Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kaepernick and all QBs 49ers have drafted since Montana

Surprise, surprise, the quarterback that Harbaugh and the 49ers wanted most wasn't Gabbert, or Locker, or even the coveted underdog, Dalton.  It was a strong-armed, pistol-offense-runnin athlete from the Univ of Nevada.  Apparently, 49ers GM Baalke even thought about trading into the late 1st round to get him.  I don't mind the trade up in the 2nd round for him if Harbaugh believes in him, but I know I've got my expectations and excitement tempered for the next couple years at least.  That's how far we've been beaten down as 49er fans.

Clearly Smith will be the starter again since he's already been armed with Harbaugh's playbook and is participating in secret team lockout workouts, even though he's not on contract.  He's way ahead of guys like Gabbert and Locker anyway, so I'm okay with a fresh start, at least until Kaepernick can show us what he's got.  I'm still holding out for Andrew Luck in 2012 - I say we trade the whole draft for him - Ditka & Ricky Williams style!  seriously.

Listed here are all the quarterbacks the 49ers have drafted since Joe Montana (1979, 3rd round) and how many seasons and games each played (and TDs threw) for San Francisco.  Notable names in bold.

1980 9th round Dan Hartwig - no games
1981 12th round Joe Adams - no games
1982 9th round Bryan Clark - 1 season, 1 game
1985 6th round Scott Barry - no games
1987 10th round John Paye - no games
1992 9th round Darian Hagan - no games 
1993 8th round Elvis Grbac - 4 seasons, 43 games, 18 TDs
1997 1st round Jim Druckenmiller - 2 seasons, 6 games, 1 TD
2000 2nd round Giovanni Carmazzi - 2 seasons, no games
2000 7th round Tim Rattay - 6 seasons, 32 games, 24 TDs
2002 5th round Brandon Doman - 2 seasons, no games
2003 7th round Ken Dorsey - 3 seasons, 12 games, 8 TDs
2004 7th round Cody Pickett - 2 seasons, 7 games
2005 1st round Alex Smith - 6 seasons, 54 games, 51 TDs
2009 5th round Nate Davis - no games

2011 2nd round Colin Kaepernick - TBD

Random Observations: 

- That's 15 QBs since Joe Montana was drafted until Kaepernick.  Only 7 have seen regular season playing time. 

- Of those 7 QBs, they've only logged a total of 154 games for the 49ers.  Montana himself played 167 regular season games as a 49er. 

- Those 7 QBs threw 102 TDs, Montana threw 244.  Okay, yes we are comparing a bunch of throwaway backups to the greatest of all time. 

- The other 49ers legend was acquired from Tampa Bay in 1987 - Steve Young: 150 starts for SF, really only about 8 years as a starter, 221 TDs for SF. 

- Jeff Garcia, signed in 1999, was the only other 49er QB of note in this time period.  He had 74 starts in 5 seasons, with 113 TDs as 49er. 

- As much as 49er fans hate Alex Smith, he is easily the most productive QB that we've drafted since Montana.  Now that could simply be because we drafted him 1st round and had to play him, but at least he's no complete and utter bust like Druckenmiller.  Drafting Jake Plummer there may have turned the fortunes of the entire franchise from 1999 on. 

- Of the 15 drafted QBs, only 3 were drafted in the top 4 rounds - Druckenmiller '97, Carmazzi '00 and Smith '05.  Kaepernick is the 4th. 

Because of Montana and Young dynasty, we didn't realistically need a QB until when Young went down in 1999.  Druckenmiller was supposed to be Young's heir apparent.  Instead of Carmazzi, we could have had Tom Brady in 2000.  And, of course Aaron Rodgers was there for the taking instead of Alex.  And, had we just stuck with Jeff Garcia after 2002, who had a 4 Pro Bowl caliber career, this last decade would have been much better. 

