Monthly Archives: May 2011

Even without Tressel, Ohio State Is in Big Trouble

Getty Images

Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel meekly “resigned” early Memorial Day.

He had to go, plain and simple.  The only thing is this still will not spare Ohio State from the wrath of the NCAA (more on that in a moment).

What transpired at Ohio State was crazy.

In December, five Ohio State players—including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor—were found to have received cash and discounted tattoos from the owner of a local tattoo parlor who was the subject of a federal drug-trafficking case.  Tressel had signed an NCAA compliance form in September saying he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by athletes.  Investigators later found that Tressel had learned in April 2010 about the players’ involvement with the parlor owner, Edward Rife.

Sports Illustrated reported that the memorabilia-for-tattoos violations actually stretched back to 2002, Tressel’s second season at Ohio State, and involved at least 28 players—22 more than the university has acknowledged. Those numbers include, beyond the six suspended players, an additional nine current players as well as other former players whose alleged wrongdoing might fall within the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations on violations.

And if that wasn’t bad enough news for Ohio State, the Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that Pryor is the subject of an  inquiry by the NCAA and Ohio State regarding cars and other improper benefits he may have received.

Memo to the “Sweater Vest” and other coaches in collegiate athletics: you do not lie to two entities – the government and the NCAA.  The NCAA is not amused by lies – ask Bruce Pearl and Dez Bryant.  Had the Sweater Vest told the truth and not covered this up there would have been at the most minor sanctions against the program, probably in the form of missing games from the offending players.  Most of all, the Sweater Vest would not be out of a job.

The buck does not stop at Tressel.  Other people that will be in line of the firing squad may include athletics director Gene Smith and president Dr. Gordon Gee.  The way Sports Illustrated laid out the violations, it appears to be more of a culture of enablers (which starts at the top) thing than a few players here and there.

Now as for Ohio State, I think they will be hammered by the NCAA.  The transgressions at Ohio State was worse than what went on at USC.  Since USC lost scholarships and were banned from bowls for a couple of years, I expect Ohio State to get close to the “Death Penalty” of SMU in the 1980s.

Any punishment less should prompt USC to sue the hell out of the NCAA for inconsistent treatment.

2011 NBA Finals Preview

After seven months of playoff basketball (a slight exaggeration thanks to the damn TV schedule), the Finals is finally upon us.  While a rematch of the 2006 Finals, both the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are different teams from five years ago.

The Heat have a bonafide “Big Three” (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) that are willing to silence the haters stemming from that corny-ass stage show in South Beach before training camp.  The Mavs are a more seasoned bunch with a bonafide superstar of their own in Dirk Nowitski – only this team the Mavs are a hungrier and tougher bunch.

That said, here is how I think this series will shape up…

Miami has more talent on paper than Dallas.  In the NBA playoffs, more talented teams win series and championships most of the time.

But just because Dallas is not as talented, does not mean it should be taken for granted.  Even though the Mavs have one star player, their role players will pose a challenge the Heat has yet to see.  A few of the Mavs role players can go for 20 points on any given night.  They have a few players who can rain 3-pointers in their sleep (Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic).  Their bigs are brawny and tough.  PG Jason Kidd gives the Mavs that crucial postseason experience.

Having said all of that, I still like Miami.  I think the Heat will have Bosh rotate with James and Udonis Haslem in guarding Dirk.  At least Bosh and James have the foot speed and the length to guard Dirk without the need of any double-teams.  That means the Heat will stay at home on the Mavs’ shooters, causing Dirk to tire out from going one-on-five all series.

Heat in six.

Brown’s Tenure in L.A. Will Be Better than Cleveland

I think Mike Brown was a good hire for the Lakers.

Sure, I was one of those fools who originally thought that Brown will flame out as he did in Cleveland.  I slept on it, and amazingly had a change of heart (that “-ish” doesn’t happen too often).

Here are the reasons I think Brown will fare better in L.A.:

The Lakers are lead by a real leader in Kobe Bryant, not a wanna-be in LeBron James.  First, let me say I am NO FAN of Bryant.  I still blame him for running Shaquille O’Neal out of town when they could have won at least THREE more titles together.  That said, Bryant is a damn good leader.  It took him a little while to grow into that role, but he’s surpassed all expectations and then some.  Bryant will buy into what Brown is selling defensively, and will make sure his teammates will as well.

