Brett Brown Is Goin’ Down

Eastern Conference Semifinals - Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Brett Brown is wearing a frown, because his team is going down. Winning in the playoffs may be the least of his concerns, as his team can’t seem to figure out how to win with the roster they’ve got in the regular season.

Brett Brown has got ta’ go. Period. That’s NBA speak for this dude is running the Philadelphia 76ers into the ground. Philly has two of the best young talents in the game in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and yet these same Sixers are stinking up the house. And who is to blame? Leadership, a.k.a., the head coach.

Brett Brown has overstayed his welcome in Philly. Period. He can’t seem to motivate or stimulate or activate this team’s talent so that they can win on the road and against rival teams that are now ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings. And that’s the coach’s job, right? To lead his team to victories and to plead for his stars to give their all and to read the emotions and psyche of all of his players so that he gets the most out of them. But none of that is happening.

Brett Brown is not getting the job done. Period. Some say that the combination of Embiid and Simmons and Horford is a failed experiment. But I contend that it’s the coach’s job to merge the mix and not make a mess. The Sixers are playing carelessly and like they just don’t care. And that’s sad, because Philly fans and all true sports fans the world over, want a winner. And more importantly, they want to see effort and energy and a consistent work ethic. None of those are even remotely evident in Philly when it comes to the 76ers. Not even.

Oh well. I said it here first. Before you even think of trading Simmons or somebody else, consider benching Brett Brown. He’s the one that should be sent packing. Years ago, I told my two sons this: either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Since the Sixer’s head coach is not leading, there is only one other viable option.

The Philadelphia Inquirer may have said it best:

“Since their 121-109 win over the Bucks on Christmas, the Sixers are 8-10 overall and 1-6 against the Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Celtics. For the season, they are 1-2 against the Pacers, 1-3 against the Heat, and 1-2 against the Raptors.

So, yes, things are well past the point of dire, and you get the sense that the locker room feels it, too. You can see it in the Sixers’ body language on the court, and you can hear it in the words they speak off it. After a blowout loss to the Celtics in Boston in Saturday night, somebody asked Tobias Harris when it would be time for the Sixers to get concerned about their place in the standings.

‘About 10 games ago,’ the forward said.

And the most disconcerting loss of the season had yet to come. It would arrive two days later, on a Monday night in Miami, against a team whose home crowd still seemed to be sleeping off its Super Bowl hangover. By the end of a 137-106 loss, the solution to fixing the Sixers seemed startlingly clear: Go back in time and don’t change them in the first place.” https://www.inquirer.com/sixers/sixers-trade-targets-nba-deadline-al-horford-josh-richardson-ben-simmons-20200204.html

Unfortunately, Jimmy Butler aint’ coming through that door. That ship has sailed. The moral of the story is this: the Sixers need to man up and play with heart and spirit and figure out a way to win with the team they’ve got now. Otherwise, somebody’s gotta go.

Andy Reid Wins The Big One! Kansas City Wins Super Bowl LIV, 31 -20

Mahomes Super Bowl Champins
Patrick Mahomes wins Super Bowl LIV and is named MVP

Patrick Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP, the youngest player in NFL history to be named MVP of a Super Bowl. This comes the year after he was the youngest player in NFL history to earn the leagues overall MVP. But the real story is Andy Reid, becasue Andy Reid is worth cheering for.

Andy Reid is worth cheering for because he was given another chance. Another chance to coach a championship caliber team; another chance to play in the Super Bowl, and another chance to win the big one. And Andy and his maverick, miracle man QB, Patrick Mahomes, came up big in this one. And that’s why I’m so happy for Andy and the Kansas City Chiefs.

For the first time in 50 years, the Kansas City Chiefs have won the Super Bowl! Andy Reid has finally won one for himself, his team, and his new city, Kansas City (his “old” city being Philly, of course). The Chiefs came from behind in all three playoff games, and they were ten down to San Francisco late in the big game. Final score: Kansas City 31, San Francisco 20.

Andy Reid and the Chiefs are worth cheering for because they scored an absurd 117 points in the playoffs. Seriously? One hundred seventeen points! No way. Yes way! Patrick Mahommes deservedly won the MVP Award because he’s the best QB in football. Period.

All of Philly (or most) still like Andy Reid. He did good in Philly. He did. He had multiple winning seasons and he went to multiple NFC Championship games. He just couldn’t get the Eagles (pronounced Iggles) over the incline as the team could never get over the hump. Andy ran out of gas and needed a change. And that’s what happens to many of us. Sometimes you just run out of gas and need a change.

