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Kobe’s image, wallet take a hit with one word

With a poor choice of words at the most unlucky of times, Kobe Bryant will have to enter the 2011 playoffs with a newly acquired blemish on his resume.

The Los Angeles star was caught red-handed by the national lip-readers of America, hurling a homophobic slur at referee Bennie Adams, after Bryant was given a technical foul and sent to the bench.

Clearly frustrated and angered by the referee’s decision, Bryant threw a punch at his seat and launched his towel out of bounds.  Realizing that an opportunity had opened to expose Kobe’s vulnerability, the camera swiftly zoomed into his flustered face, as he fiercely muttered the two consecutive F-bombs towards Adams.

Kobe was fined $100,000 for the incident, and took heat from the press and minority groups who demanded an apology.

There’s no question that Bryant was wrong for using the word.  He dropped one of the two “no-nos”  (F-word and the N-word) when it comes to addressing players and referees, or humans for that matter.   It’s a word that covers a touchy subject, and inevitably stirs controversy while adding insult.

However in a competitive environment where emotions run high, like during a nationally televised Lakers-Spurs game,  profanity-laced rants are not uncommon.  I can’t even imagine what is said at the line of scrimmage on football Sunday, but I believe it’s more explicit than “Hey number 93, you don’t play real well” .  It’s pretty clear that Bryant meant nothing personal, and that the cringe-worthy word he used was delivered out of frustration.  He might as well called Adams a “stupid jerk”, because that was most likely the true intent of his message.

So how do we decide which words deserve $100,000 fines, and which don’t?  Had the camera crew used some better judgement, and focused their lens on the court itself rather than the boiling star-figure on the bench, would this even be a story?  Would anyone even know this happened except for Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff, who remained expressionless while sitting next to Kobe during the exchange?

The fact is that Stern had to fine Bryant. The public knew Bryant had said what he said, not because they heard it, but because the broadcast team brought it to our attention during the broadcast, and that media outlets presented it as a breaking story.  At that point, Stern had the option to fine him, or be labeled as tolerant of anti-gay remarks.

Earlier this season, Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva accused notorious bully Kevin Garnett of calling him a “cancer patient”, referring to his Alopecia that prohibits his body from growing hair.  But unlike Kobe, Garnett’s alleged remarks were not documented on camera, and therefore didn’t earn him a fine.  That’s the case for just about all of the trash that’s talked in a 48 minute contest, where abusive words are dished out with every possession.

There’s no arguing that Bryant screwed up.  He should have known that when your famous enough to go by just your first name, the camera has a tendency to follow you.  With bad timing, a controversial subject and a high-profile celebrity all rolled up into one, it made for good debate, and an attention-grabbing headline.

Categories: Uncategorized

UFC 129 – Now or Never for Shields…

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

New York – For Jake Shields, tonight is the opportunity of a lifetime. If he has any hopes of solidifying his name among the top fighters in MMA history, it is now or never. The underrated Shields has won his last 15 matches, from EliteXC, Strikeforce and now the UFC. He has found ways to win when he shouldn’t. Taking down the former champion Dan Henderson, submitting middleweight champion Robbie Lawler, and more recently a split-decision to Martin Kampann that secured his bout against the welterweight champion at UFC 129, Georges St. Pierre. For years, people have doubted the talent of Shields, who lacks in the stand-up game, but thrives on the ground. Is there any better way to silence the critics than to defeat perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound fighter to ever enter the octagon? 

But this is no walk in the park for Shields either, who goes up against not only the champion in GSP, but also the 55,000 fans that will be behind him at a sold out Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, the home-town of the champ.

 

There has been talk of St.Pierre moving up to the middleweight division as there has been no opponent in the welterweight division to give GSP any sort of difficulty. He was able to defeat B.J. Penn and Josh Koscheck twice, reclaim his belt against Matt Serra and completely dominate Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves. As soon as he enters the cage, he controls the flow of the match. GSP is able to identify the weakness of his opponent and pick them apart at his own pace. Defeating Shields would be just another step for GSP to the dream match that MMA fans have hoped for, a bout against middleweight champion Anderson Silva, to claim once and for all, who is the greatest fighter in MMA history.

