Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 MLB Preseason Predictions

Well, 2013 was one of those years where you just couldn't predict the outcome with the Red Sox winning the World Series after the previous 2 seasons they found ways to enter the laughing stock of the sports world by choking away the division in 2011 and in 2012 joining the circus of teams at the bottom. In 2013, nothing was impossible as they put everything together, Big Papi became superman once again and their pitching staff decided to stop eating wings and drinking beer in the clubhouse (at least that's what we know) along with the Boston Strong motivation from the marathon bombing. So how are we going to predict 2014? Let's look at all the big moves in each division in each league before we get down to each divisional prediction.

A.L. East

In a division with so much turnover in the past year with the Boston Red Sox winning the title, this is still one of the roughest divisions in baseball top to bottom. The signing of Nelson Cruz should bolster an already loaded hitting club in Baltimore along with the signing of Ubaldo Jimenez who a couple years ago was one of the best pitchers in the game. The Yankees also signed a ton of older talent to get them over the top this season (Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka) the only problem, they literally have no bullpen and that's not just because of the departure of Mariano Rivera a year ago. The Blue Jays look like another couple years away from contending, but Joey Bats should keep them entertaining all season, along with another masher like Edwin Encarnacion. When you have a guy like R.A. Dickey (who is the definition of inconsistent throughout his career) leading your pitching staff, you really have everything to fear when it comes to being in contention. The Rays will be very good this season as they have a very balanced lineup with all their pieces seeming to be intact. The one piece that will need to fulfill his role this season is the young stud in Will Myers who lit it up his rookie season but he needs to avoid a sophomore slump to give the Rays any hope of making it into the postseason. They still have David Price, but if their lineup can't get the job done, then the Rays might as well pack it in early because if they don't score runs, that pitching staff looks a little iffy outside of the top two starters. Finally the Red Sox. They have the pitching staff to compete with anybody and if they perform anywhere similar to a year ago, they have the defense to push for a playoff spot, but they did lose quite a bit when Jacoby Ellsbury went to the Yankees. They still have Big Papi, but hopefully he doesn't fall off they map like he did in years previous to 2013.

2-Tampa Bay 94-68
*Boston 91- 71
N.Y. Yankees 88-74
Baltimore 84-78
Toronto 78-84

I really like the Rays because of their balanced lineup, and noticing that they have 2 solid starters and a bullpen that can hang in there throughout the season, they look like they have to most well rounded team throughout the division. Boston can prove me wrong with their pitching staff, they just don't have the fire power this season to win the division. The Yankees can get in too, but they just have no bullpen and that will kill them after the All-star break if they don't find replacements or something in their farm system. Baltimore can definitely do better than 84 wins, but unless Ubaldo can come back to form (which I don't really see happening) then you might as well write them off compared to teams like Boston. Toronto can win 80 games, but everybody else is better than them in the East, so it's a push to give them that many.

A.L. Central

This division is still the Tigers versus everybody else, but it's getting tighter now as Miguel Cabrera will really need his teammates to step up after he lost his safe guard in Prince Fielder this off-season to the Texas Rangers. The Tigers have the best 1-2 punch in the game with Scherzer and Verlander and their bullpen is now bolstered with Joe Nathan to shut down the 9th. Ian Kinsler will need to be the big mamma-jamma as his addition to the Tigers is way bigger then what he may be ready for. He'll have to replace what Prince did for them by helping Cabrera keep from getting walked 3+ times a game. If Kinsler can do that, then the Tigers will be fine. There is so much youth on the Chicago White Sox that predicting this team correctly would be a curse on my health. Their starting rotation is actually pretty solid but their lineup smells of growth and a lack of experience outside of Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez. Paul Konerko is getting up there in age too, hence why the rebuilding process is happening in Chicago. Joe Mauer still runs the show in Minnesota and with Ron Gardenhire, anything is possible. They have an average pitching staff from top to bottom with still an unknown bullpen which should be terrifying if you are a Twins fan, and other than that, rebuilding is the name of the game as they wait for Byron Buxton in September. The Indians could make a splash this season and really challenge the Tigers within this division. They have a solid infield crew with an outfield loaded with experience. Their pitching staff could also be one of the best in baseball this season if they put everything together especially if they can get it to the 9th with Axford anchoring games. The other team that could challenge the Tigers is the Royals and if they get their 1-2-3 hitting punch in order, they have a big chance at winning the division. They have a great infield, and their starting rotation looks as though it's ready to shine this year. I could see this division actually being competitive for the first time in a while this season, but I still think the Tigers have a slight edge with Cabrera if he stays healthy.

