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The NBA is coming, the NBA is coming!

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Well if you know me, you know that I’m a huge basketball fan. I’m not into fantasy football, and though I’ve done fantasy baseball, I get pumped every year for my fantasy basketball league. Along with my buddies, we’re entering the sixth season of our league.

As the NBA season draws near, the excitement naturally builds. The media hypes that this is “the most anticipated NBA season in history” because of everything that happened last summer. Bosh and LeBron went to Miami, Amar’e to the Knicks, Jermaine and Shaq became Celtics, Al Jefferson to Utah, Boozer to Chicago, Blake Griffin and John Wall really creating buzz for the rookie of the year, something we haven’t seen since LeBron and Carmelo, Kevin Durant truly arriving and a few other stories really captivated the NBA audience since the Lakers repeated as NBA champions.

For me, I’m looking forward to 4 things:

  1. How will the Miami Heat play?  People said that the ego of a superstar was going to be a problem in Boston when they brought in their ‘Big 3’ but that clearly wasn’t an issue.
  2. Possibly the greatest power forward of all time, Tim Duncan, is making his last stand as a superstar in the league. This is his absolute last chance. For New England fans, picture Tom Brady with declining abilities (which I hope doesn’t happen for a long, long time), still under Bill Belichick going for one last ride. The tandem will use their wits and skill to go about business as usual one last time and make a run in the playoffs.
  3. The youth of Oklahoma City. These guys will make some mistakes but dazzle you with athletic ability highlighted by quite possibly the best player in the world, Kevin Durant, to the point where they will undoubtedly become everybody’s second favorite team.
  4. Will anybody be able to challenge Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers?  Can Kobe still do it?  Is he getting too old?  Will injuries add up?  The thing is, Los Angeles can survive without Kobe, but they are not a threat without him. Every year I look for a decline in Kobe, and every year he becomes a more complete player. His statistics change but the the number in the win column, which is the only thing he cares about, stays the same.

I’ve asked my friends, people who I think are, for the most part, intelligent basketball people the question everybody asks:

Who is going to make the Finals?  And, who is going to win it all?

They’re all Lakers fans and all of them have unanimously picked their home team to make it all the way. Clearly the pendulum of power, as a whole, has swung to the Eastern Conference. We’ve left the early 2000’s where Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix were all fighting for the right to beat the crap out of the East representative.

Now, the West has solid teams, but nobody is really that great (Lakers excluded, of course). When you really look at it, Portland has been “getting there” but have never really made it, Phoenix is no more, Utah will be exciting and people will think they’ll be able to challenge, but there’s a difference between challenging and winning.  Dirk is older and though Dallas will throw up some numbers they won’t really do anything. San Antonio will show up and give it their all, but it’s just not going to be good enough. Sacramento, Golden State, Houston, Denver…thanks but no thanks. The only two things that can stop L.A. in the West are injuries and Oklahoma City. Now you can never predict injuries, and though OKC is great, exciting, and all those other positive words, but their just not good enough because the Lakers went out and got defenders to stop Durant and Westbrook.

The East, on the other hand, is challenging and much more difficult. There’s Chicago, Orlando, Boston, and Miami. Whoever makes it out of the east is going to be all tuckered out because there will be at least two really difficult and grueling series’. By virtue of their road, does that mean that Los Angeles will inevitably win again?  I hope not, and I don’t think so.

The Celtics under Russell and Bird always had a difficult road to the Finals. Whether it was Wilt and Philly or the Bad Boy Pistons, they were always battle tested and it often led to continued success when it came time for performing on the biggest stage.

Not because I don’t like them, but rather because I just don’t think they’ll do it again, I say the Los Angeles will not win the title and thus fail to grab their third title in a row. The 2008 Celtics built chemistry and character throughout the season and finally hit their stride in the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit. That’s when they became the championship team and to that end, I think the champion will come out of the east…and then it comes down to matchups to figure out who makes it out.

