MMA Corner: UFC 128 Recap

Last night the UFC provided the sold out Prudential Center and its pay-per-view audience with a fairly entertaining show from top to bottom which featured the crowning of a new light-heavyweight champion and the successful promotional debut of one of the top fighters from the newly created weight classes (featherweight and bantamweight). 

I am also happy to report that having attended the event live, my seats were quite good, in fact they were better than the seats I had for last year’s UFC event at the Prudential Center.  That combined with good parking and great company made the event a very enjoyable one.  Below is a picture showing the view from our seats. 

The view from our seats at UFC 128

Jon Jones def. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via 3rd round TKO

Jon Jones (top) proved to be too much for Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (bottom) to handle as Jones became the new UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion. (photo courtesy of

-As Mike Goldberg typically announces after a fighter wins one of the UFC championships . . . “Let the Jon Jones era begin!”  Jones simply outclassed and overwhelmed Shogun en route to becoming the youngest champion (23 yrs old) in the history of the UFC.

-As predicted, Shogun had no answer for Jones takedowns.  Immediately to begin the fight, after attempting a jaw-dropping flying knee, Jones was able to slam Shogun to the mat in impressive fashion.  Jones was able to effortlessly land takedowns for the rest of the fight.

-Beyond simply being able to take Shogun down at will, perhaps the more telling aspect of the fight was Jones’ ability to control from the top and completely nullify Shogun’s jiu-jitsu.  Several times you could see Shogun attempt to grab Jones’ leg in an attempt to sweep, however, each time, Jones simply sprawled in order to negate those attempts and maintain top control.  Not only did Jones maintain top control, he was able to land punishing blows via thunderous ground and pound.

-Foolishly, Shogun attempted to drop to the ground in order to facilitate either a knee bar or heel hook on several occasions.  Shogun must have thought that Jones was susceptible to this type of submission, however, on each occasion, Jones quickly would scramble to end up in Shogun’s full guard where he was able to ground and pound his opponent.

-By the end of the first round, Shogun was completely spent.  Whether it was based upon cage rust due to his layoff, blows absorbed to the body, or simply Jones’ immense pressure in the opening stanza, Shogun was simply not the same after he was able to get to his feet by the end of the first round.

-During the moments that the two competitors were standing, it was quite clear that Shogun had no answer for Jones’ reach (Jones has the longest reach in the UFC at 84.5”).  Shogun was unable to get inside in order to get off clean strikes, and instead had to settle for ending up in the clinch which favored Jones due to his wrestling acumen.

-Two weaknesses that were somewhat apparent in Jones dominating performance were:  (1) Jones does not possess knockout power and (2) Jones himself was fairly gassed by the end of the first round which could signal that he does not have the best of gas tanks.

-With his victory, the UFC already announced that Jones’ next opponent will be former training partner Rashad Evans.  Getting back to the beginning of the Jon Jones era, I believe that Jones performance in the Evans fight will truly reveal Jones’ staying power as the light-heavyweight champion.  Evans could perhaps negate Jones’ wrestling, and he himself is a dangerous striker.  As such, I believe Rashad Evans will be Jones toughest test.

-As impressed as you can be with Jones in becoming the youngest ever UFC Champion yesterday, earlier in the day, Jones managed to track down a car burglar with his two trainers.  After tackling him, his trainers stepped in to pin him down, wanting to protect their fighter from any potential scrapes for later in the evening.  But seriously, vigilante justice and capturing the UFC Light-Heavyweight belt in one day?  Makes you feel like a fairly lazy and unaccomplished person, no? 

Urijah Faber def. Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision

Urijah Faber (right) made his promotional debut a successful one with a hard-earned unanimous decision victory over Eddie Wineland (left). (photo courtesy of

-In an entertaining bantamweight affair, Urijah Faber made his successful promotional debut defeating the game Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision.

-Though some might contend that Faber’s performance was subpar, I actually would credit Wineland in making the bout far more competitive than I had originally anticipated.  Wineland displayed a far more advanced wrestling and grappling game then I had expected, and it was the manner in which he took to using wrestling in an aggressive fashion that won him the first round of the fight.

-Once he was able to readjust, Faber displayed the athleticism that has earned him superstardom within the sport of MMA.  Whether it was his fast hands or his beautiful takedown late in the third round to seal the victory, Faber did manage to display all of his tools.

-Not taking anything away from Wineland, I did wonder as I was watching Faber struggle to takedown his opponent, whether the drop to bantamweight actually is not as advantageous as many in the MMA community originally thought.  Perhaps now, Faber does not possess an overwhelming speed advantage, and if he is unable to purely bully his opponent, he may be in for trouble.  However, that remains to be seen, as Wineland, to his credit, was up for the challenge of Faber’s wrestling.

-With Faber’s win, I believe the UFC, from a business standpoint, should immediately move Faber into the #1 contender position and match him up against current champion Dominick Cruz.  Should Faber have another fight in between and lose, it would discredit him to a certain extent and deflate the momentum gained from Faber’s win last night. 

Jim Miller def. Kamal Shalorus via 3rd round TKO

Jim Miller (top) cemented his status as a top lightweight with a convincing win over Kamal Shalorus (bottom). (photo courtesy of

-Save for one successful takedown, Shalorus once again foolishly relied upon a rudimentary standup game to try and defeat one of the top contenders in the lightweight division.  Miller, who clearly possesses knockout power, was able to at first outpoint his stubborn opponent, and later put him away with a nasty uppercut that led to the stoppage.

-This fight truly showcased all of Miller’s talents as he was not only dangerous with the standup game, but he managed to takedown Shalorus with an impressive takedown of his own.  Upon getting his opponent to the ground, Miller quickly took his opponent’s back and nearly finished the fight in the second round via rear naked choke.

-Having only lost twice in his career and once in the UFC (decision losses to current champion Frankie Edgar and #1 contender Gray Maynard) I believe this performance has vaulted Miller into top contender status.  It would appear Miller will need to wait in line however, as the UFC had originally promised Anthony Pettis a shot at the title, which was temporarily derailed as a result of the Edgar/Maynard II draw in January.  However, I would argue that Miller’s resume and ability exceeds that of Pettis and is more deserving of a shot at the lightweight title. 

Nate Marquardt def. Dan Miller via unanimous decision

Nate Marquardt (right) proved to be the more explosive and talented fighter in his matchup against Dan Miller (left). (photo courtesy of

-Nate Marquardt was able to soundly defeat the always-game Dan Miller via a fairly lethargic unanimous decision.

-Early in the opening round, it was clear that Marquardt enjoyed the advantage in practically every aspect of the game, as he was the stronger, quicker and more technical of the two fighters in the cage.  As a result, Marquardt did open up slightly in the second round with his striking.  However, after being taken down, Marquardt once again reverted to a more conservative approach opting to take the fight to the ground and inflict a decent amount of damage on Miller.

-Though Miller has lost several fights in the promotion, I believe he should be rewarded with at least one more fight before the UFC elects to cut him from the promotion.  Had Miller faced his originally scheduled opponent, Nick Catone, he would have probably been victorious.

-Marquardt demonstrated he still is among the elite in the division, but in doing so, has managed to further alienate himself from the fans as he delivered another fairly boring performance in the cage.  As good of a fighter as he is, the UFC will not want to promote someone who puts the audience to sleep, or in the case of last night, allows for everyone to take a bathroom or food break. 

Brendan Schaub def. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic via 3rd round TKO

Brendan Schaub (top) was able to knockout legendary striker Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (bottom) in the third round. (photo courtesy of

-With his most recent knockout loss, Dana White has announced that the legendary Cro Cop has been cut from the UFC, and with that move may have ended the legendary career of the feared Croatian.

-No longer possessing the aggressiveness and speed that made him one of the sport’s most lethal strikers, Cro Cop managed to get off very little offense against the former NFL player.

-While Schaub’s knockout had everyone in the stands and surely everyone at home yelling, from a macro perspective, I was not overly impressed with Schaub.  Sure, he was bigger and managed to use his size to bully Cro Cop against the cage and to the ground, but for all the hype Schaub brought to the table with regards to his abilities, I was not overly impressed.  In my mind, if Schaub truly was the great up and comer people say he was, he would have been able to take Cro Cop out much earlier in the fight.

-Anytime Cro Cop fights, loyal Croatian fans flock to whichever arena his fight is being held in.  Two rows below where we were sitting were a group of loyal Croats sporting their famed checker-styled soccer jerseys.  As should have been expected, some fairly inebriated moron a row above them and below us, took it upon himself to lead the cheer for Schaub citing his patriotism.  To this day (and perhaps a topic that might be the subject of a future blog post) I fail to see how an American beating a Croat in the sport of MMA in the city of Newark, New Jersey should have any effect on our global standing.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and there was no ethnic strife in Section 5. 

Luiz Cane def. Eliot Marshall via 1st round TKO

Luiz Cane (top) blitzed Eliot Marshall (bottom) en route to a first round TKO victory. (photo courtesy of

-I will come out and say it, this was by far one of the worst picks I have ever made.

-There really is not much to discuss with regards to this fight.  Marshall came in and made several poor attempts to get the fight to the ground.  Once he was unable to do so, Cane moved in for the kill and Marshall used the “turtle” defense and curled into a shell.

-Though he was coming off two disappointing losses, I do believe Cane is still a viable threat in the light-heavyweight division.  Though an unlikely match, I would like to see Cane go up against Rich Franklin.  It would make for a credible UFC Fight Night or UFC on Versus main event.

-Eliot Marshall, having been let go from the UFC once before, was able to put together a string of wins, earning a shot once again in the UFC.  It appears Marshall’s standup game is too rudimentary to enjoy any semblance of success at this level.  Perhaps more time in the gym and several more fights in the regional circuit would serve him well. 

Edson Barboza def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision

Edson Barboza (left) defeated Anthony Njokuani (right) in the fight of the night. (photo courtesy of

-In what turned out to be the fight of the night, Edson Barboza defeated Anthony Njokuani in a brilliant and action-packed stand-up war.

-Though Njokuani may have landed with more consistency, Barboza landed the more damaging and noticeable strikes throughout the evening.

-For those that were not tuned into Spike to watch this match, they missed one of the most impressive kicks I have ever seen.  At the end of the match, Barboza landed a spinning heel kick to Njokuani’s face.  Similar to Anthony Pettis’ circus cage kick, Barboza’s kick did not have enough on it to knock Njokuani out, but it surely put an exclamation point on his performance for the judges. 

Mike Pyle def. Ricardo Almeida via unanimous decision

Mike Pyle (left) was able to nullify Ricardo Almeida's (right) takedown attempts en route to a unanimous decision victory. (photo courtesy of

-As much as I am a fan of Almeida, I believe that it might be time for him to once again stop competing and focus on his teaching/coaching.  Almeida has not been able to develop a sound striking or takedown game to compliment his vaunted jiu-jitsu skills.  As a result, whether winning or losing, Almeida is typically involved in fairly lethargic and plodding performances that consist of tie-ups along the cage as Almeida is unable to get the fight to the ground-

-Credit should definitely be given to Pyle for his grappling acumen.  The few times the fight did manage to get to the ground, Pyle was very calm and comfortable, nullifying any of Almeida’s positional advancements.

