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950 ESPN's Tim McManus on ESPN News


Harry Kalas tribute info

- Courtesy of the Phillies

The Kalas family and the Phillies have announced the following details for Saturday’s Harry Kalas tribute to be held at Citizens Bank Park:

Beginning at 8:00 a.m., on a first come, first served basis, fans will have the opportunity to pay their respects on the field as they pass by Harry’s casket which will be located behind home plate. To accommodate as many fans as possible, the starting time of the memorial tribute program has been moved back to 1:30 p.m.

Fans will pass by the casket until approximately 12:45 p.m. at which time all persons in attendance will be directed to seats. Beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m., current and former players -- some of whom are travelling great distances to be here to pay their final respects -- broadcasters, front office employees, and friends and family members will pay their final respects before the on-field tribute begins at 1:30 p.m.

Fans will be directed to enter Citizens Bank Park through the Third Base Gate at Pattison Avenue and Citizens Bank Way and will be asked to leave the ballpark through the First Base Gate. Although fans are not being asked to bring flowers or other mementos, if they choose to do so such items should be left in the area of the Mike Schmidt statue prior to entry at the Third Base Gate.

Parking will be free. Fans are encouraged to park in the lots on the west side of the ballpark, located on the site of the former Veterans Stadium. Limited concession stands will be open.

All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative program, an 8”x10” photograph of Harry and a poem written by him in 2002 as a fan tribute.


Top five teams to win it all (Part II)

By T. Williams

Editors note: The Original copy of this was written before Manu Ginobili suffered a season ending injury. San Antonio was the original team I had seated at #3, pending the health of their big 3. Now, with Ginobili out, San Antonio no longer makes my top 5. So Boston and Orlando move up a slot and Utah is now the 5th team on my list

#3 Utah Jazz

Jerry Sloan has been coaching the Jazz since I was playing with my Transformer toys in sandboxes, and was recently voted to be in the next class of the Basketball Hall of Fame. With the Jazz, Coach Sloan has been to the NBA Finals twice, and presumably the only thing that stopped him from winning the NBA championship was fellow 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee, Michael Jordan. Also, in this hall of fame class is Coach Sloan’s point guard from those Western Conference championship teams, John Stockton. Stockton, along with Karl Malone, wreaked havoc on the NBA’s Western Conference for the better part of two decades, to eventually become the NBA’s All Time Assist leader. Fast forward about 20 years, and Jerry is back at it again with another young stud point guard. Deron Williams, whom is second in the NBA for assists (10.6 apg), and sixth in the NBA for double doubles (40), and was a member of the gold medal USA Olympic Basketball team, is without question one of the NBA’s top 3 point guards and the unquestioned leader of the franchise. Although, Carlos Boozer is no Karl Malone, 10.4 rebounds, and 16 points per game is nothing to scoff at, either. Paul Milsap and Ronnie Brewer are two absolute beasts that have proven this year that they are ready to step up and more, when their number is called, and Matt Harpring and Kyle Krover provide the jump shooting. Add that to energy man and defensive stand out “AK47” Andre Kirilenko and “The Poor Mans Dirk Nowitzki” Mehmet Okur, this year’s Utah Jazz are a young, deep, versatile squad with a lot of potential.

#2 Cleveland Cavaliers

What can you say about this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers? For starters, they have the future of the NBA in LeBron James as their leader and captain, and he has been playing out of his mind this season! He leads the NBA in efficiency and triple doubles and is in the top 10 in points per game (2nd in the NBA with 28.4), and assists (7th with 558). But, more importantly, for once the King has a cortege of players with him in his quest to concur the NBA, and none more important than fellow All-Star Mo Williams. Williams provides that second scoring option that LeBron desperately needed in order to keep opposing defenses honest, averaging almost 18 points per game. No one really made that big of a deal when the Cavs acquired Williams from the Bucks in the off season, but Mo has proven that he is a legitimate scoring threat, prone to outbursts, including the 44 point tirade he unleashed on the Phoenix Suns in mid February. Meanwhile, Coach Mike Brown has maintained the team’s defensive focus, with the Cavs allowing an NBA low 91 points per game. Cleveland, who will presumably wrap up the top seed in the East, has only one loss at home all season, a feat that if completed, will tie the ’86 Celtics as the best home record in NBA history. The only thing that makes me question whether or not this is Cleveland’s year to take home the gold, is their lack of ability to show up in big games this season. Against the other four teams on this list, Cleveland is 4-6 with one game against Boston, at home, left to play.

