Friday, July 29, 2005

Larry Brown in CandyLand

                       Larry Brown's days as a point guard for the University...

Despite the nomad coaching existence Larry Brown has led....I won't bash him.  Why not?  He's a Tar Heel.  Here is a pic of Brown in his North Carolina garb around 1960-1963.  He was an All-ACC player in 1963 and won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympics [he played AAU for Akron after he graduated].  A few years after his playing days were over...he got his first coaching job as Dean Smith's assistant for 2 seasons.

Larry Brown then went on to the ABA for 5 years....each year playing for a new team.  He was a New Orleans Buccaneer, Oakland Oak, Washington Capitol, Virginia Squire and Denver Nugget before retiring in 1972.  He was a 3-time ABA All Star [even won the 1968 All Star MVP Award] and won a title with the Oaks. 

The very next season, he began his head coaching career with the Carolina Cougars.  In his two years in Carolina, Brown was 104-64 and won Coach Of the Year in 1972-1973...his first as a head coach.  In 1974, the Cougars relocated to St. Louis....but Brown didn't go with them.  The next 5 years...he was the head coach of the Denver Nuggets as they dominated the ABA and merged into the NBA [along with the Nets, Pacers and Spurs] after the 1975 season.    He won 2 more Coach Of the Year awards in the ABA.

                                  Larry Brown's first head coaching position was with...

From there...Larry Brown entered back into the college game.  He took over as head coach of the UCLA Bruins, a very stressful job as the long shadow of John Wooden still dominated that position.  Brown lasted just two seasons...including one that ended in the NCAA title game...before stepping down. 

He went back into the NBA...taking over the former ABA New Jersey Nets.  The Nets struggled with their move into the NBA....but Brown still guided them to 2 playoff appearances. 

So...back to college.  The University of Kansas.  Upon taking the job...Brown gave his now familiar "this is where I want to stay" speeches that didn't last.  His legend did...with a 135-33 record and he led the Danny Manning starred Jayhawk team to the 1988 National Championship.  He stepped down weeks later. 

Back to the NBA to stay.  First with the San Antonio Spurs...another former ABA club.  The Spurs were a bad team, but had David Robinson arriving as soon as his Naval commitment was up.  He did last 4 seasons in San Antonio...though he couldn't lift the Spurs to the Western Conference perch vacated by the Lakers.  After leaving the Spurs in 1992...he spent less than 2 seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers.  But, hey, he did guide the lowly Clips into the playoffs!!!

A month after Brown resigned in LA...he became the Indiana Pacers head coach [the 4th ABA/NBA team].  He again wanted to make this his "last stop".  In his 4 years in Indiana...the Pacers were at their highest point in franchise history.  They routinely battled the New York Knicks or Orlando Magic or Chicago Bulls for the right to play in the NBA Finals.  He just couldn't get them over the hump.  He quit again in 1997 [Larry Bird would take over and get the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals].

                              Philadelphia became Brown's next home in '97, when...

He then took over as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.  In my mind, despite coaching David Robinson and Reggie Miller...the NBA player he will most likely be linked to is Allen Iverson.  A love-hate relationship formed...but the Sixers were winning.  Brown finally got the NBA's biggest stage with an appearance in the 2001 NBA Finals [where he lost in 5 games to the Lakers].  In May 2003, he resigned.

A month later, he was in Detroit to coach the Pistons.  He put the capper on his NBA resume by becoming the only coach to win an NCAA Championship ]1998, Kansas] and NBA Championship [2004, Detroit].  In both his seasons, he took the Pistons to the NBA Finals.  He's in the NBA Hall Of Fame.  He was the head coach of the 2004 USA Olympic Basketball team.  

Now he has his "dream job" of coaching the New York Knicks. it over now?  With health'd think that New York would be his last stop.  But, you'd think winning rings with Detroit would have sufficed.  Who knows?  If his hip holds up and his teaching bug still bites...Brown may be coming to a gym near you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

30 Things I Wanna Get At

In honor of my 30th birthday are just 30 things I wanna get out there.  With such a hectic blogging has lacked a bit of pizzazz.  And, for some reason, I'm feeling a tad froggy right there will be a sting in some of these.

                    Ricky Williams

*Ricky Williams.  Franco Harris called.  He wants his face back.

* it Earl Campell??

*Or Bill Cosby in "Uptown Saturday Night"??

*Why do the Redskins even bother drafting in the 1st round??  Other than the lucky draft of 2000 when we had the #2 and #3 overall picks [thanks Ricky Williams!]....our first round has been wafted away.  Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell are new Skins via the 1st round, but for how long?  Last year's top pick, Sean Taylor, is in a heap of trouble with some ATV gun thang.  Patrick Ramsey [2002] has been thrown around like a rag doll...then pretty much given an ultimatum to be great this year or else.  Rod Gardner [2001] was just dealt to the Carolina Panthers.  Champ Bailey [1999] was quite a catch...but dealt off for Clinton Portis last summer.  This after a decade of Kenard Lang [1997], Andre Johnson [1996], Michael Westbrook [1995], Heath Shuler [1994], Tom Carter [1993], Desmond Howard [1992] and Bobby Wilson [1991].  Howard went on to win the Super Bowl MVP with the Packers a few years later; Westbrook is now a boxer or something; Shuler is running for Congress in North Carolina.  All this comes after the Skins dealt 20 of the 23 first round selections from 1969-1990.  The only three the actually drafted????  Art Monk, Mark May and Darrell Green.

