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May 29, 2012 3:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (5/22-5/28)

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.

Column Awards for slide.jpgLast week there was a rumor floating around that Shaquille O'Neal was going to interview for the job of General Manager of the Orlando Magic. Of course, the rumor was first reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN who seems to run with anything anyone tells him. I was skeptical at first but then more reports came out that he was going to meet with the team and I got my hopes up.

There were so many reasons I wanted this to happen. The idea of him going back to the franchise he abandoned years ago was fascinating. How would the fanbase embrace him? Could he possibly right his wrong by convincing Dwight Howard to stay ("Do as I say, not as I do.")? I know he's now a Doctor but how potentially hilarious could his press conferences be?

But the biggest reason I was hoping this would become a reality is so I would no longer have to see him on TNT's "Inside the NBA." Is there a worst NBA analyst than Shaq? The only one in the running is Jalen Rose. In fact, I'd put Shaq in the running for worst analyst across all sports with only Emmitt Smith having the chance to win that title from him.

For someone that was so entertaining while in the NBA, he brings absolutely nothing as an analyst. There is no insight. He basically just repeats what the others on set have already said. He mumbles the entire time. The only time he brings a modicum of entertainment value is when the other analysts make fun of him. So can some NBA franchise please hire this guy so he can stop ruining the best NBA studio show? On to the awards!


Not a Soccer Fan?
Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald wrote about the very physical play in Game 5 between the Heat and the Pacers: What's next in this contentious showdown? A head-butt like the one Zinedine Zidane administered to Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, which France lost after Zidane was sent off. Maybe it's time for red cards in basketball.

Aren't flagrant 2 fouls pretty much red cards? On a flagrant 2 a player is ejected from the game and suspended for a subsequent game. The only difference with a red card is the team can't field another player to replace them. Is that what she's getting at? In a game with only 5 players per side she wants a team to play down an entire man? While I'd find that comical I don't think that's gonna happen.

NBA commissioner David Stern had no choice but to punish Haslem and Pittman. They were lucky it wasn't worse. Pittman's foul, which sent Stephenson to the X-ray room, was arguably as malicious as Metta World Peace's elbow to the head of James Harden, who sustained a concussion. World Peace was suspended seven games.

I'll agree Pittman was very lucky it wasn't worse but I'll argue it was at least as bad as World Peace's elbow. Pittman launched himself elbow first at a defenseless player without the ball. The NBA seems to be all over the map with their suspensions. Andrew Bynum got 4 games for his flagrant foul on J.J. Barea last playoffs and at least Barea had the ball in that situation. Pittman should definitely have been suspended for the rest of the playoffs and beyond that the Heat should probably be fined as well. Losing Pittman just isn't a big enough loss and when scrubs like that exact revenge suspending them isn't nearly damaging enough. These teams should feel it in their pocket books too. Maybe that will stop teams from employing thugs like that.

Shaving Cream Pies Are ALWAYS Entertaining
Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune probably doesn't have much positive things to write about since the Twins stink so instead he wrote a piece on 10 ways to improve baseball: 6. Shaving cream pies
A guy wins a game for you. He's standing in front of the dugout, doing a TV interview, and your resident clubhouse clown sneaks up behind him and smashes a towel filled with shaving cream into his eyes.
Does that sound like a good idea? And has anybody located the person who still finds this funny?

Who doesn't enjoy that moment? It's not only pretty funny but it's a simple tradition that the players themselves seem to love and those are the moments that fans love. I will say that for years I thought it was whipped cream and I still kind it confusing that you hit someone with shaving cream. Why not make the switch to whipped cream? This player just won the game for you, the least you can do is give him a little dessert in the face.

