2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

Years from now, when people look back on 2010, what will they remember as the defining sports moment? Uh, they can only pick one? We discovered that Tiger Woods likes to play the field and that Brett Favre doesn’t mind sending pictures of his anatomy to hot sideline reporters via text message. We found out that LeBron listens to his friends a little too much and that Ben Roethlisberger needed a serious lesson in humility. But we also learned that athletes such as Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton haven’t blown second chance opportunities (or third and fourth chances in the case of Hamilton). It was also nice to see a certain pitcher turn down bigger money so that he can play in a city that he loves.

We’ve done our best to recap the year’s biggest sports stories, staying true to tradition by breaking our Year End Sports Review into three sections: What We Learned, What We Already Knew, and What We Think Might Happen. Up first are the things we learned in 2010, a list that’s littered with scandal, beasts, a Decision and yes, even a little Jenn Sterger.

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

Tiger Woods gets around.

We hesitate to put this under “golf” because the only clubs involved were his wife’s nine-iron hitting the window of his SUV and the various establishments where Tiger wined and dined all of his mistresses…over a dozen in all. This was the biggest story of the early part of the year, but it got to the point that whenever a new alleged mistress came forward, the general public was like, “Yeah, we get it. Tiger screwed around on his wife. A lot.” He has spent the rest of the year attempting to rebuild his once-squeaky clean image, but it’s safe to say, we’ll never look at Tiger the same way.

LeBron wilts when his team needs him most.

Say the words “LeBron” and “Game 5” in the same sentence and NBA fans everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. In the biggest game of the season, LeBron looked disinterested, going 3-of-14 from the field en route to a 120-88 blowout at home at the hands of the Celtics. There were rumors swirling about a possible relationship between LeBron’s mom and his teammate, Delonte West, and there’s speculation that LeBron got that news before tipoff and that’s why he played so poorly. Regardless of the cause, LeBron played awful in that game, and it turned out to be his swan song in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. Talk about leaving a bitter taste.

You can auction off your talented son’s athletic abilities and get away with it.

The NCAA set a strange precedent this season while dealing with the Newton family. The always inconsistent and completely morally uncorrupt NCAA decided in its infinite wisdom that despite discovering that Cecil Newton shopped his son Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000, and that is a violation of NCAA rules, that Cam would still be eligible because it couldn’t be proven that he knew about it. Conference commissioners and athletic directors around the country spoke out about the decision, while agent-wannabes and greedy fathers everywhere had a light bulb go off in their own heads: As long as we say the player doesn’t know about it, it could go off without a hitch. What was Cecil’s punishment in this whole thing? Limited access to Auburn for the last two games of the season. Easy with that hammer there, NCAA. Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Udonis Haslem arrested for possession of marijuana

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem (C) fouls Boston Celtics' Rasheed Wallace in the fourth quarter during Game 4 of their Eastern Conference basketball playoff series in Miami, April 25, 2010. At left is the Heat's Joel Anthony. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This is not the way that the new-look Miami Heat wanted to start the season.

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem was charged Sunday with marijuana possession, speeding — and, for good measure, having illegal window tinting, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

An FHP trooper pulled over Haslem, 30, who had been driving east in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz, after he was clocked going 78 mph in a 60 mph zone, Wysocky said.

The trooper smelled marijuana in the vehicle, FHP said. After a search, Haslem and his passenger, Antwain Fleming, were arrested and charged with marijuana possession, Wysocky said.

There is a legitimate movement to decriminalize marijuana across the country, but this is one case where Haslem deserves whatever punishment he gets. To say that this was a dumb move is an understatement. He was going 18 mph over the speed limit while he was smoking (or his buddy was smoking) pot in his car.

Celtics beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely says the arrest means it’s unlikely that Haslem will play in the Heat’s season opener against Boston.

#Heat suffer first loss of Big Thrice era. PF Udonis Haslem’s pot charge likely means he’ll be out for the season opener vs. the #Celtics.

Haslem should know better.

9/17/10 Update: The charges have been dropped.

Why are people surprised that vets would want to play with the Super Friends?

Chris Bosh (L), Dwyane Wade (C) and LeBron James show 10,000 fans their Miami Heat jerseys after signing 6 year contracts with the Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on July 9, 2010. UPI/Michael Bush Photo via Newscom

After LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided once and for all that they were going to team up in Miami, Ric Bucher was one of the ones (along with Jon Barry, let’s not forget him) that questioned what kind of supporting cast the Heat would be able to put around their three stars.

Now that the roster is complete with the signing of sharpshooter Eddie House, Bucher chimes in on Twitter:

Count me unconvinced the Heat are the L’s next champ. But as far as supporting casts built on very limited $, they did incredibly well.

