What a week. Slammed at work (figuratively not literally) and more coming next week. Finally we get into August but instead of actual football we get inane training camp stories and the promise of injuries to players you thought were going to give your team the edge this year. This does not even factor in all those people around you excitedly discussing the new season of Jersey Shore. In recognition of these summer doldrums, we present Bill Belichick wetting down a football from an angle that appears humorous.
Friday, July 30
What a week. Slammed at work (figuratively not literally) and more coming next week. Finally we get into August but instead of actual football we get inane training camp stories and the promise of injuries to players you thought were going to give your team the edge this year. This does not even factor in all those people around you excitedly discussing the new season of Jersey Shore. In recognition of these summer doldrums, we present Bill Belichick wetting down a football from an angle that appears humorous.
Thursday, July 29
I was going to type that it is time for "another installment" of our version of Tale of the Tape but looking back over our archives, two previous posts of similar ilk is hardly a case for making it appear as a regular feature. Also, this is our first non-sports head-to-head match up in the ASD yet its significance to the progress of the human race cannot be denied. In the late 1980s/early 1990s movie soundtracks were beginning to mirror the shift in the nation toward more of an acceptance to hip hop culture. Some purists would call this the commercialism of rap which lead to the prominence of gangsta rap's emergence in the populous. MC Hammer gave way to Tupac, Dre, and Snoop Dog. I guess it was similar to how grunge moved in and blew glam rock off the map but I digress. Today we have two primetime examples of the movie franchise-pop rap collision. Two movies, two sequels, two ridiculous plot premises, two bygone rap stars, two songs with ridiculous lyrics...one winner. Which one is superior? Read on for the breakdown.
Ninja Rap------------------------song-----------------------------------On Our Own
Vanilla Ice------------------Singer/Rapper----------------Bobby Brown
Cool as Ice-----------------disastrous later project-----------Bobby and Whitney
"Go ninja go ninja go"-------silly chorus phrase---------"All on our own"(sung in falsetto)
TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze------------movie title------------Ghostbusters 2
1991---------------------------Year of release-------------------------1989
$78.656 million---------------Gross revenue--------------------$215.394 million
Radioactive goo gives animals human intelligence----ridiculous plot premise--------Evil man in painting is facilitating the spread of slime that feeds on human emotion
As rapper at a club--------------------Cameo appearance by artist---------------Doorman at Gracie Mansion
Ernie Reyes Jr.------------------kick-ass sidekick-----------------Rick Moranis
David Warner---------------------weird dude with an accent--------------Peter MacNicol
Paige Turco as April O'Neil-----------------hot chick--------------------Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett
Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme-------original movie pop song--------Ghostbusters by Ray Parker
TMNT Fruit Snacks--------------------Best food/drink product resultant----------------Hi-C Ecto Cooler(and it's not even close)
Now to the actual songs. First we have Ninja Rap. You really have to appreciate how much of a shill Vanilla Ice was made to be for this role. The plot situation is that the Turtles are battling Shredder's own mutant creations of Tokka and Rhazar, wolf and snapping turtle respectively, and the kerfuffle lands them in a club where Ice is up on stage performing. Instead of freaking the fuck out at the sight of 4 man-sized turtles and two hulking wolf/turtle beasts, Ice breaks out into what we are lead to believe is an impromptu song while the Turtles beat the crap out of the two and various foot clan members. They even dance a little bit for the crowd. Here, in its glory is the video for Ninja Rap. Please observe Ice's little A capella intro complete with double arm thrust. My favorite lyrics have to be the opening "Yo, it's the green machine, gonna rock the town without bein' seen" [interesting sidenote: after the club scene Shredder downs a vial of ooze and becomes Super Shredder, who was played by wrestler Kevin Nash]
Breathtaking. Now we have On our Own from Bobby Brown. The quality is a little Zapruder-esque but the good one had the embedding disabled. The song was a continuance of Brown's success after he left New Edition but before the substance abuse led him to the person he is today. Maybe he was always that guy but reality TV just highlighted it. The song was more of a backdrop to the Ghostbusters getting back in Vigo kicking mode then intertwined into the story but this video is too gold to not show. Things to note in this video being with Bobby dancing with a hoochie on different buildings located in NY. There is also numerous celebrity cameos including Rick Moranis, Christopher Reeve on a bike (too soon?), Donald Trump, and some I could not identify. Favorite lines for me are in the opening rap: "too hot to handle, too cold to hold....try to battle my boys, that's not legal!"
Man, this is a tough call. It is pretty clear that Ghostbuster 2 was a bigger success as a movie and that their use of the song was more traditional. However, I used to run through the streets with my friend with a broomstick pretending I was Donatello and the cheesiness of Ninja Rap is quite strong. My personal edge goes to the Green Machine. Feel free to disagree, I have a feeling which way friend of the blog Walter Peck is leaning, but maybe he feels betrayed about being left out of the sequel?
Wednesday, July 28
Erin Andrews was in Washington in support of stricter laws on stalking. This hardly even qualifies for sports news, but she almost won Dancing with the Stars! Is this really a necessary undertaking? Maybe. I've never been the victim of stalking and I would think it is a desperate and disgusting act unless you keep it on Facebook where it belongs.
What intrigues me most about this video is the little old lady behind Andrews. Seriously, watch the video with no sound and you can almost hear her thoughts inside your head. Who is she? What sort of mystic powers does she posses? Is she casting a spell on all of us? In summation: stalking is bad and lazy eyes are creepy.
Erin Andrews Went to DC and Hopefully Changed Some People’s Minds About Stalking [TBL]
Tuesday, July 27
I like pie, The Rock likes pie, mathletes know pi, and most other people like pie. Yet this is not a happy story about pie. Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan tore meniscus in his knee as he attempted to pie-to-face teammate Wes Helms Sunday after the team's extra innings win over San Francisco.
