• When you're a winner you're always happy, but if you're happy as a loser you'll always be a loser. - Mark Fidrych

    When you're are playing for the national championship, it's not a matter of life or death. Its more important than that. - Duffy Daugherty

    When you're riding, only the race in which you're riding is important. - Bill Shoemaker

    Whenever you get knocked down in the game of life, immediately get up, get better and get going again. - Greg Hickman

    Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest. - Georgia O'Keeffe

    Where you start is not as important as where you finish. - Zig Ziglar

    Whether you be man or woman you will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor. - James Allen

    Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right! - Henry Ford

    Who is sure of their own motives can in confidence advance or retreat. - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

    Why did I want to win? because I didn't want to lose! - Max Schmelling

Boston makes a return trip to the finals

The new Big Three

The new “Big Three” is making a final push for a second championship in three years.

Injuries and age couldn’t stop the Celtics from a chance to redeem themselves after their repeat march was cut short ironically by the same team they eliminated this year, Dwight Howard and the supposed-to-be suped-up Orlando Magic.

Vince Carter

Acquiring Vince Carter in the off-season was perceived to be a plan to ease the scoring chores off Howard and Rashard Lewis.  Instead Carter seems to be well past his prime and is fast becoming a player who has seen the best of his years pass by.

I haven’t been up to date with what’s transpiring in the NBA playoffs nowadays ever since the Bulls got knocked off by the Cavs and the Cavs subsequently got knocked off (despite owning the NBA’s BEST record) by the Celts.  Add to that the media storm that LeBron James’ free agency has been wreaking on the ratings of the playoffs.

The 1976 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics

I have to give Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers props.  They’re peaking at the perfect time.  It’s just a matter of who’ll meet them in the Finals.  LA is holding a 3-2 advantage over the Phoenix Suns.  If you ask me, I’d like to see a Suns-Celtics Finals this time.  Since we’re all for nostalgia here, why not relive the 1976 Finals which is considered one of the best Finals series in history, with Game 5 considered by many to be the greatest game in NBA history.

It’s also time to give Steve Nash a chance at the NBA championship.  Hell, the guy’s one of the most resilient little men known not only in basketball, but in sports itself!  The weaker one’s would’ve retreated to locker room if they broke their nose on the floors, but no, not Nash, he goes up and tries to re-align it and pops it back in himself!

Before I became a Bull fan, I followed the Lakers during the showtime years of Magic, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy and company.  But I find the current Lakers line-up unpalatable for my taste.  I don’t like Kobe Bryant but I don’t hate him.  He’s just being himself, I know.

Nevertheless, whatever happens, the 2010 NBA Finals can still be quite entertaining, will it be a rematch of the 2008 Finals?  Or do we relive nostalgia and see a rematch of the 1976 Finals?

Bring it on!

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Chicago lays out the red and black carpet for the King

The Chicago Bulls’ season ended last April 27.

LBJ again fell against the Celts

Their 2010-11 season began when the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers last May 13.

Almost immediately after the final buzzer rung during that fateful day in Boston, blogs, columns, news articles suddenly spread like wildfire carrying the story of LeBron James’ impending dance with free agency.

The Bulls, considered a longshot in landing James, due to two factors: what was supposed to be believed his 1st NBA Championship this season (thus projecting him to re-sign with the Cavs) and the 3-year old clamor that New York gets first dibs at him, was suddenly catapulted as the favorite.

Why?

Simply because the Bulls had the most championship ready roster to welcome LBJ with open arms.  By a mile, its not a secret that the Bulls has the most complete and competitive roster that could catapult LBJ to his first-ever NBA ring amongst the teams armed with the most cap money.

New York?  Still hasn’t recovered from the Isaiah Thomas fiasco.

Miami? Can he and Wade co-exist?  Wade…and who else?

New Jersey?  No John Wall, no more interest.

LA Clippers?  er…next!

Jordan jubilates while Ehlo prepares to crumple

I’ve been a Chicago fan ever since Michael Jordan buried the Cavaliers’ season with that off-balanced shot that reduced Craig Ehlo into a crumpled mass of despair and this off-season has brought on an air of excitement and anticipation since 1998 when MJ put the moves on Russell and the Utah Jazz to clinch his 6th championship in eight seasons.

With Derrick Rose stamping his class as an All-Star in only his second season and Joakim Noah transforming into a double-double monster, the Bulls have begun to make heads turn their way. They also have Kirk Hinrich developing into the elder statesman that provides the balance and Luol Deng slowly regaining the form that eased Ben Gordon out of Chicago management’s favored eye.

