Archive for July, 2016

The View From Mt. Airy 07-29-16

Posted in Basketball, Football, Los Angeles Rams, nba, St. Louis Rams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

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PHILADELPHIA, PA

Legends of The Dome appeared to be wildly successful. Looked like a repass for a loved one who was loved by all and left here far too soon. Kudos to the many Rams all-timers who came out, mixed, mingled and reciprocated the love and adoration of the St. Louis faithful who gathered more than likely, for the final time, to express their love and respect for the “Greatest Show On Turf.”

That being said, it’s time for the Arch Angels to redirect their collective sports energies.

Once upon a time, there was a wildly successful St. Louis sports franchise. They dominated their division, owned the Lakers, and are one of the few NBA franchises that can claim a win over the dynastic Boston Celtics in an NBA Final. The St. Louis Hawks, who landed in the Gateway City in 1955 after 4 last place finishes in Milwaukee (http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nba/stlhawks/stlhawks.html) and immediately turned around their fortunes behind a young Bob Pettit, who in the Hawks first season would win the 1st NBA MVP Trophy and lead them to the NBA Finals with a 33-39 regular season finish followed by an upset of the Lakers in the Western Division finals which was one of the most remarkable playoffs ever. The Hawks won Game 1 by a  single point. Lost Game 2 by 58 points, and won the decisive Game 3 by a single point. Total aggregate of -56 points but they moved on. The early Hawks would win consistently and would leave St.Louis for Atlanta in 1968 after winning the division with a 56-26 record under coach Richie Guerin and an imposing roster led by Paul Silas, Sweet Lou Hudson, Lenny Wilkens, Jumping Joe Caldwell and the Pride of Prairie View, Zelmo Beaty. For years I heard the story of failed attendance as the reason for their departure but upon further review that doesn’t resonate as truth. The Hawks didn’t break records, averaging just 6800 paid per game, but the ENTIRE league avg. in the Hawks final season was just 6,749 paid including the champion Celtics, whose paid attendance average was just 8,670 per game. Look it up. The New York Knickerbockers were the only team over 10k in average attendance in the ’67-68 season and I still can’t figure out the move to Atlanta, especially when you factor in that in the Hawks first season in Georgia, they would average just 4,427 per game and wouldn’t crack 6,000 per until their 6th season in the south. Why this walk down memory lane? Why this opening of a nearly 50-year old wound? Because if I’m a St. Louis sports fan, I’d be thinking its time we got our focus off the traitorous, despicable Rams and their carpetbagging owners who will soon find that not only is the grass NOT greener in the City Of Angels, but the bank account isn’t either. There is a reason why the Rams and Raiders left, and yes I know that TV pays the bills in today’s NFL, but empty seats resonate still. Goodbye.

Beat the NBA drum. Remind them of the storied tradition of the St. Louis Hawks. Show Adam Silver the St. Louis Blues history of drawing huge crowds in a market where everyone assumed the NHL had lost their collective minds expanding into, despite having never won a Stanley Cup. The Blues now have nearly half of a century of selling out the St. Louis Arena (CheckerDome), Kiel, oops I mean, Scottrade Center.

The infrastructure is there. Beautiful NBA ready arena. Lustful fanbase that has been simmering for years in the shadow of the Chicago Bull dynasty, and now looking over their shoulders and seeing the sold out crowds partying in OKC. It’s time St. Louis. Gather your elbows and begin to beat your NBA drum. The league will expand in the next the next four years under the billions and access to every market guaranteed by their historically wealthy 24 billion dollar, 9-year deal. The league wants always to expand by two, maintaining an even number of teams that makes scheduling and conferences sure numerically. Seattle gets the first franchise. Write it down. Until Kevin Johnson rode to the rescue of the city of Sacramento, the Kings were headed to the Emerald City 2 seasons ago. The city had broken ground on a new arena and the league was prepared to welcome back am amazing an supportive fanbase that had nothing to do with the Sonics departure to Oklahoma City in the first place. The city of Seattle still owns the rights to the colors, name, all trophies and records of the original franchise under the settlement allowing the ownership under Clay Bennett to jump ship in 2008. They are a lock to be the first city in any future NBA expansion.

