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Archive for March, 2009

 

What would you say to cancer, given the chance?

March 17th, 2009

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MACK HOUSE: Life & Basketball in Oakland

March 15th, 2009

TheHighPosts.com has been following McClymonds High School boys basketball for the 2008-09 season. Check out exclusive videos clips as the Warriors defend their CIF state championship. Make sure you check the videos in High Quality b/c that’s how we roll @ TheHighPosts!!

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NBA Financial Doom: 2 related stories and what it means to NBA fans

March 15th, 2009

The economic conditions that are affecting most Americans will (if they haven’t already) affect the NBA and its teams.

There are several teams that have elected to accept the Association’s offer of financial support in order to survive, and many others are sensing the pending economic troubles and are cutting costs at a frantic pace.

Logical trades that would help teams on the court now and in the future have not happened because of the financial burden. One need only to look at the botched Tyson Chandler trade as an example of two teams (the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets) looking at their budget as opposed to putting the best teams possible on the floor.

For years, the league has had a robust bottom line, with grown predicated on corporate sponsorships resulting in advertising and luxury box sales. In most cases, teams have responded by constructing "state of the art" arenas and accommodating big budget companies and marketing opportunities, often at the expense of fans, who were pushed further from the action. Premium seating and front-row seats were sold first to "VIPs" or were priced too high for most fans.

Put simply, much of the expansion of the NBA in the past years was at the expense of the fan. But now that the the growth has become shrinkage, how are teams and the NBA going to respond?

The difference between expected income and the harsh new reality has to be made up somewhere, or situations like the Pacers’ will become more common:

"The Pacers and the Capital Improvement Board struck their current deal 10 years ago, and Early said they are in the early stages of renegotiating. He said the board can’t pay the operating cost because it already faces a $43 million shortfall, and he’s unsure who would.

"’That’s the big question,’ he said. ‘Really, we do not have the funding sources to allow us to be able to do this. We’ve contacted the state, the Legislature…we’re trying to figure out, are there solutions?’"

The Pacers’ response is typical of companies in crisis; looking for loans and/or government bailouts in order to stem the tide while attempting to operate with a "business as usual" attitude seems to be the norm.

But the reality of the situation is that "business as usual" will not do. The times are changing, and the NBA will have to make adjustments immediately in order to survive.

According to the Marketing Vox article linked to above, some startling information about corporate involvement with sports is being discovered:

- Nearly one-third (32 percent) of American consumers are paying "less attention" to corporate sponsorships than they were a year ago.

- The vast majority of those polled would like to see less spending on sports sponsorships by companies experiencing difficulties (62 percent), according to a Performance Research study (via MarketingCharts).

- Consumers think that companies accepting federal bailout money (68 percent), in particular, should spend less on sponsorships, the research found.

- Results indicate that this expectation is in keeping with consumers’ own behaviors, with the majority of respondents saying they are less likely to purchase a ticket for a favorite sporting event (67 percent), purchase a ticket to a favorite performing arts or cultural event (64 percent), or donate money to a favorite cause (55 percent) than they were a year ago.

- Only 13 percent say that increased sponsorship of their favorite sporting event would raise their opinion of corporate America, while 26 percent reported decreased sponsorship would raise their opinion (61 percent say that an increase or decrease would make no difference).

- Twenty percent say that sponsorship of their favorite cultural event should increase to raise their opinion of corporate America, while another 20 say it should decrease.

The decreased spending on sporting events runs slightly antithetical to typical recession-spending models. While guns (up 15 percent, according to the NRA), alcohol (up 10 percent), and pornography have all seen their usual increases (these being popular diversions in economic crisis), people have not been using games as an escape.

Many teams ignored their fan base in exchange for corporate dollars, decreasing access to players except in the most media-staged events. Now the relationship is changing, as teams are starved for the fans’ dollars, and the above numbers suggest that they may not show up to watch games

Further, with the rise of the internet, digital cable, satellite TV, and the access to instant information, it is realistic that fans can watch any game at any time.

So why would they go to the games and pay the price when you can watch games from the comfort of your home for 100 times less money?

The problem with the current NBA marketing is that they have standardized it for all teams, and that has made it boring. The NBA commercials are fun once but quickly become repetitive and droll. Individual team messages are "cookie-cutter" and typically lack imagination.