-Having now defeated Ricardo Almeida and Jon Hathaway in consecutive bouts, it is time for Pyle to be given an upper-echelon welterweight fighter.  A match against a Carlos Condit or Martin Kampmann would be a fine litmus test to evaluate Pyle’s standing within the welterweight division. 

Gleison Tibau def. Kurt Pellegrino via split decision

Gleison Tibau (right) managed to stun the New Jersey crowed as he defeated Kurt Pellegrino (left) in a close split decision. (photo courtesy of

-Much to the chagrin of the New Jersey crowd and particularly the sizeable Point Pleasant contingent in the upper deck, local product Kurt Pellegrino lost a split decision battle to American Top Team product Gleison Tibau.

-Ironically enough, I believe the reason for Pellegrino’s defeat was the fact that he expended too much energy after nearly knocking Tibau out in the second round and almost submitting the Brazilian.  By the start of the third round, Pellegrino was visibly gassed.  As a result, Tibau was able to secure several takedowns in the final round which may have sealed Pellegrino’s fate in the eyes of at least two of the judges. 

Joseph Benavidez def. Ian Loveland via unanimous decision.

Ian Loveland (left) proved to be a very game opponent for Joseph Benavidez (right). (photo courtesy of

-Though Benavidez earned the unanimous decision victory, I was quite impressed with the performance handed in by the “barn owl” Ian Loveland.

-Loveland was able to confuse Benavidez on his feet and held his own for most of the match with regards to wrestling.  Ultimately however, Benavidez’s supreme talent and athleticism paved the way for the decision victory.

-As has been discussed in many other MMA sites, Benavidez is in a very difficult position being that he has already lost twice to the current Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, and, being the training partner and close friend of Urijah Faber, may be in a position where he is not given a title shot for quite some time.  However, Benavidez is still among the elite in the division, and the UFC will surely not want to have Benavidez knock off all title contenders. 

Nick Catone def. Constantinos Philippou via unanimous decision

Nick Catone (right) was able to out-grapple Constantinos Phillipou (left) to get the unanimous decision victory. (photo courtesy of

-In a catchweight battle, New Jersey native Nick Catone was able to outmuscle and outwork Serra-Longo product Constantinos Philippou.

-Perhaps second to the Marquardt-Miller tilt, this fight was not incredibly entertaining and consistent mostly of clinching along the cage as both fighters attempted to get the fight to the ground as quickly as possible.  Fortunately for Catone, he was the more adept wrestler, which earned him the decision victory. 

Erik Koch def. Raphael Assuncao via 1st round KO

Erik Koch (left) was able to start the night off with fireworks, brutally knocking out Raphael Assuncao (right) in the first round. (photo courtesy of

-In what could be considered somewhat of an upset, Duke Roufus’ pupil Erik Koch knocked Raphael Assuncao out in the opening round.

-The knockout came by virtue of a well-timed counter which, though it did not land flush, was able to strike the part of Assuncao’s jaw that Joe Rogan has on multiple occasions explained is one of the best spots to ensure your opponent’s unconsciousness.

-Both fighters are incredibly skilled and will continue to work their way up the featherweight ladder.

Posted in Brett Halpern, MMA, UFC | Tagged , , UFC 128 Recap | Leave a comment

Film Room: The Greatest Coaches/Managers in Sports Movie History (Part II)

“Players win games, coaches lose games.” It’s an age-old saying in sports that the players get the credit for a win, while the coach or manager seems to always get the blame when things go awry and the team loses. But a coach’s impact on a team begins long before the first game is ever played. A coach’s responsibility is to make sure the high-priced athletes on his roster are prepared to play. This also includes having to manage the ego of numerous professional athletes. It also requires finding talent in the most unlikely of places. This is no easy task because while a coach’s influence on the team can lead to victory on the field and championships, that same coach can quickly lose the respect of his players and lose the team, essentially losing his job.

Sports have seen their fair share of great coaches, and every great coach has his own unique style of coaching which in turn can be seen by his players. For every great team, there is usually a great coach on the sidelines or in the dugouts. The same is true in Hollywood, because for every great sports movie, there’s usually a great coach which pushes his team to new heights. Here is Part II of the Greatest Coaches/Managers in Sports Movie History.

***WARNING*** Out of respect to our younger followers, please be advised that this post will contain explicit language, perhaps not suitable for youngsters. Thank you!


Jimmy McGinty – The Replacements  

Jimmy McGinty (left) & Shane Falco in The Replacements

The strict ‘non-fiction coaches only’ policy makes this selection a little more difficult considering the likes of Herman Boone and Sean Porter aren’t in contention. However, I don’t think there is a football movie coach who did more with less than Jimmy McGinty, played by Gene Hackman. When the Washington Sentinels and the rest of professional football go on strike, Sentinels owner Ed O’Neil, played by the late, great Jack Warden, offers McGinty the opportunity to coach the Sentinels and its ‘replacement players.’

Great coaches take pride in finding talent in unusual places, and Jimmy McGinty is no different. McGinty seeks the services of one-time, big-time college quarterback Shane Falco, whose meltdown during his senior season Sugar Bowl cost him his professional career, to lead. McGinty also enlists a Sumo wrestler offensive lineman, a speedy wide receiver who can’t catch, a deaf tight end and my personal favorite; Daniel Bateman, a former S.W.A.T. officer. Not only does McGinty believe in Falco and second chances, but he makes his team believe that they can win; a true sign of a great coach as the Sentinels head into the playoffs

Memorable Quote: “When the Washington Sentinels left the stadium that date, there was no tickertape parade, no endorsement deals for sneakers or soda pop, or breakfast cereal. Just a locker to be cleaned out, and a ride home to catch. But what they didn’t know, was that their lives had been changed forever because they had been part of something great. And greatness, no matter how brief, stays with a man. Every athlete dreams of a second chance, these men lived it.”


Edwina Franklin - Eddie

Coach Eddie

This is an uphill batter going against Pete Bell of Blue Chips and a totally unorthodox selection here. But before you criticize, let’s look at the facts; the New York Knicks are also-rans in the NBA and comprised of players with little talent or who are too distracted by things off the court. Enter Edwina Franklin, a.k.a. Eddie played by Whoopi Goldberg. Eddie, who is a diehard Knicks fan and attends every home game, is the lucky winner of a promotional gimmick that enables her to be an honorary coach for the second half. As luck would have it, Eddie becomes the full time coach and eventually Eddie connects with her players both on the court and off it and earns their respect. And as any great coach can attest; respect is as crucial to a team’s survival as the talent on the roster. After gaining the teams’ trust and respect, Eddie turns the Knicks into legitimate championship contenders and a playoff berth.

Memorable Quote: “Do you remember that people pay to come and see you guys? People spent $2,000 on season tickets up in the nosebleed sections because they think you guys are worthwhile. And what about the little kids? Oh, forget about them, huh? The little kids who actually think you guys are heroes - stupid them!”


Morris Buttermaker - The Bad News Bears

Never Without a Cold One; The Bad News Bears' Morris Buttermaker

And we are talking about the Walter Matthau verision, not the Billy Bob Thorton one. This selection is very similar to Brett’s Lou Brown selection because both manage a team of misfits and do so in an extremely comical way.

Buttermaker is a former minor league baseball player who is a short-tempered, alcholic pool cleaner who takes the job of coaching a Little League. Despite his team of Bears being misfits with zero baseball talent, he accepts the coaching job because he needs the money. Even though he throws beer cans at one of his players he does instill in his ballplayers perseverance, teamwork and self-respect are more important in both life and baseball, than actually winning. He makes the list despite being half in the bag throughout most of the film and having his team sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds.

Memorable Quote: “All I know is when we win a game, it’s a team win. When we lose a game, it’s a team loss.”


Reggie Dunlap – Slap Shot

Paul Newman’s character makes the list for best hockey badass AND for best hockey coach in this unforgettable 1977 classic. Player-coach Dunlap makes the list as the best coach because of his unusual tactics to motivate his team as well as to make sure the Charlestown Chiefs are not relocated. Whether it was recruiting the fighting Hanson Brothers or leaking a false story that a retirement center in Florida has plans to buy the struggling minor league club, Dunlap stops at nothing to instill the will to win in his players; another quality every great coach needs to possess.

Memorable Quote: “She underlines the fuck scenes for ya? Jesus, if she underlines the fuck scenes for ya, she must worship the ground you walk on.”


Frankie Dunn - Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood (left) as Frankie Dunn in Million Dollar Baby

While it is extremely difficult to knock Brett’s selection of Mickey Goldmill from the Rocky franchise as one of the most beloved and best quoted movie characters of all-time, it can be argued that the better manager throughout the Rocky franchise was in fact Tony Duke. To further prove this point, Mickey took a brute in Rocky and he finished his career with 57 wins and 24 loses. Hardly impressive numbers. Lest we forget that Rocky was exactly 1-3 in fights during the movies that Mickey was alive; with losses coming against Apollo Creed, Thunderlips and Clubber Lang.

Million Dollar Baby’s Frankie Dunn, on the other hand, is one of the best in the business trainers and mangers in the business. He takes Maggie Fitzgerald (My honorable mention for badass boxer) from a thirty-one year old poor waitress to the top of women’s professional boxing. More so than just what he does with Fitzgerald in the ring, but he truly is a father figure to her outside the ring. He instills to all his boxers the golden rule that applies to being in the ring and in life; always protect yourself. How many other coaches or managers would risk their own freedom to spare one of their athletes the agony of a painful deterioration like Frankie Dunn does? Clearly, Frankie Dunn did more with less than Micky Goldmill.

Memorable Quote: “I think someone should count to 10.”

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Film Room: The Greatest Hit in the History of Football

Legendary former head coach for the Seattle Seahawks Chuck Knox once said that football is not a contact sport, but rather a collision sport.  Though each play may only last a matter of seconds, within that short time frame there are tremendous collisions that take place.  It is that pugilistic thrill of witnessing a bone-jarring hit that attracts millions of fans, both men and women, to the sport of football.  From the ESPN Monday Night Countdown segment “jacked up” to the countless number of NFL Films specials, the most ferocious hits in both the NFL and College football are both celebrated and often debated.  Though I may not have the wealth of knowledge of a Steve Sabol or Ray Didinger by virtue of my age, any time that I participate in such a debate over the greatest hit in the history of football my answer always consists of two words:  Brett Womack! 