*If there is anything in baseball I'd wish would be the Yankees not making the playoffs.  I'm not a Yankee hater by any stretch, but I'm sick and tired of seeing them in the postseason.  Sick of having to hear announcers spank it about how great and majestic Yankee Stadium is and the history and the words "Joe Torre".  Actually...they can make the playoffs as long as they don't have to face the Red Sox.  God am I tired of being told that these are the only two franchises that have ever existed in Major League Baseball history.  And while I am at it....let the Braves stay home as well.  Nothing is as tired as seeing the Bravos tank another postseason while the Marlins are winning titles.  Nothing would bring me more glee than a Washington-Minnesota World Series.  Hey...I might actually stay up until 1 am to watch it.


*I am glad the NHL is coming back....but what is this deal with having 20 playoff teams???  I know the Stanley Cup playoffs are probably the most exciting in pro sports...but 67% of your league in the playoffs??  C'mon!  Remember the good ol' 1980s when the NHL had 16 of its 21 teams in the playoffs?  Now the league is looking at it again.  Look, why doesn't the NHL just add two more franchises [to make it 32] and just have a six month playoff to get the cup?  Might as well.

*Why doesn't somebody do something about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  What is the point of this franchise?  So no one threatens to move their anymore?  I christen the Rays as the worst franchise in sports.  They have always blown and will continue to blow when playing in a division with the rich Sox, Yanks and O's.  They play in Florida, yet play in a freakin' dome!!!!!  And what an ugly dome it is.  Honestly, the only people that go to the games are there to see the teams they left behind when they moved to Florida. 

*Congrats to Jamie Mottram on his recent nuptials! 


* T.O. is actually gonna report to training camp.  Good.  While I am notopposed to NFL players holding out since their contracts are unguaranteed.....Owens IS the 4th highest paid WR and shouldn't really get so bent about his deal.  I mean, the Eagles DID make it to 3 straight NFC Title games without you and managed to weave thru the 2004 postseason without you.  Get to camp.  Catch some passes.

*The NBA needs to get their crap together and end this moriatorium.  Yeah, I understand that they are drafting the officialagreement...but it already feels like a freakin' lockout. 


*If there is any show that I am pretty sure I won't watch it is the new Stephen A Smith show.  I don't hate him.  He just annoys me.  I mean...I wish I was a smart as he is about everything in the world.  I wish I could stretch out my comments by inserting "at the end of the day" and "quite frankly".  If there is one thing that this blogging stuff has taught me is that everyone has an opinion and it really doesn't take much to voice it. 

*Congrats to Yannis for getting the Rookie Blogger of the Month award....and YCSJ winning the Rookie Blogger of the Week.  With three award winning bloggers in our "ring" wonder it is the best chatting experience anyone could ask for. 

*I will pick USC as my 2005 National Champion....but Tennessee may actually be the better team.  Too bad the Vols murderous schedule will prevent them from possibly meeting the Trojans in January.  And that is what chaps my hide about College Football and no playoff.  It rewards USC for winning a very ordinary conference while a school like Tennessee faces landmines throughout their sked.

                                       The Official Athletic Site of the Atlantic Coast Conference

*I love the new ACC.  But I hate the new logo and I hate the "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions.  I was happy with A and B. 

*I still have no idea what happened between the Pistons and Larry Brown. 

*You may have missed it...but the Kings, Jazz and Grizzlies swung a 3-team deal that essentially sent Bonzi Wells to Sacrmento....scaps to Memphis....and Greg Ostertag to Utah.  Huh?  Tag back in Utah!!  Um...why?  I didn't hear ONE Jazz fan that was sad to see the Big Oh leave a year ago.  Now they trade 3 bench warmers to bring him back in.  Dang!

*My wife and I just saw two movies this weekend.  "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Wedding Crashers".  Uh...this is a sports blog so, uh, "Crashers" had a game of touch football in it and, uh, "Charlie" had Violet the trophy winning competitive freak.  Anyways...we loved both movies and recommend them to anyone who is wondering about seeing them.


*It is weird how things turn out.  Ronny Turiaf entered the 2004 draft before pulling his name out so he could finish getting his degree.  When he did so...he left behind a pretty good shot at be selected in the 1st round.  He went back to Gonzaga, got his degree, and had a so-so season for the Zags.  So, entering the 2005 draft...Turiaf wasn't selected until the 2nd round and costing him a ton of money.  During his physical with the was found that he had an enlarged aorta and he will have to undergo open heart surgery.  The surgery puts his career in jeopardy.  So, really, his decision turned into a blessing on two counts.  One, the fact that he got his degree means that ifhe can no longer play basketball...he will be able to get a good job in the workforce.  And, two, if he left early...who knows if his heart problem would have been noticed in time.  His more ways than one....was saved by decided to Stay In School.

*One of the dumbest things I have heard is Kentucky Speedway suing NASCAR so they can get a Nextel Cup race.  Huh?  You are suing them to give you a race?  Isn't that like suing some chick so she will date you???  Um, you BETTER hope you win...or I'm sure the Busch and Craftsman races may be pulled from your track.  Then you have a huge track in the middle of nowhere that has really nothing to show for it.

*Is the MLS still around?? 

*Oh, and why you are checking....see if the WNBA is still cooking?

*It is nice to see that Al Michaels is NOT defecting to NBC with John Madden to call Sunday Night Football for the peacock.  Instead, Michaels will host Monday Night Football on ESPN....along with Joe Theismann.  I like that.  Michaels belongs in the ABC/ESPN family.  I really have enjoyed his work on the NBA the lastcouple of years....and he still is one of the finest play-by-play guys in football [I wish he'd call a few baseball games as well].  With John Madden now heading to his FOURTH major network [CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC], it is refreshing to see the same face and hear the same voice on the same network. 