3-Detroit 93-69
Kansas City 90-72
Cleveland 89-73
Minnesota 64-98
CHI White Sox 60-102

I can see the Royals winning 90 this year with their lineup but they can't keep up with the best 1-2 pitching punch in the game in Detroit yet. Cleveland can hang in there too, but again, not quite yet. Minnesota and Chicago, they just don't have the juice to stay relevant this season.

A.L. West

Best division in baseball (outside of the Houston Astros) period. The top 4 teams in this division can either finish 4th or finish 1st, it really all depends on who gets off to the hot start and who can hold it down during the dog days in August. As we all know the Mariners made the biggest signing within the division this past winter, but as we have seen with past signings within the division, it doesn't guarantee even a winning season (example: Angels). But, that doesn't mean they won't improve and that they can't be relevant this upcoming season. The Mariners have the tools to be a playoff contending team this season which doesn't mean they will make the playoffs, but they can be within the hunt before the Seahawks open the season. Their lineup when healthy looks as potent as what the Angels and A's and Rangers will throw out there, it all really comes down to King Felix and the rest of that starting rotation to pick up the slack. The Oakland A's are stacked everywhere and the only real question they have is within their bullpen. If they can get through the 7th and 8th inning unscathed, then this is a playoff team at worst. If everybody comes to play in the Angels organization the way they are supposed to be playing this season, then they will find themselves fighting for a top spot as well. The most irritating thing if you are a baseball purest is you are absolutely thwarted by how bad the Angels have been the past two seasons with the rosters they have put together. I think they will finally break through this season and become relevant again as everybody will get back on track. They have Raul Ibanez who somehow makes teams around him better even though he is at the ripe old age of 41 years old. The Rangers are still the Rangers, but they will look slightly different with Prince Fielder now running first base. They have the best infield in all of baseball when it comes to hitting and they have a young outfield ready to shine. The only real issue with the Rangers, who's going to show up outside of Yu Darvish? If they get anything from their pitching rotation this season, they make a playoff push, but they are basically the A.L. West's version of the New York Yankees. We are not talking about Houston. If they win 70 it's a miracle.

1-Oakland 96-66
*L.A. Angels 93-69
Texas 89-73
Seattle 83-79
Houston 59-103

This is the best division in baseball and I can see the Mariners winning 90 games if everything goes right for them. Every team in this division (except Houston) can win 90+ games this season. I just see the Oakland A's getting it done and the Angels finally breaking through the barrier of 90 wins. It wouldn't shock me if the Mariners or Rangers did the same.

A.L. Playoffs

Wildcard game: LAA over BOS

Divisional Series: TB over DET (3-1) & LAA over OAK (3-2)

League Championship: TB over LAA (4-2)

I think the Rays this year are probably the most balanced team in the American League. I really like their lineup and where they could go if all the pieces fit together. They have a fantastic starting rotation and David Price will show he is worth the long term deal this season and will get Tampa Bay to the World Series for the first time since 2008.

A.L. M.V.P.: Mike Trout LAA

A.L. Cy Young: David Price TB

(I don't predict rookie of the year, sorry)
N.L. East

Again the only real question that holds up the debate in this division, will the pitching hold up in Atlanta? If Atlanta can get to the 8th inning and have a lead, they win, plain and simple. Their lineup didn't change much other than Brian McCann leaving to the Yankees, but Evan Gattis is more than ready to step in as an immediate contributor. It really comes down to the starting rotation for Atlanta. If they can put together something in the first half of ballgames, then Atlanta could win 100 games this season. The other question, will the lineup of the Washington Nationals put together enough runs to support the outstanding pitching staff of the Washington Nationals? The Nationals have the best starting rotation in all of baseball. When you have Doug Fister as your 4th pitcher, you know big things are going to happen when it comes to your ability to hold ball games going into the 7th inning. The real question now is can Bryce Harper really mold into the player we all think he can be this season and get the youth moment out of his system so he can carry his team to the postseason. I think so and I hope so. The Phillies still have an outside shot with the rotation they have even though their lineup looks old and crusty. If they can string together a healthy 2014, they can definitely fight for a playoff spot. The Mets might also have room to gripe as they now have Curtis Granderson on the other side of the water in New York along with a starting rotation ready to shine this season. I think if Granderson stays healthy, the Mets could stay in it till the All Star break and who knows after that. The Miami Marlins still have a ways to go, but who doesn't love watching Giancarlo Stanton hit 500 foot home runs in south beach? Their bullpen has also improved by picking up Marmol and they do have the rookie of the year in Jose Fernandez, but that's about it.

