Edition 12.30.13

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NBA

Injury woes continue in the NBA. This past week, Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook had a third surgery on the same knee that troubled him since last year’s playoffs. Hopefully, Westbrook will be back by the February All-Star break. The Atlanta Hawks also lost forward Al Horford to a torn pectoral muscle that will unfortunately leave him out indefinitely. Finally, New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez will have surgery on a broken foot that will keep him out the rest of the season.

After being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, Andrew Bynum has been placed on paid leave from the Cleveland Cavaliers indefinitely. Will he be traded or return to the team? That remains a good question.

Closing out 2013 and roughly the first trimester of the NBA season, the same teams remain standouts. In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers hold the top spot followed by the Miami Heat. Both teams remain head and shoulders above the rest. In the Western Conference, the race for the top is much closer. The Oklahoma City Thunder remains on top followed by the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Look for things to get even more interesting in 2014.

NFL

Talk about a great last weekend in the NFL. On the NFC side, the Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South and to claim a first round bye as the overall #2 seed in the NFC playoffs. In another great week 17 game, a healthy Aaron Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone injury and led the Green Bay Packers to a key victory against the Chicago Bears to win the NFC North title.  And to round up news in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan got fired.

On the AFC side, the Denver Broncos not only clinched the overall #1 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the Oakland Raiders, but Peyton Manning set a couple of huge single season records in NFL history. He finished the season with a record 5,477 passing yards and a record 55 touchdowns. Just another day…

It’s go time. The NFL playoffs are finally here. On the NFC side, the #1 Seattle Seahawks and the #2 Carolina Panthers will have a first round bye until the NFC Divisional Round on January 11th/12th. On the AFC side, the #1 Denver Broncos and the #2 New England Patriots will have a first bye until the AFC Divisional Round on January 11th/12th. This is how the first round matchups shake out:

AFC Wild-card Round (January 4th/5th)

  • #5 Kansas City Chiefs at #4 Indianapolis Colts (January 4th 4:35pm)
  • #6 San Diego Chargers at #3 Cincinnati Bengals (January 5th 1:05pm)

NFC Wild-card Round (January 4th/5th):

  • #5 San Francisco 49ers at #4 Green Bay Packers (January 4th 8:10pm)
  • #6 New Orleans Saints at #3 Philadelphia Eagles (January 5th 4:40pm)

COLLEGE SPORTS

Bowl game season continues this week a number of great games. Close out 2013 with the Chick-fil-A Bowl, where #24 Duke takes on Johnny Manziel and #21 Texas A&M on New Years Eve. This could be Johnny Football’s last college game, should he go pro after the season, so stay tuned. 2014 then kicks off with #5 Stanford versus #4Michigan State in the Rose Bowl and #15 UCF versus #6 Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1st. On January 2nd #11 Oklahoma takes on #3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and on January 3rd, #13 Oklahoma State takes on #8 Missouri in the Cotton Bowl and #7 Ohio State takes on #12 Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

College Football season will officially come to a close on Monday, January 6th when #1 Florida State faces off with the #2 Auburn in the BCS National Championship game. This one is for all the marbles.

After a quiet week for college hoops, #18 Kentucky beat rival #6 Louisville at home in Lexington on Saturday and in the battle of unbeaten teams, #2 Syracuse defeated #8 Villanova at the Carrier Dome. Look for a low key last week of 2013, as season heats up and teams gear up for conference play in the New Year.

JUST FOR FUN

NBA Takes Tacky Christmas Sweater Partying to the Next Level
Laugh out loud to these hilarious tweets about the bizarre Christmas Day NBA game jerseys 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Everyone Contributes to the Big “W”
Coach K makes sure to give every player credit for the Blue Devils’ win against UCLA
Although the post-game buzz focused on Jabari Parker, Krzyzewski praised his whole starting line-up and his two seniors for their performance

You Never Forget Your First Time
Some things (like your country, your team… and hockey) are worth fighting for 
The rivalry between USA and Canada women’s hockey is deep-rooted, and every player remembers their first USA-Canada clash

SPOTLIGHT ON THE POWER OF SPORTS FOR SOCIETAL CHANGE

UNICEF

Do you know that sports play a key part in UNICEF’s work?  Not only does UNICEF leverage the power of sports celebrities to bring attention to vital issues, but its Sport for Development (S4D) is a vehicle for addressing UNICEF’s millennium priorities.  S4D focuses on Sport AND: young child survival and development; quality education; gender equality; HIV/AIDS; child protection; disability; adolescent development and participation; and conflict, post-conflict and emergencies.