*Why do we need a Poinsetta Bowl???  Is that the new thing??  Having a big bowl that hosts a smaller bowl...kinda like a "pre-bowl"??  The, Capital One Bowl has the, Champs Sports Bowl.  The Sugar Bowl has the New Orleans Bowl. 

*Speaking of bowls...I've lived in Charlotte for 13 years and didn't realize what kind a car place it is.  First, we had the Continental Tire Bowl.  Now the name is the Mienike Car Care Bowl.  Ugh. 

*And still on that are your great sponsors for the 2005-2006 bowl season:  Maybe you'll get some INSIGHT about what to buy at CHAMPS SPORTS.  Checking my MPC COMPUTER, I booked a trip to the ALAMO for my HOLIDAY in my EMERALD car made by GMAC in the MOTOR CITY that you just bailed out of MEINIKE.  The INDEPENDENCE and LIBERTY of having the SUN beam down on you while cruising thru MUSIC CITY, eating a PEACH or an ORANGE, thru the COTTON fields of the Florida OUTBACK.  Go down GATOR alley [make sure you have your CAPITAL ONE card to buy a ROSE or a POINSETTA for your SUGAR-pie] for a little FIESTA.   


*The sore thumb in the 2003 NBA Draft is Darko Milicic.  While LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh get major run....the #2 pick has yet to make a dent.  Now, with Larry Brown out in Detroit, rumor is that the Pistons are openly shopping Darko...possibly to Atlanta for Al Harrington.  This would give the Hawks the #2 pick in the 2003 and 2005 drafts.  What really is puzzling is why the Pistons would do this.  They knew that Darko was a project....much more so than the guys selected around him.  So why bailon him now??  My thinking is that Detroit did the smart thing if they choose to develop him.  Then, when the Pistons frontcourt stars start phasing out....Milicic will be ready to step in. 

*Word justin....the WNBA and MLS ARE still around.  I will say this about NBC [who I found out is still around, too]....they did a heck of a job promoting the WNBA.  Since the league has moved to ABC, I really haven't seen or heard much about them [don't blame ESPN, since they've had games for a while].   Oh, and do they have their games on Lifetime anymore??  And...when will the Charlotte Sting be moved somewhere else?

*Speaking of the Charlotte Sting...owner Robert Johnson [the guy who owns the Bobcats] folded his one-year old regional sports network C-SET.  It was a disaster from the start.  Not only was it rushed....there was no programming to make you watch it outside of game night.  Oh...and no one in the Carolinas even GOT the channel.  I got the games up here in Cincinnati with my NBA League Pass...but my mom, in Charlotte, could never find the games.  No one could.  So what is the point having most of the televised games on a channel no one got??? 


*I am very angry with my Lakers right now.  I do not like the deal that will bring Kwame Brown into LA.  Alright, we got Kobe Bryant.  I love to watch Kobe play...but dude is a jerk.  And if Kwame Brown was razzled by Michael won't get too much better with Kobe [he sent the Zen Master to a shrink].  You never can tell where Lamar Odom's head is at.  We drafted a 17-yr old kid to be the next in a line that includesWilt, Kareem, Vlade and Shaq.  And there are rumors swirling about possibly taking a chance on either Gary Payton [who blasted LA last year] or Damon Stoudamire ["um, that ain't my weed!"].  Maybe we should give Latrell Sprewell a look as well.  Or Shawn Un-Kemp-t. 

*Chad Ford is leaving to become a professor at BYU-Hawaii.  Ford arrived to when they took over the ol'  God...I remember  Back in the day....I constantly hit up their site for every rumor imaginable.  I mean, it isn't like it is now where rumor sites are as common as porn sites.  Good luck Chad!!

Monday, July 25, 2005

One More Week For My Fantasy Draft

This coming Saturday....July 31.....I will be hosting my work's 2005 Fantasy Football Draft.  Eighteen rounds of pure guesswork with stops for food, drink, [a quick phone call to the wives] and watching football highlights from a year ago.

Everyone will be flanked with various fantasy football publications that all contain the "magic nuggets of knowledge" that guide us thru the draft.  We all have those "sleepers" underlined, highlighted or jotted down somewhere so that we can overvalue them and pick them when no one wanted him anyways.  The smack has been going on for a while...but especially since July 20 when everyone had to announce their keepers [we each get to keep 3 players from last year's team...although they all have to play a different position]. 

People have been jotting down mock drafts....even dogging it so people either think they are going one way when they are really going another [I know I am guilty of hyping up guys I have no intention of drafting]. 

Weird...since I had never intended to be in a fantasy league...let alone run one.  I always figured these were unathletic geezers who are just armchair quarterbacks that never played the game.  Turns out I was wrong.  Yeah, there are those guys....but my league is made up of people who just can't play football anymore.  Some played in high school, some played a ton as a kid.  Mostly, we got too old and out of shape that we just can't go out there and play it anymore.  So, fantasy football....really, fantasy sports....have taken that competitive space.

We are just a little 8-team league.  The draft will be at my house with little fan fare.  No squirreling up in hotel rooms....or hotel ballrooms.  No coming into work on the weekend and having a draft in the breakroom.  No holding the draft at Hooters or something.  It will be a 14-week season with a 3-team playoff...culminating in our "Super Bowl".

Actually, this year I am using AOL's fantasy manager service.  And, no...not because it is AOL [I had been using Yahoo], but because after doing the research and finding out what my league needed....AOL offered it. 

Which brings me to this:  Mottrams, G-Coztanza, DieCast, Monponsett, TreeSoup, Trickage, Erin, BlackNGold, Quick Slants, LionsDen, Dungy, Pre-Jockularity, or whomever from the Pigskin bloggers wants to get in.....we should start an AOL fantasy league if someone wants to arrange it.  It would be run to rock one with the AOL's finest football bloggers.  Ya know...just to throw an idea out there.

