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Magnificent Wimbledon 2009 final,well done Federer, tribute to Andy Roddick

At the beginning of Wimbledon 2009, nearly everybody (including me) was seemingly ready for Roger Federer to break Pete Sampras’ record of 15 Grand Slams (well, maybe except for the British people who were expecting Andy Murray to claim this one :) ). And for the first few rounds, it seemed that nobody would be able to withstand Fed-Ex’s determination to get to No.15.

Somehow as the tournament went along, Andy Roddick’s story started to grow on me. For so long, he has been one of the most consistent men on the ATP tour, and yet a lot of people seem to have written him off, partly due to his big serve making him seem like it’s the only thing in his game, and partly because of the rise of the other names like Nadal, Murray and Djokovic.

One thing that Roddick never did though, was quit. He just kept on persevering, re-inventing his game bit by bit, and just played the game. When he reached the semi’s, few would’ve thought he’d have a chance against Andy Murray, the British crown favorite and rising star. I thought to myself at that point, “Roddick probably cannot win this one, but if indeed his game has evolved and he’s playing better than ever, maybe there’s just a slight chance that it’ll be Federer vs Roddick on Sunday, coz the guy just keeps on fighting”.

Well then, Roddick did indeed beat Murray to earn the honours of facing Federer in the final, and what a magnificent one it was. 5 sets where neither man backed out, and ending with a 16-14 set. On that day, I really wished Wimbledon could award a “double champion” pedigree, because I really thought both men deserved it. But in the end, it seemed destined that Federer would win no.15, and he truly is a Greatest Of All Time candidate.

At the beginning of the tournament, imagining someone other than Federer winning Wimbledon 2009, with history so close for the making, would just sadden me. But seeing Andy Roddick and his never say die attitude, incredible work ethic, and amazing perseverance, fight toe to toe against Federer, I honestly wouldn’t have felt to bad had Andy won this match.

Hats off to you Andy, you truly have the heart of a champion.

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NBA Fantasy Season 07-08

I’m back in the annual NBA Fantasy League with a group of friends after finishing 3rd last year due to injuries to key players in the semi final round. Trying to hopefully gain a high pick after being ranked 12th and 11th in the previous Yahoo drafts, Yahoo indeed screws me up again by giving me the 10th pick this year!!! Well, maybe in 9 years I’ll end up with 1st pick somehow :).

Here’s this year’s picks for me:

  1. Chris Paul – I chose Paul over Kidd just because of his younger age.
  2. Rashard Lewis – Amare and Yao both gone back-to-back at that tail end of the first round, 3rd year in a row I have Rashard. Hope he’s as good as last year.
  3. Carlos Boozer – 20-10 guy in an out.
  4. Mike Bibby – Yeah, I know he was injured on the 26th of October. I last read the news before he was injured and didn’t bother checking during draft time on the 27th.
  5. Raymond Felton – Hoping for a big year from Felton.
  6. Tyson Chandler – Looking quite healthy and always a rebounding champ threat when on the court.
  7. Samuel Dalembert – Bibby and Dalembert played all 82 games last year. The moment I pick them, one is out 2 months and this guy has a stress fracture on his foot that has not healed properly.
  8. Boris Diaw – This is the only player I know of who ever got G,F,C eligibility on Yahoo 2 years back. Impressive stats if Amare even misses a few games.
  9. Larry Hughes – Trying to gamble that Hughes still has a resemblance of his old-Washington-Wizards skill left at 9th pick.
  10. Marvin Williams – Looked good in pre-season stats.
  11. Jamaal Magloire – Maybe a chance to shine in front-court challenged New Jersey?
  12. Desmond Mason – Back in starting role in Milwaukee.
  13. Steve Francis – Think that Stevie Franchise in the 13th round was possible 2 years ago?
  14. Shavlik Randolph – I thought he was ok last year when Webber went out for awhile.
  15. Louis Williams – Heard he was tearing up summer league.

Since that fateful draft day, I have traded Bibby and Dalembert for Okafor, dropped Randolph, Willams and Magloire to pick up Derek Fisher, Martell Webster and Rashad McCants.

I don’t think this lineup is as strong as mine last year considering last year I picked Rashard in the 4th, Butler in the 6th, Deron in 8th and Mo Williams at 9th (this year all those players were gone way before 5th round); I’m just hoping this team has some surprises in it to make a splash this year.

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NBA Fantasy Season 06-07

Every year, about 10 – 12 of us play [tag]NBA Fantasy League[/tag] in [tag]Yahoo Sports[/tag], and this year is no different. We’re playing weekly head to head games with 9 cats (PTS, REB, AST, FG%, FT%, 3PT, STL, BLK, TO). This year, just like last year, I got near the end of the draft at 11th pick out of 12 people (last year I was 12th out of 12th … it’s a conspiracy I tell you :) ). So without further ado, here’s my starting 15 players (10 starters, 2 utilities, 3 bench):

[tag]Allen Iverson[/tag] – What can you say about this guy, plays through pain, and still shows no sign of slowing down even though he’s hit 30.