Miami will have the top spot and go against number 4 Chicago and number two Orlando will go against Boston. I think Miami has a ton of trouble with the speed of Rose and the strength of the front court that Noah and Boozer provide but Miami will always have one, if not the two best player on the floor. Orlando’s strength comes in the front court with Dwight Howard, who will be a man possessed this season but Boston got bigger for this series, and to face Los Angeles. Boston wins and takes on the Heat in the conference finals. Boston’s drive, size and swagger outsmarts the younger and more athletically talented Miami team and goes all the way.

Call me a home, call me an idiot, or call me a genius…but this is my perspective. One thing for sure, is we’re in for one fantastic season with some faces gone from the landscape while some have changed their place or residence. We know what we know, but so many other things will occur that we’ll all be hooked from start to finish.

Written by lhpious

October 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

What’s to Come at ESPN

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Well, a little more than a month ago I was fortunate enough to receive a summer internship with ESPN. I’ll be here in Connecticut working at their headquarters in Bristol for the next 10 weeks in the International Department. From what I know so far, I’ll be helping with the production for the Australia/New Zealand and Europe Sports Center. I’ll try to keep everybody updated with what’s going on at the Worldwide Leader and hopefully give some interesting stories along the way as well as my opinions on what’s going on in the sports world.

So far, here are some of my first impressions:

  1. Hartford, CT is vacant. Today was the first time I saw over 50 people. Definitely different from Los Angeles and Boston.
  2. There are no out-door basketball courts in this city.
  3. You can walk through the entire city (a state capital mind you), in less than 20 minutes.
  4. The people here are really cool.

Sports-wise, it’s crackin’. The NBA finals are set, Los Angeles v. Boston in a 2008 rematch, the French Open is going on, Le Tour de France, Wimbledon and most importantly the World Cup are on their ways. This summer will definitely be one to remember!

Written by lhpious

June 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

A True Champion of New Media

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Click image to see more pictures

They say, if you want it bad enough, you can get it—you just need to put in the work. Well, Evan Brunell is one of those special people.

A native of Sturbridge, Mass., Brunell has paved his own road to success against pretty steep odds.  He founded MVN.com (Most Valuable Network), which was an online sports website, when he was in high school. Unfortunately, in December of 2009, the site had to close down.

“I got into sports at a really early age…My parents put me in sports camps and sports leagues,” Brunell said. Until the age of 10, he attended a private school an hour west of Sturbridge, which gave him a lot of down time. “To pass the time on the bus rides, I read–so I became a sports fan and a reading fan,” he said. For Brunell, reading was the easiest way to gather information because he is profoundly deaf. That means that without his implant, he cannot hear a thing.

Brunell’s younger brother, Cal Brunell said, “when you think about Evan, you think about sports and the  Sox.”

Along with MVN, Brunell has a Red Sox blog Firebrand of the American League and a Twitter account.  His blog has received praise from several media outlets including ESPNBoston.com and from several well-credentialed writers. “It’s amazing how many club officials read … Fire Brand of the American League,” said Peter Gammons, the former Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer, ESPN baseball expert analyst and three-time National Sports Writer of the year winner.

Brunell said he wasn’t trying to do anything drastic with his websites. “I wanted a voice out there,” he said.

Kyle Banks, a 2009 Northeastern University graduate knew Brunell from way back in junior high through their time as undergraduates. Banks remembers how Brunell’s passion for sports and isn’t at all surprised at how far he’s come. “He always had a love for sports, particularly baseball,” Banks said.

Banks is no stranger to the new wave of Internet media himself. As an undergrad he had a radio show on the school radio station, WRBB, whose call sign is 104.9 FM. The show “Right In My Mouth Radio,” was accompanied with it’s own blog to try and reach a greater audience. Since the show, he and some friends began a new blog project, Corporatethuggin.com, which is a blog that publicly shows what kind of stuff a group of 20 something year old guys e-mail and talk about daily and then their take on the news.

Though the genres of their blogs are completely different, the desire to grow an audience remains the same. Banks said:

“The way the internet has evolved, people go to big named places to get their news.”

