For the first time in recent memory, we will not see the NHL star-studded Olympics of Winter’s past.
I am sure you all are very familiar with Gary Bettman’s decision to nix NHL player’s participation in the Olympics this year. Meaning that all of the Olympic hockey rosters have a very different look this year.
IN THE CREASE
Two of the goalies on Team Canada’s roster have played less than 85 games.
31-year-old Justin Peters played 85 games in the NHL and sported a losing record of 25-38-9 with an unimpressive .901 S%. He currently plays for Kölner Haie in Germany.
27-year-old Kevin Poulin is even less impressive (is this supposed to be our Olympic roster? I’m confused). He played only 50 games in the NHL with a 18-25-3 record and a .899 S% (yikes).
Ben Scrivens is Team Canada’s goalie with the most NHL experience. (Courtesy of Montreal Gazette)
He currently plays for EHC Kloten in Switzerland.
Their starter seems to be 31-year-old Ben Scrivens who spent 144 games in the NHL with a 47-64-17 record and a .905 S%. He currently plays for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia.
Their goalie situation is below average, at best. Three goalies with NHL losing records and far below average save percentages. The only plus? They have more experience playing against international players so maybe that will be their saving grace.
THE BLUE LINe
The defensive core sports two defensemen that have no NHL experience. Mat Robinson and Chris Lee both went undrafted in the NHL out of college. 37-year-old Lee does has impressive KHL numbers, and was the top scoring defenseman in the league in the 2016-17 season. He is also one of Team Canada’s alternate captains
Next we have a group of defensemen with less than 25 games played in the NHL. Chay Genoway played one game in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. He currently plays for Lada Togliatti in Russia. Maxim Noreau played six games in the NHL also for the Wild. He is Team Canada’s other alternate captain. Rounding out this group is Karl Stollery who has 23 games of experience in the NHL. He bounced between three different NHL teams and currently plays for Dinamo Riga in Latvia.
The three most notable blue-liners for Team Canada are Stefan Elliot, Cody Goloubef and Marc-Andre Gragnani. With a combined 291 games in the NHL between the three of them they still don’t have much pro time.
This is where we find some more of the well known NHL names.
Only four of these players have less than 100 games of NHL experience and those players are: Christian Thomas with 27 GP, Eric O’Dell with 41 GP, Brandon Kozun with 20 GP and Quinton Howden with 97 GP.
Also making an appearance on the roster we have: Gilbert Brule who played 299 games in the NHL with 43 goals and 52 assists, Andrew Ebbett who played 224 games in the NHL with 26 goals and 45 assists, Ebbett broke his leg in 2015 and was told he may never walk normally again let alone play hockey, so his appearance in this year’s Olympics is an impressive one. Rob Klinkhammer played 193 game sin the NHL scoring 22 goals with 21 assists and Linden Vey played 138 games in the NHL with 14 goals and 30 assists.
Wojtek Wolski played 451 games in the NHL and scored 99 goals with 168 assists. He was a 21st overall draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche. He bounced between five NHL teams in his seven seasons. In 2016 he broke his neck and thought he was paralyzed after diving head first into the boards. Wojtek plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia.
Mason Raymond played 546 games in the NHL and scored 115 goals with 136 assists. He was the 51st overall draft pick for the Vancouver Canucks in 2005. He played for four different teams during his time in the NHL. Raymond currently plays for SC Bern in Switzerland.
Maxim Lapierre played 614 games in the NHL with 65 goals and 74 assists. He was the 61st overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2003. He played for five different teams in the NHL. Lapierre won the Calder Cup in 2007 with AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. He currently plays for HC Lugano in Switzerland.
Chris Kelly is Team Canada’s captain. (Courtesy of stanleycupofchowder.com)
Rene Borque was quite a well known player during his time in the NHL and is one of Team Canada’s alternate captains. He played 725 games with 163 goals and 153 assists. He played for six different NHL teams and had a 50 point season during his time with the Calgary Flames. Borque currently plays for Djurgardens IF in Sweden.
Derek Roy is by far the most notable player on this roster, with 738 NHL games played. He scored 189 goals with 335 assists. He was drafted 32nd overall in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres. Roy currently plays for Linköpings HC in Sweden and was selected for the 2010 Olympic summer roster but did not make the final cut.
Chris Kelly is Team Canada’s captain and has the most NHL experience on the roster with 833 GP. He had 123 goals and 166 assists. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins. Kelly currently plays for the Belleville Senators in the AHL.