So hats off to Andy Reid. The winningest head coach never to win a Super Bowl, before today. It just goes to show ya; good things do indeed come to those who wait for Heaven to help and for those who walk through life without giving up.

But those who wait for God’s grace

will experience divine strength.

They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,

run their race without growing weary,

and walk through life without giving up.

Isaiah 40:31, The Passion Version

Kobe Bryant: Too Soon To Die, Too Late To Say Goodbye  

kobe-bryant-and Gianna
Kobe Bryant and His Daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, 13, were both Killed in a Helicopter Crash on Sunday,January 26, 2020.

Not many people demand attention. Kobe Bryant did.  And now he’s gone. Today, President Trump tweeted about Kobe’s death … saying, “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news! “

 Yes it is.

Kobe Bryant’s untimely death hurts just as much if not more than Whitney’s in February of 2012 or Michael’s in June of 2009. Of all the unexpected and sudden, unforeseen deaths in recent memory, this one really hurts.

Tragic accidents are brutal.  Tragic accidents are unforgiving. And tragic accidents like Kobe’s are humanly impossible to deal with. They rip your guts out, punch you in the throat, put you in a choke hold and then stand over you and demand that you sing your favorite song at the top of your lungs with a smile on your face.  After a loss like this, there is no earthly way to recover or salvage our sense of sensibility other than to look to heaven for repose.

Kobe was LA, and Kobe was the Lakers. He was admired and loved or just respected or downright hated by everybody. Everybody had an opinion about him, because his life on and off of the court demanded attention.

Kobe was one of the great, greats, not only in the NBA, but in sports history. He is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and will go down as one the NBA’s most revered scorers and defenders. Kobe’s resume is full of an embarrassment of riches. He made 18 All-Star teams during his 20 year career with the Lakers. He was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft, winning 5 NBA championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs and he was the league MVP in 2008. He was on 15 All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams and led the league in scoring for two seasons. He ranks fourth in the NBA for all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring. Kobe also repped USA in a number of Olympic appearances.

Within the storied Lakers franchise, he is listed with a long list of the greatest that ever played the game. The Lakers have won so many games and so many championships. From Jerry West to Wilt Chamberlain, to Kareem Abdul-Jabar to Earvin “ Magic” Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal and now LeBron “King” James. Over the years, the Lakers organization learned how to do one thing, and that is make it to the NBA Finals, and then win championships. And Kobe was a champion who won and lived like one.

And so we weep with them that weep and mourn with them that mourn and pray for Kobe’s wife Vanessa and the entire Bryant family. 

Unfortunately, this sad story got even sadder when it was learned that Kobe’s daughter Gianna Maria Onore — aka GiGi — was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash … She was only 13. We’re told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.

Kobe is survived by his wife Vanessa. Together, they had four daughters — Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri. Kobe and Vanessa got married in 2001 after meeting in 1999.  He was only 41,  and he played 20 of those years with one team, one basketball family, the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe is also “survived” by many Lakers who already miss his presence on court, and now will miss him in their lives.

In Kobe’s 41 years, he was much more than a legendary basketball player. He was a husband, father, friend and mentor to so many who still play in the “Association,” aka, the NBA. His iconic impact on the sport and his indelible imprint on the lives of athletes worldwide may never be fully known.

Kobe Bryant; too soon to die, too late to say goodbye.

 Farewell, Kobe.

How Do You Spell Redemption? “Andy Reid!”

Andy Reid AFC Championship Game 2020
Andy Reid hoists the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35 -24 in the 2020 AFC Championship Game.

The Bible says to “rejoice with them that rejoice.” But the truth is, some people are easier to root for than others. And Andy Reid would be in the category of “some people” rather than the “others.” Andy has taken a licken and yet he keeps on ticken. I love it. Sounds a lot like a lot of us. Many of us have been through some tough times here lately. We’ve been through the fire and the flood. We’ve had some high highs and some low lows. Yet through it all, we’ve learned to trust in God. My, my.

Learning to trust God is redemption. Sports redemption is a little different from spiritual redemption, but the premise is just the same. After a loss, you are “found” and you find your way back from the brink of defeat, destruction and despair. It’s enough to drive one to tears of joy.

Here’s how Frank Schwab from Yahoo Sports describes Andy’s story, a story that we hope will have a story book ending:

“On January 4, 2013, Andy Reid was limping away from the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a 4-12 season and being fired. The Kansas City Chiefs were in even worse shape. They went 2-14 in 2012. On that day, the Chiefs hired Reid. The words “Super Bowl” were not mentioned during his introductory news conference a few days later. Both sides were just looking for some way out of the darkness.