Banks said. For news, people go to CNN.com and for sports they’ll log on to ESPN.com.

The concept of small market blogging became popular in the last five to ten years. Banks points out that Brunell started at the right time and found success because he could grow and adapt as technology became a bigger part of news gathering and its dissemination.

It is these new mediums of technology that has made Brunell who is today. “New media opens the playing field so much” said Cal with respect to his older brother. Most of the people following Brunell’s blog didn’t know Brunell was deaf until the local paper published an article pointing out all he has done despite his disability, Cal said. He said he saw that article as a tribute to his brother’s work ethic.

Brunell never uses being deaf as a crutch. To get in touch with the Sox’s newest draft picks for example, Brunell logs on to facebook and quickly becomes their friend. This way, as they make their way through the farm system and become bigger names, he has already established a basis of communication. Brunell said, You’re getting in touch with them when they’re 17 or 18 and they haven’t been jaded yet by the media.  This allows him to get in on the ground floor and later on he’s not someone completely new to them, and he think that helps.

Though his first trip to Fenway Park was in 1995 when Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco were the most popular Red Sox, he truly became a fan the following year, 1996. Brunel said that his passion for the team changed to rabid fan when they traded for Pedro Martinez in 1998.

It’s still tough for Brunell to do what he loves. He can’t just go into the locker room with a tape recorder so he’s a bit of a throw back reporter with a pad of paper and a pen writing down everything.

His disability certainly did not affect his knowledge of sports or his ability to write. “I became a sports writer because growing up liking sports and liking to read and then write, when I was thinking about a career in college I was like, I like sports, I like writing, I may as well write about sports,” he said.

So far, as Brunell puts it:

“My talent has out shown my limitations.  Maybe the day will come…but I’ve been able to push through it so far.”

His disability has made Brunell the kind of person who continually looks for new ways of success. Rather than being afraid of new technology like some journalists, Brunell embraces it and takes advantage of every opportunity as soon as they present themselves.

From the moment he got his college e-mail he created a facebook account and he was on Twitter before most people.

Currently Brunell works for NESN. He continues to do what he has always done: read and write. His passion is evident from the moment you meet him. “I define myself as a driven individual who uses all means available to him to do the best job possible,” he said.

AS.com

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If you’re like me, well, then that’s a plus.

All kidding aside, if you’re a sports fan, and an read and understand Spanish, then I’ve got the web site for you.  AS.com is a wealth of athletic knowledge and if you have any interest, then they’ll satisfy your urge. A word of warning, however, is that this site is mainly Spanish (and European) focused, so most of the content is regarding Spanish soccer and Euroleague Basketball.

If you go straight to their home page, it’s mostly about soccer, or fútbol, with a few other stories on other sports. However, if soccer isn’t your thing, then don’t be discouraged because there are plenty of other options. Just look at the top of the page for the drop  down menus and you’ll be able to chose from: tennis, basketball, motor sports (F1), cycling, and others, as well as an opinion and blog sections by respected AS writers. AS also  incorporates video clips from various sporting events to see the weeks best goals, dunks, etc.

One thing I love about this site is that it’s a local site. Like I said a few weeks ago when I spoke about globalpost.com, there’s no reporting like local reporting. I firmly believe that if you have the chance to read the local viewpoint of a situation or event then you are reading the best version of what happened. By reading AS, I’m reading the Spanish perspective on Spanish soccer, on the country’s best tennis player, Rafael Nadal, on Spanish cyclist or Spanish racers. I have the opportunity to read about what these people feel passionate about, and that truly reflects in the writing.

If I could change something about the site, I guess I would have to say that it would be nice to have content in my first language, English, but as one of my classmates brought up, English content would detract the local angle aspect which, in my opinion, makes AS a great news source.

Written by lhpious

March 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

A Twitter Expedition

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My brand new twitter page.

Our most recent assignment was to follow a few people on twitter.com and give our initial impressions of this new wave of internet communication/information dissemination. Since I’m all about sports, I decided to follow some athletes, writers, teams, and league accounts.

