LEAGUE WEEK: A New Deal Every Day

It’s League Week here at Sports Unlimited, which means that there is a new deal every day on NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL products. Our Fan Gear section of our site has tons of incredible gifts for sports fans. Whether you are looking for a personalized MLB jersey, a tiny Penn State Christmas Ornament, or something to hang in the Man Cave, we’ve got thousands of options.

Check in each day for the rest of the week to see what we have in store! Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is next week and wouldn’t it be nice to have your Thanksgiving meal without having to worry about what gifts you’re going to buy this year? Get it all done now with League Week.

Isaac’s Bonus Gift Tip: If you know a college football fan, get them a a full-size NCAA helmet from their favorite team. Best_Gift_Ever for a football fan.

Top 10 Reasons to Cherish a Shortened Season

Ten reasons why we should love shortened seasons in sports.

Crowd CheeringOnce we get through the disappointment of the season not starting at its customary time of year, we have to admit that there are a few aspects of a shortened season that are intriguing and exciting.  Here are our top ten reasons to love shortened seasons in professional sports…

10.  So much to watch, so little time!  The frequency of the games has to be one of the greatest aspects of a shortened season.  Although there are fewer games than a full season, leagues pack in the games so that when the season does start, there is always something to watch.

9.  Fire, fire!  With fewer games on the schedule, those games naturally turn into fiery, spirited contests because every game is that much more important in the fight for playoff spots.  The fans can feel it, the players can feel it. There always seems to be an intensity rare to regular season games that shows up consistently in a shortened season.

8.  It’s all leveled out.  The playing field is leveled in a shortened season. This allows small stretches of good play to carry any team into the playoffs, even last year’s losers.  Great teams are not safe with every game being so important; lost points here and there can cost even the best teams a coveted playoff spot.  Conversely, more teams have a chance to surprise and don’t have to stay hot for as long as they would in a standard length season.

7.  In it until the end!  Opposed to a long season in which usually only a few teams are left in the fight for un-clinched playoff spots late, short seasons provide great drama with many teams remaining in the playoff hunt until the very end.  Most playoff teams will not know who they are destined to play in the first round of playoffs because nothing is settled until the frantic finish.

Hockey Fights6.  Hostile territories.  With short seasons, every game against ‘that other team’ not only has the usual ferocity of a rivalry, but gains even more significance because every loss you can give to your opponent, and every win your team earns counts all the more.  When neither team can afford to lose the game, rivalries are intensified, and this desperation can easily generate new rivalries too!

5.  The Gauntlet.  Watching players in the ‘gauntlet’, testing their athleticism, durability, and mental toughness is something that can bring fans closer to the players.  To see the determination and character of your favorite team in a shortened season brings new perspective and respect for professional athletes that dedicate themselves to the sport.

Sports Hug

4.  BFF’s.  No matter the sport, shortened seasons with games squeezed into a smaller timeframe force teammates to become close.  As teams play more often and go on the road together, we can see the evidence on the playing surface.  Have you ever noticed the camaraderie that shortened seasons bring?

3.  Cold Hard Cash Money. Fewer games means money saved on tickets not bought. Although we all love getting to the arena, spending less on tickets and getting to see more intense games when we do is definitely an oft forgotten benefit of short seasons.  Also, TV and streaming subscription services cost less than their standard prices in shortened seasons, putting money right back in your pocket.

2.  Running on empty?  Having played fewer games all year, the players have a lot left in the tank come playoff-time.  You want your team playing its best and most energetic games in the playoffs and not having to push through a grueling regular season can help teams accomplish just that.  Energy is abundant in the playoffs, which makes your glorious, anxiety-inducing run to the championship that much more exciting.

1.  Silver Lining.  Short seasons are a whole lot better than not having a season at all!  Blame who you want for issues preventing a full season on a particular year, but don’t we all sigh in relief once the announcement comes that there will at least be a shortened season?

As fans, we view the successes and failures of our teams emotionally and shortened seasons have the ability to heighten the intensity we feel during those successes and failures.  In the disappointment of a good team missing the mark or the shock of a mediocre team making a run, we might yell a little bit louder during a shortened season because of the reasons we love sports in the first place.