Anyway....God I cannot wait for football to get here!!!!!  Baseball is wigging me out.

My Last Day To Be Young

             more day and I become 30 years old.  No more the I have to be a responsible adult.   On Tuesday, July 26....I become a "thirty-something".  In sports are either at your peak or beginning your decline. 

I've noticed by sports attire has worn down into some Carolina t-shirts and hats...with some Skins gear to be worn on Gameday.  In my time...I've worn the Starter jackets and zubaz shorts [didn't pimp the pants].


No more compression shorts....or my Magic Johnson jersey...or Doug Williams jersey [which had candle wax burned into it after having to live by candlelight after Hurricane Hugo].  I even had a freakin' Eric Montross jersey that was a t-shirt.  I played in a Hoop-It-Up tournament when I was 18 and we all wore Golden State Warriors jerseys [I wore Webber's #4....while Sprewell, Mullin and Hardaway were worn by my teammates]. 

Yeah...I am getting old.

So old...that my NBA team, the Lakers, just drafted a guy that was born in 1987.  I remember 1987 as a 8th grader at Eastway Jr High in East Charlotte.  My birthday lies on the EXACT same day as Joe Smith....the #1 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.  Dude's been in the NBA for 10 years now!!!

Oh...and what really makes me feel worse is the fact that I am ONE DAY OLDER than some guy named Alex Rodriguez...who is pulling in $25,000,000 a year as a New York Yankee.  Ouch. 

But...I am not alone.  Drew Barrymore, Eva Longoria, both members of OutKast, David Beckham, Enrique Iglesias, Angelina Jolie, Allen Iverson, Tobey McGuire, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, Tara Reid, Marion Jones, that chick who played Blossom and Tiger Woods also turn 30 this year with me.  But...uh, PeytonManning, Reese Witherspoon, Joey Lawrence, 50 Cent, Colin Farrel, the dude who played in Wonder Years, the girl who played DJ on Full House, the chick who played Sabrina the Teenage Witch...and Erkel...all turn 30 next year.  UGH!!!!

Doing some more birthday [July 26] is also Kate Beckinsdale's....and Sandra Bullock.  And Mick Jagger.  And Kevin Spacey [yeah...Usual Suspects!!!].  And Stanley Kubrick [possibly my favorite director].   And the State of New York. 


My wife and I celebrated it this weekend by seeing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with our rent-a-kids on Saturday....then had a lovely dinner and saw "Wedding Crashers" on Sunday.  With our hectic's so nice just to be able to chill out with my wife for a day.  Actually, something I've been able to do a lot of over the past two weeks. 




Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lance Armstrong Wins 7th Tour de France

        Lance Armstrong

Congrats to Lance Armstrong!!!!  What an amazing feat - 7 consecutive Tour de France titles.  Not to mention that in a country where football is players are legends...and basketball players worshiped...that a cyclist arguably transcends them all.  Congrats, Lance!  You've made America proud!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

There Are All Kinds Of Performance Enhancers


*I was reading in a magazine about how people feel that anyone found to have used steroids in baseball should have their numbers wiped out.  The article went on to say, "why stop there?"  Why not "wipe out" all things that were influenced by performance enhancing drugs?  I many albums were recorded under the influence of the sticky icky, coke or any variety of drugs??  Should the Beatles have some songs "wiped out"??  Or various art that was created under the influence of mind altering drugs??  Or how about those adult movies that were made using that little blue pill called Viagra???  That's "performance enhancing". many marriages began with a little alcohol to loosen up the mood??  Let's annul them to.  Look, I'm not on the side of steroids....but let's be real.  The solution would be to root out the problem without starting a witchunt to figure out which numbers are real and which are fake.  Do that...and you have the WWE on your hands!

*Due to a hamstring pull, new Timberwolf Rashad McCants didn't play at all in the Minnesota Summer League.  Yet, McCants got into the boxscore by yelling at an official from the bench and receiving a technical.  Ahhh....Sheed Pt II

*I haven't weighed in yet on that whole Larry Brown thing yet. opinion?  The Pistons sorta kinda fired him.  I think that Joe Dumars figures the distractions hurt more than his being there helps.  Brown's health is a very big issue and it was a distraction this year and may be a bigger one next year.  They got their title...and another Finals appearance to boot.  They canned Rick Carlisle after winning the Central Division twice [one more than Brown] in two this dismissal isn't out of the norm.  I'd like to see it work out for everyone, but it seems as if the Pistons and Larry Brown are ready to move on. 

*The NHL is back in business!!!  Play ball!!!  Errrr.....uh....slap puck?  People with mullets and sports denists everywhere rejoice!


*So Ricky Williams is back in Miami.  I have been all over this guy during the past year about his hippie lettuce lovin' ways.  BUT if he really commits himself to getting truly back to football form...he will be a nice asset to the Dolphins.  I doubt he will be the rushing leader he was a few years back, but platooning with Ronnie Brown will give Miami a very strong running game that could mask their passing problems. 

*Lance Armstrong is freaking amazing!

*What crawled up Livan Hernandez' butt???  After hitting 4 batters and losing to the NL's worst team, Colorado, Hernandez stated that he's pretty sure he's done with baseball for the year.  "I'm not happy for three years. After the season, I'm going to tell you.  It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more.  I'm done, I think, so let's see what happens. ... I'll go to sleep and I'm going to make a decision tonight.  I'm tired of something. ... I'll tell you when the season's over. I'm mad."