Edition 12.16.13

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NBA

After a struggling week for the LA Lakers, they broke a three game losing streak and beat the Charlotte BobcatsKobe Bryant finished the game with 21 points in one of his strongest performances since returning to the team.

The Boston Celtics continue their surprisingly strong start to the NBA season and currently lead the Atlantic Division. Even better news came from Coach Brad Stevens this week, who announced that star point guard Rajon Rondo would likely be back on the court by early 2014. Rondo has been recovering from a torn ACL injury from last season.

The Portland Trailblazers have taken the lead in the west. After an impressive performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, a win where they dropped 21 3-pointers, the Trailblazers sit atop of the Western Conference Standings.

On the Eastern Conference side, the Indiana Pacers not only remain on top of the standings, but also have the best record in the entire league. After beating the Miami Heat this past week at home, look for a great rematch this week when the Pacers travel to Miami on Wednesday.

NFL 

Drama continues to run strong in the nation’s capital. Coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins announced earlier this week that Kirk Cousins would be starting in place of Robert Griffin III in their game against the Atlanta Falcons.  They lost the game on Sunday.  Expect more drama in upcoming weeks…

A lot can change in a week. After two dominating performances in week 14, both the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos lost in week 15. Denver fell on Thursday night to the San Diego Chargers while the Pats lost to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Both look to bounce back next week when the Broncos face theHouston Texans and the Patriots face the Baltimore Ravens.

Speaking of the Baltimore Ravens. They face the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. Coming off three straight wins, the Ravens look to continue their winning streak all the way to the playoffs.

COLLEGE SPORTS

Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles won the top award in college football, the Heisman Trophy, this Saturday. The star quarterback, who has faced quite a bit of controversy lately, won in a landslide and becomes the second straight freshman to win the award. He looks to lead his top ranked team to a national championship when they face the Auburn Tigers on January 6th.

The UNC Tar Heels look like they might have found themselves. After a confusing start to the season that included big wins against strong teams and bad losses against weak teams, the Tar Heels looked very impressive in a win against the Kentucky Wildcats at home. Will this consistency last? That’s the key question for this young team.

UT-Austin football Coach Mack Brown resigned as head coach of the program after holding the position for 16 years. No new head coach has been named just yet, but it won’t be Nick Saban. He signed an extension to remain as the head coach at University of Alabama on Friday.

JUST FOR FUN

Best Sports Photos of 2013, courtesy of Buzzfeed.
This 43-photo list covers every single emotion any athlete or fan has ever felt

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Big Bird Takes on the 2014 Olympics
Sesame Street partners with the United States Olympic Committee
Sport and Sesame Street share ideals such as healthy habits and sportsmanship and are looking to spread their message together

Let’s Hear it for the Ladies!
espnW’s 10 female athletes who made the biggest impact in 2013
Read their stories to find out more about how these inspirational women influenced change

Faith + a love for basketball = college basketball’s most versatile player
Jabari Parker, a student both on and off the court
Duke’s Jabari Parker attributes his success to watching great players and staying true to his family

FRIENDS WE LOVE WHO WILL MAKE YOU LOVE SPORTS MORE

Alison Levine, an explorer who has accomplished the Adventure Grand Slam (scaling the highest peak on every continent and skiing to both the North Pole and the South Pole) shares leadership lessons in her new book, “On the Edge. Her WSJ interview here

Edition 12.8.13

SPECIAL LOOK

In remembrance of Nelson Mandela and the profound impact that he had on the world, we share this essay on how Mandela saw the power of sports in peace building and this collection of images that connects him and sports.

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NBA

Sunday night marked the return of Kobe Bryant to the NBA. He suited up for the LA Lakers for the first time this season in a game against the Toronto Raptors. As if this wouldn’t have been enough for the headlines, the Raptors made quite a bit of news themselves by sending star player Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in a 7 player trade, to be finalized Monday.

The struggles for the New York Knicks continue. Despite defeating the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic this past week, the Knicks lost by 41 to the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Next up, Carmelo Anthony’steam will face another struggling eastern conference team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat remain the teams to beat in the weak eastern conference while the Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder lead the way in a loaded western conference. Time will tell if these are the teams to beat going forward into the new year.

NFL

Life is good for Peyton Manning and the city of Denver. The Broncos defeated the Tennessee Titans in an easy victory that included a NFL record 64-yard field goal by Denver kicker Matt Prater.