My first impressions are:

  1. I don’t really get Twitter. To me, it seems as though people are, in essence, going on their front porch with a megaphone and announcing whatever they want to the world.
  2. It’s just a bunch of quick snippets and you have to look into everything if you really want to know what’s going on.

The second point is why I don’t really like twitter. With following the NBA, several ESPN accounts (MLB rumor central, NBA rumor central,and  Soccer news), every tweet is a link to an article. I thought that tweets were supposed to be informative and a fast way to break stories to a large audience–for example, ‘Lackey signs with Boston! Contract negotiations to come.”

As a Boston sports fan, I decided to follow the Celtics, and the Patriots. Their posts are more of what I thought twitter would be like.

With respect to individuals, for now, I’m following Bill Simmons (A.K.A. The Sports Guy), ESPN personality Kenny Mayne, and all around character/wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Their stuff is a bit more entertaining because it’s just shameless self promotion. They’re not trying to break news, they’re just screaming into the megaphone that is the internet. I guess the difference is that I decided to follow them because I believe that once in a while one of their quotes will be memorable or memorably hilarious.

To me, if you really want to take advantage of Twitter, you need a smart phone and you need to completely throw yourself into it. Personally, I don’t want to go back and consistently check twitter to find out what’s going on all the time. Perhaps I’m just already accustomed to receiving news and information the way it’s currently offered and I don’t need a more immediate medium. Maybe things will change, who knows. But for now, I’m not a fan of twitter.

Written by lhpious

March 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Red Sox Off Season Talk

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Being a college student in Boston is AMAZING!  Being a college student at Northeastern, now that may be the best (and yes, I’m fully aware that that is a bias statement).  Northeastern’s location in Boston is superb.  Right in between the Orange Line (Ruggles Station) and the Green Line (Northeastern University), we’re also a few blocks away from the Pru, the Charles River, Newbury Street, and my favorite, Fenway Park.

With this in mind, I went around my school and asked some of my peers what they thought of the moves made by the Sox in the offseason.

Written by lhpious

March 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm

From Vancouver With Love

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Rarely do events capture the entire world’s attention. Most often, and unfortunately so, it’s a tragedy, like the most recent disaster in Haiti. But, every so often, there are those occasions that celebrate unity, individuality, and pride in a way that can only be described as a celebration–the Olympics.

This year, Vancouver, British Columbia has the fortune of sharing it’s city to the world as it plays host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The job of an opening ceremony is to showcase the idealistic morals and ethical beliefs of the host city and country through an interpretive mean of  communication while simultaneously captivating a truly global audience. And for Canada and Vancouver, last night’s opening ceremony was simply put, absolutely spectacular.

I have never had the opportunity to see my city play host to an international event like this. In my lifetime, the Olympics were held in the U.S. just twice: Atlanta (1996), Salt Lake City (2002), and the World Cup (USA 1994). Now while there were soccer games held in my home town of Los Angeles, the tournament is given to a country, rather than a specific city so I didn’t have the opportunity to see my city showcased to the world.

I know this is a very self-centered perception, but I have an immense amount of pride in where I come from. I am proud to be an American, a Californian, and a Southern Californian at that, but I also love traveling and experiencing the culture and customs of other cities and countries across the globe.

Last night, while watching the ceremony I thought of my friend Emma, a Vancouver, B.C. native and wondered how she felt. Being that I’m such an enormous sports fan, and the Olympics especially, I sent her this text:

“You have an absolutely beautiful city. I don’t know if you feel proud that your city is hosting the world but I am proud for you. Everything seems to be absolutely amazing. Congrats!”

She was proud. In fact, she responded saying so adding, “I’m a bit home sick.”

So from the pages of my blog to you Vancouver: Congratulations! I hope for this, the 21st Winter Olympics, you know  so far, you been tremendously successfully at captivating the world with your opening ceremony. On this Valentines Day weekend, your goal was “To Inspire the World,” well you have.  Good luck the rest of the way and God Bless Canada!

Written by lhpious

February 13, 2010 at 10:32 am