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, the Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. They overcame another slow start and beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV.

‘We were blessed to be there and sometimes change is good,’ Reid said when announced as Chiefs coach, ‘change will be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles and on the other hand, it will be terrific for the Kansas City Chiefs.’

On Sunday, seven years after coming to Kansas City, Reid had his redemption and the Chiefs had snapped one of the most miserable droughts in the NFL.

The most compelling figure of this season’s Super Bowl could be Reid, who is still looking for a ring to validate a great career, and made some tough decisions that led to this trip to the NFL’s title game. As Reid stood on the podium after lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, Chiefs fans chanted ‘Andy! Andy!’ ”

I concur. Go Andy!

How Good is Patrick Mahomes?

Patrick Mahomes AFC CG 2020
Patrick Mahomes leads the Kansas City Chiefs to a 35 -24 Victory over the Tennessee Titans in the 2020 AFC Championship Game.

Some say that Patrick Mahomes is the best QB in the NFL. Period. Mahomes is the reigning league MVP, and he’s leading his team to the Super Bowl in just his third year in the league. And the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Wow. No pressure!

Quarterback honorable mentions go to several star quarterbacks, including first runner up Lamar Jackson, who had a phenomenal regular season, but now he’s home watching TV along with Deshaun Watson. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees all had early playoff exits, and Dak Prescott and Jared Goff didn’t even make the playoffs this year. Go figure.

That leaves Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers star quarterback, in Super Bowl LIV.

But Garoppolo, while a steady, reliable QB, hasn’t risen to the ranks of super- stardom yet. Mahomes has. And in this year’s playoffs, he’s played lights out, especially when his team needed him most. The Chiefs were down by 20 to the Houston Texans last week in the NFL Playoffs Divisional round, yet Mahomes rallied his troops to come back from near death and pulled out a 51 – 31 victory that will not soon be forgotten. And the Chiefs were down 17 -7 to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game only to rally and win 35 – 24.

The AFC and NFC Championship Games featured the reigning Statefarm commercial QB’s, Mahomes in the AFC and Rodgers in the NFC. Even though they didn’t’ play head to head, a casual comparison reveals that Mahomes outmatched and out dueled and flat out outplayed Aaron Rodgers. The comparative level of play wasn’t even close. At one point, the 49ers were beatin’ up and beatin’ down the Packers 27 – 0. Yeash! The Packers scored some garbage time points just to make the final score a reasonably respectable 37 – 20.

Jimmy Garoppolo played well, but not as well as Mahomes. And the Chiefs and 49ers have solid defensive units, so the big game may well be won on the offensive side of the ball.

And so there you have it. Mahomes is at the peak of his game, and the Chiefs are playing like a true team. And good things happen when good teams play as a team. And from all appearances, both the Chiefs and 49ers are playing like there’s no tomorrow.

So my sister’s and brothers, let’s play as a team. Let’s all pull together and pray together and stay together, and leave the results to Heaven.

LSU Dominates Their Way to A National Title

Joe Burrow SI Cover

The LSU (Louisiana State University) Football team just destroyed the Clemson Tigers on their way to the 2020 National title. The final score: 42 – 25, and it wasn’t that close. Joe Burrow, (remember him?) the runaway Heisman Trophy winner, just reminded the football world why he’s as good as advertised.

This is how Sports Illustrated reported on LSU’s historic win:

“Joe Burrow proved to be that and then some. In the 2019–20 College Football Playoff national championship Monday night, the QB who received nearly 94% of the possible points in his historic Heisman Trophy–winning senior season, capped off No. 1 LSU’s undefeated 15–0 season with a 42-25 win over No. 3 Clemson. You can label its season as magical, a story book, or a fairy tale, but the Tigers’ star QB had said leading up to the Monday’s win that he “expected” to be in the title game. Burrow threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another score, as LSU over overcame its first double-digit deficit of the season. In the process, the school claimed its first national title since 2007.

The Bayou Bengals’(I didn’t know they called them that!?) offense got off to a slow start and punted on its first two possessions, a rarity during their dominant regular season. On the game’s fifth possession, Clemson’s offense opened the scoring as its star QB Trevor Lawrence capped off a five-play, 67-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. However, LSU would answer just over four minutes later, when Burrow found the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase for a 52-yard TD strike. Chase would finish the victory with a game-high 221 receiving yards on nine catches.”

LSU had an answer for everything Clemson threw at them. And it was a sight to see. So congratulations to Joe Burrow, Coach Ed Orgeron, and the entire LSU football family.