That leaves St. Louis. The natural geographic location for the second team. What other choices are there. Adam Silver and the NBA don’t need Vegas in the way that the NHL does. NBA history has been littered with hints and instances of manipulation. I don’t think they want their product across the street from a sports book as a playoff Game 7 takes a left due to a referee’s whistle.

I’ve gotta believe the NFL thirsty  citizens would grab 10,000 NBA season tickets on day 1, even with the knowledge that the expansion product in year one would most likely be an assembly line of end of the benchers (think Nik Stauskas) and problem contracts and everybody’s NBA knuckleheads (think Nick Young). Sounds like fun to me.

St. Louis, from over here in the land of Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and the emergent Philadelphia 76ers, we’d welcome you back. Turn the page. Raise a collective middle finger to the pirates who stole your NFL team. Bury ’em. You had a great sendoff with the legends game.
Finally, you’ve got an owner in waiting. The two brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silva, who have made $800 million since signing away their rights to the St. Louis Spirits in the ABA contraction and merger which netted them $2 million and an NBA TV share in perpetuity (the best business deal ever made anywhere) that still reaps major benefits. Bring ’em to the table.
Times yours St. Louis. Can’t you hear the Scottrade Center in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals? Surely you can feel opening day. This one’s a natural. How about this? The St. Louis Sounds. Stop the NFL nightmares and begin the NBA dreams. Goodnight.

http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/01/09/nba-settles-perpetuity-deal-with-former-owners-of-aba-spirits/

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The Finale from Legends Of The Dome

Posted in 101 ESPN, Football, Randy Karraker, Sports, St. Louis Rams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2016 by thelegendkil

 

Legends-of-Dome-320@thelegendkil

ST. LOUIS, MO

The Legends of the Dome flag football game lived up to the hype and then some. The score of the game didn’t matter. There were plenty of hugs, handshakes, and tears shed last Saturday in what was our last time ever stepping in that building to watch football. One of the best moments was the player introduction and I stood right by the tunnel as every single St.Louis Rams player was announced. And I swear it gave me goosebumps watching those guys run through that fog for the last time. It was great catching up with some of the former Rams players like Roland Williams who videobombed me on the field as I was interviewing Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

One of the biggest cheers was for Hall of Fame tackle Orlando Pace who was honored at halftime at midfield with his family. 101 ESPN Randy Karraker delivered some heartfelt words for Pace who makes his home here in St.Louis. Pace also was taken on the golf cart and waved to the crowd of over 10,000 people and thanking them for support and love.

Some of those guys still look like they can play today. Former Rams cornerback Dre Bly came over to me on the sideline and said,”Please pray for us cause I’m out of shape.” Keith Lyle told me after the game that he hopes this event continues. I think we should try bowling or softball from here on out,” said Lyle. Then he paused for a second when I reminded him it’s hot as can be outside. You right bowling it is, said Lyle as he bent over in laughter next to Jeff Wilkins who was sporting an ace bandage on his foot he tweaked his ankle. Wilkins quipped,”Man this is going to mess up my golf game.”

I also got a chance to interview several prominent figures from the Greatest Show on Turf including Mike Martz and Dick Vermeil. You can watch those interviews on St.Louis American Youtube channel. When the game was over and they started turning off the lights I was still standing on the field and then a stadium employee told me I got 12 minutes to leave. I didn’t want to leave yet. I got so many memories from the double overtime loss to the Carolina Panthers, seeing Larry Fitzgerald first game, or seeing former Big Red wideout Roy Green who was my all-time favorite when I was a kid. As I was walking down that long hallway past the locker rooms for the final time I saw D’Marco Farr we looked at each other and I said,”this is it man I can’t believe it.” Farr shook his head, “I know,” he said.

