Monday, April 30, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Knicks' New Coach

Since Red Holzman is not available for whatever reason, my first choice for the Knicks job will always be Jeff Van Gundy. However, that's not going to happen this time either, so here are my more realistic favorites.

Former Knicks Head Coach and current Clippers assist Mike Woodson would be a great choice. He did a terrific job in Atlanta and during his first go-round with the Knicks. His Hawks improved in each of his six years there. Woodson had far and away the most success of any Knicks coach since Van Gundy left. He was fired because Phil Jackson decided to ruin the franchise and firing Woodson was a good way to go to achieve that aim.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt is another excellent choice. He had a very talented team that didn't like him too much in Cleveland, but his success can't be questioned. He led the Cavs to the Finals and the team was even up 2-1 despite numerous injuries. When he was fired in the middle of the next season, he was in line to coach the East All Stars. His replacement, Ty Lue, did win a championship that year, but it was in spite of himself. He's proved to be incompetent, taking the success that Blatt built and turning into a middling playoff team in the East. Blatt's firing was extremely unfair. This is a guy who has success wherever he goes.

Former Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer would be another good choice. It makes you wonder why the Hawks keep firing good coaches. His Spurs-style offense turned Kyle Korver into an All-Star. He led the Hawks to 60 wins in his second season, but his teams have won fewer games in each of the past three seasons. However, the lack of success is due more to losing talent than bad coaching.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Power Ranking of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on March 26.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 5
3 Vladimir Putin Russia 9
4 Emmanuel Macron France 3
5Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia 4
6 Theresa May United Kingdom 2
7 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Egypt Not Ranked
8 Moon Jae-in South Korea 6
9 Donald Trump United States 7
10 Paul Kagame Rwanda Not Ranked

1.Xi easily keeps his number one spot. In response to Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, China has hit back hard. Xi also holds to key to solving the North Korea crisis and is increasingly taking over the US's role as the dominant power in the world as the Trump administration bungles its way through foreign policy crisis after crisis.

2. Kim has been a masterful diplomat lately. In addition to using the Olympics to show his conciliatory side, he made his first trip outside of North Korea back in March. His visit to China showed that he's not isolated, giving him strength in the proposed upcoming meeting between Kim and Trump.

3. Putin is a miracle worker. Despite a crumbling economy, Putin won the 2018 Russian president election with nearly 77% of the vote. He even had President Trump kissing the ring after the victory. It didn't hurt that he banned lead rival Alexei Navalny from running against him and stuffed the ballot boxes. Putin has managed to invade Ukraine and Georgia and influence elections in the West despite Russia's disintegrating economy. Recently, he has continued to pull NATO member Turkey towards his camp.

4. Macron is still the leader of the Western liberal order, which is good enough for fourth on this list. Along with the UK and the US, France took part in recent missile strikes against Syria after it was shown that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people yet again. Macron took the lead in the endeavor, even making tense calls with Putin and Turkish president Recep Erdogan to inform them of the strikes.

5. MBS continues to reform his country and punch above its weight intentionally against Iran. In recent news, Black Panther is coming to Saudi Arabia!

6. The strikes against Syria were not popular in the UK. With Brexit negotiations not going so well, May falls several spots this time. The memory of leading a coordinated diplomatic response against Russia's assassination of a British double agent has faded.

7. Sisi won last month's election with an unfathomable 97% of the vote. Sisi's main rival even endorsed him! Since the hope of the Arab Spring in 2011 took down the three-decades long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, Sisi has managed to create an even worse dictatorship. That's impressive oppressing!

8. After a successful Olympics, Moon is the adult in the North Korean crisis as Trump and Kim hurl insults at each other.

9. Trump was going to vault up the list after backing tough sanctions against Russia and standing up to the generals in Syria. Instead, he backed down in both instances and started a potentially disastrous trade war with China, so he falls on the list.