James kind of did his own thing in Cleveland – which is probably why he repeatedly failed in the playoffs.  As we all found out later, James and his crew (not teammates) were given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.  That led to the ill-advised firing of Brown and GM Danny Ferry, only to have James jump ship anyway.  I do not think Brown has to worry about Bryant behaving as James did.

The Lakers have better talent surrounding its superstar.  It helps to have other All-Star caliber talent on a team, and the Lakers have that in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.  That alone will help Brown forget about his Cleveland experience.  If Brown could get 60+ regular season wins per year with that bunch in Cleveland, he’ll win more and often in L.A.

Defense wins championships.  The Lakers were already a good defensive team.  Now they hire a guy who REALLY excels in it in Brown.  It also helps the Lakers have the crazy-ass Ron Artest, when focused is the best defender in the NBA.  I think the Lakers will make the Chicago bulls seem like choir boys on the defense end.

Overall, I think the Lakers are in good hands, even if James sounded like a smart-ass when he said the Lakers “are getting a championship-caliber coach”…

People Are Missing the Point with Kareem

A lot of people are taking shots at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after his frustration over no statute of him at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

I think those people are missing the point.  This is about way more than a damn statue.

Abdul-Jabbar was never fully embraced by the media and fans alike.  He was socially conscious and a political activist since the 1960s.  He – along with Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Muhammad Ali – were ostracized by potential sponsors because of that.

Abdul-Jabbar supported a boycott of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, which put him on the wrong side of many members of the media.  Keep in mind that he changed his name from Lew Alcindor to “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” after converting to Islam during that time.

He never had the cheesing smile of his former teammate Magic Johnson.  He was a loner and an introvert (like yours’ truly), who didn’t care about what people thought of him.  For those reasons, he was perceived as mean and aloof.

That has to be why he has been slighted by the Lakers, the media, and the NBA.  It couldn’t had been his basketball career:

  • The NBA’s all-time leading scorer
  • 6-time NBA Champion
  • 6-time NBA Most Valuable Player (most ever)
  • 19-time NBA All-Star
  • 10-time All-NBA First Team
  • 5-time NBA All-Defensive First Team
  • #33 retired by Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers

It has to be killing Abdul-Jabbar that he is not involved with the Lakers.  He is not honored and taken care of in the similar manner of Johnson, Jerry West, and even James Worthy!

It also has to be killing Abdul-Jabbar that he is not involved with the Lakers nor the NBA in coaching/mentoring capacities.  No one can tell me that Abdul-Jabbar cannot be a valuable asset on a team’s bench, and that’s too bad.

I think that Abdul-Jabbar is mad at the slights he received during and after his playing career.  The statue brouhaha was only the straw that broke the camel’s back.

NBA Playoff Poll Part II

NBA Playoff Poll Part I

An Extremely Late 2011 NBA Conference Championship Preview

Yeah, yeah I know – I’m late.

That means I have a life, so sue me lol!

At any rate, here is how I see things shaping out, even though Game 1 in both series have transpired (again, sue me)…

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls.  Yeah I saw that ass whooping the Bulls put on the Heat Sunday night.  I also saw the awesome facial Taj Gibson put on Dwyane Wade.  I still think the Heat can win this in six.  As long as Miami coach Erik Spoelstra makes the adjustments so that Wade will not have to chase MVP Derrick Rose around all game.  Simply put, the Heat have three stars (Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh) to Chicago’s one (Rose).  The more stars a team has, the higher the chances of it winning a playoff series.  I don’t see this one-man band called Chicago (no pun intended) advancing past a VERY talented Heat team.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks.  Yes, Dallas took a 2×4 to the Thunder’s head in Game 1.  And the Mavs needed all of Dirk Nowitzki’s 48 points in doing so.  Before the series began I had the Thunder in six, and I am sticking with that.  As with the Heat-Bulls series, the Thunder has two stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (possibly three with James Harden) to the Mavs’ one (Nowitzki).  Normally the more star power one team has, the higher the likelihood of it winning a playoff series.  The only thing that may stop the Thunder is Westbrook’s ego.  Westbrook simply cannot take more shots than Durant if the OKC plans on advancing to the NBA Finals.

Bring Hockey Back to Winnipeg!

The Winnipeg Jets may be coming to a hockey arena near you!

Word on the street is the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL is looking to move to Winnipeg, possibly as early as next season.  If that is true, then not only good for Winnipeg, but good for hockey.

