Monthly Archives: May 2015

Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Rivers

Doc Rivers congratulates his son Austin, as he exits the game. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

First, Happy Mother’s day to all of the Mother’s out there. We all know that without your sacrifices we wouldn’t be here today. But I want to send a special Mother’s Day wish to Mrs. Rivers.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to a lady I’ve never met, and don’t know much about other than she is the wife and mother of Doc and Austin Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers. I’m writing this because I have a mom, who I love dearly, and I’ve seen the angst she has dealt with when things didn’t always go mine or my brother’s way. I’ve seen her anger and hurt when people talked bad about us or tried to stand in the way of our goals. As Austin Rivers was carving up the Houston Rockets on Friday night, ESPN’s Mike Tirico said during a montage of his highlights “Forget Doc’s son, on this Mother’s day weekend, that’s Kris Rivers’ son.” My thought process immediately went from how cool this is for Doc to be on the sideline watching what his son is doing, to, how great this must be for his mother to watch. Kris Rivers’ husband and son have under gone tremendous scrutiny, and unwarranted venomous remarks since Austin was acquired from the Boston Celtics via trade back in January. I don’t know why. Let me stop lying, actually I do know why. 

It’s because Doc, the Clippers President of Basketball Operations, gave an opportunity to his son to continue living a dream that he’s had since he was a child. Austin was born in 1992 towards the end of his father’s 13 year NBA playing career and then closely followed along as he became one of the most regarded coaches in the game today. Naturally, his son wanted to follow in his footsteps, and his dad has the resources to best help him do that. With that comes all the people who think that Austin is only benefiting because of nepotism. Umm, how is that any different from the many CEOs, managers, supervisors at Fortune 500 companies and businesses in industries across the world who have given their children, nieces, nephews, cousins and even their friends children’s opportunities they didn’t deserve?

The only difference is Austin actually deserves this opportunity. You may have forgotten he was a lottery pick—of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012—after only one year at Duke. Think about this for a second. He could have been a senior in college this past season. Let remake this point clear. He could have been a senior playing for a National Championship with Duke just back in March. You may have also forgotten, that he was the top ranked high school player in America when he graduated from Winter Park High (FL) just outside Orlando in 2011.  He won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award, was a McDonald’s All-American and First Team Parade All-American. Then he won Freshman of the Year in the toughest conference in college basketball–according to the pundits–while also earning First Team All-Conference. His resume speaks for itself and solidifies why he was selected 10th overall in his class to play in the NBA.

Now, I know he’s had some bumps in the road since. But, not every one and done prospect comes into the Association completely polished and ready to ascend into the upper echelon right away. So what you’re seeing now from Austin, is him finally figuring out what he can be amongst the world’s best. Hopefully for him, the rest of his career will be more like what we’ve seen in games one and three against the Rockets (17 points and a postseason career high 25 points) and game four against the Spurs (16 points in 17 minutes) in round one.

Photo Courtesy: NBA on TNT

 

But back to Mrs. Rivers. Coach and player have said she has been a “wreck” since Austin became a member of the Clippers. According to Coach Rivers, it was her “blessing” that he needed before acquiring her son. You know why? Because Mama knows, and she had to know this wasn’t going to be received by everyone as the historic, warm and fuzzy story it should be. I can assume she knew the vultures in the media and social media would be lurking to attack her guys. The life of a coaches wife can be difficult. Dealing with fickle fans from day-to-day, constant media scrutiny, their husband’s mood swings with wins and losses, and the countless hours combing through game film, all while they don’t get to have any normal relationship for almost nine months a year. Now you add to that equation your child, your baby boy, is also heavily involved. 

All good mothers are the same; you can say what you want about them, but don’t mess with their family, especially their children or S#*! will get real! This historic situation and the flagrant, insensitive comments have to be draining no matter how strong a person can be. That’s why Austin’s playoffs breakout has to be equally sweet. 

While Doc and Austin won’t admit this coming out party is a big deal to them, it has to be for Mrs. Rivers. On this Mother’s day weekend, you know she can still hear the echoes of the Staples Center crowd chanting her son’s name and giving him a standing ovation when he exited the game Friday night. The vindication she must be feeling right now from seeing her son blossom on the biggest stage has to be the best present she has gotten this year, maybe ever. Doc used his power to revive Austin’s career, that’s a priceless present for a mother to see her child living out their dream. 