[tag]Yao Ming[/tag] – Foot injuries a concern, but as he showed second half of last season, he’s ready to be the next dominant center of the league when healthy.

[tag]Gerald Wallace[/tag] – Injuries also a concern throughout his young career, but the only player last year to average at least 2 STL and 2 BLK per game, also improved his shooting this year.

[tag]Rashard Lewis[/tag] – Had him last year, absolutely loved his numbers.

[tag]Chris Webber[/tag] – First healthy season in quite awhile last year, not sure if he can stay that way, but a pretty good gamble at 5th pick.

[tag]Caron Butler[/tag] – Ditto with Rashard, had him last year, good numbers and STL from a F position.

[tag]Ben Gordon[/tag] – Mostly for scoring needs, and boy can he score.

[tag]Deron Williams[/tag] – Showed flashes of brilliance second half last year, hope he can maintain that consistency the whole year.

[tag]Maurice Williams[/tag] – Starting PG at Milwaukee now that TJ Ford is gone. Gonna be monitoring him to see how well he does, if not then Steve Blake might be taking over.

[tag]Antonio McDyess[/tag] – Now that Big Ben has moved on to Chicago, many are predicting big things and a more involved role for Dice.

[tag]Delonte West[/tag] – Yes, I know there’s Telfair, and Rondo has been doing great in the preseason, but last year he was a great all around player for the C’s, and he can play the 2 also. Don’t see his value dropping too far. Only concern is his back problems during preseason.

[tag]Chris Wilcox[/tag] – When he was traded to Seattle last year, he was an absolute beast. He’s been outplayed by Nick Collison in preseason, so we’ll see how it goes.

[tag]Nene[/tag] – A gamble really, I’m betting on Camby and KMart not really being able to play 82 games either this season.

[tag]Sean May[/tag] – Looks like he’s gonna be getting good minutes in Charlotte these days.

[tag]Adam Morrison[/tag] – The only rook I could get (was aiming for Brandon Roy, but he was taken already). Looks like he’ll struggle in other cats besides scoring.

Racing

I was watching the Speed Channel on TV this afternoon, and saw these cars running around an oval circuit. Apparently stock car racing is one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the US. I personally don’t understand what the fascination is. To see cars going round and round for how many ever laps just seems like a boring thing to see.

What I enjoy is something like Formula 1, where there’s actual driver skill involved, tight turns, decision on when to overtake, races on streets, etc. It seems that NASCAR racing is a pale comparison to F1, and yet so many people watch it. I just am really baffled at this.

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Don’t be greedy

Else you can end up rejected like Latrell Sprewell.
He complained about the offer he received last year from Minnesota, that would have paid him about US$7 million per year, saying that it’s too low and he has a family to feed. Right now he’s out of the league, and nobody wants to sign him, even the lowly Atlanta Hawks.
Lesson learnt: US$7 million is enough to feed a family :)
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The main reason I don’t like hockey

No, it’s not because I hate it for no reason, and not because it’s not fun, but somehow I have something against sports that aren’t really affordable to the regular guy. I think there’s a correlation between cost of playing game and its popularity. Case in point, 2 of the most popular sports around the world, football (soccer as North American’s call it) and basketball.
Why are these more popular than hockey (besides the fact it’s hard to play hockey in countries where the average temp year round is 30 deg Celcius :) )? They don’t cost much to play! Of course, you need a pair of shoes and a ball, but compare that to the equipment / environment required to play hockey: ice rink, ice skates, stick, helmet, gloves, hockey pants, and shoulder pads. I guess you get the picture.
Now let me say, that I enjoyed playing pickup hockey when I first came to Canada. We did that late nights at open outdoor rinks during the winter, with no slapshots allowed, using no other equipment but sticks and skates, and it was tons of fun. But the fun of playing and watching is just not the same; I think professional hockey is just too far separated from people like me who come from countries where hockey is a relative unknown.
The issue is that in trying to get used to a certain sport is that you have to play it enough to grow into it, and pickup hockey as I played it doesn’t at all resemble what’s actually played in pro leagues, hence the disconnection. To play hockey as it’s plyaed professionally requires lots of equipment, and equipment costs money, which is kinda hard to come by these days :), so my apologies to hockey, but I just can’t like you that much.
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NBA All-Star game

After watching a 1/2 hour introduction process for the players and coaches for both teams, I was treated to a funny picture: Tim Duncan vs Vince Carter, and Kevin Garnett vs Grant Hill in the front court, while Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady took on Allen Iverson and LeBron James in the backcourt. LeBron vs Kobe and Yao Vs Shaq I could live with, but the other 3 out of the 5 positions were completely out of whack.
Consider:
PG: TMac = 6’7″ vs AI 6’0″
SF: TDuncan = 7’0″ vs VC 6’6″
PF: KG = 6’11″ vs GHill 6’8″

The East were at a height disadvantage, and it looked funny on the court. Oh well, at least it’s an entertaining picture :). Thankfully the coaches soon went to different lineups that gave better matchups for both teams. VC had the play of the half when he was running the break, lobbed the ball off the backboard and threw down a vicious one handed tomahawk as he caught the ball back himself.