First of all, who in the hell thought it was a good idea to place a hockey franchise in Atlanta?  This is the same Atlanta who lost the Flames to Calgary in 1980 when it was very competitive.  After all, if hockey didn’t work down here before why would it work now?

This is also the same Atlanta who is probably the worst sports city in the country.  Anyone check out the attendance at Braves and Hawks games the last few years?  I know the Hawks sucked in the past, but not only have they been playoff-bound the last few seasons, the Hawks have a young nucleus in place that would post around 50+ wins the next few seasons.  Even in their most competitive years, the Braves still do not draw capacity crowds.

But I digress…

It’s time for the NHL to correct two wrongs at the same time: get hockey the hell out of Atlanta and give back Winnipeg’s spot in the NHL.

Having almost the same number of hockey teams in the Deep South (Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Nashville and Raleigh) as in Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver) is just flat-out wrong.

Black on Black Verbal Crime Needs to Stop

Brothers have been verbally assaulting one another in the past couple of months.

First it was the infamous Uncle Tom quote that Jalen Rose dropped on black Duke basketball players in the Fab Five documentary, which I enjoyed (the documentary, not the quote) on ESPN last month.  Former Duke star Grant Hill took exception to that quote, and famously responded to Rose and his Fab Five mates.

Now boxer Bernard Hopkins took some unnecessary shots at quarterback Donovan McNabb.  Hopkins even implied that McNabb wasn’t black enough.  Check out this gem:

“Forget this.  He’s got a suntan.  That’s all.”

What?????

Hopkins also said that McNabb’s privileged upbringing in Chicago makes him not as tough as himself.

As a black man, this sickens me on every level.  What sickens me even more is that this is a grown man in HIS 40s saying this?

What does it say about a culture who denigrates success via hard work and promotes failures and time and prison?  What does it say about a culture who mocks brothers and sisters who come from two-parent, middle-class homes and promotes baby-mama/baby-daddy households?  What does it say about a culture that clowns black folks who are articulate and have class by saying they “talk and act white”?

I wish there would be some black people in the sports world and famous black folks in general would step up and praise black athletes (and in the professional world) who either came from middle-class, two-parent backgrounds or who excelled in the classroom.

Hell I wish I could say something to Hopkins and other ignorant-ass negroes who subscribe to this bull-crap.  To quote Laurence Fishburne from School Daze: “WAKE UP!!!”

Phil Jackson Is not the Greatest Coach in Professional Sports

As soon as the Lakers were swept away by the Dallas Mavericks Sunday afternoon, a lot of folks in the sports media (especially Michael Wilbon and Mike Tirico) waxed poetic over how Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson is the greatest coach not only in the NBA, but in all of sports.

I almost puked the remainder of the Mother’s Day brunch I had with my wife.

People in all walks of life seem to be prisoners of the moment.  They fail to remember and appreciate history while fawning over the present.

Jackson is not the first multi-winning championship coach in all of sports.

In fact, Jackson is the greatest FRONT-RUNNING coach in sports history.  I mean, in Chicago dude had the opportunity to coach Michael Jordan in his prime and Scottie Pippen entering his, winning the first three championships.  That same Chicago team also had Horace Grant doing the dirty work and John Paxson nailing threes.  Jackson won his last three rings with the Bulls with Dennis Rodman doing the dirty work and Steve Kerr nailing threes – with Jordan and Pippen.

Then Jackson takes his act to L.A. and wins three more championships with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in their primes, and two more with Bryant and Pau Gasol in his prime.  I’m sorry but color me unimpressed.

To me, being a great coach means building and maintaining a winning program instead of walking into a great situation with parts already present.  Jackson was never a builder as much as he was a REFINER.

Here are the coaches I would put ahead of Jackson on my list of greatest coaches in all of sports:

  • Vince Lombardi
  • Chuck Noll
  • Red Auerbach
  • John Wooden
  • Mike Krzyzewski
  • Bob Knight
  • Jim Calhoun
  • George Halas

All of those coaches have won at least three championships on any level while building and maintaining winning programs.

By the way, me being a Knicks fan does not have anything to do with my opinion on Jackson.  It’s the same reason Yankees manager Joe Torre (one of my favorite managers) is not on this list.

Torre, like Jackson, was a refiner instead of a builder.  He walked into a great situation with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettite in their primes.  Buck Showalter built it, and Torre refined the product.

Jackson is a great coach – after all, he did win 11 championships.  Let’s not confuse a great coach with being a great front-runner.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 790 other followers

%d bloggers like this: