Saturday, April 30, 2005



I know that many people who read my blog aren’t fans of Jim Rome. That’s fine. He’s a different kind of cat and some people just don’t like his style. That’s fine. I enjoy the show. I don’t agree with all of his takes....but, unlike some people, I understand that occurs in life. My wife and I don’t agree on everything....but I love her. So why do I need to agree with everything the guy on the radio says?

I’m a fan of his, though not a "clone". I listen to him on my way to work on WCKY-1360 in Cincinnati. To me, he’s funny...has odd stories....and genuinely makes me laugh. I like the structure of the show [I’ve even had some e-mails of mine read on air]. I cry laughing hearing John Daly’s "You Don’t Know Me" or Carl Lewis singing the national anthem. My main gripes with the show are his sometimes carrying on with the same joke [at times it works, at times it doesn’t] and the "clones" tend to act monotonously.

And despite the Chrissy Evert moment...he is rarely combative in his interviews. He saves his disagreements for when the interview is over.

In fact, here is a nice article on the pros and cons of Jim Rome.....SportsFan Magazine - The Violent World - Jim Rome: Pro & Con

All of that favorite show of the year is looming. The SMACK OFF. It is one of the most enjoyable shows I’ll hear. The SMACK OFF is a show dedicated to those "clones" who have the best gift of talking junk. Not just to each other...but about whatever is going on in the sports or pop culture world. You will hear some excellent metaphors...some awesome jokes...and some top-notch smack. At the end of the 3-hour show....a winner is picked.

Today, the SMACK OFF field was announced. There are past winners Dr. Mike Ditolla, Jeffrey Ditolla, Steve at LMU, Sean Cablinasian, Silk Brah, Jeff in Richmond and defending champ Iafrate. Another former winner is nightime sports talk jockey JT the Brick....who doesn’t call in anymore.

The usual bunch will be there. Trapper, Irie Craig, Greg in Vegas, Jeff in Phoenix, Don in No Cal, Otis in Austin, Joe in the OC and Terrence in Sierra Madre are usual contestants. Other contestants will be Kerwin, Gino, Jim in Fall River, Casey, Rachel, Oliver in StL, Mike in Orlando, Joe in NYC, Ed in Stockton, Tobin in Chapel Hill, Bill [and Larry] in Knoxville, Chris in Houston and Chuck in Phoenix.

My favorite to win is Joe in the OC.

Listen to the SMACK OFF this coming Friday [May 6] from 12-3pm [Eastern].  For a complete list of affiliates click here.  For more on Jim Rome or the SMACK OFF, click on

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Friday, April 29, 2005




Also, check out for more info on the show.

And for you AMERICAN IDOL fans...who can forget watching Paula Abdul weeping over her beloved Constantine being jacked off of Idol.  Live it again on  TV's Top 5!

Thursday, April 28, 2005



*Don’t be fooled by the courting of Phil Jackson. Despite some other teams getting into the fray, it will be either Los Angeles, New York or his home in Montana. Both the Knicks and Lakers can offer the money and prestige for running their franchises. All anyone else can offer is LeBron James. And Cleveland just doesn’t seem to be Phil’s kind of town. The Lakers need this more, since they have really fallen off the wagon and need something to reel them all back in. However, Phil has done that before and may not want to try to repeat something in a place he’s already been.  And if he does sign with the Lakers...don't expect it to happen until after the new CBA has been reached. 

*For all of the heat Kobe Bryant got for being "involved" in Laker dealings last offseason....LeBron James is pretty much doing the same thing. He will be "involved" in the hiring of their new GM and coach....and what players come and go. The Cavs angered James when they canned Paul Silas late in the season and the team still fell out of the playoffs. Now, LeBron James’ wants Seattle’s Nate McMillian to be his next coach...and Cavs brass might go after him to reel LBJ back into their good favor. James could roll out of there as a free agent in a few years and could demand a trade if things don’t get better. Kobe didn’t demand a trade nor did he try to pick a GM. And he had 8 playoff seasons, 6 All Star Games, and 3 NBA titles under his belt. LeBron just has two seasons.

*Speaking of coaches, what a free agent class, eh? With a sub-par free agent player class....the heat will come from these coaches changing spots. You have Phil Jackson’s name out there. Larry Brown’s name could join him as soon as Detroit’s season is over. Nate McMillian, current coach of the Northwest Division champ Sonics, is a ‘free agent’. Former Wolves coach Flip Saunders will get major will former Blazers coach Mo Cheeks. Old coaches PJ Carlisemo, Eric Musselman, Sidney Lowe, Randy Wittman ....and assistants Mike O’Koren [UNC], Patrick Ewing, Tom Thibodeau, Jerry Sichting

*Speaking of Flip Saunders....he is in the running for the Minnesota Timberwolves job. Yeah, they fired him in the middle of last season but are open to hiring him back. The Wolves spin is "that is why Kevin McHale didn’t hire another coach". Apparently, after canning Flip...McHale took over the job so they could offer it back to him in the offseason???? Ummmm....ok.

*Brian Scalabrine’s take on former Nets player Alonzo Mourning: "You know what, as a teammate, he left us out like...he wasn’t playing at that same level. Maybe it’s his trainer, maybe the water - whatever the reason, he doesn’t get tired anymore."

*Good for Allen Iverson in pressing charges on a fan who threw a coin at Iverson after the Sixers-Pistons game in Auburn Hills this week. This marks the FOURTH incident in a year at the Palace. In last year’s NBA Finals, Karl Malone got into is with a fan seated in the stands. In November, well there was that brawl thingie. Then the bomb scares when the two teams matched back up. Now this coin thing. I’ve said it before...but the city of Detroit and it’s fans are really looking bad right now. I guess with no Red Wings this year...and no octopuses to throw...they are really in a funk.

