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NBA Expert Playoff Predictions by Del

Finally, it matters. Like the Doc mentioned when he posted his NBA Playoff predictions, there are a lot of question marks heading into the 2011 postseason. When the year began the general consensus was that either the Lakers would continue to dominate after returning the same roster, the Heat super team would live up to their expectations, or the Celtics would make another great run. Any of those things can still happen, but the Lakers struggled mightily at times during the regular season and the Heat have yet to prove they are a dominant force together. The Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins and will be relying on the oft-injured Shaq, who is already out Game 1 against the Knicks. Oh yeah, and in the meantime the Bulls became very, very good.

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Del’s Picks)
First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in five, experience wins out easily here as it so often does in the NBA playoffs.
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in five, Lakers lost five out of seven to close the season but they have too many weapons.
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Blazers in seven, Blazers are solid and Mavs can’t close in the playoffs until they prove otherwise.
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, OKC’s young talent combined with Perkins’ postseason experience could make them dangerous.

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in six, experience, experience, experience. Spurs have a ton, OKC has barely any.
(2) Lakers vs (6) Blazers – Lakers in five, Blazers will be spent from giving everything they have to win a series. Lakers will have coasted.

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in seven, Even if Bynum misses time, it’s nothing L.A. isn’t used to. Kobe gets it done again.

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NBA Playoffs Expert Predictions by Doc

The NBA playoffs have finally begun which is a nice change from the final month of the regular season where all that was at stake was seedings. All the first round match-ups are set meaning it’s time to predict who will emerge from each conference to reach the Finals.

What’s really strange is that every team seems to have questions. The Lakers seemed like a lock to chase down the Spurs in the West, but then they lost five in a row. The Spurs are an underrated top seed because most people don’t look at them as a dangerous team. The Bulls lack experience, the Heat lack size, and the Celtics have questions at center. So who will emerge? The Doc takes a look.

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Doc’s Picks)
First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in 6, Memphis will challenge but lacks the weapons
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in 5, closest to being a sweep, CP3 can get em one
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Mavs in six, popular upset pick, but not on Dirk’s watch
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, Denver’s looked good, but OKC is too tough at home

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in seven, home court will be the difference
(2) Lakers vs (3) Mavs – Lakers in six, Mavs will crap panties again, only Dirk will show

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in six. Too much size for San Antonio

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John Amaechi Compares Kobe’s Gay Slur to Use of N-Word

Kobe Bryant got into a serious amount of trouble in a short amount of time after calling referee Bennie Adams a “F—ing F—–” during a Lakers game Tuesday night. He had human rights groups after him, Gay and Lesbian rights groups after him, and the NBA fined him $100,000 for his actions. Initially, Kobe stuck by his words and did not apologize, but later he owned his comments and recognized they were wrong.

Even though Kobe apologized and understood what was wrong about what he did, it didn’t stop John Amaechi from sharing his opinion. Amaechi is an openly gay former NBA player and he talked about Kobe’s outburst both with USA Today and The New York Times.

Talking to USA Today, Amaechi said “We have to take it as unacceptable as a white person screaming the N-word at a black person. … I can tell you that I’ve been called a f——- fairly routinely, and yet people seem to hold off on calling me the N-word. We’ve got to mirror that progress.”

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Kobe Bryant’s Inspiration Was Rudy

Even if you can’t stand Notre Dame, it’s hard not to enjoy the sports classic movie Rudy. It’s a touching story that sends a great message about heart, perseverance, and inspiration. Some people think the story was embellished to make the movie more dramatic, but there’s little doubt it’s impacted its viewers. Those viewers even include Kobe Bryant whose work ethic has frequently been lauded by the media.

Arash Markazi of ESPNLA.com had a good story on Thursday about Kobe meeting Rudy Ruettiger, the man who inspired the movie. It was a chance meeting in Sacramento as Rudy’s daughter was singing the national anthem before the Lakers-Kings game. Kobe broke from his pregame routine to speak with Ruettiger and shocked us all with what he said.

“That movie changed my life,” Kobe said. “When I saw it I told myself if I can play as hard as Rudy with the talent I have, anything’s possible. I’ve met a lot of people in my life but that one there, man, that one [messed] me up.”

I’ve always loved watching Rudy and will flip it on whenever it’s playing on TV, but I never thought a movie like that could actually inspire a real athlete to achieve a level of greatness. Now that I know what it did for Kobe, I’m going to pipe that thing on a 24-7 loop for my son in his crib. At least he’d get his work ethic part down, right?

Sacramento Kings Announcers Grant and Jerry Tear Up at End of Telecast (Video)

We’ve already talked about how the Kings-Lakers game on Wednesday night in Sacramento was one of the saddest moments of the NBA season. Landon Donovan was one of the people who thought it was a joke that the Kings were moving until he realized how truly sad it was to see such a great sports town lose its beloved (and only) team. We’ve covered the story previously at LBS and gave you the heartfelt perspective from a lifelong Kings fan. We can tell you as much as we want how devastating it is for Sacramento to lose the Kings, but nothing conveys the touching emotion quite like this video of the team’s TV announcers, Jerry Reynolds and Grant Napear, signing off Wednesday evening:

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Landon Donovan Apologizes for Tweaking Sacramento Kings Fans on Twitter

Wednesday evening in Sacramento was one of the saddest moments of the NBA season. The Kings faced the Lakers in what was likely their last game ever in Sacramento given their plans to move to Anaheim. It couldn’t have been a more bitter goodbye for Kings fans who watched their team blow a late lead to the enemy Lakers after mounting a huge comeback. But if there were some people who enjoyed seeing the outcome, it was Lakers fans.

Team USA star soccer player and LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan is an LA native and fan of the local sports teams. As a Lakers fan, he took particular joy in watching the team beat the Kings in their final game in Sacramento and gloated on twitter:

Donovan took massive amounts of heat from Kings fans as a result and followed up by saying “Jesus, one little joke brings out the passion. Note to self: don’t ever go to Sacramento…ever.” Then when things were explained to him from real people in Sacramento who are forced to see their team leave and have local jobs lost, Donovan started to understand and empathize. He apologized, writing “I apologize. I’m a diehard Laker fan and got emotional. I made a mistake, sorry to all the King fans.” He even took down that critical tweet, but thanks to Jose3030 on twitter it was preserved.

Donovan never had to apologize for his comments because he is a Lakers fan and that’s part of the rivalry. But after he connected with fellow fans who showed him how much it sucks to lose a team, he understood and apologized. He didn’t have to, but I’m glad he learned how painful this is for Kings fans and realized how insensitive his remark was. It’s the Maloofs who need the criticism, not the fans.

Kobe’s Gay Slur Gets Him in Trouble

Kobe Bryant may have just been angry over receiving his 15th technical foul of the season, but his reaction was inappropriate by any means. He went to the bench, slammed his fist against a chair, and got the attention of referee Bennie Adams. At that point, he called him a “f***ing f***ot,” here’s the video via Jose3030:

Alright, so the word Kobe used has become so common that it has obscured the meaning and origin behind it. That doesn’t make it acceptable. Just like someone using the n-word or another racial slur, using that word is not OK. Think about what you are as a person. How can you be described? Is there anything about you that people can use to throw a slur your way? Of course, and it probably would make you upset if someone used it the way Kobe did.

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