Weekend Review

Federer Takes Wimbledon

At the age of thirty, Roger Federer had taken a backseat to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but after a flurry of upsets and a masterful semifinal performance, the Swiss star found himself in the Wimbledon final yet again. Pitted against Britain’s own Andy Murray, Federer cruised to victory in four sets, notching his seventh Wimbledon and seventeenth Grand Slam victory while regaining his rank as number one in the world.

Rangers-Twins Thunderous Surprise 

In the top of the fourth inning, a close-hitting lightning strike and subsequent boom of thunder rattled Rangers ballpark, sending players of both teams scrambling for the dugout.  Said Rangers first baseman Michael Young, “That was the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life.”

U.S. Men’s Basketball Team Announced

Over the weekend, the reigning gold medalist U.S. Men’s Basketball Team announced their 2012 roster. Injuries may have sidelined recent champs Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but Coach K’s squad gladly welcomes the additions of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and others to FIBA’s number one ranked team.

Dwight Howard Trade Rumors

Developments continue in the seemingly endless Dwight Howard saga. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Nets-Magic talks continue and are now covering 14 players, three teams and a possible fourth looking in to take MarShon Brooks. If the deal is completed, it may indeed grow to become the NBA’s all-time largest blockbuster.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of CS Monitor, Bleacher Report

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Top 5 Tuesday: Sports History’s Most Patriotic Moments

Tomorrow will mark two-hundred thirty-six years of American independence. Two-hundred thirty-six years since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock signed his — well, “John Hancock.” The past centuries have provided many definitive moments, and sports history is no exception. Today, THE SPORTS DISPENCER has scoured the records to compile five of sports history’s most patriotic moments.

5. Reaction to the Death of Osama Bin Laden

On May 1, 2011, a covert operation captured and killed Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani compound. Courtesy of social media, news spread rapidly before an official announcement was made, eventually reaching the fans of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. There, a nationally broadcast matchup between the Mets and Phillies was briefly interrupted in the top of the ninth when jubilant spectators erupted into chanting U-S-A. Although in the midst of a tightly contested NL East matchup, rival fans put their team allegiances aside and reveled in a marquee American moment.

4. “Dream Team”

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the U.S. men’s basketball team — composed of college stars — stumbled to an unacceptable third place finish. Four years later, FIBA turned to the NBA to supply a lineup capable of returning American basketball to atop the podium. By enlisting the game’s best and brightest stars, the world could not compete, losing by an average of 43.8 points. From Bird to Magic to Barkley to Jordan, the U.S.’s elite squad dazzled audiences, seized the gold, and brought glory to the “Stars and Stripes.”

3. Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show

As the United States continued to recover, Super Bowl XXXVI served as a platform to pay tribute to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After U2 treated the sold out Superdome crowd to an upbeat rendition of “Beautiful Day”, the scene changed. Behind the band, two backdrops began to scroll, featuring the names of all the victims killed in the attacks. When U2 concluded the emotional performance, Bono tore open his jacket to reveal an American flag. The halftime show garnered rave reviews and in 2009 was named by SI.com as the greatest in history.

2. Rick Monday Saves the Flag

A two-time All-Star, ex-Cubs center fielder Rick Monday is perhaps best known for stopping two protesters from burning an American flag in a play dubbed “the greatest in baseball history.” In regards to the incident, Monday, a former marine, later remarked, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”

1. Miracle on Ice

Entering the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Soviet Union was the odds-on favorite to top the podium, winning every ice hockey gold since 1964. Since the United States’ victory in 1960, the Soviets defeated America in every subsequent matchup with a cumulative score of 28-7. In the heart of the Cold War, the Americans and Soviets were natural rivals, but the United States never seemed to gain the upper hand. When the Olympics returned to Lake Placid, where the U.S. captured gold in 1960, momentum had finally shifted in America’s favor. In front of a raucous home crowd, Herb Brooks’ squad edged the Soviets 4-3 en route to Olympic gold.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of LA Public Library, ESPN

What If Wednesday: David Stern’s Veto

In a three-team blockbuster NBA trade, longtime Hornets point guard Chris Paul was set to leave New Orleans to don purple and gold. Hornets GM Dell Demps successfully dealt a disgruntled superstar to the Lakers in return for quality talent from both Los Angeles and Houston. All three parties were benefited, that was, until commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal for “basketball reasons” while acting as owner of the league-operated Hornets. Instead, New Orleans was relegated to trading Chris Paul to the Clippers. Stern’s actions drew heavy criticism, but what if he had chosen differently? THE SPORTS DISPENCER analyzes what could have been in this week’s edition of What If.

