Archive for August, 2012
Blake Griffin was one of the many players who had to miss their chance to fight for Olympic gold in the London 2012 games with the latest installment of the Dream Team. Sure enough he made the cut and was actually during training with the USA Olympic team that the injury in his knee was developed. Griffin suffered a tear on his medial meniscus while training in Las Vegas on July 11th. He underwent arthroscopic surgery last month in Germany and his recovery has been excellent. It is expected that the Power Forward from the LA Clippers will join the rest of his teammates on October 1st when the Clippers training camp kicks in. It is a shame that Griffin missed a chance to collect an Olympic medal, but maybe he can make up for it by getting an NBA title. It’s a long shot, but for the very first time in a very long while, the Clippers are actually looking like a team that might have a chance to be a title contender.
Yet the injuries are still making it a long shot. As of press time it is still uncertain whether Blake Griffin is going to be able to start training camp with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups playing next to him. Paul underwent surgery last week to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb while Billups is still recovering from surgery in February to repair a torn left Achilles tendon that put him out for the remainder of the season. It’s a long way for the recovery, but considering that Paul is still fairly young and that Billups will have almost 8 months to recover since he first got injured, the Clippers might be able to start the season with a clean sheet of health.
Blake Griffin went on to say that his recovery is coming along quite well. “I just needed to get the swelling out of the knee. That was the biggest battle. There’s nothing that needs time to repair or heal. It was just reducing the swelling and getting the strength back in my leg and once I got that, I was out on the court every day.” So that’s got to be quiet a relief for the Clippers fans out there who were wondering exactly how things would look like this upcoming season considering that for a moment there Billups, Paul and Griffin were all in the injury list.
Paul is probably going to be able to make it back before the Clippers officially open up the 2012-13 NBA Season. The squad kicks it off on October 31st against the Memphis Grizzlies. But trainig camp is going to be essential for the Clippers. They are now welcoming six different players including Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill, so creating the chemistry needed to get their game synched is of utter importance. Griffin said the offseason acquisitions showed how far the Clippers have come as a franchise, singling out players such as Hill and Billups who essentially chose to finish their careers and chase a championship with the Clippers.
Rhyne Williams is a 21-year-old qualifier into the US Open at Flushing Meadows. He was thrilled to be playing his first ever Grand Slam tournament. Rhyne had a decent run earlier this season, and the 2011 runner-up of the NCAA title, had been invited into the Open. He actually won three matches in the qualifying stages of the US Open and was maybe hoping that he could make it pass the first round. Though luck I guess, because Williams had to face No. 28th ranked player in the world, and he just simply didn’t hold a chance against the 30-year-old veteran Andy Roddick. Sure enough, Roddick’s career hasn’t really reached it’s full potential because of the series of injuries that have one after another affected his game over the years. One thing is clear though: despite the years, the injuries his serve is still without par in the tour. He finished off a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win against Williams with 20 aces. Oh yeah, and he finished it off with style. He shot a 141mph ace to close the first set; a 134mph ace to close the second; a 127mph bullet to close the third.
Then again, we have to remember one thing: Roddick knows exactly what it takes to win the championship. After all, he is the 2003 US Open, and he knows he has to rely heavily on his serve now that he is playing against other players who once used to cheer for him. Let’s not forget that by the time Roddick won his last Grand Slam, Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tennessee was only a 12-year-old kid. It’s been a while sicne the 2003 US Open. It’s been a very long time particularly for USA Tennis. That was the last Grand Slam singles title for an American man, the longest drought in history. Let’s put this drought into perspective, we are talking about the country that produced the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.
Andy Roddick is not to keen to talk about his future, or about a possible retirment coming up soon. After all, it’s been a long while since he last won a Grand Slam and it’s very hard to live under the shadow of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the better part of a decade. Still, Roddick was making his 13th consecutive U.S. Open appearance yesterday. Many fans, many sports commentators have considered Roddick to be an underachiever. Still, with his training and by the looks of what he put out on the court today, he is willing to alter the expectations this time around, and hopes to be a real contender down the stretch.
In other related news, Novak Djokovic, the other player that next to Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have dominated the Grand Slam circuit, is looking quite strong again this year. The U.S. Open defending title began his run by overwhelming 69th-ranked Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday night. Lorenzi never held a chance against Djokovic who is trying to repeat his win.
