Bringing It Back

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By Stefan Anderson

Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, some names that will always be linked to boxing and a great part of our American sports culture. Boxing, which once was the apple of our countries eyes with the greatest bouts and fighters putting it all on the line and giving the entertainment fans enjoy. The light has then faded  out and boxing has been foreshadowed by other sports and is not as popular as it was in the past.

Pure fans of the sport have never left and still urge for the sport to continue. Other who are causal fans have probably switched their love over to Mixed Martial Arts and UFC phenomenon, which is just as exciting to those who enjoy the competition.  But for most part, many fear their children suffer from brutal injuries and do not support culture anymore.

Although boxing can be a dangerous sport, its the other intangibles that the sport brings to young males and females. For a great example, Mike Tyson was young inner city teen from the streets of Brooklyn, and deemed to live a life of crime and delinquency but was saved by boxing. APJ Boxing gym in Poughkeepsie, NY wants to give the youth of Poughkeepsie the same opportunity to do so.

And their 1st amateur boxing showcase did so for the city of Poughkeepsie.

The lights were on, as over 500 fans and spectators filled the ringside and general admission seats at Stizel Field to support APJ and it fighters. APJ was founded by Kariym Patterson , a few years prior to help the inner city youth of its hometown. The Poughkeeepsie gym pledges to teach boxing lessons to help build confidence, boost your memory, increase your goal setting skills, and most importantly stay in shape.

With over 10 matches, citizens of Poughkeepsie got their first hand experience of boxing and seen the joy and entertainment it could provide as a viewer. Showcasing the talent that APJ and other amateur gym from the Bronx to Albany, NY are working on training daily to perfect their crafts. Fighters from APJ reigned supreme as they won all their bouts versus opponents except for one bout which paired two sparing buddies together.

Boxing greats like NYS Hall of Famer Tracy Patterson Jr, Tony Marchese , John Carlo and Chazz McDowell were in attendance as they witnessed a ground breaking event take place in the Hudson Valley.

APJ fighter Tyriece Stokes spoke on this experience by saying “To see all your friends and family come and support you it makes you great.” Stokes also went to state “This is up there with the top memories in my life”

Boxing can provide that joy in numerous amount of people lives and can continue to its imprint it continues to grow back into its once popularity again. With gym’s like APJ and it amateur fighter, I am sure that boxing will be back to one of America’s premium sport again.

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2014 NBA Free Agency: Winners and Losers

2014 NBA FABy Stefan Anderson

The 2014-2015 NBA season is poised to be a great season, due to the interesting off-season we just witnessed. With the best draft we seen in over a decade, your favorite superstars opting to become free agents and every team chasing the goal of bringing a NBA championship.

Following the “King” LeBron James making his decision to return home to Cleveland on an interesting 2 year contract, the dominoes began to fall in free agency. Teams throughout the league, cleared cap space and aligning all possible moves to gather up the pieces to improve their current roster for the upcoming season.

As the majority of the players were signed to their various teams, we discuss the winner and losers in the 2014 free agency pool.

Taking the next step:

Washington Wizards: Resigning the “Polish Hammer” Marcin Gortat and then bringing in former Finals MVP Paul Pierce, the “Wiz Kids” look to improve on their breakout season last year. Washington has promising future in Wall and Beal and to add sound veterans in the mix makes their chances to come out the Eastern Conference even greater. Along Pierce and Gortat, the Wizards also combined tenacious rebounders Kris Humphries and Dejuan Blair.

Charlotte Hornets: The Bobcats, excuse me the Hornets are back in Charlotte and look to make that next to step to becoming the next team to make a run in the wide open Eastern Conference this season. After making the playoffs for the 2nd time since turning over the franchise. Charlotte took a big chance by signing the sometimes head case Lance Stephenson. Stephenson can give Charlotte another dimension they lacked in the past with ability to do everything on the court. Stephenson and Kemba Walker should make the perfect NYC connection on Charlotte this season. The Hornets also added swingman Marvin Williams, who will give more depth as he can play the wing or a stretch 4 depending on the coach’s decision.

Winners:

Dallas Mavericks: Trading to reacquire the former “heart” of the 2011 Championship team , Tyson Chandler and guard Raymond Felton, the Mavs looked to improve their roster after taking the defending NBA champion Spurs to 7 games in this year’s playoffs. The Mavs went on to sign the offer sheet of the budding superstar in Chandler Parsons to give Dallas more offensive weapons to pair alongside Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. They also brought the veteran leadership of Richard Jefferson and Rashad Lewis after losing savvy vets like DeJuan Blair and Vince Carter.