After trailing by as much as 17, the East, thanks to AI’s change of pace put the game away in the last 2 quarters. It didn’t help much that Duncan and Garnett didn’t play a single minute in the 4th quarter. It wasn’t a flashy game or anything, and the scoring was pretty much balanced, and was quite competitive with some defense here and there. Hey, it almost looked like a normal NBA game :)

NBA All-Star Saturday

I managed to catch the ending of the skills challenge where Steve Nash beat out Earl Boykins for the win, then proceeded to watch the 3 point challenge as well as the slam dunk contest. The 3 point contest wasn’t too much fun to watch; nobody broke the 20 point mark at all, and many of the shots seem to clank of the back iron… maybe there’s something wrong with that rim, or maybe it just wasn’t a great day for the shooters. Imagine Ray Allen not getting to the second round.

The slam dunk contest was a bit more interesting. The first round saw Chris Andersen get booed for attempting too many dunks and failing before finally making one, and one of the highlights of the competition: Amare Stoudemire lobbed the ball off the backboard, Steve Nash then heading the ball ala soccer back towards Amare, who then proceeded to reverse jam it. That was quite a sight, and brought the house down. Of course, the real story of the competition was Josh Smith, who won it. This guy dunks with grace and flair (left handed too), and showed respect to Dominique Wilkins by wearing his retro No. 21 jersey.

Looking forward to watch the actual All-Star game today, hope it’ll be fun to watch.

NHL cancelled their season

I’m not really a big hockey fan, and I hate it when the sports pages contain 4 pages of NHL negotiations and news while having only 1 page of NBA news. I guess that’s what you get for living in a hockey crazed town. I mean, don’t newspapers have better basketball analysts that could post more than 1 page’s worth of information?

Hockey never really grew on me, even though the first year I was here, I started to watch the games and play a bit. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s too expensive to play (helmet, gear, hockey stick etc etc cost a lot), whereas you could play basketball almost anywhere with just 1 ball and some running shoes, or maybe it’s because I grew up in a country where the average year round temperature was 32 degrees C :).

I symphatize with the hockey fans who must feel let down by the league and the players, but for me, this is great, because maybe now there can be more news about the NBA in the media.

Comments on the Vince Carter trade

Last Friday, about 3:50 pm, just I was packing up and getting ready to leave the office, I happened to be browsing http://www.realgm.com/boards. In one of the threads, there was a post about VC going to New Jersey. Before this, there has been no rumour whatsoever about VC going to NJ, tt was always Portland, New York or New Orleans. So imagine my surprise when I opened up the thread and read something to this effect : “It’s done …”.

I quickly went to the end of the thread and behold, a link to one of Canada’s sport sites, which reported VC going to NJ for Aaron and Eric Williams, Alonzo Mourning andamp; 2 first round draft picks.
My initial thoughts were: “why?”. Aren’t those guys backup role guys, and didn’t Alonzo ask NJ for a trade to a contender? Last time I checked, the Raptors were in 2nd last position in the weakest division of the whole NBA, and didn’t seem like they were in a rush to win the championship this year. The 2 draft picks seemed the only redeeming thing, but then I found out that these were going to be mid-round picks at best.

A quick analysis of this says that Rob Babcock must be out of his mind. Trading a 27 year old, 5 time All-star for three 30+ year olds and probably mediocre picks. This couldn’t be the best value the Raptors could get for Carter could it? I mean, VC has lost value, but is his worth that low right now? Unless… another trade is in the works, maybe someone wanted Alonzo as part of another deal. So I just let that thought pass for the weekend.

After almost a week, still no news on Alonzo, many people are saying he might not report in at all. The other trade that people have been waiting for doesn’t seem like it will materialize anytime soon. Eric Williams has played a couple of games since that trade, and he seems a nice fit for the current Raptors, rebounds well, plays hard, and can score a bit. Aaron Williams has gotten something like 12 minutes in 2 games, so can’t judge him yet.

I’m trying to be positive about the Raptors even though it’s hard. If Aaron Williams and Alonzo don’t play, and the Raptors don’t improve their scouting and draft badly the next 2 years (nothing suggests they will draft wisely at all, case in point: Rafael Araujo), it will seem like the trade was only VC for Eric williams, which hardly seems fair. But again, maybe another trade is in the air, maybe Jalen will be traded, Alonzo bought out of his contract and sent somewhere. The Raptors could save cash and go for big name free agents in the next few years, and who knows, Rafael Araujo will turn out to be great in 2 or 3 years and team up with Chris Bosh to form something like Shaq andamp; Garnett for us… maybe the next 2 or 3 draft picks will then turn out to be like LeBron, Dwayne Wade andamp; Dirk Nowitzki… That seems like a dream, but considering the drama that has been unfolded around the Raptors this season, a fan deserves to dream.

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