The NFL Is Full of Boys, Not Men Unfortunately

The National Football League, also known as the NFL, has always been known for having the best athletes in the world in its organization, from the top all the way down. It was considered to be one of the most manly activities that you could do in terms of being an athlete & or in society as a whole.

The last two weeks, as we have all heard, have been some of the worst times in the history of the league. We all know about the incidents with Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, Ray McDonald & Greg Hardy.

5 men. Allegedly. But for this piece, we will say 5 men who supposedly have been allowed to be in the NFL & who are supposed to act like men, but real men are supposed to be role models for the rest of society & for those who look up to them. These 5 men have been right in the face of an issue that we tend to overlook in the United States until this week – abuse.

In Adrian Peterson’s case, he is accused of child abuse against his 4-year-old son. In Goodell’s case, its abuse of power. In Rice, Hardy & McDonald’s case, its abuse against women. Why is it that we are having these issues about simply being immature in that these men want to throw their power around when they are in a status in our country that wields an immense amount of power in society?

I will not go into the situations individually, but I would pose one question to the NFL & the men that were mentioned – What do you do when you have young men, women & parents look up to you & want to be like you guys as they get older? If you are all going to act like complete bitches, what is there for the future of the league?


Sports Fan Playground Store Under Construction

Hello everyone!

We apologize for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks, we have been going through a massive overhaul of our Sports Fan Playground store. It is currently under construction but will be back up on Saturday, September 6. Check back later today with a new fresh post talking about last night’s Seahawks win against the Packers.


Thanks for the support everyone!


Kenny Hill Replaces Johnny Manziel – Easily

It has been a while since we have conversed, & much has happened in that time frame. We now have the future of Texas A&M football here in quarterback Kenny Hill, who, in his first start in his life & after the Johnny Manziel era, threw for 511 yards in a Texas A&M stomping of South Carolina on Thursday night in the first game on the new SEC Network.

Hill looked poised, relaxed, & in a loud environment, on the first drive of the game, he led the Aggies to a touchdown. The 80,000 Gamecocks fans were quickly silenced just as quickly as they were amped up to begin the season.

Hill made the South Carolina defense, a top-10 level team even without Jadeveon Clowney, look like a high school team that wasn’t ready for varsity level. Hill didn’t take unnecessary shots down the field & scrambled when needed, but didn’t take needless hits in the open field. The situation is only one game old, but if Hill keeps up like this, people will say the phrase that we never thought they would -

Johnny Who?

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NFL Preseason Is Pretty Much As Bad As Pulling Teeth – But I Gotta Watch

Yup, I am an NFL junkie. Actually, a football junkie. In the first week of the NFL preseason, what was I doing like a complete dope? Watching meaningless football that featured many players that will mostly work at Speedway before the end of the camp & definitely by the time we get to week 1 of the 2014 NFL season.

Why would I watch? Because we get absolutely no football from February all the way until July. NFL & college football have the longest breaks out of all of the major American sports, & it just so happens that football is the most popular sport in America. Even with all of the talk about the Redskins name controversy, concussions, HGH, violence, is it safe to play football, etc., the NFL still gets extremely high ratings for games that are most times absolutely unbearable to watch.

This preseason, the main talk has been all about what would happen in the matchup of the century in Cleveland, also what could be known as The Decision III – Cleveland Browns edition – the decision on whether Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer would be the starter at quarterback. The first game of the preseason against my Detroit Lions, Manziel looked like he was a world beater & Hoyer was just keeping the seat warm. In week 2, both looked like crap, the game against Washington was crap because no team looked as though they belonged on the field, & again – the people watched bad football – in masses.

Johnny Manziel

The Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns saga has made the NFL preseason somewhat watchable.

Then, let’s look around the league. The NFL referees are calling absolutely every single play that could possibly be a penalty, thus making games that are already not watchable after the 3rd quarter, even worse with having stoppages in play every 5 plays. I completely get that the league is trying to clean the game up & make sure that hands to the head & basically all touching is taken out of the game, but when the NFL wants to charge regular season prices for bad NFL preseason football, there is a very big issue & disconnect.