1-Washington 95-67
Atlanta 87-75
Philadelphia 78-84
N.Y. Mets 77-85
Miami 67-95

The Nationals clearly have too much pitching and their lineup will get it done this season. Atlanta might as well be the N.L. version of the Yankees as they have all hitting and no pitching outside of Kimbrel. Philly and the Mets can make it interesting till about August at best but they will need some form of help at the trade deadline if they want to make a push because they cannot compete with Atlanta or Washington right now. Miami is only one or two years away if they add a couple more pieces.

N.L. Central

Last years race in this division was nothing but a classic. The Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals all made it the most entertaining division to watch in all of baseball last season as it truly did come down to the wire as to who was going to get into October. I think it may be a little different this year as there may be some switching when it comes to the top. The Reds still have two of the best players on the right side of the diamond in Votto and Phillips and they still have a solid pitching rotation. All they need to do is stay healthy, and they could see themselves riding the top of the division this season. The Cardinals only have one question this season and that is regarding the game past the 7th inning. Their bullpen causes me to wonder and I don't know if it will be good enough to help get this team into the postseason this year. They do still have a great starting rotation especially now that we know what Michael Wacha can do and if they hold true to their 2013 form, the Cardinals will always have a shot. Even though their bullpen has questions, just look at who's behind the plate in Yadier Molina, and I think everything will be just fine. The Pirates were the MLB's Cinderella last season as they made their first playoff appearance in 20 years. With the rotation they have heading into this season and the batting order they still present with the reigning N.L. M.V.P. they can still stay relevant in 2014. The Brewers took a dip last season mainly due to the Braun scandal along with injuries to guys like Aramis Ramirez and down years from their starting rotation. The Brewers can stay within the hunt in this division this season if  they can stay healthy and if they all jump back into their 2011 selves. Then... there is the Cubs. Who unfortunately do not deserve enough air time to talk about even though they do have a decent starting rotation. Just not the year for them again.

2-Cincinnati 93-69
*St. Louis 91-71
Pittsburgh 88-74
Milwaukee 82-80
CHI Cubs 64-98

The Reds will take it this season. They have a great bullpen and that is what will get them over the top this season along with great production from their lineup. The Cardinals will hang in there, but they don't have the bullpen strong enough for the division crown. Pittsburgh definitely has a chance, but I see them falling a little short this season unfortunately. Milwaukee makes a dent in the division, and they can go to the playoffs if everything falls into place, but 82 wins should be the bench mark this season. The Cubs are the Cubs, end of story.

N.L. West

Everybody thinks that just because the Dodgers pay the most money means they will win the division easily this season. Well let's try to remember one thing, they had to go on a historic rampage from June till September just to have a shot at postseason success in 2013. It also doesn't hurt that the rest of the division decided to crumble, but that is a mute point heading into 2014. Arizona is good enough to compete for a playoff spot this year and maybe even spoil the Dodgers. There's one thing the Baseball gods have done over the past 5 years that is completely unpredictable and that is try to figure out the confusion of the N.L. West. This division is crazy year in and year out. The Giants win it, Dodgers, and D'Backs all in a row and the consistency is terrifyingly awful the past 3 years. So good luck to anybody who thinks the Dodgers are a lock to win the division. I actually think this could be the year that the Rockies decide to put their stamp on the division, remember they keep getting hurt and ever since 2007 when they went to the World Series they haven't found ways to put it all together. I think they can do it this year and finally make a name for themselves in the National League kind of like the Pirates last year. Don't ever count out the Giants either, they tend to win championships out of no where too. If they can get on a hot streak and their starting rotation holds up, they may find themselves in the postseason too. And how about the San Diego Padres.... possibly but not yet. They need to prove it still.

3-Arizona 92-70
*Colorado 89-73
L.A. Dodgers 88-74
San Francisco 81-81
San Diego 63-99

This will be another year that the N.L. West is unpredictable as the last 3 seasons have proven with the inconsistency of the division. The D'Backs don't have the pressure on them like the Dodgers do and neither do the Rockies. The Giants can make it, but I think their lineup may need one more big bat to stay relevant this season. The Padres have a slim chance to compete within this division this season, but I could be wrong in the N.L. West and I don't plan on being correct anyways considering its history this decade.