The shaving cream pie has increased in popularity in recent years. The usual scene involves the key player form the game or the player who got the winning hit interviewing with the affliate's broadcaster and then one or more teammates sneaking from behind and plunking him with said pie. A mirthful time is had by all. Of course it's always fun until someone tears menisci. The Marlins have eliminated pie celebrations for the remainder of the season. Obviously mistakes happen but baseball has been going through a bad stretch of injuries in recent years. From Eli Morales' broken leg on a walk-off home run to Milton Bradley's argument knee injury to Mike Pelfrey's sleeping on a plane neck injury.
There are so many games and situations these players put themselves in, there are bound to be mishaps. The fact that these players are multi-million dollar investments for ownership means a tighter restriction on extranneous activity around the ballpark and sadly that means less pie which is never a good thing. The little solace Coghlin and his bretheren in baseball can take is that Bill Grammatica still holds the belt for most embarassing injury.
Coghlan goes on DL after celebration injury [MLB.com]
Friday, July 23
A recent story getting press is the ruling of a Connecticut Judge telling Quinnipiac University that competitive cheerleading is not a sport. Almost all of the reaction is to the fact a judge was allowed to decree what is and is not a sport. It will be seen as a humorous blurb and invoke discussion on what counts as a sport and what does not. This article is about more than qualifying activities though, it is about the asinine numbers game that is Title IX.
Quinnipiac is a small mid-major school that no doubt lacks the big budgets of the football superpowers. They are doing what they can to survive. Let's take a look at the college sports landscape shall we?
Football is king. It generates the most money and attention for schools, namely the FCS and a few top FBS schools. Men's basketball is also up there, due to the opportunity to get TV and NCAA tournament money. After that, there are a few sports in different patches of the country that generate interest and revenue, but none touch the big 2. The cost of supporting large scale college sports is sky-rocketing, while the economy is struggling. Added to this is the requirements of Title IX. This federal law passed in 1972 which did not even originally pertain to athletics has come to dominate the fate of non-revenue sports. Since the 1990s when the NCAA established distinct guidelines of how schools can comply with the law or lose federal funding collegiate teams have been going the way of the Dodo.
Those distinct guidelines can basically be summarized by proportionality. There are two other ways schools can comply but it has been shown to be nearly impossible to implement them. Proportionality is simplistic (and therefore ill-equipped to handle this matter) in its definition; the proportion of female to male ratio of the student body has to be reflected in the allocation of resources in an athletic department. So if a school is 55% female and 45% male, the athletic department must make sure their expenditures reflect that. For schools with football, which has over 100 males athletes, the only way to make this a reality is to cut non-revenue men's teams. A school must have at least 7 programs to stay division I in their sports, but after that it is fair game.
Over the past 20 years men's collegiate sport programs in anything from soccer, tennis, wrestling, rowing, and even baseball have been wiped out. Even women's teams have been disappearing in favor of other women's sports that are cheaper or help teams comply with Title IX more efficiently. Take women's rowing for example. Once a small sport, it has grown to into one of the biggest female collegiate sports in the country. Why? Numbers. Women's rowing is the biggest counterweight the gender has to football. The roster sizes are larger than other women's sports.
Quinnipiac has 7 men's teams (no football team) and 12 women's teams with competitive cheer and volleyball listed. They tried to eliminate volleyball and install cheerleading because it offered them a cheaper way to comply with an outdated rule. The judge in this case ruled that cheerleading did not fit the criteria to serve the purpose. As much as I love to mock cheerleading this is not what is at the crux of the situation at Quinnipiac. It is the 5,000 pound gorilla that exists in college sports. Gender equity and opportunity in athletics is important, much too important to have an old archaic law like Title IX be the utmost authority on it.
Judge in Conn.: Cheerleading not a college sport [Yahoo]
Thursday, July 22
Ken Berger lit the NBA on fire last night. Just after the dust had started to settle from the fallout following The Decision, another MVP-caliber player in his prime appears to be on the move. Somehow, with The King picking his next destination, people have forgotten that Chris Paul is still under contract for two seasons. He'll be able to tell teams he's not interested in re-signing to possibly discourage them from entering the sweepstakes, but it will be up to the Hornets where Chris Paul plays his next game. One team that no one is talking about (seriously, no one) will make a very hard run at the Hornets to get CP3's services and have as good a chance as any at landing him for a variety of reasons.
Leading up to the LeBron sweepstakes three teams "led" at various points. New York, Chicago and Cleveland all spent time atop the leaderboard and all went home empty handed. Meanwhile, quietly down in Miami Pat Riley was gutting his roster, not exactly a great move if you hope to keep your superstar. Unless he knew. If he didn't it was one of the riskiest gambles of all time that just happened to pan out. I don't buy it either, he knew. So how does this pertain to Chris Paul? Let's connect some dots.
This is Michael Jordan's first off-season as an owner. Yes, that's right folks, the Charlotte Bobcats are the Omitted Option. Chris Paul was sitting courtside with MJ during the team's first ever playoff series. He's a member of Nike's Team Jordan. He's a young man that grew up in North Carolina idolizing the man that all North Carolina basketball players of his generation idolized. Are those reasons enough to come to Charlotte? No. Not by themselves, so let's take a look at the Bobcats off-season moves.
1. Fail to even offer their starting point guard (who helped lead them their first playoff berth) and let him walk out the door.
2. Pull out of a trade with Toronto for Jose Calderon at the last possible second. Reports initially said Jordan nixed this trade, but it was later laid at head coach Larry Brown's feet.
3. Re-sign an athletic, high-flying PF that would do very well in a more uptempo style of play.
4. Traded the expiring contract of Tyson Chandler for the voidable contract of Erick Dampier, and adding 2 years of Eduardo Najera and 3 years of Matt Carroll.
