Nichol(s) Slots

Welcome to Nichol(s) slots. Here you can win many prizes, but mostly nothing. As I pull the lever of sports topics, here’s what the five reels are spinning. Insert the coins to get started!

Some sad news out of Texas: Brian Urlacher’s mother, Lavoyda, died unexpectedly in her home Monday night. According to Chicago Tribune reports, Urlacher’s mother was only 51. Brian said in a statement: “my first priority right now is to be with my family”. Urlacher rushed to Texas yesterday to be with his family and his status for Sunday’s game in New Orleans remains uncertain.

My prayers and condolences go out to the Urlacher family. Urlacher’s priorities are in the right place and football is probably the last thing on his mind. It if matters to you if Urlacher doesn’t play this Sunday, take a hike.

How about that opening week in the NFL, huh?! They should really rename Week 1, “The Week the MLB season dies.”

The Saints and Packers treated us to a Thursday Night Thriller, with the Pack taking a 42-34 win between the last two Super Bowl champs. Aaron Rodgers looked good. Actually, real good. It’s a great time to be a Packer fan and player these days. How are the Bears going to beat them???

Favorite moment of the game: An NBC cameraman caught Aaron Rodgers at the line of scrimmage yelling, “really?” before snapping the ball and throwing a touchdown to Greg Jennings. Obviously Rodgers didn’t think much of the matchup. It reminded me of the time Cleveland’s Gerald Wilkins tried stopping Michael Jordan during the 1993 NBA playoffs and after one sequence, Michael yelled out to the crowd, “He can’t guard me, he can’t guard me.”

There’s no video of Rodgers on You Tube, but here’s the Jordan quote:

That’s what you like to see out of your superstars. Rising to the challenge and staying confident. Athletic assassins?

You’d think nobody would be able to top Brees and Rodgers individual performances (Brees threw for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns, Rodgers 27-35, 312 yards, 3 touchdowns) but Tom Brady and Chad Henne, a couple of Michigan alums, actually topped Rodgers and Brees and broke a couple of records on Monday Night Football to finish a great football weekend.

Brady goes for 500-plus yards passing and Chad Ochocinco didn’t really have any part in it. How cool is that? Henne threw for over 400 yards! Insanity! You’d expect those stats out of Brees and Rodgers, not Henne and Brady. It’s too bad the Dolphins defense played like LeBron James in the fourth quarter all game. I wanted a Monday Night opener to remember… …. …..

I think Tom Brady is the best QB in the league whether you hate him or not. I use to contend for Peyton Manning for a lot of years but there’s more pleasure watching Brady (just not Monday though for me personally, my fantasy opponent had Brady for quarterback).

Pleasure? Really Steve? Did you see the 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker?  I’m sure it reminded us all of that Monday Night on September 11, 1995 in Chicago where Brett Favre threw a similar pass to Robert Brooks.

Except on Brady’s play, it got Benny Sapp cut from the Dolphins. I was wondering why he couldn’t tackle Welker. I guess we know now. There’s a poll I’d like to see – which MNF 99-yard touchdown throw was better? In fact, you can vote here.

Brady isn’t the game manager like Manning, who was bred to be an NFL quarterback. Peyton can adapt unbelievably at the line of scrimmage. But Brady’s strengths are elsewhere. I think Brady gives you a better chance to win. Give me Brady before Rodgers, Rodgers before Manning and Manning before Drew Brees. If I had one guy to go to in the final minute of the Super Bowl, Brady edges Rodgers.

Then there’s the Bears, who absolutely dominated the Atlanta Falcons 30-12 at Soldier Field on Sunday. Did that surprise you? I know the critics were out on the Bears. I was one of them. I wasn’t going to place them in the Super Bowl, let alone the playoffs this year. So far for one week I was proven wrong. After that defensive take down of Falcon, nobody is sleeping on that Bears defense. The Packers won’t be in Week 3. Jay Cutler was still sacked five times but he did look sharp. Don’t count on that defense to play smashmouth each week and the offensive line to get any better. Urlacher had two of the three turnovers – a fumble recovery touchdown and an interception. That might be the best you get out of Urlacher and if the defense peaks in Week 1, the Bears are going to have problems. They still need to fix the line.

It was good to see Roy Williams catch a pass or two, though.