Here is what I think the NBA fan is going to see more of if the NBA and its teams want to save themselves:

- There will be a greater personal relationship between the players and fans, and this will inevitably lead to a greater emotional connection between fans and the NBA. It is the only way to keep fans coming to the games.

- We are going to see more web-based interaction, such as players on Twitter (ala @the_real_shaq), personal websites, blogs, and perhaps more webcasts. This is a low-cost way to meet fans in a virtual environment, essentially going to where the fans are rather than attempting to bring them to where the teams are.

And that’s a central tenet of marketing: find a need and fill it. Fans want to know their players and they’re online, so why shouldn’t they meet there?

After all, it was the rise of players as individuals and the subjugation of team identity exemplified by free agency that saved the NBA in the 1980′s, so why wouldn’t the same thing happen today? Personal interaction plus new media is the solution.

- I think we are going to see more "outside-the-box" marketing efforts aimed at increasing the interaction between the teams and the fans, with a specific attention to the player-"true fan" relationship. Perhaps not Bill Veick-style, but something that breaks the NBA template. With one club’s success, other teams will follow suit and break the current marketing vortex.

- Possible deregulation could occur so that teams can have stock offerings. Deregulation could lead to individuals as holders (ala the Green Bay Packers of the NFL), which would give the fans a direct voice.

Sure, the Packer comparison is slightly skewed, seeing as how Packer stock owners don’t have a vote; but they do have a voice and regular meetings at which they can hear the state of the organization and interact with management.

Now that teams have to listen to their fan bases, it will be interesting to see what types of interaction arise. It is about time that we, the fans, have a voice, especially after being priced out and seeing management and organizations seemingly purposely angering us (I’m looking at you, L.A. Clippers!).

The relationship has changed and those teams that want to survive will have to turn to the fan or succumb.

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Nellie sticks his foot in his mouth… again.

March 13th, 2009

According to Rotoworld.com:

Crawford

Don Nelson confirmed reports Wednesday that he had a conversation with Jamal Crawford in which he suggested the guard either opt out of his contract or face being traded.

"We did meet. … I’ve always been very open and honest with my players, and I did tell him he probably would either opt out, or we would move him next year," Nelson said. The writing has been on the wall the past couple of weeks that Crawford could be the odd man out in Golden State’s increasingly crowded back court, and this confirms he is not in their long-term plans. Mar. 12 – 10:08 am et
So this is a salary dump, right? It has to be or it makes no sense as it makes the value of Jamal Crawford significantly less. Why would anyone else want to pay ‘full value’ in a trade when they know that the opposing team does not want him? At this point, you are looking to get $.60 on the dollar in any trade AND you have burned any bridge that you might have had with Crawford if you change your mind and want to bring him back.
Just continues the bizzaro-world that is being created in GS. Sad. They are just a few seasons removed from being one of the ‘up-and-coming’ teams in the league. One that needed ‘a piece or two’ to become an elite team in the West. Now… not so much… and with the recent rumors of grumbling by Monta Ellis that he wants out, and the continued ineptitude of the ownership and management this story seems to have more coming. Too bad, the Dub fans deserve better.

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Long Live the Legend of Ray-Lew

March 13th, 2009

I Am Legend: Raymond Lewis

The LA Basketball Legend Lives On Through One Man’s Passion for the Game
Long Live the Legend of Ray-Lew
This is a story about a player and another man’s passion for the game. This discussion is hardly about just any ordinary player.

This is the legend of Raymond Lewis.

There have been many articles written about Raymond Lewis in recent years. This time, TheHighPosts.com chose to speak with the man whose admiration for one player’s game changed his life. Meet Dean Prator, the man largely responsible with bringing the story of Ray-Lew to the masses.

Dean Prator grew up in Los Angeles and has been in awe of Lewis’ hardwood dominance since Prator was in high school at Dominguez High School in Compton. Lewis, meanwhile, was holding court crosstown at Verbum Dei, where he lead the Eagles to a 84-4 record while in high school, winning three consecutive California Interscholastic Federation titles from 1969-1971.

But it wasn’t just in high school where Lewis dominated. In fact, the prep years were just the beginning of the mythical presence Lewis would play in the Southern California basketball scene for years to come. It is this storied reputation that lead Prator to build www.raymondlewis.com, a place where Raymond Lewis’ story and achievements in hoops could draw inspiration for the next generation of ballers.