General Manager Sean Burke recognized that while the NHL is the best hockey league in the world that their is plenty of talent outside of it.
“The N.H.L. is the best league in the world, and I don’t think anybody would disagree with that,but Canada still has a large pool of talent. Try to tell them it’s not the N.H.L. players, it’s not the best players in the world.”
While I agree that their are plenty of talented players outside of the NHL, the Olympics this year may be a struggle for Team Canada.
The group of forwards they selected is a veteran squad but a very talented one. Where we are going to see issues is first at the blue line and then in the crease. While NHL talent isn’t everything, the defensive core for this team has not seen nearly enough pro games to prepare themselves for this level of competition.
The goalie situation is really awful and there is no other way to spin it. Their collective save percentage is .902 and they sport losing NHL records. All three goalies were unable to keep up with the speed and accuracy of the NHL shooters.
Due to the fact that NO NHL players are in these Olympics does help the situation but it will be a much more even playing field (or rink) than in years past.
Featured image from CHL.com
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Competing for your country is something that every athlete dreams of doing. Playing in the Olympics is one of those opportunities that elite athletes have to do so. Not this year.
Bettman opposes Olympics
Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, once again sided with the owners rather than the players. His decision to do so is supposedly based on the growth of the game. Bettman and the NHL argue that the cost of traveling and accommodations will take money away from growing the game.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t see the purpose of the players participating in the Olympics. He suggests that the Olympics do nothing to further hockey or the NHL. In contrast, my own experience speaks volumes against that belief.
Sports’ center stage
The Olympics bring elite athletes, competitive sports and hostile nations together. In a world full of chaos and havoc, the Olympics bring a
sense of hope. Millions and millions of people tune in to the games in anticipation that their country might bring home a medal.
(Curtesy of olympics.org)
It becomes the center of the sporting world for two weeks.
The growth of hockey is something that all players, owners, and hockey representatives (NHL, KHL, NCAA, etc.) look for. What better opportunity to introduce the game to those unfamiliar than the Olympics. Suggesting that the games do not grow hockey seems unreasonable, especially at a place like PyeongChang, South Korea.
Being a former college hockey player in Virginia, hockey was not something relished among the other sports. However when the 2014 Winter Olympics came about, hockey became the center of my college dorm. Though most people knew I was on the hockey team beforehand, after the Olympics people were asking for tickets to my games almost every night.
(From usa hockey.com)
Being from the USA, I began watching and cheering Team USA on in my room. The most significant game was USA versus Canada in the semifinals. Between 15-20 people showed up for that game to watch with me, most of whom had no interest in hockey until then. (And I will say, though disappointing, it may have been the most exciting 1-0 game I have ever watched.)
Just being able to watch the games online produced 15-20 fans alone. Hockey was always apart of our dorm because I played on the team, but the Olympic hockey games caused life-long fans to be born. Just in that small sample it can be seen how the game is growing. If it can grow like that in a country where hockey is prevalent, hockey can certainly grow in countries not so familiar.
A player’s perspective
Having the opportunity to represent your country is a dream. Many athletes never reach the level of play needed for a chance. Now because of the NHL’s decision, many players will not get the chance to represent their country on the biggest sporting stage in the world.
Many NHLers have expressed their disappointment in not being given the break to participate. Players such as Connor McDavid and Austin Matthews will not have the opportunity to play in these Olympics. These players are the ones who will grow the game and they are being limited to NHL play only. Their opportunity to win a gold medal at the Olympics has been taken away.
From a player’s perspective, the NHL has let them down. Yes, the games may impact the season in a few different ways, but it is worth it: for the fans and for the players.
As hockey begins at the Olympics, I am hopeful that the players given the opportunity to replace the NHLers will entertain those watching in South Korea and around the world. The hope of game growth is still possible with many good player participating. All the best to them. I will certainly be watching. The US Women’s team began preliminary play Sunday with a 3-1 win and the US Men will begin Wednesday.
Featured image by (Gregory Shamus:Getty Images).
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The players that make up the London Spitfire have enjoyed a wealth of success in their short careers. Following the royal road to an Apex title, earning the title as the best team in Korea, and now winning the stage one championship in dramatic fashion over the New York Excelsior. A pattern is forming and it involves the heart of the Spitfire roster and winning everything.
BDosin happy after winning the stage one championship. Photo via https://www.flickr.com/photos/londonspitfire/with/39319450275/
London went down two games to a New York Excelsior team with a nearly unblemished record, on the biggest stage. The Spitfire needed to rally to become the first Overwatch League champion. This was a team that struggled to find their footing and lost winnable games due to lack of teamwork in stage one. It was a process, one that required serious trial and error.
