The regular season is here and I am excited for basketball fans everywhere! I was recently at the Broken Egg and a fan asked my opinion of the NBA season. There is a lot of competition in the race for the championship. The Miami Heat will be tested in the East by the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks. Out West, the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers stand out. At the end of the season, I believe the Heat will accomplish a three-peat. As for Player of the Year, I think it will be a thrilling showdown. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose are all in the hunt. I will go with Oklahoma City’s Durant to edge King James for the crown. My choice for Rookie of the Year is Orlando’s Victor Oladipo out of Indiana.
The Florida State Seminoles sent a message loud and clear. Jimbo Fisher’s team dominated a previously unbeaten Miami Hurricanes team. Jameis Winston showed why he is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as a freshman, just like Johnny Manziel won as a diaper dandy last year. There are a number of legit contenders for the national championship game. Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State are the frontrunners. It’s a shame that the four team playoff doesn’t start this season. Somebody may go undefeated and get left out in the cold.
Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, World Series champions! John Farrell did an incredible job in his first season as skipper. Boston was able to turn things around from last year’s problems, thanks in part to a change of chemistry. Ben Cherrington brought in guys like Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. The pitching staff came through big time in the post season. David Ortiz was MVP and his hot bat really carried the Sox. Nobody was talking about chicken and beer in the clubhouse this year. Winning can change things. It was great for the fans in Boston, who went through so much with the Marathon bombing. Congrats to all in Beantown!
Right now, it seems like college football would be set with a great Final Four. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State are the frontrunners at the moment and each of them looked very good over the weekend. This season, we do not have a four team playoff, so a few things must still shake out. Usually it works out pretty well. Ahead this Saturday is a Sunshine State showdown between Florida State and Miami. This has been a great rivalry in the past. The Hurricanes are #7 in the country but have struggled in recent weeks. Al Golden’s team had to rally to beat North Carolina and Wake Forest. They must perform at a higher level against the Seminoles, a team which destroyed a very good Clemson team in Death Valley. There are some very good games ahead as the race for the national championship intensifies.
I had a special weekend in South Bend for the ND/USC game. I took my former assistant coach from the Univ. of Detroit and the Pistons, Mike Brunker and his beautiful wife, Maria with us. The campus was as beautiful as ever and the school spirit was electric. We went to the pep rally, bookstore, tailgated and walked the campus. The Irish came out with a tough win 14-10. A great weekend with long time friends!
I had a fabulous time as I had a chance to share and break bread with the beautiful people of Ally Financial at the John Hancock building in Chicago. It was an awards ceremony in which they honored their most outstanding auto dealers. Ally Financial provides auto loans and at the event they honored the best of the best in their field. It was certainly a night I will remember. I received a fantastic introduction by Bill Muir, President of Ally Financial. I also really enjoyed getting the chance to spend time talking sports with some of the terrific people with Ally .
I was thrilled to be honored as the Man of Year by the Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center at their big annual event at the Forest Hills Country Club in Richmond, IN. The CEO and President of the Foundation is former Notre Dame football player, Darrell ”Flash” Gordon, who played linebacker in the early 1990′s. To receive their award was certainly an honor. They do a tremdnous job helping youngsters that are faced with difficult challenges.
What a wild weekend in the NFL.
You cannot give up on Tom Brady. New England got a break late and gave Brady the ball with one last chance against the Saints. He marched his team downfield and got the victory against a previously-unbeaten New Orleans squad.
The Rams did a number on the Texans in Houston. There have been a number of disappointing teams this season — the Texans, Giants, Bucs, Steelers, Vikings and Falcons all come to mind.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the biggest surprise and Andy Reid’s team remains unbeaten. The Denver Broncos, the only other unbeaten left, looks like the crème de la crème.
Next weekend, Peyton Manning goes back to Indianapolis to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. That should be a fun one to watch.
There have been a number of dominant teams in college football so far this season. Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Clemson have been the teams high up in the polls. My friends, keep an eye on Florida State. The Seminoles sent a message that they are contenders by beating Maryland 63-0. The Terps were ranked 25th. Famous Jameis Winston has been the premier diaper dandy in college football and people in Tallahassee are talking Heisman a la Johnny Manziel last year.
My wife and I had the time of our life at the Coronado Resort, outside of San Diego, CA. I can’t thank John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and his staff for allowing me to have the opportunity to speak at the three events in CA. This would be my seventh event for Merrill Lynch in the last year and a half. I have met so many wonderful people with the company in that time. I also can’t thank Valerie Johnson and Janet Ashley and their entire team for all their help in making this a tremendous experience and memory for my wife and I. All I can say is, Merrill Lynch you are Awesome Baby with a capital “A”!