White Sox Get a Steal at Third with Youkilis

Welcome to the South Side Kevin Youkilis! The White Sox made some moves over the weekend to fill their devastating void at third base and ended up nabbing a stud from the Boston Red Sox – it feels like we literally burglarized Fenway Park.

Let’s take ourselves back to April of this year when no one expected the Sox to do anything with their old dogs and struggling bats. Who would have guessed that on June 24 the White Sox would have acquired Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox for Brent Lillibridge, Zach Stewart, a big wad of cash ($5.6 million to pay the rest of Youkilis’ contract for 2012) and be a contender to take the AL Central division? Oh yea, no one did.

The White Sox traded a utility man batting .175 and a pitcher who was recently sent to the minors in return for a bucket load of money plus a guy who is a Boston legend  and an actual major-league third baseman. WINNING!

Youkilis will take over third base from Orlando Hudson who hasn’t been doing much of anything since he signed with the White Sox last month (he’s generally a second baseman). Like Paul Konerko said, “There is no way we are not a better team with Kevin Youkilis. He is just too good of a player and has been through all the wars and is still relatively a young guy (he’s 33). We just have to keep him on the field. If that is the case, it could be one of the bigger steals of the season.”

Some critics have mentioned that White Sox GM Kenny Williams has made trades for big names in the past, but it has been when they didn’t have any fire left. Although Youkilis isn’t having his best year, Williams believes he’s a “man on a mission” after speaking with him on the phone. I give Kenny props. The Sox don’t have anything to lose, even if the trade is a wash, they’re not any worse off than they were June 23rd.

I am excited to see what Youkilis can bring to the table, but definitely sad to see Lillibridge go. He was such a versatile player, but any sane person would have made the same trade.

James Keeps His Promise and Brings a Title to Miami

Well, it finally happened, LeBron James has won his first NBA Championship and led the Miami Heat to their second title. The Heat destroyed the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in Game 5. Despite my extreme dislike for “Bron Bron” as a person, as a player he gave a truly admirable playoff performance – he was unstoppable. James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, a triple-double in his final playoff appearance. As he took his talents to the bench with 3:01 remaining, the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena chanted “MVP.” He was undoubtedly the unanimous candidate for playoff MVP.

He told ESPN, “This is a dream come true.”  Yes, that is unless you live in Cleveland or in one of the many other pockets of “LeBron Hate.”

Miami is the NBA’s 2012 Champs. LeBron is MVP. The most controversial and tacky (that ESPN special still makes my skin crawl) career move in NBA history has been vindicated.

After last year’s playoff loss, LeBron went home and didn’t come out for weeks. I honestly think it was a time for some self-reflection for the talented but ever cocky forward. And then he did what he needed to do, he worked on his identity as a player. “Last year I played like I had something to prove,” he said. “I played with a lot of hate. That’s not the way I play. I play with a lot of love.” I think it’s time the rest of us let go of the hate as well, because honestly it’s just bad karma.

I wanted the Thunder to win, mainly because I love watching Kevin Durant and his lanky arms dunk like a maniac and I think Oklahoma City would cherish a title. Miami is a narcissistic paradise that doesn’t need the ego boost, but I bet they sure knew how to throw a sweet after party. I think we’re going to see quite a few Thunder-Heat match-ups  in the finals for the next few years because neither team is lacking any talent.

The one criticism I’d like to throw out there is about the championship t-shirts. I thought Miami was a stylish trend-setting city for fashion? Those tees are NASTY – and not in a good way. I know you can’t do much with the logo, but the retro red horizontal stripes in the background are awfully ugly. Adidas you can do better than that.

Beard Alert!

Whoa whoa whoa! James Harden, the OKC Thunder’s Sixth Man of the Year, is only 22-years-old. You have got to be kidding me! How does one grow such an impressive beard at only 22 years of age? This takes his beard growing abilities to an all new level.

The beard is not a new facial accessory for Harden, as you can see above, he’s been rocking a full beard since his days as an ASU Sun Devil in 2009.

Many Thunder fans have jumped on the bearded bandwagon too! Despite his intimidating facial hair, Harden has been like a lost puppy in the NBA Finals – no where to be found. The Thunder’s bearded warrior will have to pick up the scoring-slack, otherwise the Thunder won’t have a chance to bring Game 6 back to Oklahoma City. Make Miami fear the beard Harden!

Heat Take Game 4 in the Finals; Thunder Need to Rally

It pains me to say this, but the Miami Heat are one game away from clinching the NBA Championship title. They lead the series 3-1 after they topped the OKC Thunder 104-98 in Game 4 and with the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals they have another home game for Game 5, all the odds are in their favor.