Considering what a brilliant summer Andy Murray has had this year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as the last grand slam of the season closes in, the 25-year-old Scotsman comes in as one of the tournament’s favorites. This is by far Andy Murray’s best year yet, and considering the momentum he has build over the last two mayor tournaments, and the fact that Rafael Nadal will be missing out on the Flushing Meadows action, many believe that this is as good a chance to win his first grand slam. Let’s not forget that Murray has reached 4 Grand Slam Finals, and has loss to Roger Federer in each and every one of them. Including his latest run at the Wimbledon Championships. Sure enough Murray became the only British player to reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final in the Open Era.
But a few weeks later, and playing once again at the Centre Court of the All England Club in Wimbledon, it was going to be Andy Murray the man taking the win before his countryman at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. His opponent for the Olympic gold medal was none other than the man who had denied him a Grand Slam titles all this year: Roger Federer. Talk about poetic justice; truth is that Murray on the other hand denied Federer the only one tournament he hasn’t win yet: the Olympic Men’s singles gold medal. So what happened in his opening matchup against No. 73 ranked Russian Alex Bogomolov in the first round of the US Open was very unexpected. Don’t get me wrong here, Murray went on to win the game in three straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, but it was far away from the confidence booster that his closes rivals would had love to see from him.
For the better part of the match Murray looked very uneasy. Alex Bogomolov managed to brake his first two service games and was down a break and 2-4 in the second set before he began to look remotely comfortable. For a moment there he was as far away from a Grand Slam winning form as anyone could wish, but without missing a beat, he dig deep inside of him and managed to get things running soon enough. He never panicked and that allowed him to get things under control. Murray managed to even things at 4-4, and then won 8 of the next 9 games for a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win to dissipate any doubts about his game.
Perhaps he will get significantly better as he starts to play more and more games in the fast courts of Flushing Meadows. Let’s not forget that most of Murray’s struggles on his match against Bogomolov can be attributed to a lack of hard court preparation coming into the tournament. Murray played just three hard court matches leading up to the Open. At the Toronto Masters he won a round but then withdrew prior to his second round match with a knee injury. At the Cincinnati Masters a week later he lost in the second round, to unseeded Jeremy Chardy. He played thirteen games in grass courts in preparation to both Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics. Now, let’s only hope that he can make the needed adjustments as soon as possible and that he can be a real contender for the 2012 US Open title.
LeBron James still has at least eight or nine more seasons of good basketball in him. He started straight out of high school, and even though it took him 8 years to finally get an NBA Championship, he is the best active player in the NBA. But is he just good enough, does he have the athletic and mental strength to reach the heights of the all-time best? The issue is out there. The virtual head-to-head is perhaps as fascinating to the NBA fan as an impossible matchup between the 1992 Team USA Olympic Dream Team and it’s 2012 London homologue.
And yet, Micheal Jordan’s resume is so much more impressive than that of LeBron. But the credentials, the rings, is not all there is to this comparison. For intance, Kobe Bryant has 5 NBA Championships, just one less than Jordan, and yet, it seems that James is so much closer to be in the same stratospheric league as Jordan than Bryant.
Perhaps the issue at hand here is that James physicality is just something that we haven’t seen yet in a basketball player. And perhaps that gives him an edge over the field. At 6 feet 8 inches tall, and weighting in 250 pounds, the 27-year-old James has an unique skill set. He can run just as fast as any point guard in the league, he has the mobility of a much smaller and agile player, he can jump as high as any center, and he can certainly shoot and defend like few others. Now, joining Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade at the Miami Heat, LeBron James has managed to get a very good to seasons since he made the decision to leavel the Cleveland Cavaliers and take his talents to South Beach. James signed off a remarkable year earlier this month with an Olympic gold medal for Team USA. In the last 12 months James won his third league MVP, his first NBA championship and an NBA Finals MVP.
But what has certainly sparked up the conversation lately has been the comments given by James teammate Dwayne Wade. “I don’t know if (James) has the ability to surpass (Jordan) or not,” said in an interview last week “That’s yet to be seen. My version as LeBron being on par with Michael is this: They’re both on the golf course. Michael’s on the 18th hole. LeBron is somewhere on like the fourth hole. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on par to get to the 18th hole.” From a safe distance, it looks as if Wade’s evaluation seems very fair based.
James is young, his potential is still as important as his achievements. If he can continue building up around him in Miami, many good things are still to come. “He’s now playing with that confidence, that swagger that you need, and he’s right in the smack of his prime. We’ve all seen it from all the best players in this game, all the future Hall of Famers, that age — 27, 28, 29 — that’s like the best years, and then after that if you stay healthy, then you have even more great years like a Michael Jordan, like a Kobe (Bryant) has had, when they reach their 30s.” It seems as if only time will tell.