In the fall of 1998, I entered my sophomore year at Cherry Hill High School East.  I had the tremendous privilege to have the opportunity to start at nose tackle the entire season.  While the team that year did not enjoy the success of many of the team’s in Cherry Hill East’s past, our biggest victory of the season came against one of our fiercest rivals:  Washington Township High School.  During our school’s “golden era” often times the season came down to securing a victory over the Minutemen in order to advance to the championship rounds of the state playoffs.  As such, even to this day, irrespective of either team’s records, when Cherry Hill East squares off against Washington Township, the game takes on added meaning.  On that particularly beautiful fall day, we were able to defeat the then ranked Minutemen 17-16.  During the second quarter of the game as I was watching our offense move down the field, I witnessed first hand the greatest hit I have ever had the opportunity to watch.  Brett Womack, one of our team’s captains, and by far our most talented player laid an absolutely vicious block on one of the Township defenders sending the player flying several yards and his helmet flying in a different direction. 

To relive this great play, I managed to track down Brett and ask him several questions regarding the play, football, and what he is up to now. 

BH:  Brett, it’s great to catch up with you.  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions regarding that play.  First off, what can you tell me about your recollection of that play? 

BW:  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Myles Tamburrino was our quarterback that year. I was the wide receiver…the play was called…it was a post pattern or something…Myles rolls out…he scrambles and nobody was open!! So he decided to tuck the ball and RUN! I had already ran my pattern, turned and looked for the ball and Myles just happened to be running my way heading for the sideline trying to gain as much yardage as he could before he went out of bounds. I noticed that the opposing team’s linebacker was closing in on Myles trying to tackle him before he reached the sideline…so I raced back and what was meant to be a block to protect my quarterback turned out to be one of the biggest HITS of my career. LOL 

BH:  Where does that play rank among your favorite of all time? 

BW:  That particular play was definitely one of my favorites. 

BH:  What did you love most about playing in high school? 

BW:  That was a fun time in my life and I was privileged to have played such a great sport with such great teammates and coaches.  As a wide receiver I was blessed with the ability to run very fast and catch practically any ball that was thrown my way. 

BH:  What are you up to these days? 

BW:  As time passes we grow into men and I have learned to utilize many of my other blessings such as music for example. God has always given me the gift of gab if you will and i use it in my music frequently. My mixtape entitled “The Natural” hosted by Leon Huff Jr. (aka Pop Traxx) was released in the summer of 2010.  Basically that project was an attempt to introduce myself to the hip hop world from an underground point of view. Now that I have completed that task I am in the process of releasing the sequel which will be entitled THE SUPERNATURAL. This album will bring peoples understanding of me full circle in relationship with the growth of Lokey “the artist” as well as “the man” and how Gods WILL became my ultimate desire instead of my own will. The album release date will be in the spring of 2011 and it will be entitled THE SUPERNATURAL. The Game aint ready  

BH:  That’s awesome Brett.  Where can we find more information about your music and performances? 

BW:  To see Video footage of live performances, go to youTube and search “lokeyma” or just check out my fan page on Facebook. Search “Lokey” and it should pop right up…stay tuned world…the best is yet to come.

Brett’s “Lokey” fan page url is:!/pages/Lo-Key/128475193842612

Posted in Brett Halpern, Film Room, High School Sports | Tagged Brett Womack, , Greatest Football Hit | Leave a comment

MMA Corner: UFC 128 Preview

This evening the UFC will return to the Garden State with its third venture to “Brick City” as UFC 128 will hail live from the Prudential Center. I am particularly excited for this event, as it will be my fourth time attending a live UFC event, the second of which from the Prudential Center.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (c) vs Jon “Bones” Jones

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (left) and Jon Jones (right) will battle it out for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship.

The main event of the evening will be for the UFC Light-heavyweight championship as Shogun Rua looks to make his first ever successful title defense against the rapidly ascending Jon Jones.

Shogun Rua enters this fight as perhaps the most talented and successful light-heavyweight of the past five years. Bursting onto the scene with an incredible performance at the Pride 2005 Grand Prix in which he defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona, Shogun, at the age of 23, became the most feared man in the 205 lb division. Coming from the vaunted Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil, Shogun truly epitomizes what it is to be a mixed martial artist. Though his strengths are in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Shogun, perhaps more than any other fighter demonstrates tremendous fluidity in his techniques as he embarks on each battle unafraid of where the fight might go. Whether standing, in the clinch, on his back, or with top control, Shogun effortlessly displays brilliant technique at all times during his fights. In his most recent match, Shogun handed Lyoto Machida his first ever loss with a convincing knockout in the first round.

The old adage is that one main’s loss in another man’s opportunity. Such has been the case with Jon Jones. Having easily dismantled previously unbeaten Ryan Bader via 2nd round submission, the UFC offered Jones a chance to compete for the light-heavyweight championship as a result of Jones’ teammate, Rashad Evans, sustaining a knee injury in preparation for his upcoming fight against Shogun for this very event. Jones quickly jumped at the chance and will not face the toughest test of his career. Blessed with great size, Jones has displayed a top-notch wrestling game to go along with incredible creative striking.

Shogun clearly has the experience and perhaps the toughness edge in this fight. In order for Shogun to bring the belt back to Brazil, I believe he will need to take it to the younger opponent, as Jones has never experienced the pressure that Shogun is quite capable of putting on him. Further, we have yet to see how Jones reacts when he is in a true dog fight and is smacked in the mouth. Irrespective of how the fight plays out, I have no doubt that Shogun will be able to connect with eat least one shot that will test Jones’ intestinal fortitude and ability to withstand punishment.

Ultimately however, I believe the key to this fight will be Jones wrestling. In MMA, similar to many sports, the fighter/competitor that is able to dictate the terms of the contest, more often than not, will be victorious. As can be seen in Shogun’s most recent fights against the likes of Forrest Griffin, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell and Lyoto Machida, Shogun does not possess the greatest takedown defense. As such, I have no doubt that Jones will be able to easily secure the takedowns. As the rounds continue to pile up for Jones, I believe he will wear down Shogun, who is coming off major knee surgery, en route to a late round stoppage.

Fight Prediction: Jon Jones via 3rd round TKO.

Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland

Urijah Faber (left) and Eddie Wineland (right) will look to cement their status as a top contender in the UFC Bantamweight division.

The co-main event of the evening features a top-contender bout in the UFC’s bantamweight division. In a matchup between two former WEC Champions, former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber takes on former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland.

Urijah Faber, perhaps the most famous and popular fighter from the now defunct WEC promotion, makes his promotional debut hoping to further cement his status as one of the top fighters in the bantamweight division. Making a name for himself both at lightweight and more recently at featherweight, Faber came to dominate his competition as he showed off his ultra-athletic repertoire of wrestling, striking, and jiu jitsu. Having only been defeated by the likes of Tyson Griffin (early on in his career), Mike Thomas Brown, and current UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo, Faber is one of the top lighter-weight fighters in the sport. In his last match in the WEC, Faber made a successful debut in the Bantamweight division with a first round submission victory over the always-game Takeya Mizugaki. As a bantamweight, Faber will undoubtedly have a strength advantage over practically every fighter he faces, and with a submission victory over the current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, a win over Wineland should put Faber in title contention.

Eddie Wineland has enjoyed a bit of resurgence after watching his career plateau. Much of this resurgence can be attributed to his willingness to finally embrace a full training camp, whereas before Wineland would attempt to get by based solely on his talent and aggressiveness. Wineland is a powerful striker who possesses knockout power in either hand. Furthermore, as can be seen in his most recent fight, Wineland is becoming more adept in the ground game.

Ultimately, though Wineland is a dangerous opponent that can end the fight at any moment, I believe Faber is simply too talented and in particularly as a bantamweight, too powerful to lose. Wineland’s only hope is to catch Faber as Faber attempts to please the crowd with some dangerous and unorthodox move. However, I would think that after his knockout loss to Mike Thomas Brown, Faber would know better and avoid such situations. Ultimately, look for Faber to employ his world class grappling to work for a submission in the first or second round.

Fight Prediction: Urijah Faber via 2nd round submission.

Jim Miller vs. Kamal Shalorus

Jim Miller (left) will look to make Kamal Shalorus' (right) UFC debut a disappointing one.

In this lightweight battle, top contender Jim Miller will welcome the “Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus to the UFC after making a fairly successful run in the WEC.

Miller, having only tasted defeat twice in his career, decision losses to Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, is at the cusp of earning his first title shot. Miller first burst onto the scene displaying a very dangerous submission/grappling game. However, as of late, Miller has demonstrated that his striking is well above-average and can change the course of a fight.

Shalorus comes to the UFC sporting perhaps the most impressive wrestling background in the entire sport. A former Olympian, Shalorus has tremendous wrestling skills and possesses the ability to take anyone down at his pleasing and stuff any takedown he chooses to. For whatever reason, armed with this ability, Shalorus instead opts to try and end all his fights on the feet. Though quite powerful, Shalorus’ technique could be considered a hair above a typical “toughman” competitor. Further, this striking style appears to quickly deplete Shalorus’ gas tank as he has faded in the third rounds in his most recent fights.

If Shalorus ever decides to implement his world-class wrestling, he truly could become a top competitor in the lightweight division. However, assuming arguendo that he foolishly persists in his current strategy to invoke his inner Butterbean, I believe his lack of well-roundedness will be exposed by Jim Miller by virtue of a decision victory.

Fight Prediction: Jim Miller via unanimous decision.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs Brendan Schaub

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (left) takes on Brendan Schaub (right) in an intriguing heavyweight fight.

In this heavyweight affair legendary striker Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic takes on the rising newcomer and former NFL player, Brendan Schaub.

Cro Cop is among the legends of the sport, possessing one of the most impressive highlight reels of vicious knockouts. Explaining that his right leg will take someone to the hospital and his left leg will earn his opponent a trip to the cemetery, the Croatian superstar has enjoyed unbelievable success both in K-1 and in the sport of MMA. Cro Cop’s defining moment was in 2006 as he defeated Josh Barnet to become the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion. However, since coming to the UFC, Cro Cop has displayed a bit of an indifference to acclimate himself to fighting in a cage. This along with his declining skills by virtue of his age has resulted in average results at best. Suffering brutal knockouts to Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir, Cro Cop is not the fighter of old, and the question remains: what does he have left?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brendan Schaub appears to be on his way to becoming one of the heavyweight division’s more dangerous strikers. After losing in the Ultimate Fighter, Schaub has enjoyed great success with three impressive victories, most recently defeating Gabriel Gonzaga via unanimous decision. Schaub, a former NFL player, possesses tremendous athleticism, and appears to be picking up the MMA game in rapid fashion.

In his time at the UFC, Cro Cop has had great difficulty with fighters that take the fight to him by muscling him around. The larger and more powerful Schaub will look to do that en route to a third round stoppage, and perhaps Cro Cop’s swan song in the sport of MMA.

Fight Prediction: Brendan Schaub via 3rd round TKO.

Nate Marquardt vs. Dan Miller

Nate Marquardt (left) will look to return to his winning ways as he takes on Dan Miller (right).

