Reflecting on 2014

With Christmas upon us that typically means great NBA matchups so I thought I would take a brief look back at some memorable ones. Please understand that I am in a compassionate mood knowing how badly the Knicks have fallen and wanted to give my NY friends some fond memories.

We all remember in 1947 when the Knicks edged the Providence Steamrollers in the first ever Christmas day NBA game.

  • Knicks – Celtics – 1985 – This game served as Patrick Ewing’s emergence into the NBA elite. Only a rookie in 1985, Ewing’s Knicks faced Larry Bird and the heavily favored Celtics and Boston built up a 25-point lead that seemed insurmountable. Ewing led a remarkable comeback and scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to upset the defending NBA champ Celtics.

  • Knicks –Bulls – 1986 – This game marked the beginning of a rivalry that would define the Eastern Conference for years. For the first time, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing played on the big stage. Ironically, Ewing would be the one to lead the Knicks with last-second heroics. The Bulls led the Knicks 85-84 going into the final possession. After a missed jumper, Ewing rebounded the shot and threw up a short buzzer-beater to stun the Bulls. 

  • Knicks – Nets – 1984 – Bernard King drops 60 points on Nets but Knicks lose 120-114.

  • Lakers-Heat – 2004 – As great as some of the other games on this list were, none will ever top the 2004 showdown between Kobe and Shaq. Nobody really knew what to expect in Shaq’s return to Los Angeles. After all, it was viewed as Kobe’s fault that he was gone. Would Kobe and Shaq shake hands before the game? Completely ignore each other? Would Shaq punch Kobe? Heat win 104-102

On the heels of the NY Jets being double digit underdogs at home for the first time ever against the Pats and the Jacksonville Jaguars being favored in a game (against the Titans) for the first time in almost four years, it seemed like in the spirit of the holiday season, I could prepare a wish list for teams and athletes so here we go.

NCAA – more bowl games. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of the Tostitos/Doritos/Banditos Bowl and hey don’t miss the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.

LeBron James – time for the team to mesh. It’s a big burden to carry to play with such slugs like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love so we feel your pain.

NHL – mumps vaccine. Seriously, how bizarre is this and once Sidney Crosby got it, now the other sports leagues are vaccinating anyone and everyone.

Adrian Peterson – some type of fairness. With all the crimes and terrible acts that have been committed in the NFL, Peterson is being made the scapegoat of the poor handling by the NFL of Ray Rice and enough is enough.

Peyton Manning – a playoff win in Foxboro or cold weather or in the clutch or all of the above and most importantly that shirt that allows his poor little chin and neck to stay warm. Or a different Nebraska town.

Donald Sterling – a guest star appearance on the TV show Black-ish.

USA Soccer team – some attention before the next World Cup

Derek Jeter – whatever he wants. He deserves it.

Rex Ryan – a quarterback that has some real skills and a job as a defensive coordinator which is ultimately what he is best suited for.

Kobe Bryant –  a team that gives him one more chance to win an NBA title

LaMarcus Aldridge – someone to actually watch him play.

Patriots – a Superbowl win so they can stop carrying around the burden of being the Boston sports team that has gone the longest without winning a championship.

Tom Brady – a Superbowl win to give him four and tie him with his childhood hero Joe Montana and once and for all be considered possibly the best of all time.

Bill Belichick – a Superbowl so he can stop living with the Spygate wrap.

Arizona Cardinals – a QB that can stay healthy for more than a quarter. What a shame this is because if Carson Palmer was healthy they could have gone to the Superbowl.

SF 49’ers – some group therapy for the GM and Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh – the job at Michigan so he doesn’t go to the Raiders. Talk about a Plan B.

Dallas Cowboys – a playoff win.

Jay Cutler – nothing can help here.

Max Scherzer – some real money. 144 million is downright insulting.

Giancarlo Stanton – an effective wealth manager

NY Yankees – a healthy elbow for Tanaka and CC to start eating again.

Chicago Cubs – for Steve Bartman to throw out the first pitch to Bill Buckner (ex-Cub) double jinx equals cancellation of all curses.

Golden State- a trip to the NBA Finals. Who didn’t love Run TMC (Mullin, Hardaway, Richmond) and any team that was once run by a guy named Sleepy is my kind of team.  *By the way ask a casual sports fan what state Golden State plays in, you would be surprised at the answers you’d get.

Odell Beckham – doesn’t need a thing

Stephen Ross (Dolphins owner) – a clue, a winning QB, a head coach. Any or all?

Falcons– a tie in week 17 vs Carolina – so the Falcons make it with a record of 6-9-1.