Lob City Loses Out

After David Stern nixed New Orleans’ original deal, Chris Paul still found his way to Los Angeles but not in the manner expected. Four days after the Lakers and Hornets agreed to terms, New Orleans sent Chris Paul to LA’s “other” team. The Clippers experienced an instant upgrade at the point guard position. Paul provided a spark plug on offense and his instant connection with power forward Blake Griffin kept the Staples Center electric while helping the Clippers win their first playoff series since 2005. Stern’s decision not only resurrected Los Angeles’ weaker franchise, it finally gave fans a reason to cheer.

Improved Lakers

What benefited one Staples Center resident, hurt the other. After agreeing to terms with New Orleans, the Lakers had filled their team’s biggest hole. They dealt away size for youth and speed at the point guard position, but after David Stern’s news broke, the Lakers had to turn to 37-year-old Derek Fisher to start. Fisher underwhelmed and Los Angeles was left searching for a way to fill the void. At the trade deadline, GM Mitch Kupchak received Ramon Sessions from Cleveland in an attempt to help increase production. Sessions fit well in coach Mike Brown’s system, but his defensive inadequacies were exploited early and often. Paul would have provided the Lakers superior offensive skill, but most importantly, his NBA All-Defensive talent would have matched up well against Russell Westbrook and the West’s other top-tier point guards, allowing the Lakers to make a deeper postseason run.

Odom’s Opportunity

After the Paul deal fell through, the Lakers’ sixth-man Lamar Odom was left in limbo. Then on December 11, Los Angeles brashly dealt Odom to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Uncertainty and a shortened offseason hurt Lamar. He struggled to mesh with the Mavericks and never truly found a place in their system. After putting up career-low numbers, Odom parted ways with the Mavs on April 9. Had the original Paul deal not fell through, Odom would have found himself at the center of New Orleans’ young core of talent. His veteran leadership would have meshed well with the Hornets raw talent and ultimately benefited both New Orleans and himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Photos Courtesy of Hoop Smack, Zimbio, Real Clear Sports

What do you think? Anything we missed? Any other What If Wednesday suggestions? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

Updated NBA Playoff Round 2 Predictions

San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Clippers (SA leads 2-0)

Coming off a physical seven-game first-round series against the Grizzlies, the Clippers ran up against the West’s best. In its first two games, San Antonio has cruised to victory. Combined, San Antonio has outscored the Clippers 213-180 while shooting an average of 51 percent from the field. The Clippers played well enough to scrape by Memphis but has yet to prove it can handle the surging Spurs. The series shifts to Los Angeles, but the result will remain the same. Prediction: Spurs win in four.

Boston Celtics vs the Philadelphia 76ers (BOS leads 2-1)

Behind a strong Game 2 performance, the Sixers stole home-field advantage and seemed primed to take control of series, but the Celtics refused to budge. Boston rolled to victory in Game 3 behind Kevin Garnett’s 27 points and 13 boards. Rondo contributed 23 points and 14 assists. The Celtics offense dominated in a 107-91 win. If the Sixers want to stay alive, it will need to step it up on the defensive side of the ball. Boston cannot continue to shoot 50 percent from the field if Philly wishes to contend. Expect the Sixers to adjust but Rondo’s presence too large to overcome. Prediction: Celtics win in six.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers (OKC leads 2-0)

After clobbering the Lakers by 29 in Game 1, the Thunder found itself trailing by seven at home with two minutes remaining in Game 2. The Lakers finally seemed to be turning things around, but looks can be deceiving. The Thunder began knocking down contested shots as the Lakers missed open jumpers. Then with 22 seconds remaining, Durant buried the game-winner to give OKC the lead. In the final seconds, LA squandered its final opportunity when Steve Blake missed a wide-open three in the corner. Returning to the Staples Center will boost the Lakers’ production but not enough to match the Thunder’s dynamic Durant-Westbrook tandem. Prediction: Thunder win in five.

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers (IND leads 2-1)

The Big Three proved ineffective in Game 3 as the Pacers throttled the Heat by 24. Chris Bosh remains out indefinitely with an abdominal injury, and Dwyane Wade had his career worst playoff game performance. Wade was 2-13 for 5 points. LeBron notched 22 but was overshadowed by Roy Hibbert’s dominant performance. The Pacers star scored 19 points and reeled in 18 rebounds while providing key play on defense. His five blocks and strong interior presence contributed to 37.2 percent shooting for the Heat. The Pacers may continue to shut down Wade, and Bosh is unexpected to return, but as LeBron proved in Cleveland, he can win on his own. Prediction: Heat win in seven.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Seattle PI, LA Times