*Qyntel Woods, the former Blazers player who they canned for allegations of dog fighting, is being sued by his attorney for non-payment of fees. Yeah, nothing better than to be sued by an attorney. Also, his vehicle [BMW] has been repossessed. So, while pictures of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett are shown all through high school gyms of great high schoolers that made it....throw one of Woods [and Korleone Young and Leon Smith] up there too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


This is the first time in 11 years that the Lakers aren’t in the playoffs. It pains me watching the Spurs and Kings competing in the playoffs, our postseason foes, and not us. Not to mention watching a major reason of our demise, Shaquille O'Neal, playing for the title favorites.

So, what to do? Yeah, I am peeved we are in the lottery, but it is pretty much what I expected. As long as we stay on course, we can turn this around in a few years. Of course, we are the Lakers, and we will try our best to fix it now. But, here is my assessment of the team.

ACCEPT DEFEAT. Say it with me..."We suck." We were a bad team this year. Not only were we bad, but we quit as well. Quit on each other...quit on Frank Hamblin [of course, Frank may have quit on the players as well]. We aren’t the Bling Dynasty anymore. Only Kobe Bryant and Devean George remain as true contributors of that. Everyone else was busy watching it. And, folks, next season will be much of the same. The talent you will see on the floor will be pretty much the same...except there will be a few rookies in the mix and [most likely] no Walton or Vlade. The way the contracts are set up....the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons could be playoff-less as well.


WHAT DIRECTION ARE WE GOING IN? Figure out what we are doing. As AOL member and former Laker Board brother IPRATTS were talking the other night, one thing that came out of it was "don't trade Shaq for nothing." Meaning.....look, we dealt Shaq so we could have Kobe for the long haul. So, we need to put Kobe in a position where he can best succeed. From there, that will help us determine (a) our coach and (b) our personnel around him. It is fine with me to be a running team. But, to do so we need to get a true point guard and not have Kobe handle the ball so much. You should not have your finest offensive player "setting up the offense". Figure that out first.

Also, learn that under Rudy T we were 24-19.  Once he quit, we were 10-29 the rest of the way.  Ouch!  Against the Suns, Spurs, Heat and Pistons [the top two seeds in each conference] we were 0-12.  We were 12-35 against the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs....and 22-13 against teams that did not.  We lost 4 of our last 5 against non-playoff teams, meaning we pretty much were put in our rightful place.  We couldn't beat the playoff teams yet handled the worst teams of the NBA fairly well. 


GET A COACH. The name on everyone’s mind is Phil Jackson. But Flip Saunders is a very interesting choice as well. Saunders has coached a high-school phenom in Kevin Garnett. But he did coach in Minneapolis, which isn’t the media hotbed LA is. But, he is a good coach that may be a fresh influence that Kobe needs. Also, Larry Brown may "quit" the Pistons...and he does have ties with Los Angeles and Mitch Kupchak. Hey, since everyone is leaving UNC early...why not go after Roy Williams again? How about Mo Cheeks? Or do the Lakers take on a more softer Bill Laimbeer? Or Herb Williams? I'm of two minds on having Phil Jackson return. I like the re-hiring if he has his batteries recharged and is willing to make it work with Kobe. However, I was very critical of Phil last season and he was just a part of the team's failures as anyone else was. He coasted thru the regular season while everything around him was crumbling...waiting until the Finals to figure it out. Case in point...he rarely played Luke Walton, yet Walton has success in Game 2 of the Finals. All of the sudden, he is way up on the rotation chart. Ignorant. But, I will give Phil a pass if he learned from that.


KOBE NEEDS TO TAKE STOCK IN HIMSELF. This is more towards the Lakers' star. Kobe, despite all of the crap surrounding everything and whatever people may think.....this is your team. The Lakers invested a lot of money and "retooling time" into Kobe. They could have easily let Kobe walk, kept Shaq, added a piece or two around Shaq and been in the playoffs this year. Instead, we kept Kobe for the future and need to build a team as such. Kobe must learn humility of what just happened this past season. He must make sure the Lakers succeed...and not just that he looks good doing it.

DO NOT ASSUME THAT A MAGICAL PLAYER WILL SWOOP IN AND SAVE US. Sure...Yao Ming could become the next in a long line of great Laker centers. Yes, LeBron James is angry at Cavaliers management and may force them to deal him. Yes, you can put together arguments that land Kevin Garnett in Tinsel Town. Yes, upon the Shaq dealings of last year...we all know that anything can happen in the NBA. But, don’t push it. Unlike Shaq in 1996...there may not be a savior ready to pounce down on the Lakers soon. We must realize this. With our limited funds and our somewhat new draft positioning...we must make the most of what we have.

TO TRADE, OR TO EXPIRE? Here is the deal, folks....we aren’t going to sign any free agents. That’s a fact. Our cap number goes up to $69M next year....and we have little help beyond that. Brian Grant has 2-years and $30M remaining on his deal. And that is the contract that is holding us back. Honestly. Atkins, Slava, George, Divac and Jones all have expiring contracts. Of course, those names aren’t great enough to swing any really nice deals. Barring a trade [which I’ll discuss in a bit], these guys will be Lakers next year. We have the $5M exception at our disposal...but (a) this isn’t a strong free agent class and (b) $5M just won’t cover it.


TRADING ODOM. Aside from Kobe,Odom and Butler are our top tradeable commodities. Odom is a darn fine player, but he has 4-years and $52M remaining. That money may be useful elsewhere. For example [and hear me out on this], the Lakers could deal Odom to the Knicks for Tim Thomas. Or traded to the Knicks [with Jones or Slava] for Penny Hardaway. Now, why would we do that? Easy. Hardaway and Thomas have expiring contracts. Meaning, that $12-$14M would be freed up for next offseason where free agents like Ben Wallace, Jason Terry, Damon Jones, Cuttino Mobley, Nazr Mohammad and even Shaquille O’Neal [don’t laugh, cuz if Phil comes back, you never know]. Not to mention Yao Ming and Amare Stoudamire will be restricted free agents then. So, instead of hanging on to Odom...we may have the ability to fly after someone bigger.


