Tag:Miami Heat
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:35 pm

Coast to Coast: NBA Season Preview

Primetime Thoughts

Follow David S. London on Twitter

It brings me great sadness to shift the discussion from BRI and mid-level exceptions to actual basketball, like the new kid on the block in Hollywood.

Move Over Lakers-An afterthought in Los Angeles and the butt of many jokes for years, the Clippers have been the league’s doormat as long as we can remember.  Blake Griffin made the Clippers exciting for a change and looks headed for eliteness.  Even with Griffin, the Clippers seemed headed for a steady climb up the Western Conference in the next few seasons.  Until Los Angeles partnered Griffin with Chris Paul, giving the Clippers what looks to be the best duo in the league.  The Lakers, the other Los Angeles team, actually had a deal in place for Paul, but David Stern nixed the deal citing “basketball reasons.”

After years of overshadowing the Clippers, the Lakers and Clippers look to be headed in opposite directions.  Kobe Bryant is dealing with a torn ligament in his wrist, let alone degenerating knees.  Bryant intends to play through the wrist injury, but time is not on his side and he’s got some mileage, entering his 17th season.  The Lakers also had a deal for Chris Paul which was reportedly finalized, only to be nixed by David Stern/New Orleans Hornets owner.  Los Angeles is still in the hunt for Dwight Howard, but Orlando may be trying everything in their power to retain their star.  Then there’s the Lamar Odom deal which only Isiah Thomas would be proud of, as Odom was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for a draft pick.  Not only did they trade their most versatile player, a guy close to seven feet who can defend, rebound, and score all over the court, but they traded him to the defending champs, who also swept them out of the playoffs last May.  All of this while the Clippers put together a formidable duo for the rest of the decade, and the Clippers look like they will be stepping out of the Lakers shadow.  Where these two finish it remains to be seen.  The Lakers get the nod based on experience and chemistry which the Clippers don’t have as a newly-formed roster.  But it won’t be long until Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are pushing Tim Tebow for the lead on Sports Center.

Mavericks Defend Title-They won’t open the season as champions typically do, the lockout had something to do with that, but the Mavericks will unveil their first-ever championship banner with the Miami Heat in town.  Several players are gone – Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea in free agency, Tyson Chandler in a trade, Peja Stojakovic to retirement – but the Mavericks will be locked and loaded to defend their championship.  Unlike the Miami Heat, Dallas’ roster is arguably 9, 10 men deep.  Vince Carter was signed to fill the role of “aging veteran in search of a title”, also known as the guy on his last legs who can be counted on for15-20 minutes a night.  Dallas made out like bandits, poaching Odom from the Lakers.  What his role will be with the Mavericks is to be determined, but teams will have fits handling both Odom and Dirk Nowitzki when they are on the court together.  Rodrique Beaubois will take on a bigger role with the three guards gone.

Miami Heat, Year 2-Last season’s biggest draw, the nation was overcome with joy when the Dallas Mavericks took down the Miami Heat experiment in 6 games.  Afterwards, LeBron James made it clear that all the haters who took joy in his demise will have no choice but to go back to their ordinary lives.  It was the end of a PR nightmare for James and the Heat, who never shook the target off his back after ”The Decision.”  Whether it was due to the lockout or James smartening up, there hasn’t been any headscratching moments for James.  James has done several interviews, claiming that he played angry and it took over his game, changing the way he played.  While it seems logical, James will only silence the critics, Cavs fans aside – they get a free pass - with a championship.  Not just a championship, but one where James rises to the occasion, raising his level of play during crunch time.  It makes sense, as James was only giving back 3 quarters on the dollar, a rate noone would be happy with.  The Heat come into the season as one of the favorites to win the title, but my stance hasn’t change from last season, that Miami doesn’t have enough depth to win it all.  Shane Battier was a great acquisition, providing Miami with an outside shooter, solid perimeter defense and a veteran leader.  But the gaping hole at center leaves the paint area as a giant question mark, on both sides of the court.