I’m looking forward to the Bears and Saints. May be the Bears prove everyone wrong by going 2-0. That would be something since most critics (including myself) had the Bears 0-3 to begin the season. The Saints have a better offense than Atlanta, that’s for sure. I don’t have the Bears winning this one, especially if there’s no Urlacher. But that’s understandable.

Speaking of proving everyone wrong, pay attention to that Philadelphia-Atlanta game. Michael Vick is back in Atlanta. You think he’s going to want to throw for 3 touchdowns and run for 3? If Atlanta falls to 0-2 and loses to Vick, it’s panic time. It’s like Messin’ with Sasquatch.

The NFL weekend overshadows a great college football weekend highlighted by a classic between Michigan and Notre Dame. Three touchdowns in the last 72 seconds?! If college games concluded matters like that all the time, I wouldn’t be so obliged on the sport. I didn’t feel like Michigan was out even 10 points down in the fourth quarter, but after they went ahead with 1:12 remaining I thought for sure Notre Dame was done. When Notre Dame scored, I thought there was no way Michigan could go 80 yards for a score within 30 seconds.

Boy was I wrong.

In my mind that final two minutes was the best in college football history. I’m not sure it ranks as the greatest game of all-time; I’m still fixated on a couple games of recent time: that thrilling Texas-USC National Championship game at the Rose Bowl and Boise State’s win over Oklahoma. But definitely Michigan and Notre Dame sneaks in there somewhere. All of the points came on touchdowns. Not measly field goals. Where’s my “kicking the field goal is for losers” quote from that Fox Valley Conference Jacobs-Dundee-Crown game from a couple years back?

I’m still supporting the issue that Miami needs some sort of steep penalty for this alleged Ponzi Scheme. I’d say a good year off from football should be in order. The news out of Miami involving prostitutes, abortions, bounties and yachts were just disappointing and down right nasty. Some of these kids were just coming from being grounded by their parents. They’re not mature enough to handle these type of situations.

While the big name colleges are making a lot of money of these athletes which is wrong, we cannot pay college players. You can’t avoid Title IX. You’d have to pay every college athlete. That won’t ever happen. And we always forget about the price of education. Oh wait, we can’t if we pay loans for it like myself. Scholarships are sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars and athletes need to realize they’re student-athletes first. They’re recruited to play in an extra-curricular activity that just so happens to be aired on major TV networks every weekend. You can’t major in football, but you can major in accounting, journalism, marketing, teaching, etc. And that’s why you go to college. If kids are concerned about money, they need to realize the educational opportunity as well that could lead them to dollars after college. They get room, board, meal tickets and freedom from their parents. They don’t need gold watches, prostitutes and abortions.

Back to baseball… (yawn)

I know it’s hard to focus on baseball with football in full swing but is there any doubt the World Series will feature Philadelphia, New York or Boston? All of them better watch out for Detroit. No one is hotter than the Tigers. Ask the White Sox.

They’ve won 12-straight, including a come-from-behind win today in Chicago. Sometimes the hottest teams toward the end of the season can skate in and win the World Series. The Tigers looked primed. I’m not saying they’re going to, I’d still favor Philly (who’s going to beat that rotation in a short series?), the Yanks or the Red Sox, but with Justin Verlander on the mound, it’ll be tough to beat the Tigers in the American League. Too bad he can’t pitch everyday.

He’s 23-5, hasn’t lost since July 15, has a 2.36 ERA with a WHIP of .0926. Have you watched him pitch this season? Over the last two months? He’s got a no-hitter this year and some unbelievable performances. You ask why he should be the AL MVP and I’ll say why not?

Mariano Rivera notched his 600th save last night, his 41st of the season, and became the second player to reach 600 saves. Congrats to Rivera, the greatest closer I have ever seen. He’s going to pass Trevor Hoffman with his 602 save. Rivera deserves to be at the top. He’s definitely no Carlos Marmol.

This NBA lockout is getting old. Players are going to China, David Stern seems all too smug and I can’t figure out Derek Fisher. I’ve heard Fisher say for the players to stay in shape but yet no progress has been made.

Just last week, Henry Abbott of True Hoop had a blog that had some keen insight that the NBA lockout was near its end. Take a click here to find some interesting points.

This is why we’re confused with what’s going on. Obviously this hard cap talk is a major breaking point and the owners want the money back they’ve lost over the years. I’d just hate to have another 1999 season or no season at all.