But we watch. We watch because we are excited. We watch because we are yearning for that first big hit. That first big roar of the crowd on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon. It puts us all in a happy place. We have something to do during the winter months & during the fall when the leaves are turning & for many, it has tons to do with fantasy football. With the rise of the fantasy football leagues, the preseason is great for scouting talent on a regular basis.

No matter what happens at the end of the day, we know that the goal is to get to September 7, the start of the NFL season. But the league needs to take a long, hard look at how their preseason is set up. I know that you need 4 weeks to have the starters ease their way in, and this particular week – week 3 – is basically the “dress rehearsal” where the starters play into the 3rd quarter & its the last time they are seen until the regular season, while week 4 is basically useless, but because Americans are football junkies, just like myself, we will watch just a little bit, which is exactly what Fox, CBS, NFL Network & ESPN want us to do.

However, I would say that if you are thinking about going to the NFL preseason games this week or next, just think to yourself – wouldn’t you enjoy those preseason games so much more by having the ability to change the channel after you saw the actual “real” NFL players take the field & be done, thus allowing you to be done to do more productive things than watching bad preseason football, such as watching paint dry?

Here’s hoping that the league will understand that the preseason is not a good product & decides to cut the preseason schedule down to 2 games & go into the regular season from there. Even if the games aren’t right together, but 2 games in the month of August, continue camp & then go into the NFL regular season.

Hey, we are going to watch anyway, let’s at least get a real football product.


WWE Summerslam 2014 Preview

Tonight, the biggest event of the WWE summer schedule takes place with the 27th annual Summerslam from Los Angeles. Yes, the event will be available on the WWE Network for what price? $9.99. Get ready, you will probably hear that a ton come tommorow night & into Monday Night Raw.

Figured it would be time to talk about where I see each match going through the entire card & what could be the future direction of the programs that are happening right now & into the WWE Night of Champions card in September. Also on the WWE Network – for $9.99.

WWE Summerslam Overview

Overall, this is a very critical card for the WWE in the sense that its the first big pay-per-view where the WWE Network is available worldwide & where the new financial position of the company really begins to take shape. Its no secret that the company has been cutting back big time, which the internet wrestling community gets all in arms about, but is no different than any other company on Earth.

WWE’s TV deal didn’t end up the way they believed so cuts have to be made. The company will bounce back, the performers will be back to where they normally are used to be & that will be that. However, Summerslam is the #2 pay-per-view of the calendar year & with all of the pub that goes along with being in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, it has to step up.

WWE Summerslam 2014

Summerslam 2014 will be available on the WWE Network tommorow night for the price of – wait for it – $9.99.

The storylines have actually been very well put together going into the card, from the surprising success of the Brie Bella/Stephanie McMahon feud all the way to John Cena vs Brock Lesnar, even with both men not being on Raw very much because of Cena’s filming schedule & with Lesnar having a limited amount of dates in his contract to work with. The company has had some compelling writing over the last few weeks to compensate for the lack of incredible pyro & such. They have kept the attention on the action & the storylines, which is the idea of professional wrestling & sports entertainment in the first place.

While this Summerslam is a bit of a top-heavy card, the mid-card matches have the ability to be true show stoppers as well. With that said, here is the Sports Fan Playground breakdown & preview/predictions for Summerslam 2014.

 Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz – WWE Intercontinental Championship.

This match should most likely be the opener & according to many publications including Bleacher Report, it is the opener.

Both of these guys desperately need wins, especially Ziggler, who for some reason the WWE has been hellbent on burying for the longest time. Ziggler is clearly one of the top 5, if not the best worker in the entire company & if the higher ups at WWE can’t see that, that is a sign of bad booking or talent evaluation.

Dolph Ziggler

Its time for Dolph Ziggler to get back in the WWE Championship picture & a win & an Intercontinental Championship reign should do just that.