Knicks D Up-Rumors swirled, linking the New York Knicks with Chris Paul.  Asides from Isiah Thomas’ perspective, this was an irrational conclusion for many reasons.  This dissertation for another time, but in short: the Knicks had no assets to offer the Hornets in a trade; it would have to be a 3-team deal, and who would rush to the Knicks aid in their pursuit of Paul?  Through free agency, the Knicks have already tied down Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony with max money, leaving little money left to sign Paul and surround the three with bodies, much less quality ones.  Before I move on, if you’re wondering, Thomas’ line of thinking I believe calls for Paul, Anthony, and Stoudemire to take the court by themselves and take teams on 3-on-5.

Paul went to the Clippers and the rest was history.  New York set their sights on Tyson Chandler, acquiring him via trade from the Dallas Mavericks.  The move gives the Knicks their first legitimate defensive presence in the paint since Patrick Ewing pre-degnerative knees (Yes, I’m leaving out Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries, two of Thomas’ prized acquisitions during his tenure with New York).  Chandler teaming up with Stoudemire and Anthony makes one of the best, if not the best, frontline in the NBA.  Stoudemire and Anthony are not known for their defense, although I expect them both to step up their efforts on that side of the court, and Chandler will compensate for the slip-ups that last season’s Knick defense was prone to.  The backcourt is a little thin, but the Knicks were able to sign Baron Davis for this season at a great rate, $1.4 million.  Davis is recovering from a herniated disk and his effort has been questioned in the past.  That being said, if Davis can stay on the court, he could thrive in an offense with two super stars and an athletic center.  Depth remains a question mark, as it remains to be seen what the Knicks will do to fill out the roster.  New York’s talent alone puts them among the East’s top 4, but it will remain to be seen if the Knicks can go far in the playoffs with such little depth.

Will he Stay or Will he Go?-It’s safe to say we’ve become sick of these type of sagas.  The one where the star player publicly claims to be weighing all his options while inside sources know the team is aware the player will not resign in the offseason.  Howard is the latest example, and let’s hope he was the last.  One of the owner’s goals during the lockout was to make it easier for small market teams to keep their star players.  The lockout eventually ended, and Chris Paul trade rumors began to swirl soon after.  Howard has said time and time again he is looking at all his options.  Most sources see Howard being traded before the trade deadline, with the Lakers as the favorite.  I’m a sucker for players remaining with one team their entire career, so I’d like to see Howard remain with the Magic.  Unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet on that.

Atlantic Division-
New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Toronto
The Knicks big three rises to the top while we finally see the Celtics age catch up to them after speculating for several years.  Deron Williams shows the Nets potential if they can surround him with talent, but they struggle with little talent around Williams, especially after Brook Lopez fractured his foot and will be out 6-8 weeks.

Central Division-Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland
Chicago runs away with one of the weaker divisions in the league.  Indiana came on late last season under Head Coach Frank Vogel.  They have a nice core of Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, and newly acquired David West.  They should approach 36-38 wins.  Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cleveland will compete for .500 records, the Cavs and Pistons have their lumps in a rebuilding year.

Southeast Division-Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Charlotte, Orlando
This is based on Howard being traded early in the season.  Miami’s talent supercedes anything going on in this division.  The Hawks have seemingly cemented middle-of-the-road status.  They have a nice core, but one that seems to have reached its ceiling as a second-round playoff team.  John Wall makes strides in his second season and makes the Wizards competitive as they fight for a playoff spot.

Southwest Division-Dallas, Memphis, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans
One of the most competitive divisions in the league, only New Orleans is lottery-bound for sure.  Dallas picks up where it left off while Memphis builds off of last season’s suprising rise to the second round.  The Spurs are aging, but have a veteran group with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Northwest Division-Oklahoma City, Denver, Portland, Minnesota, Utah
Kevin Durant paces the Thunder with Russell Westbrook while the Nuggets do well with the bevy of talent they have.  Utah regresses in a rebuilding year while Head Coach Rick Adelman makes use of the talent in Minnesota and takes them out of the cellar.