What is it about Raymond Lewis that lead you to follow his life and career so closely?
Raymond was just ahead of his time. He was local to the LA-area so people here knew about him, but back then we didn’t have ESPN. You really didn’t get the chance to see and hear about these other talents from other places. You hear people say all the time that someone was the best player to never have played in the NBA. Most of them, though, don’t have the backing for those claims. We have newspaper clippings that show just how great Ray’s game was.

I never saw him play a basketball game. We were in high school around the same time, he was a year ahead of me. The thing about Ray is that most of the things that you hear about him are all well-documented. That is the thing about his story–it’s all right there and very real. You don’t see numbers like those. I just felt that Raymond Lewis was too good not to be known. When I Googled his name, a few articles would come up. There was no place that was dedicated to his whole body of work.

When did you start the website and what has been the response that you have received from people, particularly players?
I actually began the website in October 2005.  The response that I have received has been tremendous. I have done hundreds of hours in research and interviews. People tried to put movie deals together on him, but it never worked out. Players like Paul Pierce and Baron Davis were interested in doing documentaries on him, but that’s the thing. There is no video footage of him. So I really decided to create this website because I wanted his story to be told, especially to younger players. They need to know this man. Magic Johnson said to me that he was glad that Raymond’s story was finally being told. I have talked with people like Jerry Tarkanian, Michael Cooper, and Marques Johnson who all had different stories to tell about the greatness of Raymond Lewis. Jerry Tarkanian, who tried to recruit Raymond to play for him when he was coaching at Long Beach State, called Ray the best player he had ever seen. Keep in mind, at that time, Tarkanian was a top-dog coach then. His team at Long Beach State was ranked like number three in the country. Raymond initially committed to play at Long Beach State. Tark was his boy and he probably would have played there if Cal State LA and Bob Miller had not bought Lewis a brand new red Corvette. Once that happened, Lewis ended up playing for Cal State LA.

I have received emails from family members or people who played against him who are now dentists, doctors, and lawyers–all of them attest to just how great of a player and what an impact that he had on the game for that time. Freeman Williams, who played in the NBA for 10 seasons, said that he is the greatest player he had ever seen, even better than Michael Jordan.

So what do you feel was Raymond’s biggest challenge? If he had all of that talent, why didn’t he make it?

I think that it all came down to that contract he had with the 76ers. He got drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers near the end of the first round of the 1973 NBA draft.  He signed what he thought was a guaranteed three-year contract for $450,000. Actually, it was for $190,000. A $25,000 signing bonus, $50,000 for the first season, $55,000 for the second and $60,000 for the third. There were things in the deal that he signed that he wasn’t aware of, like the fact that he wasn’t going to get all of the money his contract was worth immediately. So he gets to camp and is going up against Doug Collins, who was the number one pick for Philadelphia that year. He was just torching Collins, and it became such a big deal because the Philadelphia media started writing that Lewis was killing Collins, the number one guy.

The Philly and New York sportswriters watching the game discovered that Lewis looked better than Collins, the star of the Olympic Games and the club’s and NBA’s number one draft choice who had signed a $200,000 per year contract. In one full-court scrimmage, Lewis reportedly scored 60 points by halftime and coach Gene Shue called off the second half so that the number one draft choice and million-dollar rookie Collins would not be further embarrassed by Lewis. Here is Collins, who was getting $200,000, looking weak against Lewis. After all the publicity, Shue refused to let Doug Collins guard Lewis, and that’s when Raymond decided he wanted to renegotiate his contract. He was like he was insulted because he was killing Collins. It was like he had that Watts mentality of ‘You gotta pay me.’

There are contrasting stories on what really happened. When Philadelphia refused to redo the contract, Lewis reportedly walked out. Lewis, however, had said that Shue told him to sit out a year and mature. Nevertheless, after the alleged walkout, Lewis wasn’t able to get his professional career on track. Most people say he got blackballed. In my opinion, if he would have just played the contract out, his career would have been much different. He didn’t play one minute in the NBA. He then tried to go to and play in the ABA with the Utah Stars, but 76ers officials showed up and threatedned to sue if Lewis went into the game because he was still under contract with them. He tried to get on with other teams, but no one would touch him. At that is about the time when he just started taking out his frustrations on players in pick-up games on playgrounds and in Pro-Am leagues throughout LA. I mean, he was 29 years old an averaged 54 points per game in summer leagues. He went to the Spurs camp and scored 63 and 81 points. Why wouldn’t you want a scorer like that on your team?

