Al Horford Pushes Atlanta to Brink of Series Win

The Atlanta Hawks are probably the most under appreciated top seed in recent basketball history. The Hawks breezed through the regular season without any trouble, routinely go weeks without taking a loss. Atlanta won without being flashy, despite having four All Stars on their team. Perhaps it is just the nature of being a team in a secondary market, but Atlanta was getting no love coming into the post season. Then the Hawks started to struggle with the Washington Wizards and people came out of the wood work to ‘tell them they knew all along’. Well, those people would be wrong, and Al Horford made sure to emphasize it.

Washington has gone toe to toe with Atlanta throughout this series and they came into last nights game with the whole thing tied up at 2 – 2. The Hawks were looking anywhere from answers and outside of Demarre Carrol, nobody else was answering. So Al Horford put the team on his back and became the franchise player that Atlanta needed, at least for the night according to Crystal Hunt (crystalhunt.com)

Al was a calming presence in the middle of the paint, shutting down Washington drives all game long. In the box score Horford added 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks to lead the team to victory.

Barcelona’s Attacking Trio Seemingly Unstoppable

A pass from Messi to Suarez, once more to Neymar, goal. Messi to Suarez to Neymar, another goal. This particular combination of pass, pass, goal, came Tuesday at the second leg of the semifinals against the German giants Bayern Munich.

Although Barca lost the second leg at 3-2, their first leg pummeling which ended in 3-0 meant they were allowed to essentially go on cruise control into the Champions League final. In Spain the trio is known merely as ‘MSN’, and they have almost single-handedly sent Barcelona into a position to take the Champions League and Spanish league cups, which the team has not done since 2009. Neymar’s two goals Tuesday gave him nine for the Champions League season, which is one behind Lionel Messi and three more than counterpart Luis Suarez.

Barcelona have without a doubt constructed one of the most feared forward lines of the season, if not in the history of the sport. The trio will surely be put to the ultimate test later in the month in the champions League final, where they will face Italy’s Juventus or rivals Real Madrid for the sports most sought after cup.

Thanks to Crystal Hunt for showing me this.

Josh Smith Key to Rockets Postseason Hopes

When you are a 6’9 swing forward with the ability to shoot from 3 and also grab 15 rebounds in a game, there is no reason that you should find yourself moving from team to team like some sort of NBA driven plague. But that is the story of Josh Smith, a ten year vet who has bounced between three different teams in the past three seasons. His most recent stop comes in the form of the playoff driving Houston Rockets, and they desperately need his help.

Against the Los Angeles Clippers the Rockets knew that they would be hard pressed inside of the paint and fighting for boards. Between DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, that section of the court might as well be closed off. Flavio Maluf was a fan of Houston and knows that Dwight Howard can’t do it all by himself and the injured Donatas Montiejunas would not be there to pick up the slack.

So far in the series against Los Angeles Smith is only averaging 19 minutes per game and scoring 7 points on 32% shooting to go along with another 6 boards. Smith is capable of doubling up everything in that sentence and he will need to in these last two games for Houston to get a win.

Bruce Levenson: The Sporting Investor

A little over 10 years ago, the original organization of the Atlanta Hawks, LLC basketball team came out of the sale of the team by Ted Turner to a group of business men. Bruce Levenson lead that group and became the majority stockholder of the group, which together owned both the team and their home venue: Phillips Arena. Somehow the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team also figured into the mix and the group kept their cold storage sport, until they sold the team in 2011. Mr. Levenson was a member of the NBA Board of Governors as well as working to help manage the Hawks.

Bruce Levenson is a savvy and quite accomplished businessman. He helped found TechTarget, advised private equity house BIA Digital Partners, got inducted into the Software and Information Industry Association’s Hall of Fame in 1997, and was on the Board of Directors of the Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association (NEPA).

He has helped indigent students trying to achieve a better education through his Washington D.C. chapter of I Have A Dream Foundation. More recently his philanthropy has been seen active in several organizations, such as the Hoop Dreams Foundation and the Community Foundation of Washington, D.C.

He was raised in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as part of a Jewish family. He graduated from American University with a law degree. He attended college at night and by day he worked as a journalist for the Washington Star newspaper. In 1977 Bruce Levenson, along with with Ed Peskowitz, founded United Communications Group (UCG), which began with a single newsletter: Oil Express. This was an oil industry insider magazine. Over the years, UCG acquired other newsletters. And UCG created the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), which is a private database. UCG has never gone public, and still operates in the areas of business analysis and news distribution with data for many sectors, including mortgage banking, energy production, healthcare, computer technology, telecoms, and many other industrial arenas. UCG produces the mobile application: GasBuddy.