The Miz needs the win as well because of the probable push for his new Marine movie that should be debuting later this year or early next year. Miz hasn’t had much sizzle since he has gotten back into full-time competition & his return & subsequent push was quickly destroyed on the night that Chris Jericho came back & gave him the codebreaker, as well as a pushbreaker right in the middle of the ring.

I am going to go with Ziggler on this one. It would be a great way to get the live crowd going & the WWE has shown that Ziggler may be out of the doghouse at some point soon because of how he has been booked on live events, has he has a couple of victories over Randy Orton – clean. Having Zigger go over & have a 5-star match in the process will really set the tone for the rest of the evening & get the crowd going early. Plus, its just time. Ziggler was the unfortunate recipient of a nasty concussion from Jack Swagger last year that killed off his World Heavyweight Championship push & reign & its time to move Dolph back to near the top of the card.

 Chris Jericho vs Bray Wyatt

This has been an interesting feud, but for many wrong reasons. This was the feud that was completely lost in the entire Stephanie McMahon/Brie Bella & Cena/Lesnar & Ambrose/Rollins/Authority situations. Both of these guys are outstanding on the microphone, but their first big match at Money In The Bank didn’t live up to the hype going in. It seemed as though there wasn’t a true connection there, which is rough for Wyatt.

Bray Wyatt

Bray Wyatt has become one of the greatest men on the microphone in the history of the WWE, but he has to have a phenomenal match on Sunday against Chris Jericho for the WWE to continue to believe in him.

WWE officials have to really watch this match closely because ever since the Royal Rumble, where Wyatt had an amazing match with Daniel Bryan, Wyatt’s in-ring matches haven’t been the best, even though he has an amazing ability to promote a match with his verbal skills. For Wyatt’s career, he needs a big time match here & he & Jericho need time to really be able to tell the story, which I think WWE will allow them.

For Jericho, he has nothing to prove at all in his career. His job in the WWE at this point is to put over the younger talent & to push ahead the future of the WWE as a whole, which I see him doing exactly.

The promos from both men have been great, but this means far more to Wyatt than it does Jericho, which is why Wyatt will get the win, to tie the series at 1-1 & then have Wyatt win the rubber match either at Night of Champions or at a Raw show, considering that Jericho doesn’t have much time before he goes back on the road with his band, Fozzy.

Rusev vs Jack Swagger (Flag Match)

This has the potential to be one of the most interesting matches on the card, depending on if Rusev can bring it on his first major WWE event.

The build for this started off great, but fizzled off when the Russia/Ukraine situation came in & it took away mic time from Lana, who has been incredible in terms of her looks & her ability to really put over Rusev as the Russian (Bulgarian) monster.

Lana WWE

Come on, you know you don’t watch this Rusev/Swagger feud for any other reason but to see Lana.

Jack Swagger has been excellent in keeping his mouth shut & let Zeb Colter do all of the work in terms of hyping up the United States flag & being strong. The match has the ability to be a nice, quick brawl & it could honestly go either way.

I think the company will side with Rusev because of the push of the NXT stars to be dominant in the WWE & to represent the future of the company. Swagger is a great performer, but his overall lack of charisma keeps him from having the big pushes that he needs to go to that next level, even though he is a former world champion. WWE has much more room to get more out of the Russian sympathizer angle as that can work with many top stars as Rusev continues to get better in the ring & his work rate gets better.

I think they may try to get one more match out of this at Night of Champions, but for Summerslam, I see Rusev handling the business & giving us more chances to look at Lana.

Paige vs A.J. Lee – WWE Divas Championship

If all goes as well as set up & meets WWE expectations, this is a feud that in-ring wise, could be as good as Trish Stratus vs Lita from the mid 2000s.

Both of these women are very strong in the ring, even though their Money In The Bank match wasn’t the best according to the internet wrestling community, who sometimes doesn’t know a good match if it walked up & farted in their face. The match at MITB wasn’t the greatest, but it was definitely very good & both women have room for improvement with each other.