Miami Heat: Most would say when you lose LeBron James how could you rebound from that. Unlike Cleveland, Miami and their brass did not put all their marbles in one basket and watch the future pass by them as the league’s feature star walks away. Miami had a great amount cap space and made the most of it and will still remain a great team as they compete in the Eastern Conference. Resigning Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers, Miami took the proper steps in making a competitive roster. Adding vets like Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng, and Danny Granger to help fill the void of LeBron James. The Heat have a good cast of players to play in the East’s most competitive division, the Southeast Division, with Washington and Charlotte improving their rosters.

Losers:

Los Angeles Lakers: With Kobe Bryant reaching the end of his career and their worst season the in the past 20 years, the question remains will the Lake Show remain to its prominence? The answer to that question seems very uncertain as management and ownership have not figured the solution to their problem. After giving Lakers legend Kobe Bryant a hefty contract, the Lakers lacked the max money to bring in Carmelo Anthony or even by a long shot a LeBron James. They end up losing who Kobe’s claimed as one of his closest teammates Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls, after the franchise front office tried dealing (almost landing Chris Paul at one point) with continuous effort, ends biting them now. The Lakers aren’t far off but has questions, a solid supporting cast that highlight Jeremy Lin, Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis. Yes the talent is good enough for a 6-8 seed in the Western Conference but lacks the talent to win another championship for Bryant’s and LA’s resume.

Houston Rockets: You decline the option of a young superstar who wouldn’t cost much than irrational contracts to players who didn’t deserve it, the things that go through Daryl Morey head. I must give credit where it’s due because he didn’t release the outlandish contracts of the underachieving Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. The Rockets then failed to sign LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony and then watched the interested Chris Bosh sign back with Miami to become the league’s highest paid superstar. That just the beginning , seeing the then cheap young star who helped gather a player like Dwight Howard into signing with Rockets, Chandler Parson , sign with in state rival Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets and their front office plan to try again next summer possibly, where they received a first round pick through trades and bringing back the serviceable Trevor Ariza , who can bring exactly what is needed on Houston, defense and three point shooting. But the Rockets surely missed out on bringing a 3rd or 4th all-star which is needed in the tough Western Conference.

World Cup Final Predictions

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For the past month we been glued to our TV sets for the world’s biggest sporting event, the World Cup. Watching your favorite player represent their host countries or for some learning about the world’s most universal sport, learning how interesting it can be. Here at The Starting Point, we give you our predictions for tonight’s big match up.
 
Muller or Messi? Who has a bigger impact on the game, if not them who else to look out for?
 
Greg Hudson: Muller. Messi is fantastic but his impact in the semifinal was non-existant. His only shot at goal was during penalties. Muller on the other hand scored the opener and bagged 2 assists in Germany’s rout of Brazil. For Germany the other player to watch is Miroslav Klose. He may be 36 but he still knows how to score like a pro and he’s a true goal poacher: he’s invisible and let’s the play develop around him and then pops up in the right place at the right time to finish it off. For the Argentines I have to go with Higuain. Sure, Di Maria is great but Higuain is overshadowed by his more famous teammates and that may just give him the little opening he needs for a breakthrough moment.
 
Which side formation’s causes for each other or evenly sided match up?
 
GH: Germany will cause all sorts of problems for Argentina because the pass so well and they make such devastating attacking runs. Brazil had no answer for the blitzkrieg the Germans launched their way. And while Argentina have the pace to be a problem on the counter, the German defence is so well-disciplined that they can cope with the threat.
 
If the game goes into penalty shots, who are you taking ?
GH: Have to go with Germany. The Germans spend hours every week training for penalty kicks and how to put them in an un-savable position. Not to mention that Manuel Neuer is one of the best penalty-save goalkeepers in the world.
 
Man of the Match?
 
GH: Muller or Toni Kroos in the attacking midfield.
 
Final Prediction: 
GH: Germany 3-1 Argentina (Muller, Klose, Schurrle; Higuain)

Same Paths, Same Results

 

By Stefan Anderson

Always we as human are deemed to make mistakes in our lives because it’s simple, no one is born perfect. But to make the same reoccurring mistake is irresponsible for adults. At some you have to accept your wrongdoings and move past the things that are holding your life hostage. To use a sports analogy, if the opposing team locks off the left side do you continue to go left or try to go right ?

P.J. Hairston and Josh Gordon are two athletes who have found themselves in the topic of discussion once again. For the same kind of absent minded mistakes.

Hairston, just drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the past draft, en route to transgressions filled path to the NBA. Following a season where the Greensboro native, led North Carolina in scoring, Hairston was suspended for receiving improper benefits that violated NCAA regulations. Hairston kept his hoops aspirations alive after the Tar Heels declined to issue his reinstatement, by filing his papers to the NBA’s Development League where showcased his talent for the Texas Defenders, a Dallas Mavericks affiliate. On the Defenders, Hairston averaged nearly 22 points a game and looked to a steal in this year’s star studded draft, becoming the first D-League player selected in the NBA Draft’s first round. A week later, Hairston finds himself in facing assault and battery charges stemming from a fight with a high school youth at a local YMCA.