#1 Los Angeles Lakers

What can you really say about L.A.? They have the championship experience from playing in the Finals last year (Kobe and Fisher of course were on the championship teams of the early ‘00s), they have three legitimate All Stars on their team with Kobe, Gasol and Odom, they have a young cast of role players who are about as effective as you can ask one to be with Ariza, Walton, Vujacic and Radmanovic and to top it all off, they are coached by the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson, who already has six rings to his credit! Add to the mix, big man Andrew Bynum will be back for the playoffs, and if memory serves correctly, Bynum’s true potential was just beginning to blossom right before his regular season ending injury. If Andrew Bynum can come back and put up the same numbers he was averaging before his injury (14.0 ppg, 1.9 bpg, 8.2 rpg), that gives the Lakers another inside presence to play against the likes of Yao Ming, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard or whoever else they may see in the playoffs. Listen, any team with Kobe Bryant has the potential to go all the way. He has the work ethic of a young Michael Jordan and the game to match. His numbers are down this year, but don’t get it twisted, Kobe is still the Mamba! If Andrew Bynum can come back healthy, and ready for the playoffs, and can re acclimate himself into the Lakers rotation, I just can’t think of a logical reason as to why the Lakers shouldn’t be holding the NBA title this June.


2009 NBA Finals: Tops 5 teams to win it all

By T. Williams

A few months ago, I wrote a piece about the NBA having only three legitimate title contenders: Boston, Cleveland and Los Angeles. This was written around the quarter point of the season. Now with only a fraction of the season left, a couple of teams have stepped their game up and have shown some promise. Meanwhile a couple of teams have taken some big steps back. So I, in turn, decided to make a list of the NBA’s Top 5 Title contenders, to kind of gauge where the best teams truly lie. Houston, Utah, Detroit and even the Sixers were teams at the start of the season I believed could have been on this short list at this point of the season. But when it comes to reaching the ultimate goal of winning an NBA Title, only 5 teams, in my opinion, belong in the discussion.

#5 Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic (the team of the bunch who’s least likely to win it all) were actually in a race for first in the East, until Jameer Nelson tore his labrum (Is it me or is this happening a lot lately, Philadelphia?). Then again, how can you ever count out ANY team in the NBA that has the best big man in the league on their roster, like Superman 2.0 aka Dwight Howard? To me, it seems fairly evident to say that he is next, in the long line of truly great centers in the NBA. The problem with this is, typically centers are no good with free throws, and Howard is no different. To make matters worse, the Magic follow suit with their leader, ranking last in the NBA for free throw % (.723). You can’t win championships when you’re not able to collect on the free points that the other team gives you! Why do you think home court advantage is so important? Sure, being able to play in your home, with your fans, staying in your bed last night is a part of it, too. But, we all know, the home teams expect to get the calls. And sure, Rafer Alston was a nice addition in an attempt to replace Nelson, but he’s not enough to win them a championship this year. It does, however, when you take into consideration the development of their stud guard Courtney Lee, set them up nicely for a title run next year.

#4 Boston Celtics

I really didn’t want to put the defending World Champions this far down my list but realistically, I had to. To start the season off, the Celtics looked nearly unstoppable, and I know New York and Boston fans are going to kill me for this, but the Celtics this season remind me a lot of the New York Giants of this past NFL season. They came into the year as the defending champs, riding a wave of pure confidence, and for whatever reason fell apart in the end. They both started the season absolutely ON FIRE! And, in the case of the Celtics, they got off to the best start in the history of the Boston Celtics franchise with an absurd 27-2 record. I want you to think about that for a second, the best start in the history of the storied Boston Celtics! I’m talking Russell, Cousey, Auerbach, Bird, McHale, Johnson and the list goes on. The Celtics looked to be in prime position to challenge Michael Jordan and the ’95-’96 Bulls record 72 win season. Then much like our economy, the bottom fell out with the Celts going into a relative tailspin, losing seven of their next nine games, beginning with the first rematch game from last years NBA Finals against the Lakers. Not many people were too concerned, attributing the Celtics slide mostly due to mental fatigue. And, it didn’t seem like there was much to worry about, after Boston won twelve in a row after that skid, until being stopped by L.A., again, this time in Boston. Then, in what was a bad week for the Celtics, K.G. ends up getting hurt against the Utah Jazz, and the Celtics have been playing .500 basketball ever since. With mounting injuries to key role players like Rajon Rondo, and Big Baby Davis, in addition to the Big Ticket still being a Big Question Mark, the Celtics have basically lost home court advantage to Cleveland, which I think is paramount, and are in an eternal struggle with the Magic for 3rd in the Conference. Plus, they also acquired Stephon Maurbury this season, and I don’t think any team with him will ever win an NBA Championship. The bottom line is this: Boston has yet to prove to me they can get past the Lakers when they’re healthy, how can I possibly think they can win as banged up as they currently are?

Part II coming soon...


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