A.J. Lee

A.J. Lee has kept her good standing in WWE circles, even after all of the issues the company has with her husband, C.M. Punk.

While Paige should be the one to go over in this match, I believe it will be A.J. Lee. Vince McMahon is a huge A.J. fan, even though she is married to C.M. Punk, who walked out on the company earlier this year. I believe that A.J. & Paige will have another match after this but Lee will end up having a feud with one of the Bella Twins down the line.

Paige WWE

Paige may need more time in NXT after his angle with A.J Lee, possibly not because of anything she is doing wrong, but because it is a bit crowded in the Divas division right now & she may be the odd person out for a minute.

For some reason, McMahon is down on Paige’s gimmick & her speaking style in the ring. The storyline about them being “friends” or “friendnemies” or whatever is absolutely stupid, but these are two ladies who have the ability to overcome this. I sincerely hope that Paige is the Divas champion going out of Summerslam, but I think WWE is going to go with their opinion of the best worker on the roster in A.J. Lee, especially with Charlotte coming up to the roster soon from NXT. I think if the A.J/Paige situation doesn’t continue, A.J. will transition into working with Charlotte, which could be more interesting due to Charlotte’s height & size advantage over Lee. I have a feeling Paige might be back on NXT before  you know it, which actually might be the best thing for her in her career right now.

 Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins (Lumberjack Match)

Going into this match, I had my doubts about who would be winning this, but after finding out that Ambrose will be working as the lead in a new WWE films movie, the answer will be pretty simple – Seth Rollins.

Rollins has been the guy who has been the focus of the Money In The Bank briefcase as he has the briefcase right now. With Ambrose leaving for a bit, the match will be one of the best of the night & should be a show stealer, but at the end of the day, Ambrose really shouldn’t go over since he will leave for a bit.

Seth Rollins should win through somehow the Authority will all be bought off to beat up on Ambrose & Rollins gets a cheap win. Not much else to put here.

Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton

I really & truly want to get excited about this match, but I just can’t. I don’t know why, I just can’t get there right now. It feels as though this feud was just thrown together so both guys can get a Summerslam bonus in their checks because they are “top guys.”

Randy Orton has been at the top of the card all year long, but really hasn’t meant a ton in the storylines, outside of random Raw episodes where they will remind us that he is a mean “viper” snake, apparently. Orton needs to have a big time performance just to make the WWE fans care about him again.

As for Reigns, he is being groomed to be the guy for the future & to possibly have a big night at Wrestlemania 31 in Santa Clara, but right now, he has work to do in terms of his promo style & just showing more of his overall personality style in the ring. Reigns has the look & in-ring skills to be a main event player in the future, but both guys have been just………….blah through this whole angle.

I see Reigns going over here, & Triple H giving Randy Orton some flak that he couldn’t get the job done at all & couldn’t get the job done during the time in Evolution, which would bring back Batista & get Orton & Batista into a feud that was supposed to be the main event of Wrestlemania 30 before the rise of Daniel Bryan was so large & WWE had no choice but to put Bryan in that spot.

Brie Bella vs Stephanie McMahon

As weird as this may be to say, this is the hottest feud going in the WWE right now. The company has done a fabulous job of building this up slowly, but swiftly, with the arrest of Stephanie & now having the cheating angle going with the physical therapist. WWE has clearly invested big money in performers who they knew they could get some great attitude & action out of. At the same time, they have managed to keep Daniel Bryan relevant to the WWE Universe so when he comes back, he has something to work with immediately.

Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie McMahon goes up against Brie Bella at WWE Summerslam.

This match is not about anything concerning the action, it will be a decent match because both women are very athletic, but the key to all of this will be what happens when the WWE turns Nikki Bella heel against Brie. This has been playing up for the longest time now & of course, Stephanie is not going to be a regular performer in the ring by no stretch of the imagination.