*Since the start of the 2004-2005 NBA season last October....the Knicks [twice], Sixers, Magic [twice], Cavaliers, Pistons, Bucks, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Sonics, Blazers [twice], Timberwolves [twice], Nuggets [twice] and Lakers [twice] all made coaching changes.  Heck, even the Heat, who finished with the East's top record, has controversy surrounding a possible coaching change.  Really, unless your name is Jerry Sloan or Greg have no security. 

*You want to see exciting baseball??  Head east.  No, this isn't more East Coast Bias...but it seems as if most of the other division races are decided.  The Central Divisions have already been won [White Sox, Cardinals] while the West Divisions have a little more heat, the Padres and Angels are the best teams in those divisions [heck, San Diego is the only team over .500 in the NL West].  But those Eastern divisions are hot and heavy.  The freaking Washington Nationals are in 1st place with the Braves breathing down their neck.  Not too far away are the Fish, Phills and Mets.  In the AL East, it looks as if there will be a free for all between the Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees.  Oh....and don't look now but the Blue Jays are just 5 games back.  With the trade deadline looming, look for all of these teams to at least be living in Rumor Central!


Monday, July 18, 2005



Check out my NFL's division previews at: SPORTZ ASSASSIN ON REDSKINSHere is a bird's eye view of what I think will happen in the NFC in 2005!!!!


1-Philadelphia....2-Dallas...3-New York...4-Washington

1-Minnesota...2-Detroit...3-Green Bay...4-Chicago

1-Carolina...2-Atlanta...3-New Orleans...4-Tampa Bay

1-St. Louis...2-Arizona...3-Seattle...4-San Francisco

FIRST ROUND BYES:  Philadelphia and Carolina
WILDCARD TEAMS:  Atlanta and Dallas
NFC CHAMPION:  Philadelphia Eagles



5-St. Louis
7-New Orleans
9-Green Bay
12-New York
13-Tampa Bay
16-San Francisco

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wiley Riley


Let's see.  Phil Jackson will be back coaching the Lakers.  Larry Brown is still wiggling in his Pistons head coaching job.  And now, there are rumors swirling around Miami that Pat Riley may bump Stan Van Gundy off the Heat bench. 

Amazing that Riley would do such a thing.  His talk says he is missing coaching....the comradarie and fellowship of grown men fighting for a common cause.  In all actuality, he misses the fact that he won't be the guy pubically showered with love in Miami for bringing home a possible championship.  Stan Van Gundy has done a masterful job as the Heat's head coach....a job that was handed to him, from Riley, just days before the 2003-2004 season was to begin. 

Ya know...that season the Heat were supposed to really suck and Riley didn't want to deal with it.  His final Heat team was 25-57 and Riley felt as if opponents were piling it on to get back at Riley....who had never tasted failure in such a manner before.  He got into it with Ron Artest on the court and officials off it.  And no one cared.  No one cared to see Riley get the short end of the stick.  Even Alonzo Mourning...who forced a trade to Miami to play for Riley...left to go to a "winner" in New Jersey.  So Riley quit before the next season began.


One weird thing happened:  Miami put together a solid season and ended up in the playoffs.  New acquisitions Dwayne Wade and Lamar Odom led Miami [under Van Gundy] to a 42-40 record and into the 2nd round of the playoffs.  That led to team potential, which attracted Shaquille O'Neal to Miami.  Last year, Miami finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and were one game away from playing in the NBA Finals. 

Now Riley sees this as a chance to get back in there and close out the job.  One wasn't Van Gundy'sfault the Heat didn't get to the Finals.  Injuries to Shaq and Wade [among others] left the Heat a tad undermanned against an experienced Pistons team.  Had the team been healthy....they may have ended up with the title.

Is it ego then??  It shouldn't be...since no one doubts Riley's place in NBA lore.  His 4 championships with the Lakers and success in New York and Miami leave nothing to be desired.  In fact, his drafting of Wade and dealing for Shaq just go to prove how well of a front office man Riley has become.  So while Van Gundy gets the face time....people know Riley's involvement. 


And his biggest fish is Shaq....who also is in a bit of some negotiations with the team.  Some feel that part of the talks do center on Riley becoming the coach.  Remember, Shaq was angry after the Eastern Conference Finals for not getting enough shots late in the game and has referred to playing for "Pat"....not "Stan".  And that could help with the undoing. 

As a Laker fan....Pat Riley always has a special place in my sports heart.  Seeing footage of him making the "guarantee" which seems so trite now still get me rolling.  But, Pat, let Van Gundy do his thing.  You dumped your team on him....let him ride it out.

Let him finish the game.


Here are some opinions from around AOL: 

Bar 1 G:  "IM a Laker fan and have been since they moved to LA and remember when Riles was Chicks color man and that it was Chick Hern that told Pat that he would make a great coach and that he should give it a try. He literally pushed Pat into the job.  Having said that If this SVG story comes true I will have lost a lot of respect for Riles."

HGZ89:  "Stan Van Gundy is a much better coach now than Pat Riley is today. The best would be if Pat Riley would join as an assistant, rather than ruin the good atmosphere Van Gundy has put on this team. If Van Gundy is fired, I guarentee several other teams would pursue him. I would keep him as coach, and should he not do well this season, fire him (even though i still think that is too harsh). I hope this doesn't turn out to be a Rick Carlisle (sp?) approach like what happened in Detroit 3 years ago."