So basically, the 49ers have not drafted a true star at QB since 1979.  Okay, you say we didn't really try until 1997.  Well, here's hoping Kaepernick, 15 years later, is the answer.  (If not him, then Luck in '12!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Clint Dempsey - Fulham's career high EPL scorer

With 2 goals vs Bolton on Wednesday, Dempsey became Fulham's sole top scorer with 33 goals in the modern Premier League era (which began in 1993, but Fulham didn't make it until 2001).  Dempsey's first goal was truly awesome - with great technique, he was able to locate a cross and power in a beautiful side volley into the left top corner from about 15 yards out.  The record breaking goal was more an instance of making the correct run at the precise time to tip in a pass right in front of goal.

Its funny that these records just sneak up on you - I didn't even know that this record was in reach until he did it.  His 33 goals just tips Brian McBride's (and Steed Malbranque's) previous record of 32.  This comes on the heels of his record for most Premier League goals scored by an American in a season (10, also besting McBride).  But while that record was historical only for Americans, this record is an English one (although he's also the only American to set this kind of mark for his respective top flight club).

I decided to look into Fulham's history to see how its possible that 2 Americans have made such a huge impact on Fulham history in such a short time.  Apparently, before finally getting to the EPL in 2001, Fulham has only been in England's top division for two stints (1949-52, 59-68).  No wonder they named a pub after McBride.  Hopefully they find something to name after Dempsey, when its all said and done.  (Perhaps a statue to replace that full color MJ ridiculousness, eh?)

Quick thoughts on Real v Barca yesterday.

- Just a few years ago, I would've never been able to see all 4 of these Classico matchups.  Soccer is here to stay in America!

- Messi is the best player of this generation.  Though I always root against Barca, watching him is invariably pure delight.  That 2nd goal was one of those times when the greatest player shows up on the greatest stage and creates the greatest moment that is indelibly imprinted in our memories.

- Barca was a bunch of cowardly divers last night.  Playing off the incorrect notion that Real has been fouling them like thugs instead of playing football (a notion that is easily disproven by looking at the number of foul calls as well as shot attempts by each team - both of which are essentially even in the first 2 games), they started diving and making the most of clashes.  Three that come to mind are obviously Dani Alves' acting which got Pepe sent off, Pedro's face grab when he and Arbeloa merely touched shoulders and Busquets face grab when Marcelo simply boxed him out.  It was unbecoming of a team that has the ability to play beautiful and it should be punished.  Corrupt FIFA will do nothing, obviously.

But the fix for this is extremely simple.  The NFL does this for every game.  Postgame review and punishment.  Since Dani was barely touched by Pepe, Pepe's red card should be rescinded and Dani should be suspended for simulation.  Any fake injury should be punished.

While I'm at it, here's more obvious changes:  During the game, more officials are needed - 2 on the field, 2 more behind the goals.  Instant replay on all goals or during stoppage of play in key moments.  Technology developed for offside calls.  An allowance for different kinds of foul calls in the penalty box - indirect free kick, etc, instead of straight penalties for everything.  No running clock.  There's more, but I'm tired of talking about it.

Here's hoping Kaka pulls off a hat trick at Camp Nou.  Otherwise, go Man U.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 NFL Draft - Drafting a QB 1st round

A couple years ago, I decided to post a quick analysis of the last 20 years of 1st round QBs drafted.  Significant only to me, it was my first post ever.  For kicks, I've decided to update it now (1990-2010 - I included 1990 since 1996 saw no QBs drafted, so that I have a 20 draft sample size), make any changes in player designations, and discuss how I feel about this year's QB draft class.

Loose guidelines for designations, but ultimately up to my discretion.
Bust - out of the league in 6 years or less; or has been unable to start for same team during that time.
Journeyman - bounces around in the league either as a temporary starter or backup for 6 or more years.
Starter - been a productive starter for 6 or more years, or is currently starting for an NFL team.
AllStar - one who perennially makes the Pro Bowl.  C - Superbowl champion as starter.