TRADING BUTLER. Butler is a nice player, too....and he is cheap. He’ll cost us $2.4M next year and $3.3M after that. So why deal him? Again, we have parts...and if we hang on to Odom, Butler is expendable. We could deal Butler and some of those expiring contracts [Atkins, Slava, George, Divac, Jones] for a better player. The other team would get a cheap Butler and some cap space after the season. One possibility is dealing Butler and George to Indiana for Ron Artest. Indiana may want to unload Artest after a testy era....and getting Butler to fill his spot [and Reggie's retirement] could be enough. Adding George to match salaries also gets the Pacers off the hook for his salary after the season. Artest would give the Lakers more scoring [that would add to Kobe and Odom] and the defensive intensity sorely lacking from the team. Of course, the Boozer trade is always out there too, right Jack Haley?

THE DRAFT. Since we are new to this...yes, the draft is still important. The last lottery pick the Lakers had was Eddie Jones in 1994. So, who to pick this year with [most likely] the #10 pick? Do you draft a guy that can help out sooner [like UNC point guard Raymond Felton] than later [Serbian forward Nemanja Aleksandrov]? Do we go after size, like Channing Frye or Tiago Splitter]? Do we look at a high school kid [Gerald Green or Martell Webster]? The Lakers also have two second round picks [#37 and #38]. Maybe Daniel Ewing, John Gilchrist, Salim Stoudamire or Nate Robinson fill our PG problem there? Maybe we add Jawad Williams, Linas Kleiza or Ryan Gomes for front line help. Maybe we add shooters like Luther Head or Julius Hodge? Truth be told, these rookies will be very important to the development of our future.

LEARN HOW TO PLAY DEFENSE.  Your first job, Phil.

Don't get it twisted....this isn't rebuilding. We aren't starting from scratch. Most 'rebuilding teams" don't have a Kobe Bryant to start off with. We just really need to put the parts around him to help him succeed...which, in turn, helps the team succeed.

Get to it Mitch!


Sunday, April 24, 2005




Maybe not the player we all thought would be picked here....but certainly the position. Even with WR Mike Williams available at the #9 slot, the Skins stuck to their guns and picked CB Carlos Rogers out of Auburn.

Rogers was the 2004 Jim Thorpe Award winner [top defensive back] and hold’s Auburn’s record for pass deflections. Though many people, including me, had Adam Jones or Antrell Rolle rated higher than Rogers....Gibbs and his staff felt he was the top corner in the draft.  He is considered very bright and uses his athletic ability effectively.  Opponents only completed 27% of their passes thrown to his assignment.  His closing speed allows him to give up some ground while his jumping ability causes incompletions. 



Not much of a surprise here. When word came down that the Redskins acquired Denver’s first round pick...rumor also was that the Skins were targeting Campbell.

Campbell was the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year. He’s a bright, smart QB who also has the ability to move around the pocket and pick up some yardage if needed. Also, black quarterbacks wearing the #17 are kind of loved around DC.

REMAINING DRAFT PICKS:  Fourth Round [#11 pick], Sixth Round [#9 pick], Seventh Round [#8 pick]



White will serve as a special teams guy and H-back for Gibbs.  He has the ability to carry the ball at times and to be a lead blocker.  Hemay get most of his reps in the red zone as a blocker or as a guy to punch the ball in. 



McCune was Louisville's "Special Teamer of the Year" and will most likely serve in that aspect.  He'll also replace Antonio Pierce as a backup inside linebacker.  He's also served 3 years in the US Army.



Newberry is a highly intelligent player who will also compete for a special teams and inside linebacker spot for the Skins.



Broughton will also serve as a special teams guy.  A tough kid who apparantly earned Earnest Byner's praise, Broughton will be another guy that could come in and be a key special teamer.


*Just a week ago, Aaron Rodgers was set to be the top pick in the draft.  Instead, he fell to 24th in the draft.  Why the amazing drop?  Well, the Niners fell in love with Alex Smith.  Then, a bunch of running backs that were much safer picks were made.  After the Buccaneers picked Cadillac with their #5 pick, there really was no one that was in dire need of a QB.  Not until #24, where the Packers have been looking everywhere for Brett Favre's replacement.  They may have found one. 

*The Vikings did very well for themselves this offseason. Not only did they make some key free agent signings to an awful defense [Fred Smoot], they also dealt away headache Randy Moss and replaced him with another speedster in Troy Williamson.  Erasmus James fell into their lap later in the round...which adds more talent to a young defensive line.  Minnesota will be a team to watch next season.

*What are the Denver Broncos doing?  With their first three picks of the day...they took cornerbacks.  Yeah, all three picks on corners.  What is that?  Just a year ago, they traded for Pro Bowl CB Champ Bailey.  Then, to make it worse, with the final pick in the third round, the take Maurice Clarett.  This is a guy that was a 5th rounder at best....maybe undrafted.  And they take him on day one.  Amazing. 

*For the first time since 1993, a Heisman Trophy winner was not drafted.  Oklahoma'sJason White, won won the 2003 Heisman, went undrafted and hopes to latch on to a team as a free agent.  In 1993, Florida State QB Charlie Ward went undrafted, but still has an NBA career.

*White wasn't the only big name QB that went undrafted.  Hawaii's Timmy Chang, the all-time passing leader, went undrafted as well.  Hey, Skins, give him a call.

*USC had their QB drafted., Matt Leinart will still be playing for the Trojans this fall.  His backup, Matt Cassell, was drafted in the 7th round by the Patriots.

*Three Tar Heels were selected in this draft.  Jason Brown [C] went in the 4th round to Baltimore.  Gerald Sensabaugh [S] went in the 5th round to Jacksonville.  Madison Hedgecock [FB] went in the 7th round to St. Louis.  Carolina QB Darian Durant was not drafted


Saturday, April 23, 2005


             Marvin Williams

The euphoria lasted just over two weeks.

Just weeks after winning the National Championship and after junior Rashad McCants announced his intentions to enter the NBA draft, Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams all joined him.

The North Carolina Tar Heels will looking nothing like they did on the court of the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis. Only three of the guys that even played in that National Championship game will be in a Tar Heels uniform next year. Those three are David Noel, Quentin Thomas and Reyshawn Terry.