Raymond Felton is a mediocre starting point guard in the league (probably ranks around 16-20) so not wanting to overpay him in and of itself is not eyebrow raising, other than there were no better options in free agency. Same goes for the re-signing of Tyrus Thomas who they had acquired for a first round pick. They like the young man, nothing earth shattering about the move. The trade for Jose Calderon is where things get interesting. The trade was essentially done. Players were called, they were informed they'd been traded, but at the last moment the Bobcats pull the plug. "Larry doesn't like the trade" was the line written by many the next day. The team is about to acquire a starting point guard and they only ask their Hall of Fame Head Coach for his opinion hours after it's being reported as completed? Maybe. Maybe not. The team followed that up by almost immediately trading Tyson Chandler to Dallas for spare parts. In 24 hours they went from acquiring a starting point guard, which they needed, to opening a 2nd hole in their starting lineup for a piece of trade bait that would only be truly valuable to a team that is looking to shed salary, perhaps a team that's for sale say in Louisiana?
Every move the Bobcats have made seems to point to the acquisition of Chris Paul. Plenty of teams made moves to acquire LeBron and most went home without the prize, but CP3 doesn't get to handpick his destination at this point. The Hornets will be looking to make the best deal possible for them. The Cats can now offer $13 million in immediate cap relief. The only other two teams that could offer that would be Cleveland and Toronto. Two places Chris Paul would not be re-signing. The Bobcats can also offer an All-Star in Gerald Wallace whose $9 million is arguably the best piece for the best price that the Hornets would be able to add.
Reports came out quickly about Chris Paul's preferred destinations. Orlando, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Portland have all been mentioned. Let's take a quick look at the various situations.
Los Angeles Lakers - This option has largely been dispelled, but they re-signed Derek Fisher and signed Steve Blake, two point guards this off-season. That hardly seems like a team preparing to bring in a stud PG.
New York - Signed Raymond Felton at about $8 million per to play point guard. Again, doesn't seem like they were preparing to add a point guard. They also lack the pieces and salaries (unless NO wants to be the Warriors south), other than Eddy Curry, needed to send back.
Dallas - Understand the interest, but would the Hornets truly be willing to trade him within their division? They do have some expiring contracts to offer (Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, and even JJ Barea) but no immediate cap relief and while Mavs are convinced that Rodrique Beaubois would be inticing some of his luster has come off and PG doesn't appear to be a need for New Orleans with Darren Collison playing well.
Portland - One of the best options because they have several talented youngsters and some expiring contracts. If, however, the Hornets are looking to get out from under more than just Okafor's contract (some people suggesting Posey will be required too) it's hard for the Blazers to assemble enough salaries without gutting the entire team.
Orlando - The doomsday scenario for the Bobcats. Paul and Howard would be deadly. It would be Phoenix's offensive attack, but with a top 5 defense on the other end. The best thief and shot blocker in the entire league on the same team, running the most dangerous pick and roll on the offensive end with 3-point shooters spotted up all over the place. Between Miami and Orlando the Bobcats would be destined for no better than 3rd in the division for the foreseeable future. Orlando has already made a push for a trade in the past and there's little doubt they will do the same again, but outside of Vince Carter's expiring contract there's very little short term relief they can offer the Hornets, with Gortat and Nelson the two most likely candidates to be offered.
To this point, the Bobcats are being completely ignored by the national media in the quest to land Chris Paul, but this team has quietly put themselves in position to make an attractive offer to the Hornets. For Bobcat fans they have to hope that the silence and decision to gamble on letting Felton walk and acquiring Dampier were moves made because Michael Jordan and the front office knew something everyone else didn't. We saw this very scenario play out in Miami, but for the first time in 30 years people in North Carolina are being forced to ask, 'Can MJ deliver in the clutch?' I wouldn't bet against him.
Wednesday, July 21
Nick Saban went off at the SEC Media Day about agents. PFT weighed in suggesting that players should be suspended if they accept money. Most people have taken the approach that the problem is without solution and without a doubt there will not be one policy enacted that can cure all that ails amateur athletics, but the groundwork has already been laid towards a policy that could be effective.
The Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA) has been adopted in some form by 38 states and the District. Under the Act, agents can be convicted of a felony if found to be guilty of providing student-athletes money or gifts (as well as for other prohibited actions). While the NCAA has worked well in conjunction with most states to get this Act passed into law, they need to work together to prosecute these cases. Convicted felons are not allowed by the NFL Players Association to represent players at the next level, so a conviction can effectively kill an agent's career. The building blocks are in place, the NCAA should seize this period of increased visibility to reach out to State Attorney Generals to begin punishing the offending agents. Even though agents use runners often times, what young person trying to break into the business would be willing to risk a felony conviction knowing that it would end any chance of representing and making money off players in the future?
Tuesday, July 20
When people say Shawn Kemp's name nowadays the image of a bloated, substance-abusing, reproducing man with legal troubles is what comes to mind. However, I prefer to think of Shawn in his glory days, as the Reign Man in Seattle. Sadly, much like the NBA in Seattle, Shawn has faded away. As is our duty now and then, we remind you of something in the sports world you may have forgotten. This is what Shawn was at his best:
Fitting that the video was set to another Seattle 90s mainstay, Pearl Jam. Shawn had a LeBron James physique. He was 6'10", 240 pounds at his peak and his athletic ability was off the charts. It allowed him to be able to handle the ball coast to coast, block balls way above the rim, and dunk with absolute ferocity. I have stated before I believe Dominique to be the best in-game dunker of all-time and I believe Shawn is right behind him. He finished second to Dee Brown in the 1991 Dunk Contest because Brown wowed everyone by pumping up his Reeboks. Kemp did a dunk from one step inside the free-throw line with his leg cocked up almost touching his elbow and only got a 48. Kemp won that contest. Kemp would regularly dangle from the rim like he was hanging from a chandelier after being lobbed a pass from Gary Payton that either originated 5 feet away or the halfcourt line. His dunks had an attitude, you could hear the rim wail in pain when he threw it down, as poor Arnold Lister found out in number 1 in the below top ten.