This will be much more entertainment than actual ring work, but at or near the top of the card, that’s not a bad thing at all. Its what the fans absolutely want. Stephanie & the Authority will win due to needing to get the Brie Bella/Nikki Bella feud going into Night of Champions.

Brie Bella

Brie Bella may be getting ready for a feud against her sister, Nikki Bella, after Summerslam is over.

Nikki Bella

Nikki Bella should be playing a big role in Brie losing to Stephanie at Summerslam, as a heel turn has been teased for a while.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Championship

This match has been one of the very well hyped matches, & most of it has been done without having both men together in the same arena most times. Paul Heyman needs to get tons of credit for how this has been built up & what has been done to draw people into the building for this event.

While this feud may continue into Night of Champions, I can easily see Lesnar going over here, especially because of the 12-year anniversary of Lesnar winning his first WWE Championship at Summerslam 2002 when he defeated the Rock. Having the WWE Championship could allow Lesnar to either drop it again to Cena at Night of Champions in a big-time rematch that would draw many subscriptions to the WWE Network, or have Lesnar get the win & allow the WWE Championship to be the holy grail while Lesnar makes sporadic appearances until Wrestlemania season when you would have either Lesnar vs Rock or Lesnar vs Reigns for the Championship in the main event.

This should go to Lesnar, & just set the internet wrestling community a blaze.

Also, during the card, I believe we will hear a big announcement about the Monday Night War show on the WWE Network. The company has said that it would debut this month & it would make the most sense to have a premiere date set on the biggest summer event that WWE has.


Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Xbox One Bundle Available at Sports Fan Playground

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is due to come out on November 3, but the store has the new COD Xbox One special edition console available for preorder now.

The Xbox One console features a 1 TB hard drive as well as the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare game itself in the Day Zero edition. The system is designed in the special Call of Duty theme, with the gray & orange trim around the system, along with the logo in the top of the console.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Xbox One

The new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare special Xbox One console is available for preorder at the Sports Fan Playground.

The system also features a customized console as well as a chat headset. For those who are sports fans, the Xbox One allows gamers to constantly stay connected to live stats & information, particularly during NFL season. Fans can get real-time scores as well as fantasy player information, all while continuing to watch the live game through the system.

Here is a trailer for the new Call of Duty game. For more information, visit the Sports Fan Playground store at store.sportsfan1984.com.


LG LED TVs On Sale at Sports Fan Playground

Many LG LED TV systems are on sale up to 35% off at the Sports Fan Playground through the end of the month in time for the upcoming NFL & college football seasons.

The store has a variety of sizes available for that big tailgate or just sitting back in your living room watching your favorite teams. Here are some of the TVs that are on sale right now.

LG Electronics 32LB5600 32-Inch 1080p 60Hz LED TV – $259, down from $399

LG 32LB5600 LED TV

This LG 32″ LED TV (model: 32LB5600) is on sale for $259, 25% off of the retail price of $399, at the Sports Fan Playground.

LG Electronics 50LB5900 50-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED TV – $599, down from $799


This LG 50-inch LED TV (model – 50LB5900) is on sale for $599, down from $799, at the Sports Fan Playground store.

LG Electronics 65UB9500 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D LED TV – $2,699, down from $4,299


This 65″ LG LED 4K TV is on sale for $2,699, down from $4,299 – 37% off – at the Sports Fan Playground.

These are just some of the LG TV systems that are currently on sale during the month of August & possibly into September at the Sports Fan Playground store.


NBA Schedule Breakdown 2014 – 10 Stories To Watch For – Part 1

In our series on the NBA schedule breakdown for 2014, today, we look at the top 10 stories that will be the most intriguing this coming season, as well as some stories that may not be on the radar right now, but could bubble down the line.

This is the point in the NBA calendar where most of the main rosters are all taken care of, & with the season kicking off in 10 weeks (wow, can’t believe fall is coming so quickly), here are some of the big storylines to keep track of for the 2014-15 NBA season.