Originally scheduled to face Yoshihiro Akiyama, the tragic and catastrophic events in Japan, Nate Marquardt is now scheduled to take on tough middleweight Dan Miller as Akiyama was forced to withdraw.

Marquardt, a former title contender and seven-time King of Pancrase, is perhaps as well-rounded as any middleweight fighter in the UFC. Very powerful and technical, Marquardt looked as he if he would be granted another shot at the middleweight title until he was derailed by Chael Sonnen. Then, in another top contender match, Marquardt was soundly defeated yet again by a top grappler, Yushin Okami. Looking to right the ship, Marquardt in his camp have vowed that the Colorado fighter will return to his aggressive striking style that was noticeably absent in his two recent losses.

Miller, the older brother of Jim Miller, is of a similar mold to Marquardt in that he is a very well-rounded fighter. Unfortunately, his striking is not on the same level as his opponent. However, no one can question the heart of this New Jersey native who has taken on all-comers in spite of going through tremendous hardships in his personal life, suffering the loss of his young daughter.

Ultimately, with Miller being unable to dictate the terms of the fight, Marquardt should feel comfortable enough to let his hands go. With Miller not being on the same level in terms of his striking ability, look for this fight to be stopped by virtue of Marquardt’s superior striking.

Fight Prediction: Nate Marquardt via 3rd round TKO.

Rest of the Card

Luiz Cane vs. Elliot Marshall - Elliot Marshall via 3rd round submission.

Edson Barboza vs. Anthony Njokuani - Edson Barboza via 2nd round TKO.

Ricardo Almeida vs. Mike Pyle - Mike Pyle via unanimous decision.

Kurt Pellegrino vs. Gleison Tibau - Kurt Pellegrino via unanimous decision.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian Loveland - Joseph Benavidez via 2nd round submission.

Erik Koch vs. Raphael Assuncao - Erik Koch via unanimous decision.

Nick Catone vs. Constantinos Philippou - Nick Catone via 3rd round TKO.

Posted in Brett Halpern, MMA, UFC | Tagged , , UFC 128 Preview | Leave a comment

March Madness: Round 1 Update

The first round of NCAA Tournament games are in the books and its time to see how damaged our brackets are.  The nation’s preeminent conference, The Big East, had a rough round; losing four teams - Villanova, St. John’s, Louisville and Georgetown.  The St. John’s loss was insignificant to both Brett and I as we both had the Red Storm advancing to the Elite Eight.  As for The Deliberation Room’s faceoff, the scores after 1 Round are:

Brett: 21 correct, 11 incorrect = 42 points
Anthony: 24 correct, 8 incorrect = 48 points

And here’s whats left of our 2011 NCAA Brackets:

Brett's Bracket After Round 1

Anthony's Bracket After Round 1

Posted in Anthony Cillis, College Basketball | Tagged Bracket, , , , | Leave a comment

Say What?!?!? The Best of Shaquille O’Neal


Shaquille “Big Diesel” O’Neal

Following his outstanding college career at Louisiana State University, Shaquille O’Neal was drafted 1st overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1992 NBA Draft.  He quickly became one of the top centers in the league, and standing 7’1” tall and weighing 325 pounds, he is one of the largest players ever to play in the NBA.  During his 18 seasons in the league, “Shaq,” as he is commonly nicknamed, has played for 6 teams; the Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and most recently the Boston Celtics.

O’Neal has appeared in 5 NBA Finals, winning three in a row with the Lakers.  His individual accolades include:  Rookie of the Year 1992-93, 1999-00 MVP Award, 15 All-Star game selections; collecting three All-Star MVPs, three Finals MVPs, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections.  He ranks 5th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 12th in rebounds and 7th in blocks.

Shaquille O’Neal, while truly larger than life, has played the game of basketball more like an overgrown child than the giant of a man he is.  He has always been one of the most fan-friendly athletes, never shying away from signing autographs or taking pictures.  Fortunately, this attitude has provided some of the most memorable and comical ‘Say What?!?!?” sound bites in sports history.  Here are some of The Deliberation Room’s favorites:

 “Stay out of the gentlemen’s clubs. Get a lot of rest. Just have fun and relax and stay focused” 
- O’Neal’s secret to winning on the road

“I’ll take 14 out of 15 any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year, any year of the century. I don’t know what comes after century”
- On having the Heat’s 14-game winning streak snapped

“If I don’t get five [titles], I won’t be happy with myself as a basketball player.  I don’t know how you guys will feel about me”

“I told our guys they must not have cable because Antoine Walker knows how to play, Derek Anderson can play, Shandon Anderson knows how to play, and Gary Payton knows how play”
- Following a game between the Heat and Raptors; referring to Toronto’s excessive defensive focus on Dwyane Wade

“The stats win nothing.  I’m still sexy. I’m still great.”

Reporter: Let’s just say that a snake bit your mom right here, right in the chest area. Would you be willing to suck the venom out to win the title?
O’Neal: “No, but I would with your wife”

“If you go 72-11 and don’t win (the championship), it doesn’t mean anything. Actually it does. It means you’ve cheated and played an extra regular-season game”

Reporter: Shaq, do you have a special routine before the playoffs?
O’Neal: “Yeah, I let your mother rub my feet.”

 On The Sacramento Kings

“I’m not worried about facing the Sacramento Queens.  Write it down. Take a picture. I’m not going to talk about this all year. When I get back, there’s going to be trouble” 

On Kobe Bryant & The Lakers 

Shaq & Kobe Following Shaq's Trade To Miami


“In the seven or eight years we were together, we were never together.” 

“I’m not the one buying love.  He’s the one buying love”
- Referring to the ring Kobe Bryant bought for his wife, Vanessa, after he was charged with felony sexual assault, reportedly costing several million dollars

“If you’ve got a Corvette that runs into a brick wall, you know what’s going to happen.  He’s a Corvette.  I’m a brick wall”
- When asked how he might react if Kobe charges the lane during an upcoming Heat-Lakers game

“There is nothing to say because I know everything about him. I raised him.  I know what’s a charade, and I know what’s not a charade. I’ll leave it at that.”

“My personal opinion is, how, if you never hung out with somebody, do you know them so well? I never hung out with that dude because the dude is a weirdo”  

“That’s sort of a trick question, and I don’t have a trick answer. Next question, please.” 
- When asked about Bryant’s aggressive style

“I didn’t need motivation, I needed a real owner like Micky Arison, not a guy that parties with girls three times [younger than him] — when you’re 60, hang out with 60-year-olds, not 20-year-olds. You can quote me on that. I’ve got nothing else to say about Jerry Buss.”
- In response to comments made by Laker owner Jerry Buss

Reporter: People said that he is really motivated this year because he really wants to stick it to the Lakers. How true is that?
O’Neal: “I don’t let earthlings motivate me. I only let factors motivate me. The only thing that motivates me is, when I’m done playing, I want people to say, ‘He’s the Baddest Motherf**ka to ever play the game.’ Right now I am hearing that from some of the people. When I am done playing I want to hear that from all of the people. So right now I have three championships. That’s cool. I could probably retire now and wait 10 years and most likely be named into the Hall of Fame. Whoopty do. Right now I am not satisfied with my career just winning three championships, because I have been there five times, and I should have five right now. Should have five. Should have six, including this year, but it didn’t happen that way”

Reporter: Do you ever see the day where it would be possible for you to sit down, have a talk with Kobe Bryant?
O’Neal: “Who?”
Reporer: Kobe Bryant
O’Neal: ”You know what I am not familiar with that name, I know a lot of names and I have a lot of names in my head, but I am not familiar with that name. Especially if there is nothing to talk about, I’m sorry I can’t recall that name”

“He doesn’t need advice on how to play his position, but he needs advice on how to play team ball….If it’s going to be my team, I’ll voice my opinion. If he don’t like it, he can opt out”
- Referring to Bryant 

“I didn’t say anything. Got nothing to say. I’m a married man; I don’t need a relationship with another man”
- After being asked why he barely acknowledged Bryant before a Lakers-Heat game

“Look up the word role in the dictionary and you’ll see it means playing a part. That’s why I call myself a real model. The best quality about Kobe Bryant? You want me to be honest? I don’t know. I’ll tell you why. I open my arms to everybody. But he never stepped forward for the embrace. So I never really got to know him. I don’t know anything about him, and it’s kinda sad.”

On Free Throws

“If I was able to have the game I have and shoot 80% from the line, I’d probably be an arrogant person rather than a humble one.  Everything happens for a reason.” 

“In this millennium that we live in, the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’has proven not to work.  It might work a couple games every now and then, but when it comes to the playoffs or a championship series, it doesn’t work - not at all.”

“The Hack-A-Shaq is just a way of telling me that you can’t stop me. Thank you. I appreciate it.”

“Me having a beautiful wife and great family and friends around me, all the money I’ve got, all the things that I’ve got, a Ferrari that I just ripped the top off of and turned into a convertible, the rings I got, the two mansions on the water, a master’s in criminal justice, I’m a cop, plus I look good. So me shooting 40 percent at the foul line is just God’s way of saying that nobody’s perfect. If I shot 90 percent from the line, it just wouldn’t be right.”

“I’d shoot zero percent before I’d shoot underhanded.”

“That game was dedicated to Rick Adelman. I’m at home, in the bathroom, trying to take a dump, flipping through the channels and he’s complaining (on TV) about how I’m stepping over the line. I can’t even do a No. 2 in peace. I’m sitting there grunting at 12:30 at night. Can I go one day without somebody saying something negative about me?”
-Following Game 2 of the 2002 NBA Finals where O’Neal made 12 of 14 free throws and responded to comments by Nets coach Rick Adelman about O’Neal stepping over the line while shooting free throws

On His Abilities

“I’m going to be on a mission. I’ve handled my personal vendettas and handled them well. Every challenge you put in front of me, I’ve handled it, dismantled it – ate them, dropped them off in the bathroom and flushed them away.”

“I wouldn’t.  I would just go home.  I’d fake an injury or something”
- When asked how he would defend against himself

“I make the game easy. Double and triple me, I’ll kick it out to you for a wide-open shot. I’ll add years to your career.”

“I don’t have to shoot from more than two feet.  I’m top 50.  I’ve got 23,000 from where I shoot.”
- Responding to Danny Fortson’s statement that O’Neal is ineffective when he is more than two feet away from the hoop

“I don’t see anybody, in any conference, that can shut me down.  Any conference, anywhere in the world.”

“I’m upset at myself. I should have had 50.  I missed 13 free throws. That’s unacceptable. If I want to be accepted by Wilt and Kareem and Russell I’ve got to start playing better than that. Right now I’m still in the class of Hakeem and David Robinson and that’s not good enough for me. I want to be out there with the immortals.”