Shawn's performance in the Sonic years was not only solid during the season (around 17.5 and 10) but he played even better in the playoffs. The Sonics had many crushing playoff defeats during their impressive run but rarely could the brunt of that be laid on Kemp. In 1996, the 64-win Sonics made the Finals, but unfortunately ran into the 72-win Chicago Bulls that are the often considered the greatest team of all-time. The Sonics pushed the Bulls to 6 games but could not do the impossible. Kemp averaged 23.3 points per game and was in double figure in rebounds 4 of the 6 games. Kemp even had a nice present for Scottie Pippen.
After the luster of the Finals wore off, Kemp was discouraged by his paltry salary compared to other perennial All-Stars. When Jim McIlvaine is making more than you, it gets under your skin. Kemp of course handled it in the manner of a man who lived on the edge and was about to fall off it: he refused to play. He was traded to the Cavs in their era of the blue and black swirley uniforms. Kemp averaged 18.7, 20.5, 17.8 in his three seasons in Cleveland but his problems were beginning to mount. It was beginning of the end. Yet like a woman who was smoking in her 20s and loses her looks in her 30s due to body neglect, late-night partying, child births, and the slow decline of the genetic amino acid sequences, I prefer to look upon Shawn as his days of glory.
Monday, July 19
Last week, I took issue with an Adrian Wojnarowski column for his treatment of LeBron. Well, The Woj (yeah, that should stick) is at it again. This time, The Woj knocks it out of the park, outlining how LBJ was nearly left off the Olympic team and how the enabling attitude of Cleveland contributed to the monster. Yes, I'm conceding that he's out of control. Upon hearing of LeBron's newest purchase, a $49.5 million mansion that is allegedly the biggest in Coral Gables, I quit. There's no justification. It's dumb. It's a diva move. Immediately after his PR disaster on ESPN, he decides to spend nearly half of his new contract on a house (and that's not even factoring in taxes, upkeep, expenses, his other mansion, etc.). I don't see how State Farm keeps him on as a spokesman (isn't being there when you need us most their most important message) and what reputable companies are itching to add someone that appears so clueless? I may continue to defend him on the basketball court, but as for the man I can no longer muster the energy.
Update: The King's not buying the mansion. Well **** me sideways.
Update: LeBron's children's furniture line still debuting this fall. The bunkbed set comes with a life-size Maverick Carter doll that will tell your child how great he is and the mattresses roll up easily for those times your kid runs away.
Friday, July 16
Thursday, July 15
May was not kind to David Wright. His hitting went in the tank and struck out over a third of the time at the plate. With the Mets wobbling around .500 and Wright looking worse and worse at the plate, many began to wonder if the beaning he took to the head at the end of last year had done some permanent damage. Others wondered if the tinkering of his swing was the cause of the problems. Last year Wright only hit 10 home runs, the lowest total of his career and that includes the 2004 season when he only played in 69 games. In the offseason Wright focused on getting his power back but early this season in April and May he couldn't hit the ball.
Once he got to June his hitting took off and even after a mini-dip before the All-Star break Wright is batting .314 with a .924 OPS. He is tied for the NL lead in RBIs and has 14 home runs already this year. One thing that has been consistent this year and throughout his time in New York is that David always faces the media and answers the questions, whether he or the team is struggling.
Wright is the Derek Jeter of the Mets. What I mean by that is that he is the superstar symbol of the team. In the New York area Jeter has his Ford Edge commercials and Wright has his Lincoln commericials (and that ad with The Situation). The Jets have Sanchez, Giants have Eli, Yankees Jeter, and the Mets Wright. Nationally, Wright is the least talked about. He does the ads (even a Sportscenter one) , made the All-Star team for the 5th straight time, hell he even threw Joe Buck a bone and went on his show. He does everything you want in a superstar. Yet that is not always enough to garner attention. Sanchez has more hype and all he did was throw 20 interceptions and a few TE drags in the playoffs and people are hailing him as the next sliced bread of New York.
That might be how Wright wants it, but it is how the media portrays it. As I mentioned he does the commercials, the charity work (he has a batting average charity bet with Jeter in fact), he has the clean cut image, but outside of New York he is just known as a superstar and nothing more. He has helped foster a culture of commaraderi in the clubhouse with the help of teammates like Jeff Francoeur. Wright even took charge when he saw his left infield partner Jose Reyes was too hobbled to continue last weekend against Atlanta. Wright took the initiative and had Reyes taken from the game. After the game Wright was incredulous as to why Reyes was out there and the training staff did not take charge of the situation. The Mets trainers and doctors have not had a good track record lately, just ask Carlos Beltran's knee.
Wright makes a little over $10 million this year, and is slated for $14, $15, and $16 million over the next three years. A hefty sum but one you would expect for the most constant star on a big market team. The Mets are only 4 games back in the NL East, a position no one thought they would be in. They accomplished this without Carlos Beltran and with the disapointing performance of Jason Bay. It is likely the Mets will fade out of the race, but the known entity is the quiet tenacity of David Wright.
photo via NY Daily News
Wednesday, July 14
Tuesday, July 13
Race is still an issue in this country and all around the world and it will continue to be as long as people still walk it. Our own country's history has hostile and shameful racial divides woven into the fabric of its story that will not be abated with time. Even the election of a black president cannot wipe the slate clean. We have this issue and it exists, it is complicated and sports often serves as a platform to debate and discuss race. The issue of Dan Gilbert's response however, has nothing to do with racism.