Gibson and Johnson

Add to that the emergence of erstwhile rookies Taj Gibson, who nonchalantly barged into the 2010 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie team and James Johnson, who I believe will have a breakout season in 2010-11, the Bulls core of players is simply screaming dynasty if Gar Foreman and John Paxson can pull off a coup from this extremely loaded free agency class of 2010.

Teams can’t negotiate with free agents until July 1, dubbed as the day of reckoning or day of new beginnings, depending on which team you belong to, but as early as May 13, the LeBron to Chicago caravan has slowly built up speed and a menacing reputation.

Blogs and sites have slowly begun to sprout and mushroom all around.  The most notable of which is http://www.sendlebrontochicago.com of die-hard Bulls fan AJ Barthold.  Even there are some NBA Team GM’s strongly believe that LBJ will end up in Chicago.

Still, there are some egos in New York who refuse to believe that the Bulls are ahead or even at par with their beloved Knick who supposedly offer “immortality” to LBJ.  Feel the hot air?

Hey, like we say in poker, everyone’s on equal grounds before the flop.

Bottom line, LBJ’s going to get his money.  It’s all now a matter of who can bring him his first championship going through the quickest route.

In as much as how I really want to believe all these speculations as a Bulls fan, I choose to take all this with a grain of salt or else I’ll only end up a crumpled mass of despair like Ehlo.

Shaq wasn't intimidated by Kareem and Mikan's legacy

They say free agents will get intimidated playing for a team in an arena built by Mike.  This didn’t hold true for players such as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen who play for a team with a much more storied history as a franchise.  This didn’t affect Magic, Shaq or Kobe who played or is playing for the Lakers what with their history.  For pete’s sake!  The guy in the NBA logo played for the Lakers!

So cut the crap about getting intimidated by MJ’s legacy, its just a matter of continuing the legacy not of a player but rather of the franchise.

In my mind, LBJ going to the Bulls will revitalize the NBA in the same way MJ rejuvenated the league when Bird and Magic left it.

With a probable starting line up of Noah, Gibson, LBJ, Hinrich and D-Rose running the show, Windy City will probably turn back time a full 13 years!

One piece away

If GarPax can lock down LBJ, there’s going to be an even bigger chance that the Bulls can reel in another big name player via the sign and trade route.  And that brings up an even more interesting topic.  How would Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson feel teaming up with LBJ, D-Rose and Noah?  One word?  DYNASTY.

So don’t screw this up GarPax, or there’s going to be a lot of guys who’re willing to screw you up if you do.

Go Bulls!

What gives Floyd?

It has come to my personal understanding that newly-minted Philippine Congressman Manny Pacquiao gives ersatz undefeated Floyd Mayweather an extremely bad case of heebie-jeebies.

Floyd’s clinical dismantling of Shane Mosley further fanned the fires of the mega-fight of mega-fights to finally happen.  Add to that the ease our National Fist was able to achieve victory in his second foray into Philippine politics by beating the stuffings out of his opponents on the way to being officially christened as Congressman Manny.

The true pound-for-pound best fighter of the decade, obviously Pacquiao, even finally agreed to allow Olympic style blood testings up to the limit of 14 days prior to fight night which the Mayweather camp was vehemently trying to impose.

Congressman Manny

When we all thought everyone across the globe who were praying to the high heavens to allow the PacMan-Moneyweather fight to happen could breathe a collective sigh of relief and start the celebrations that signal the looming event, Mayweather, once again, decides to throw another monkey wrench into the now smooth and humming engine of Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

What a cream puff.

His camp is reportedly now asking for the Olympic style blood testing to be allowed to be done up until fight night itself.  WTF???

His camp, which was, for several months now, preaching that this is a fight that not only the boxing world is vociferously demanding, but the entire earthly populace itself is drooling to happen, is now doing a U-turn and is presenting a fresh new set of alibis and whining reasons for it NOT to happen.

Aside from that, Mayweather, oversized ego and all, after decisioning both Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez (winning because of the judges’ scorecards…whoop dee doo), suddenly decides that he should get a bigger purse and not the pre-ordained 50-50 pot (which I personally believe shortchanges Pacquiao).

Wuss fight

Pacquiao, who bulldozed his way through several opponents via stoppages (the Clottey fight was a farce and doesn’t count because it was obvious that the Ghanian was in it for the money and not the win) doesn’t even meddle in the negotiations and just lets his promoter, the ever so eloquent Bob Arum, do the purse fighting for him.  A mark of a true professional.

I’m a Filipino and all you naysayers can say that this blog entry truly is biased, but heck, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that one of these fighters obviously is overflowing of cowardice and whining alibis.

