CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
A Super Weekend in New York
New York during Super Bowl weekend became the focus of the sports world and it began with a Golden Boy Boxing special at Brooklyn Barclay Center featuring the return of Victor Ortiz, who was attempting to rejoin the elites of the boxing welterweights. Facing the veteran Luis Collazo, this was a do or die fight for Ortiz.
The first round began with both fighters battling each other on even terms as Ortiz was his usual aggressive self but Collazo countering effectively. Near the end of the second round in what appeared to be an even fight, the dramatic moment happened. Ortiz threw a wild hook that missed Collazo but Collazo threw the perfect right hook that landed and sent Ortiz down for the count. As the time ran out in the round, Ortiz could not continue and just like that, it was over.
After the fight, Collazo called out Mayweather and asked if the best pound for pound wanted to come to Brooklyn to fight for all the big bucks. I don’t know if Mayweather has Luis Collazo on his radar screen but if the money is right; Mayweather might make a detour to the Barclay center.
Monday night, the Nets battled the 76ers as the Nets attempted to work their way out of the early hole to get back in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Nets were supposed to challenge for Eastern Conference championship with the addition of former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but injuries and subpar play of the former Celtics saw the Nets slip near the bottom of the conference. A 10-4 record in January put them back in the playoff hunt as Garnett and Pierce started to show flashes of their old self. Nets however still have a big hurdle as Brook Lopez, their All-Star Center, is out for the season. Against the 76ers, three of their key players were out including the sharp shooting Joe Johnson.
That evening saw the old Paul Pierce showing up as he scored 25 points to lead all Nets followed by 21 points by both Deron Williams and Mirza Teletovic. Garnett did not score much, only six points, but he dominated the glass and during the fourth quarter had two key blocks that proved crucial to Nets preserving their victory over the lowly 76ers who are in competition for the top lottery picks with the Celtics.
The Nets are a team built to win right now with an owner who doesn’t mind paying the luxury tax but with Lopez on the shelf and the former Celtics not playing to their past standard, this will not be the season that the Nets challenged the Pacers and the Heat for Eastern Conference championship. On the other hand, the Barclay center is challenging Madison Garden for supremacy as the premier arena in the New York. Garden has the history but Barclay the sizzle. The recent Nets-76ers saw Beyonce along with Jay-Z sitting courtside with Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson. While the Garden is still considered the Mecca of Boxing and Basketball but in New York, the bigger fights are now happening at the Barclay Center and with Nets are looking to challenge Knicks for the heart of New York basketball fans. Plus, the New York Islander will be making the Barclay center their home, giving Brooklyn sport fans one more reason to stay put.
Barclay Center is part of a larger battle within New York as Brooklyn is now challenging Manhattan as the place to be for the rich and famous. Park Slope is starting to become the cool place to live as the new Mayor made Park Slope his resident before winning the last election. Barclay Center is starting to erode the Garden as the happening place for sports and concert!
As for the Super Bowl, the game pretty much ended on the first play as the hiked ball went flying over Peyton Manning head as he was changing plays. Leaving me with the following observations:
One, the idea that this loss damages Manning legacy is the kind of crap that only news reporter with not much else to report can actually believe. Manning has carried two teams to the Super Bowl on his back and even won a Super Bowl, something that not even the great Dan Mariano ever did. Manning found himself pressured all game and his receivers couldn’t separate themselves from the speedy and tough Seahawks defense. Manning could not play quarterback, block the onrushing Seattle line nor can he run routes at the same time, so this was a team defeat. Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback and this hardly diminish his legacy no more than Mariano legacy was diminished due to his failure to win a Super Bowl.
Second, If Manning has his ticket punched to Canton; Russell Wilson is showing that he might be on his way to Hall of Fame. Wilson shows that sometimes you have to look at the whole package and not just the physical tool. He may not be quite six feet tall but Wilson is a great athlete who has shown the instinct and intelligence that can’t be coached. He is forever looking for ways to move the ball whether it is with his leg or his arm. (It is important to note that while Wilson is scrambling and buying time, he has always his eyes pointed down field and looking for opportunity to throw downfield.) Wilson may not retire with the stats of a Manning or Brady but he is a winner and that counts for something. And in the draft, a few scouts might want to look beyond arm strength and height and find a way to measure intelligence and heart.
Three, this is a note for Jay Gruden, the new Redskins coach. You have your version of Wilson sitting in Washington and next year, Griffin knee should be recovered and if Wilson and Kaepernick showed anything, they showed that in the new NFL, you need a quarterback who can beat you with his arm and legs. Griffin is a potential franchise quarterback and franchise quarterbacks are a rarity. And in the NFL, a new generation of great quarterbacks led by Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are ready to take the helm. There is no reason for Griffin not to take his place among the greats.
Four, in the pass happy NFL, it pays to have shutdown corners and linemen who can pressure the quarterbacks. Seattle won because they had a great physical defense with defensive backs who could take the Denver’s receivers out of the game and a defensive line that pressured Manning from the first play.
Five, the NFC was the better the conference this year and the real Super Bowl occurred in Seattle when the Seahawks held off the 49ers to win their way into the Super Bowl.
Sixth and final point, the NFL dodged a bullet as the one day it was perfect weather to play football was Sunday February 2nd. The next day, a massive snow storm occurred with at least six inches of snow falling all over New York. And the weather in the days leading up to the Super Bowl was brutally cold and nasty or I should say; it was what one would expect from winter weather in the Northeast. New York got their Super Bowl and please spare me how football was met to be played in the frozen tundra, the Super Bowl is the premier game of the season and you must give both teams the best opportunity to win. Playing in subzero might be the stuff of legacy but for fans and players alike, it is better to play in condition that maximizes players potential while being comfortable for fans.