N.L. Playoffs

Wildcard Game: COL over STL

Divisional Series: WAS over COL (3-1) & CIN over ARZ (3-1)

League Championship: CIN over WAS (4-3)

The Reds have the best Bullpen in baseball when healthy. The Nationals have the best starting rotation in baseball when healthy. But, the better lineup is in Cincinnati. I think the Nationals are good enough to get to the World Series, but they do not have any experience and Cincinnati does. In the postseason, experience is key as the young guys in Washington could also be gassed by the time Game 7 happens as it will be the longest guys like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have ever played in their lives. They have the talent, but can they follow through against a team like the Reds, it will be close.

N.L. M.V.P.: Bryce Harper WAS

N.L. Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg WAS
This baseball season is going to be great no matter what happens but I think my World Series Prediction might be a little more difficult to predict than what other major media outlets will be picking this season. The Nationals will need to have great performances across the board to make it to the postseason and make a deep run but they are not quite there yet when it comes to their maturity. The Reds and Rays have teams that have been ready for this moment for a while and both should be relatively good matchups against each other. I think the Reds have a better pitching staff overall but the Rays are way to balanced to be messed with and what the Rays can do by changing up the game to small or long ball, that will be the difference.

2014 World Series Prediction: TB over CIN (4-2)

M.V.P.: Evan Longoria

It should be an awesome season everybody! Enjoy

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Madness is strong with 2014

Wow. That was a blur. The first 48 games are in the books and you couldn't ask for more upsets, busted brackets, and lack of production from the past 100 hours. Well, we are here to break it down as Spring has finally begun and we couldn't ask for a better topic than the epitome of sport itself. The NCAA Tournament.

The Shockers couldn't come out unscathed as they played in probably one of the best games of the weekend. Kentucky defined the "one and done" overly talented program while the Shockers defined the "developed" underdog program. It was an absolute classic as both teams were on their A game, but unfortunately the real talent won as they nipped Wichita State their lone loss by two points setting up a Blue Grass Showdown in Indianapolis as one of the best rivalries in basketball play just north of the state they both reside in.

Outside of that, their were upsets for days as Mercer, Harvard, North Dakota State, Tennessee, and Stephen F Austin all made splashes in their upset bids, but Stanford and Dayton were the real upset champions of the weekend as they head to the Sweet 16. Dayton beat their Varsity in-state rivalry in Ohio State and then beat Syracuse in a nail bitter till the very end. The team Dayton will be playing is probably the ultimate Cinderella story even though they are not the highest seed in the tournament. The smartest kids outside of Harvard made a major step in their name when it came to the sport of basketball. They beat the school that nationally has always been known for it's basketball strictly and Stanford hung in their all game and eventually pulled through. I can tell you one thing, who ever wins this game of Cinderella ball, will more than likely play the Florida Gators. Who ever plays them will have the ultimate shot of fulfilling the dream of becoming one of the ultimate underdogs in the history of the tournament.

When it comes to the tournament, every single year I tend to rip my bracket within the first 48 games. Not this year as I still have 3 of my final 4 teams left and my national championship game still intact. Hopefully it stays that way, and I hope your bracket is still good too, because this March has been strong with the Madness and I can't remember a year with this much mayhem outside of the early rounds of 2012. The gap of overall talent in this country when it comes to basketball programs is definitely widening and the way the tournament is contorting itself to this point, really sets up for a strong run to the Final Four next after next weekend.

Enjoy the rest of the tournament everybody, my Baseball preview will be next weekend. Enjoy this week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Who I got for March Madness 2014

Is it really considered chalk if I pick the trendy pick to win the National Title? To be fair I had two #4 seeds going into the National Championship as of 7:02 pm Eastern time (2 minutes after ESPN had their brackets released for available picking) because I was making my picks on the fly and already know everything I need to know when it comes to picking a national championship.

I've picked 3 National Champions in my life (2007 Florida, 2011 Connecticut, 2012 Kentucky), and I use the same 5 criteria to make my championship picks every single year. Let's run through that criteria quickly shall we?

1. Talent
2. Consistency throughout the entire Season
3. How have they played recently (Are they Hot coming in?)
4. Conference Rank
5. Their path through the Tournament

Let's be honest, Sparty has all these except for #2 and that's only because they were injured all season. They have possibly the best talent in the land, they destroyed Michigan in the Big Ten title game who were clearly a top 10 team throughout the year, the Big 10 conference is the best conference in basketball, and their path through the tournament is relatively easy considering they are a 4 seed.