I talked to Gene Shue, the coach of the 76ers at that time. He said that as gifted a player as Ray was, there was just something missing with him personality-wise. I think that became evident over the years and hindered him in the long run. But that could never take away from the player that Raymond Lewis was. And that is why I wanted to do the website. I wanted people to learn about this great player and to he was the greatest player, and outside of those circumstances, I felt that people, especially young players, needed to know about his relevance to the game. He was the greatest player and a lot of people would never even know his name.

Dean Prator and Raymond Lewis’ daughter, Kamilah

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TownBiz is co-founder of www.TheHighPosts.com. Follow our twitter @thehighposts

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UCLA Men’s Gym Gets Some Run

March 13th, 2009

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Mack Mashing through NorCals

March 11th, 2009

The mighty Mack House Warriors took to the court Tuesday evening at the NorCals, hosted at Cal State East Bay. This is the next stop on the road to the CIF Finals in Sacramento’s Arco Arena next week.

Tonight, Franklin High School, from Elk Grove, CA, had the defending champs on the ropes before McClymonds pulled away late in the fourth quarter, winning the game 65-53.

Next up will be Newark on Thursday night.

Three games stand between Mack and a repeat-state title and TheHighPosts.com will be there for all of the action!! Make sure you check our exclusive video clips in high quality cuz that’s how we roll @ TheHighPosts!!

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All Eyes On: WCC Championship in Vegas!

March 9th, 2009

Monday night there is a monster match-up that many mainstream fans might overlook. True hoops heads will not let this fly beneath the radar as the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be facing off against the Saint Mary’s Gaels for the WCC Championship.

Gonzaga has won  eight of the last 10 WCC tournament titles, and finished the regular season 14-0 in conference play. Meanwhile, Both teams had the Gaels, namely guard Patrick Mills, are out for some get back against the Zags. Mills, the team’s leading scorer, broke his hand in a loss to the defending conference champs back in January, which resulted in him missing the remainder of the regular season. He just returned to action this past Saturday, getting 12 points in a win over Portland.

So it should be a good old Western shootouton Monday as Mills finally gets revenge against Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s sees if they can stop the Bulldogs reign.

 Nothing better than the drama of basketball in March. We are straight hoops fiends this time of year at TheHighPosts.com!

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Mack House Ready to Defend Cal State Title

March 8th, 2009


The orange and black attack was in full go-mode this past Thursday as Oakland’s McClymonds High School defeated Skyline 73-56 at Laney College to secure its third straight Oakland Section Title.

The mighty Mack Warriors (26-1) also are likely to earn the top seed in the upcoming CIF Northern California playoffs after De La Salle — which handed Mack its only loss earlier this season — was upset by Newark Memorial in the North Coast Section semifinals Wednesday. The Spartans would’ve been a lock for the top seed if they had won the NCS title but are eliminated from reaching NorCals after not reaching the section final.

Seniors Will Cherry, Damon Powell, and Quincy Hill are experienced at post-season play and look to defend their state title along with transfer guard Justin Standley.

Stay tuned to TheHighPosts.com because we will have exclusive interviews and footage as the Mack House makes another run towards the state tourney in Sacramento.

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The High Posts.com Podcast #8 March 5, 2009

March 7th, 2009

In today’sepisode TownBiz and POE talk about the excitement surrounding the NBA and NCAA as both leagues come to the end of their regular seasons and begin looking toward the post-season.

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PAC-10 in Review

March 5th, 2009

TheHighPosts.com recently visited the University of California’s Haas Pavilion, where the Cal Golden Bears hosted the UCLA Bruins in a nationally televised game that held many implications as the PAC-10 quickly approaches. Cal came into the game 16-1 at home and the Bruins needed a win to stay in contention for their fourth-straight PAC-10 title.