Pacific Division-Clippers, Golden State, Lakers, Sacramento, Phoenix
The tide will turn in Los Angeles.  The Warriors under Head Coach Mark Jackson sprinkle some, key word some, defense with their high-octane offense and climb the standings.  Bryant struggles with injuries and durability as the Lakers slip.  In anticipation of Steve Nash being traded by the deadline, Phoenix will regress.

Final Four-New York, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Clippers
Derrick Rose continues to grow as his perimeter game becomes yet another facet to his game while getting more contributions from Carlos Boozer.  The Knicks trio meshes well and takes down a Heat squad similar in makeup, but not as diverse.  The Thunder return to the confernce finals as Durant leads a young, but experienced group while the Clippers duo become this season’s top story as Paul and Griffin being in a new era of Clipper basketball.

Finals Prediction-Oklahoma over Chicago in 6
Two very similar teams square off in a team-oriented series.  Durant and Rose square off as both vy for their first title.  The two of them will negate each other, but what Durant has in Westbrook, Rose does not have in anyone on his team.  Westbrook makes the difference, giving Oklahoma City more firepower.

Posted on: June 13, 2011 2:13 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 2:35 am

Dirk, Mavs Remind Miami There’s No “I” In Team

If you are not sure what to leave with from the NBA Finals, let me make it very clear:

It takes a team, not a group of individuals, to be a champion.

Public Enemy #1 since last July, Miami was the perfect punching bag, err, team, for the Mavericks to face in route to their first-ever title.  LeBron James and Chris Bosh viewed Dwayne Wade and his Miami Heat as an advance-to-go monopoly card; the best and quickest way to a championship. 

While we watched one of the better NBA Finals in recent history, we saw a group unified stand tall against a threesome with little to no supporting cast.  Wade put on the Superman cape and did his best, but couldn’t do it alone as even sporting a Robin costume was too much for Baby Bron Bron, who scored an impressive 18 points in six fourth quarters this series (That attack mode James spoke of, glad he teased us and kept it in the cage). 

This isn’t about Miami anyways, even if Bron Bron gives us plenty to mock and ridicule (mocking Dirk with the flu, another time for that discussion).  The moment belongs to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.

Nowitzki had been receiving ample criticism for having yet won a championship coming into his 13<sup>th</sup> season.  A free agent as well last summer (Bron Bron in fact, wasn’t the only one), Nowitzki resigned with Dallas, remaining confident that the right pieces were in place to win a championship.  You know what they say, if you build it, the title will come.  Nowitzki and James were both without a title coming into this series, and now who is the one still waiting?

It’s not the guy who kept his talents in Dallas.

Dallas may have been out-starred in this series, with only one all star compared to three, but we saw a team that is eight, nine deep run down a team that is a bit top-heavy.

Nowitzki led the way and without him a championship is not in the discussion.  However, he had two defensive stoppers around the hoop in Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood.  He had a veteran leader in Jason Kidd, whose skills may have declined, but the man can shoot with the best of them and can make the smart play.  Jason Terry is instant offense off the bench while Shawn Marion was admirable in being a pest in James’ side while providing offense as well, averaging 13.7 points per game.  DeShawn Stevenson and Brian Cardinal too were valuable in spurts.

And there lies the anatomy of a championship team; players with particular skills, making contributions within their respective roles.  Take a look at the team Dallas took down.

Might you say a smidge different?

Three all-star players can certainly make up for many shortcomings.  That is, if they are all playing out of their minds.  Wade was, Bosh served his purpose, and James’ contributions are debatable.  His numbers may seem solid, but it seemed clear that the guy hid behind Wade once the fourth quarter came around, which is what he wanted when he left Cleveland, but everyone will still be expecting greatness.  Heck, I’m not sure if you can say James was good in these Finals post-third quarter.

But that’s it.

Mario Chalmers provided some space on the floor with his outside shooting, averaging 10 points a game.  The other five Heat players who saw the floor averaged a combined 17.1 points per game. 

