Mike’d Up: The emergence of Cam Newton and the best pickup basketball game ever

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Michael Kowaleski

The Carolina Panthers sit at 7-3 in large part to the emergence of their former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Kelley: Cam Newton… wildly talented but wildly immature. It seems as though, in his third season, that he has begun to solve the immaturity dilemma. Self-nicknamed “Ace Boogie”, Mr. Boogie appears to be the next rising star in the National Football League.

No one has ever denied or even questioned his talent level. Look no further than his 14-yard run on Monday night in which he dodged six Patriot defenders and covered 75.8 yards in the process.

It was incredible.

But the real story here is not just the emergence of Cam Newton on the field. Sure, he has become more familiar with NFL defenses and obviously with the Panthers’ offense. But his demeanor on the field is much different. That takes development. It takes maturity, which is no easy acquisition for your classic 21st century prima donna athlete.

Now let’s not kid ourselves. He is nowhere near close to the maturity level of his opponent on Monday in Tom Brady or the great Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. At one point of the Patriots’ final drive, Mr. Boogie could be seen on the sideline with a towel draped over his head passionately complaining about an obvious pass interference penalty.

Tell me if you have seen Manning do that before.

I may be nitpicking but my overarching point is Newton is making serious strides into NFL stardom. Back-to-back wins against the 49ers and the Pats are certainly no fluke. Newton and the Panthers may be for real.

 

Kowaleski: Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years.

I don’t think I’d call this an “emergence” so much as a “resurgence,” Mike. I’m sure you remember Cam’s spectacular rookie season in 2011, when he broke records and passed for 4,000+ yards as the No. 1 draft pick.

What followed was predictable, a sophomore slump that saw his numbers drop across the board: completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns…etc. People started to write Cam off.

But this season he’s playing even better than he did in his rookie season. He’s a huge reason for the Panthers’ success, but not the only reason, or even the biggest. That honor goes to the Panthers’ D, led by my man crush Luke Kuechly. They’ve completely dominated opponents, and that includes the New England Patriots.

Just as important as Cam, as well, is the tremendous coaching job done by “Riverboat” Ron Rivera. I’m a huge proponent on going for it on fourth-and-short at all times, no matter where you are on the field, and Rivera seems to have adopted this devil-may-care attitude after Carolina dropped to 1-3. Since then, the Panthers have won six straight.

Coincidence? I think not.

 

In a promotional effort for a video game, Michael Jordan announced his “unbeatable” pickup team of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Scottie Pippen and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Kelley: The great Michael Jordan has frequently announced bold statements throughout his career and rightly so. He is the greatest of all time.

An unbeatable pickup team, though? To never have a chance to lose? I classify that as a tad bit over the top.

When asked about it, MJ calmly replied, “I got no chance of losing. None at all.”

There was an interesting article on ESPN the other day. Scoop Jackson provided his rebuttal and proposed a team of his own that may not beat Jordan’s squad consistently, but would at least give them a challenge.

He said, and I quote here, “Give me Penny Hardaway, Allen Iverson, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Any day, any court, any time.”

It would be an interesting matchup, that’s for sure. Squaring off Iverson and Jordan in an offensive showcase? I would much rather have Kobe there to negate the physicality MJ possesses. LeBron and Pippen. And of course, the two of the greatest centers of all-time in Olajuwon and Abdul-Jabbar.

How about Magic to Worthy on the fast break? This would be incredible basketball. I agree with Scoop here, though. There is no way the MJ team would be unbeatable. They would win the far majority of its game, but not all.

 

Kowaleski: Worthy’s a bit of a stretch for a “greatest of all time” discussion. Jordan’s pickup five are an intimidating group to be sure, but picking Worthy over Bird is a huge mistake. He also seems to favor his own era which, while certainly a strong point in NBA history, is a little short-sighted. What about the great players of today, like LeBron James

I’d go LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Kevin Durant, and Tim Duncan to beat everyone on that court at least 70 percent of all games played. That’s assuming that Kobe doesn’t become a black hole and take every shot just to prove that he’s better than Jordan…because he totally would.

Have LeBron run the point and you have the best-shooting, best-scoring, most physical lineup this side of LeBron-Kobe-Durant-Bird-Jordan. And that’s not an option, because we’re going against His Airness.