I used to describe myself as an avid NBA fan. Truth be told, I was much more than that - a true addict you might say. Getting up at 3 am to watch Michael Jordan lace his bad boys up and dismantle the opponent on any given night used to send the adrenaline rush thru my veins over and over again. There were many times when I finally laid to bed at 6:30 am to the sound of birds chirping and still not being able to fall asleep because of the game highlight reel playing in my head. Crazy and awesome memories of days gone by.
While I don't follow the game much anymore, I love to start the day by logging on to www.nba.com to watch the highlights of the day to this day. Today, I logged on and saw that Kobe is out injured. Again. He fractured his left knee six games back from the injury that has seen him sidelined for 8 months after tearing his achilles tendon. And I really feel for the guy. I confess - I was never a fan of the guy. I disliked him immediately when he came to the league BECAUSE he was yet another player to be branded "The Next Jordan". He copied MJ's moves while playing second fiddle in Shaq's golden years and successfully drove him away from the team (after winning three championships) because he wanted to be THE MAN. However, during all those years he kind of grew on me. His work ethic, leadership, determination, refusal to lose REALLY did bring those memories of MJ back, and like it or not, I have to admit - he has that "jeu ne se quois" to him that I realise will be missed when he retires. Most of the commentators today say that the achilles tendon injury was the beginning of the end for him. That he will never be the same again. That we have seen the last of what made Kobe great. Perhaps. But I believe that he will find a way to finish his career on his own terms. All greats do, in one way or another.
And what is the common denominator with FPL you might ask? Injuries. Ever since my basketball "career" was cut short by my hip injury I can't help but twitch in agony and think about the entire rehab process every time I see a professional athlete go down injured. It's tough. It takes so much effort and when your body heals, it takes even more time to remove that mental block in your head and play 100%.
We have seen a number of Premier League players go down lately. Baines, Aguero, Gerrard, Zabaleta, Vertonghen, Enrique, Sturridge, even RVP is back to his old ways. Majority of managers shipped out Aguero and replaced him with the likes of Rooney, Negredo and Lukaku, but it was RVP's injury that was the main catalyst for picking Danny Welbeck as my #CalledIt pick for GW17 for the very reason that he is - out. There are many assumptions flying around that Rooney's injury was simply a diversion and that he will suit up already this GW. Others think that Roo will be deployed as the sole striker with Kagawa tucked in behind him. Me? I have no idea. What I do think is that Welbeck will play and he has the potential (clearly shown by his brace last week) and as long as RVP is out, he can be a great differential (remember, there is a wildcard coming in January). And the saving you get from the 7.0m he sets you back (if you downgrade Aguero, for instance) can easily be used to upgrade your mids who have finally started living up to their promise.
HINT: Walcott and Silva are still owned by less than 5% of managers, albeit the latter is on 4 yellows. WTH?
All the best in GW17 and remember - there are 4 GWs between tomorrow and January 1, 2014!