Shields stated yesterday, ““Winning the belt period, whoever I win it from, would mean a tremendous amount to me, but I think taking it from GSP is a whole different level. He’s possibly the best champ of all time. That’s a completely different level in my mind.” Shields has the respect for GSP, he isn’t a trash talker and proves himself in the cage.

The past few weeks leading up to the match, the pressure seems to be all on the shoulders of GSP. For what reason? Could it be that he is going to put his championship on the line in front of thousands of faithful fans? Or is it that people have doubted Shields for so long that he has been able to slide under the radar and could actually have a shot at beating GSP? Could the welterweight belt be in the hands of someone different for the first time in 4 years?

A Shields victory would be one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Yes, GSP has the advantage in almost every aspect of the game; but Shields might have the mental edge. People do not expect him to win and a loss would not be shocking by any means. For Shields, it is not just about the championship, it is about proving to everyone who ever doubted his success and giving the term “underdog” a new definition.

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Although I would love to see someone take the crown from GSP, he is possibly the best conditioned athlete in the world and can go five rounds without breaking a sweat. If Shields can withstand the early rounds of strikes from GSP and find away around his defense, he might have a chance of going for a takedown and a submission. If I had to pick with my heart, it would be Shields, but if it was my wallet, GSP comes away as the reigning champion.

Categories: Uncategorized

Knicks vs. Celtics Preview

April 17, 2011 7 comments


The New York Knicks head to TD Garden in Boston tonight for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics.  This match up will feature the defending Eastern Conference Champion Celtics versus the up and coming, yet unproven, Knicks.  The Celtics come into this series as the clear favorite and after making trips to the NBA Finals the last two years; this will be a tough out for the new-look Knicks.  Some key things to watch in this series:

–       Amare vs. KG – From the time Amar’e Stoudemire declared this past off season that “the Knicks are back” he has been the leader of the Knicks on and off the court.  Even though the Knicks traded for two additional superstars in Carmello Anthony and Chauncey Billups this February, Amar’e still sets the tone for this Knick team.  This season in games that the Knicks won Amar’e shot over 54% from the field, whereas in losses he shot only 46%.  He will face a tough defensive test in Kevin Garnett, a 15 year veteran and a known shut-down defender.  KG has played very well versus the Knicks this year, averaging almost 23 points per game, well over his season average of 14.9.  If Amar’e can overcome KG’s tough defense and set the pace for the Knicks, he will have a chance at leading NY to an upset.

–       Can Chauncey Billups keep up with Rajon Rondo? – At 34 years of age, Billups will be given the task of trying to defend one of the NBA’s fastest and most dynamic point guards in the 25 year old Rajon Rondo.  Both players are playoff-tested former NBA champs, with Chauncey taking home the Finals MVP in 2004.  Rondo, averaging 16 assists per game against the Knicks this season, will be a difficult assignment for the veteran Billups, who has been slowed down in his time with the Knicks because of multiple nagging injuries.  If Rondo runs circles around Chauncey, it will likely be a short series for the Knicks.

–       Can Melo walk the walk? – Not since his years in Syracuse will Carmello Anthony be under a bigger microscope or under more pressure to deliver than he will in these first few games against the Celtics.  After demanding a trade from the Denver Nuggets earlier this season, Carmello got his wish and is now leading his childhood favorite New York Knicks into the playoffs.  After months of rumors, innuendo, drama, and the shipment of three Knicks starters to the Nuggets, its now all on Carmello’s shoulders to deliver.  The good news, at least, for Knicks fans is that back in 2003 when the pressure was on he carried Syracuse all the way to a National Championship.  Knicks fans would likely settle for less this year, but if Carmello gets hot, the sky is the limit for this Knicks team.