Fortunately for London, they employ the strongest defensive unit in Overwatch history. A suffocating, relentless defense that’s been the main driver behind the success of GC Busan and now the London Spitfire. In fact, throughout all of stage one, the Spitfire had the most shutouts on non-control maps.
Now, this type of defensive effort goes back to the Apex days. GC Busan made a living off strong defensive holds. Even with an uncoordinated offensive attack, GC Busan would always find a way to hold offenses on the first point. The GC Busan spirit is embedded into this team. Add in the helping hands of Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyuk and Choi Seung-tae (to name a few), who have helped elevate an already ridiculously talented GC Busan roster.
Shutting Down the NYXL
In game four on Numbani, the Spitfire got off to a rough start on offense, barely capping the first point and failing to reach the second point. At the end of that attack, it felt like the momentum had suddenly shifted back to the Excelsior. The lack of ultimate kills despite good ultimate economy was the difference, but Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun out positioning the Excelsior on the high-ground with Soldier 76 turned the last and most important fight.
The Spitfire’s Numbani offense only lasted a few meters longer before getting shut down. The reverse-sweep hanging in the balance on a map that’s notorious for easy offense was London’s most dangerous situation. Only a world-class hold against a team fielding Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol and Kim “Libero” Hye-sung would do the job. Luckily, Birdring is one of the most dangerous Widowmaker players on the planet and stepped up in the moment.
The Excelsior continued to dive at Rascal on Junkrat, who was isolated on the high-ground near the first point on Numbani, spraying down the street. The dive exposed Rascal, but it gave Birdring easy shots onto he NYXL healers. JJoNaK struggled to avoid Birdring using Widowmaker’s grappling hook to get the extreme height and tracking BDosin on the low-ground targeting him on Zenyatta. It was scary a one-two punch.
By the same token, Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee played a fantastic zoning Winston. In the event of a disadvantaged fight, the Spitfire would disengage around the backside of Numbani first point and re-engage with a dive, led by Gesture pushing the Excelsior into bad spots. The use of ultimates on defense for the Spitfire is much more organic and valuable. Gesture’s primal rages were game changers.
Heading into game five, the Spitfire were riding a wave of momentum entering a map they’d beaten the NYXL on earlier in the day. The pressure was also flipped over to the Excelsior who were scrambling to avoid the reverse-sweep. The Excelsior stuck it out with Saebyeolbe and Libero on the dive and the Spitfire moved back to Profit on Junkrat over Rascal.
However, the formula for the Spitfire closing out the series was similar to their Numbani and Horizon defense. Give Birdring Widowmaker sightlines and protect him by using the tanks aggressively. Kim “Fury” Jun-ho on D.Va combined with Birdring to dive on every player Birdring weakened from the backlines. It was a beautifully choreographed play from the Spitfire defense.
Together with the strength of Birdring and the tank play, Profit’s laser focus on taking out the Excelsior supports stunted many NYXL attacks. On multiple occasions, Profit’s delayed rip tire got to the backline and took out Hong “ArK” Yeon-joon on Mercy and JJoNaK on Zenyatta to ruin the Excelsior’s day. Profit’s play was incredible, single-handedly forcing the opposition to back up and stay aware of Profit’s positioning.
In the final analysis, it’s clear the Spitfire still haven’t completely gelled as a team offensively. However, the players on that roster have a talent for zoning defense and ultimate usage. It’s scary because this squad is only going to get better from here on out. The players of the London Spitfire keep winning. No matter the situation, they pull it out. That’s a strong trait for a team to display early on.
The Olympics are always one of the most captivating sporting events in the world. World-class athletes compete for their name, honor, eternal glory and country. One of the reasons the Olympics are so special is because they take place every four years. There are a large majority people who think many of the events are old and outdated. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken a major step in adapting the summer Olympics to grasp the attention of younger fans. The IOC has officially added 3-on-3 Olympic basketball as an event starting in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. There are many questions as to how this will work and how players will be selected to participate. First, let’s take a look at the rules of this new event.
All official rules for the event can be found here but these rules are the most notable.
First, the court will be 15 meters wide and 11 meters long but a traditional basketball court may be used as well.
Each team will consist of four players, three who play on the court and one available substitute.
The first possession of the game will be determined by a coin flip. Scoring will consist of traditional “playground” rules meaning anything inside the arc will count as one point and all “three pointers” will count as two points.
Teams can also score points from the free throw line. A team will enter the penalty after six team fouls and a player can not foul out.
