Thursday, May 29, 2008

Playoffs 2008: Controversial Foul at the end of Game 4 between the Spurs and Lakers

NEW YORK - The NBA acknowledged Wednesday that a foul should have been called on the final possession of Game 4 in the Western Conference finals, which would have given the San Antonio Spurs a chance to even the series.

Trailing 93-91 on Tuesday night, the Spurs inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left to Brent Barry, who was bumped by Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher on the floor. No foul was called, and Barry missed badly on a 3-pointer before time expired.

Spurs players and coach Gregg Popovich said a foul should not have been called, but the NBA disagreed with them after reviewing the play.

"With the benefit of instant replay, it appears a foul should have been called," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

Had that happened, Barry would have gone to the line for two free throws and a chance to tie the game. Instead, the defending champion Spurs trail the series 3-1 and face elimination Thursday in Los Angeles.

Resources: Yahoo! News

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MMA and the PRIDE Legacy

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have been on a boom lately. Being an MMA junkie myself I can’t help but ponder on the evolution of the sport. Whoever thought that this sport would be as “hot” as it is today? Because of the success of the sport, many organizations are being developed world wide to cater to MMA enthusiasts. From Russia to the United States, MMA leagues have been on a roll. Among the premiere MMA leagues or organizations include the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), M-1 Global, Elite XC, and Affliction MMA. The other MMA organization stripped from the list was PRIDE Fighting Championships (PRIDE or PRIDE FC).

Pride FC was considered as a world-class MMA organization that featured world class fighters from top martial arts schools like Chute Boxe Academy, Team Quest, and Takada Dojo. The development of PRIDE FC was considered a significant crossroad in the development of MMA. It was an MMA organization based in Japan. Its inaugural event was held at the October 1997 at the Tokyo Dome. PRIDE accomplishments include having a sold-out crowd of 70,000 people at a production called Shockwave/Dynamite as well filling up a seating capacity of 67,450 at Pride Final Conflict in 2003.

In addition to these accomplishments, PRIDE showcased world class fights between the Gracies and Kazushi Sakuraba. The Gracies are known for their influence on martial arts because of the proliferation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Gracie Jiu Jitsu. The Gracies and Sakuraba went on to stage one of the most heated rivalries in MMA history. Sakuraba went to on win four of the five fights with the Gracies. Because of this feat he was called by many as the “Gracie Hunter.”

March 2007 was a sad moment for the PRIDE organization and its fans because the organization was sold to Zuffa promotion. The company which owns the UFC. While remaining legally separate entities with separate management, the two promotions were supposed to cooperate in a united manner. However, this arrangement did not materialize which led to the termination of the Japanese staff. As a result, PRIDE FC's chapter in martial arts history abruptly ended. Gone were MMA fights where foot stomps were legal and brought the audience to the back of their seats in excitement. the Gracie—Sakuraba showdown, the spectacular fireworks and opening ceremonies. The cancelation of the PRIDE events changed MMA in a significant way.

However, on February 2008, it was announced that the remnants of the PRIDE organization collaborated with the Fighting and Entertainment Group, the owners of K-1 (kickboxing and mixed martial arts organization) to form another MMA organization that hopes to hit the MMA world with a bang. Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Jerome LeBanner are among the fighters that will highlight the said organization. A new MMA organization that intends to keep the PRIDE spirit has been formed to compete with other rival organizations.

There is a lot of talk about what martial art is the toughest and which masters of the art could beat all the rest, but never has that question been tested so thoroughly as in the field of MMA. This full combat, nearly no-holds-barred type of fighting pits one competitor against another and the results is here and it’s here to stay.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Who will take the Game 7

WALTHAM, Mass. - The Boston Celtics can drive by the statue of Red Auerbach on their way to work Sunday, pick up some lunch at Faneuil Hall and then warm up under the 16 NBA championship banners their predecessors helped hang from the rafters.

hey're back home again, and that's been the surest sign of success for them so far in this year's playoffs.

"We're right where we want to be: We've got an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference finals," forward Paul Pierce said Saturday after the Celtics held a short walkthrough followed by a long series of semi-friendly games of one-on-one.

"This is the reason we got the best record in the NBA for," Pierce said. "We've got to play one more great game in order to advance."

The Celtics will host Cleveland in the decisive game of their best-of-seven series on Sunday at the new Boston Garden, where the green team has yet to lose in the postseason.

The Celtics had a chance to close out the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday but lost 74-69. That forced the series to a seventh game, which the Celtics earned the right to play in Boston by blistering through the regular season with an NBA-best 66-16 record.

And suddenly, that 0-6 playoff road mark doesn't seem so important after all.

"They are at home and are expected to win," Cavaliers forward Ben Wallace said.

It's not just the Celtics who have been dominant in their own building: The home team is 21-2 in the conference semifinals, and it's not all that hard to see why.

The home crowd can help the energy of the home team, and influence the referees as well; it's hard to imagine the offensive foul called on Pierce in the final minute of Game 6 being called against him in Boston.

"Home court is huge," Celtics guard Eddie House said. "It does help. It's helped almost every playoff team in this round."

The Celtics were also unbeaten at home in the first round, when they also went winless on the road to allow the lowly Atlanta Hawks to force the series to the limit. After dropping Game 6 in Atlanta 103-100, the Celtics came back to Boston and eliminated the Hawks 99-65.

"Second time around, huh?" Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Let's hope it's like the last time."

Rivers put his players through a brief walkthrough and film session, but Pierce, Sam Cassell, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine stayed more than 45 minutes after practice broke up playing "knockout," a round-robin one-on-one game. After a whole lot of playful trash-talking, mostly from Pierce and Cassell, Pierce won with a high-arcing jumper over Allen.

Several of the Celtics had said they couldn't sleep before Game 7 of the Atlanta series, but on Saturday they looked as if they couldn't have been looser.

"All of us are competitive; all of us want to advance; all of us want to win a championship," Pierce said. "That's what drives us. So that's why you'll see a lot of sleepless nights."

Rivers said his team can call on the experience it gained from playing an elimination game in the first round. But he also knows one lesson they can't take away is that it will be just as easy this time.

"I don't want them coming in and saying, 'Oh, we're back in Boston and everything will take care of itself,'" Rivers said. "We have to make things happen."

In the first round, when teams are less evenly matched, home teams went 34-14. But 11 of those road wins were by the higher-seeded team.

This round, New Orleans and San Antonio have also held serve in their series, while the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers each won a game on the road to advance to the conference finals. Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said he didn't take any solace in the fact that the Lakers won on the road Friday night.

"Whether the Lakers won or lost, it's still going to be tough going into Boston," he said.

If all goes well for the Celtics, they'll look up on the scoreboard and see the Gino, the disco-era dance highlight that The Boston Globe dubbed the "human victory cigar." The crowd goes wild, and even the players look forward to dancing along.

Just another comfort of home.

resources: Yahoo! News