Prediction: Celtics in 5

Mo Cassara, mo' media

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

A regular guy who landed an irregular job in unconventional fashion, Mo Cassara has thrived in his role as head coach of the Hofstra basketball program through the use of social media.
Cassara had been an assistant coach at Boston College before he was picked up by Hofstra to work as an assistant under newly appointed head coach Tim Welsh.  In just over a month, Welsh had to resign under unfortunate circumstances, and Cassara’s future in basketball was soon uncertain. “I was 24 hours from being out of the sport”, Cassara said.
He was soon hired as the new head coach of the Hofstra basketball program, despite living in the dorms as a 3rd or 4th assistant coach in just his fifth week with the team.

What makes Cassara so unique, other than his youth, is his ability to connect with young kids through social media outlets used everyday by students and players.  Mo is a regular Facebook and Twitter user, and carries a separate phone with him just to interact with his team and fan base.
When asked if he responds to fans and students that contact him through social media, Cassara replied, “Sure I do… when I respond back, it creates a good buzz on campus”.

He also discussed his approach towards recruiting and establishing relationships with his potential future players.  “I’ll wake up at 6AM and send them a Facebook message”, Mo said when referring to the players he was recruiting.  By communicating with players through the same social media outlets they use every day, he is putting himself on their level.

Cassara emphasizes the significance of connecting with people, an important characteristic for someone whose job description requires him to attract young talent, maximize the talent he’s given, and answer to the all mighty and demanding media.  “It’s all about building relationships”, he said.

Cassara’s relationship with the media and his philosophy towards facing it has also been a strength of the personable young coach, who had handled the firing of Welsh with grace and class.  “I have to be the same person all the time.  It gives you credibility with the media”.

Gaining the trust of his players, fans and the students seemed to be a major priority for the first year head coach, who exceeded expectations by finishing tied for second in the conference. He noted how important his relationship was with leading scorer Charles Jenkins. “Charles helped me get through my first year”, he said when referring to his help both on and off the court.

Mo Cassara is division one college basketball coach who understands the significance of technology in his particular business.  He was given an opportunity most people never see, and he’s ran with it with the help of the most up to date form of communication- social media.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Kris Humphries: 10 Reasons Re-Signing Him Needs To Be New Jersey Nets' Priority

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Following the 2011-2012 season, the main free agent the New Jersey Nets will worry about is current point guard Deron Williams.

However, a pressing free agent that the Nets must retain this upcoming offseason is their power forward, Kris Humphries.

After six mediocre seasons playing mostly in a bench role, Humphries has found himself this season.

He’s averaged a double-double this season with 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

If it wasn’t for Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Humphries would be a shoe-in for Comeback Player of the Year.

Here are 10 reasons why the Nets must re-sign Humphries this offseason.

10. Kim Kardashian attends games

Though this obviously is not a major reason to bring back Kris Humphries, he is dating Kim Kardashian.

While she hasn’t exactly brought the Nets much luck this season, it’s always a pleasure seeing her in the stands.

Maybe she can distract the Nets’ opponents into missing shots.

But seriously, here are the real reasons for bringing back Humphries.

9. Won’t be too expensive

In regards to some of the other available free agents, Kris Humphries may not be terribly expensive.

Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov has his sights set on some marquee free agents this and next offseason. However, he must also budget wisely so the Nets can afford the available talent.

Humphries is only 26, and his performance this year has opened the eyes of many around the league.

Still, he won’t command the salary of Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph or David West, thus making him a great option for the Nets.

8. Starter or substitute

Kris Humphries has shown that he can be a valuable member of a starting five or can sub if need be.

Humphries worked his way into the starting lineup early in the season after giving the Nets great minutes off the bench.

When the Nets gave youngster Derrick Favors the starting role, Humphries still was able to record double-doubles off the bench.

Humphries regained the starting role following the Deron Williams trade, which included Favors. He hasn’t lost a step since the change.