That supporting cast will not win any awards under any circumstances.

These NBA Finals gave us more than we could’ve asked for.  We saw Nowitzki, the greatest international player in NBA history, lock up his legacy with a championship, the only thing left to accomplish along with another future Hall of Famer in Kidd win his first title.  We saw a series which was epic for almost its entirety with the exception of Game 1.  Dallas’ championship prevented the Heat from validating the circus act that was last summer, a victory for all outside of South Beach.  Lastly, and most importantly, we were reminded what it takes to win a championship.

A team, not a group of individuals.

Primetime Thoughts

Follow David S. London on Twitter

Posted on: June 10, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 11:41 am

Case of Déjà Vu for King James on Biggest Stage

We’ve seen this before you know, LeBron James faced with a game of grand magnitude only to fall short despite a glamorous stat line.

Game 6 of the 2010 East Semi Finals against Boston.

Asides from that game later becoming James’ last (he took his talents elsewhere I believe), James’ Cavaliers were trailing 3-2 in that series, trying to fight off elimination.  James recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists.  Yet he was criticized by many for not really showing up, for quitting on the team.  That came from fans all the way up to Cleveland Owner Dan Gilbert.

Is it me or is that the same feeling you have about last night, if not worse?

The scene was the same, actually bigger being the NBA Finals as opposed to the Semi Finals.  It wasn’t an elimination game, but going down 3-2 is not a favorable position to be in.  This time James played in a game he self-proclaimed, “the biggest game of my life” with what he may think is the three best friends that anyone could have alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  James recorded a triple-double yet again, with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Yet again I feel as if he was a no-show, at least in the fourth quarter.

Maybe I’m just not a fan of LeBron James so I tend to dwell on the negative.  Or maybe it’s the fact that LeBron James has 11 points in the five fourth quarters.  Sure he contributes elsewhere with 3 rebounds and 4 assists.  Sure he has Wade to take the onus of scoring down the stretch.  But this is supposed to be the biggest game of his life, and he managed only 2 points in the final quarter.

Sure seems like Bron Bron wilted once again.

It also didn’t help that Wade had left the game in the second quarter after a hard fall and didn’t return until late in the third quarter.  Wade was clearly struggling with the injury, giving James even more reason to take over, something he had claimed would happen earlier in the week when he promised “attack mode.”

James claimed the game was not lost on the offensive end, let’s revisit that.

James missed jump shot with 2:56 left tied 100-100.

James offensive foul with 2:27 left tied 100-100.

James missed 3-pointer with 1:52 left trailing 102-100.

James did manage to score his first and only basket with 30 seconds left and the game already decided.  Now James could unload in Game 6 and 7 leaving me to eat my words.  But I say that with much skepticism, because, well, what reason to I have to believe that he will break the trend.  In a series with three superstars bound for the Hall of Fame, Dirk Nowitzki continues to cement his legacy, Wade has only strengthened his with this series, while James’ has done nothing but continue to lessen his image in the public eye.

Could it be that the one that has no shame in endless self-promotion may be feeling the Heat (pun intended) under the brightest lights?

Perhaps, but to be fair, he has had to completely wing this, minus Jim Grey and all.

Primetime Thoughts

Follow David S. London on Twitter

Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:15 pm

The LeBronologues: Volume II

The LeBronologues are in no way, shape, or form, attacking LeBron James on the court.  The man is clearly an elite athlete who possesses talent that has never been seen before in the NBA.  That being said, James has a knack for making himself look like a knucklehead time after time, which will simply be magnified here, courtesy of yours truly, Primetime.

Miami leads 2-1 at a time when the previous 11 teams who won Game 3 with the NBA finals tied 1-1 have all gone on to win, and Bron Bron is under the microscope once again.  James contributed with 17 points, 9 assists, and 3 rebounds; certainly nothing jaw-dropping, but noteworthy nonetheless.  In this statline, however, is a glaring three shots in the fourth quarter, along with more turnovers (4) than rebounds

Superstar material?