BC883:  "here we go.. so once again, you cannot question stan's job, do you remember he took over 2 season ago right before the season and took a "rebuilding and waiting for their next lottery pick" team to the second round of the nba playoffs... or how about this year losing three starters and filling then in with 2 would be bench players in haslem and d jones and almost making the finals, the heat were a 2 year project believe it or not but stan system had this team ahead of progress, yes shaq did a lot to help them get where there are but he was apart of van gundy;s system, van gundy was taught by reily [sp] like his brother jeff, so why would reily [sp] want to take over for a guy who came up under him and who is doing his name and legacy well... and maybe you have forgot but reily [sp] has a big part in this team, he is the wheeler and dealer behind the scenes to make this team as good as it is now and next year even better... and to answer your other question, reily [sp] will have enough for short term contracts for other guys or even incentive laced contracts but i am sure he will do what he have to so the job gets done"

Saturday, July 16, 2005

All Hail The Redneck Games!!!!


What started as a spoof of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta....the Redneck Games is currently celebrating their 10th Anniversary.  Well, how 'bout that there now!!

The games, which take place in central Georgia, begin with the ceremonial lighting of the Grill from a torch made from Budweiser cans. 

You have the MUDPIT BELLY FLOP...




....the RAFT RACE....




....the HUBCAP HURL....


Not to mention they have the "Buttcrack Competition" and "Redneck Horseshoes" [played with toilet seats]...and ends with a huge fireworks show. 


Friday, July 15, 2005

Vlade To Retire


There are reports on the FIBA website that Vlade Divac will retire sometime before the NBA season starts back up.  A back injury that sidelined Divac most of this past season is the reasoning for the retirement.

Divac is a very interesting player in my life.  I've never formally met him....though I did talk to him once.  He had his AOL Screename available for people to IM him back in the mid-late I hit him up one night.  Just hollered at him...told him I was a fan of his and just to say hi.  He repectfully chatted with me for a sec. 

At that time, he was on the internet a bunch.  His homeland, the former Yugoslavia, was in a horrible civil war and he was keeping tabs via the internet of what was going on.  Divac is most likely the biggest athlete to come out of Yugoslavia...and was one of the guys who helped usher in the European Invasion.

As the starting center for Yugoslavia, he was joined with future NBA players Drazen Petrovic, Dino Radja and Toni Kukoc to form one of the top international teams...winning a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.  He was a star for Partizan Belgrade....averaging 20 ppg and 11 rbs.  He then became the 28th pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. 

Divac was the center that replaced Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  Jabbar retired after the 1989 Finals....and Divac inherited the job.  Tough for someone who barely knew the language.  Back in those days, when Euros were selected in the waited years before you even get to bring them in [see:  Sabonis, Kukoc].  Divac came right in....and right under Magic Johnson's wing....becoming a fan favorite as the Lakers made an unlikely Finals appearance in 1991. 


Really, Vlade was the face of theLakers between Magic's retirement and Shaq's arrival.

Of course, Shaq's arrival in Los Angeles meant Vlade was on the way out.  He was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to some kid named Kobe Bryant.  While in Charlotte...he continued to be a fan favorite.  It was in Charlotte [where I was a 20 yr old] that I had that IM convo I mentioned earlier.


As a free agent in 1999, Divac went on to Sacramento and became an important cog in what would be to most sucessful era of Sacramento basketball.  In 2001, Vlade made his only appearance in an All Star Game.  A year later, his Kings would lose Game 7 to his ex-Laker team in the Western Conference Finals. 


He was a gold medalist in the World Championships in 1990 and 2002 with Yugoslavia...basically bookending the Dream Team's reign.  He wanted to finish his career with Partizan Belgrade, the Serbian team he left to pursue a dream in the NBA.

I always thought of him as a "Larry Bird Center".  Meaning he wasn't the best athlete...but he was just smarter than whomever he was up against.  He had many tricks up his sleeve, whether a no-look pass, an up-and-under, or a flop.  While he wasn't a powerful post player....he was just as good with his back to the basket as he was facing up for a jumper.  His classic baseline spins can still fool the best of them. 

What is his legacy?  Well, dude had his wedding on national TV in Yugoslavia.  He very well may be a Hall Of Famer...due to his international importance.  He have two sons...and adopted a daughter and has the Divac Fund which helps raise money for children affected by war torn Serbia. 

He has spoken of still staying in Los Angeles [his kids are in school there] and even hinted about a possible coaching gig with the Lakers are they are breaking in 17-year old Andrew Bynum.  Either way, it is sad to see Vlade leave.  Whether you rooted for him or really couldn't hate the guy.  He tried hard...flopped a little...and had fun. 

Every one of his 16 years of NBA basketball.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Lakers Trade For Kwame Brown


The Los Angeles Lakers [my team] are set to deal Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins to the Washington Wizards for Kwame Brown.  The Wiz could decide on replacing Atkins with Devean George...but LA would prefer to keep the triangle-knowing George around. 

You want my honest opinion??  I don't like the deal.

Not that I HATE the deal....I just don't like it.  With all of the trade talk in the last year involving Caron Butler...the best we got was Kwame Brown.  A guy that got kicked off his team in the playoffs?  Butler was our 2nd leading scorer last season and we dealt him, along with our 4th leading scorer, for a guy that started just 14 games last year and averaged just 7 points...good enough for 8th best on his team. 

Kwame Brown is on the fast track to being labeled the worst #1 draft pick of all time.  He was the first high school player drafted first overall in the NBA draft and has done nothing in his time in Washington.  His biggest career moments have been a game on March 17, 2003 against the Kings where he scored 30 pts, nabbed 19 boards, becoming Michael Jordan's whipping boy and getting kicked off the team during the Wiz's first playoff appearance in nearly a decade. 

He most likely won't enter the Mount Rushmore of Laker #1 drafted players of Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Heck, he probably couldn't even knock Mychael Thompson off either.