Josh Gordon, a rising star in the NFL had just began to make his mark the on the NFL this season.

Gordon received a scholarship to football at Baylor, but failed to return after being caught up in an off campus marijuana incident. Gordon was forced to transfer to Utah and enter the NFL Supplementary Draft. After being drafted in 2012, finished his rookie season with over 800 yards receiving and 5 five touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns. Gordon returned to be suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Returning from suspension, Gordon went on to lead the NFL in reception yards, 1,646, despite missing the first two games of the season. To begin the 2014 season, Gordon was suspended after another failed drug test which results in a season long suspension.  Just this past weekend, the wideout was arrested for a DUI in North Carolina.

The irony that the car was in the name of P.J. Hairston and Gordon was then bailed out by the same guy who gave Hairston the gifts that got him suspended from UNC doesn’t make the situation any better but ties all together.

Everyone has chimed in about these two professional athletes from former players, coaches, favorite sports analysts and even your social media philosophers. But all parties involved suggest that these two need serious help and guidance.

But who can pass judgment on another person based on their actions, well a lot people do when you’re a professional athlete with all eyes on you. Repeated offenders none the least but these men are fairly young and have not met their coming of age and never received the proper tutelage some of the college coaches. 

I agree that some can grow up missing the pivotal years of your early 20’s especially when you spend the majority of your time in trouble or on the athletic field. These players are given life from a different spectrum and fail to realize the importance of where they stand as professional.

Both Gordon and Hairston need some guidance from veterans who understand professionalism and how to carry themselves as players held on a higher pedestal.  No one needs one more than another, although Gordon might need to check himself to into rehab to treat what from the outside looking in looks like addiction, Hairston need to surround his self with a better supporting cast and with people who actually want to see him prosper in life.

The talents the two possess are a specialty and are rare today, but if they cannot solve extra circular activities, we will never be able to acknowledge their gifts. Two things make an athlete what they are, physical and mental attributes. Physical attributes include the god given talents, and the mental features which brings it all together. Gordon and Hairston do not lack the skills set to become superstar athletes but they do not posses the mental aspect of becoming a professional causes them make these same mistakes, they both have long careers ahead of them and with the right guidance can be yielded in the  right direction to become the professionals they have potential to be.  

2014 World Cup Quarterfinals Preview: Day 1

By Aaron Hampton

The dust has settled on the round of 16 and now only 8 teams remain as we look forward to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup.  Friday’s matches include a clash between European powerhouses France and Germany, as well as an explosive matchup between Brazil and Columbia.  With berths in the semi-finals at stake, lets take a look deeper look at both matches heading into Friday.

France vs. Germany

We begin our preview with what most would consider the marquee matchup of the quarter-finals in France vs. Germany. France come into this game after a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Nigeria, needing second half goals by Paul Pogba and Moussa Sissko to advance, while the Germans needed extra time to see off Algeria.

The crucial question for Germany coming into this matchup is how they will line up on defense.  Against Algeria, Germany consistently left acres of space and channels for the Algerian attack to run through, and had Manuel Neuer not put on one of the best goalkeeping performances of this World Cup, Algeria may have been able to turn one or two of those chances into goals.

 

Germany seemed to respond well to a second half adjustment in that game that saw Sami Khedira replace Phillipp Lahm in midfield, with Lahm then slotting in at fullback. This is the best runout for Germany and the one we should see against France, because in this formation Khedira is able to provide a shield in front of the back four, while Lahm solidifies the flank and also offers an additional attacking outlet out wide. Germany should also be boosted by the return of Mat Hummels who had to missed the game against Algeria due to an illness.

As for France, the key for them in this matchup against Germany will be controlling and winning the ball back in the middle of the pitch.  It’s no secret that the Germans lack depth in the wide areas of the field, and look to play the ball through the middle with their midfielders.  However, the German midfielder’s have lacked form in this World Cup, with players like Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil struggling to make an impact in the tournament.

This is where the athleticism of France in the middle of the pitch could be the area in which the game is won.  France can use their speed and quickness in the middle, with players like Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabye in specific, to press Germany hard and win the ball back these areas.  By doing that you get Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann out on the break, running right at a German back line that has looked questionable all tournament long.

France has made it to the semi-finals in each of the last five times they have made it out of round one, while Germany has made the semi-finals in three consecutive World Cups, so one of these teams will have their streak broken as the whistle sounds.  In the end, I believe the speed and quickness of France will be too much for Germany to handle.