“I’ve read that same formula, but as an athlete I’m classified as phenomenal.  You could look it up.”
- Referring to the body-mass index, which would claim that Shaq is obese

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.  And the one guy who didn’t vote (for me), thank you, too.”
- After receiving 120 of 121 first-place MVP votes from a panel of broadcasters and sports writers

“I knew I was dog meat. Luckily, I’m the high-priced dog meat that everybody wants. I’m the good-quality dog meat. I’m the Alpo of the NBA.”

“I’m the last in the line of Russells and Chamberlains.”

“When you flop, that’s just another message that you don’t know how to play me. Stand up and take your medicine like a man.” 

“I painted my toenails before Dennis Rodman.  One time at training camp, I stubbed my toe and the nail came loose.  My mom gave me some toenail hardener, and I painted over it.  I scored 40-something points that night, so it became a ritual.  Paint my toenails, score 40 points.”

“Once the Hack-a-Shaq works once, you know I’m going to see it again.  The only thing worse for basketball than that defense is the Lack-a-Shaq offense, where I have to go to the bench because of foul trouble.  There is no fun in that.”

“I am Superman.  And the only thing that can kill Superman is Kryptonite.  And Kryptonite doesn’t exist.”

Reporter: Build the perfect basketball player using four traits from other players?  Any four traits…someone’s quickness, someone’s jumping ability, smarts, whatever.
O’Neal: “Me. And all of my traits.”

Reporter: I’ve always thought you could have been the NFL’s best tight end…
O’Neal: “I would have to agree with you. I like physical contact, and I have great hands. If the Dolphins want to sign me, three years and $25 million. Throw it up like an alley-oop. I’ll go get it”

“I take that as an insult, even at 36.”
-Referring to the Spurs’ decision not to double-team him

Reporter: You’re in very good shape these days.  What’s your secret?
O’Neal: “I was with your mother last week.  She took care of me very well”

“If you’re going to hire an assassin, let him go out and kill someone. I can’t be Shaq taking six or seven shots.”

“If I get that thing down there in that area, that’s 67% lifetime.  If you don’t believe me, Google it.  I’m on the Internet.”
- Referring to his excellent field goal percentage when obtaining the ball near the basket

Reporter: You looking forward to seeing Dwight Howard again?
O’Neal: “Yes. See, this is also more marketing. If you compare a twenty-two-year-old to a thirty-nine-year-old, I must be a bad motherf**ker.”

“I don’t ever want to grow up.  I guess I’m like Peter Pan. Grown-ups have problems. I want to stay happy.”

“Ask your mother”
- When asked why he’s still so popular

On His Nicknames 

 “All this heaviness does not mean that I’m a monk.  I’m an unorthodox type of guy, a funny guy—at least I think I’m funny.  And one of the things I like to do is come up with nicknames for myself”“For all my friends in the media who like quotes, mark this quote down.  From this day on I’d like to be known as ‘The Big Aristotle’ because Aristotle once said, ‘Excellence is not a singular act; it’s a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.’”

Shaq - Always Good For a Laugh


“I want to be known as ‘The Big Shakespeare.’ It was Shakespeare that said, ‘Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them.’”

 “The Big Stock Exchange” 
- “I start off at one price.  Every now and then I’ll go down, but eventually I’ll go back up”

“The Big IPO”
- “Put your money on me.  Because when I go public, we all gonna make money”

“The Big Antarctica”
- “Because I’m so cold”

“The Big Havlicek”
- “Which is what I called myself after making a bunch of foul shots one night”

“The Big Felon”   
- “For when I made a steal against Orlando and had a breakaway dunk with 15 seconds left, forcing overtime of what would become a Lakers victory?”

“The Almighty Conceitedness”
- “That’s the highest level of arrogance.  I made that up, too”

“If I were a painter, you’d be calling me Shaqcasso.”

“They call me the Big Sewer because I have a lot of shit in my game.”

“The Big Baryshnikov”
- After a hard foul sent him tumbling into a backward somersault before bouncing to his feet

“The Big Deporter”
- After eliminating foreign centers Vlade Divac, Rik Smits and Arvydas Sabonis from the playoffs

“The Big Cactus”
- “Because if you come too close, you’re gonna get stuck” 

- “If you go around the league, anybody with the last name ‘vich’ is a great shooter.  Radmanovic, Vujacic…all those ‘iches.”

“Superman my ass. When I was coming up and there was Pat Ewing and Hakeem (Olajuwon) and I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is. Don’t compare me to nobody. I’d rather not me mentioned, I’m offended”
- Regarding Dwight Howard’s use of the Superman moniker for himself

On Phil Jackson:

“Phil took us to the finals three out of the five years and you want to fire him and want to bring in Mike Krzyzewski? Come on, man. That’s like being married to J-Lo, then dropping J-Lo for a girl that’s 5-10, 480” 
-After Game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals, when the Lakers lost to the Pistons 88-68

“How can Benedict Arnold be reliable in what he says?”
- Referring to Phil Jackson, who criticized his work ethic after the Heat won the 2006 NBA Championship

“It’s pretty much the same; it’s just that Phil was very weird with his system.  This is more of the traditional system.”

 On Pat Riley 

“He’s the president. I’m the general. Unless I want to get impeached, I got to do what he says”

“It’s my job to make him look good.  He’s a very good looking man, so it’s my job to keep him looking goo”

“He’s the Italian version of my father. I don’t know if he’s Italian or not.”

“I think Bush came back because Colin Powell was there.  Hey, I’m the brigadier general, baby.”
- After being asked about Riley’s return to coaching the Miami Heat

On Yao Ming

“Tell Yao Ming, ‘ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.’”
- Accompanied with appropriate kung fu moves

“You know what’s crazy about Yao? He speaks perfect English. A lot of people don’t know that. Perfect English. When I was over there, I called him. He’s like, ‘Whassup big fella?’ Perfect English!”


“I just want everyone to know I’m suing Ruben Studdard. He had his hand on my ass and he wouldn’t let go”
- After falling onto Ruben Studdard after a dunk in the 2004 All-Star game

“He’s got a ring, so I’m taking home the trophy”
- Referring to the co-MVP honors for both Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan in the 2000 All-Star game

“It’s good to go back home and sleep in my own bed and eat my own food — and see all of my wives.”

“Can you diiiigggg it!”

Posted in Anthony Cillis, NBA, Say What?!?!? | Tagged , , Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal | Leave a comment

Brett’s Stadium Tour: Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, Kansas

Inside of Allen Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Kansas.

The next stop in the arena tour takes us to Lawrence, Kansas, the home of the University of Kansas.  One of the most storied programs in all of college basketball history, the Kansas Jayhawks home court since the 1955 season has been Allen Fieldhouse.


With its rustic, hangar-like design, Allen Fieldhouse, with its capacity of 16,300, has become one of the most intimidating and difficult venues for opposing teams to play in.  Named after legendary Kansas Coach Phog Allen who coached the Jayhawks for 39 years, the Jayhawks have enjoyed remarkable success since moving into the facility in 1955.  The rich tradition of the program is also proudly displayed by virtue of the actual playing surface named after Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, who also built the Kansas basketball program. 

The outside of Allen Fieldhouse.

As you enter this legendary arena, the first thing you will notice is the plethora of banners hanging from the rafters celebrating the countless championships teams and legendary players the program has produced.  Along the North Wall hangs the famous sign “Pay Heed, All Who Enter:  Beware of the Phog.”


In addition to the classic structure, it is the loyal fans that add to the experience of attending a game at Allen Fieldhouse.  Among the most famous college war chants, the crowd, shortly after the playing of the school’s alma mater, cries out the “Rock . . . Chalk . . . Jayhawk!” chant.  Then, cleverly, as the visiting team is announced, the student section can be seen waving the student newspaper in front of their faces to show a disinterest in their opponent.  After the last of the opposing players is announced, the student section rips up the newspaper and uses it as confetti to welcome their beloved Jayhawks players.

Posted in Arena Tour, Brett Halpern, College Basketball, Stadium Tour | Tagged Allen Fieldhouse, , , | Leave a comment

Film Room: The Greatest Coaches/Managers in Sports Movie History (Part I)

The coach of a sports team serves as a unifying figure.  He is the director, the maestro, the general and the counselor.  The team (or individual) will operate in a manner deemed appropriate by the coach in order to guarantee the maximum effort and achieve the most positive result possible.  Perhaps what is so fascinating about the coaching position is that though the goals of each coach are common, they can be arrived at through many different techniques and styles.  As such, while some coaches adhere to a very authoritative and rigid style of coaching, others believe a softer and more energetic approach as the key to success. 

Fortunately, beyond the multitude of fine coaches that exist in real life, Hollywood has done a fine job of creating many memorable coaches in all different types of sports movies.  With that being said, our second installment of our sports movie countdown will examine what both Anthony and I believe are the best coaches in sports movie history.  One qualifier that we implemented before we made our selections were that the coaches we selected had to be fictitious characters as opposed to actors or actresses that portrayed real life coaches. 

***WARNING*** Out of respect to our younger followers, please be advised that this post will contain explicit language, perhaps not suitable for youngsters. Thank you!


Wally Riggendorf – Necessary Roughness 

Wally Riggendorf (left) from "Necessary Roughness" was played incredibly well by Robert Loggia.

I’m going to start it out with a bit of a wild card selection.  In the movie Necessary Roughness, two old-time coaches are brought in to restore the academic standing of the Texas State football program.  The program, though winning a national championship, had been sanctioned by the NCAA for a laundry list of violations including grade tampering, steroid use, and illegal payouts.  After contacting Ed Genaro (Hector Elizondo) to become the team’s head coach, Genaro reaches out to his former colleague and long-time friend Wally Riggendorf (Robert Loggia) who he hands over the defense to.  Riggendorf is an old-school coach with a fiery attitude who manages to insert well-timed wit and humor in the most desperate of situations. 

The night before the team’s season finale against rival Texas, Genaro suffers what appeared to be a heart attack and promoted Riggendorf to become the interim head coach.  After a difficult opening half which saw the “Fighting Armadillos” give up a 21-point lead, Riggendorf gives what I believe is one of the best speeches in sports movie history.  The speech (which I will share below) sparked the lowly Armadillos into shocking the #1 team in the nation and earning their first victory of the season. 

Memorable quote:  “Now let’s analyze what’s been working for us.  [LONG PAUSE]. . . Not a god damn thing’s been workin’ for us [PROCEEDS TO RIP SHIRT AND TIE] lie this god damn shirt and this god damn tie, it doesn’t work for me.  You know how you play winning hard-nosed football; you play football like Ed Genaro played football, a guy who gave his life for this football team.  He was a 145 pound halfback, and he played like a god-damn wild man, like a god-damn rampaging beast.  And that’s the way you gotta do it.  You go out there, you tear their fucking heads off, and you shit down their neck.  [PAUSE] . . . Let us pray.” 


Pete Bell – Blue Chips 

Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) in "Blue Chips".