MJ Quotes: I was going over some Michael Jordan quotes as I frequently do and I came across one on my Facebook wall that Jordan said from last summer. MJ told a reporter at a golf tournament he would never call up Larry Bird or Magic Johnson to team up on an NBA team.

There’s a reason why Michael would never do that. As much as he loves them as friends and respects them as some of the greatest basketball players of all-time, Michael wanted to beat Larry and Magic because he’s the ultimate competitor. He simply wanted to win every game he played in and be known as the best.

Bob Costas said once he had the athletic heart of an assassin (I referred to it earlier about Rodgers). Costas is right.  Jordan knew Larry and Magic never won a three-peat. In fact, Michael’s six rings are more than Magic (5) and Bird (3) so I think Michael got his message across.

In LeBron’s case, if James had the competitive fire, he’d be looking at Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade not as friends, but true and ultimate foes. He’d want to make sure they’d never win. An example of that would be Kobe Bryant. There’s a guy who hates to lose and forgets friendships on the court. If LeBron had that fire, Cleveland would be champion. The Heat would still be Dwyane Wade’s team and who knows where Bosh would be. The greats don’t team up with other greats. They make their teammates better, better enough to win titles. James needs others in Miami like Horace Grant, John Paxson, James Worthy and Kevin McHale needed Jordan, Pippen, Bird and Magic and Kareem.

Fortune Cookie: J.R. Smith is joining Wilson Chandler in China, which isn’t a bad move as you’d figure. Look at it this way, Chandler and Smith, both Denver Nuggets free agents, will get paid to play in China until next March. And although it stinks the two players can’t comeback until their contract ends in China, if the NBA is still locked out this will prove their genius. If the NBA does resolve its labor issues, Chandler and Smith will ultimately look like gamblers who gambled too much. And, they’ll be able to jump onto a contender for the last two months of the season.

Bulls fans were aiming for Smith to fill out their shooting guard position to fill a scoring void and give Derrick Rose some breathing room on the offense end. Smith going to China ruins that, but it might have been hard for the Bulls to sign Smith anyway. If the league goes to a hard cap, Chicago wouldn’t have any room for the three-point bomber. If the league still uses a soft cap with exceptions, Smith would easily be able to sign. The Bulls will have to look elsewhere if and when the lockout ends.

It’s all about the shoes: Whether or not the lockout continues, the greatest basketball shoe known to man is making a comeback December 23 and as most of you know, I love shoes and especially if its an Air Jordan.

Nike once again will be releasing the Air Jordan 11 to hit the shelves just before Christmas, but we all know these kicks don’t even make to the shelves because they sell out faster than LeBron James.

Air Jordan XI Concords - Regular Season Colorway

Jordan won 72 games in these puppies and they are the rarest of basketball shoe. When news hits, people line up overnight for these sneakers. Some guys like Craig Janowiak and myself, look to sport these at our weddings.

Janowiak called me late last night and he practically drooled through my phone. All we could talk about was how awesome these shoes were and how many pairs we should buy.

As I told Craig, you buy three. One for the court, one for casual and the other to lock in an air-sealed box for display. Though at $175, it’s going to be tough in this economy to afford these prices. I’m not sure how we’re going to do it – Craig mentioned tapping into his saving possibly. I might have to rob a bank to get these.

Look for us to be camping out at a local shoe store on December 22 waiting to snatch up at least a pair of these.  Blizzard, apocalypse will not stop us.

I’ll also look to be cashing on the Air Jordan 12 home playoff colorway as well in 2012. These are scheduled for a April release and although I do own a pair, these would be for display only. Check them out below.

Air Jordan XII - Home Playoff Edition

OK, stop drooling.

The 12’s are incredible to play in but it’s hard for the white to stay squeaky clean. But one thing is for sure, you can fly in them.

Hey Howard Schlossberg, I’d thought I’d spare you the Air Jordan pair Michael wore during Game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Final. I didn’t want to bring back old memories. Hopefully you’ve “blocked” that out of you mind if you’re reading this. Heh heh.

I think this is a good time to stop. After I give you my top five Air Jordans. 

1. Air Jordan XI – Concords

2. Air Jordan XII – Playoff home white

3. Air Jordan V

4. Air Jordan XIV

5. Air Jordan III/XIX/XVII

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