1 Jeff George - J
7 Andre Ware - B (4 years, 6 starts)

16 Dan McGwire - B (5 years, 5 starts)
24 Todd Marinovich - B (2 years, 8 starts)
(Favre went 2nd round)

6 David Klingler - B (6 years, 24 starts)
25 Tommy Maddox - J

1 Drew Bledsoe - S
2 Rick Mirer - B (8 years, 68 starts)

3 Heath Shuler - B (4 years, 21 starts)
6 Trent Dilfer - S (carried to Superbowl win)

3 Steve McNair - AS
5 Kerry Collins - S

1996 none

26 Jim Druckenmiller - B (2 years, 1 start)

1 Peyton Manning - ASC
2 Ryan Leaf - B (3 years, 21 starts)

1 Tim Couch - B (5 years, 59 starts)
2 Donovan McNabb - AS
3 Akili Smith - B (5 years, 17 starts)
11 Daunte Culpepper - S
12 Cade McNown - B (2 years, 15 starts)

18 Chad Pennington - J
(Tom Brady went 6th round)

1 Michael Vick - S
(Drew Brees went 2nd round)

1 David Carr - J
3 Joey Harrington - B (6 years, 76 starts)
32 Patrick Ramsey - B (7 years, 24 starts)

1 Carson Palmer - S
7 Byron Leftwich - J
19 Kyle Boller - J
22 Rex Grossman - J

1 Eli Manning - ASC
4 Philip Rivers - AS
11 Ben Roethlisberger - ASC
22 JP Losman - B (6 years, 33 starts)

1 Alex Smith - B (5 years, 50 starts)
24 Aaron Rodgers - ASC
25 Jason Campbell - J

3 Vince Young - B (5 years, 47 starts)
10 Matt Leinart - B (4 years, 17 starts)
11 Jay Cutler - S

1 JaMarcus Russell - B (3 years, 25 starts)
22 Brady Quinn - B (3 years, 12 starts)

3 Matt Ryan - S
18 Joe Flacco - S

1 Matt Stafford - S
5 Mark Sanchez - S
17 Josh Freeman - S

1 Sam Bradford - S
25 Tim Tebow - INC

Results from 48 total:
7 Allstars (4 Superbowl champions among them) 
13 Starters
8 Journeymen
19 Busts


- Of the 48 total QBs drafted from 1990 to 2010, I would say only 20 were profitable picks while 27 have not become the franchise quarterback they were drafted to be.  That's under a 42% (20 of 48) success rate.  I am not even considering the 6 "starters" from the '08-'10 drafts of which some will, as percentages and history dictate, find themselves re-designated as Journeyman or Busts over time.

- Since 1990, 12 quarterbacks have been chosen with the number 1 pick overall.  7 seem to be strong picks but in reality, Stafford and Bradford will still need a few seasons to prove themselves.  These 5 either didn't or haven't come through - George, Couch, Carr, Smith and Russell.  Alex Smith is the only one who started last year and has a chance to be the 49ers starter again.  Incidentally, David Carr is the backup in SF and is the only QB currently under contract.  So that's a 58% success rate (7 of 12) when drafting QBs #1 overall.  The Manning brothers were the only ones to come through as franchise QBs and win the Superbowl.  That's 2 of 12 (17%).  And I don't think there are any other Manning brothers coming through the pipeline.

Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010, signed a 6 year contract worth $78 million, with $50 million guaranteed.  Unless the current lockout puts a stop to the madness of giving the largest contract to the most unproven player on your team, any quarterback drafted #1 this year (likely Cam Newton to the Panthers) will earn more than that in guaranteed dollars.  What a huge risk.

My thoughts on this year's QB draft class.