Gilbert's letter and subsequent radio interview has no racial motivation behind it. He was hurt and offended that James did not keep in contact with him and then embarrassed his organization and city during his hour-long farce on ESPN. Dan went over the line in his attack on LeBron, but it was not racially motivated. However it did not take long for the straws that stir the racial debate drink to float to the surface.
Who better to represent the agitators than Jesse Jackson? The "reverend" got directly to the point, accusing Dan Gilbert of having the mentality of a slave-owner and even comparing LeBron leaving Cleveland to a slave leaving the plantation. Despite stating the obvious that comparing LeBron to a slave is ridiculous, the theoretical intricacies of a more clouded analogy. The difference is akin to dissecting a song. The songwriter may intend one message or emotion when he wrote it but the listener can interpret it however he or she wants. The listener is free to make those interpretations but they cannot judge the songwriter based on those. If Jackson and others want to examine the relationship between owners and predominantly black players they are more than welcome, it just has no place as an explanation for the motivation of the comic sans letter.
Monday, July 12
Usually you want to see a doctor when that occurs but the for the NCAA Tournament this was inevitable. Thankfully the horrible super expansion did not come to fruition for now. There will be 4 extra teams added to the at-large list, with those teams playing early in the week along with teams 65 through 68 playing the other two. This offers a good balance of teams that came in just on the good side of the bubble a showcase and the small guys will be mixed in. It is highly superior to 65 team format that featured two small mid-majors taking on each other in Dayton. This of course was made in the interest of making the NCAA more money which translates as making the schools more money which is what we all want right? Well more cash in the pockets of these schools has no bearing for most of us, but its an inevitable course of events, so at least some good can come of that.
The two games featuring the final bubble teams are sure to be teams selected for their watchability(/Bud Light'd?) so there will still be that room for conspiracy theories like team A only got in because it made for a good opening round game and Duke was given a road paved with schools for deaf, blind austic kids. The bottom line is still survive and advance, perhaps the truest thing Jimmy V ever said and definitely truer than anything he said to NCAA investigators. So we can breathe easier, knowing the tournament has expanded in a small and positive way for now.
NCAA got it right with tourney expansion [Yahoo]
Sunday, July 11
Saturday, July 10
When I lived in Miami I was not that big a fan of Dan LeBatard. I really should have been, after all he is a fellow alumnus of the U and every once in awhile he can crank out a good article. Since I left South Florida his radio show and appearances on PTI have taken off. That's how most people know him now. The turning point for me was probably when he was pulling other journalists off the Jump to Conclusions Mat when Sean Taylor was killed. The above rant however, is pure gold no matter how you slice it. "Our half-full sports bar exploded in joy." Gold Jerry,gold.
Friday, July 9
Going to leave all the whining about the special to other people. You know, the column where the writer talks about the absurdity of a one hour special and about how LeBron hasn't won anything, but this is their 50th column about him versus only one about Tim Duncan. Because writers care about writing about winners more than... what? I already wrote about this? Sorry, was just trying to fit into the dead horsebeater crowd. Fine, let's take a deeper look at LeBron and how he's just like the rest of us, and that's why some don't like him.
Let's take a quick trip back to the beginning of LeBron's NBA career. When he debuted he was 18 years of age. His high school games had been on ESPN and all were available through local cable providers in Ohio, by his junior year had to be moved to the University of Akron and more than 20,000 had showed up to see him in the state playoffs. Shaq had come to watch him play, he'd had multiple personal conversations with Michael Jordan and had multiple friends already in the NBA. Oh, and he'd been on the Cover of Sports Illustrated, twice. After his sophomore year he was described by an NBA scout as, "the best high school player he'd ever seen." A coach that faced both him and Kobe proclaimed that James was better. Kobe must not of heard, because he gave the King one of the rumored 12 pairs of his American Flag Kobe II spaceboots. This was his world (yet there's been a lot wrtiten about him be self-anointed).
So he starts to believe the hype. He's 18-years old and starts talking about a desire to be the greatest. This was the origin of the expectations he set. Unlike most people, he can't get away from them. When we were all 18, we had high hopes and expectations. Most of us thought we'd be further along in the venture of life than we are today. Many of us work in jobs we never would have foreseen as we prepared to venture into the world. Most of us also, don't get reminded of our dreams. "Remember when you were 18 and you thought you'd be pitching in the World Series?" Yes. "Well, now you're 26 and working in a Best Buy, what the hell happened?" Pretty dick thing to say, right? Well, LeBron still lives with those expectations. He's 25 now, and while he has the world at his fingertips he's stuck under a microscope and not just any microscope, but the most intense microscope sports has ever seen (tempted to throw a 'since Jackie Robinson' in there, but comparing a current athlete to a former player involved with civil rights didn't work out well for The Sports Guy). Everywhere he goes things he said nearly a decade ago are used by "haters" to downplay all he has done.
And he has done a lot. He grew up bouncing from place to place. He'd seen guns and drugs being used growing up, but where The King came from doesn't matter now, it's all about rings. If he would've won just one in Cleveland, people say, it would be more valuable than three in Miami. Riiiiiiiiight. As if 6>5, 5>4, and 5>0 haven't been used since the NBA Finals wrapped up. There's no asterisks. Just titles. "He'll never be Michael" they say, but that's just it. LeBron knows that. He's known that.