Cal controlled the tempo for most of the first half, but behind Darren Collison’s 16 second-half points, the Bruins were able to hold off the Bears late, winning 72-68. More importantly, the Bruins were able to secure sole possession of second place in the PAC-10 and are still in the hunt for a share of the conference title. In order to do that, UCLA must knock off Oregon and Oregon State at Pauley Pavilion next weekend while hoping Washington State knocks off the Huskies. Even still, the Bruins recognize the real: the PAC-10 title is nice, but really, it’s all about the Big Dance in late March.

With that in mind, TheHighPosts has formed a PAC-10 breakdown that gives a quick analysis of where the teams stand as the PAC-10 conference quickly approaches March 11-14.

1. Washington
There is no doubt that the Washington Huskies (23-7, 13-4 conf) have been taking care of business on the hardwood this season. The Huskies did drop two games to Cal this season, as well as to UCLA, but they remain the PAC-10 front runners with a sweep of the Arizona schools this past weekend. It should be an interesting ride for Coach Lorenzo Romar as Selection Sunday nears.

2. UCLA
The Almighty Bruins (22-7, 11-5 conf.)  have played consistent UCLA basketball most of the season, but some key conference losses in February to the Arizona schools as well as the bizarre ending to the Washington State game made it more challenging for the Bruins to claim their fourth-straight conference title. A strong finish in the regular season is all the Bruins need. Their experience should propel them ahead of the rest of the pack moving into the conference tournament.

3. Arizona State
The Sun Devils (21-7, 10-6 conf) have fared well against conference schools, with the exception of key losses Washington and Washington State both times they played the two teams. They have been able to walk away with wins in games against UCLA and Cal, but if ASU hopes to make some noise down the stretch, they are going to have to be able to close games late.

4. Cal
The Cal Bears (21-8, 10-6 conf) on paper are a strong matchup but it seems that something gets lost in translation too often with this team. They have played brilliantly in stretches, but key losses to USC, Oregon State, and Stanford this season have exposed this team’s vulnerabilities. The Bears need a great showing in the PAC-10 conference if they hope of getting a whiff of the Big Dance.

5. Arizona
This year, the Arizona Wildcats (18-11, 8-8 conf) have undergone a complete identity crisis. The Lute Olsen era is clearly over, but where do the Wildcats go from here? That is a question that is still begging to be answered. And with an NCAA investigation now looking overhead, it seems like Arizona’s focus is on making it out of this season without further incident.

6. Washington State
Washington State Cougars (16-13, 8-9 conf) have been an enigma to say the least, particulary in conference play. At times they have looked in need of direction (i.e. losses to USC, Stanford) while lately they have been able to turn the tide, capturing key victories against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. Look for the Cougars to be the x-factor in the PAC-10, a team very capable of knocking off top-seeded opponents.

7. USC
Oh what a difference a year makes. USC (16-12, 7-9 conf) started off conference play rather strong, stringing together early wins against Arizona State, Arizona, Cal and Washington. But then, it seems like the bottom fell out, exposing Coach Tim Floyd. The Trojans have been 1-6 with two games remaining on the schedule. They need to piece something together, and quickly, less suffer a quick exit in the counference tournament.

8. Oregon State
The numbers don’t lie. The Oregeon State Beavers  (13-14, 7-9 conf) have made an improvement under Coach Craig Robinson. They strung together some key victories early on, not to mention that they knocked off Cal last week. They have to finish the regular season on the road at USC and UCLA, so it remains to be seen if they will have anything left in the tank to make any noise in the conference tournament. Key recruits should improve this program in 2009-2010 season.

9. Stanford
It has been a tough debut for first-year coach Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinals (16-11, 5-11 conf). The team was certainly in rebuilding mode this year after losing the Lopez twins. They earned key victories against Cal and Washington State early in PAC-10 play, but clearly they are aiming for just to stand ground in the conference tourney, in hopes of building momentum for next year.

10. Oregon
All the Nike money in the world is not helping the Oregon Ducks (8-20, 2-14 conf.) win basketball games. After consecutive losses in PAC-10 play this season, the Ducks were able to piece something resembling an effective game plan and won their last two games against Stanford and Oregon State. They finish their season against USC and UCLA, and it is very likely they will be one-and-done when the conference tournament starts next week.

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UCLA v CAL, pregame.