10. Rwanda has the highest percentage of women in power and a very low crime rate. Not too bad for a long time dictator who took power in the wake of a horrible genocide.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 NBA Playoff Predictions

First round
1 Toronto over 8 Washington 4-3
7 Milwaukee over 2 Boston 4-2
3 Philadelphia 6 Miami 4-3
4 Cleveland 5 Indiana 4-1

East semis
Tor over Cle 4-3
Phi over Mil 4-2

Tor over Phi 4-0

First round
1 Houston over 8 Minnesota 4-0
2 Golden State over 7 San Antonio 4-0
6 New Orleans over 3 Portland 4-2
4 Oklahoma City over 5 Utah 4-2

West semis
Hou over OKC 4-1
GS over NO 4-0

Hou over GS 4-3

Hou over Tor 4-1

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Top Ten Pound-For-Pound

Here's my pound-for-pound list. I take into account ability and accomplishment. The previous list was posted on December 28, 2017.

1. Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 9 KOs) [1]
2. Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) [2]
3. Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) [3]
4. Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) [5]
5. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs) [Not ranked]
6. Errol Spence (23-0, 20 KOs) [Not ranked]
7. Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) [Not ranked]
8. Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) [7]
9. Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) [8]
10. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs) [9]

Exiting the list:
Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) [4]
Erislandy Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) [6]
Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs( [10]

Alvarez is out for failing a drug test before his rematch with Golovkin. If he comes back clean, he'll be back on the list.

Lara lost a close decision to Jarrett Hurd last Saturday. Hurd's an improving fighter- top 5 in his division- but not near the pound-for-pound top ten at this point.

Santa Cruz fell off because of a numbers game. He faces a tough opponent- Abner Mares- in June, so he'll be back on with a win.

Entering the list:
SSRs win over Estrada in February gave legitimacy to his two victories over Roman Gonzalez last year, which explains his giant leap up the list. Those wins over Gonzalez weren't simply because Chocolatito matched up poorly with SSR or because he had faded. The Estrada win showed SSR is for real.

Spence's two best wins- over Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson- are comparable to Thurman's two best wins- over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Spence stopped both of his opponents while Thurman eked out decision victories. Thurman has been injured and is looking for a tuneup fight while Spence is fighting an undefeated opponent next. I'd also favor Spence in a bout with Thurman.

Mikey Garcia doesn't have any "great" wins, but he has a litany of good ones. His victory over Sergey Lipinets in March was better than anything the fighters just below him have done recently.

What to Watch for:
Cruiserweight Olexandr Usyk faces Murat Gassiev in May. The winner could crack the top ten pound-for-pound.

Lomachenko moves up in weight to face the talented 135 pounder Jorge Linares, whose downfall is he cuts easily.

Adonis Stevenson faces his toughest opponent in a while: Badou Jack in May.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

50 Years Since the Death of King

Martin Luther King Jr. was killed fifty years ago today. He is remembered as an advocate for nonviolence, for envisioning a world in which race was not the determining factor in one's fate. Yet, behind the qualities most often attributed to Dr. King- peace, hope, and equality- there were other words with which he concerned himself.

An overriding theme of King's life was his struggle for justice. He challenged unjust laws by enduring jail time and beatings.

Another theme is fear- a fear common among black people even today; his house was bombed with his children inside. Another is frustration- witnessing so many so-called well-meaning people remain silent.

He devoted his career to fighting poverty, actively opposing violence, and inspiring and bringing  those who are down and out.

King's words shouldn't be reduced to simplicity. They should be studied in depth by all well-meaning people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Men's College Basketball Final Top 25 for 2018

Here are the final rankings based on performance int he tournament:

1. Villanova
2. Michigan
3. Kansas
4. Loyola Chicago
5. Duke
6. Texas Tech
7. Florida State
8. Kansas State
9. Purdue
10. Gonzaga
11. West Virginia
12. Kentucky
13. Clemson
14. Nevada
15. Texas A&M
16. Syracuse
17. Xavier
18. Cincinnati
19. UNC
20. Michigan State
21. Tennessee
22. Auburn
23. Ohio State
24. Houston
25. Florida