He gives the Nets versatility if they plan on pursuing a free agent forward or center.

7. Two-way player

Not only can Kris Humphries clean up around the hoop, but he has shown his defensive prowess all season.

He rises up over would-be offensive rebounders to snatch the ball out of their grasps.

He’s 6’9”, 235 pounds, so he uses his muscular frame to bully his opponents on the glass.

Though he’s averaged just 1.1 blocks per game, it’s the timing and emphatic nature of these blocks that has left an impact.

Here, Humphries put Phoenix Suns’ center Robin Lopez in his place in front of his twin brother, Brook.

He’s one of the few two-way players left in the NBA.

6. Lots of energy

Kris Humphries gave the Nets a much-needed energy boost early this year after New Jersey’s miserable 12-70 season last year.

He ripped down rebounds, cleaned up on the glass and threw down some monster dunks.

This energy was a huge factor in the Nets’ improvement this season.

Humphries always hustled when he was on the floor, and will look to continue this energy heading into next season.

5. Double-double machine

Kris Humphries has been a double-double machine this season.

He’s recorded 29 double-doubles this year after only recording six in his first six seasons.

He is one of only 11 players averaging a double-double this season. The other 10 are the following: Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Zack Randolph, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Joakim Noah, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and Humphries’ teammate Deron Williams.

That is some pretty impressive company, which shows what sort of asset Humphries has been to the Nets this season.

4. Picks up Brook Lopez on the boards

This season, Nets’ center Brook Lopez has developed a deadly mid-range jumper.

As a result, he has found himself outside the paint more often when rebounding opportunities arise.

Lopez has averaged just 5.9 rebounds per game this year, which for a seven-footer is quite low.

However, Kris Humphries has picked up Lopez’s slack on the glass in a big way. He pulls down offensive rebounds, which gives the Nets second opportunities.

Also, since the Nets can rely on Humphries down low, Lopez can use his outside jumper more often, knowing that Humphries will fight for the board.

3. Finally come into his own

It may have taken Kris Humphries six NBA seasons, but he finally put everything together this season.

Once he worked himself into the starting lineup, he gained the confidence needed to make him a productive player.

Since he’s still young, Humphries can use this momentum to build a solid career.

The Nets would be wise to lock him up long-term to prevent another team from swooping in.

2. Connection with Deron Williams

From the moment that Deron Williams suited up for the Nets, he and Kris Humphries developed an instant connection.

Williams has a knack for finding most of the big men he’s played with, but Williams and Humphries looked like they had been playing together for years.

Since Humphries was able to constantly finish around the basket, Williams compiled a ton of assists.

Williams will be a Net for at least one more season, so re-signing Humphries long-term may keep Deron in town.

As long as Williams consistently feeds Humphries down low, both players will be productive forces for the 2011-2012 Nets.

1. Arguably Nets’ MVP

Kris Humphries has arguably been the Nets’ MVP this season.

New Jersey seems to get a consistent performance out of him every night, which has been a major factor in their improvement.

The Nets appear to be a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, but Humphries will need to be around next year for the team to get better.

As seen by the trade for Deron Williams, Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets’ GM Billie King aren’t afraid to shake up the roster.

However, what sort of message would it send to the other Nets’ players if the team failed to sign their MVP?

Based on these reasons, there’s a strong possibility Humphries will continue to call Newark home for at least the next few seasons.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mo Cassara: A skilled coach of the zeitgeist

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

 

When measuring popularity by today’s standards, Hofstra University’s head basketball coach Mo Cassara is awfully popular—He has 1, 740 Facebook friends and 1,423 twitter followers. These are numbers he garnered by using social media to create relationships with students, players and potential recruits for his team.

“The way the campus communities communicate, the way things happen­­, I think you have to be willing to change a little bit– You have to be willing to be a little different,” said Cassara.