Cam Newton - He did some things in college that we had never seen before - even better than Vince Young and Tim Tebow.  There's no question about his athleticism.  His throwing motion is light years better than Young and of course Tebow.  But as I watched the Gruden show with Newton, I think we all realized how far he has to go in running a pro offense.  It took forever for him to explain a simple play on the board where he only talked about one route.  The gist: the slant WR's responsibility was to shield the corner and the QB's responsibility was to look-off the safety.  Yay.  It was embarrassing to watch.  Were there no progressions at Auburn?  probably not.  Is anyone confident he can read an NFL defense?  No.  The simplicity of Auburn's spread, which relied upon his superior athleticism, does not demonstrate that he can learn and master an NFL offense.  Raw athletes like Young, Tebow and Newton win BCS titles, guys like Manning, Brady and Brees win Superbowls.  Coupling that steep learning curve with Kiper's report that he doesn't like to take hits, his ncaa violations baggage and his personal desire for iconic stardom (DIVA!), I wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole, especially for $50+ million guaranteed.  Not sure what Carolina's thinking.

Blaine Gabbert - Nice, thoughtful, smart, prototypical QB physicality.  Apparently he has a good memory.  But does he have the instincts to execute a pro offense after spending his entire time at Mizzou in the spread shotgun?  Can he throw downfield?  Was he even a winner, difference-maker in college?  He was just OK.  I hadn't even heard of him until a couple months ago when Kiper's mug started showing up on TV.  I just can't shake this feeling that he's just the one guy who most looks the part in a down QB class.  He will need the right situation (franchise) and a patient fan base.

Jake Locker - I didn't like what I saw the entire year in the Pac 10.  The one issue that bothers me with Locker is that he is not very accurate at all, never better than 58% completion rate.  To me, accuracy is so much more important than arm strength (JaMarcus Russell), height (Matt Leinart), wonderlic scores (Alex Smith) or 40 times (Vince Young).  The best NFL quarterbacks come in different sizes and shapes, but they're all accurate.  However, I do like his leadership skills, his toughness and his moxie.  I wouldn't pick him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes it.

Ryan Mallett - He ran a pro offense and he has the size and strength to make all the throws.  But, I am not entrusting the most important position on my football team to someone who's been involved with drugs and public intoxication.  For someone that's prepared to be THE on field decision maker, this is a pattern of horrible decisions.  I don't care how big or strong his arm is (Russell).  How do you know how he'll make decisions when the pressure and the spotlight becomes overwhelming (on and off the field)?

Andy Dalton - A lot of people seem to be high on him.  There's a lot of reason why.  He's accurate.  He's a winner.  He's a true team leader.  He's shown the ability to read the defense and make progressions.  Ideally, the 49ers will grab Patrick Peterson first round and Dalton 2nd.  I'd rather invest heavily in the sure thing in Peterson early on and grab the "short" 6'2 Dalton later hoping he'll turn out to be Drew Brees.

But first round?  No thanks, no QB for me.  At least not this year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Real Madrid - Copa del Rey champs

I am not a fan of the domestic cups - Copa del Rey, FA Cup, etc.  Its just one too many tournaments and way too many games for these players - La Liga, UEFA Champions League, Copa del Rey, International friendlies and tournaments, club friendlies - its just pretty ridiculous. These guys aren't playing poker, they're running nonstop for 90+ minutes.  Some argue that you can use your B teams for the domestic cups, but I just think it makes that tournament then even more unnecessary and irrelevant.

That said, today's match was different.  Real Madrid hadn't won this trophy in 17 years, so this meant something to Iker Casillas, who has literally won everything else there is to win.  If it meant something to him, it can mean something to soccer fans.  But its even bigger than that.

Though its not La Liga or the Champions League, anytime those two soccer giants face off, its a story.  And for the King's Cup Finale?  Yeah, I think I'll watch that.  By the way, since 1998, Real and Barca have only been in the final for a combined total of 3 times before today, and only won once (Barca 2009) in that same time.  The two best teams in Spain have not faced off in their own domestic cup final since 1990, also won by Barcelona.  All that to say, this is not a normal occurrence.  But its even bigger than that.

