Six Sport Wishes for 2011

    2010 is practiacally over, and here are six wishes we (I mean me actually, the rest of the gang are probably hoping for other things) are hoping for in the world of Sports next year.

    LeBron Win a Title

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    It’s not like 2010-2011 is LeBron’s last chance of winning the NBA title. He’s only 25, and there have been plenty of NBA superstars who had to wait quite a while for their first title. Still, it’d be something special if LeBron James gets his first NBA title this season. All the criticism about his move to Miami and “quitting” on Cleveland, the “Decision” debacle, the backlash, the hate. People went overboard. American sports don’t follow the same rules as the rest of the world views its own pass times.

    Professional sports are a business in North America, first of all, ahead of everything else. Sports in the rest of the world have a business side, but almost everyone lose money when owning a soccer club and especially basketball teams. Just look at Barcelona, the most trendy team in the world today. Rivalries in the United States, be it Habs – Maple Leafs, Red Sox – Yankees or Lakers – Celtics, filled with tradition and hatred don’t mean to fans and people as much as almost every derby match in every country in Europe, Africa and South America. Maybe I’m generalizing, but in most cases, that’s the truth.

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    So here’s my problem with the backlash against LeBron – The league created certain rules and LeBron played by the rules. Loyalty? The way the leagues work, with players coming from colleges and high schools from all around the nation to teams that usually dont’ have anything to do with where they grew up at and whoever they cheered for as kids doesn’t encourage any born-loyalty. LeBron’s case is a bit different, because he is an Ohio kid, born and raised, but he didn’t leave for money. The NBA makes it possible for you to make pretty much the same amount, salary wise, anywhere you play. He left for titles and playing with a couple of guys he really likes. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    As for the title? The Heat aren’t the best team in the league but they’re playing very good basketball right now, clicking both on D and offensively. If Mike Miller gets back from his injury with his shooting prowess in good condition and slips in well into the rotation, I think the Heat will have what it takes to go all the way. I would like to see James win the title, finally, after I was pretty certain he’d win it the last two seasons. I think winning one as a so called “villain” might make it much more enjoyable for him as well.

    Roger Federer Win Another Grand Slam and Beat Nadal While Doing it

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    I don’t know when it happened, that I made the decision to go with camp “Fed” and wear the ‘F’ hat and pick the Swiss master in his battle with the Spaniard who has developed from a raging bull who dominated the clay courts to the best player in the world when he’s not injured who pretty much has every weapon possible in his tennis arsenal. Nadal, winning three Slams in 2010 should win the ‘Athlete of the year’ award for 2010 in those pundits who make such selections. Remember, he did it after going nearly 18 months without a grand slam title. He came back faster and better, dominating all year round on every type of court.

    Federer had a rough 2010. It started brilliantly with his 16th grand slam title, beating Andy Murray in Melbourne. Then came a rough patch, maybe the worst of his career. He didn’t make it into the semi final of the Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the first time since 2004 that he missed out on a slam semi final. Hiring Paul Annacone as his new coach seemed to change everything, and Federer finished the year very strong, winning four tournaments and somehow blew a US Open Semi Final match against Djokovic, losing in straight sets.

    That was the build up, but that doesn’t explain why I’m with Fed. I guess like most fans – he seems, when playing his game, like what everyone who plays tennis should aspire to be. Perfect, seemingly effortless tennis, with pinpoint accuracy and between all the grace and variety of clever shots comes a powerful serve or an amazing forehand shot. Pure class. With Nadal, who if he remains healthy for the next few years might become the new “greatest of all time’, it’s pretty much pure, brute, never ending tour de force. He pummels his opponents into submission. He’s had the best of Federer usually (14-8 for Nadal all-time), especially on clay (10-2).

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    I don’t want Federer to be better than Nadal all year round. He can’t, not at this point of both men’s career. But I would love to see Roger win another slam, make it 17 or even 18 and make it impossible to catch up with him. On a clay court in Paris? Sound like Sci-Fi, but a fan can dream.

    Someone Besides United or Chelsea Win the English Premiership

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    Last time a team not called Manchester United or Chelsea won the English Premier League was Arsenal back in 2004, capping off the ‘invincibles’ campaign. Since then, it’s been three for Chelsea (two under Mourinho and last season with Ancelotti) and three straight (2007-2009) for Manchester United, level now with Liverpool on the top of the league titles list, both winning 18.