The deal isn't a horrible one for the Lakers.  Apparantly, the deal is just 2 years long, with the Lakers having an option on the 3rd.  This fits into the Lakers plan of having some cap room after the 2006-2007 season.  However, it really hurts the current Lakers now for a hopeful swipe at Yao Ming or Amare Stoudamire in 2007.  As of now, the Lakers will trot out a lineup of Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Chris Mihm, Kwame Brown and a point guard the Lakers are wishing to add via their mid-level exception.  This Laker team is very short on perimeter players right now, as the teamspent their draft picks on center Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf...and on a reach with guard Von Wafer.  Sasha Vujacic and Devean George are the only other "guards" on the Lakers current roster. 

The Wiz did a okay job replacing Larry Hughes, who they lost earlier in the week to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Atkins will do fine running the point with Butler chipping in at the small forward spot.  Not a bad deal for a guy they really didn't mind cutting loose. 


Hey....I've Been Busy!!!

This week I am hosting my entire family [sans my Dad who is staying home in Charlotte] I really haven’t had time to really delve into my blog or really anything sports related. However, I will just throw out some quick takes on stuff I’ve caught on the fly in those precious moments when I don’t have to have Spongebob Squarepants on.


*Apparently the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed on a deal that would keep the peace for 6 years. There will be nearly a 25% rollback....meaning that everyone is taking a quarter paycut. There WILL be a hard salary cap that will require teams to spend $21M and no more than $37M...and that number will move with revenue. They will allow buyouts of contracts that wouldn’t count against the cap. No player can make more than 1/5 of his team’s payroll. So if a team is at the cap of $37M, then the highest player can only make $7.4M. The top 10 money making teams will dump money into a pool for the bottom 10 money making teams. There will be salary arbitration [perhaps similar to MLB’s] and the NHL will shut it down in February 2006 so the NHL players can participate in the Olympics [there will be no 2006 All Star Game].

So...who are the winners and losers???? Well, I can’t say the players won anything. In any labor dispute...the public perception of athletes worsen as they are considered greedy. Also, the NHL pretty much got their wishes by installing a hard cap and rolling back contracts. The arbitration aspect lends owners a shot at lowering a player’s salary if he underperformed. The owners also established a entry salary cap so that this garbage of not being able to afford your draft pick will go away.

I also do not agree with the revenue sharing plan. Why should the #10 team be forced to share money but not the #11 team? I know what this is supposed to be for...but the execution is wrong. I’d like to see just a straight revenue percentage taken from each team...and that money gets placed into an "emergency fund". That fund only gets used when something extreme when the Sabres were having trouble to make payroll payments.



*On Thursday, the NFL’s supplemental draft will be held. It is a special draft for guys that didn’t get in on the first NFL Draft. Guys like Chris Carter, Bernie Kosar, Brian Bosworth, Steve Walsh and Dave Brown came into the league via the Suppy Draft. But now, the supplemental draft is a haven for abandoned players. Guys with no where to go. So...who are the names this year?

Manuel Wright, a DT from Southern Cal, will most likely be well as possibly eight others.



*Wow...are the Washington Nationals for real or what!?!? Not only have they surprised everyone with their NL East lead heading into the All Star Break...but they just dealt for Preston Wilson and Eric Byrnes!!!


Monday, July 11, 2005

Kobe's New Nike Ad

             Kobe Bryant

Remember July 2003?  Before then, most everyone had seen that Sprite ad with Kobe Bryant telling everyone to "Obey Their Thirst".  Most of us remember Kobe being selected to play in that little pickup game with the kids....and one kid reminding Kobe that the winner gets McDonalds. 

Of course, everything changed after July 2003.  He was accused of rape by the court of public opinion...and that is the court that matters to Madison Avenue.  You see, they can still pimp people in trouble if the public still likes them.  Kobe was now the enemy.

I'm not going to relive the saga...nor am I goint to justify or condemn anything anyone did.  If sticking Kobe's face on your product was bad for business....then it made sense to cut him off.  The Golden Child with the squeaky clean image that some felt didn't have enough street cred to sling kicks, Big Macs and Sprite was now so tainted that everyone broke him off.  Osama Bin Laden may have had a better Q rating than Kobe.


Now it is July 2005....and Nike has a new Nike ad ready to go.  It is just a plain black ad, with his face and several lines of text.  It is a bold move by Nike, becoming the first sponsor to bring back Kobe from the netherworlds of sport's outcasts.  It is also a bold move for Kobe - thrusting his name back into the public as someone trustworthy enough to sell product.

It keeps with the concept that the Lakers and Kobe Bryant are running with right now.  Redemption.  For it wasn't just Kobe that suffered a huge image was also the Los Angeles Lakers and anyone associated with the Lakers.  The Lakers went from "great dynasty" to "hoops circus" in a matter of months.  Then, with Kobe at the helm, the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.  Being of fan of the Lakers and/or Kobe Bryant means you support a 'rapist'.  Not was Kobe not only accused of rape....but of single-handily bringing down the greatest NBA franchise of the past 25 years. 

He went from the guy that was so right about the NBA to the guy that represented all that was wrong.  The one guy everyone KNEW turned out to be just another stereotypical NBA player:  adulterous, greedy, power hungry, ego-driven, selfish super star.  All he needed was a marijuana arrest and a few extra kids and he had the entire thing locked down. 


2005-2006 is set to be the redemption season for Kobe.  Phil Jackson, the coach he supposedly ran off, is now back to coach the Lakers....sans Shaq.  LA is trying to make a postseason run again...and the humbling of Kobe and Phil Jackson are at the center of this redemption.  Phil knows that if he wins anything at all will pretty much put a stamp on his career that he could take a bad team and make them good.  In doing so, Kobe can boost up his career.  From young overrated.

The Nike Ad is a start.  Below is the text from the ad:

You failed.

1000 made jumpers.