The game will last 10 minutes unless a team reaches 21 points before time runs out. If the court has a shot clock then the team will have 12 seconds to shoot the ball.
Most of these rules are pretty common to anyone who has played pickup basketball games at a park or recreation center.
It is going to be challenging to predict how the USA Basketball Federation will select its players. Some speculate they will select college players but fans want to see the United State’s best basketball players playing in this event. NBA players have created massive buzz by playing pick up games during the NBA offseason and they have dominated them with spectacular plays.
Who wouldn’t want to see players like Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, John Wall, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and others play basketball with so much space?
Selecting the traditional basketball team is already difficult. There are so many great players in the NBA who don’t make the roster. The 3-on-3 roster will be made up of players who are capable of dominating with their iso skills. The team should consist of a dominant ball handler, an exception wing and a rebounding beast although there may be other strategies to assembling this team.
Possible USA Teams in 2020
Here are three possible combinations that could dominate for team USA in 2020.
(Photo Credit: http://ftw.usatoday.com)
Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie will be 28 years old in 2020 and just entering his prime. This 3-on-3 competition is perfect for a player like Kyrie. He is one of the greatest ball handlers of all time and it is near impossible for anybody in the NBA to guard him one on one. In this competition, Kyrie would have so much space to cross up anybody the world can throw at him. Kyrie also can make the most insane layups through traffic so doing it with all this open space should be a piece of cake.
Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors: Age is important to look at for these events and Durant will be 31 at the time of the 2020 Olympics. He will still be one of the best scorers in the world. Pairing Durant with Kyrie would create nightmares for the rest of the world. Without adding the third player this team is already the best in the world. At 6-foot-10, Durant can shoot over anyone they put in front of him. He is a great ball-handler as well. If Kyrie can’t get to the rim during a game, Durant sure can but either way both of these players would be unstoppable.
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans: Durant will be the old man compared to Anthony Davis. During the 2020 Olympics, Davis will be the ripe young age of 27. The Brow, as Davis is known, is already considered to be the next big superstar of the NBA. In his first five seasons, Davis has career averages of 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Davis is capable of doing anything on the court but in this competition, all he will need to do is defend and rebound.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi would be the clap god of this competition. His defense would shut down almost everyone in the world. In 2020, he will just begin to enter his prime at the age of 28. Kawhi has developed into a world-class player and if he continues to develop further, he may even become the best player in the world. It would be fun to see what other skills Leonard would display in this competition
(Photo Credit: https://www.tumblr.com)
Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors: The baby-faced assassin would be 32 at the time of the 2020 Olympics but shooting is the last thing to go for basketball players. Curry is one of the best dribblers in the world and with all the space in 3-on-3, he could pull jumpers from anywhere. If Kyrie didn’t want to play, Steph would be the next best option.
Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Buckets is one of the best two-way players in the NBA. His ability to defend one-on-one is top notch. Butler is known as a hard worker who does the right things. 3-on-3 would allow Butler to showcase skills that most people don’t know he has. Jimmy Buckets would be a great option for the 3-on-3 Olympics.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves: Towns will be only 24 years old in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics. There is a chance by that time Towns is a top three player in the world. This is why it will be hard for the committee to narrow it down to just four players. Towns was recently showing off impressive handles in a 3-on-3 tournament in Denmark. He is on his way to becoming a dominant player and would be awesome in this competition.
Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green is passionate and emotional. His trash talk alone may destroy some of the competition. Draymond does it all on the court, he can pass, shoot, rebound and defend. Other basketball players seem to love playing with Draymond and this competition would be no different.
(Photo Credit: http://fadeawayworld.com)
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: A 6-foot-6 point guard who is on his way to superstardom. It is almost impossible to go a day without hearing about Lonzo Ball, his father or the rest of the Ball family. Ball is going to be a top three pick and a franchise centerpiece. His passing ability is phenomenal and he was a game changer for UCLA. In 2020, Ball is going to be just 22 years old and possibly one of the best point guards in the world. He would be a possible option when it is time to make this selection.
Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and was named to his first All-Star Game this season. Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season. He is a very skilled forward and would shine in this event.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans: Cousins is considered the best center in the NBA. He is able to handle the ball and shoot from anywhere on the court. Not many players in the world can defend him and defense becomes harder with more space. Cousins will be in contention for selection, but his bad reputation may be his Achilles heel.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards: Everybody do the John Wall. Wall was so big at Kentucky he got his own song and is finally entering his prime in the NBA. He is one of the fastest point guards on the planet. Wall plays both sides of the ball extremely well and many NBA fans would love to see what he could do in this competition.