    Manchester United have actually won 11 of the last 18 campaigns. Boring, huh? Only three other clubs have won the title during this dictatorship of an era – Chelsea (3), Arsenal (3) and Blackburn (1). This season, there’s a chance for a change. A small one, but still a chance. Or at least it seemed like that early on. Chelsea started the season blitzkreeging the league but since have fallen on hard times – injuries and an owner who seems too keen on disrupting his manager’s work by firing his assistant and pretty much making everyone know who is the real boss. Despite Ancelotti trying to make it look like everything is fine, his time with Chelsea is nearing its end. Unless some drastic change happens at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won’t win the title.

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    And that’s a good thing, but knocking off United, despite not having the best squad or playing good football for that matter, the league leaders, is much tougher. That’s because the man running the show is the manager, and no one has more tricks, most of them physiological, under his sleeve than Alex Ferguson. United’s lead over Arsenal is 5 points and six over Chelsea.

    Arsenal, recent history tells us, just aren’t capable of a serious title threat. The talent is there, but the mental toughness, the ability to rise up in the big matches, time and time again has gone MIA. Manchester City? They have Chelsea’s number, beating the blues the last three times the two have met, but their best player seems to hate life and his manager and despite all the money that has been spent and will be spent, City just aren’t there yet. They will be probably, but something seems to be missing. Spurs – They’re fun to watch, with no tactical discipline and a gung-ho type of mentality in many games, but like City and Arsenal, something is missing.

    Where does that leave us boys and girls? Not very optimistic. Manchester United aren’t that good. Probably the weakest side they have had in the last four years. But with their opponents being the way they are, it seems like enough for a title in England.

    New Zealand Win the Rugby World Cup

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    As usual, when the 2011 Rugby World Cup kicks off, New Zealand will be the favorites. They always are, and even more so hosting the event for the first time since 1987. That was the last time the All Blacks won the event. In 2010, as usual, they have been in absolute cracking form, winning the Tri Nations going undefeated and enjoying a very successful Autumn European tour, finishing the year with a 13-1 record, their only loss coming against Australia when the two clashed in Hong Kong.

    I’m more of an England fan actually, but it is nice (not all the time) when the team that actually deserves to win goes all the way. Such is the case with New Zealand, who always seem to mess things up come the big moment. Since their loss to South Africa in September 2009 they have won 19 of their 20 test matches, including a streak of 15 straight until that Hong Kong defeat to Australia. They’ve been playing much better rugby on a consistent level than anyone else and it’ll be heartbreaking for their home fans to see the All-Blacks manage to screw up another World Cup challenge. This time I think, they’re going all the way.

    Usain Bolt Remains Clean

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    I don’t care if Bolt shatters his god-like world records in Daegu, South Korea this summer. He probably won’t, but who knows? The man never ceases to amaze. Tyson Gay can beat him all year round for all I care. The only thing I wish for is for this guy’s tests to remain clean. I’m not accusing Bolt of anything, but in a sport that has been touched by drug scandals for decades now, it is vital that the most amazing athlete ever born finishes his career remaining pure and his records intact. If something should happen, we can close the sport down. Every Time a world record is broken the suspicion immediately rises. So far it’s been all good for the Jamaican mega star. Lets hope it stays that way.

    David Haye vs Klitschko Brothers

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    The heavyweight division is one of the least interesting weight classes in boxing today. But if David Haye finally gets to fight one of or maybe even both of the Klitschko brothers in 2011, that would be huge. Haye has said he will retire when he turns 31 (October 2011). He said he wants to fight both Wladimir (IBF and WBO champions) and Vitali (WBC) to become the undisputed champions of the Heavyweight division. According to recent reports from Germany, one fight, at least is going to happen, as the brothers issued a statement –

    ‘We promise there will be a fight against Haye in 2011.H e can choose which of us he wants to step into the ring against to lose his world title.’

    With no Pacquiao – Mayweather fight happenning any soon, a Haye – Klitschko fight(s) would be the biggest thing in 2011 boxing.

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    What are your wishes for 2011?