They scored 1 point between them.

The top SEVEN scores from the 2004-2005 UNC Tar Heels will be gone. Noel’s 3.9 ppg average means he is the leading returning offensive power. The returning roster has a total of ONE GAME STARTED this past season. Freshman Quentin Thomas started the season opener against Santa Clara as Felton sat due to a suspension.

The Tar Heels lost that game.

As a Tar Heel fan....yeah it is sad to see this happen. Heck, as the SPORTZ ASSASSIN, it really sucks.  Last year, I watch my beloved Lakers get dismantled after a great 5-year run in almost the same manner.  After the Redskins won their Super Bowl in 1992...they "dismantled" a season later and have won just ONE playoff game since.  I hate this rebuilding crap!

In a perfect world, everyone would be coming back to try to repeat. Heck, we have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. But this is the way NCAA hoops is now. Of course, in Chapel Hill, this has been the way for over 20 years now. Some guy named Michael Jordan left after his junior season in 1984. JR Reid left early a few years later. Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace left after their sophomore seasons and a Final Four appearance in 1995....and Jeff McInnis left after his junior year a season later. Carolina was back in the Final Four in 1997 and 1998. Juniors Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison left in 1998...and Carolina was back in the Final Four in 2000. Joseph Forte left after his sophomore season in 2001....and the Heels won the title four years later.

Jordan, Stackhouse, Wallace, Carter and Jamison all made wise decisions. Forte didn’t. So, is any of this wrong??


Well, of anyone...Marvin Williams has the best excuse to leave. Heck, we were lucky he even showed up at all. Williams, along with New Orleans Hornets guard JR Smith and Oklahoma State guard JamesOn Curry, were the cornerstones of the future once McCants, Felton and May left [which everyone figured would be now anyway]. Curry had issues....and Smith jumped into the draft. But Williams honored his commitment and went to Chapel Hill. He won his ring and is a top 5 draft pick easily. The only reason to come back would be to (a) be Da Man who needed to score 25 pgg to win or (b) avoid being a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks or New Orleans Hornets.

Raymond Felton has done enough at Carolina as well. He was widely regarded as the best PG talent last year....but had issues with games on the road and his weakness of perimeter shooting. Well, he’s played big in big games....and he developed into one of Carolina’s deadly shooters. His collegiate development is pretty complete.

Almost everyone knew Rashad McCants was gone after this season. He really wasn’t a "college guy" anyway....and of any of these guys had the most polished offensive game. Selfishness, decision making and defensive lapses marred his reputation. This year, however, he tapered his game to benefit the team. He did everything that Coach Williams asked him to do and he really stepped up his defensive play. Like Felton, he got the most out of the Carolina program as he was going to.

The odd one is Sean May. He was the best player the last two months of the season for UNC...and was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Despite all of that, he is an iffy pro prospect. Oh, he will go in the first round.....but he is too small to be a center in the NBA and maybe even to be a power forward. There will be probably nine big men picked ahead of him.

Again, all three will be in the top 20 or so picks. Williams and Felton will go very early. May and McCants will go in the second half of the first round. All will get their millions. All will get their chance to shine.

It is doubtful the team will reach the heights they got to this season. But they do have some great talent coming in with four freshmen. They also can search for some answers lying on their bench. Quentin Thomas will be a sophomore and get opportunities to grow next year. Noel and Terry will get some minutes as well. The best scenario would be what happened with this bunch. Felton, McCants and May came into Carolina and were immediate starters. Aside from the Doherty Debacle, the team got itself experienced together and developed under Roy Williams’ coaching. In Year Three, they won a title together. Maybe these freshman will start once they get into the Dean off of some growing pains into a top level team.

Then, after the 2008 season....they’ll leave.

                  Jerry StackhouseJoseph ForteVince Carter

Friday, April 22, 2005

Survivor Update: April 22


Check out Mrs. Sportz Assassin's Survivor Blog [Survivor : Palau - Bravenet Web Journal] to check out the happenings on this week's show!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Redskins Acquire 25th pick

                                          Jason Campbell - QB

The Redskins traded their third round pick this year [#76 overall], next years first round pick and fourth round pick for Denver’s first rounder this year [#25]. The Redskins did this in order to take Auburn QB Jason Campbell with that pick.

Jason, you better be good!

If anything, this is a huge risk. You are essentially trading three picks for one...and possibly a better pick in the 2006 first rounder alone for Denver’s spot this year. For the pick to be higher than the #25 pick next year, the Redskins will have to make the playoffs. Can you see that happening?

This also completes the demise of Patrick Ramsey as a Redskin. I mean, how much dissing can one man take? He was our QB in the defunct Steve Spurrier era...and the lone thing that showed any promise heading into Gibbs Era II. Instead, Gibbs flies down to Jacksonville and overpays for an injured and aged Mark Brunell. Brunell was about as effective as Mark Rypien would have been for us last year [and he is, what, 45?]. Yet, Gibbs kept his faith in him. He finally realized it wouldn’t work out until it was too late...and Ramsey was not only trying to win games, but fighting for his Redskin life.

So, heading into this offseason, it seems that the job was Ramsey’s...and giving him time in Gibbs system from the start will speed up his development. Now, the Redskins are openly looking for Ramsey’s replacement in this draft.

And the greatest thing is that now everyone knows it. In a league where the team owning the #1 pick is secretive [why?] about who they are everyone knows the Redskins’ target. And 24 picks are before them. Do you think someone may dangle the idea of stealing Campbell in front of the Redskins? I mean, the Skins haven’t shown patience and discretion in these matters [::rolling eyes::]. I mean, we might end up trading our first rounders in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to move up a couple spots in this draft.

By the way, are we still showing Deion Sanders on our salary cap sheet?

All I know is that (a) we either draft Pac Man Jones or Mike Williams with our #9 pick and (b) if we end up drafting Jason Campbell with the #25 pick...stick with him! Don’t bail on him on some washed up vet.