No matter what happens to the Clippers moving forward, Austin is shutting up the critics and proving that he belongs in the NBA on his own merits, and that Doc made the right decision trading for him. The rest of you all can keep on hating, while he does what he says his coach and father keeps shouting in his ear “just keep playing.” And, if Austin and the rest of his teammates can keep playing through the calendar flip into June, it could turn out to be a very special Father’s Day too, for Doc. But for now, enjoy your day Mrs. Rivers!


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2015 NFL Rookies Most Likely To’s…

The careers of the class of 2015 is now on the clock. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

The 2015 NFL draft class has taken their photos with the commissioner and received their hats and jerseys. Now it is time for them to begin working towards making a significant contribution to their new team. And, it’s the fans and media types turn to critique or criticize each selection as well as prognosticate their careers. The key for these guys to have a successful career depends on the team they’re drafted to, as much as their own talent and work ethic. Every year some prospects fall well below their projected draft spot into a better situation. See Dan Marino, Randy Moss, Warren Sapp, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to name a few. Predicting the future of a professional athlete is harder than trying to read HTML text. So of course, I took my shot. Here are my 2015 NFL Draft Class’ most likely to’s. (Note: this is not what I think they’ll do in their rookie season, but at some point in their careers.)

Most likely to pass for 4,000 yards ~ Jameis Winston (QB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winston has all the tools of a prototypical NFL quarterback; 6’4″, big arm, above average mobility and played in a pro style system. In Tampa Bay he will have two beast at wide receiver to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who are both 6’5″ like Kelvin Benjamin, his go to target at Florida State the season they won the National Championship.

Most likely to lead the NFL in rushing ~ Todd Gurley (RB) St. Louis Rams. He is an Adrian Peterson clone. At 6’0″ 222 pounds he has Olympic speed having been a track star at the University of Georgia in addition to running for the second most yards in Bulldogs history. He will run over you, then away from you. Head Coach Jeff Fisher is all about tough physical defense complimenting a power running game. He did it for nearly a decade in Houston and Tennessee with former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. That’s the recipe to win In the NFC West.

Most likely to lead the league in receptions/receiving yards ~ Nelson Agholor (WR) Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly’s crew has lost their leading receiver each of the last two seasons (Desean Jackson 2013, Jeremy Macklin 2014). Drafting Agholor with their first round pick was a dire need and a perfect fit. At 6’0″ 198 pounds, the former USC Trojan is built similarly to Macklin and will need to be featured and targeted often in this offense if it has any hopes of making it back to the playoffs. Kelly is familiar with Agholor from recruiting him out of high school, to coaching against him in the PAC-12. Jackson and Macklin weren’t Kelly’s guys, Agholor is and he will get the opportunities to flourish.

Most likely to lead the league in touchdowns ~ Marcus Mariota (QB) Tennessee Titans. Mariota is a dual threat QB and in order for him to be successful in the NFL, he’s going to have to do it with his legs as much as with his arm. I can see Mariota being what RG III showed flashes of in his first season in D.C. For the Titans to be successful, Mariota will have to consistently post 10+ touchdowns on the ground, along with 20-25 in the air.

Most likely to lead the league in interceptions ~ Marcus Peters (CB) Kansas City Chiefs. Draft gurus said he’s the best corner in the draft, but issues with the coaching staff at the University of Washington that caused him to be kicked off the team in his final season are why he was selected number 18 instead of the first defensive back to come off the board. Peters allowed just 38.1 percent of the passes against him to be completed and had 24 passes defended and 8 interceptions in two seasons with the Huskies.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks ~ Bud Dupree (OLB) Pittsburgh Steelers. Dupree has in many draft experts eyes top 10 potential. He is a versatile linebacker who can play many roles in the 3-4 scheme the Black and Gold will run even without longtime Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau. Dupree won’t have the pressure of being “the guy” playing alongside the ageless James Harrison, Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons and the potential of Ryan Shazier (last year’s top pick) and Jarvis Jones. Chris Burke of SI.com says “As a stand-up rusher, has tremendous first-step quickness and closes to the pocket in a hurry. Bends the edge in space quickly enough for blockers to struggle in adjustment.” That’s a Blitzburgh linebacker.

Most likely to lead the league in tackles ~ Eric Kendricks (LB) Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks was a tackling machine in his collegiate career at UCLA (481). The 2014 Butkus and Lott IMPACT award winner can play on all three downs and will have the advantage of playing next to his former college teammate, Anthony Barr. In Minnesota he should be kept clean to get to the ball carrier by DT Shariff Floyd and NT Linval Joseph.