Just when everything seems to be ironed out already, here’s these set of morons once again trying to find reason for the fight not to happen.

If you truly believe that you’re the number one fighter in the world today, why hide behind lame excuses?  The Congressman is ready now, and you’re not anymore?

What gives Floyd??

It’s official: Blockbuster Mega-fight a no go

After weeks and weeks of speculation and numerous negotiations between the camps, the blockbuster mega-fight between erstwhile pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the man who supplanted him, Filipino Manny Pacquiao is officially thrown out of the window.

Even before they officially announced that negotiations had begun for the two ring superstars to finally meet after Pacquiao pummelled Miguel Cotto in his fight, I already had apprehensions whether Mayweather had the balls to pick a fight with the Filipino world-beater.

After all, Pacquiao took on all of the fighters that Mayweather defeated and one-upped him in virtually every contest.

Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather are simply frustrated at the rate Pacquiao’s career took off and left them in the proverbial dust.  Its no hidden secret that GBP had long eyed Pacquiao to be part of their stable before Manny became the juggernaut in the ring he is today.  In fact Manny did sign a contract with Oscar Dela Hoya but ended up forging a set-in-stone partnership with Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions.

When Manny and Dela Hoya had a scheduled fight more than a year ago, Oscar held no punches in interviews that he considered their bout “personal” ever since Manny spurned him.  He should be thankful that Manny still considered him as an “idol” and evidently refused to put his lights out when fight night came.  If you look at video footage, you’d see that Pacquiao would let loose his patented barrage of punches on Dela Hoya and when it became clear that Oscar would buckle, he’d pull back.

Back then, Oscar said that Manny’s punches didn’t hurt but it was his blazing speed and footwork that did him in.  Yeah right.   Couldn’t even stand up to answer the ring of the bell for the 11th.  Didn’t hurt.  Pfft.

Mayweather Sr. has a mouth that could rival all radio jocks all over the world combined.  He could run off words like there was no tomorrow.  Quite an impressive talent if you ask me.  The only flaw there is the lack of wisdom in his words.  He’s been accusing Manny of taking PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs)  without producing any proof for the such.  That is tantamount to defamation.

When it was announced that it would be Pretty Boy who would be the most logical choice as Pacquiao’s next opponent, Mayweather even had the gall of asking for the bigger purse even if Manny was considered hands down the bigger ticket.

Make that as excuse number one for Mayweather in trying to run away from Manny.

When the purse problem was settled and the fight became as certain as night and day, I’m betting his camp was looking for another excuse for him not to fight the man who bulldozed his way up the ranks in professional boxing.

That was when they took off with the doping allegations against Manny, which proved to be the waterloo for the superfight.  Mayweather was asking that Pacquiao, a man who never failed any doping test in his entire career, undergo Olympic-standard dope test that would involved the drawing of blood at any random time prior to the fight.  It could be 30 days, it could be a day before the fight.  What’s certain is Mayweather was asking that blood be drawn from Manny.

Logically, Manny refused.  His last defeat, dealt by Erik Morales, was blamed on the blood test that he was forced to undergo a day prior to the fight.  Naturally, Pacquiao didn’t want to go through that process ever again.

GBP jumped in the bandwagon, and said that they also would endorse the random blood testing on both fighters.  I’m betting they saw the chance to get “revenge” on Pacquiao for the deal that turned south.

Oscar Dela Hoya, a man who I considered a true professional, suddenly backtracked on the words he said after his fight with Pacquiao.  He suddenly issued a statement saying that Pacquiao’s punches felt like those of Sugar Shane Mosley and Fernando Vargas, two fighters who failed in drug testings.

That was ultimately the last straw for Pacquiao who literally grew up from humble beginnings in the Philippines, worked hard on his craft, reached the apex of his career, only to be cast a dark cloud of doubt by baseless accusations.  Bob Arum, also growing tired of the Mayweather’s and GBP’s antics, naturally took the side of his prizefighter and chose to close down negotiations with GBP.

I guess Mayweather finally found the perfect excuse for him not to fight Pacquiao.

The only update for a fight looming between Pacquiao and Mayweather is their scheduled court date after Manny chose to file a lawsuit against Mayweather and GBP for the doping accusations.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll choose to bring along gloves to the court as well.

Pacquiao’s Last Fight?

The table is set, the pieces are moving, the purses have been calculated and finally the weight has been settled.

On Nov. 14, the man responsible for cleaning up the busy thoroughfares in our country’s streets, allowing pinoys to be “hambog” to wear our pride on our sleeves and getting our military and the MILF and the administration and opposition blocs of Philippine politics to stand on one common ground, will climb the ring once more to face what is supposed to be the toughest test he’ll be taking above the 130lb. levels.