Can the Cavs win an NBA Championship with a new “Big 3″ in LeBron, Kyrie & Kevin Love?

When LeBron James made the decision to come back to the hometown Cleveland Cavs after 4 years & 2 NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, it was automatically assumed by many that the Cavs would be the top contender coming out of the NBA Eastern Conference for the championship.

Then, the belief got stronger once Kevin Love agreed to be traded to the Cavs & possibly sign a long-term extension to play along with LeBron & Kyrie Irving. Now that the Cavs are going to be on national TV almost every single week this upcoming season, the question becomes can LeBron, who is basically working on a series of one-year contracts, lead the Cavs to an NBA championship in year one?

James has said that he wants the fans to know that it is a process in terms of learning how to win, but James knows what it takes now & he will be the leader to bring the team together & take them to heights they never knew they had,  & know that there is no ceiling on their growth because of the youth movement.

How do the Indiana Pacers move on without Paul George?

As you all know by now, Pacers F Paul George was lost for the season after a brutal leg injury while having a scrimmage with the Team USA basketball squad preparing for the FIBA World Cup.

George was the clear star & main scorer for the franchise, who basically stumbled through the playoff run last year before the Miami Heat finished off their dreams of getting back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.

While Pacers president Larry Bird may try to say all of the right things in that they will be “competitive” & willing to work hard all season, the best move would be for the Pacers to tank the season & get a top draft pick, along with George coming back next season. The team already lost Lance Stephenson to free agency, via signing with the Charlotte Hornets. Roy Hibbert has been named in many trade talks recently & his playoff performance was abysmal at best.

The Pacers will need to decide who they are going to be this season – a contender, a pretender or a team treading water until 2015-16.

Is Kobe Bryant Finished as a Star Player with the Los Angeles Lakers?

The last two seasons have been brutal for Kobe Bryant, dealing with ACL injuries. Bryant tried to come back last season, but was gone after about 5 games. He didn’t look like himself & he absolutely rushed back to quickly.

But, now what he is coming back to? He is coming back to a team that is truly mediocre at best, especially now that Pau Gasol, the only other dominant scoring option on the team last year, is now with the Chicago Bulls.

Kobe is coming back to the Lakers because his ego & pride tells him that he can lead the team back to the NBA Finals, which if one player could singularly do it in the league, it would be Kobe. But even though his personal physical shape might be okay, the team around him is just not what its supposed to be to be a playoff contender at this point.

Steve Nash has admittedly exercised his player option simply because of the money & to probably deal with the divorce situation with his wife in Arizona. Nick Young is not a player you can build a franchise around & someone that Kobe probably doesn’t have tons of love or respect for because of his self-grandizing style as “Swaggy P.” Julius Randle is a rookie from Kentucky, but does have some promise for the future.

Yes, Kobe is getting paid for his years of service with the Lakers organization, but its difficult not to wonder if the team could have saved some big money if they just let Bryant play out his time & move on into retirement or into the team front office. A question that could also pop up throughout the season – if Bryant stays healthy, how will he enjoy playing for Byron Scott, a Lakers legend but hasn’t won a championship in the NBA as a coach?

 Does Phil Jackson Have The Magic Touch To Get The New York Knicks An NBA Championship?

Last year, Phil Jackson was hired to be the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, a team who completely fell off the grid after a second-round playoff berth in 2012-13, when they won 54 games.

The team did not respond to coach Mike Woodson, & when Jackson was hired, it basically spelled the end of Woodson’s tenure. Was it all his fault? No. The Knicks were injured at key positions, & were trying to have a youth movement & play around the skills of Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony looks as though he is ready to take the Knicks to the next round.

This year, the Knicks have made some great moves to get more young players in the lineup, & next season, the contracts of Amar’e Stoudamire & J.R. Smith will be off the books, which will allow the team to spend some serious money in terms of bringing in more help around Anthony, which was no doubt one of the main selling points that Jackson had to push to ‘Melo when he was on the free agent tour this summer.