I mean, isn’t Doug Flutie looking for work?


UPDATE!!!!  It seems the Redskins are trying to use their newly acquired #25 pick with their own #9 pick and move up to get Michigan WR Braylon Edwards.  It would seem that the Skins would have to get in the top four picks to nab him.  More updates to come!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


                1997 - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills makes his way across the field at the end of a game.

Every expansion franchise has that sudden star. I remember when the Charlotte Hornets came into the league. Kelly Tripuka was the man!!! Scott Skiles became a legend as a member of the Orlando Magic. How about Dante Bichette for the Colorado Rockies?

For the Carolina Panthers, it was Sam Mills. Mills died today of intestinal cancer. He was 45.

Sam Mills came to the Panthers from the New Orleans Saints, where he was established for nine years. He was a five time Pro Bowler. He also played a few seasons in the USFL. He played his final three seasons in Carolina...and has been the Panthers linebackers coach.

He came from tiny Montclair State...and couldn’t catch on anywhere. He even had a job teaching in New Jersey. He tried out for and made the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. When the USFL folded, Stars’ coach Jim Mora took Mills with him to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints where he made the Pro Bowl four times. He came to the expansion Panthers in 1995 and went to another Pro Bowl and the NFC Championship game in 1996. He retired after the 1997 season and began his coaching career....serving under all three Panthers coaches [Dom Capers, George Seifert and John Fox].

To the Panthers and the people of Charlotte...Mills is a legend. There is a statue of him outside Bank Of America Stadium. He’s in the team’s "ring of honor". The only member of that ring. He was the heart of the Panthers stingy defense....and the heart of the team. As long as there has been a Carolina Panthers...there has been a Sam Mills on the field. Whether it was knocking down a running back or motivating his players in practice....he was always in the black and blue.

In 2003, he discovered he had cancer, yet still kept some of his coaching duties despite being told he may only have a few months to live. Players wore t-shirts under their jerseys with Mills’ #51 [and fellow cancer victim Mark Fields #58] on it. That team went on to the Super Bowl. In a news conference in Houston for the Super Bowl, Mills said "You have your good days and your bad days."

"I’m just glad I am having days."

Rest in peace, Sam. The first football star in Charlotte.

Scott Fowler [Charlotte Observer]:  Mills represents best of Panthers

Monday, April 18, 2005



Who will be the 2004-2005 NBA Champion?? Well, let’s take a wild journey using the ol’ "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" method. Instead of six degrees...we will use 30. We’ll start at the defending champion Pistons and work our way to the new champion.

First off, this isn’t scientific. This isn’t a true sports take in the fact that it isn’t a breakdown. It’s just fun and games, folks...don’t take this pick seriously [sad that I have to explain that, isn’t it?]

Here we go.


The DETROIT PISTONS are the defending champions and have a great shot to win it again. They still bring the defensive presence that it takes to win a title. Can they do it again? Larry Brown will have his troops ready.....Larry Brown also led the PHILADELPHIA 76ERS to the NBA Finals against the Lakers. On the surface, this has the look of an Iverson team with little else. True, to an extent. They have plenty of role guys that will do the little things it takes to win. But if Webber comes back strong in the playoffs, that does help Iverson’s game.....Of course, Webber came to Philly from the SACRAMENTO KINGS. While the Kings aren’t as powerful as they once were, they still are dangerous. They’ve done a great job transitioning from the Webber-Divac-Christie days to the Bibby-Peja-Miller squad. They also have a few young guys that can help out. Maybe Rick Adelman will get to stick around?.....Adelman did get to the NBA Finals with the PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS. The Blazers are really in some tough times. The Nanny Stopper [Patterson] verbally smacked the organization. Miles wants out. Players are fighting with each other. Coaches are getting sick of this crap. Heck, they might as well kept Sheed Wallace if they were goingto deal with this crap. At least then they were winning. What if they didn’t trade Jermaine O’Neal for Dale Davis?? Ooops!!....Too bad they did, and the INDIANA PACERS are grateful. In fact, they have both O’Neal and Davis now. Rick Carlisle needs to be considered in the Coach of the Year balloting. Artest missed the whole year; O’Neal was suspended and injured much of the year; they’ve had guys in and out of the lineup all season; and they’ve relied on a guy that is retiring after this season [Reggie]. They are still trying to get back to the Finals for the first time since Larry Bird led them in 2000.....The BOSTON CELTICS are trying to get to the Finals for the first time since Larry Bird led them in 1987. Winning a division is a good start...even if it is the Atlantic. They also could be the first team to not have home court advantage despite being a higher seed in the first round. Paul Pierce seems rejuvenated with Antoine Walker back......


Walker played the first half of the season for the ATLANTA HAWKS. How bad is it in Atlanta?? Well, they are worse than an expansion team, and that expansion team at least has a cornerstone set in place. The Hawks are woeful, selling their best players for cap space that nobody wants. Maybe nabbing Andrew Bogut will begin a renaissance for Hot-lanta. They have the best shot at getting him since the Hawks have the worst record in the NBA.....Last year, the ORLANDO MAGIC had the worst record in the NBA. The year actually started great for the Magic. Steve Francis had a chip on his shoulder; Grant Hill made a spirited comeback from injury; and the Magic were actually a top 5 team in the East. Since then, Francis kicked a photographer; Hill is out for the season; the coach is fired and the Magic will miss the playoffs. Not much to talk about in the NBA-only city.....Salt Lake City is also an NBA-only city, and the UTAH JAZZ will miss the playoffs for the secondstraight season after a 20-year run. Their acquisitions of Boozer and Okur haven’t worked out that splendidly as expected. And with AK-47 missing a ton of time, they really had no shot to contend. Instead, they’ve languished in the bottom of the West for the first time since they were in New Orleans......Right now, the NEW ORLEANS HORNETS rule the Jazz’ old town. Well, I wouldn’t say "rule". The move to the West was a cruel as expected. Last year, the Hornets were a playoff team. This year, they are the worst team in the conference. They dealt Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis, the once cornerstones of the franchise in one swift period. And now there are questions about their attendance figures......Their hard times come when their old stomping grounds are enjoying the CHARLOTTE BOBCATS. Sure, the Cats aren’t that good. But, many had them pitted to be the worst team in NBA history. While they aren’t too good....they did beat Houston, Denver, Miami and Detroit this year and owned Atlanta and Orlando [6-2]. Not a bad start for blueprint artists Bernie Bickerstaff and Robert Johnson.....Johnson owned BET, which is based in the home of the WASHINGTON WIZARDS, where Bickerstaff also coached. The Wiz are having their best season since they were the Bullets. Jamison, Hughes and Arenas have formed quite a scoring trio for the Wiz. There hasn’t been this much excitement in DC since Michael Jordan first donned the jersey.....

