This week in Around the Dorm, we duke it out over No. 1 pick in the NBA and sports icons such as A-Rod, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. The contestants this week include Signal sports editor Brandon Lee, Signal managing editor Lauren Kohout and Signal nation & world editor James Queally. Signal sports assistant Justin Jez will hold down the reffing position again.
1) NCAA men’s basketball freshman standouts Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are the favorites to lead this year’s NBA draft class. Which one of these young stars would you take if you had the No. 1 pick?
BL: With either pick you are going to get a superstar player who will have an immediate impact on your club. However, given the dearth of legitimate true centers in the NBA, I’d take Oden. Durant might be a Garnett-type player, but Oden can be the next David Robinson, who won two championships. In his freshman year at Ohio State, Oden has averaged 15 points, 10 boards and four blocks, mostly with a cast on one hand. I have seen Oden play in person at the ABCD Camp sponsored by Reebok in Hackensack, N.J., and this kid is the real deal. He knows how to dominate both ends of the floor without being a diva.
LK: Depending on what team gets the No. 1 pick and what that team’s needs are, I’d have to say that Durant is one of those guys that can impact a team immediately. Especially with that 37-point, 23-rebound game a couple weeks ago, he showed that he is worthy enough to be the No. 1 pick. Everybody could use those points on their team’s overall stats. He’s an all-around player. Oden is somebody to look out for a few years down the road when he has the experience to be a big-time center. I think Durant will just be better right out of college, whereas Oden will need some time to get used to things.
JQ: While either Oden or Durant would make wonderful additions to any NBA team, people tend to forget that the No. 1 pick isn’t always the best player from that year’s draft class. The team that earns the No. 1 pick this year is going to take the player that is the best fit for its rotation. Oden is the clear-cut choice if a team in need of a big man draws No. 1. Standing at 7 feet tall, Oden has already been compared to David Robinson after just one year of college ball. At 6-foot-10, Durant’s stone-cold shooting ability and quickness coupled with his ridiculous wing-span make me imagine him as the lovechild of Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett. Now the Grizzlies, Sixers and Celtics are the front-runners for the No. 1 pick. With Pao Gasol desperate to get out of Memphis, I could definitely see the Grizzlies taking Oden with the No. 1 pick. Meanwhile, if the Sixers are at No. 1, Durant would really complement a team that just lost a prolific scorer like A.I.
JJ: 3 points for Brandon and Kohout. Oden, a true center, is a dying breed in the NBA. His size and defensive abilities may be too much for the top team to pass up. However, Oden will take time to develop, whereas Durant is an impact player right now. Queally gets 2 points. While team composition is important, any team would gladly find a place for these two stars.
2) With Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez staying with their clubs, attention turns toward Alex Rodriguez. After the 2007 season, Rodriguez has the option to “opt out” of his contract with the Yankees. Will Rodriguez leave New York after the season, and if so, where would he want to play?
BL: A-Rod will retire as a Yankee. Rodriguez is too good of a player to wave the white flag in New York. He is still putting up all-star numbers and will be a future hall of famer. Rodriguez was included on Sports Illustrated’s All Century Team roster, which included Maris, Mantle and Ruth. Enough said. Unfortunately, since the New York fans and media are so critical of him, his career might be overshadowed by his inability to bring a championship to New York. A-Rod is almost like Peyton Manning: No matter how many accomplishments you have during the season, you are nothing unless you succeed in the playoffs. With that said, Rodriguez will try to prove the whole world wrong.
LK: I think we’re going to see A-Rod stay in New York for a while longer. He wants a World Series, and the Yankees always have the chance to do it; they’re always in the running. No one else can offer him what he needs, especially that $27 million he just deposited into his bank account. Lucky son of a gun.
JQ: The crowd at Yankee Stadium is going to ultimately decide this one. If Rodriguez can produce at the level the rabid New York fans have always expected him to, then 2007 might be the first season in a long time that he can shake the boo-birds that have plagued him since he shacked up with the Bombers. However, aside from a stellar year at the plate, he is also going to have to finally unravel the mystery of playing third base. While Rodriguez is uncomfortable with both the fans and his position in New York, he’s got a much more loving clubhouse waiting for him in Chicago. The Cubs new manager, Lou Piniella, is pretty familiar with Rodriguez. He managed him from 1994-2000 with the Seattle Mariners. Also, with Aramis Ramirez already occupying third base for the Cubs, it’s very likely that Rodriguez could return to the outfield alongside another ex-Yankee, Alfonso Soriano.
JJ: Queally earns 3 points. The fans and media in New York will have a great impact on A-Rod’s decision. Brandon scores 2 points this round. I like the comparison between A-Rod and Manning. His poor playoff performance just won’t cut it for the Yankees. Kohout, good point about A-Rod having a great chance to win in the postseason; however, I wanted to see a few more supporting arguments – 2 points.
3) Tiger Woods has won seven straight PGA events, including the British Open and PGA Championship major events. Roger Federer recently earned his 10th ATP Grand Slam Event with his win at the Australian Open. Which player is more dominant at this time in his respective sport?
BL: Seeing that I am such an expert on both sports, I’m going to have to give Tiger the go-ahead on this one. Both athletes have accomplished historic streaks in their sports and it is unfair to both of them to say that either one is more dominant. However, given the death of his father in May 2006, Tiger gets my vote for playing at such a high level while dealing with the tragic event. I’m not sure what is going on in Federer’s life, but to continue to play and grieve at the same time takes a lot of strength.
LK: First of all, best question ever. Second of all, Roger Federer. To see him lose to the best American player we have, Andy Roddick, in an exhibition match and then see Federer work like a machine in their next match and return Roddick’s unreturnable 149-mile-per-hour serve is just plain glorious. Sure, Tiger is awesome. He had a slump a few years back that was bad for Woods but pretty good for any golfer. With Federer, however, no one has seen such a slump. He’s always on top of his game and will be for a lot longer. It’s just too bad he isn’t American so we could celebrate him more often.
JQ: While Federer and Rafael Nadal have come together to provide us another Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi type rivalry, Woods has won seven straight events to become one of, if not the, most dominant golfer in PGA history. Federer is currently No. 1 in the ATP rankings, and has been since Feb. 2, 2004, putting him on pace to break Jimmy Connors’ record of 160 consecutive weeks at No. 1. Woods was also dominant in the second half of 2006, winning at the PGA Championship and the British Open, but also finishing third at the Masters and getting cut at the U.S. Open. Federer has been nearly unstoppable, especially in 2006, when he won three Grand Slam tournaments, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. His only significant loss came in the finals of the French Open to Rafael Nadal, who has admitted that clay is his specialty. Sorry Jez, I know you’re a big Tiger fan but you said most dominant. Three years on top for Federer is too much to overlook.
JJ: 3 points for Kohout. I think her point about Federer not getting enough credit in America was the best this week. Brandon, I liked your point about Tiger’s father. His courage and focus during that time was inspiring. However, there was not quite enough information – 2 points. Queally made a good point about the length of time Federer has spent on top. However, I wanted a little more inside information on Tiger – 2 points.