Oh Brady. The New England Patriots beat the Cleveland Browns in a comeback win at the end of the 4th quarter. Star quarterback Tom Brady led the Pats comeback that will keep them in the hunt for a top seed in the AFC playoffs. The only bad news, Pats fear tight end Rob Gronkowski’s injured knee is a torn ACL.

On the NFC side, the San Francisco 49ers weren’t going to let the Seattle Seahawks secure the division title on their watch. The Niners beat the Seahawks in a close 19-17 victory on their home turf. Looking ahead, Monday Night Football will feature traditional NFL franchises the Chicago Bears against the Dallas Cowboys. 

COLLEGE SPORTS

Florida State ended Duke’s magical ride with a dominating 45-7 victory in the ACC College Football Championship. Florida State will go on to play Auburn in the BCS National Championship, after their defeat over Missouri in the SEC College Football Championship. The BCS title game will take place on January 6, 2014.

Ohio State will no longer get its shot at the championship and will now play in the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes lost to the Michigan State Spartans, who were awarded with a trip to Pasadena to take on Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

Tough week for college basketball’s traditional powerhouses as Kansas lost to Colorado and Kentucky fell to Baylor. The ACC Big Ten challenge also concluded this past week with key victories for Duke over Michigan and UNC in a surprising win over Michigan State.

FUN

There’s no faux pas worse than helmet hair in the NFL

True life: I’m a real animal mascot of the NCAA

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE 

Work Hard, Play Harder
Ohio State marching band steals the spotlight
Check out the Ohio State University marching band’s halftime show, “Salute to Gettysburg”

I Get by With a Little Help from My Friends
Michael Beasley’s Miami Heat teammates hold him accountable
Beasley came home to his family at Miami and doubled his player efficiency

Are you the Master of Assists?
State Farm’s Chris Paul commercials highlight the strength of the assist
The serial narrative of sports play out in these State Farm commercials

Who runs the world? Girls!
Alyssa Milano hated only seeing pink fan-gear for women
So, she built a team-color-appropriate fashion empire for the female sports fans

Edition 12.1.13

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NBA

The Indiana Pacers are playing with something to prove. At 16-1, they currently have the best record in the league and are looking like a legitimate challenger to the champion Miami Heat. As for the rest of the eastern conference, no one else has a winning record on their resume.

It’s time for your weekly Mamba watch update. That’s right, LA’s very own Kobe Bryant is likely to play this Friday for the Lakers. This would mark the first time Kobe has played since an ruptured Achilles injury ended his season last spring. The star recently signed an $48.5 million two year extension just this past week.

Injuries continue to dominate this NBA season. Both JJ Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans fractured their hands this weekend. Hopefully, neither player will be out for more than a couple of months

NFL

It appears that Peyton Manning has done it again. The Denver Broncos big win over the Kansas City Chiefs assured them control in the AFC West. Peyton’s old team the Indianapolis Colts also had a key victory today over the Tennessee Titans, extending their lead in the AFC South.

The Carolina Panthers keep on winning. After today’s defeat over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they look forward to a key match-up against the New Orleans Saints next week. This time they’re playing for more than just a W, this victory will largely impact who wins the division and gets a first round bye.

Before the New Orleans Saints can get to week 14, they face the league’s top team, the Seattle Seahawks in a Monday Night Football showdown this week.

COLLEGE SPORTS

What a weekend of consequences for college football. The Iron Bowl featured a spectacular ending with Auburn’s Chris Davis returning a missed field goal by Alabama for a touchdown win with 1 second left. Ohio State beat Michigan in dramatic fashion after a failed 2 point conversion. And Duke beat UNC under the great coaching of coach of the year candidate David Cutcliffe.

The BCS Standings for college football were also considerably altered by this weekend results. Florida State is your new top ranked team, followed by Ohio State, Auburn and Alabama.

It may be football season but college basketball gave us a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Villanova upset Kansas, and would then go on to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. Arizona beat Duke for the NIT Preseason Tip-Off title. And Memphis defeated Oklahoma State in their second meeting this year for the Old Spice Classic title. This week we look forward to the Big Ten – ACC Challenge featuring key match-ups of Duke vs. Michigan and UNC vs. Michigan State.

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

The Kids are Keeping Him Young
Coach K succeeds through acknowledging his vulnerabilities
Coach K is showing the world his softer side, and the world is loving it

Teammates Embrace Ritual Together
Miami Heat players push each other to achieve in pre-game shooting practice
The only thing better than sticking with your prep routine is doing it with your friends

Breaking Down the Good Ol’ Boys Club
Seeking female applicants for coaching positions
If the question is not, Can women do it?, it must be, Why aren’t they doing it?