                     Michael Jordan

There hasn’t been much excitement for the CHICAGO BULLS since Jordan donned that jersey, either. The Young Bulls are finally starting to show their promise and upside we’ve been waiting for. If they can somehow keep these guys together, it could lead to something special. Gordon could win the Rookie Of The Year award......Last year, LeBron James won the Rookie Of The Year award for the CLEVELAND CAVALIERS. This is another franchise in some sort of turmoil. The team has struggled, fired their coach and had a change in ownership. They are still trying to clinch a playoff berth, but keep falling short. If they don’t act right, LeBron James could want out.....James was the #1 pick in 2003, and the HOUSTON ROCKETS’ Yao Ming was the #1 pick in 2002. Yao has his moments where he shines, but still is inconsistent. Good thing Tracy McGrady is around, and he doesn’t mind picking up the slack. Jeff Van Gundy has done a nice job figuring a game plan to fit his personnel......Van Gundy replaced Rudy Tomjonavich in Houston, and Rudy T took over the LOS ANGELES LAKERS this year. It didn’t last long as he re-retired due to health reasons [Kobe-itis]. In dealing Shaq, the Lakers took on less-than-desirable contracts [read: Brian Grant]. This signals the start of the rebuilding of the Lakers. Hard to believe we are just a year removed from the Western Conference champions to missing the playoffs......The MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES are close to missing the playoffs and they too were in those Western Conference Finals. Garnett still does his thing, but other additions just haven’t worked. Sprewell openly cried about his contract, Flip Saunders gets fired and the Kandi Man can’t play nice at the club. Good God!! You Wolves were the #1 seed last year and now, poof!.......Instead, the Northwest Division title went to the SEATTLE SUPERSONICS. While Seattle is struggling a little more than the other division winners, they still have an explosive offense and a slept on frontcourt. This may be their big shot at it all since Ray Allen could leave via free agency after the season....


Of course, Allen came to Seattle from the MILWAUKEE BUCKS. And Milwaukee has another one of the prized free agents, Michael Redd. The franchise could rest on the decision of Redd. If he stays, they could attract some more players to surround him. If he bolts, they are left with journeymen to go along with Des Mason and [hopefully] TJ Ford. Some believe this roster was all the mess of former coach and GM George Karl.....Karl is now the coach for the DENVER NUGGETS and has them smoking. They will be in the bottom half of the seeds in the West, but may be just as dangerous as anyone. They started slow, but Melo and the crew could make some major noise in the playoffs. And, now, the addition of Kenyon Martin looks to be a great one.....K-Mart came over from the NEW JERSEY NETS, who are just a season removed from back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships. Despite starting the year with Kidd injured, ending it with R-Jefferson injured, they still are on the cusp of getting into the playoffs. Of course, the addition of Vince Carter has been huge. What a season he is having.....A shame he couldn't "get up" for playing for the TORONTO RAPTORS. They aren't looking to swell right now. Jalen Rose has 2 more years on his deal worth over $32M. Alonzo Mourning's buyout is still on their books for another two years. Alvin Williams has $20M left over 3 years remaining. Rafaer Alston has been a headache, Rafael Araujo hasn't done a thing, and no one wants to be there. Chris Bosh needs to hurry up and turn into a Carmelo Anthony quick!.....Isaiah Thomas used to rule the roost in Toronto, but now he mans the mess for the NEW YORK KNICKS. How about a $104M payroll and no playoffs again? Next year won't be much different. The payroll goes up to $108M, but Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway are looking at expired contracts. That makes them tradeable [especially to the Hawks, it seems]. In the NBA economics, these guys will be prized trade figures in 2005-2006......Penny Hardaway and Stephon Marbury came to the Knicks in last season's blockbuster deal with the PHOENIX SUNS. While the NYC will be missing in the playoffs, Phoenix is the West's top team. By comparison, the Suns payroll is only around $44M with only free agent signee and MVP candidate Steve Nash making over $9M. I like the Suns starters. They play a style that is really tough to keep up with. But, can they, themselves, keep it up? With the days off between playoff games, they just might....


Suns emit heat, like the MIAMI HEAT. And both teams are the #1 seeds in their conferences. The addition of Shaq to Miami has been outstanding. He's my pick for MVP. But it also has been Dwayne Wade's emergence as a superstar that has really been the dagger for opponents. If you focus too much on Shaq, Wade will kill ya! Miami has a great shot to get to it's first NBA Finals if (a) Shaq stays healthy and if (b) Detroit really wasn't laying down this year.....Shaq was an outcast from the Lakers that found success elsewhere. So is the MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES president Jerry West. While West built the Lakers Bling Dynasty, he's also doing a nice job with Memphis. However, as the Grizz's man, he's building around role players instead of stars. His highest paid player is Bonzi Wells, making a tad over $7.7M this season. Don't get me wrong, they have a big payroll [$73M], but they spent on quantity as much as quality. They have 16 guys that make at least $1M; 9 guys that make at least $5M. Yet, they are in the playoffs while the Timberwolves and Lakers are not.....Jerry West was a teammate of Elgin Baylor for many years, and both have been long time GMs in the same city. Baylor still is the LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS big guy. The Clippers are, well, the Clippers. Their blueprint has always been, draft guys but keep the salaries to a minimum. If they win, great! If not, well the books still look good! If there is some heat coming, they'll fire coach Mike Dunleavy.....of course, Dunleavy's son plays for the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. Dunleavy Jr has had a better second season than his rookie campaign. But, the buzz has been around G-State's deadline deals. They brought in Baron Davis who, when healthy, is one of the better point guards in the NBA. They have Adonal Foyle, Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy on lock down for a while, so this team could bloom into something. Maybe it will bring back the successes they had back in the Don Nelson days.....Don Nelson "retired" from coaching the DALLAS MAVERICKS this season. But they haven't missed a beat. Dirk Nowitzki has blossomed into an All-NBA performer and has actually gotten a little attitude to himself. Jerry Stackhouse has taken Jamison's Sixth Man role nicely. If Eric Dampier actually shows up for the playoffs, then Avery Johnson's team could be a surprise team in the West.....