Bittersweet it was, and maybe this will stoke the fire once again for the NFL, it’s going to take some time for the wound to heal. But, I appreciate what Isaac Bruce continues to do for the city of St.Louis and help provide a chance for all of us to have some closure on the Rams no longer being in St.Louis and this town returning back to a two-sport town again. For more coverage please subscribe to our Youtube page at STLAmerican/Video and you can also follow me on twitter @thelegendkil @NTheZoneShow @NTheZoneNetwork

 

Flyers Fly High to Regional Championship over Surge

Posted in Basketball, Sports, St. Louis Surge with tags , , , , , , , on July 27, 2016 by thelegendkil

 

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ST. LOUIS, MO

This past Saturday the St.Louis Surge lost in the Regional Championship game 91-76 to the Elite Flyers. The last time these two teams crossed paths, the Surge won 93-88 in a chippy contest. And this game had plenty of chippy play and lived up to what Surge head coach Tony Condra called “a rivalry game.” Surge point guard Rebecca Harris told me during shootaround that the Flyers “has an axe to grind with the Surge,” especially since the Flyers coach Brittney Koch-Dowell was let go by the Surge. “This is war man, I’m ready for battle, I wish I had some of the eye black to put under my eye,”said Harris. I approached Coach Koch-Dowell for an interview before the game and not only she refused the interview, she also refused to shake my hand as I extended it to her. So since my hands was still clean I shook Surge owner Khalia Collier hand instead.

Now once the game began it clearly looked like the Surge was just out of sync on offense, and they blew several point blank shots at the basket. They easily cheated themselves out of 24 uncontested points right by the basket. And you have to give the Flyers credit, they played their type of game, which reminds me a lot of the New York Knicks in the mid-1990’s. The Flyers were led by Kari Koch-Dowell who won the Midwest Region Tourney MVP. Koch-Dowell put on an impressive shooting performance making all kind jump shots pull ups, shooting across her body, a hand in her face. She was finishing in transition with either hand and challenging Surge defenders to slow her down. Surge coach Tony Condra threw different people at her and it was just her night. The Flyers also got great contributions from forwards Channon Haywood and Hasina Muhammad. The Flyers will move on to San Antonio, Texas for the National tournament, while the Surge wait and see if they still get a wild card berth.

After the game, Surge players and fans were disappointed about the loss. Coach Condra looked at me in the hall and said,”How in the hell were we going to win? We missed 43 shots.” And that was the PG version of the conversation. The Surge just never got into any kind of offensive flow or rhythm and never went on a sustained run. They cut the lead to as close as 9 points in the fourth quarter with plenty of time remaining, they just couldn’t string together enough stops and had several unforced errors and erratic free throw shooting. The Surge came into the fourth quarter in the bonus and drew fouls but couldn’t cash in at the line. For more information about Surge go to @STLSurge on Twitter for updates. And congratulations are also in order for Surge coach Tony Condra, who is now Director of Girls Basketball at Matthew Dickey Boys and Girls Club.

UPDATE (as of this post): The Surge gained a wild card bid for the National tournament and will be participating in San Antonio as well.

Surge Crush…The Crush

Posted in Basketball, Sports, St. Louis Surge with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2016 by thelegendkil

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The St.Louis Surge showed no signs of rust after having the previous weekend off due to Independence Day, winning convincingly 95-72 over the Cleveland Crush. Every single Surge player got a chance to play in the game and also get into the box score. Shanity James led the Surge with 13 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds, Jaleesa Butler and Michala Johnson also helped lead the Surge offensive attack scoring 12 points a piece. Starting point guard Rebecca Harris played limited minutes as head coach Tony Condra wanted to give her some much needed rest for the stretch run. Jenny Rocha, a Lindenwood University graduate, logged plenty of minutes running the point and she is showed off her ability to push the ball up the floor and is a very nifty passer. She is definitely a pass first type of player and an ideal fit for a team that really loves to get out and run off missed attempts at the other end of the floor.

The Cleveland Crush had moments where it looked like it might become a contest. Guard Porsha Poole put up 22 points and Taylor Ruper had 20 points for the Crush. Poole made several acrobatic shots and is no slouch with her game offensively. However, on defense the Crush pretty much imploded. And their head coach James Lacy told me prior to the game that his team lost its last game on the road by 10 points because of poor rebounding. Not only did the poor rebounding continue, there were breakdowns on defense and at times it looked like the Surge was having a conga line to the basket for a layup. And I was even more surprised that Poole was left sitting on the bench at the start of the second half and she was one of their best offensive players and the only one creating problems for the Surge in the first half of the game.

