Review: Top Spin 4

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Top Spin 4 is an enjoyable tennis game that left this player with a surprisingly positive first impression.

I use the word “surprisingly” because I know next to nothing about tennis. I know Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are good players, I know John McEnroe had a temper and I know Ana Ivanovic is one of the world’s best female players but probably gets more attention for her appearance. As far as tennis video games go, the last one I played featured Mario in the umpire’s chair.

Despite my tennis ignorance, 2K Sports has succeeded in designing a game in which it is easy to learn the basics and play the game out of the box. What’s more, the title seems to have enough of a learning curve to keep players coming back.

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Review: Major League Baseball 2K11

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Major League Baseball 2K11 is an acceptable, if sometimes flawed, baseball title that won’t elevate 2K Sports’ franchise above its reputation for falling short of greatness. The game is like a journeyman player who can play a role in the big leagues, but is not ready to start any All-Star Games.

But for some gamers, 2K11 is the only option for a baseball title. PlayStation 3 owners can try the beloved MLB: The Show franchise, and The Show’s 2011 edition is also in the marketplace. I’ve played a little bit of MLB 11 and it works. I’m approaching this review, however, from the point of view of an XBox 360 owner whose choice is between 2K11 or nothing.

From that perspective, 2K11 is OK for gamers who really want an MLB title, but frustrating moments and an over-complicated control scheme prevent the game from being as stellar as it could have been.
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The infamous LeBron dunk footage

Jewish Journal writer Brad Greenberg posted it on his Facebook, and it leads to the LeBron 2010 blog, which features really shaky and blurry TMZ video of King James getting dunked on by youngster Jordan Crawford at his hoops camp recently. However, the video you see above actually comes from ebaumnation.com and makes the TMZ stuff look like poor surveillance video.

The story of how Nike (and possibly Bron Bron himself) had a tape of the dunk confiscated has become the stuff of legend. You’ll see the dunk at about :35 into the video … a solid, two-handed flush from Crawford (a Xavier freshman) off one foot that the King isn’t able to stop.

My first thought … that’s it? The dunk itself looked like a solid piece of work against someone defending the rim, and that someone happened to be LeBron. Was it really worth all the trouble?

Think about this in comparison to the story of another legendary dunk, this one involving a guy by the name of James Felton, who was on the receiving end. The bringer of pain? Tracy McGrady, circa 1996. The dunk was chronicled in a great piece in ESPN the Magazine, and it served as a visceral catalyst for two careers.

Check out this description:

Entering the camp, McGrady was a 17-year-old mystery from central Florida, unmentioned on most top-500 recruiting lists. So everyone in the gym took notice as he slowed at the top of the key to wait for the much-hyped Felton. When the big man caught up, McGrady stared him down, then took off a couple of strides inside the free throw line. Felton jumped too, but just as his fingers grazed the ball palmed in his opponent’s right hand, McGrady whipped it down to his waist. In the next instant, he grabbed it with his left and windmilled it through the hoop so fiercely that it should have dented the floor. By the time the unheralded prep landed, he was the next big thing. Dozens of fans and players tumbled onto the court, yelling and high-fiving, temporarily halting the game. All Felton could do was shake his head, scratch his cheek and try not to look the victim. But the damage was done. The country’s most-sought-after big had been owned. “It was one of the best basketball moments of my life,” recalls (Lamar) Odom. “An I’m-ready-to-get-drafted type of move. I’d never seen anyone do something like that, not even in the NBA.”

Nearing the Toyota Center’s exit 12 years later, T-Mac says, “After I made that dunk, I had chills running through my body. It put me on the map.”

And knocked Felton off of it.

Now that sounds more fitting of oohs and ahhs, doesn’t it? That’s the video I want to see.