First, setting the stage, in a span of 18 days, the two sides would face-off 4 times.  Once in league play, once in the domestic tournament final and twice in the two-legged CL semifinal round.  In a way, each game would become more significant than the last.  It may be awhile before we see another rivalry play out like this.

Today was about Real Madrid finally finding a way to win something against the recently dominant Barcelona.  Look at the last half decade or so.  Barcelona won La Liga in '05, '06, '09, '10 and will again this year, '11.  They won the UEFA CL in '06 and again in '09.  They won the Copa del Rey in '09 to complete the treble that season.

Real?  Since '03, they won the league dramatically during Beckham's storybook final season in '07 and again in '08.  That's it.  For an organization that aspires to be the greatest club in the world, it isn't even close to being the best in its own league.  For a club that has won the UEFA CL more than any other club in history (9), it has been embarrassed by a lack of European success since Zidane's greatest goal of all time volley in '02.  Meanwhile, Barcelona is the annual favorite and dances circles around nearly everyone.

Nearly everyone, except Jose Mourinho last season, that is.  And this adds to today's spectacle.  Jose in his first year at Real has conceded La Liga, but last week broke the 5 game losing streak to Barcelona with the hard-fought 1-1 draw using defensive tactics, much like his successful plan with Inter Milan last year.  It was a performance viewed differently by all.  Some thought it was a moral victory.  Others, such as outspoken Real legend Di Stefano, thought it was an embarrassment.  But here, only my thoughts count.  Di Stefano is wrong.  What would you have Mourinho do?  Keep doing what has been done during the 5 match streak?  Think about how Real won La Liga under Capello.  Italian defending tactics.

Its obvious that Barcelona is the best at the way they play football.  Their style has also translated into dominance on the international stage as Spain are the current holders of the Euro Cup and the World Cup.  Spain's midfield engine (Xavi and Iniesta) plays for Barcelona and simply replicate the same style for La Roja.  You can't beat Barcelona at their game.  You have to counter their style with superior tactics.  And counter is what Mourinho did.

Pepe, normally a CB, was deployed at CDM, while Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira, both of whom are essentially holding midfielders / deep-lying playmakers, played alongside.  Essentially 7 field players were dedicated to form the shell that would disrupt Messi and company.  Ronaldo, Di Maria and one of Benzema (last week) / Ozil (today) would be the only form of attack.

The first of four contests was a mesmerizing thing to behold.  According to the stats, Barcelona had the lion's share of possession 76% and passed the ball endlessly to each other.  However, in reality they created very few good chances, the penalty on Villa notwithstanding.  In fact, I'd argue that Real's actual scoring opportunities were much more threatening.  {In terms of total shots, Real had 2 more shots (13 to 11) and the same number of shots on goal (6), but that doesn't tell the whole story either.}  Real was content to sit back in a tight shell and spring counterattacks when they could.  Surprisingly, when they went down to 10 men, the addition of Ozil (who I think is the heir to Zidane's playmaking throne at Madrid) actually increased Real's possession and earned them a draw.  It should be noted that Real had 8 corners while Barca had none.  I'll also note that Real's pressure defending netted them 22 fouls to Barca's 14.

Today's match was more of the same.  In the first half, Barcelona again showed off their mastery of possession, but the consistency of real chances in the penalty area were choked off by the stout Real defense.  Instead, Real could have realistically gone up by a goal or two early on had Ronaldo been able to control the ball in great scoring position better.  Later, Pepe's header off the sidepost summarily gave notice to Barca that Real was there to win.  I might add that the head referee was terrible in the 1st half.  He was calling a physical game way too tight and I was afraid that it might get away from him into one of those multi-red card slogfests.  But he improved.