Most likely to lead the league in tackles for loss ~ Leonard Williams (DT) New York Jets. Williams was not only called the safest pick in the draft, but possibly the best player in this class. He is a late bloomer to the game and is still learning just what he can do. He’s a three down player and is well conditioned from playing against uptempo offenses in the Pac-12. With the Jets he’ll benefit from playing for a great defensive minded coach in Todd Bowles and next to Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Gang Green has potentially the best D-Line in football and this kid will be getting single coverage to wreck backfields. Matter of fact, the Jets are the leading candidates to have the league’s best overall defense with the additions of Revis and Cromartie in the secondary. They’ll need it, because there offense may be near the worse unless Geno Smith drastically improves.

Most likely to lead the league in turnovers ~ Jameis Winston (QB) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Baring injury he will start day one. Rookie QBs thrown in the fire historically struggle with the turnover bug. The knock on him during the draft process has been his decision-making on and off the field. On the field, he forced a lot of passes into tight windows, relying on his arm strength—similar to Bears QB Jay Cutler who some have compared him to—and we all know the windows are tighter in the NFL. In his second season at FSU, Winston threw 18 interceptions. He also is loose with the ball in the pocket as he tries to maneuver around similar to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger–who I think is his best case scenario. I’m not saying Winston will be a bust or anything, but when you’re the number one pick it is trial by fire. Ask Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, Peyton and Eli Manning and other quarterbacks who were drafted number one overall. Turnovers are part of the growing pains.

Most likely to be Rookie of The Year ~ Melvin Gordon (RB) San Diego Chargers. Gordon will have the benefit of playing with Pro Bowlers in quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Kennan Allen as well as Malcolm Floyd. That means he won’t see many eight man fronts loading up to stop him like his draft counter part Todd Gurley will face with St. Louis. Gordon will be the game one starter replacing Ryan Matthews who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles. He will also play a huge role in the Chargers passing game, as he showed at Wisconsin he can be an every down back like his draft comparison Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. I still think Gurley is the better back and will have the better career, but the fit for Gordon in San Diego sets him up to have a better start.

Most likely to be a perennial Pro Bowler/All-Pro ~ Andrus Peat (OL) New Orleans Saints. This is a cop-out pick for me. Top rated offensive lineman typically transition very well to the next level. See Jake Long, Joe Thomas, Maurkice Pouncey and the list goes on. The 6’7″ 313 pounder has a much easier road because of his pedigree being the son of a former pro and playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees.

Most likely to fade into obscurity ~ Randy Gregory (OLB) Dallas Cowboys. The NFL is in an era of steering clear of guys with off the field issues. Gregory not only failed a drug test at the combine he knew was coming, but missed interviews or showed up to a few ninety minutes late during the draft process. If he can stay on the field the Cowboys may have something, but Dallas hasn’t been known as an organization that does a good job of keeping troubled guys out of trouble.

Most likely to be the steal of the draft ~ Brett Hundley (QB) Green Bay Packers. The 6’3″ former UCLA Bruin was drafted 147th when the Packers traded up from 166th to select him. He won’t be expected to play for a while, because he will sit behind arguably the best in the game in Aaron Rodgers. But he’s in the best position because obviously GM Ted Thompson coveted him to make such a jump to select him. He’s been compared to journeyman quarterback Jason Campbell, but unlike Campbell, Hundley will most likely have the benefit of learning one system from one coordinator. The best thing for Hundley is he will not only learn from Coach McCarthy, who has experience working with elite quarterbacks, but Rodgers experience on the field and patiently waiting his turn behind another future Hall of Famer.

Late rounder most likely to be a Pro Bowler ~ Michael Bennett (DT) Jacksonville Jaguars. Bennett was selected a lot later than expected (NFL.com projected him in the second round). But, it may have been best for him. He’ll play for Gus Bradley, who has been very successful in the NFL, most notably as an assistant in Seattle and Tampa Bay where he was apart of Monty Kiffin’s staff. From his draft profile via NFL.com; Great burst off snap, coming in low and looking to disrupt. Is always first with his hands. Good arm length for a player his height. Violent, active hands are his calling card. Uses powerful hands to snatch and pull guards off their spot. That’s what you want in a defensive tackle.