CBSSports columnist Gregg Doyel called James’ out for his lacking effort after claiming he would go into attack mode (resulting in four free-throw attempts).  James’ fired back, claiming he was focusing on defense.

“I think you’re concentrating on one side of the floor,” James said.  “I’m a two-way player.  All you’re looking at is the stat sheet.”

Now, to James’ credit, he was making plays on the defensive end down the stretch, but for a guy so gifted to only put up three shots, while playing the entire fourth quarter, that’s nothing special.  Heck, that’s not even ordinary.

For those in defense of Bron Bron, sure, Wade had the hot hand and was dominant, as he was in Game 2, when you, the columnist, said Bron Bron was taking too many shots.  Besides, James had the mismatch against the Bulls last round and played closer.

Well, to that I say this: although he may not admit it, Wade was dealing with a bum shoulder, so naturally the onus fell onto James.  Let’s not forget he is more than capable of being “the guy,” he simply passed that up for the Robin costume. 

What exactly am I getting at you might wonder?

This is Dwayne Wade’s team. Period.

Which is fine with Bron Bron, isn’t that why he went to Miami in the first place? That being said, own up to it perhaps?

Nah man, I don’t even know what that means, to be accountable.  Remember, only after I had explicitly expressed a suggestion for the NBA to downsize from 30 to 24 teams did I claim not to know what the word contraction meant.

Right, what was I thinking.  While you were reading this, Bron Bron had been caught complaining about  a few more foul calls.

Should’ve known.

Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:47 am

Going Gets Tough, LeBron & Heat Get Going

It had seemed to be a distant memory at this point; the Miami Heat were now closing out games.

Not so fast.

In a potentially series-shifting collapse, Miami gave away a 2-0 lead heading to Dallas after losing a 15-point lead with 7:15 remaining.  Dwayne Wade's 3-pointer capped a 13-0 run, giving the Heat an 88-73 lead.  And then it happened.

LeBron James and Wade basking in their success, prematurely celebrating with 7:15 left in the game.

Where have we seen that before?

The Heat let their guard down to a Mavericks team which has proven to be resilient in these times, just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who blew a 15-point lead to these same Mavs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

"We're a veteran team and we don't get too high with the highs and too low with the lows," Nowitzki said.  "The game is over when the final buzzer rings," Shawn Marion said.

On the flip side, Wade's extended follow through in front of the Dallas bench along with extensive basking on James' part may be inferred as getting ahead of themselves.

"There was no celebration at all," James said. "I was excited about the fact that he hit a big shot and we went up 15."

Maybe not, but as we've learned, James' perception and the rest of society don't tend to match up.

Celebration or not, Miami threw away a golden opportunity to take control of this series, and look no further than Bron Bron.  Wade was by far the most dominant player on Miami and he gets only three shots, one being a half-court desperation heave, in the final seven minutes?

The plan was to have a teammate to rely on to have less of the burden on himself, but yet he doesn't even use him?

Explain that one to me.

Wade was having his way, shooting 13-of-20 from the field as Dallas had no answer, yet possession after possession, all Miami could manage was one jump shot after another.  The closers had faded back to regular-season form, looking as dazed and confused as Bron Bron when cameras are nowhere to be found.

Miami's gaffe gives Dallas all the momentum in the world, stealing a game on the road.  Miami's lack of a killer instinct, a characteristic James has been oft-criticized for, cost them as they were unable to put away Dallas. 

It must've been interesting to watch Nowitzki on the other side, a man who walks a similar path as James, up until the part where Dirk continued pursuing a title with the Mavericks and not fleeing with a white flag in hand.  Wierd thing is, James could've avoided any backlash by giving the ball to Batman, excuse me, Wade, down the stretch.

Then again, what is James exactly playing for, the guy has already celebrated like a King (pun intended) back in July.

No, not a title, but himself.

Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 12:42 am

Why the Miami Heat Better Lose

We are almost a year removed from “The Decision” and the fact that the Miami Heat are in the NBA Finals seemingly makes everyone sick, myself included.  Baby Bron Bron and Chris Bosh bolted to Miami to form the most ridiculous concoction ever seen in the NBA. 