Here are some memorable moments from Game 4: 

  1. This little lady, Julia Dale, sang the National Anthem at last night’s game and man does she have some pipes for an 11-year-old. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t Julia’s first rodeo, she sang the anthem during the 2011 NBA Finals as well and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
  2. In general, people don’t like the Heat because of their attitudes and diva-like habits. Dwyane Wade embraced stereotypical Heat behavior when he “injured” his back on a nicely braced fall, hobbled off the court holding his back, and was back in the game bouncing around within seconds. FAKER. Wade finished with 25 points on 19 shots, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks.
  3. The West’s favorite fashion forward point guard has a brag and boo for Game 4. Russell Westbrook’s explosive 43-point performance in Game 4 ranks up there as one of the best in recent NBA Finals history (brag). Unfortunately, I think the majority of fans will remember his lapse of awareness in the finals seconds that cost the Thunder a chance to tie the game and sealed the deal for Miami (boo). Since 1985, only three players have scored more points in the finals and the list includes: Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal. That’s an elite bunch if you ask me.
  4. King James had a king cramp in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Why was Bron Bron so dehydrated? Can’t handle the Heat? Or was he out at the clubs partying too hard? Regardless, watching Lebron sit on his little blue mat to stretch at the end of the game gave me a chuckle. James led Miami with 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
  5. The Heat’s Mario Chalmers had one of the best games of his career; coming up big when it mattered most. Chalmers had a post-season high scoring19 of his 25 points in the second half, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter when Lebron was struggling with his man cramps.

It’s not very likely that the Thunder will come back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to claim the crown, but hopefully they put up a decent fight in Game 5. I’d like to see at least one more game in Oklahoma City before this series is over. Make’em work!

Bye Bye Berto Center

It looks like the Chicago Bulls will be making some moves, and I mean literally, when it comes to their Berto Center practice facility. The Bulls announced Wednesday they will be relocating their practice space to downtown Chicago.

The Berto Center, located in Deerfield, is named after Sheri L. Berto, who was Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s long-time assistant and a favorite among everyone in the organization. It has been the Bulls’ hub for team practices, gameday shootarounds and summer workouts since 1992. It also houses the Bulls’ coaching and basketball operations staff offices. However, the facility is 25 miles north of the United Center. You may think 25 miles isn’t too tough of a commute, but in Chicago traffic, 25 miles can take you two hours depending on the day. Trucking it out to Deerfield and back to Chicago for mandatory game-day shoot-arounds isn’t the most convenient, more like BRUTAL.

“We have been happy at the Berto for many years,” said Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. He went on to say the time has come for the Bulls to take a different strategic business approach and decrease the physical distance between their two main facilities.

The Bulls don’t have a timetable in mind for their move, but they have plenty of shopping options in the city. They plan on selling the Berto Center once they find their ideal facility.

As a commuter, I can’t blame them for wanting to eliminate unnecessary time spent on 90/94.

Top Reasons to Tune into the NBA Finals

After months of playoff games, only the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have survived to compete in the final battle to claim the 2012 NBA Championship title. Heat versus Thunder is very atmospheric. If you’re a diehard Chicago fan, the Thunder and Heat facing-off in the finals may not tickle your fancy, but here are some reasons to tune in:

The OKC Thunder and Miami Heat are one sexy matchup. Easily two of the most athletic teams in the NBA, this series will be an amazing display of basketball. The beasts of the East – Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – are taking on the best of the West – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. The Heat are looking for redemption after blowing it in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks and the Thunder are young and eager to get their hands on the Championship trophy.

The “King” Lebron James. We love to hate “Bron Bron”, but he is the reigning MVP for a reason – he’s got game ladies, on the basketball court of course. Even if he makes your blood boil, it’s worth tuning in to cheer on the Thunder and keep King James from getting his paws on a Championship ring.

Kevin Durant’s Seamless Swagger. Durant is playing for his first NBA title at age 23 and just makes the game look so easy. If you’ve ever heard anything about fantasy basketball, you know Durant is a hot commodity because he is the top scorer in the NBA. The Durant-James matchup is perfection in the eyes of any basketball fan. Let the best player win.

The Bearded Warrior. James Harden has quite possibly the most impressive beard the NBA has ever seen. It doesn’t hurt that this sweet-shooting lefty can score some serious points from downtown or take it straight to the hoop. The Miami Heat should fear the beard because Harden could easily be the difference maker in this star studded matchup.

Fashion Forward Showdown. The duo of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade push the fashion limits in the East, but Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are demonstrating their fashion swagger in the West. Prepare yourself for some crazy fake-frames, some outrageously bright colors, and possibly something better than a Teddy Bear button up from Westbrook. If nothing else, you could be thoroughly entertained by the pre and post game ensembles.

What else is on TV? Other than the bachelorette on Monday nights, the summer TV lineup is a little lame, so why not watch some insanely ripped men run around the basketball court? If you’re a sports junkie, it’s still the best option since the LA Kings just won the Stanley Cup, baseball is too early to invest in just yet and football doesn’t start for a few more months.

What’s next: The madness deemed the NBA finals! Check out the schedule below, this isn’t basketball you’ll want to miss!

2012 NBA Finals Series Schedule (courtesy of NBA.com):

Game 1 – In OKC – Tuesday, June 12, 8:00 PM CT, ABC

Game 2 – In OKC -Thursday, June 14, 8:00 PM CT, ABC

Game 3 – In Miami – Sunday, June 17, 7:00 PM CT, ABC

Game 4 – In Miami – Tuesday, June 19, 8:00 PM CT, ABC

*Game 5 – In Miami – Thursday, June 21, 8:00 PM CT, ABC

*Game 6 – In OKC – Sunday, June 24, 7:00 PM CT, ABC

*Game 7 – In OKC – Tuesday, June 26, 8:00 PM CT, ABC

*if necessary