By Jeremy Blumberg
It’s a Long Way to the Top.
Kobe’s Beef: Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has been playing brilliantly all season. However, the Laker’s front office is the real nomination on my Bottom 5. Since this past offseason, the Lakers have tried to find a new home for Pau Gasol and the situation has not worked out well. They almost acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets that would have sent Gasol to the Houston Rockets but the NBA ended up sending Paul to Los Angeles Side B (the Clippers). Bryant has expressed his frustration through the media and to his bosses, but the Lakers management is just making itself look bad with the Gasol trade situation. It is hard for a player to go out and perform well knowing that he might be gone the next day and in a compacted season, you need fresh legs on a consistent basis. Will Gasol be traded this year? Most likely, but the Lakers front office better make their decision soon so the team does not lose too many games.
Sign Unwanted: The arrival of Albert Pujols has L.A. buzzing. Staying within Kobe Bryant’s city limits, the next nomination on my Bottom 5 is the L.A. Angels’ marketing managers for putting up billboards (left) of Pujols that the slugger does not want up. While Pujols is a humble player that does not attract attention to himself other than turning heads with his outstanding play, it is not surprising that he does not want giant billboards of him with “El Hombre” around town. Pujols may not mind the attention but he has clearly stated that he does not like the title “El Hombre” because “The Man” was Stan Musial’s nickname. Why would the marketing department give Albert Pujols a nickname? Isn’t that for the players and coaches to assign? Here’s a message to the Angels marketing team: Let Pujols put up MVP numbers and then advertise him.
The Coward Strikes!: WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. called the Jeremy Lin hype racist because he is Asian. Mayweather claims that if Lin was black, no one would care. While the new Knicks superstar is attracting international attention, especially in Taiwan, calling someone’s amazing play out because of race is ridiculous. Mayweather should concentrate more on defending his title or better yet, fight Manny Pacquiao! He is mismanaging his situation—he’s in no position to be calling out anyone based on race. Mayweather is a coward since he calls out Asians for receiving a lot of media attention even though they are playing great. Even if Jeremy Lin was black, he would still get attention. Media hype comes with the territory of being a New York Knick. Hysteria always happens around the Big Apple and when a player performs well, they get a lot of attention. This sports staffer cannot stand this type of racism, because if Mayweather really wants to make a statement against Asians, he should do so against his boxing counterpart, Pacquiao, or keep his comments to himself.
Mellowing In or Out?: Staying with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony and his diva-like personality have returned to the hardwood floor after missing 7 games due to a groin injury. When the Knicks acquired him from the Denver Nuggets last year, they thought they were bringing in someone who would lead them to a championship. Unfortunately, the Knicks have mismanaged their situation. While NBA experts say Anthony and rising superstar Jeremy Lin can coexist, it’s time to face reality. Anthony has been—and always will be—a ballhog and this hurts the team. The Knicks are 30-31 when Anthony plays, regardless of what numbers he puts up. They were swept out of the playoffs last year by the Boston Celtics and the Knicks may be better off dumping Anthony for some much needed depth. Lin can only do so much and the ball should be in his hands, not Anthony’s. The Knicks have not won a playoff game in nearly a decade, and if they hope to win one this year, they should trade Anthony to allow Lin and the team to blossom.
Who Controls the Rodeo?: The Dallas Cowboys have once again entered an offseason wondering who really leads the team. This is merely from a player’s standpoint as Head Coach Jason Garrett is decent job security heading into the season. With so many Pro-Bowl and former Pro-Bowl players, it becomes hard to differentiate who the leaders are. Naturally the QB is the leader but do the players really want to ride the Romo-coaster? Jason Whitten has shown flashes of brilliance but how often do people follow a TE? Demarcus Ware seems like a legit leader based on his play, but is he really the heart and soul of the team? I could go on and on about which players play well enough to be leaders, but there are too many I’s on this team to name. As soon as the Cowboys eliminate their drama, they will learn how to manage themselves better and ultimately win a game in the playoffs. Maybe I’m dreaming too much but just food for thought.