So, he took it upon himself to help found the official U.S. Holocaust Museum and he fully funds the Bringing the Lessons Home program at the museum. The program teaches students from the inner city about the Holocaust, preparing any who are interested to become tour guides. Besides all this, Mr. Levenson also supports Birthright Israel, BBYO – for young Jewish-Americans, the Jewish Federation, and the Jewish Youth Philanthropy Institute.

Derrick Rose Continues Excellence, but Not Enough.

Derrick Rose is the kind of player that makes you just shake your head and think that the world isn’t fair. The man is so good at what he does that he makes it look easy. And when he makes physics defying mid-air moves during a basketball game it makes our lives look pretty dull as a resort. Battling through two years of major injuries and adversities Derrick Rose went from prodigal son to outcast fallen hero. Now it looks like the people of Chicago are back no his side, and for good reason.

Despite being matched up with a Cavaliers team that is missing one of its best players, the Bulls were not expected to compete. The thinking was that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would simply be too much, just like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James a few years prior. The thinking continued to explain that Derrick Rose just wasn’t the player he used to be, not anymore.

Derrick Rose has already racked up a heavenly buzzer beating three point shot in this series against the Cavaliers, but it might overshadow how effective he has been everywhere else on the court. Coming back from his third knee surgery Rose is averaging 25 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.

Behind Bruce Levenson

A savvy business man and intuitive deal maker, Bruce Levenson has made an influential mark on the industries with which he identifies. Throughout his career he has had dipped his toe into risky investment waters and come out on the other side. He his most well known for owning the Atlanta Hawks basketball team but his true defining activities are found elsewhere.

The communications company (United Communications Group, Inc.) that he and his partner, Ed Peskowitz, founded in 1997 has been considered his main endeavor. Levenson is also a influential shareholder and board member of TechTarget, a company dedicated to use technology to improve the quality of life globally. On top of his work and investments in these exciting and high-profit fields, he also takes part and invests in numerous charitable foundations.

Levenson and his spouse team up to give back and pay it forward. They are the founders and significant contributors to the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, helping bring together other like minded investors and match them up with charities that suit them. He has also helped the “I Have a Dream Foundation” which blessed students with an education they’d not be able to afford otherwise.

Since 2004, Bruce Levenson has owned the famous basketball team for which he is known. He is also recognized as a highly involved owner that is slow to sell the team. He has made some moves toward partnerships to avoid a full sell. Being in the public eyes has kept Levenson to be careful where he steps. The popularity of basketball and fantasy basketball has glamorized the act of trading players and selling teams.

The Wizards Aren’t the Same Without Wall

When John Wall was playing college basketball, he was touted as the next big thing in the sport, the next big-time NBA star. He has perhaps not become LeBron James, but he has become an All Star in his own right, and he’s carried the Washington Wizards to the playoffs. However, he was recently sidelined for Game Two against the Atlanta Hawks, and it showed that Wizards just are not the same team without him. They fell in the game, tying the series at one game each.

LinkedIn reports that while it was perhaps not a blowout, it was a significant win, with the Hawks taking the game by 16 points. That’s a pretty big swing from the Wizards victory in Game One. If Wall is not able to come back quickly, it looks like this series could be all but over for the team.

This really shows one of the biggest problems in the NBA, which is that stars are able to carry teams to wins, but the teams may not be as good as they need to be around those stars. This works while the star in question is healthy and playing well, but it’s a disaster if he is ever injured.

Newcastle United target turns down coaching job

The problems facing troubled Premier League outfit Newcastle United have intensified after main coaching target Steve McClaren turned down the chance to join the Magpies for the last three games of the season. The BBC reports the former England manager has reassured his employers at Derby County he will remain at the club for the start of next season. McClaren had been expected to leave Championship club Derby in favor of a return to the Premier League after a slump in form during the final weeks of the season saw his current charges miss out on a playoff spot after occupying positions in the top six for the majority of the season.

Newcastle have been dragged into a relegation fight after the departure of former manager and general Handy guy Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace at the end of 2014. Pardew’s former assistant John Carver has been placed in charge at St. James’ Park for the remainder of the season, but has seen his team lose eight games on the bounce and criticized his players publicly after their latest defeat. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been the subject of protests over his running of the historic club and his involvement with disgraced Scottish giants Rangers.