March 4th, 2009

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How to be a loser in real life and a winner in the pretend world…

March 4th, 2009

You can finally breathe.  The trading deadline for the NBA has passed.  Your league’s trading deadline is over.  Heck, even Marbury has already signed with the Celtics.  The fantasy basketball season is 3/4ths over and you can finally relax.  All you’ve got to do now is keep an active line up going for your team and you are golden, right?  Wrong!  What follows is a guide to alienating your wife, ignoring your children, and winning your fantasy basketball league.  Out of pure laziness, the guide will be focused on ESPN leagues, but the principles apply to other leagues as well.
During the draft and the first half of the season, the goal is obtain the most valuable players possible, while ignoring your category needs.  Starting at the midway point of the season and through 2/3rds of the season, you want to address the category needs of your team.  Additionally, you want to decide how much beta you want your team to carry for the last third of the season.  Beta is a statistical term that refers to variance.  If your team is winning and projected to finish in first place, you would like to decrease your team’s beta (e.g., trade players who are risky, but have upside like Camby for solid players whose output does not vary much, like Nowitzki).  Alternatively, if your team is not projected to win, you may want to increase your beta by trading solid players for risky players with more upside.  Key to your trades is trying to make sure that you are acquiring players who have something to play for in March and April (like Lebron, Paul, and Nowitzki) and avoiding those players who have nothing to play for in the spring (like Bosh and Butler).
Let’s say that you have followed my advice and you are now at the 75% mark of the season.  At this point, the categories become dominant.  I recommend that you do the following on a daily basis:
1.  Review the Rotoworld news updates each night.  Review the box scores for all of the games before you go to bed.  In particular, look for injuries and the players who take their place.  Care more about minutes and a solidly defined role rather than a hot shooting night by a player.
2.  Review the ESPN’s Daily Dime and Truehoop each morning.  If you are going to do well in fantasy basketball, it is essential that you know the NBA, not just fantasy, extremely well.
3.  Each morning, review the standings for your leagues.  Not only that, but also go through each category (e.g., steals, points, etc) and sort the category so that it is ranked from top to bottom.  This is how you know which categories you need to focus on to win.  Don’t worry about whether you are first or last in a category.  Focus only on those categories in which you are close to your competitors.  Thus, if you are near the bottom in assists, but not close to gaining or losing ground in the category, don’t worry about the category.  In contrast, if you and several other teams are separated by only a few steals in that category, make sure that you are starting players who are going to get you thefts.
4.  Once you know your category needs, you will know the type of players that you need to pick up for your leagues.  Obviously if a solid player becomes available, pick them up right away.  That is a fairly rare event.  Instead, what you want to focus on are the players who are playing well of late.  For ESPN leagues, you find this out by going to the Add Player page and sorting the free agents by PR15.  That will show you who is playing best of late.  The cutoff for a worthwhile player is 3 (that is the value for the 100th most valuable player, generally speaking).  Anyone lower than a 3 is usually not worth picking up.
5.  On a weekly basis, you will want to go to basketballmonster.com .  Set the parameters up so that you get a printout of the top 100 players for the season, past 30 days, and past 15 days.  This way you can be sure that you are continuing to keep the best playing ballers on your team.
6.  Check highposts.com regularly on the off-chance that POE has succeeding into haranguing me into writing another article.
Follow these tips religiously and three things are guaranteed:  1.  Your relationships in the real world will suffer; 2.  You will grow to hate Kaman and Boozer for tying up precious space on your roster; 3.  Your team will finish as high as is possible in your league.
There you have it!  You too can become a winner in the pretend world and a loser in the real world.  Your cheesy ESPN fantasy basketball league champion shirt awaits you!

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The High Posts.com Podcast #7 February 28, 2009

March 3rd, 2009

In today’s episode, TownBiz and POE go on a field trip to watch UCLA v CAL.

Subscribe to our feed on iTunes to get all our future podcasts!

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Are the Rockets Better Without T-Mac?

March 2nd, 2009

The Houston Rockers are 6-1 since Tracy McGrady sidelined himself with microfracture surgery, today downing the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-94. This is hardly the first time they have proven their ability to rock on minus the man coming to be known as T-Slack in the’ Town.

So the question begs to be asked: are the Rockets really better off without McGrady? Is it time for the two parties to just part ways??

You make the call.

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