LeBrons's done everything we could ask of a young star in today's age. He's stayed out of trouble, he's been a good teammate, he single-handedly led a team to the Finals, he worked on his game, stayed in shape, didn't leave his small market team and what was the result? More criticism. "He doesn't want to take the last shot." "He's won nothing." "He's a king without a crown." And somewhere along the way, LeBron realized trying to be the best sucks. It's wonderful when you get to the mountain top, but the climb is difficult. Nobody played harder than Michael and nobody works harder than Kobe. That's what makes them special. Not necessarily better, just special. Most of us aren't wired that way and for most of us, it isn't worth it. "I've earned the right to drink a little too much. This week was rough." "I partied a little too hard last night, so I missed my workout, but it's only one." "Some times you just have to sit back, relax and do nothing." 99% have said these or some variation before. The same 99% that will criticize an athlete with "I wish he was in the gym working on his jump shot" when we see a picture of him out at a party. So LeBron said screw it, I'm not going to be the GOAT. He can't admit it publicly, but he knows it.
If any of us reaches 97% of our potential, our families will be ecstatic, our lives will be charmed and no one will criticize us. We can still have families, take vacations and no one will ever question what about that last 3%. Unless you're LeBron James. He realized he'll never be able to silence all the critics, but what he can do is enjoy the journey. He can shoot for 3 hours instead of four and be home to play with his kids. He can wake up at nine instead of seven and stay out after dinner with Jay-Z. He can have a life outside of basketball and still be successful on the court. If LeBron wins 4 or 5 rings (and he will win some) he'll be compared to Magic. No one talks about Magic's work ethic. No one questions whether Magic should've improved his shot sooner. LeBron can have a life and his fallback place in basketball lore is beside Magic Johnson. Think about that. He can still be remembered as a top 10 player in the history of the league when it's all said and done and he doesn't have to grind day in and day out. He can spend some of that money he's earned (and not just on large 'I'm sorry' rings). He can have a relationship with his family, relationships so often strained with any workaholic.
20 years from now people won't remember that he went to "DWade's team" they'll remember he won rings. Most people forget how Kobe got the Lakers' and he's still playing. People don't consider the Celtics most recent title as needing an asterisk, so why would LeBron's? Those expectations "he" created? He's lowered them. In his mind, he's perfectly at peace with Magic status just as 99.9% of us would be.
Sad news in the world of basketball. No, not the LeBron situation. That is a Barbaro that will be beaten over and over again over the coming
weeks eternity of human existence. "Dinner Bell" Mel Turpin was found dead in his home at the age of 49. The police suspect suicide. His family and friends don't think it was in him to do it. Turpin was selected by the Bullets 6th overall in 1984, the draft that featured the Hakeem, Turpin's Kentucky teammate Sam Bowie, Jordan top 3 as well as Barkley. Mel never quite panned out in the NBA, but he will always have a place in the ASD pantheon thanks to one memorable encounter. If you have no seen the entirety of Super Slams of the NBA I suggest you watch parts 1-5 on YouTube immediately. Part 5 is shown below. The encounter of course is shared by Karl Malone, in an epic pink shirt, and can be found at 3:43 in the clip below. Apparently, during a Bulls-Jazz game in Salt Lake City a fan was heckling Jordan after he dunked on John Stockton. Jordan then came down the floor and dunked on Dinner Bell. Jordan then looked at the heckler and asked "Was he big enough?" You really have to hear Malone tell the story in his backwoods L'isiana accent.
Other incredible highlights to look for in this video:
-Jordan dunking on another recently deceased NBA big man Manute Bol. (:28)
-Dominique,in a fantastic polka dot vest and bowtie combo, describing one of his sick dunks. Still the best in-game dunker ever in my opinion. (1:28)
-Mark Jackson telling us when Jordan's Chicago team is in town "you better leave your family and everybody else at home, you don't wanna be embarassed." (1:35)
-Mark Eaton sharing his traumatic experience of getting dunked on by Dr. J in perhaps the most tame Dr. J dunk of all time. (2:02)
-Shawn Kemp (please remember him for his great years and not the bloated, seed-spurting whale he became) with a ridiculous dunk in MSG. Bonus commentary from Trent Tucker, who is wearing his uniform in the interview as he never removed it, ever. (2:22)
-Tom Chambers with the greatest ivory dunk of all time. "When he hit Mark, he was already high..". (2:53)
-Again, Karl sums the whole thing up. (3:43)
-A blaaaaazed Kenny "Sky" Walker describing Dr. J's cradle dunk. Features the call "He rocked that baby to sleep with a slam dunk" and the leprechaun looking fellow electrocuted in reaction. (4:08)
Ex-Wildcat Turpin found dead at home of apparent suicide [Lexington Herald]
The Plain Dealer's Front Page seems professional, but the oh so clever caption, "7 years in Cleveland, no Rings" smacks of a petulant child. Cavs majority owner, Dan Gilbert's letter, conveniently coming shortly after LeBron chose not to return, is perhaps the most immature act by an owner since Bud Adams double bird, and given that one was an spontaneous response and the other a page long crafted letter it could certainly be argued this is worse. Combined with fans lighting James' jersey on fire immediately after the announcement, LeBron's "cowardly betrayal" appears to be actions right in line with a "native son" of these people. Cleveland has gone from sympathetic losers to petty and un-sympathetic in less than 12 hours.
Wednesday, July 7
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski eviscerated LeBron James and his one-hour special in his most recent column. No doubt a skilled writer, this reads like a tear down piece writers seem to enjoy after years of building up a super star. The King's choice to give ESPN the exclusive must also be considered. Wojnarowski's often regarded as the hardest-working hoops writer, and based on results, rightfully so. Therefore it's not hard to imagine that being left out of the "loop" would be a potential source of aggravation for him. I don't know Mr. Wojnarowski and while there is little doubt that LeBron's Decision special is ego driven, his over the top ripping of LeBron seems awfully hypocritical for a myriad of reasons.