Which leads me to my 2005 NBA Champion. Avery Johnson won his ring in 1999 with the SAN ANTONIO SPURS, my pick to win it this year. Why? Well, they were my preseason pick to win it, and my preseason picks of New England winning the Super Bowl [and I stupidly wavered to the Eagles during Super Bowl week], USC winning the BCS title and North Carolina winning the NCAA Tournament all were correct, so I'll stick with what brung me. But, they do feature Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental. As Tony Parker was the breakout star last year, Manu Ginobili has been the Spurs' breakout star this year. He made the All Star team and has performed well when Tim is in or out of the lineup. And with the Lakers out of their way, they really have no nemesis to deal with. It is their conference to lose.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Follow the NBA and get in depth playoff coverage at SPORTZ' HOOPS LAND.  I will be updating these races every day until they are decided. 


The NBA has about one week left.  So teams are battling for playoff position.  The divisions are pretty much settled, but it is home court and just matchups that loom large.  Here is what to look for....

This may be a mega battle between these teams for the #4, #5 and #6 seeds.. The Pacers and Wizards are both just a game behind the Bulls for fourth. Indiana has Philly, at Miami, at Orlando and Chicago left. Chicago has Orlando, at Atlanta, New York and at Indiana left. Washington has Cleveland, Charlotte, at New Jersey and at New York left. The Bulls-Pacers tiebreaker is up in the air. Indy plays Chicago on the final day of the season..and could decide which team gets home court between them. Most likely, if Indiana wins then they will get the higher seed. They would tie 2-2 head to head. If they had the same record, they’d have the same conference record [tiebreaker #2]. However, both teams are 8-7 against Central Division foes [tie breaker #3]. That game will be their final divisional game, meaning whomever wins it will get the tie breaker. The Wiz own the tie breaker over the Bulls but not the Pacers. Despite all of that, the Bulls still have a one-game edge over both the Pacers and Wiz. They need that game over Indiana bad. But, Indiana has that Miami game staring right at them. So an Indy win may pull the Wiz [with their easier sked] to the #4 seed. ADVANTAGE: Washington.

This is a fight for the final two playoff spots. Right now, the Sixers and Cavs are tied for the #7 and #8 seeds and the Nets two games back. Philly has at Indiana, at Jersey, Milwaukee and Atlanta left. Cleveland has at Washington, at Detroit, Boston and at Toronto left. New Jersey has at Toronto, Philadelphia, Washington and at Boston left. The Sixers own the tiebreaker over the Cavaliers. However, New Jersey owns the tiebreaker over Cleveland. They’d own the tiebreaker over Philly with a win over them this week [a must for the Nets to even be in this thing]. The Cavs play two division leaders and the Nets have a lot of work to do. ADVANTAGE: Philadelphia.


Huh? Barring a complete collapse, the Celtics have the #3 seed on lock down. The Wiz are in that battle the Bulls and Pacers for the #4 and #5 seeds. However, getting that #6 seed may not be all that bad. Especially if the C’s struggle. With the new realignment and the old NBA seeding rules, if the Wizards finish with a better record that the Celtics...the Wiz get home court advantage even if the Wiz are a #6 seed and the Celtics are a #3 seed. The NBA’s practice has been the team with the better record gets the home court...not the team with the better seeding. The Wizards have the advantage. Boston’s next three games are on the road. They have to go to Miami first...then on to Toronto then Cleveland before closing out at home against New Jersey. All are dangerous games...and only the Raptors game seems to be a lock. Washington hosts Cleveland and then expansion Charlotte before heading to New Jersey and New York. And don’t forget that Chicago or Indiana might get into this mix. ADVANTAGE: Wizards.


This is a fight for the top spot in the West. The Spurs have the Grizzlies [twice] and at Minnesota. The Suns have the Clippers, Kings [twice] and Nuggets. Ouch. All tough games. San Antonio owns the both teams must win. But, the Spurs have two more losses than the Suns. ADVANTAGE: Suns.


This is a battle for the #5, #6 and #7 seeds. The Kings are at Lakers, at Utah and has the Suns twice. The Rockets play the rest of their games at home against the Nuggets, Clippers and Sonics. The Nuggets have Memphis, at Houston, at Phoenix and Portland remaining. Tiebreakers? Kings over Nuggets. Rockets over Kings. The winner of the Nuggets-Rockets game will determine that tiebreaker. All roads seem to be pretty tough. ADVANTAGE: Nuggets, since no one is as hot as them.


To get into the playoffs....the Timberwolves must win their last four games and have the Grizzlies lose their last four games.  Impossible?  Well, the Wolves have at Utah, Seattle, at N'Awlins and San Antonio left.  The Grizzlies have at Denver, San Antonio twice and Dallas left.  Tough road for the Grizz.  However, any slip up by Minnesota knocks them out.  ADVANTAGE:  Grizzlies.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005



"In the last two or three years, the rookie of the year has been a high school player. There were seven high school players in the All-Star Game, so why we even talking an age limit?  As a black guy, you kind of think [race is] the reason why it's coming up.  You don't hear about it in baseball or hockey. To say you have to be 20, 21 to get in the league, it's unconstitutional. If I can go to the U.S. Army and fight the war at 18 why can't you play basketball for 48 minutes?"   -Jermaine O'Neal

This is the current hot button topic in the NBA.  Should there be an age limit in the NBA?  The NFL has one.  MLB and the NHL don't.  Freddy Adu signed with the MLS as a 14-year old.  Tennis players begin their careers very young.  So why not NBA players?  Here is my take on the whole thing.....