“Joe Burrow and the Tigers’ offense set countless records this season, as their dominance was so truly amazing.

Here’s a sampling of some of the records they set:

BY

BEN PICKMAN

The win was well deserved.

A Bad Day To Have A Bad Day

Image result for Lamar Jackson after loss to Titans

Lamar Jackson picked a bad day to a have a bad day. The presumptive MVP who lead the League in multiple categories and lead his Baltimore Ravens to a 14 – 2 record and the No. 1 seed in AFC laid a proverbial egg on Saturday night, AT HOME.  Jackson had three turnovers and was generally off and specifically  late and low and behind and beneath his normal level of play.

The Ravens fell to the the No. 6 Seed Tennessee Titans who shocked the football world by running all over the Ravens, both literally and figuratively.   The Ravens didn’t play very well, and the mistakes and miscues by the star quarterback wearing No. 8 didn’t help.

Lamar Jackson didn’t actually chose to have a bad day, and neither do we. Bad days just seem to happen. And bad days tend to happen at the worst of times. The key is how you react and respond to adversity. The Ravens were favored to win it all, and we all were looking forward to watching a Super Bowl with Lamar in it. But not this year. 

There’s no way to explain how and why Jackson has not performed in the playoffs two years in a row, but his Coach believes that he will rebound and return to form next year.  We all hope so. And Isn’t that just like life? We all need to rebound recover and bounce back and get back up and get back going after falling and failing. That’s why I’m rooting for Lamar Jackson, even if he’s out of the playoffs.

Here’s how the Baltimore Sun reported the story:

“BALTIMORE (AP) — With his bright red shoes and relentless running, Derrick Henry grabbed the spotlight and wouldn’t let go.

When he was done leading Tennessee into the AFC championship game Saturday night, he did a lengthy victory lap around the Baltimore Ravens’ home, slapping hands and taking selfies with Titans fans.

It has been quite a two-week ride.

“It’s not just me,” Henry said after rushing for 195 yards and throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass in a 28-12 upset of the NFL’s top team Saturday night. ”It’s a team effort. We’re all playing collectively as an offense, as a whole. We’re just locked in. We believe in each other. We communicate. It’s working out there.”

The Lamar Jackson who ran with abandon and threw 36 touchdown passes for the best team in the league failed to show up in the playoffs — again.

During his marvelous second season in the NFL, Jackson was an All-Pro quarterback who carried the Baltimore Ravens to the best record in the league. Jackson amassed the most yards rushing by a quarterback in league history and was the catalyst of an offense that led the NFL in scoring.

All of that — as well as Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak and home-field advantage — was irrelevant against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

Coming off a three-week break and looking appropriately rusty in doing so, an error-prone Jackson threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and didn’t get the Ravens into the end zone until the fourth quarter of a 28-12 defeat.

All season long, Jackson was intent upon erasing the memory of his rookie season, when he guided Baltimore to a 6-1 finish before faltering in the postseason opener at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. Jackson went 2 of 8 for 17 yards and an interception in the first half, and the Ravens trailed 23-3 in a one-and-out playoff performance.

It was Super Bowl or bust this time around, and Baltimore sure looked capable of making that happen. Jackson and the Ravens were virtually unstoppable over the final three months, slapping aside some of the best teams in the league with surprising ease.

That’s what made this game so darn surprising. Jackson did manage to rush for 143 yards, but most of that came in two chunks, a 30-yarder in the third quarter and a 27-yarder during Baltimore’s lone touchdown drive.

But twice he failed to convert fourth-and-1 runs, stuffed at the line of scrimmage on each occasion. Both times, the Titans went the other way for touchdowns.

Before this game, Baltimore was 8 for 8 on fourth-and-1 this season. Then again, very little that occurred during the regular season for the Ravens went right on this night.

Jackson’s 50th pass of the night, on fourth down in Tennessee territory with just over 4 minutes left, hit the ground with a thud. So, in fact, did Baltimore’s season.

He finished 31 for 59 for 365 yards. The main number, however, was the 12 points — Baltimore’s lowest output of the year.

Jackson doesn’t deserve all the blame for the collapse. Heck, the Ravens twice were penalized on punt returns without even getting their hands on the ball. And another All-Pro selection, Marcus Peters, was burned badly by Kalif Raymond on a 45-yard touchdown pass immediately after Jackson failed to gain the yards necessary to maintain possession.

“It only takes turning the ball over one or two times, a penalty here and a penalty there. All it takes is one loss and we’re done,” Yanda said. “That 14-2 stuff does not matter.”

How very true.”