My dad's side of the family lives within 15 minutes of the University of Louisville so I'm partial to picking them as my second #4 seed to make it to the National Title game. The crazy thing is this Louisville team is better than last season I think because Russdiculous is the best player at his position in the country and they have only improved down low with Harrell playing the way he has played.

The other final four teams I have are relatively "Chalk" with Arizona making it, their talent and consistency has been ridiculously good this entire season except as of late in the Pac-12 tournament which should put the Pac-12 at an advantage for how difficult they are with 6 teams getting into the tournament. I also have Syracuse making it even though everybody has been brown nosing Florida for their performance the last 2 months. People easily forget how dominant Syracuse was heading into February (along with Arizona) and that they were #1 at one point this year and they have a cast of talent to take them far in the tournament. They also play in the Big East (which sadly isn't the same, but it's still a difficult conference non the less) and their path through the tournament is pretty nice outside of playing Florida.

I picked Michigan State to win it all! They fit the main 5 criteria pretty easily, and I feel like if they don't get it done, then the other three teams left have the best shot to win it all! Enjoy the Madness!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Denver Broncos Statement Signings

It seems as though the Seattle Seahawks really did send the Broncos into a tizzy and made them go crying to their mommies this off-season as they are still trying to re-cooperate one of the most embarrassing losses in Super Bowl history whether Peyton Manning likes that term or not.

This week marked the beginning of a new collective bargaining year for the NFL, a look at who will join new teams as the 2013 officially changes over it's season officially and the Denver Broncos have already made the biggest statement sending shock waves through the entire AFC.

Aqib Talib (CB), T.J. Ward (S), DeMarcus Ware (DE), and Emmanuel Sanders (WR).

Name me 4 other players at their respective positions (other than possibly the banged up Revis going to New England to replace Talib) who could compliment the Denver Broncos needs at an even higher level than these guys. Yes, the WR choice could have just been Eric Decker, but we all knew that wasn't possible especially with the market out for Decker. But other than Sanders, those three defensive upgrades will keep Denver as the AFC favorites for Super Bowl 49.

Honestly, tell me who you think is going to compete for their spot other than a heroic effort from the late great Tom Brady? With a now 'cleared to play in 2014' Peyton Manning how does anybody think the Broncos won't repeat in the AFC? We all know the NFC is determined by who has home field between San Francisco and Seattle along with potential upgrades and comeback seasons by Atlanta, New Orleans, and Green Bay, but realistically who is going to compete with Denver in the AFC?

I really don't have an answer nor do I plan on searching one out because I picked Denver strictly to win the AFC this past season because of their offense strictly and I didn't particularly give a rats behind about their defense. Now? You really think now anybody is going to compete with this team in this upcoming season with these three major defensive upgrades? Before (in 2013) all you had to worry about was the offensive juggernaut that the Broncos would throw at you, now take into account a blitzing DeMarcus Ware, a HEALTHY Von Miller, and a secondary with a legitimate case to contend against the odds of the Legion of Boom. I'm aware that the Legion of Boom is in their own category, but this Secondary has now leaped to a top 5 maybe top three level.

I know they lost Bailey and Rodgers-Cromartie, but those were two guys either past their prime or had looming character flaws holding back the growth of the defense. Talib and Ward? Forget about it. All their will be is growth and improvement and the blitzing schemes will be terrifying heading into 2014 and it's not even near the end of free agent chatter.

Who will compete with Denver? We'll have to see in Super Bowl XLIX.

Check out to hear some podcasts between Marty Elm and I on NFL Free Agency as we get into more discussion about this new NFL off-season, and for more off-season news make sure to listen to us at 9:30 A.M. Eastern Time on the same link and stay tuned for my NCAA Tournament Prediction Blog which should be up within the next 24 hours after the Brackets come out! Enjoy Selection Sunday Everybody! Get them Brackets ready!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Is the NBA 'Back to the Future?'

I know Marty McFly didn't play the sport of basketball, but I can guarantee if he walked into an NBA conversation about Kevin Durant and LeBron James, he would tell you about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson... the conversation may last another 30 years.

It's been about that long since the classic movie with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd was created and in the mid 80's the NBA was in the middle of large reconstruction phase with where the image of the sport laid across the american landscape. NBA players were relatively lanky, lacked incredible athleticism, and style of the game didn't have the pzazz it has today, but their was Magic, a Bird, Airness, and a new commissioner to bring about the future that the NBA leads today.