If Anthony can take what Jackson says to heart & really embraces the triangle system that Jackson & new head coach Derek Fisher will probably implement, with the young talent like Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert & others around him, Anthony can get the Knicks turned into the right direction & be a stronger overall leader on & off the court.


NBA Schedule Breakdown 2014 – Christmas Day

On Wednesday night, the NBA released their 2014-15 schedule & of course, the biggest emphasis early on was, of course, the Christmas Day games.

Because of Christmas Day falling on Thursday this year, TNT will get to have a doubleheader of NBA games at 8:00 & 10:30, their normal times, along with the amazing Inside the NBA postgame. The holiday games are as scheduled -

Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks – 12:00, ESPN

The Washington Wizards are a very trendy pick to make some noise in the NBA Eastern Conference this year, especially because of the potential fall of the Indiana Pacers after the Paul George injury. The Wizards are building their team around John Wall & Bradley Beal, possibly the best guard combination in the entire league. The Wizards pushed the Pacers to the brink last year & showed the league that this is a team that is on the rise & will look to move into the NBA elite.

John Wall

Washington Wizards guard John Wall will be looking to lead his team past the New York Knicks on Christmas Day, one of the first high profile, non playoff games for the team in many years,

With Kevin Durant able to be a free agent after the 2015-16 season, this is the season that the Wizards begin to move into that next level where Durant can feel as though if he went to Washington D.C., (his hometown) after next season, he could be the single piece to get the Wizards to a potential NBA championship.

The NBA is showing that the Wizards are going to be a team to look at by putting them on national TV against the Knicks on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, in the first full season under President Phil Jackson & a newly-resigned Carmelo Anthony, will be looking to go into a more youth-based movement this coming season, with the additions of Shane Larkin, Sam Dalembert & Jose Calderon.

With the youth all around the Knicks organization, it will be up to Anthony to show on the biggest stage early on in the season that the Knicks were right in putting the franchise in his hands.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs, 2:30, ABC

This is a rematch of the 2014 NBA Western Conference Finals, where the Spurs took out the Thunder on their way to an NBA Championship.

Both teams will be coming in with essentially the same time in tact, with the big 3 of Durant, Russell Westbrook & Serge Ibaka vs the ageless wonders in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili.

Barring some unforseen circumstances, this should be the possible matchup in the 2015 NBA Western Conference Finals. Both teams have great playoff experience & are playoff tested at this point, with the Spurs having far more championships to the Thunder’s 0. This will be another great showcase for Durant & Westbrook to show if they are ready to possibly get over the hurdle that is the San Antonio Spurs dynasty.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat, 5:00 p.m., ABC

This is the game of the holiday. LeBron James will make his first return to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat, a team that was able to revamp nicely after James announced that he would go back to Cleveland.

The Cavaliers could possibly have James as well as Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, as a trade as been agreed upon where Love would go to Cleveland for the #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, last year’s #1 pick in Anthony Bennett & a guaranteed first-round pick next year.

LeBron James

LeBron James will face his former team, the Miami Heat, in Miami for the first time on Christmas Day.

With Love in the mix & a maturing Kyrie Irving, plus other pieces on the bench as well as Dion Waiters & Anderson Varejao, the Cavs have a great unit that can be a true contender for an NBA championship from the starting tip-off of the regular season.

The Miami Heat reloaded their roster by re-signing Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh to long term deals, particularly Bosh, who got the max contract, thus making sure he didn’t go to the Houston Rockets, who were also offering a max deal of $97 million, the most that a player going to a new team can earn.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley is no dummy. He had to have a feeling that LeBron was going back to Cleveland after their meeting in Las Vegas, so he signed Luol Deng from the Bulls, who was also traded to the Cavs in the middle of last season. Along with Deng, the team brought some nice pieces around the stars in Wade & Bosh in Josh McRoberts & Danny Granger, who will be looking to get back to what he was in 2011 & 2012 when he was emerging into one of the most dymanic inside/outside players in the NBA.