The 2nd half was much different that the first.  I'm not sure what happened, but Barcelona either picked up the pace of the passing or they found a way to get an extra midfielder in the center of the pitch.  Or perhaps Madrid's CDMs were tired of ball chasing and couldn't keep up the suffocating pressure.  Either way, Messi was creating great chances regularly.  It reminded me of how the US plays against superior sides like Spain, weathering the storm and hoping for a Landon 50 yard dribbling sprint for the win.  Instead of possessing the ball even for a little while to relieve the pressure, Real would just boot it upfield, hoping to catch Ronaldo, Di Maria or Adebayor in stride.  Very Bocanegra-like.  Oh wait, no, he just likes to boot it out of bounds.  But, in fact, this whole counterattacking tactic is very American, actually.  Hmm, Mourinho for USMNT coach?  Haha, right.  Anyway, Real was lucky to withstand that 2nd half onslaught and was unlucky to score on a few solid chances to close regulation time.

I thought that Real by extra time was too tired to continue launching counterattacks and would settle for a shootout.  Up to this point, Ronaldo was active but not accurate.  But when Marcelo and the lightning fast Di Maria combined to free Di Maria wide left for a perfect cross (one of the few times in extra time that Real had numbers forward), Ronaldo took advantage of his jumping prowess and powered in the header for the lead in the 103rd minute.  Barcelona couldn't answer, and that was that.  Mourinho has his first trophy with Real Madrid.  I wonder what Di Stefano will say now.

In next week's CL first leg, we can expect to see a more confident Real side, probably with 7 defensive-minded players once again, against a ticked-off Barcelona side looking to redeem themselves and their style.  Can't wait.

Sheez, did I really just go off on the copa del rey?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fitting for a King's fan

How could it possibly have ended any worse?  One of the best basketball cities in the NBA (at least until about 3-4 years ago) is about to lose its beloved franchise and the possibilities of getting a new one looks bleak.  And on the last night of basketball at what will always be known to me as Arco Arena (I laugh at Power Balance, who forked over the money only to see the main tenants leave within months - but they deserve it anyway, since they sell a sham of a product - a silicon bracelet for $30?, hahaha), they lose to their hated rivals in the worst way possible.  Couldn't the fans of Sacramento have at least this moment?  Couldn't they enjoy just one last night for the last time?

No, this loss was indeed symbolic of the tragedy that is Sacramento Kings basketball.  First, the game itself.  For fans, getting throttled by an out of form Laker team, who ran up a 20 point lead anyway, was frustrating enough.  But being dangled the false hope of winning the game, lured by the comeback and then a 3 point lead, just to have, who else, Kobe hit the tying 3 to force a OT that the spent Kings couldn't win?  Too cruel.  And why did it have to be the Lakers?  The richer, stronger, big city bullies have lorded their championships over the earnest and hopeful small town folks for a decade now - folks who have not gotten over being robbed the 2002 NBA crown by the most corrupt display of refereeing in NBA history (Game 6).  Last night, it was a game that serves to remind Sacramento of what they'll never have.

Big picture, sure I blame the Maloofs for not having the financial foresight to not let their empire fall into the problems they are having.  Sure, I wish they had the deep pockets to help build a new stadium and keep the team competitive, instead of slashing payroll to $45 million, literally half of the $90 million Lakers payroll.  But mostly I blame Sacramento.  Do you not realize that if you want to remain viable on the national sports stage, you must pony up the money to build a new stadium?  Do you not realize that the NBA Kings are the only thing you have to keep you from becoming completely irrelevant?   Twice, new building initiatives in downtown and then Cal Expo were voted down.  So what did you expect?  That the Maloofs should stay and hemorrhage money every year while fielding a pathetic squad?

Kings fans had forgotten their first love.  The first 15 years of basketball in Sacramento, the Kings made the playoffs only twice ('85-'86 and '95-'96) both times getting blown out of the first round.  Even so, Arco Arena was sold out year after year.  After tasting 8 years of success with the Webber-led Kings from '98-'06, Kings fans did what any normal jaded fan base would do.  They were so disappointed with going back to their losing ways, that many (probably casual fringe) fans stopped coming.  Arco no longer sold out.  So what we have is this: owners who are losing money, a team that is losing games, and a fan base who have lost hope = a once proud town that will lose its team.