World’s Best Teams
(Photo Credit: http://www.nbapicshow.com)
Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio is a talented passer who would be the pick for the Spanish national team. Rubio has experience in the NBA against the world’s best players and in this 3-on-3 tournament, he could hold his own.
Nikola Mirotic, PF, Chicago Bulls: In the 2014-2015 season, Nikola Mirotic finished second for rookie of the year behind Andrew Wiggins. Mirotic has a career average of 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Just like Rubio, Mirotic has much needed NBA experience to compete at a high level and in 2020 will be in his prime.
Serge Ibaka, PF, Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka would be the rebounder and rim defender for the Spanish 3-on-3 national team. He has played Olympic basketball and plenty of other important NBA games in his career. The stage would not be too bright for him and he could help anchor Spain as one of the best teams in the world.
Tyler Dorsey, PG, Oregon: Not many people know that Tyler Dorsey has played for the Greek national team. This past season he helped lead Oregon to the Final Four while averaging 14.6 points per game and shot 42.3 percent from the three-point line. Dorsey is going to be the best guard option for Greece.
Alex Antetokounmpo, F, Dominican High School: Alex Antentokounmpo is the youngest of all the Antentokounmpo brothers. He is just 15 years old but Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antentokounmpo says he is the best of all the Greek Freaks. Alex will be 18 years old in 2020 and if Giannis is right then he has to be one of the players chosen for the 3-on-3 team.
Giannis Antentokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks: The original Greek Freak is going to win a league MVP one day. His historic season put him on a list by himself of players who finished in the top 20 in the NBA with points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Greece will have one of the best 3-on-3 teams solely because of Giannis. Greece will be exciting to watch in the 2020 Olympics.
(Photo Credit: https://clutchpoints.com)
Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio Spurs: Patty Mills is a backup point guard in the NBA but the best option for the Australian national team. Mills would provide tons of experience and leadership to the team along with solid outside shooting.
Dante Exum, PG, Utah Jazz: Dante Exum hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations he had when he was drafted fifth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. That is mostly due to injury but as he gets older and healthier Exum should become a much better player. At 6-foot-6 Exum has excellent size as a guard and would be a superb option for the Austrailian national team.
Joe Ingles, SF, Utah Jazz: Ingles is a solid rotation player for the Jazz. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game last season. Ingles shot 44.1 percent from the arc this year as well. Australia wouldn’t have much size but lots of NBA experience to be competitive.
Frank Ntilikina, PG, SIG Strasbourg: Frank Ntilikina is going to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft due to his amazing potential. At just 18 years old, he has been named the French League Best Young Player twice. Ntilikina is a pass first point guard with a high I.Q. He is going to be an exciting player and huge French star.
Nicolas Batum, SF, Charlotte Hornets: Batum is one of the best players from France. He is a good defender and like many international players has a lot of NBA experience. If France had to pick it’s best 3-on-3 Olympic team then Batum would be an easy pick.
Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert had somewhat of a breakout season. He is one of the best rim defenders in the world and a great rebounder as well. Gobert is the best French basketball player and for the 3-on-3 tournament, he would be a lock.
(Photo Credit: Sam Forencich/Getty Images)
Jamal Murray, PG, Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray is a young, exciting Canadian player in the NBA. The Nuggets rookie was selected seventh overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Murray started 10 games and averaged 9.9 points and 2.1 assists this season.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins is expected to become the best Canadian basketball player ever. He would have to become better than Steve Nash to do so but the potential is there. Wiggins is super athletic and in a 3-on-3 tournament he could put on an exciting show. Andrew Wiggins would only be 25 years old in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and still on the cusp of entering his prime.
Tristian Thompson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristian Thompson is an NBA champion and one of the best offensive rebounders in the world. Canada would pick Thompson to be the big man on their 3-on-3 roster. He already has a role in which he isn’t expected to score so this would be a familiar and comfortable role on this team.
The 3-on-3 Olympic Basketball event could become one of the most popular Olympic events. Traditional basketball is already one of the most popular but the 3-on-3 format opens up the court and allows players to truly display some exceptional skills. The United States will have dozens of possibilities when forming the roster and no matter who they decide to select will be the favorites to win the gold. Countries like Canada, Spain, France and others will be extremely talented as well and could challenge the United States for 3-on-3 supremacy.
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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?
(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
(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.
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.
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.
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.
(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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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.
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.
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.
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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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?
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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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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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