LeBron doesn’t want to just win titles. His stated wants include becoming sport’s first billionaire athlete. Among his advisors, he counts Warren Buffet. Jay-Z has helped James focus his mind on chasing something bigger than basketball. The question will be this: For the kid out of Akron, will his hometown – will even winning – be enough to hold onto LeBron James?28 months ago, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote this about the potential for LeBron to move on. 28 months! By far he's written about LeBron more than any other player in the NBA (with Kobe's back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs in 2nd). A quick search of Wojnarowski's Y! archives reveals almost exactly 50 articles with 'LeBron' in the title or first line, excluding duplicates. 'Cav' appears in less than half as many titles. It seems obvious that LeBron articles get more page views than Cavalier stories do. So, Yahoo! and Mr. Wojnarowski do the smart thing and uses LeBron to increase readership.
In November when LeBron proclaimed he would no longer answer questions about his impending free agency, Wojnarowski was again there to rip him, but also to ask questions.
When I tried to ask him whether he had planned to make his 2010 proclamation, or had merely spit it out spur of the moment, James cut off the question and ultimately ended his postgame interview session. For his own good, he better have thought this one out a little, because there seems to have been so little else that he loved as much as discussing the NBA’s obsession with his future.So, as a reporter you want the answers about his plans, because you want people to read your column about him, made infinitely more compelling with quotes by him, but resent the fact that he enjoys the attention? Apparently the attention and praise for these stories should be heaped on the reporter who scoops the story, not on the person who actually is the story.
In 2007, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote about Kobe wanting "all the money and all the shots." He was critical of Kobe prioritizing those over winning. Of course, in hindsight Kobe's since won two rings and in 2009, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote a piece, "Kobe’s lesson to Tiger: Winning trumps all." Detailing specific games from 2003, it's a wonder how Mr. Wojnarowski seemingly forgets the diva tendencies that he described in 2007, when Kobe demanded a trade from the Lakers. That was the same summer that it was announced 24 hours ahead of time that Kobe would be holding a noon press conference. I don't know the length of the press conference, but I doubt it was much shorter than the announcement will be for LeBron. After all, he's expected to announce in the first ten minutes of the broadcast (per an ESPN exec). Even when critical of Kobe, Mr. Wojnarowski's tone was nowhere near as harsh as has been his recent treatment of LeBron. He accused LeBron of holding the playoffs hostage, despite LeBron's relative silence whereas Kobe Bryant made a trade demand immediately before the NBA Finals began and didn't back off until they were over. It should be noted, that was the NBA Finals that "the empty superstar" was in.
"The empty superstar." That's how Mr. Wojanrowski chose to describe LeBron, an extremely harsh criticism that seems more personal than professional. He rips LeBron for attempting to grow his brand, while he himself appears on local radio shows around the country (to talk about LeBron) and maintains a twitter account (with frequent LeBron updates) all in the name of expanding his and his employers brand. For someone who has written a book about one of the pioneers of self-promotion in sports, Jimmy V, Mr. Wojnarowski's tone towards LeBron emanates an air of someone with a grudge. Perhaps LeBron has been poorly advised, perhaps LeBron should fire Maverick Carter, but this young man has done nothing to deserve the personal attacks lobbed his way by someone who has made a living writing about him.
In the '07 article where Mr. Wojnarowski criticized Kobe he wrote this, "The best player in the sport is still Tim Duncan, because everything he's ever done has been with winning as his motivation." It's the only time Tim Duncan's name appears in the archive. As Mr. Wojnarowski points out, "David Stern has long pushed the individual over team, marketed showy over substance, and LeBron James represents the manifestation of it all." And based on your opinion of LeBron apparently so have you. So have you.
I liked Dennis Rodman. I devoured his antics, hairsyles, and tireless effort as a refreshing novelty. He was a one-of-a-kind rebel never to be duplicated. Today, he serves as the American personification of the repositioning of morality in sports that threatens to undo generations of the fabric of sports. Perhaps I'm being overdramatic, like a whiny Terrance Mann, but there is no disputing that my enjoyment of sports has become increasingly diminished on the basis of what is now being considered acceptable behavior.
Sports has long served as the backdrop against which many lessons could be taught by parents to their sons and daughters. With the abandonment of decency and sportsmanship in favor of gamesmanship and winning trumping all, where does one gleen these lessons? Is it reprehensible that we demand stories of sportsmanship not be reserved for the final segment of Sunday's Sportscenter? Sports serve as a mirror to society and it's hard to imagine a less attractive image starting back. CEO's have said screw the working man, our company will do whatever it can to make the most money. Beholden to no one but the almighty dollar these companies were viewed as wildly succesful and stood as examples of what other companies should aspire to be. This attitude lead to the crumbling of the American economy and had devastating effects the world over. Many Americans would rather suck on the teet of governmental handouts than make a life for themselves. It's not difficult to draw the comparison between these two mindsets and the de-evolution of sports.
"Rock," he said -"sometime, when the team is up against it -- and the Today, Knute Rockne's 'Win one for the Gipper' speech seems archaic, overly romantic and cynics might even call it cheesey, but the idea of triumphing through hard work and effort alone would likewise be described in the same manner. Even Al Davis's "Just Win Baby" has even be replaced by "Win at all Costs." It's no longer acceptable to try and fail. Players now view attempting to gain a competitive advantage through less scrupulous means as not only acceptable, but as requisite.
breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper...
In the World Cup the world has watched as countless players have taken dives with hopes of inducing a referee's whislte. These players are often mocked by their opponents, but those cat calls turn to cheers as the mockers enjoy a free kick based on their own player's flopping and flailing. The cheers grow deafening if the antics lead to a 2nd yellow card or red. Uruguay's Luis Suarez may be villified in some countries for his goal saving handball against Ghana, but there's also a large contingent that will decry his infraction as a smart play and if Uruguay were fortunate enough to win the World Cup he'll be deified in his home country as the legend who made it possible. The idea that winning justifies poor sportsmanship erodes the fabric of what makes sports great, just as many American workers have been victimized by insatiable greed.