Despite those events happening in the game, Surge coach Tony Condra paced the sidelines, constantly checking the scoreboard as if the massive 30 point lead halfway through the final quarter would disappear. Condra was happy after the game about the win, yet was still unhappy about some things he saw. Typical head coach right? The Surge next game is coming up this Saturday at 1:05 pm against Kansas City, tickets are still available. For post game interviews of the St.Louis Surge go to @NTZNetwork on Twitter.

Train’s Take: Happy Birthday to Me

Posted in Sports on July 11, 2016 by A-Train

32. That number is significant for me. That’s the age I am today. Today should be a joyous time for me. But right now I am just confused. 32 was the age that Philando Castile was when he died. He didn’t get to see 33. He was just a day away from his birthday. I just like (sarcastically) how we are continued to be the bottom of the barrel. How come we can’t have equality in this world? How come we have to be evil to each other just to get to the top? This violence has to end. Not just from a civilian standpoint but from a government standpoint as well. Where is the peace? Is it only JUST FROM WITHIN? It can’t be. More and more each day I am learning more about people and their motives. Why would you even hate another race? I get that there are people that just want to do harm and those are the ones that should be eliminated. But if that’s the case. Then the whole world ends. Everyone has a mean streak somewhere. But this mess lately is just not normal, but it has become the norm. That’s not cool whatsoever. The people that choose to be ignorant about these situations are the ones that don’t face turmoil, the tragedy, the fear, and don’t want anything to change because they believe in their eyes that their inner circle is just fine. I sit hear with tears and write to say, “When will you understand? Do you even want to understand it?” In all honesty, I just want to see 33. I’ll admit I had some laughs last night but after that was over I went back to being confused. I want to live. But I can’t make that decision. The good Lord makes that decision for me. But before he decides that I leave earth I would love to have the hope that change can be made. That peace and love can rule over the world. Happy birthday to me.

A-Train

Russell Westbrook headed to The Big Easy?

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2016 by kaleelweatherly

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To the fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, this statement will resonate with you: It’s so hard to say good-bye. Kevin Durant, the team’s star small forward, is now a part of the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors. Durant has been a model of consistency for the Thunder, and his presence on the court for them will be missed. Fans in Oklahoma City are not pleased with Durant’s decision to take his talents to Golden State.

However, the fans are not going to like what happens next. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s All-Star point guard, is scheduled to become a free-agent in 2017. Since Durant is no longer with the team, no one knows if he is willing to sign an extension. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported this: “If Westbrook chooses not to extend his contract this summer, multiple league executives told ESPN they believe the Thunder will consider fielding trade offers for Westbrook.”

Let’s be honest. Westbrook is not going to sign an extension, so the Thunder should just look for trade offers now. The New Orleans Pelicans is a team that may try to trade for the five-time All-Star. New Orleans is on the cusp of being a great team in the West. Led by power forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are ready to go deep into the playoffs and compete for a championship. Davis, a three-time All-Star, is arguably the best big man in the NBA. He can play with his back to the basket, rebound, stretch the floor, and play incredible defense.

Davis isn’t the only player on the Pelicans with a lot of talent. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are exceptional players who can score and play defense on the perimeter. New Orleans also drafted Buddy Hield out of Oklahoma with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Hield can score from anywhere on the court, and he is lethal from beyond the arc.

New Orleans should trade Evans, Holiday, and multiple draft picks to Oklahoma City for Westbrook. You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should this trade happen? Well, the Pelicans need another player to take some of the pressure off of Davis. Furthermore, Evans and Holiday are not stars, but they are good players. Oklahoma City needs to start rebuilding. Evans and Holiday are both young players who have experienced success in the NBA.

Last season, Evans averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. Holiday averaged 16.8 points, three rebounds, and six assists. Both players are quality starters.

Having a team that consists of Davis, Westbrook, and Hield would immediately strike fear into the hearts of opposing players in the NBA. Teams are not going to double-team Davis in the post if Westbrook and Hield are on the perimeter.

New Orleans deserves to win a championship. Westbrook would increase the Pelicans’ chances of winning one because of his scoring and passing abilities, explosiveness, and defense. Davis and Westbrook would make a great one-two punch. Don’t you agree? 

The View From Mt. Airy: Harrison Barnes To The Sixers 07-1-16

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on July 1, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

 
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Seriously.