Puerto Rican Pride on the line

Puerto Rican Pride on the line

Manny Pacquiao will take on grizzled Puerto Rico warrior Miguel Cotto in what is shaping up to be the fight of all fights in the vicinity of the 145lb limit.  Previously PacMan declared that he’d never fight above 144lbs while Cotto on the other hand, said it wouldn’t be safe for him to fight below 145lbs.  Heck, any weight wouldn’t be safe for him if it was Pacquiao who’d climb up the ring opposite his side.

Eventually, PacMan agreed to the 145 weight limit.

Pretty lady who pummeled Pacquiao in politics

Pretty lady who pummeled Pacquiao in politics

PacMan reportedly said that this would be his last fight before jumping right into retirement and concentrate on helping the poor people in his province in GenSan.  That’s a milder way of saying he’s going into politics once more, what with 2010 being a National Elections year for the Philippines.  Not the least bit perturbed by his last fray into the world of crocs and controversies (losing to the “young turk in Phil. politics” Darlene Antonino-Custodio in the GenSan Congressional race), PacMan is again throwing his hat into politics.

I have so much respect for PacMan, the Pambansang Kamao, the boxer, who has brought nothing but pride to our country and has almost singlehandedly raised the Filipino standard around the world in recent years with the unstoppable juggernaut he has plowed through the boxing world.  But logic and heart tells me he’s making the wrong move in joining the political bandwagon.  Any guy can tell him he can do more wonders and can help his countrymen more than just becoming a politician.  But unfortunately, the parasites that surround him ARE politicians.  And most often than not, politicians (those greasy types) always feed information that can benefit them more than those whom they share information with.

Hopefully, down the line, Manny will have some sense punched into his head before he loses his sanity and drowns himself in the dirty world of Philippine politics.

THe Arum Smile

THe Arum Smile

The Cotto tiff surely will feed enough moolah into the Pacquiao warchest come 2010.  His last bout featuring the 2-round demolition of Ricky Hatton made not only Pacquiao grin ear-to-ear (with that million dollar smile) but also his promoter, the very outspoken Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions.  The November bout, I doubt, wouldn’t be any different.

Boxers all over the world are willing to sacrifice life and limb and are even willing to throw in their wives as part of the ante to get a chance to face Pacquiao, who’s obviously shaping up to be top draw when it comes to fight purses around the world.

In Pacquiao’s recent fights, he’s been able to put to bed the careers of three pugilists:  David Diaz (beaten into a bloody pulp but still became a Pacquiao fan), Oscar Dela Hoya (who couldn’t even answer the bell of the next round) and Hatton (who’s trainer even told the world that he thinks its time to hang up the gloves).  I don’t think the next bout will make Cotto think retirement, but sure as hell, he won’t be coming out of this one without his lion’s share of the blacks and the blues.

I just hope this won’t be PacMan’s last.  I firmly believe he still has a year or so left to beat up a few more boxers(Pretty Boy perhaps?).

Will this be his last?  Who knows?

FIBA Asia Championships: Flourish or Flounder?

They said that we dodged the proverbial bullet when we were thrown into the “Group of Hope” in Group B after being fed to the lions in the “Group of Death” a couple years ago with Asian Basketball titans China.

However, with the recent showing that we had in the Jones Cup, I’m beginning to doubt whether our bracketing into the supposed “Group of Hope” would make much of a difference.  Finishing sixth in this supposed “warm-up” stint for the Nationals doesn’t exactly strike fear into the opposition we’ll be facing in Tianjin, China.

Japeth Aguilar - next BIG thing in Philippine Basketball

Japeth Aguilar - next BIG thing in Philippine Basketball

Our Asian neighbors are bigger, faster and are far more deadlier shooters than our cream of the crop PBA warriors.  And man, do they shoot mean trifectas.  After all the years that we’ve been trying to scale the wall back to the apex of basketball dominance in Asia (in the world even, who can ever forget the great and immortal Caloy Loyzaga?), haven’t we learned our lesson that the three-point shot is something we need to develop even more?  We’re obviously at a horrifying disadvantage when it comes to big men (although we have something to thank for, God bless Japeth Aguilar), we still try to concentrate in banging our aged veteran Asi Taulava against our much bigger Asian opponents (who’re obviously giants masquerading as basketball players).