Mark Altman – an actual blog site instead of this email format. I know I know. By the end of January and it’s a Ruthian guarantee.

Happy Holidays everyone and Happy New Year.


2015 Starts off With a Bang

We are only three days from the AFC and NFC Championship games and the most knowledgeable football analyst in the NFL (Ray Lewis of course) decided to chime in with an opinion on Tom Brady on behalf of the bitter and thug represented Baltimore Ravens or as I like to call them “Raiders East” or former employers of Ray Rice or both.

Ray said that the “Tuck Rule is the only reason we know who Tom Brady is”. Brilliant point Ray. Brady has done nothing at all since he benefited from the tuck rule call and his entire career is a sham and farce. This of course made me think about other athletes who have seemingly accomplished a hall of fame resume, yet really haven’t accomplished anything due to an incident that tarnished their respective career. I thought and I thought and it was challenging to come up with an incident that tarnished a career equivalent to the tuck rule game and basically nullified any future accomplishments for the respective athlete.

But wait, I finally came up with one. Back in 2000, Ray Lewis was charged with two counts of MURDER or another name for the “Tuck Rule” but tucking in this case means skirting the law and striking a deal with prosecutors for a misdemeanor by obstructing justice in exchange for testimony that allowed him to rat out his friends. Ray Ray’s friend’s blood was found in Lewis’ limo. Lewis fled the crime scene or tucked himself away quietly somewhere and told the limo’s passengers to “keep their mouths shut.” The white suit Lewis was wearing that night — on Super Bowl Sunday — never was found. So of course the murder has never been solved but as a result of this incident, I am personally striking any tackles, interceptions or other defensive statistics/accomplishments from Lewis’ record because they don’t count. However I will let him hold onto his ignorance, his crimes, his lack of accountability or responsibility and his bitterness.

Completely switching gears, hats off to the Milwaukee Brewers. They are offering a timeless ticket to thank their fans. So certain fans can purchase a bronze ticket for any single game, including say, a World Series home game at Miller Park. This is the first time a MLB team has done something like this. Very impressive for a league that has frequently ignored or disrespected their fans through striking, high ticket prices or decisions around rainouts or scheduling of games. Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and “Stormin” Gorman Thomas would be proud.

Never thought I would be writing about the Atlanta Hawks. Remember when they had Dominique, Doc Rivers, and Tree Rollins and they were always making the playoffs but couldn’t get over the hump. Well, they have won their last 10 games and are 31-8 with the second best record in the NBA. Their coach Mike Budenholzer is a disciple of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the Hawks have adopted a new offensive philosophy and are now being referred to as Spurs East. This doesn’t appear to be a fluke and the philosophy is built around maximizing the strengths of your various players offensively and it constantly changes. And they are one of the few NBA teams that is actually exciting to watch.

And speaking of shockers, for those of you who didn’t know, there is a hockey team in Nashville.  They were originally placed there with the goal of drowning out country music. The Predators are tied for the best record in the NHL and are leading the pack in a Western Conference filled with teams stacked with talent. They are doing it with the best goalie in the NHL right now Pekka Rinne (who is now injured for 3-5 weeks), the best defenseman in the NHL Shea Weber as well as good coaching and great play from their young players. This would be a great story if it can sustain itself as it would be nice to see some new blood challenge for the top spot in the West.

Time to give credit where its due. While the Knicks, Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets (there might be more but sometimes I forget just how many teams play there) all embarrassed the Big Apple this year in general and by not making the playoffs, the Rangers and Islanders look to be the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference. Rick Nash has finally lived up to expectations and has carried the Rangers offensively and the Islanders are solid all around. Either team is a big threat in the playoffs.

The Celtics just made another trade. I am worried that Danny is going to trade himself soon for Ed Pinckney and Joe Kleine.

John Elway alerted Broncos fans this week that if Manning retires he feels good about the development of Brock Osweiler. Just kidding. No he really said that.

Rex Ryan was asked in his initial press conference for Buffalo if he is excited to play the Jets and he said “The Pats are the team he is still after.” In typical Ryan fashion, he guaranteed Bills fans he will improve on the 3-25 record Buffalo has recorded against New England. Best quote though was when Ryan shopped for houses he told his realtor to find the coldest and snowiest point in Buffalo and that is where he wants to live. How can you not like this guy?

Good to see the Raiders capped off their exhaustive coaching search with the forever recycled Jack Del Rio.

Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau  is seeking the “Johnny Hockey trademark”. The difference though is that Gaudreau is actually good.

Time to “tuck” my youngest into bed.