The List: Soccer and Bibby

This week's list features a new Cat Tracks contributor, Judd Graham. Judd looks at why Mike Bibby may have an NBA ring in a few weeks. Brad talks about the World Cup of all things.

Although I normally don't watch soccer, I love the World Cup. The pageantry, the fans, the realistic chance for riots. It's fun. The following list is the teams I'll be rooting for in the event. Odds are they won't win since I won't be rooting for Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina. By the way, I was shocked to find out that Scotland and Holland did not make it. Scotland upsets me because when they play I feel the need to speak in an insultingly bad Scottish accent. Holland is a surprise because they are usually pretty good.

1. USA--Come on. I always root for the United States. I'm just hoping they don't pull a performance as bad as last cup's 32nd place finish. I know we aren't a soccer country, but I feel we should be good at everything.
2. England--England hasn't won in like 250 years, but doesn't it seem like they should be better? They are not like other countries that produce other athletes. Other than Rugby, doesn't the entire country play football? Anyway, their captain married a Spice Girl and one of their stars is named Nicky Butt. Nicky Butt, how great is that? If I can't do the Scottish accent, at least I can do a British accent "Bloody 'ell." Plus, they come equipped with hooligans. Nothing like hundreds of British factory workers spending their entire savings to riot in Asia. Now those are fans.
3. Cameroon--First off, they call themselves the "Indomitable Lions". How cool is that? Second, they are a tiny African nation that upset the world in the Olympics. Finally they wear sleeveless jerseys that make them look more like undersized basketball players than soccer players.
4. Ireland--Another fun accent. More hooligans. Plus, the Irish fans have these great songs they sing all match long. They kicked their best player off the team because he got into to shouting match with head coach Mick McCarthy. That's right, the Irish coach is named Mick. Their best player is a 6-5 giant of a man named Niall Quinn.
5. Mexico--Our neighbors to the south would love a World Cup win. How crazy would they go if they won? I don't know much about the team except that they have these really cool jerseys with an Aztec design screened on them.
6. South Korea--I have a few friends from South Korea, so I'll root for them. They are one of the host nations, so it would make their fans happy to win. They also have a player named Hung Myong-bo. While I'm sure it is a common name in Korea, it is kinda funny to me. Plus it would make B.K. Kim of the Diamondbacks and my boss's wife happy. It is always good to keep your favorite closer and your boss's wife happy.
7. Sweden--My college roommate was Swedish, plus a lot of great heavy metal bands come from Sweden. It is also a country that produces a lot of good hockey players. One of their players, Henrik Larsson, won the "Golden Shoe" as the highest scoring player in Europe. The "Golden Shoe," doesn't that have a great ring to it? It sounds so much cooler than the Thorpe Award or the Lady Bing Trophy.
8. Nigeria--The Super Eagles are back. Nigeria is another upstart team, whose players do these cool conga-like dances around the boundary flags after they score.
9. Slovenia--The smallest country in the World Cup population wise, so I have to root for them from an underdog standpoint.
10. Japan--My good friend Yuki is from Japan. He told me that if Japan advances he'd buy me sushi. I love sushi, so now I love Japan.

Top 5 Reasons Mike Bibby will win an NBA Championship - by Judson Graham
The NBA playoffs are in full stride and a man who has been in the spotlight this entire post season is the ex-Wildcat, Mike Bibby. Bibby's gotten the blame for much of the Kings new found post-season success, and rightfully so. After his clutch performance on Tuesday in game 5, I made up my mind that Bibby is the reason why the Kings will beat the Lakers and head to the Finals where they will make a joke of whichever Eastern Conference team they oppose. Here are my Top 5 reasons why the Kings will be champs and Bibby will be in contention for Finals MVP.

5) Bibby plays very solid defense. Bibby came up with a crucial steal from Shaq in crunch time that led to fast break points. As well, we have heard little from Derek Fisher all series thanks to Mike's defense. Fisher has, in years past, been the go-to guy for the nail-in-the-coffin, crucial shot. I don't think that Mike's "D" is necessarily going to be the reason why the Kings will beat the Lakers. But if the Nets move on to the Finals, I believe that Bibby will do a solid job against Jason Kidd and that could be the reason the Kings beat the Nets. Bibby has the drive it takes to be able to defend someone like Kidd. Mike did have trouble keeping up with Steve Nash in the previous series, but Steve Nash is a much better shooter than Kidd, which forced Bibby to play him tightly at the top where he was run off screens constantly. Our ex-Wildcat is a hard worker and he will surprise many people if he gets a chance to go one-on-one against Kidd.

4) Mike's overall court sense and court management have been vital to Sacramento's run. Bibby has been very wise with the clock and has also been able to get teammates involved. He always seems to recognize the mismatch and get his players the ball accordingly. Mike seems to instinctively know when to shoot and when to pass, which makes him near impossible to guard. He is a point guard who is very attentive and keeps his head in the game. Very rarely have I seen Mike make unforced errors during this post-season, which is a huge advantage for the Kings.

3) Although Bibby has never been to the NBA playoffs, having been exiled to Vancouver, he shows maturity that only a player with experience displays. Bibby does not need the playoff familiarity to be able to play like he does because he got all of the experience he needed as a Wildcat. When Bibby led the Cats to the National Championship he gained enough applicable know-how to lead a team through the NBA playoffs. Many people in the media questioned whether Bibby could continue the inspired play that led his Kings to the best regular season record/ Because of his previous encounters with tense situations in the NCAA tourney, Bibby has been able to show that on the court he is wise beyond his years.

2) This is arguably as important as number 1…..Mike Bibby is not Jason Williams. The trade that sent Bibby to Sacramento may go down as the Grizzlies worst deal ever. If Jerry West was in charge of the Grizz back then, I guarantee you Bibby would not see the light of playoffs for many years to come. Jason Williams single-handedly kept the Kings from being a serious championship contender. Mr. Eminem (J-Will) seemed to have his head on anything but the game. Williams was so bad in the playoffs last year that he was forced to sit out during the final minutes of games preventing something stupid from happening and lose the game for the Kings. Bibby is everything that J-Will is not, and that is why Bibby now has a shot to go down in NBA history, whereas J-Will is simply history.

1) The biggest reason why Bibby will get himself a ring and maybe a Finals MVP trophy is because he is clutch. If anyone was not convinced after Bibby's performance in the NCAA tournament in '97, then they were convinced after game 5 Tuesday. If Bibby would have missed that shot with less than 10 seconds to go this series would be as good as done. There is no way that the Kings could have bounced back if they lost game 5, and with the game on the line Bibby wanted the ball. Bibby had been quoted as saying something to the effect of "if you get me the ball, I'll hit the shot," to Webber right after the time out at the end of that fifth game. Mike got the ball and hit nothing but net. With the Kings second option on offense in Peja Stojakovic injured, Mike has stepped up his scoring and hit the most important shots. In the final few minutes Mike Bibby came up with a clutch steal, managed the clock wisely, and drilled the game winning jumper to slaughter the Lakers' hopes...then he looked at the crowd and let out a scream, a howl, a cry, or whatever noise it is that Wildcats make right after the kill.


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