By Isaac Clark.

Isaac is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

Kobe Bryant’s Mask Keeps Him on the Court

Kobe Nose Guard DunkAlways one step ahead of the trends, Kobe Bryant is sporting a new look these days! Donning a “Richard Hamilton-style” clear plastic mask over his face and nose, the LA Lakers star admittedly looked a bit funny on the court Wednesday night. His dominating performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves, though, quickly quieted any lingering laughter in the crowd or at home. With 31 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, all while wearing a new and custom-fit nose and face guard, Kobe showed what it means to play hurt.

Kobe Nose Guard

During Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, an awkward foul from Miami Heat guard and buddy Dwyane Wade left Kobe with a broken nose, headaches, and dizziness, sending him back to Los Angeles worse for the wear and in the hands of physical trainers and doctors. After a battery of tests and concussion-reviews this week, Bryant was cleared to play Wednesday night’s game, with the custom nose guard, of course.

“It happens,” Bryant said. “You just have to deal with it and try to heal up as quickly as you possibly can, and get back on the court.”

Bangerz Nose GuardKobe’s sentiments are echoed by athletes across the country who refuse to let injuries keep them sidelined. From wrestlers to soccer stars, basketball players to martial artists, competitors young and old trust nose guards and face protectors to keep their injured noses safe and healing, so they can stay active and useful to the team. Although they may look awkward and funny to some, masks like the Bangerz HS-1500 Nose and Face Guard are safe and effective. They also feel comfortable and don’t hold you back. Just ask Kobe. A concussion and broken nose won’t keep him off the court. You think looking a little strange is going to stop him? I’ll let Wednesday night’s scoreboard answer your question there; 104 – 85, Lakers.

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Jeremy Lin and the New Knicks

Before you left work on Friday, you may have never even heard of Jeremy Lin. Maybe you picked up on a few whispers around the office, rumblings on SportsCenter, and mentions here and there around the Internet. After all, although he had put up noteworthy numbers in three games, and pulled the Knicks out of a deep slump, he had yet to truly convince the NBA nation that he was indeed worthy of his new roll as starting point guard for New York. With three straight wins against middle-of-the-road teams, the Knick’s Friday appointment with the LA Lakers would truly test the validity of this Cinderella story. But today, after taking down both the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves over the weekend, gracing the front page of ESPN.com, ruling SportsCenter, and gaining hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter almost overnight, it’s hard to avoid Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin and Kobe BryantLin, a 23-year old Taiwanese-American Harvard graduate, was a last ditch effort for the Knicks after Carmelo Anthony was benched due to groin injury, and Amar’e Stoudemire took time off following his brother’s death. Before entering a game late against the NJ Nets, where he would score 25 points, and start a (as of today) 5 game winning streak, (where he’d put up numbers never before seen, even by Michael Jordan), Jeremy Lin had been passed around the NBA from the Golden State Warriors, to the Houston Rockets, and finally to the bench of the New York Knicks.  Lin hadn’t even been drafted out of college!

Yet it’s not like he’s a flash in the pan scorer! Not only can he drive and finish shots, but he’s making plays, passing and feeding the ball to previously underutilized players around Jeremy Lin Harvardthe court. And he certainly put up impressive, NBA-worthy numbers while at Harvard (a division one school mind you). So my question, and the question that’s on everyone else’s mind today, is how did Jeremy Lin get looked over? Why are we just now seeing his basketball genius and talent? Some blame the racial skews that still exist in the NBA, while others believe it’s his perfect fit in the system Mike D’Antoni has established with the Knicks. I don’t mean to regurgitate the same blogs and articles you’ve been reading. I’d just like to see what our readers and customers think of this new and rising NBA star that has captured the national spotlight, seemingly out of nowhere, and brought New York basketball back to life. What do Sports Unlimited‘s customers think of these new Knicks under Lin? Can he and Anthony co-exist when he returns to the court? Is “Linsanity” here to stay? Can we please come up with other sweet “Lin-icknames?” And finally, are we ready to spend the next normally devoid stretch of sports time watching “Linstant replays?”

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.