Looking at the Heat’s roster — the key signings were Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, which Miami got at a discount. Miller should thrive in open catch and shoot situations, while Haslem was convinced by his loyalty to the organization and to the team. Haslem is an undersized center, but right there, the Heat have the league’s strongest starting five, at least on paper.

The Heat knew they needed more shooters, so they re-signed James Jones and signed House, who are both career 39%+ from 3PT. Mario Chalmers is not on their level, but he’s a threat from deep and has played in pressure situations before (at Kansas, where he hit an amazing shot to send the title game against Memphis into overtime). Carlos Arroyo is still there as well, and hopefully he’s locked in a gym somewhere working on this outside touch.

Miami also added several bigs to shore up the front line around Bosh and Haslem. They signed veterans Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who are obviously at the ends of their respective careers, but they should still be able to give a few productive minutes off the bench. Jamaal Magloire is another big body who could contend with Dwight Howard in a possible matchup with Orlando.

They have some young bigs as well. Joel Anthony is a promising defensive center and the Heat drafted Jarvis Varnado, Da’Sean Butler and Dexter Pittman to round out the front line.

All in all, the roster came together very well, starting with the Miller and Haslem signings. Once those two were locked up, the rest was just gravy. Pat Riley did a wonderful job this summer.

Now they have to play the games.

Heat strike out on Fisher, land Haslem

April 12, 2010: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talking things over with Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) while time is called during the NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Heat beat the 76ers, 107-105.

In his quest to build a solid bench to support the Super Friends, Pat Riley got both the good and bad end of loyalty. Derek Fisher spurned his advances and decided to stay in L.A., while Udonis Haslem took less money to stay in Miami.

First up, Fisher…

“I have decided to continue with Kobe, continue with our teammates and the fans of Los Angeles,” Fisher said in a statement on his website. “While this may not be the most lucrative contract I’ve been offered this offseason, it is the most valuable. I am confident I will continue to lead this team on and off the court. Let the hunt for six begin.”

“Kobe Bryant asked me to stay but supported whatever decision I made. He and I have played together for 11 seasons, came into the league together as kids, and has been loyal to me even when others had doubts. We have won five championships together.”

As for Haslem…

Shortly after ESPN.com reported Monday that the Denver Nuggets had joined the Dallas Mavericks in the bidding with a strong offer, Haslem sent an e-mail to the Sun-Sentinel reading: “Turned down full mid level from Dallas and Denver. See u next season.”

But every team that showed interest in Haslem in recent days did so with pessimism that he could be lured away from Miami, given his strong ties to the area and a close relationship with Wade. The Heat are trying to divide their remaining salary cap space between Haslem and sharpshooter Mike Miller.

Team president Pat Riley has often said that he wants Haslem to be a Heat lifer, such is the regard for the gritty forward’s contributions to Miami’s title team in 2006.

Even with missing out on Fisher, if the Heat can land Miller and Haslem, they will be well on their way to building a solid bench.

Udonis Haslem’s impact on free agency

Strange title, I know. But Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald thinks that the Heat need to hold onto Udonis Haslem.

Haslem has played so well during the Heat’s stretch of 15 victories in 18 games that he arguably is proving himself indispensable to this organization.

We have seen Haslem do this during the past seven seasons, providing the timely scoring punch, pulling out just the right defensive play, changing the demeanor of the team and teaming with Dwyane Wade to occasionally carry the Heat.

But never has Haslem been such a steady, stabilizing force as he has been during the past six weeks. He’s not just a luxury. He’s a necessity.

There just aren’t many like him in the league. You have loved him since he has been here, but you will miss him even more if he leaves. He’s Horace Grant. He’s Charles Oakley. He’s essential.

How can the Heat keep him if they’re hoping to re-sign Wade and sign another max free agent? Gutierrez suggests going the sign-and-trade route to acquire the other max free agent, going over the cap and re-signing Haslem that way, since the Heat owns his Bird rights. That means parting ways with Michael Beasley:

Beasley, already unhappy as a lost No. 2 scorer, would now have to readjust as a third scorer, and probably at a different position if the free agent score is either Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh.

As much as it might be unfair to bluntly say this when you’re comparing a 21-year-old to a 29-year-old, but Haslem is more important than Beasley, not only now, but also for what the Heat hopes to accomplish over the next few years.

Another route would be to sign Wade and Bosh/Stoudemire outright and then sign Haslem using the team’s mid-level exception, if he’d be willing to stay for around $6.0-$6.5 million per season.

And on another note, are Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire really power forwards? The Heat may let Haslem go because he “plays the same position” as both of those superstars, but with his strong defense, rebounding and his knack for hitting the open jumper, he would fit in alongside them assuming that their matchup at center isn’t too bad. I think you sign a big defensive-minded seven-footer to help out on Dwight Howard and Shaq (and maybe Bogut) and you run with Bosh or Stoudemire at the 5 the rest of the time.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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