By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.
I'll keep this rant short mainly because I spent the majority of my time devising a ridiculous plan to stop tanking in the NBA. Despite some lackluster moments in the NBA this season I've been fairly happy with the level of play despite the shortened training camps and schedules. It's been an entertaining and intriguing season (even though I'd argue it would've been even better had they played about 60 games and allocated a little more rest time). But now I find myself a little disappointed.
I thought a shortened season would result in more parity and would make for an insanely exciting final few days of the season. Instead, all 8 playoff spots in the East have been clinched and the Suns and Jazz are fighting for the chance to be swept by the Spurs. The East's 6-8 seeds are still up for grabs between the Magic, Knicks and 76ers (they can't get the 6th seed but have a chance at the 7-seed) but do any of those three teams have a chance in the opening round? The West has at least a little bit of intrigue with the Lakers and Clippers still battling it out for the Pacific division title and the Nuggets and Mavericks looking to avoid a match-up with the Thunder.
The drama might be gone from the regular season but hopefully the playoffs will make up for that. I don't expect many upsets from the first round but that will make for some great second round series. If the level of play is raised as it normally is than most of the angst from the lockout will vanish and what seemed like a huge PR nightmare will become just a bump in the road. On to the awards!
Not Looking at the Big Picture
Tim Keown of ESPN thinks contracting the Kings makes sense from a business perspective: What happens to a business like this one? Simple: One day there's a sign on the door announcing a big closeout sale, and after that the place has boards on the windows.
Transfer the same scenario to professional sports, and you get the Sacramento Kings. So what happens to a pro sports franchise that alienates customers and allows the product to crumble at its feet? If you're the Brothers Maloof, cash-poor owners of the Kings, you work the system. You tell the customers you're going to move into fancy new digs, cry at a news conference, profess your love for all your loyal customers.
On the surface this makes sense. The Kings are an awful product thus get rid of that product. The problem is the Kings don't stand alone. If all 30 NBA teams were their own entity than players could move about from one team to another whenever they wanted and there would be no salary cap. You have to look at the Kings as one piece of the entire NBA puzzle. It makes sense for the NBA to be in many different markets and for those markets to have a sense of stability. Basically, Keown is applying capitalism to the Kings but the NBA does not treat individual teams like that but instead looks at the entire picture.
The Biggest Waste of Investigative Journalism
I enjoy Mark Schlabach's coverage of college football but his most recent piece in ESPN the Magazine on the rise of marijuana in the sport is laughable: The incidents highlight a trend in college football that has taken hold of the news cycle several times since the beginning of last season.
A trend, huh? It seems to me like it's a trend every year. I can't remember a time when players weren't being arrested for marijuana possession. It's like saying it's a trend that the sun comes up in the morning because it's happened every single day this week.
In the NCAA's latest drug-use survey, conducted in 2009 and released in January, 22.6 percent of athletes admitted to using marijuana in the previous 12 months, a 1.4 percentage point increase over a similar 2005 study.
1.4 percent! Sound the alarms. We got a full-blown epidemic on our hands. What's even the plus/minus on this stat? Probably something like 1.4 percent I bet.
Story of the Week
The Nets just played their final game in New Jersey last night. Not surprisingly, they were blown out by the 76ers by 18 points. Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger writes a great piece on the history of largely failure of the Nets in New Jersey. You should read the whole thing but I'll share one fantastic quote from a marketing man after a particularly horrific span from 1993-1995: ... this was his assessment of the roster during that time: "It was all convicts and criminals," he told the Associated Press in 2006. "One year we had six guys in jail. Not together, because that would have meant teamwork."
And that pretty much sums up the New Jersey Nets. Here's hoping things go a little smoother in Brooklyn.
Don't Give World Peace a Chance
David Steele of Sporting News seems to have conflicting thoughts on what Metta World Peace's punishment for elbowing James Harden should be: The suggestion here: Suspend him for the Lakers' final regular-season game, of course, and then for their entire first-round playoff series, whether it's a sweep or a seven-gamer.
If they advance, the Lakers are entitled to pick it up from there, and tell World Peace to sit out the rest of the playoffs. Suspend him or deactivate him; it's just semantics. But he has to go.
They may or may not need him. But they absolutely can't trust him.
I think if the NBA wants to send a message then that penalty makes sense. Kevin Love did stomp on Luis Scola's head and only got two games but given World Peace's history (it's been a long time though) this punishment isn't too crazy...
In return, he needs to sit down. The NBA gets its chance first. The Lakers owe it to everybody to sit him the rest of the way.
Now that's a little too much. A series and the last regular season game would be a minimum 5-game ban. The entire playoffs and last regular season game could be anywhere from 5 games to 29 games. That seems a little aggressive.
A Less Tempered Rant Against World Peace
Mike Lopresti of USA Today isn't quite as calm in calling for World Peace's penalty: If you had just inadvertently slammed your elbow into another man's temple, wouldn't you pause to see if the poor guy's head was still attached? Metta World Knucklehead never looked back, but rather rolled on down the court, happy with his world and full of himself.
When some of the other Thunder players approached to file personal objections, he seemed to brace for more combat. Hardly the body language of a man grieved about an unintended blow. ... By all accounts, there is no cause to think him a vicious or mean man. There seems a certain charm to the fellow, some of the time. There are occasions his heart shows. His contributions to the cause of mental health are real.
But too many days, he has been, and still is, Metta World Selfish. Not a thought seems to cross his mind at those mad moments about how his actions can harm his teammates, and his game.
Do you think Lopresti has ever played sports in his life? When that adrenaline is pumping you don't stop and look back to see what you might have done. It's not exactly an on/off switch. And when other players are coming at you to confront you, you get ready to fight. If you try and apologize you're liable to get hit in the head yourself.
As far as World Peace being selfish - how about some examples? He's had a pretty clean track record since the Malice at the Palace 8 years ago. He actually has broken up many potential fights and stepped in and brokered peace between his teammates and others. Sure, he's not exactly the most level-headed guy but he's no longer the hot-head he once was and we really should judge him on his more recent actions than frame this as Ron Artest just being Ron Artest again.
Cutting Off Pre-Emptive Strike That Wasn't Happening
David Steele implores everyone not to blame the players for how this NBA season has played out: Sorry for the pre-emptive strike, but it's never too early to cut off a blame-the-players tirade, which never seems far away. Let's remember who locked out whom, and who put this slapdash schedule together.
I'm not sure I've heard much talk about blaming the players for this season. BUT, hey I'll take a shot at it. The owners aren't the only ones that agreed to this deal. I've mentioned this before but the players wanted to jam in as many games as possible too because guess what - they get paid for those games. Heck, they got paid for the games they missed this season because they needed to rest with the compound schedule. The blame falls on both on there's no way around that.
Most Ignorant Quote From an NFL Scout
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rates down the top NFL draft prospects and has quotes from some scouts. Here's what one said about Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele: "I just don't know if football is that important to him. He was raised by women, which bothers me. I mean, how tough can he be? It's not his fault, but it's still reality."
How many NFL players were only raised by women? I'd bet it's a substantial amount. Maybe this scout should just draft players who were beaten by their Dad's. They definitely have to be the toughest players, right?