After the Lakers' championship last year, I had resolved to not care anymore.  The way I saw it, the Kings would never be perennially competitive for a championship, while the Lakers had made the NBA Finals 16 of the last 31 years.  SIXTEEN OF THE LAST 31 SEASONS, THE LAKERS HAVE BEEN IN THE FINALS.  Since '85-'86 when the Kings moved to Sacramento, they have missed the playoffs 15 times.  The Lakers?  Just twice.  In the same span, they went to the finals 11 times, winning 7 (actually 6 and corruptly awarded 1 in 2002).  So I thought, why was I fighting it?

The only chance for an NBA championship had been stolen from me in 2002 at the hands of the Lakers and it might've been decades before we'd have another realistic chance.  Our window had closed.  We had our shot and couldn't cash.  It is near impossible for a team from a town like Sacramento to win a championship in the NBA.  You won't see free agents flock there.  We don't have the same kind of cash flow.  And the system doesn't help either.  The better team almost always wins a 7 game series.  And even if you are better - ie Kings 2002, the team with the highest profile players (ie Shaq and Kobe) almost always gets the favorable calls.  So, I resolved not to invest my heart into it anymore.  Though I live in LA, I would never root for the Lakers, but I wasn't going to allow myself to get manhandled year after year by passionately rooting against them.  I wasn't going to try to raise my 2 sons, both born in LA, as Kings fans.  They'd rarely see a Kings game and probably wouldn't see a Kings championship ever either.  They would have freedom of choice (Clippers anyone?  hahahaha).

(Tangent warning: By the way, with the Lakers win last night, they now have the 2nd seed in the Western Conference, which is ideal.  Everything this season in the NBA has fallen into place for the Lakers.  Think about it.  The most dangerous teams in the West are the Spurs and the Thunder.  The Lakers only have to play the winner in the conference finals.  With the 2nd seed, they avoid any possible pitfalls against the equally dangerous Trailblazers or Nuggets in the 1st round.  Who are they playing in the 1st round?  The Hornets, who are missing the recently injured David West, without whom they would never have made the playoffs in the first place.  2nd round, they will probably face Nowitzki's Mavericks.  Nobody in LA is shaking.

How about the Eastern Conference?  Lets see.  The Boston Celtics traded away the one piece that actually cost them the championship last year - Kendrick Perkins.  They are now reliant upon the O'Neal tandem to fill the gap.  right.  It was a stupid move when it happened, its stupid now.  We still don't know what we have in the Miami Heat, but we do know they probably don't have the skilled bigs to counter the Lakers' frontcourt.  Chicago has the top seed and inspire zero confidence in me that they can get over the championship hump on the first try.  Orlando?  Please see NBA Finals 2009.

Nope, this whole thing is setup perfectly for the Lakers.  Can you think of anything worse than Kobe's very own 3 peat?  Makes me want to puke.)

Back on topic.  Ironically, it is the Kings' possible move to Anaheim that has reignited my NBA fandom.  Am I sad for the city of Sacramento?  Of course.  That's where I'm from.  Though I moved to LA in the fall of '97 and the Kings didn't become viable until Webber arrived in '98 and though my Kings memories while in Sac actually truly consisted of the great Mitch Richmond, being robbed of a championship in 2002 hurts more than any sports experience besides UCLA's final fours.

If they move to Anaheim, they should have more access to the proper funds to become competitive and they will be a much more attractive destination for free agents (Hey daddy, can we go to the beach today, or Disneyland?).  In short, they have a chance to become relevant again.  No, more than that, they have a better chance to win a CHAMPIONSHIP.  I had thought that if the Kings ever left Sac, I'd be a NBA free agent too.  But who'd ever thought they'd find a space to squeeze in here?  Yes, it doesn't make sense to me either.  But who cares?  For me, my sons will now have a Socal NBA option besides the Lakers.  I can commence my Laker-hate brainwashing.