We’ve entered a phase where Kobe Bryant is nearing the end, signaling possibly the last of the strong-willed player, the one who embraces the role of being “the guy” (What’s that Bron might ask?).  Players grow tired of the losing and pressure placed on their shoulders, so they bail to team up with other All-Stars.  It seems that everyone else is doing it, and if you can’t beat them, join them. 

James and Bosh set the tone, Carmelo Anthony soon after.  James and Bosh along with Wade are attempting to win a title playing three v five, Anthony didn’t want to lose out on $20 million, so he forced the issue and made the Knicks give up four core players.  Not too far are stars like Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams.

Are we really seeing the NBA take a seismic shift ala the MLB?

I am an enthusiast of all four major professional sports, but let’s be honest.  Major League Baseball lacks the competitive parity that the NFL does and to extreme heights.  Out of 30 teams, realistically a handful are in the running to win the World Series.

Now you may feel the NBA is already there, with the Lakers and Spurs winning 9 of the last 12 championships.  However their competition varied over the years because there was a balance throughout the league.

If we see Bron Bron hoisting a trophy in a few weeks, not only will I be sick to my stomach (who knows how much more that man can gloat when he actually has something to flaunt), but a Miami Heat title will validate that whole charade which went down last July. 

Big picture, the NBA is screwed.

As mentioned, there are several stars who will potentially call a different team home.  They are all looking to follow in the footsteps of Bron Bron and Anthony; seeing Miami win will be the last push some of these guys need to bolt their current teams.

Does the NBA really need half the league to be lottery-bound before Christmas after all the star players have stacked up and comprised a handful of teams?

That doesn’t make for a very competitive league or a very enticing product.

It is this very fear which drives my plea for the Dallas Mavericks to whip the Heat.

Asides from the fact that Dirk Nowitzki is long overdue for a ring, Dallas needs to remind everyone what it takes to win a championship, that being a team, as opposed to three stars surrounded by talent that is underwhelming to say the least.

Primetime Thoughts

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Posted on: May 30, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 12:47 pm

The LeBronologues: Volume I

The LeBronologues are in no way, shape, or form, attacking LeBron James on the court.  The man is clearly an elite athlete who possesses talent that has never been seen before in the NBA.  That being said, James has a knack for making himself look like a knucklehead time after time, which will simply be magnified here, courtesy of yours truly, Primetime.

For those of you who have been following me since the beginning (I wouldn’t be here without you, the fans), you know how I feel about Baby Bron Bron post-decision.  For those who are new to the website, welcome asides, you can see here, and here, just how I feel about this clown, who took self-kool-aid sippage to a whole new level, one that only Brett Favre can be proud of. 

So what was James most recent gaffe?   

The Michael Jordan discussion, of course.

Last week former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen claimed that James, “But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.” 

Debatable, but nothing that hasn’t been discussed before.

James responded later in the week and his response probably won’t surprise you, it definitely didn’t shock me.

“I’m gracious, humbled by Scottie’s comments with him being a teammate of his and seeing Michael on a day-to-day basis. But as far as me? I don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m better than Jordan or if I’m not better than Jordan. It's not about that.”

Bron Bron being Bron Bron.

The entire articles can be found here, but why wouldn’t James close the door on that type of talk? Despite the fact that he has yet to win a title, much less six (none of which will be won as “the guy”), James couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put himself on the same pedestal.  Gaudy stats aside, James and Jordan share nothing else on the basketball court.  Most athletes would put that talk to rest, especially when their resume in its current state doesn’t measure up.  But James, nope, James is in a league of his own, one where he resides by himself, the only man to have made love to himself so extensively on national television, for an hour

James seemingly looked to be playing the modest card when he began to speak, but unfortunately, James was his own undoing, and could you really expect James to not take on the opportunity to smush himself?

Stay tuned for the next James snafu, odds are it will be sooner rather than later.             

Primetime Thoughts

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com