This pandemic is not limited to the "Beautiful Game" by any means. Baseball players pretending to be struck by pitchs hoping to gain the free base. Wide receivers acting as though they were knocked down when they know the pass is uncatchable. The NBA Finals were marked by undeserved foul trouble, based often on overdramatized contact, verbal flopping and players seeking to draw the foul rather than attempting to make a play. One sequence from Game Six that sticks out was the sensational tip-in by Rajon Rondo, a championship play, that was immediately followed by Derek Fisher hurling his body into Rondo with the desperate hope of drawing a foul on the young guard who was standing on the ground with his hands straight up. In crunch time of the most important game in their series, Fisher determines that trying to get a handout was a better option than actually trying to make a play.
This culture has given birth to a generation of fathers that inject their children with steroids, sharpen their football helmet clips to cut their opponents, get thrown out of Little League games and have for all intents and purposes sucked the enjoyment out of their offspring's childhood. These parents are ridiculed when their stories becomely known, but few can deny that as a society we're at the very least inching closer to these parents being more the norm than not. There will always be the extreme, but how many have argued balls and strikes at a 10-year olds baseball game? How many have booed an official at a 12-year olds basketball game? This lack of sportsmanship and awareness of the big picture has become an increasingly ugly part of the American sports culture at the youth level.
I love sports. I love competition. I love seeing the underdog win, but based on heightened execution, a little luck or just a team playing above their head, but not based on getting a opponent removed from a game without cause. I love seeing the better team win, not on the basis of drawing undo calls, but on hard work and execution. I love seeing someone give it their all and failing, getting off the mat and trying again. I love seeing someone making a big play in a big moment, not seeing someone hope an official will blow their whistle to make the play for them. Many of these despicable acts are justified as being 'smart plays', but they wouldn't be if they were seen as disrespecting the game or if they called in to question the integrity of those who participated in them. Maybe I'm being too romantic, too idealistic, but sports shift in philosophy to winning trumping all is not a lesson I look forward to passing on.
/Puts official ASD soap box back in it's resting place
It was two years ago today, Catfish and I embarked into the interwebs. Paralleling our own lives, the blog has gone through ups and downs, the heavy traffic and the barren hits, the abundant content and that one week where all we posted was a YouTube clip.
Looking back at our one year anniversary, we had over 600 posts running. As of today we are just short of 900. I guess we had some trouble adjusting after our breakout rookie season. As we have said many times life demands get in the way. The popular attack sports "journalists" use against blogs is that it so easy just to type away, usually from the confines of a mother's basement. I will tell you though, it takes a certain dedication and resources both material and mental to keep a blog up and running. This place will remain a place for us to share our ideas and bounce things off the wall. So break out the cotton for our two-year anniversary and thanks for reading! All of 3 of you.
Monday, July 5
Over the weekend we had the birthday of our nation (getting to hear cannons fire in addition to fireworks is awesome by the way), Kobayashi got arrested, the World Cup was cut down to 4, All-star snubs were announced, and some basketball player named LeBron finished getting courted by various NBA teams.
Perhaps lost in this milieu of sports and life celebrations was Rafael Nadal winning his 8th Grand Slam at the age of 24. Once again we were denied a Federer-Nadal slam match-up. It is possible we will not see it again. Federer, who is approaching 30, lost in the quarterfinals this year to eventual runner up Tomas Berdych. After the match R-Fed spoke of lingering back and leg injuries. Some saw that as making excuses, but I think what we saw from Federer was a combination of frustration and truth about his physical condition. While Federer and Nadal have met 8 times in Grand Slam tournaments, it is unlikely we will ever see them both performing at their top games. I have a feeling Federer knows this.
This week Roger dropped to 3rd in the world rankings behind Njokavic and Nadal. Soon Rafael will go after the final title in his Career Grand Slam, the US Open. Federer got his Career Slam when Nadal bowed out of the French in 2009 with knee injuries. It appears as of now that Nadal will not have to go through Federer to do it. Last year when Nadal was forced to the sidelines with injuries many wondered if he was going too hard too fast. Catfish made the apt comparison of Nadal being the 'Dwayne Wade of tennis'. Like Wade, Nadal has battled back from those injuries.
America seems to be preoccupied on other things since the Americans are not the center of this rivalry. In the 80s there was McEnroe and Connors, the 90s had Sampras and Agassi. With the World Cup this summer, our country seems like it can only handle one sport more popular in other countries at the moment. If Nadal is able to capture the US Open, he will have 9 titles, the career slam and be only 24. The case might be then that everyone forgets about Roger.
photo via Getty
Friday, July 2
This is amazing and has been passed around the web this week more than a Kardashian at an NFL party.
Have a safe and happy 4th everyone. For the love of Richard Dean Anderson's pants, don't drink and drive (that goes for any weekend really). Don't just take it from me, let's here from Georgia AD Damon Evans:
Whoops. Double whoops. Just focus on the message for now, happy birthday America, 234 years old and we still have all our hair!
Thursday, July 1
It only took us years, but you can now follow the Amphibious Sports Duo on Twitter HERE. Since the Library of Congress has decided to archive all tweets since 2006 and beyond, we look forward to making our mark in history. In the centuries to come, as we are inevitably conquered by a race of alien beings who posses a high intelligence than we posses, we hope as they search the remnants of humanity, they come across one of our tweets about the ridiculousness of the 2010 NBA Free Agent signings. So follow us, request that we follow you, or whatever else you can do with this thing.