No playoffs.

Abs 200 x 5.


Curls 15 x 3.


Bench press 2 x 15.

Not a leader.

Baselines x 20.

A fluke.

300 made bank shots.

Too young.

Lunges 15 x 4.


Tricep press 10 x 4.

Played out.

800m run x 2.


400m x 5.

No focus.

Calf raises 12 x 3.

You're burnt.

Squats 2 x 10.

An outcast.

Reverse hyper 10 x 4.

Past your prime.

Box jumps x 3.

Ball hog.

100m run x 10.

You're garbage.

100 made free throws.

Too cold.

Military press 8 x 4.

You're mental.

Five-mile run.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

All Hail The Great Outdoor Games!!!

                     Razzle Dazzle

First off....let me just say that I have nothing against the "Great Outdoor Games" that are currently going on. While not on par with the Olympics....things like the Outdoor Games and the X-Games are interesting undercards that host events that may not fall under the "sports" category.

Especially the outdoor games. There are events that are sporting in nature [archery, ATV racing] and events that are just....well, events. There is log rolling, speed climbing, hot saw, dogs catching frisbees, super jack and boom run. In fact, the Outdoor Games are seperated into four groups: ATV, Timber Events, Target Sports and Sporting Dogs. Any "Games" that have dogs as competitors gets my vote!!! I mean, where else can Lock Eye Razzle win a medal???

Like I said in a blog post I made over a year ago....I’d love to have the "Backyard Games". Ya know...horseshoes, darts, bowling, who can throw a baseball the farthest, etc. There are Monopoly tournaments, back-offs, thumb wrestling and probably paper football championships somewhere.

        Jenny Atkinson and Abby Hoeschler

But don't get me wrong.  It still is funny.  On the GOG asks that you don't bring your dog so it doesn't affect the competing dogs.  They also state that the wood used in the Games comes from Wisconsin.  But it is serious business.  The event [just like the X Games] has created solid ratings for ESPN and has sort of brought out these "sports".  The X-Games has been a smash with pretty much an entire culture has been created from it.  While the Outdoor Games hasn't reached that status has brought in buzz around "timber sports" and ATV racing. 

So, laugh and/or mock the Outdoor Games.  It's okay.  Just remember that badminton, cycling, equestrian, fencing, sailing and weightlifting are in the Olympic Games...and they are just as niche as anything the Outdoor Game strutsout there.



                                    THE ESPY

To be honest....I don't watch the ESPY Awards.  I just found out it was on July wedding anniversary....and really don't intend to watch it [though I am sure it will be crammed down my throat later in the night].  When I see an athlete dressed up...there better be a judge in front of him!! 

It isn't that I am against award shows.....I do watch several of them....but some of these categories are quite redundant.  Do I really care who ESPN dubs the "Best MLB Player"??  I just look at the MVP balloting and make my pick.  And when they do actually differ from the leagues awards then it just looks like a bunch of snobby know-it-alls thumbing their noses at their choices [Nash or Shaq??]

However, it is the awards that span the sporting world that get the debating going.  Who's the best team??  Red Sox?  USC?  North Carolina?  Patriots?  Spurs?  All can make a claim....but who does get it?  It is fun to relive the best plays...and best moments of the past year.  There are also awards for best athlete with a disability and such.  Nice touching reminders of what sport can truly mean.

So, I went to the ESPY website and made my own picks for some awards:

BEST TEAM: Yeah, I will feed into the Greatest Thing That Has Ever Happened On Earth myopia by anointing the Boston Red Sox as the top team. I mean, they only became the first non-NHL team to come back from an 0-3 hole in the playoffs. Then blitzed the Yankees and Cardinals to capture their first title in 86 years.


BEST MALE ATHLETE: Michael Phelps. Dude only won 6 swimminggold medals [8 total] in last year’s Olympic Games....even though those games now seem like they took place 10 years ago.  Lance Armstrong has won this award two years running and could make it a third.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: I have to go with Annika Sorenstam by a smidge over Natalie Coughlin. Sorenstam has just been so dominant in the LPGA this year. Coughlin did win 5 medals in the Athens Olympics.

BEST COACH: Tough category [Roy Williams, Pete Carroll, Greg Popovich, Terry Francona are finalists] but Bill Belicheck gets the nod. They set the all time consecutive wins record, smacked up Peyton Manning’s white hot Colts team...then went into Pittsburgh and blew out the Steelers. To top it off...back-to-back Super Bowl wins!

BEST GAME: I’ll take the Michigan State-Kentucky game in the NCAAtournament. Michigan State was sort of a cinderella story just to get this far. A few overtimes and Patrick Sparks’ shot just has to put it over the top.


BEST CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PERFORMANCE: Really tough category. There is the bloody sock of Curt Schilling. There is Matt Leinart lighting up the Miami sky. Deion Branch caught 11 passes in the Super Bowl. But Sean May had a great title game...and a great tournament. No one was as dominant as May was over the last month of the season.

BEST MOMENT: Reggie Miller’s farewell. I do think that Afleet Alex’s Preakness win was quite stunning....but Miller’s final game did bring a lump to my throat.

BEST PLAY: Blake Hoffarber. Who? He’s a high school kid that hit a game tying shot from the seat of his pants. Down by three....he fell the ball behind the line...and threw it in.

BIGGEST UPSET: Puerto Rico over United States. Sure, Team USA went on to lose a few more games...but this is Puerto Rico. A team that scrubs were smacking around over the past few years.


BEST SPORTS MOVIE: I’m sure Cinderella Man or Million Dollar Baby are better movies...but I loved Coach Carter. is simple and formulaic, I just enjoyed myself. And isn’t that what movies are designed to do?