America anticipating the return of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant & co
Iarla Duignan returns to look at all the latest news from across the pond with the NBA set to return in time for Christmas
Welcome to The Sport Review’s new American sports blog, featuring all the latest news and views from stateside.
A festive feast as NBA returns in time for Christmas
After 149 days, the return of play in the NBA could not have been timed any better – action will return on Christmas Day to a mouth watering triple header that starts with Boston Celtics at the New York Knicks, followed by a Finals rematch between Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. The day’s action will conclude with the Chicago Bulls against the Los Angeles Lakers. Quite literally a festive feast for basketball fans.
The drama could not be better for the first day of the season, culminating with the Mavericks collecting their Championship Rings in front of LeBron James and the rest of the beaten Heat finalists before their match-up.
The players and owners reached a “tentative agreement” last Saturday to end the five-month work stoppage. Both sides spent the lockout committing PR suicide as outsiders found it hard to sympathise with millionaires arguing over money.
In an 82-game season – which has been shortened to 66 games – only the diehard fans will truly miss the beginning of the season. Most would agree that the season should never start in October, as so many meaningless games are played out. The fact is, both parties have stumbled into the perfect return.
All the NBA hopes now, after the highest-rated season in years, is that they did not cause too much damage to their fan base.
Things to look forward to in this NBA season
The threat of no season after five months of squabbling has come to an end and instead of looking back, it’s time to look forward.
Everybody outside South Beach revelled in the Heat’s failure last season. With another year’s experience together and, probably a better supporting cast, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be on a mission.
In theory, a shortened season should benefit the older players. Less games means less fatigue. The LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and the Champions Dallas Mavericks have all got some of the oldest teams in the league and could reap the rewards of a shorter season.
Last season saw the emergence of young, exciting teams. Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies had deep playoff runs in the summer and fell short. Can they add the necessary pieces this year to make the next step?
Dwight Howard is the most dominant big man in the game and his contract is up next summer. Cue the hysteria that comes with it. LA Lakers bound?
King James, Bad Blake, Melo, Steve Nash, KD, Kobe, CP3 and company. The players are why the league is so popular and it’s time to see them do what they do best.
NFL: Ndamukong Suh must change his ways
Suh has taken the league by storm in the two seasons he has been in the NFL. The second overall pick in the 2010 draft has changed the mindset of the Detroit Lions. He has given his side renewed aggression and belief and helped turn them from perennial losers to 7-4 this season.
The reigning rookie of the year has been banned for two games with no pay for a stamp on Green Bay Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith. The â‚¬164,000 he will lose over the two games will bring the total he has been fined to over â‚¬200,000. He has been fined on three previous occasions for hits on Quarterbacks.
His aggression has been applauded by some, but he is increasingly becoming known as a dirty player. If you were to take this mindset out of his game, it could affect his overall play, but he must learn how to control it.
His appeal of the ban is further proof that he hasn’t seen the problem. He must see the light, before he hurts his team further and, more importantly, badly hurts an opposing player.
Jack Del Rio won’t be the last casualty.
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio became the first coach to lose his job this season. In his ninth season, he has lead his team to a 3-8 record. It is no surprise Del Rio has been fired, after he avoided the sack on a couple of occasions over his nine-year spell as coach in which he has a 69-73 record.
Eight coaches lost their jobs during and after last season, so history tells us that he won’t be the last to suffer this fate. After the first casualty, the punters are already looking for the next and the league is not short of candidates.
San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner is on borrowed time after they have lost six games in a row. One of the pre-season favourites for the Superbowl now has a 4-7 record and is certain to miss out on the playoffs. Coaching one of the most talented squads in the NFL, Turner has been unable to win after five seasons in charge and is certain to lose his job.
Losing future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has not helped Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, but there are no excuses for leading his side to an 0-11 record. The Colts are on course to be just the second side in history to finish the season with no wins.
Ironically, having such a poor season means the Colts may stumble into the best college player – Andrew Luck – since their own Quarterback Manning, leaving their future looking bright. A future that is likely to be under new leadership. Expect the next coaching casualty to be sooner rather than later.
And finally: American Footballers don’t dive?
We are used to seeing a certain type of “footballer” closer to home hitting the deck after the slightest of contact. Surely, not even the Italians would dive as theatrically as Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson after an altercation with an opponent.