How is that story any different than what 2014 is today, especially with how the MVP race is being watched in the NBA this season? Kevin Durant has been the best player all season and the 4 time MVP in LeBron James is starting to make his mark at a 5th after a 61 point performance at the beginning of this month. These are clearly the two best players in the league and the way they model their game is scary similar to those of their predecessors. Kevin Durant even admitted he models his game after Larry Bird, and LeBron has mentioned several times he wants to play more like Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan.

Granted the impact of Magic and Bird will never be matched in the civil rights department like it did in the 80's, but style of play and the importance both players have on the image of the league is very similar and almost mirror like. If you want to be even more scary with the mirror image of great players of the mid 80's to the now mid 2010's, Kobe is the current Airness in the way Michael Jordan played the game. Granted, Kobe has been hurt this season, but his career is very similar to Michael's style of play in the 1980's which was score, score, and score some more.

Isn't it strange how the similarities are starting to take shape here about 30 years later, or about 2 generations later in terms of classes in the NBA with how the superstars of the NBA are molding themselves? Shouldn't it show us that the way the NBA has been managed over the last 30+ years has been working with the success and luck the NBA has had over that time frame. It is truly remarkable.

I have one more comparison for you before you head off into your college basketball dungeon for the next couple of weeks, think about Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar...

Just saying, the similarities are scary.

See you next week, and happy championship week. Next week will be the NCAA Bracket prediction from yours truly!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Mystique of Allen Iverson

6'0 with shoes on. 165 pounds soaking wet... Allen Iverson was the greatest player at his size, period. End of discussion, end of this blog... so why do I write still? Because the mystique of Iverson was bigger than he actually was.

When I was a kid growing up in Lakewood Washington playing basketball on the streets of countless elementary schools with kids galore, I remember mimicking that patented crossover that only Iverson could perfect and others could only dream to copy. The idea of his indestructible nature, his reckless abandon, tattoos, cornrows, accessories he wore, his style that was heavily copied in the 2000's and caused the NBA to create a dress code. He was the champ. The champ was here. Allen Iverson couldn't be mocked, imitated or recreated, but everybody could dream with his size and effort. How could this guy ever be denied as he was outscoring, out hustling, and out playing everybody no matter their size because Iverson wouldn't let anybody tell him otherwise. But his evolution lacked and his comeuppance never matriculated into that player we all dreamed he could be, because that's all it was, was a dream.

Can you imagine if Allen Iverson would have gotten out of his own way with his talent and grew a fundamental game that gave him the ability to pass the ball, think a couple steps ahead when plays developed, and knew how to gel with talent around him? He would have been the greatest player to ever live and potentially would have won multiple championships, won multiple MVP's, and would have stolen the image of the NBA and ran off into the sunset with a big grin on his face. The problem, Allen's heart was too big. He cared about the wrong people for too long, his loyalty (A.K.A. lack of change/couldn't leave his comfort zone) was so large that he never adapted to acknowledging people at the level of his personal talent, but instead he surrounded the same type of people in his life through and through (which is really hard to rip, but he had too many of them). This is not to say Iverson wasn't an individual with a big heart, but that's literally all he played with and all he had. He never played with his head, he played with his full-blown heart, night in and night out and it made him the player he was. But, a hint of brain usage in his life may have kept him in the league another 5-10 years as a productive player but who's to say he would have had the same outcome?

The question of ability and potential was so high on Iverson's side that ever since he crossed up MJ, you could say his legend was born and that his name became bigger than his size. Iverson was an unbelievable player, but those of us who know basketball knew he could have been better when it came to his evolution. His passion, intensity, effort, toughness, grit, dedication was all something he put on display, but the evolution of his craft never changed, and that's what will always keep true basketball fans wondering in the "what if" category forever.

Iverson wasn't large enough to play a shooting guard, but his play was and his stubbornness to change his style of play wouldn't allow him to play the point guard position. Allen Iverson rarely dunked, he rarely made a fundamental play, he just dove to the floor for loose balls, made a street ball industry thrive with revenue for numerous years, and he did it all on a level of professional basketball on it's highest stage.

We will never see another A.I. and knowing that a guy who was 6'0 tall led the league in scoring 4 times in his career, that should tell you the maximum potential a body that size can truthfully fulfill among the trees of the NBA.

Hall of Fame for A.I. is guaranteed, but what could have been with a small evolution factor... who knows...

See you next week!