Cassara learned quickly the velocity at which change can occur in the business. After working as an assistant under Tim Welch, Cassara was hired as Hofstra’s head basketball coach when Welch was ousted for a DUI in 2010. He came on as a virtually unknown name in the CAA.

“Nobody knew who I was at all, and that was part of my job from that day forward, to try and tell people,” he said.

His knack toward social media proved to be functional. By sending relevant tweets and updating his facebook page, people began to recognize Cassara on campus. Suddenly, seats at the stadium began to fill up and press conferences became standing room only.

“I am on twitter, and I carry one phone that I just do social media on,” he said.

Cassaea uses social media to court potential players and recruits in tandem with traditional phone calls and sit-downs.

“I would take the time and I would go through their profiles [potential recruits] and if they were doing something, then I would come back and comment about something they were doing. It might not even be about basketball,” he said

Cassara credits his use of social media for creating a personal familiarity with recruits that did not exist prior to this platform.

“I think the kids felt they could communicate with me,” he says. Not just the basketball program, but they could interact with me. I respond back to them, I think that goes a long way,” he said.

A typical day for Cassara starts with sending out messages on facebook, tweeting and re-tweeting, all before having his morning coffee at six o’clock in morning.

“There is no other coach that is sending a kid a facebook message at six o’clock in the morning, lets be honest,” he said.

Now apart of the Hofstra parlance, Cassara has to be careful what he sends out into the social media sphere. He was cited for a violation after he re-tweeted a tweet from an unsigned, but committed recruit.

“You can’t just say what you want to say all the time,” he said.

For now, however, Mo Cassara is saying all the right things. He may soon change the recruiting landscape for college athletes, but presently, he is the visionary behind the concept.

“I think it is about relationships and that’s the way I operate,” he said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Cassara adds flare to his coaching style

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mo Cassara was hired in May to take on the men’s basketball program at Hofstra University, administrators, students, fans, and the media all had one question – “Who is Mo Cassara?” Cassara was originally hired as an assistant under Tim Welch. After Welch resigned after receiving a DUI, Cassara was chosen to lead the Pride this season.

“I could walk from one end of campus to the other, and no one knew who I was” said Cassara. He knew it was going to take some work to let everyone know who he was and what he stood for. Cassara used social media as a means to create a positive buzz on campus and in the community.

“I’m going to do this a little differently than they’ve done in the past,” said Cassara. “I’m going to give this a different flare. The social media has been a great vehicle for that.” He certainly has made the most out of Facebook and Twitter as he has close to 1,800 and 1,500 friends and followers respectively.

Cassara spends approximately 2 hours a day responding to messages on Facebook and Twitter. “It’s important to me that the students and community feel like they can interact with me. It really gave me credit with the students, and got them to come out to our games.” In fact, Cassara is so involved with social networking that he even carries an extra phone around strictly for that reason.

Facebook and Twitter weren’t the only means of getting people to attend the games. Having senior standout Charles Jenkins on the court certainly brought a lot of positive attention to the Hofstra Basketball program.

“Charles Jenkins helped me get through last year. He really stepped up and lead the younger guys, and taught them how to deal with the media” said Cassara.

With the times changing, Cassara felt he could use social networking as a way to get ahead on other schools with recruiting. “I have used Facebook and Twitter as a means to communicate with potential recruits. I think it goes a long way when they see that a college coach is sending them a message at 6:00am – No other coach is out there doing that” said Cassara.

Facebook played a crucial role in his recruitment with Malik Nichols, as he has a speech impediment that could have made the recruiting process difficult. Facebook was a way for the two to communicate easily.

Mo Cassara thought he was 24 hours away from being out of this business. He has been through a rollercoaster year with losing his job at Boston College, and having to deal with an unfortunate situation here at Hofstra under head coach Tim Welch. Cassara didn’t let that stop him from getting the basketball program on track finishing the year with a 20-12 record. Social media has been a key component in creating a positive buzz about Hofstra Basketball. Cassara looks forward to building on the program in hopes for another successful season.

Categories: Uncategorized