*WOULD I SUPPORT A 20 YR OLD AGE LIMIT? No. I find it pointless. I agree with O’Neal here. If you can vote and fight in a war...why can’t you play basketball?? Furthermore...if an NBA team is willing to offer you a job, then why shouldn’t they be allowed? It doesn’t fly. The future and the present of the NBA is made up of these high school kids. Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudamire and Jermaine O’Neal are the superstars of this league...and they all came out as teenagers.


*BUT DON’T THESE GUYS NEED SOME SEASONING? Well, of course. Who doesn’t? It is very rare to find anyone in any sport that waltzes in and runs things. Yeah, guys like Shaq and LeBron make huge impacts off the bat...but they still had things to learn on the fly. My point here is, there are 4-year collegians who also need some seasoning. Ever hear of Michael Olowokandi?? I?ll dive into this a little later.


*BUT, REALLY, DO TEENAGERS NEED TO BE IN THE NBA? Yes. The last two Rookie Of The Year winners were straight out of high school. No, not all of them are ready to contribute when the set foot in the league. But neither are every European, college player or most rookies. But you cannot tell me that LeBron James or Amare Stoudamire weren?t ready to be NBA players.

*IS RACISM INVOLVED HERE? No. That point is absurd. In fact, the poster child for having an age limit is Darko Milicic, who is white. He came in too inexperienced that he?s deemed useless by the mighty Pistons right now. Robert Swift is a white high school NBA player.


*BUT THE NHL AND MLB DON?T WORRY ABOUT AGE LIMITS!! They also have minor league systems...something the NBA doesn?t have. The NBDL is not a farm system. They are all free agents fighting for jobs. When you get drafted by those leagues, you almost automatically go straight to the minor leagues. The NBA doesn?t have that.

*BUT THE NFL HAS AN AGE LIMIT..... True. But the NFL is a totally different beast. The NFL has a huge threat of physical harm to it. And almost all teenagers just don?t have the physical makeup to last long in that league.

*SO WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT? I think there are two layers to this. First off, I agree that there are too many guys absorbed into the NBA that don?t truly know how to play. I mean, we all know of the successes...but there are many failures as well. The NBA is not, nor should they be, teaching guys how to play. If youare on an NBA roster, you should already have the necessary skills to play. It also is about perception. Like it or not, the NBA is here for entertainment. And the product has looked bad at times...though it seems to be getting better. But many see the eroding skills as both "attitude based" and just and eye-sore to watch. It is like having a math class in high school with students with varying math abilities. It is too hard for the remedial students...and the fact they need more time holds back the advanced students. It kind of applies here.


*SHOULD ALL PLAYERS PLAY COLLEGE BALL FIRST? No. College isn?t for everyone. And if a guy like LeBron James is good enough to play in the NBA at 18...then what is the point of him going to college? I mean, other students going to that institution are basically paying for him to hang out there for a few years. Not to mention that the fact the NBA is saying they cannot earn their living...but the NCAA can earn major cheese off of these guys is downright crap.

*ALRIGHT, SPORTZ, THEN HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS? I think the ultimate way to get this settled is developing the NBDL into a farm league. Have teams invest players into the league. Expand the league to 15 teams...and have each NBDL team run by two franchises. Expand the NBA rosters to 16 players. Only 12 are on the NBA club...and the other 4 are "delegated" to the NBDL. Now, if the NBA team suffers from an injury...then you can "call up" your NBDL player. Right now, teams hide players on the injured reserve list for use when they really have an injured player. Instead of using this practice, it will allow these guys to get playing time in the NBDL and develop their games.

          Joe Forte is in the NBDL after playing at North Carolina and the NBA's Sonics

*WHO CAN GET DELEGATED TO THE NBDL? Anyone who is still under their rookie contract...or has less than 5 years NBA service. No player who has been under contract with an NBA team longer than 4 years can be demoted to the NBDL. A veteran who signed with a provision that he can be placed in the NBDL can end up there.

*WHERE WILL THESE NBDL TEAMS BE PLACED? Mainly in the southeast and southwest. Warm weather. Put the teams in towns that don?t really have big-time hoops action. Asheville, NC is good.....Durham, NC [home to Duke] is bad.  Right now there are teams in Asheville, Columbus, Fayetteville, Florida, Huntsville and Roanoke.....with teams coming in Albuquerque, Austin, Forth Worth and Tulsa. 

*IS THERE A CHANCE THAT THERE WILL BE THE 20 YR OLD AGE LIMIT? A very good chance. First off, it won?t effect anyone in the league....since they are already in the NBA. It actually may help some of them keep their jobs. It will ultimately help the NBA?s product...since they will be inserting players with some "professional" coaching into the league. It will also mean they will be inserting names people know. I?d be willing to bet that not many people heard of Dwight Howard until he was drafted #1 overall this past draft. But many heard of Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and others as they came into the league.  Not to mention, that this one swoop will be a lot cheaper for the NBA that beginning and keeping tides on a minor league. 

*CAN THE NBA DO THIS?? Yes. They are a private league that constructs it?s membership. They also have a players union...and whatever collective bargaining agreement they come to is perfectly fine. There may be someone that will try to sue the NBA....but the courts did side with the NFL against Maurice Clarett involving the same issue.

*BUT THIS KEEPS BASKETBALL PLAYERS FROM EARNING A LIVING! No it doesn?t. The NBA can argue that they aren?t a monopoly and that they aren?t shutting down a player?s option to earn a living playing basketball. You can go to the CBA, the USBL or overseas and play. You can earn a living playing basketball and not be in the NBA. Just not that multimillionaire living wanted.