Strong Accusation
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports hammers Russell Westbrook and James Harden for their play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals: Westbrook and his partner in uselessness, James Harden, combined for 14 pointless points in the final 100 seconds of garbage time, turning a 94-84 game into something deceptively closer. Westbrook finished with 17 points, which were as utilitarian as his brown glasses. They were for show, those 17 points. That's all they were. And the same goes for Harden, who scored 19 cotton-candy points, empty calories for a nauseating scoreboard. In all, Harden and Westbrook combined to take 38 shots to score their 36 points. They couldn't score efficiently, but by God they were going to score. What's the point of playing a big game on a big stage if you can't get yours, right? I have no idea if that's what Westbrook and Harden were thinking, but I'm positive that's how they were playing. They're capable of getting shots whenever they want, and as the game rolled along and their point totals stayed static, they started jacking up shots.

Can't a couple players have a bad game? They did end up scoring late in the game but is Doyel implying they were scoring late in the game not to win but to accumulate stats? Couldn't it just as easily be seen as two players trying their damnedest to get their team back in the game? Sort of a "It's not over until it's over" mentality? Why do they have to be villains in this scenario? Oh, cause that makes for a more interesting read.

For Russell Westbrook to play 35.5 minutes per game alongside 28-ppg scorer Kevin Durant and average just 5.5 assists per game, well, that's staggering. Allen Iverson's career assist average was 6.2, and he never played with a scorer of Durant's magnitude or efficiency. Plus he scored more than Westbrook.

If Doyel should have a beef with anyone it's Scott Brooks. This is how the Thunder play. They don't score off of ball movement like the Spurs. They score in isolation from Westbrook, Durant and Harden. Everyone knows Westbrook isn't a true point guard and they've molded the team to adjust to that. Why blame him now for something the Thunder have fostered for a few years?

Interesting Scenario of the Week
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel tries to bring some hope to the Magic fanbase: ... the Magic desperately need the Nets to win the draft lottery Wednesday. If that happens, the Nets get the rights to Kentucky freshman phenom Anthony Davis, whom they could then trade to the Magic for Dwight Howard.

Is this what it has come to for the Magic? Grasping at any possibility that they might remain relevant post-Dwight Howard? The Nets have a less than 10-percent chance of getting that top pick and unless the fix is in it's probably not gonna happen.

Battle of the Worst Article to Use Siri
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press and Rick Reilly of ESPN both use Siri in their most recent articles. Albom does his best Andy Rooney impression: It may be all the rage for celebrities in iPhone commercials to have pithy exchanges with Siri, the female-sounding voice assistant, but if you ask me, they just sound stupid.
Like actress Zooey Deschanel, in her pajamas, telling her iPhone, "Remind me to clean up ... tomorrow." Really? If you can't remember to do your chores, how can you remember to check the phone? What if you can't find it because the place is so messy? How about reminding you to get out of your pajamas?

Reilly uses Siri to "help him write" a column on the Thunder: I have found your current location. You are in Crazytown. Population: Rick.

This is one close call. Let's ask Siri: "Who's better Mitch Albom or..." I don't see 'Who better Mitch' in your music. Maybe Albom's right. Siri is useless.

Is It Racist?
John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the answer to the question of whether Boston fans are racist is a definitive 'yes': You think we're the fair weather type, do you? (regarding KGs comments about Philly fans) Ok, to that I say that it's better to be fair weather than to be anything remotely akin the cretins that unleashed their racist vitriol via Twitter upon Washington Capitals defenseman Joel Ward, a Black hockey player, last month after he eliminated Boston's Bruins from the NHL playoffs with an overtime goal. ... No, this wasn't the whole Boston fan base, not at all. But it's not a coincidence that Bill Russell, the biggest sports winner in the history of Boston sports, absolutely loathed the city and a fan base that he saw as racist.

So a few racist tweets makes Boston fans racist? If that's the case I bet every single fanbase could be labeled racist. And bringing up Bill Russell? Russell last played in Boston in 1969. That's 43 years ago. That's your only other example of Boston fans being racist? That they didn't embrace someone 53 years ago that is now one of the most beloved players in all of Boston sports? That's some strong evidence.

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