Harrison Barnes makes absolute sense for the Sixers.

I hear you screaming.

“Look at his performance in the NBA Finals. What did he do to deserve or even earn a max contract as an NBA free agent?”

“Won’t he just be in the way?”

“Why would you add a Golden State Warrior who arguably failed on the biggest stage as a complimentary player to this array of young talent we lost 200 games to acquire? ARE YOU  HIGH?”

It’s a little more complex than just signing Harrison Barnes. There is a lot more involved than inking a max contract for a player who was very underwhelming on a 73-9 Warriors team that came up smaller than a Seahawks’ playcall in the Super Bowl when his team failed with a 3-1 finals lead and home court advantage.

Yup.

I can recite all the numbers. How did he fail along with his cohorts who lost more playoff games than regular season contests? How do you justify paying him to be a franchise (monetarily at least) player amidst a locker room full of elite draft picks?

It’s a simple as this…….

Follow the bouncing balls…

A. Harrison Barnes would join the Sixers this fall fresh off his experience in the 2016 RIO Olympiad as a member of the USA Basketball team assembled by his new (76ers) team PRESIDENT PER SE….yeah…call him a consultant…but Jerry Colangelo has just as much a hand on the Sixers’ tiller as his kid Brian. But not to demean his son but the NBA footprint (with steel toed boots) is all over the change from Sam Hinkie and his gang of IPad analytic gangsters to old school NBA. That being known Jerry is fully responsible for the outcome and the product in Philadelphia this fall and beyond. With that in mind he played it closer than Dusty Rhodes and the NWA belt….give it to my son. There is no accident that Barnes is on the Sixers horizon and the 2016 Olympic team.

Now who assembled, chose and anointed the group that will represent Team USA?

You guessed it. Jerry Colangelo.

Does that give the Sixers an edge? I think so.

B. He will arrive after being wholly saturated in NBA success. The 73-9 Warriors, as led by Steve Kerr, emulate the offense that Brett Brown seeks to incorporate in South Philly. That means movement after the pass. Versatility in both offensive and defensive matchups. Unselfish play, with the ball never getting stuck anywhere but in the twine for two points. Harrison Barnes was not and at no point in the future being the Alpha in the Golden State offense, yet he could teach and display for the kiddie Sixers the model that makes wins outta being a part of a winning formula versus being solely responsible for the
outcome as most of the top young talent has been throughout the majority of their fledgling basketball lives.

C. NBA LIFE – There is more to the NBA player’s lives than game day. With the proliferation of highly paid kids who will board your Sixers’ charters next season, it absolutely can’t hurt to have someone who can show and prove for these kids how to live and survive on the road. We have heard the horror story of A.I. and his ten years of no packing, buying clothing on the road everywhere and ultimately failing in his transition to professional behavior and comportment. Yeah, he garnered an MVP and dragged a lame roster to a 2001 NBA FINALS appearance, but it was all downhill from there. Harrison Barnes, by all accumulated evidence, is just the cerebral citizen that the Sixer kids can follow, copycat and respect. I know you want to argue that a veteran like Elton Brand can do the same. That’s bulls—. These young men need someone who is modeling and contributing at a high level on the court also. Sitting on the bench for 38 minutes is NOT NBA leadership anymore. If it were ever.

D. SHOW HIM THE MONEY! The NBA salary cap is irrelevant in this conversation. As the advent of the new billion dollar bag-busting TV deal rolls around, it appears that the league and a large group of its teams will experience a virtual cap-free season. Knowing this, and coupling that information with his age, health, contribution and exploration date, this seems to be a no-lose situation for Philadelphia. Can he psychologically handle a max deal? Wherever he goes that will be the case so factor that question out. So here is your silver lining. Whatever he is, as a Sixer, will NOT include washed up. His value will grow in year 3 and 4 as his contract becomes obsolete in price and attractive to anyone as he will still be at or near peak athletic performance and barely 30. Do the deal. I am not a Harrison Barnes fan but, as a 40-year NBA observer, I know my romper room of future stars needs a leader that can play.

That’s the view from Mt. Airy…..follow me @MtAiryPhil and @NTheZoneShow on Twitter.

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