The organization paid back Wade & Bosh because they didn’t run away when LeBron decided to go back home, the sign of a great group from top management all the way down. This game will show whether the organization can truly stay among the elite in the NBA or was it really LeBron & the rest of the Heat the entire time.

Los Angeles Lakers @ Chicago Bulls, 8:00 p.m., TNT

This is the first matchup between Kobe Bryant & Derrick Rose since 2011. Both players will be coming back this season after tough injuries kept them out most of the 2013-14 season.

For the Chicago Bulls, this is the year that the franchise is supposed to make a push towards getting back to the NBA Finals, with a head-on matchup against the Cleveland Cavs. With Derrick Rose looking healthier than ever after his team USA exhibition in Las Vegas, it looks as though the Bulls, with the addition of Pau Gasol & drafting Doug McDermott from Creighton.

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will have his first big moment back on the national stage when his Bulls host the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas night at 8:00 p.m. on TNT.

The Bulls organization knows that it could be now or never for this team, who didn’t land Carmelo or LeBron in free agency. Even though they did bring in Gasol, it wasn’t seen as a major splash in free agency, especially after losing Deng.

The Lakers signed Carlos Boozer after the Bulls amnestied him after the season. The team also brings back Steve Nash, who admittedly is truly back for the money & the team has no idea how much Nash can bring to the table at this point in his career after the countless injuries he has endured over the last two seasons.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is used to playing on Christmas Day, & will be right back there again this year against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Kobe Bryant coming back to the organization, the team hired a new head coach for this upcoming season in former Laker & Lakers legend Byron Scott. Scott had his most success with the New Jersey Nets, when he took the team to two straight NBA Finals in the early 2000s. Scott has to show that he is ready to take the keys to one of the most storied franchises in all of sports early on in order to gain the trust of Laker nation, who has been pushed to the background as the 3rd most important team in the Staples Center, behind the Los Angeles Clippers & the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m., TNT

The end of the great 5 game lineup of NBA Christmas Day basketball culminates with the showdown between the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clips & Warriors faced off in a wild first-round series last season that was marred in controversy because that was the time that the Donald Sterling tapes surfaced online, putting the entire Clippers franchise on edge.

With the Warriors, this is the first high-profile game for new head coach Steve Kerr, who moves from the booth at NBA TV & TNT to lead his first team. Kerr will have great weapons around him however – a young team led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson & David Lee. With the strong youth in the Warriors organization, Kerr should have an easier time getting used to the coaching rigors of the NBA as he replaces respected head coach Mark Jackson.

The Los Angeles Clippers are finally back to being able to focus on basketball, as the end of the last season was difficult to do with the issues with Sterling & the questions about ownership. Now that Steve Ballmer now fully has the team,  the Clippers need to show on the national stage that they can be on the same level as the Thunder & Spurs in the very crowded NBA Western Conference standings.

As a whole, the NBA comes through with a great slate of Christmas Day games, keeping with the tradition of having a great day for everyone to sit down & enjoy the league on a grand scale.

Oh, by the way, in case you forgot about the greatness of Inside the NBA, here is a classic episode for you from last season. For more information, please follow the Sports Fan Playground on Twitter, Like the blog on Facebook & follow our pins on Pinterest.


NFL Jerseys On Sale at the Sports Fan Playground For 2014 Season

NFL training camps are opening all around the league, & the Sports Fan Playground has jerseys from the 2014 NFL Draft class available for sale in the blog’s official store.  The jerseys that are available are from the all of the top players in the first round as well as other top names that expect to make an impact in the league in the coming season.

Here are some of the top jerseys available for sale at the NFL store at the Sports Fan Playground -

Johnny Manziel – Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel jersey

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns jerseys available in various sizes at the Sports Fan Playground store.

 Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo Jersey

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo’s Jersey.

 Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck Jersey

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck Jersey.

 New England Patriots Tom Brady Jersey

Tom Brady Jersey

New England Patriots Tom Brady Jersey