Thursday, February 17, 2005The Morning Toast (Part 2): No NHL Today..
Bledsoe Goes Bye Bye
One of the forgotten stories from yesterday was that the Buffalo Bills parted ways with the human statue, Drew Bledsoe. Not surprising considering the ridiculous contract Bledsoe had in tow and the emergence of Willis McGahee will guarantee that new incumbent J.P. Losman probably won't get killed.
"I completely disagree and can't understand their point of view," Bledsoe said during a conference call from his home in Oregon. "Do I think this is fair? No, I don't think it's fair. But I'm also aware that that's how it works, and I understand that."
Bledsoe is on the down end of his career and in reality I think he gave Buffalo the best he could last season and it still isn't enough. Personally I expect Bledsoe to end up in Dallas will his former coach Bill Parcells. Also don't write off Cleveland so Bledsoe can tutor whichever QB the Browns draft.
In other NFL news a very frightening situation for New England star linebacker Tedy Bruschi. The three-time Super Bowl champion had been admitted to the hospital with headaches that were later diagnosed as stroke-like symptoms, including temporary blindness in his left eye.
At 31 years old, I'm happy to see that Bruschi was "walking and talking" later in the night but it's just another reminder of why the National Football League is such a sacrifice. Bruschi's is one of the toughest men in the league so I don't expect him to snap up and retire after this incident but I hope New England will not put him on the field unless he's 100%.
NBA Eastern All-Stars Revealed!
Much like I did with yesterdays group, I'm going to inspect the Eastern All-Stars to see where the talent level is in the league. The goal is to reach the apex of the league back in 1993 when their were 14 stars all in their prime.
* LeBron James -- It's scary to think that the King is 3-4 years away from playing his best basketball. He's already an undisputed team leader at the age of 20. Averaging 25, 7 and 7 and he's not 21 until Dec. 30?? You've got to be kidding me. You want a reason to like the NBA, watch LeBron. He's the only guy in Sunday's game who has the chance to be larger than life.
* Allen Iverson -- Iverson's a few years past his MVP season of 2001 but he's probably playing the best basketball of his career right now. Forget the rumors from "Screamin'" Stephen A., Iverson is as happy as he's ever been in Philly. He loves playing with a young team and he's turned Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert into very servicable pros.
* Vince Carter -- He's selfish, he's vastly overrated and he's a big part of the league's bad reputation because his attitude sucks. But VC has been on fire in bringing the Nets back to sanity. If he stays healthy (a big if) and Jason Kidd doesn't get traded, I expect the Nets to win the ultra-weak Atlantic Division.
* Grant Hill -- One of my (and probably Bee-Ranom's) favorite things about going to Magic games is watching glimpses of the Grant Hill we once knew. The speed is returning, the skills haven't completely eroded. He able to run with Steve Francis. It's a great thing for basketball that a guy like Hill is back in the league.
* Shaquille O'Neal -- The Diesel has found a newer, more friendly sidekick to roll with and he's as happy as he's ever been in Miami. Shaq's footwork has all died off since his first appearance in this game in 1993, but he's still got the ability to have a dominating performance.
Gilbert Arenas -- Team basketball was a new concept to Arenas last year, but after spending the off season working with his teammates Arenas' points and FG percentage are up and the Wizards are winning.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- The main beneficiary of the LeBron era, and going into his free agent year the King arrived just at the right time. Will Z do what Carlos Boozer did and run for every last dollar or give Cleveland a small hometown discount in hopes of helping LeBron to his first title.
Jermaine O'Neal -- Of all the people in "the brawl", I felt sorriest for O'Neal because he had been such a good guy in the league. Fortunately the young man has been even more proactive with his off-court maturation after the incident. He's also averaging 25.5 PPG and over two blocks per game.
Paul Pierce -- You wonder how much longer Pierce will be in Celtic green. Personally I think he could look good as a Timberwolf for Sprewell, which would allow Boston to spend as much as they desire since Spree's contract will come of the books at the end of the season. Pierce's numbers have declined every year since 2001.
Dwyane Wade -- The Prince of Marquette, better known as Flash. Wade has jumped dramatically in virtually every category (points, rebounds, blocks, FG percentage) including turnovers. Once he cuts those down he'll be fine.
Antawn Jamison -- Jamison was lost with all the talent in Dallas, he's been able to shine better on the steadily improving Wizards. Having a career year averging almost 21 and 8.
Ben Wallace -- The most ferocious interior defenseman in the league grew by leaps and bounds after his dominating performance in the NBA finals last year. I actually expected Wallace to break double digits in scoring but he's stuck at 9.5. Declining numbers in rebounds and blocks tells me that Wallace is starting to fade but he's also got Rasheed Wallace to help carry the burden.
So the East has one Megastar in Lebron, which equals two players in their prime. Three guys in the prime of their careers (Jermaine O'Neal, Arenas, Jamison), two one-dimensional scorers (Pierce, Carter), one player on the cusp (Wade), one strong roleplayer (Ilgauskus and a ton of veteran leadership (Shaq, Iverson, Hill, Wallace).
So that's 11 guys in the primes of their career and a lot of good veteran talent. The league continues to get stronger and deeper as the high schoolers drafted early in the century are maturing.