Dylan Gwinn - March 04, 2015

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith likes big words, and he’s essentially a walking, talking thesaurus for various uses of the words ludicrous, ridiculous, preposterous, and absurd. If I had to attach a word to Stephen A.’s latest foray into the realm of race-baiting sports commentary, I would say farcical. Or, as Stephen A. might say, “a farcical cacophony of craziness, bordering on mythic proportions.”

As reported in Breitbart Sports: “On Monday’s First Take on ESPN2, co-host Stephen A. Smith was asked what his reaction was to NASCAR driver Kurt Busch being suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for domestic violence with his ex-girlfriend.”

Stephen A. opined thusly: “The reason why this story resonated with me, Skip Bayless, is because I wanted to highlight something that needs to be mentioned that black folks, myself included, have lamented for many, many years. Kurt Busch gets cited for domestic violence by a judge. OK, yes, he gets suspended by NASCAR. We appreciate that. Where’s the public outcry? Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, McDonald in San Francisco, even though that case ultimately was dropped … America needs to understand that if you happen to be black, when stuff like this happens, and you see how it just gets mentioned in the news and it’s pointed out there and it’s discussed because ESPN clearly did its job. The other networks clearly did their job in highlighting it. When you talk about public uproar, where’s the uproar with what Kurt Busch allegedly... read more »

Tom Carkeek - March 03, 2015

The narrative:

Kevin Stallings is an oppressive, out-of-control coach who rules Vanderbilt basketball with a hand of terror. Wade Baldwin is a petrified freshman just beginning to learn his way in the cold world of college athletics. When Baldwin taunted defeated Tennessee players in the handshake line after a game, it was just a youthful expression of swagger and exuberance. When Stallings responded by yanking the kid aside and muttering, “I’m going to f--king kill you,” he gained membership in the Jerry Sandusky Club of Coaches Not Worthy of Supervising Young People.

Josh Hamilton is an uber-talented baseball player who has been beset by personal demons his whole life. He has won some and lost some in his valiant struggle to rein in his apparently severe drug addiction, and we all need to support this classy young man in his recent cocaine relapse.

The reality:

Stallings used an expression that some professional victims took literally and deemed insensitive. (If Stallings had ordered his team to “flood the zone,” would the fire hoses have come out?). What Stallings said was totally acceptable. He might not have gone far enough. He vehemently disciplined a recidivist offender who had exhibited lousy sportsmanship — reportedly not for the first time. A coach’s responsibility extends far beyond the court to instilling respect for opponents. Bless Kevin Stallings for trying to do that.

Hamilton knowingly used a substance that has taken countless lives. He... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - March 02, 2015

The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs recently turned games against the Los Angeles Clippers into unwatchable bores with incessant, purposeful fouling of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. A 42 percent career free throw shooter, Jordan shot 54 free throws in the two games, making only 22.

We’ve seen the intentional foul strategy before; utilized against Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal (the “Hack-a-Shaq”) and Dwight Howard, among others. It lies within the rules, but let’s call it for what it is — a noxious loophole.

James Naismith and subsequent wise men defined fouls to dissuade defenders from preventing baskets through means deemed unworthy. They intended foul calls to punish fouling defenders, not reward them. They also aimed to make the game more enjoyable to play and watch.

“Hack-a-Jordan” turns all that on its head.

“Hack-a-Jordan” has only been used a few times this season, but that’s small solace to the 20,000 fans who wasted big bucks at each of these depressing affairs. Nor will the scarcity ease our pain when the strategy eventually ruins a playoff game.

But that’s not the worst of it. The problem goes well beyond DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers. The deliberate fouling of a bad free throw shooter is only one example of intentional fouling. Much more commonly, defenders grab players near mid-court to prevent a breakaway. Or they deliberately wrap up a player about to make a layup or dunk. This occurs even more frequently in the playoffs,... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - February 15, 2015

Allonzo Trier started on the U.S.'s undefeated U-18 basketball team last year and was recently selected to play in the 2015 McDonald’s High School All-America Game.

The name may ring a bell. Writer Michael Sokolove profiled Trier in the New York Times Magazine in March 2009. At that time, Trier ranked No. 1 in the country among sixth-grade hoopsters. Someone ranks at the top every year in every age group (even sixth graders!), but Trier’s unusual devotion to basketball at that age seemed newsworthy. He practiced seven days a week, sometimes for nearly seven hours in a day. He shot every morning until he made 450 baskets without hitting the rim. Allonzo also trained with a private tutor and played with various AAU teams, often flying around the country to compete in different events.

Sokolove praised Trier as a good kid - curious about the world around him, with people skills and “a sweetness and a concern for others.” Even on the AAU circuit, Trier resisted the pressures that drove so many other elite young players to shot-crazed styles. Instead, he passed the ball willingly and showed a sophisticated feel for the game. Trier appeared self-motivated, simply pursuing his dream.

Anticipating a backlash to Trier’s early-life monomania, Sokolove noted that Trier’s training did not really differ in nature from that of Michael Phelps or Tiger Woods as children. And he considered that “… (Trier’s) arduous schedule... read more »