In his tremendous portrayal of a desperate high-profile college basketball coach, Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) engages in a bitter internal struggle as he tries to fight the pressures of cheating in order to resurrect his team that had fallen on hard times.  We are introduced to the beloved Coach Bell as his mediocre team finishes with a losing record, the first of Coach Bell’s career.  As we see the tremendous lifestyle and popularity that Coach Bell enjoys, we begin to understand that it is the Coach’s constant obsession with winning coupled with his tenacity that propelled his team to the championship level in the past.  Now, that same ferociousness appears to slowly be eating away tat the Coach’s morals, as he ultimately succumbs to the harsh realities of the recruiting world:  players must be bought. 

The rest of the movie involves Coach Bell’s efforts in attempting to lure the most impressive freshmen class to join Western University.  Ultimately, through the help of some “friends of the program” Coach Bell lands the three most prized recruits in all the land.  However, after their big win against #1 Indiana University in the season opener, Coach Bell in a tremendous scene, publicly questions his own actions and resigns as head coach. 

Throughout the movie there are scenes in which Nolte does a fantastic job of portraying an incredibly knowledgeable coach.  We are taken inside the practice facilities and able to see innovative coaching techniques and before the big game Nolte delivers an awe-inspiring motivational speech. 

Memorable quote:  Addressing his team after their stunning upset win over the #1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers – “Boys, the rules don’t make much sense.  But I believe in the rules.  Some of us broke them.  I broke them.  I can’t do this.  I can’t win like this.” 


Lou Brown – Major League 

Lou Brown (James Gammon) displaying his motivational poster in "Major League".

In the movie “Major League” Lou Brown, along with the entire roster that comprised the Cleveland Indians were put together with on purpose in mind:  to lose.  However, the gritty, hard-nosed, and eternal optimist Brown (James Gammon) refused to believe that his team was ill-equipped to enjoy success in the major leagues.  Instead, Brown worked tirelessly to extract the maximum effort and dedication from the cast of characters in his clubhouse en route to winning their division. 

In perhaps the most pivotal scene of the movie, Brown is informed by the team’s general manager of the owner’s plans to field a losing team in order to catalyze a series of events that would ultimately result in the team’s location to South Florida.  Recognizing a tremendous opportunity to ignite the competitive passions of his team, Brown informs them of their owner’s deceitful plan and uses a clever motivational ploy.  Brown gets together a life-sized poster of the team’s fairly attractive owner and announces to the team that the picture is covered with different pieces that symbolize the number of wins it would take the team to earn a playoff spot.  Brown then explains that after every win, the team gets to peel a piece of the clothing off.  Sure enough, by the end of the movie, the poster of their owner is left exposed for them all to enjoy and celebrate. 

Memorable quote:  Speaking to his talented center-fielder Willie Mays Hayes – “You may run like Hayes, but you hit like shit.” 


Gordon Bombay – Mighty Ducks Movies

The "Minnesota Miracle Man" Gorday Bombay (Emilio Estevez) from "Mighty Ducks".

In 2007 the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup.  Though many would argue the history of the franchise’s championship triumph began when certain acquisitions were made to obtain various players to comprise that particular roster, the true beginning of their road to the cup began in 1992 when the world was introduced to a bunch of misfit kids in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region and their coach, suspended attorney Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez). 

Upon being sentenced to perform community service, Bombay inherited the District 5 peewee hockey team.  At first, it was quite ugly, as the team, filled with a cast of unruly characters, lacked any semblance of hockey fundamentals.  Ultimately after a heart-to-heart conversation with former confidant Hans, Bombay teaches the team to “fly” as they are renamed the Ducks and eventually win the state championship.  In the process, Bombay masterfully incorporates innovative and exciting coaching techniques in order to teach the young kids the game of hockey. 

Later on, in the second installment of the Mighty Ducks, Bombay is at it once again as he leads the mighty ducks, now serving as Team USA, to a gold medal at the Junior Goodwill Games.  Once again, Bombay is able to harness the team’s energy and defeat a seemingly invincible opponent, the Icelandic national squad. 

Ultimately, Gordon Bombay has to go down as one of the most innovative and exciting coaches in hockey sports movie history.  Who else could have made Goldberg a valuable asset to any sports team?  Seriously! 

Memorable quote:  “Yes sir, Mr. Ducksworth.  Thank you very much, Mr. Ducksworth.  Quack, quack, quack!” 


Mickey Goldmill – The Rocky Movies 

Mickey (right) and Rocky (left) moments before Rocky's first bout with then heavyweight champion Apollo Creed in "Rocky".

Similar to Anthony’s first choice in our “badass” feature, perhaps of all the sports coaches/managers, this selection is the easiest.  Serving as the “angel” on Rocky’s shoulders, Mickey Goldmill, played brilliantly by Burgess Meredith is perhaps on of cinema’s most recognizable characters.  Once a former professional boxer himself, the gritty and blue-collar Goldmill runs the gym that club-boxer Rocky Balboa trains out of.  In the beginning of the first movie, Goldmill and Balboa are seen to be at odds towards one another as Goldmill does not respect Balboa’s side-profession as a “collection specialist” for a known mobster. 

Ultimately, once Balboa receives the shot at Apollo Creed and the heavyweight championship of the world, Goldmill approaches Balboa to become his manager.  After a memorable scene in which Balboa yells at Goldmill, the two form an incredible bond that continues even beyond Goldmill’s death during the third Rocky movie and is seen through all six movies. 

Though he certainly was not a technician, Goldmill was able to bring out Balboa’s tremendous heart and intestinal fortitude which served Balboa well throughout his storied career.  In the process, Goldmill became a father figure for Balboa, staying with him as Adrian was in a coma during Rocky II, and ultimately coming to live with the Balboas in Rocky III.  Though he mostly lacked a sentimental side, Goldmill may be considered one of the most beloved and cherished characters in all of sports movie history. 

Memorable quote (of which there are hundreds):  “Stay away from that pet shop dame.  Women weaken legs!”

Posted in Brett Halpern, Film Room | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The New York Mets Play In Flushing… Right?

Mr. Met Heading Home

In 1957, New York lost two of its three major league baseball teams when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated west to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.  In 1962, the National League expanded, adding the New York Mets.  The Mets logo and color scheme were a hybrid of the two now defunct New York National League franchises; using the blue from the Dodgers and orange from the Giants.  Their NY insignia were also a throwback to the NY insignia of the Giants. 

During their first two seasons in existence, the Mets played their home games at the historic Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.  In 1964, the club moved to the newly constructed Shea Stadium near the site of the World’s Fair in Queens. The Mets called Shea home until 2009, when the team moved across the street to the newly constructed Citi Field.

Growing up as a New York Mets fan in a household filled with Yankees fans, I have grown accustomed to the taunts and consistent berating that comes natural in the Yankee-Met rivalry.  During any broadcast of a Mets ball game, the announcers always referred to Shea Stadium as “Flushing, New York.”  With such an unfortunate city name as “Flushing” as the home of the New York Mets, this too added to the constant taunting as the Mets have historically been viewed as the basement dwellers of New York city baseball.  The leader of the charge with respect to the verbal taunts slung in my direction, were from my beloved father, who hails from Queens and is a lifelong Yankees fan.  Perhaps of all the verbal jabs that I have taken over my life with respect to being a Mets fan, the most comical and interesting have stemmed around the fact that my father has explained to my brother and I that the Mets do not actually play in Flushing, New York, but instead play in Corona, a municipality which neighbors Flushing.  With the creation of this blog, I now have the ability to ponder whether my father’s claim has any validity.  As such, on with the analysis:

The official address of Citi Field is 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, NY 11368.  Ok, that seems rather easy.  Also, a quick search of the United States Postal Service reveals that Flushing, New York does in fact contain 32 different zip codes, one of which is 11368.  However, the problem comes from the fact that a similar search of Corona, New York reveals only one zip code:  11368.  Therein lies our problem; two neighboring cities within the borough of Queens share the same exact zip code.  This is starting to sound like a problem that only Brett and his fellow New Jerseyans would encounter.

Here is a zip code overlay map of the areas surrounding Citi Field:

Queens Zip Code Overlay Map

Clearly, Citi Field’s zip code is 11368, so that much we know is right.  But where does Citi Field belong? Flushing or Corona?  The map shows Southwest of Citi Field is Corona, and to the Northeast is Flushing.  To solve this discrepancy I returned to the source of the question, my father, who has spent the better part of 60 years in this exact same area; both living and working.

He was able to recall that prior to Shea Stadium’s construction in 1963; the site was used as a municipal parking lot that was within walking distance of the express 7 train.  The station was entitled “Willets Point Boulevard-Corona.”  Further, after construction of Shea was completed, the exact same station was renamed “Willets Point-Shea Stadium.”  Hmmm, we might be on to something.

My father goes on to explain that at one point prior to Shea Stadium’s completion, the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge, located to the east of Shea Stadium and Willets Point Boulevard, had signs at the middle of the bridge.  The signs while traveling East read “Flushing” and traveling West read “Corona.” 

Corona-Flushing Map

  •  Point (A) shows Juanita National Coffee Shop, whose listed address on is 12711 Willets Point Boulevard, Corona, NY 11368.
  • Point (B) shows Stadium Deli, whose listed address on is 127-01 34th Avenue, Corona, NY 11368.
  • Point (C) shows the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge that used to distinguish the boundary line between Flushing and Corona.
  • Point (D) shows Corona Pizza & Pollo, Inc. whose listed address on is 4021 108th Street, Corona, NY 11368.

60 years ago, the City of New York and Queens Borough distinguished the boundary line of Corona and Flushing on the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge with signs.  The 7 Train stop which services Citi Field was once named “Corona.” At least two businesses located to the East of Citi Field have Corona mailing addresses and zip codes and at least one business to the West of Citi Field has a Corona mailing address and zip code.  For some reason, as it currently stands today, 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue is considered Flushing, but history shows that this was not always the case.

In August of 2010 Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez and his father-in-law were involved in an altercation following a game at Citi Field and the father-in-law was transported to a nearby hospital.  The ambulance company that responded to the call… Yupp, you guessed it; the Corona Volunteer Ambulance Corps. 

The Corona Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Responds To a Call at Citi Field

With this research I now can only wonder if perhaps adopting the Flushing, New York address, as opposed to the apparently correct address in Corona in some way doomed the franchise.  Maybe instead of electing to play in a city that is named after a verb associated with toilets, the team could have embraced Corona as their home.  Or as my father has always said, “the Mets will never be successful until they admit where they really play; Corona.”

Posted in Anthony Cillis, MLB, New York Mets | Tagged Corona, Flushing, MLB, New York Mets | 1 Comment

News from the Banks: Coach Schiano Announces Extensive Position Changes for Spring Football

With the 2011 spring football just around the corner, Coach Schiano in his annual spring address announced several position changes that will be made in advance of next season.  Position changes are typically announced and implemented during the spring in order for the player to have as much practice time possible in their new position.  This way, the player is able to gain valuable practice time both in the spring as well as during the preseason training camp in August.