My prediction: France 1, Germany 0

Brazil vs Columbia

After surviving a dramatic penalty shootout against Chile, the dream remains alive for Brazil heading into their quarter-final matchup against Columbia.  Outside of putting on an impressive display against Cameroon, Brazil have failed to live up to the hype surrounding this team coming into the World Cup, and on numerous occasions looked the lesser side on the field during the tournament.  Anything less than their best performance on Friday will see them exit the World Cup against a Columbia team that is playing the best football out of any team left in the tournament.

Brazil have a few concerns heading into this matchup, namely the fitness of star man Neymar who suffered a right knee injury in their win against Chile.  Neymar has found the net four times during the tournament, and has virtually singlehandedly led the Brazilian offense throughout this World Cup, and will be looked at to provide attacking inspiration for the squad despite injury concerns. 

And while it remains true that Neymar at 85% is still one hell of a football player and can change a match in an instant, the fact that he comes into this match with fitness concerns puts more pressure on the other members of a lackluster Brazilian attack to step up.

While more subtle but no less equally important, the loss of Luis Gustavo due to suspension will also hurt Brazil coming into this matchup, as he would of been the player called on to keep an eye on Columbia’s James Rodriguez, who is looking to become the first player since 2002 to score in his first five matches in the World Cup.

The aforementioned Rodriguez is in the form of his life, and has been the key to the engine for a Columbia team that has scored 11 goals in all four of the match ups that they have won.  Clearly Brazil will have to make note of Rodriguez wherever he is on the pitch because if he is given even the smallest amount of space or opportunity, he can no doubt push Columbia singlehandedly through to their first semi-final in history.

All things considered, this matchup promises to be an explosive one between the two neighboring South American countries.  Brazil have yet to show their full potential in this tournament despite advancing this far, and with so much riding on the line against a CONMEBOL rival, this may just be the matchup that brings out the Brazil squad with we expected to see at the beginning of the World Cup.  The pressure is great, but I don’t expect Brazil to collapse.

My prediction:  Brazil 2, Columbia 1

 

 

The Blueprint

By Stefan Anderson

As the interesting as this offseason has been featuring free agency, opt outs, and the recent draft the 2014 season looks to be promising pending this next weeks. With the beginning of NBA free agency so many questions to answer but what will happen this offseason can ultimately create a uproar in the league or remain depending on one person’s decision. Lebron James

Similar to 2010, the NBA premier superstar is once again a free agent and ready to have teams shake up their roster and begin to piece together their best package to acquire the 4 time MVP. James’s move to opt and chase the maximum contract that he deserved 4 years prior not only affects him but everyone in free agent cohort this summer.

In 2012, players like Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire , received 100 + million dollar contract, as being beneficiaries of the big 3 combination that has shaken up the league since its beginning. Kind of like a very lucrative person moves on to your block, that the value of your house goes up because people want to live in that nice area as well.

With James decision pending to change the outlook of the NBA once again he continues his pioneer activity. James signing with another team can leave Miami in limbo similar to Cleveland but can do the same if he decides to stay with Miami again.

Although Miami has a great amount of salary cap to burn, 55 million to be exact, it could hurt by giving James a maximum contract while trying to add other pieces alongside “The Chosen One”. James would take a max deal which would put the Heat’s former franchise player Wade in a position take a tremendous paycut and asking a top tier big man in Bosh to do the same. Although Wade is not worth the money he once was, it goes against the grain of the Miami “family” environment that was created by players like Wade and also a free agent Udonis Haslem.

James can get offered his maximum 20 million by up to 7 guaranteed teams that include Dallas, Miami and a total longshot but would to see him compete and grow with, Phoenix. But there are other teams willing sacrifice their futures like the Clippers who reportedly will trade Blake Griffin and the Rockets who has traded away Omer Asik and declined the budding star Chandler Parsons team option. James is playing the greatest game of monopoly right now and has done what no other superstar in the NBA has done, dictate your own future.

Carmelo Anthony, who is still living in James shadow 11 years later, decided to opt out of his contract from New York and ponds the decision whether to chase championships with another roster, believe in Phil Jackson’s master plan or also take pay cut to play with draft classmates in Miami in hopes of holding up that trophy for once in his career.  James’s influence can help young stars like a Chandler Parsons, Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward and even Lance Stephenson will reap the benefits off being on the market where so many have their big dollars willing to spend on James or maybe a Anthony or Bosh, but will feel just as comfortable in giving them the same kind of deals to promote their future.

In the game of chess you cannot win the game unless you put the King in checkmate or take him completely out of the matchup, well the NBA is the same chess match with their King , LeBron James decides to checkmate and give into his chosen team.