If we’re to make even a slight dent against the confidence of the likes of China and Iran, we need, rather MUST make use of effective and dead-eye shooting beyond the arc.  Since we’re at a disadvantage in the paint, we need to develop the players’ mid-range game.  A little bit more slashing towards the basket and a must in crisp passing also wouldn’t hurt.

Team Pilipinas Chief Tactician - Joseller "Yeng" Guiao

Then again, knowing Yeng Guiao, there’s also a possibility that he intentionally held back the team’s punches during the Jones Cup in order to gauge the readiness and the gameplan of our Asian opponents.  Coach Yeng has been known to employ various methods in scouting his opponents and holding back the team’s potential during that tourney could be one.  That way, when opponents size up our beloved ‘Pinas, they’ll tend to become complacent.  Haaay, if wishes were fishes, then the world would be an ocean full of them.

The Philippines will face lightweight Sri Lanka on August 6 and then will get a another crack at Japan after that heartbreaking loss in the Jones Cup on the 7th.  They will face another powerhouse team in South Korea, the team that doused cold water on our near finals match-up with China in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.  We led by a basket 68-66 in the dying seconds when Lee Sang Min, who missed his last four attempts beyond the arc, plunged an ice-cold dagger in the form of a trifecta straight into every filipino heart around the world as the buzzer sounded to win the game for Korea 69-68, ending our Gold Medal hopes and our chance to face China in the finals.  If I were Congress at that time, I’d immediately pass a resolution declaring Lee Sang Min persona non grata on Philippine soil the next day.

That loss still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Ew.

But still, like what we filipinos really are, we can always hope and pray.  Pray for our National team, pray that we get closer to that top spot in the Asian and World Basketball stage, perched amongst the best there is, pray that our players get to drop their treys when needed most.  A little help from Tita Cory (God bless her soul, thank you so much madame president) from up above can also move mountains.

And that my friends, is my two cents worth about the upcoming FIBA Asian Championships.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas…

‘Tis the season to get out of retirement

The Greatest There Ever Will Be

The Greatest There Ever Will Be

More than a decade ago and some, the great one, his Airness, said goodbye to his boyhood love of baseball to get back in cozy with the game that shot him to greatness and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest sportsmen this century, basketball.

With two simple words, “I’m back”, Michael Jordan sent shivers up the collective spines of pretenders to the throne of NBA supremacy.  A year later, after a ludicrous and trying period of getting his feet wet again on the basketball court, Jordan led his (OUR) Chicago Bulls to the first championship of the second coming of the Three-Peat.

The Shot that gave them Six

The Shot that gave them Six

He’d retire again after leading what is arguably one of the best teams in NBA history to three consecutive championships.  We thought that’d be the last we’d see of him.  I myself was delighted to have the imprint in my mind that the last shot he took was that 20-foot shot amidst the leech-like defense that Bryon Russell employed on him to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left.

The tongue was still there though

After a year or so in hiatus, MJ came out of retirement once more to play for the Washington Wizards.  I prefer to leave that messy stint out of my memory banks if only to preserve his moments of greatness in my mind.

Nowadays, when it comes to professional athletes, retirement seems to be going out of style.  After Jordan, a long list of athletes just couldn’t resist the competitive atmosphere that they’ve been exposed to the most part of their lives.

Make a decision Brett!

Make a decision Brett!

In recent months there’ve been a deluge of athletes who simply couldn’t stay put.  There’s Brett Favre in the National Football League, whose “To retire or not to retire” circus is beginning to be more newsworthy in the NFL than the Superbowl.  There’s Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather Jr., feeling threatened by the fame and fortune of our very own Manny Pacquiao, coming out of retirement to set up a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez mouthing off that he’ll beat PacMan any day, anywhere only to cower at the possibility of facing PacMan in the future.  Of course there’s Lance Armstrong who came out of retirement to place third in the recently concluded Tour de France despite his public feuding with eventual winner and Astana teammate Alberto Contador.

Schumis back.  Whos next?

Schumi's back. Who's next?

And now, after the freak accident that happened to Felipe Massa in the Hungarian GP of Formula One, Michael Schumacher decides to get in the F1 cockpit once more to ride slot alongside Kimi Raikonnen on the Ferrari team in the upcoming 2009 European Grand Prix.

What makes these athletes decide to lace up the shoes, wear the gloves, grab the pigskin, enjoy the smell of burnt rubber once more after leaving behind a very successful legacy of greatness?  The competitiveness in them?  More fame?  More glory?  I guess only they can answer that.  But believe me, as far as I know, getting out of retirement most often than not, only tarnishes the memories that they leave behind their legions of fans.

I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if many more pros follow this trend.  Like I said, ’tis the season to get out of retirement.