Below are the changes:

  • Jordan Thomas will switch from running back to cornerback.
  • Jeremy Deering will switch from wide receiver to running back.
  • Joe Martinek will switch from running back to fullback.
  • Aaron Hayward will switch from wide receiver to running back.
  • Marcus Thompson will switch from defensive end/linebacker to fullback.
  • Mason Robinson will switch from wide receiver to cornerback.
  • Jawaun Wynn will switch from wide receiver to safety.
  • Rashad Knight will switch from cornerback to safety.
  • David Rowe will switch from cornerback to safety.
  • Khaseem Greene will switch from safety to weakside linebacker.
  • Manny Abreu will switch from strongside linebacker to defensive end.
  • Steve Beauharnais will switch from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker.
  • Ka’lil Glaud will switch from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker.
  • Anthony LaLota will move from defensive end to defensive tackle/nose tackle.

In describing his main reason for many of the changes, Coach Schiano cited a need to increase the overall team speed, particularly on defense, as a reason why the various changes were made.  Khaseem Greene’s move to linebacker and Manny Abreu’s move to defensive end surely are two moves that will help increase the speed on the field.  Greene in particular will drastically help against the many spread offenses that Rutgers will see during the season.  With regards to the defensive backfield, I believe both David Rowe as well as Rashad Knight’s move to the safety position demonstrates the coaching staff’s faith in Logan Ryan, Marcus Cooper, and redshirt freshman Gareef Glashen.  Furthermore, Jordan Thomas, the team’s leading rusher possesses tremendous speed, which should translate well to the cornerback position.  Finally, I am happy to see that Steve Beauharnais, a natural playmaker, will once again have the opportunity to play in space.  I felt that as a middle linebacker Beauharnais was too often stuck in traffic and not allowed to display his playmaking ability which is predicated upon great quickness.

The switches on the offensive side of the ball would appear to pave the way for heralded recruit Savon Huggins to step in right away and start from Day 1.  I believe Jeremy Deering is a fine player and a tremendous athlete, but I think his frame is too small to take the pounding that a running back typically takes.  On the other hand, I am pleased to see Aaron Hayward receive a shot as a running back.  I always felt that Hayward was not suited to be a college-level wide receiver and instead could be a nice change of pace/3rd down back for the Scarlet Knights.  I am also glad to see that the coaching staff with the arrival of Frank Cignetti will now once again place an emphasis on the fullback position.  Mirroring the two-back system employed by Cignetti during his time at Pitt, both Martinek and Thompson are very talented and should help retool this struggling unit.

Posted in Brett Halpern, College Football, Rutgers | Tagged 2011 Spring Position Changes, Rutgers | Leave a comment

March Madness: The Deliberation Room Bracket Face-Off

Since filling out an NCAA bracket goes hand-in-hand with the actual tournment, we here at The Deliberation Room are going head-to-head in this year’s tournament.  The losing bracket will have to wear a shirt representing the team we each hate the most.  Therefore, if Brett loses, he will be forced to wear a Philadelphia Eagles shirt and sing the Eagles fight song “Fly Eagles Fly,” whereas if Anthony loses he will be forced to wear a New England Patriots shirt and dance like Tom Brady at the Carnival in Rio.  We will post the scores following the completion of each round.  AND NOW, ON TO THE BRACKETS! (Click on each bracket to enlarge)

Anthony's 2011 NCAA Bracket (Click To Enlarge)

Brett's 2011 NCAA Bracket (Click To Enlarge)

Posted in Anthony Cillis, College Basketball | Tagged Brackets, , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite “Non-Athletic” Sporting Events

The NCAA Selection Show is one of my favorite sports moments of the year, even though there is not one single moment of athletic play involved.

Earlier this evening, as I do every year, I tuned into CBS at 6 p.m. eastern time to watch the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show.  Wrapping up what is always an incredibly entertaining week of conference championship basketball, the sporting world is typically chomping at the bits for the tournament to begin to watch more great basketball, and perhaps equally as important, to fill out their brackets. 

Each year I sit at the edge of my seat eagerly anticipating the announcements of the now 68-school field that is to comprise the tournament.  Perhaps even more than the announcement of the #1 seeds, I’ve always enjoyed the satellite feeds of the smaller schools that have won their respective conference tournaments as they await their names to be called in front of practically their entire student body.  There’s always that one great scene in which the small school that won the Northeast Appalachian Valley Conference (yes, I know, that is a made-up conference) is announced as the 16th seed and opening-round matchup against Duke, Kansas, or North Carolina.  Filled with pure elation as they have represented their school proudly and enabled the tiny institution to enjoy a moment in the national spotlight, the team, comprised of incredibly un-athletic and unimposing figures, erupts with joy, completely oblivious to the tall task, and probable slaughtering, that lies ahead of them.  It’s that moment of pure joy from the smallest of gyms that I’ve always appreciated. 

Small schools such as Belmont University (shown above) are typically seen celebrating en masse their announcement as one of the participants in the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.

Conversely, there is always a few feeds that highlight much more somber gatherings of what are typically bigger programs that had undergone fairly mediocre seasons that are praying their names are called as one of the last at-large bids to make the tournament.  During these shots, I’m always impressed with the ability of the coaches to temper their players’ overwhelming grief and frustration at being snubbed the opportunity to compete for a national championship. 

As I was sitting on the couch this year, I got to thinking that I was currently watching one of my favorite sports moments of the year, however, there was not one feat of athleticism taking place.  I then began to think of what are some of my other “non-athletic sports moments” that I enjoy.  I was able to identify four others which I will describe in no particular order. 

NFL Draft 

The NFL Draft is one of my favorite sporting events of the year.

Amidst the chaos frustration and confusion surrounding the NFL labor dispute, the one fortunate that I can point to is that the NFL Draft, perhaps my favorite sporting event of the year will still take place this year.  Held annually during the last weekend of April, the seven-round draft allows each NFL franchise to replenish their roster and offers a wonderful sense of hope and optimism to fans of each team as they look to next season.  While the “next season” aspect of the NFL draft is in doubt, those that know me can attest to the fact that the draft captivates me as it is a time in which those fans that are rabid over both college and professional football are able to for once mesh their experiences and knowledge in assessing the plethora of fine young athletes attempting to make it in the NFL. 

There are always some interesting characters that attend the draft.

The most-recent version of the NFL Draft takes place over the span of three days with the first and second rounds taking place on Thursday and Friday night respectively, with rounds three and seven occurring on Saturday afternoon.  Prior to this recent format, the draft used to take place on Saturdays and Sundays, and for the true “couch gurus” like myself, the 12+ hours of draft coverage was pure bliss.  There is nothing I enjoy more than to gather with my father and close friends as we watch the draft and ponder which position a team should go after and whether a particular player’s skill-set will translate well in the professional ranks. 

Bottom line, the NFL Draft is a thrilling and exhilarating mental exercise and one of the best aspects of sports. 

Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics 

The 2008 opening ceremonies in Beijing culminated in a brilliant firework display for the world to see.

Every two years, countries throughout the world descend upon a particular city to compete in various athletic competitions in the name of sportsmanship and goodwill.  For the host city and to a broader extent the host nation, the opening ceremonies are an opportunity to display the culture and rich traditions cherished by that country.  With the continuing of remarkable technological innovation, the opening ceremonies have become truly grandiose scenes of cinematic and artistic beauty for all to enjoy.  This was most apparent during the awe-inspiring 2008 opening ceremonies held in Beijing, China. 

Inside the "Bird's Nest" in Beijing during the 2008 opening ceremonies.

However, in addition to the marvelous cultural display, I’ve always enjoyed the parade of nations.  Whether it is a somber, yet inspiring moment as a particular war-torn or weather-ravaged nation makes its way through the stadium, or a country’s unique outfit, each country and even each competitor possesses its own unique and fascinating story. 

College Football Awards Ceremony 

Unlike the Heisman Trophy Award which typically only showcases skill-players, the College Football Awards show represents all players and allows for men such as Gabe Carimi (OT from Wisconsin) to showcase their accomplishments.

Though the Heisman Award is the College Football’s most prestigious, the finalists for the award are most often running backs and quarterbacks.  As such, the award show, though showcasing some of the finest players in the entire country, lacks a full display of what football is all about.  As such, I have always enjoyed the College Football Awards Show shown annually on ESPN which involves the awards for each position. 

Typically the award-winners compete for programs that are among the nation’s finest and in the room it is not uncommon for competitors of some of the year’s biggest bowl games, even the national championship game, to be finalists for the same awards.  This has often led to very entertaining tension that the ESPN College Gameday tries to both downplay (perhaps for their own safety) yet hype up in order to create public intrigue. 

Either way, my favorite moments are when a gigantic 6’6” 330 lb. behemoth is announced as winning a particular award (usually the Lombardi, Nagurski, or Rimington), gets up to the stage in his nice suit, and suddenly bursts into tears thanking his “mommy.”  In my eyes, there is not a more honest and wholesome moment in all of sports.

MMA Weigh-Ins (particularly the UFC) 

The tension and animosity exhibited between Anderson Silva (left) and Chael Sonnen (right) during their weigh-in staredown only further added to the enormous hype and fanfare of their middleweight championship match at UFC 117.

Even as a youngster growing up, I would manage to stay up late to catch a lot of the top boxing matches in the late 1980s and 1990s.  I think it is the love of the “big fight” and its accompanying fanfare that has carried over to my enjoyment of mixed martial arts.  As much as I enjoy watching a regional promotion, as their fights are incredibly action-packed, I absolutely love tuning into the weigh-ins of a big fight card for the UFC.  In fact, I will come forward and tell you all that I have managed to watch every weigh-in (either live or replay via internet) of every UFC event since UFC 52 back in April 2005.  Additionally, I have had the opportunity to attend two separate UFC weigh-ins in person:  UFC 101 in Philadelphia and UFC 111 in Newark, NJ. 

First, let me address the obvious issue some of you might have:  yes, I have taken 20 minutes of my time for each of these events to tune into watch guys strip down to their underwear in order to make their respective weight limits and then watch them pose to the crowd.  I assure you first that the enjoyment stems from the interaction between the fighters and nothing beyond that.  Further, there are times when studying the physique of the various fighters will help you come to a conclusion as to which fighter you believe will be victorious the next day.  Whether it is that a fighter that shows up out of shape, too muscular, or looking too depleted attempting to cut the weight, the weigh-ins are a very telling part of the entire pre-fight process. 

Lastly, there is nothing better than an intense staredown between two top fighters in one of the cards main event fights.  The energy that the staredown creates in the arena is palpable and really can get the fans pumped for the next evening’s fights.

