating that he happens “to love everything about the Olympic Games.” Gretzky knows, though, that his love of the games does not necessarily mean that the NHL has to participate. “I like the Olympic Games, but does that mean that the NHL is going to go? I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t tell you,” he said.

While Gary Bettman and the NHL hope to reach a decision by early January, they continue to appear rather pessimistic in their potential participation, or lack thereof, in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.

 

In the meantime

 

 

The League’s top super stars of past and present have spoken out against the NHL’s proposed divestment from Olympic hockey. Their representative, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, recently released a statement to the public on Sunday.

I’m more optimistic now than I have ever been, at least as far as we’re concerned, that we’ll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go.

The problem is that this sentiment is not felt by the other parties involved. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has told the NHL that they will find a way to bridge the $10 million gap, but the NHL remains weary of their ability to do so.

The IOC has stoically remained silent on the subject.

The NHL has yet to release any more information other than the fact that they are no more inclined to send their talent to Korea in 2018 than they were before Fehr’s statement on Sunday.

This leaves us fans, sitting here, waiting patiently. Wondering what our respective teams will look like without their NHL talent on board. Wondering, perhaps, who will be willing to follow the likes of Ovechkin and company if the NHL does indeed pull their support for the games and what that will mean for the NHL, the NHLPA, and the IOC.

 

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Fraser Leads Olympics, Bryan Leads John Deere

Men’s Olympic Golf Tournament

As the second day came to a close in Rio de Janeiro, Australia’s Marcus Fraser posted a 2-under 69 to get to 10-under for the Olympic tournament. Fraser currently hangs on to a one stroke lead above Belgium’s Thomas Pieters.

Marcus Fraser (Courtesy of AP / Chris Carlson via newsday.com)

Marcus Fraser (Courtesy of AP / Chris Carlson via newsday.com)

Fraser, who plays on the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia, has had a tumultuous year notching up five missed cuts, a second place and a first place finish through 15 events this year. Luckily for him, he may just come away with only the third men’s golf gold medal in history.

Trailing shortly behind Pieters is the Open Championship winner, Henrik Stenson. Stenson has been nipping at the heels of Fraser but a couple of bogies late in Stenson’s second round dropped him to third on the leader board.

The United States team isn’t fairing too well on the sandbelt style Olympic Course, unfortunately. Matt Kuchar leads the team at 3-under-par; Bubba Watson sits one back at 2-under and Patrick Reed another one back, at 1-under. Rickie Fowler had a rough first round and posted a 4-over-par, but he came back on day two to shoot an even-par, so hopefully he and the other men wearing the stars and stripes can find some more success over these next two days.

Third round play will begin at 6:30 a.m. EST.

John Deere Classic

Just over 14 hours north in Silvis, Illinois, the John Deere Classic is taking place. Day two was postponed due to wet weather and then postponed again due to darkness but as it sit’s right now, the owner of a brand new PGA Tour card, Wesely Bryan holds the lead at 12-under-par. Last year’s third place finisher, Zach Johnson has yet to tee off but will certainly be looking to snag this event after what to him last year in his final round on the par-3 16th. If you don’t know what happened, take a look here.

Second round play will resume at 8 a.m. EST and third round play will begin shortly after that.

Should Riot have been more ambitious selecting venues?

Riot was in charge of the process of selecting the venues for Worlds and I am sure they selected a group of people that their sole objective was to organize the S6 World Championships. That being said, one of the most important aspects was to select the locations that the matches would take place in. This team from Riot had access to a lot more information that I  do, therefore, will be omitting information because quite frankly, I do not have access to it. Nonetheless, I will offer a critique as an outsider as whether or not Riot chose the best locations that were available. Riot probably looked at dozens of locations and venues, and the venues they chose had a lot of thinking and logical reasoning that I am ignorant of, our job is to evaluate why Riot chose the venues it did, and whether they could have done a better job at it.
Even though Riot has no doubt chosen good venues for Worlds, it leaves a feeling of disappointment that the venues exclude an extensive part of the NA population. The southestern, the central portion of the US, and Canada were all left out without the chance of attending our favorite event of the year. Once again Riot probably took this into account, and for one reason or another decided that those were not ideal locations. However, one still wishes that the world championships would have hit areas that have never had access to competitive League.