Posted in Brett Halpern, Sports and Society | Tagged My favorite non-athletic sporting events | Leave a comment

Say What?!?!? The Best of Sir Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley - Never Afraid To Speak His Mind

Charles Barkley, nicknamed ‘Sir’ Charles and ‘The Round Mound of Rebound’ was the 5th overall selection out of Auburn by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 NBA Draft.  Barkley played 17 seasons in the NBA with the 76ers, Pheonix Suns and Houston Rockets.  He is an NBA Hall of Famer, 2-time Gold Medal winner with the USA Olympic Team, NBA MVP in 1993 and was named to 11 NBA All-Star Teams. 

In addition to his impressive career on the court, Barkley has also made a name for himself with his mouth.  He has never been afraid to speak his mind, which has sometimes gotten him into trouble.  Since retiring from basketball, Barkley has been a regular commentator on TNT’s pre- and post-game broadcasts.  In addition to his normal duties serving as a member of the TNT NBA Broadcasts, with the recent partnering of the Turner Networks and CBS in broadcasting the NCAA Tournament, I figured now would be an appropriate time to present “Sir Charles” in all of his glory!  Enjoy!.

On His Opponents

“I don’t hate anyone, at least not for more than 48 minutes, barring overtime.”

On His Teammates:

“Hey Stanley, you could be a great player if you learned just two words: I’m full.”
- To his 300-plus-pound Houston Rockets teammate Stanley Roberts

On Race:

“I’m just what America needs - another unemployed black man.”
-After retiring from basketball  

Ernie Johnson: “Did they recognize you in South Dakota?”
Charles: “Yes, they did. It was easy because I was the only black person there. When they see me walking down the street they say ‘There he goes again’. And when I come back the next year they say ‘He’s back yawl!’”

“Kenny said it was going to be an all-international night. I want to know which international brother is going to win the slam dunk contest.”
-Following Peja Stojakovic winning the 3-point contest

“They don’t let many black people in the governor’s mansion in Alabama, unless they’re cleaning.”
- After being asked if he had ever been in the governor’s office in Montgomery 

“Damn, must not be any black folks in Australia. You can’t just leave $1 million worth of jewelry lying around the ‘hood.”
- While watching someone in Australia put $1 million worth of rubies on a table

“Hell, there ain’t but 15 black millionaires in the whole country & half of ‘em are right here in this room.”
- On The All-Star Game 

On His Legal Troubles:

Judge: “Your sanctions are community service and a fine, do you have any regrets?”
Charles: “Yeah I regret we weren’t on a higher floor”
- After throwing a guy through a 1st floor window in a bar

On Family

“I had to explain to my daughter why that skank Monica Lewinski has an hour special on HBO this weekend.”

“Every time I think about changing a diaper, I run a little bit harder and a little bit faster to make sure I can afford a nanny until my daughter’s old enough to take care of that herself.”

“Thank goodness. I just hope she doesn’t start before I go in the Hall of Fame. That way, I won’t have to kill anybody before I get inducted.”
-On His 17-year old daughter not dating yet

 On His Retirement:

“I remember sitting down with the Rockets and saying, ‘Yeah. I’m going to retire.’ They said, ‘Well, we’ll give you $9 million.’ And I said, ‘You got a pen on you?’”

On Relationships

“If you go out with a girl and they say she has a great personality, she’s ugly. If they tell you a guy works hard, he can’t play a lick. Same thing.”

On His Weight:

“Both of y’all are to going to hell for that. Y’all are going to hell with a first-class ticket. Is that how you treat your partner? Krispy Kreme might be the greatest invention in the history of civilization when they’re hot. Y’all are cruel man.”
- After broadcast partners Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith were eating a box of hot Krispy Kreme donuts in front of him 

On The Portland Trail Blazers:

“In between arrests they do community service.”

“You never know what team is gonna show up on a given night, but you can bet they will be high.” 

 On Politics

“Well, when I went off to college, the guys I used to hang with were pumping gas and voting Democrat. Today they’re still pumping gas and voting Democrat. Guess the Democrats didn’t do much for them.”

On College:

“When I was recruited at Auburn, they took me to a strip joint. When I saw those titties on Buffy, I knew that Auburn met my academic requirements.”

“All I know is, as long as I led the Southeastern Conference in scoring, my grades would be fine.”

On The Chicago Bulls

“Jerry Krause must have pictures of his boss’s wife having sex with a monkey.”
- On Jerry Krause still being able to keep his job as GM of the Chicago Bulls

On His Time With The Olympic Team: 


Barkley Would Win 2 Oylmpic Gold Medals


“Somebody hits me, I’m going to hit him back. Even if it does look like he hasn’t eaten in a couple weeks. I thought he was going to pull a spear on me.”
- After an Olympic 116-48 victory over Angola, Barkley got into a physical altercation with a member of Angola towards the end of the game

“To get the Canal back.”
- On the goal of the ’92 Olympic Dream Team when playing Panama in the Tournament of the Americas

On Gambling:

“Do I have a gambling problem?” Yeah, I do have a gambling problem but I don’t consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble.”

On Rebounding:

“I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.”

While In The Broadcast Booth:

Ernie Johnson: “Reggie Evans got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.”
Charles Barkley: “Ernie, I don’t know where you get your cookies at but the rest of us don’t get ours there.”
- On Reggie Evans being caught grabbing the crotch of Chris Kaman

“Phone home.” and “Sam Cassell is a good guy, but he’s not going to wind up on the cover of GQ anytime soon.”
- After seeing a picture of Sam Cassell on the screen

“Stevie Wonder could make one of 23 shots.”
- On North Carolina missing 22 of its last 23 shots in losing to Georgetown in the NCAA tournament

“It’s kinda great to see the Celtics doin well again cuz that was so much fun in my day to go to the Boston Garden and they spit at you and throw things at you and talk about your mom. It sounds like dinner at Kenny Smith’s house.”

“We better not be doing the Bulls this year. Man, they suck! Bunch of high school kids with $70 million contracts. Damn! I hate my mother for having me too soon.”

Posted in Anthony Cillis, NBA, Say What?!?!? | Tagged Charles Barkley, | Leave a comment

MMA Corner: BREAKING NEWS - Zuffa, LLC Has Purchased Strikeforce

Zuffa, LLC, the operating entity of the UFC has purchased the UFC's biggest rival, Strikeforce.

Zuffa, LLC, the operating company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has further entrenched itself as the dominant entity in the sport of mixed martial arts as Dana White, the President of the UFC, announced that Zuffa, LLC has purchased the Strikeforce MMA promotion.

Arguably the UFC’s biggest rival, Strikeforce has seen its brand grow steadily from its regional origins in the San Jose/Bay Area to become an internationally recognized promotion.

In an exclusive interview with top MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, Dana White cited the need to continue to expand the talent in his organization, as well as the recognition that Strikeforce was becomming a viable brand as factors leading to the purchase of Strikeforce.  White further confirmed that Strikeforce would continue to operate as a separate entity, and all fighters currently under contract with Strikeforce will continue to fight for the promotion.  Additionally, White explained that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has signed a contract with Zuffa, LLC to remain with Strikeforce in the same capacity.  White praised Coker both in terms of his business acumen and on a personal level, saying that Coker is a good person.  Coker will be an important liason between Zuffa and particularly Dana White, who previously has offered sharp critciism of Showtime, Strikeforce’s main television partner.

At the end of the interview Dana White reiterated that the purchase of Strikeforce will not result in wholesale change repeatedly saying “BUSINESS AS USUAL!”  White explained that the Strikeforce office in San Jose would continue to operate as usual and none of their employees would be laid off.

Posted in Brett Halpern, MMA, Strikeforce, UFC | Tagged LLC purchases Strikeforce, , , , Zuffa | Leave a comment

New York Knicks Need Two Way Players

Occasionally The Deliberation Room will feature articles written by guest contributors.  Today’s article focuses on the New York Knicks and the frustration some feel about their lack of defensive play and is written by Doug Giordano.
by Doug Giordano 

The New York Knicks' New Look

As you all know, the New York Knicks recently were a part of a blockbuster trade that sent perennial all-star Carmelo Anthony and former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to New York.  The trade, the biggest in the history of the NBA, was of immense magnitude and with one fell swoop managed to bring the storied Knickerbockers franchise back into mainstream media consciousness.

Like any other sport, the key to success is to be a well-rounded player or team.  If a team merely focuses on one aspect of the game and is delinquent in its responsibilities of another aspect, the team will not flourish.  Such is unfortunately the case with the Knicks at this current juncture of the 2010-2011 NBA season.  Right now the Knicks mirror the traffic flow of the city, featuring one-way streets heading towards their opponent’s basket.  Unfortunately, their success rests upon becoming two-way players and becoming a defensive-minded team as well.

However, the benefit of the trade, at least in these early stages, can only be seen on the offensive of the ball.  Plainly stated, the now suddenly star-studded core of the New York Knicks are not two-way players.  As a lifelong fan of the game and of the New York Knicks, it is hard for me to grow accustomed to this reckless and purely offensive style of basketball.  Growing up both playing the game and watching my beloved Knicks, I grew to appreciate the hard-nosed, gritty basketball that emanated from the mecca of the game, Madison Square Garden.

Unfortunately, the current version of the team lacks any semblance of defensive fundamentals, lessons I was taught as a young kid.  Some of the most basic tenets of defensive basketball, such as not allowing an opposing team member to get behind you, have been completely forgotten by D’Antoni’s’ Knicks.  When these basic breakdowns occur, it allows for the opposing team to be guaranteed an easy two points via lay-up or dunk.  Yes, that’s right; a professional basketball team with immense talent such as the Knicks is allowing these easy points.  Last Friday Night, I was on hand at the Garden to watch the Knicks take on the putrid Cavaliers.  Time after time I saw Cavaliers get behind Amare for easy layups.  As the anointed leader of this new version of the Knicks, it is imperative that Amare not give up such easy points.  I appreciate Amare’s emotion and believe he truly wants to return the Knicks to glory, I just wish he would both recognize and preach the need to defend, not simply to score.

We New York fans, for generations, have been of the belief that an opponent should be forced to earn every inch when playing against any of our sports teams.  Therefore, it is time for the Knicks roster, particularly there most recent acquisitions to focus on becoming more well-rounded players and play defense in a manner consistent with former greats of the franchise, from Patrick Ewing to Dave DeBusschere.

New York Hopes Amare Can Ignite The Knicks' Defense

The only way this team will thrive is if our new “Big 3” are able to ignite the passions of the rest of the roster to spread like a wild forest fire.  While New York City may be a concrete jungle, Amare, Chauncey and Carmelo need to realize unlike every other sports franchise in the metropolitan area, there is only one basketball team:  the New York Knicks.  Their success, more than any can truly ignite the flames of the entire region.  Hopefully when the fire is put out, they will rebuild the city with two way streets, the same way basketball players are supposed to play:  on both sides of the court!

Posted in Guest Contributor, NBA, New York Knicks | Tagged Doug Giordano, Guest Contributor, , New York Knicks | Leave a comment