legends
I was highly disappointment to find out that the venues are small, and that two of the venues have already been used before. The finals will be a the Staple Center and the semifinals will be at Madison Square Garden. The disappointment comes from the fact that it seems that Riot is unwilling to try new venues and new places for this World Championships, there is an added mystery and excitement to having the Worlds championships at a new place. In the case of selecting the venues it is useful to draw insight from traditional sports. When the FIFA soccer World Cup was held in South Korea and South Africa, those were much more exciting venues than Germany and Brazil because they had already held a World Cup, even though it was more than 30 years ago.
S3 Finals were in the Staple Center and S5 Na LCS spring finals were in Madison Square Garden, these venues have recently been used for competitive League, and it seems that S6 Worlds should have been in different locations. There are hundreds of great venues in the U.S that are of equal or better quality for such event. The only time that I think a venue is exciting when it holds an event of this magnitude more than once is when it is an anniversary. The Olympics originated in Olympia, Therefore commemorating Greece with the 100th anniversary of the Olympic games could be exciting for spectators. The Soccer World Cup was first played in Uruguay in 1930, there has been talks about having the final in the same stadium in 2030 to commemorate such occasion. Even though Uruguay is not developed enough to organize a FIFA world Cup, it would be great if the final was played in the same stadium it was played a 100 years ago.
League of Legends is a young game, it probably will not last 100 years, but it is still a young game. I do not think there is any added excitement to having the finals played in the same stadium that it was played 3 years ago. That being said, there is added excitement to having the Finals venue located in a city that has not had access to League like Austin or Boston. Therefore, it was disappointing to find out that Riot did not get out of its comfort zone and chose venues that have recently been used.

olympia
I particularly love big stadiums. When I was a kid, managing a big stadium, or perhaps owning one was my dream. Riot has stated that they like smaller and closed venues because the atmosphere of the venue can be better transferred to the online stream. After S4 worlds finals were held in a stadium with a capacity for forty thousand people in South Korea, Riot realized that even though the atmosphere was good, it was hard to transfer that energy to the stream. Therefore, ever since then, Riot have chosen smaller and closed venues. I completely understand and agree with their observations, however, my criticism would be that a big venue that is closed, could transfer the energy just as well as a smaller one. I can be biased here, but it seems one of the factors that influenced S4 worlds being so low in energy was the crowd. We have learned that Westerners are much louder when it comes to fanaticism for traditional sports and Esports than their Korean counterparts. There are too may great options in America that would make for a great live and online experience. Even though the Cowboys stadium is a little ambitious, I am sure League could fill that stadium and provide for an awesome online experience.

wiki2

 

The Chicago Theater only has capacity for four thousand people and it was chosen as the venue for the quarterfinals. I am having a hard time compromising so much capacity for the idea of a great online stream. The NA LCS holds about four hundred people and even though is in a studio setting, it just does not provide the energy one wishes it did because it just does not have enough people. I know for a fact that if I was in charge of selecting the venues I would have rejected anything that had less a capacity of ten thousand people, even for group stages. I just do not think that as great as a venue can be, if it does not have people in it, it just cannot have a great atmosphere.
The fact that worlds will be held in the West is a positive because I think NA and EU have shown that they are better live audiences than the Korean ones. I am even happier it will be held in NA and that the finals are on a Saturday because that means that you will see me at the Staples Center on October 29th.
I wish Riot would have been more ambitious with the capacity of the venues they chose. I wish Riot would have been more willing to explore different options in different locations, and I really wish NA wins Worlds this year.

Facts and photos courtesy of riotgames.com, tripadvisor.com and chicagolakefrontcarnivalmuscfestival.com