The Steele Drum

July 17, 2010 8:26 AM

The NBA: $450 Million and Still Broke

ba-warriors_sale_SFCG1269309241.jpgThe NBA is in huge, huge financial trouble, so massive that it has to get a new labor agreement at the risk of shutting the league down for it. We know that because ... a) it says so; b) it wants Joe Johnson to get $119 million and Darko Milicic $20 million; and c) two groups are fighting over who submitted the highest bid for one of the most mediocre franchises in the league.

No, I don't know how point "a" fits in with points "b" and "c", now that you ask.

Chances are, if you ask the powers that be, they won't reconcile those facts, either. But they probably won't have to, because in general, big-time American sports leagues, their teams and their owners never have to justify their words or their actions when it comes to siutations like this.

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July 10, 2010 10:24 AM

The Season of LeBron: Don't Touch That Remote

lebron_gray.jpgOnly three months, give or take a few days, until training camp starts! Four months until the season opener. Five-and-a-half months until Christmas Day. Seven months, the All-Star Game. Nine, the playoffs begin and, in a mere 11 months, the Finals.

I can't wait. Can. Not. Wait. This could be the greatest season for watching the NBA of all time. Best year of actual basketball, maybe or maybe not, but who cares about that?

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July 4, 2010 2:19 PM

Free Jack Johnson

johnson_jeffries_boxing_fullsize.jpgOne hundred years ago Sunday, Jack Johnson stepped into a hastily-constructed outdoor ring in broiling-hot Reno, defended his world heavyweight championship against the man the public anointed as The Great White Hope, and beat said Hope almost senseless. To the surprise of no one, either living at that time or looking back at it today, these two results emerged: 1) Mobs of white citizens stampeded across several cities brutalizing or killing any black person appearing too pleased at the fight's outcome, and 2) within two years, Johnson was running from the law.

Fast forward (really fast forward) to today. The anniversary of one of the most momentous occasions in the history of sports and in this country, for better and for worse, brings a reminder that Johnson still has not had his good name restored after that bout with the federal government. A move is on to have Johnson pardoned for what only in the context of its times can be called a "crime.''

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June 30, 2010 10:01 PM

What Would Michael (and Magic and Larry) Do?

larry-bird-michael-jordan-and-magic-johnson.jpgOn Wednesday afternoon, less than 12 hours before the official start of the NBA free agency period (better known as "LeBron Or Die''), a spirited debate broke out on Twitter among a handful of longtime NBA writers. The question at hand: Would Magic, Larry and Michael ever have joined forces on one team to tip the scales of the league toward that team, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh reportedly are angling to do?

(Another, unrelated question at hand: Hey, Steele Drum, where the hell have you been the last six months? At the bottom of this posting today, and from now on, is a link to my work at FanHouse, where I am a senior writer, meaning that I could be writing on just about anything that comes along. Which can keep one busy. Hope you enjoy it. Digression over.)

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December 29, 2009 3:16 PM

Bonds, and 'Roids, Ruled This Decade

barry-bonds.jpgAs I beg forgiveness for the lengthy postings drought - wow, a lot has happened since the last post, in sports in general and with Tiger Woods in particular - may I toss some additional rose petals in the path of colleague Tsar Justice? You get complete agreement here with his opinion about the mindless, thoughtless choice of steroids, rather than Tiger Woods, as the year's No. 1 sports story.


Here is yet another example of how wrongheaded the AP's choice was: if it was going to give the steroid saga a truly fitting award, it would name it the sports story of the decade instead. And its previously-announced best-of-the-decade award offers the best reason: earlier this month, the AP proclaimed Tiger the athlete of the 2000s.

 But if not for the presence, specter and ripple effects of performance-enhancing drugs, a different character than Tiger would have been the runaway winner. Because in terms of stats, success, dominance of his sport, ability to stop you in your tracks to watch him and universal recognition, the athlete of this decade, in a landslide, is Barry Bonds.


The steroid story is the reason he's not.

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December 14, 2009 6:33 PM

Tiger's Crash: Bigger Every Day

tiger-suv.jpgNope, we've definitely left behind the "it's just a minor one-car accident'' phase of the Tiger Woods story.

Kind of nostalgic, isn't it, to look back at the weekend after Thanksgiving and see that an incredible number of people - at least an incredible number with internet access - couldn't imagine why on earth everyone was nitpicking to death that little late-night fender-bender in Florida. It was 2:30 in the morning, it was right on Tiger's street, the windows of his truck were shattered, his wife was wielding a golf club, Tiger was bleeding, neighbors were calling 911 ... nothing to see here, folks, everybody disperse. Private family matter.

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December 4, 2009 9:19 AM

The Lesson (Again) of Sir Charles

Charles Barkley was sorely missed on Thursday night's Inside the NBA on TNT. What better time to hear from the man who made famous (or infamous) the declaration, "I am not a role model''?

A lot of people still can't get their heads around that concept, that turning a jock into a "role model,'' whatever that entails, is a bad idea. The more time passes since that 1993 gwar01_090114woods_barkley.jpgshoe commercial first aired, and each time another athlete falls off his or her pedestal - whether the public or the athletes themselves put them up there - the more you wonder why anyone even bothers disputing the basic fact of that statement.

Being a phenomenally talented, dedicated and driven athlete guarantees no other extraordinary qualities - even the honesty to acknowledge that they don't have those qualities.

Yeah, you know who we're talking about here.

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November 24, 2009 7:16 PM

D.C. to Abe Pollin: Thank You

Thumbnail image for wes and abe 2.jpgIt's an extremely sad day for D.C. overall and its sports fans in particular. Abe Pollin died this afternoon. The fact that so many people in the area feel this so deeply tells you how set apart Pollin is from not only the average major sports team owner, but from almost any owner you can name.


Think about it: how much would you really mourn, besides what you normally would for the end of a person's life, if your team's owner passed away?


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November 23, 2009 10:05 AM

Magic and Bird: Then and Now, As Good As It Gets

87212049.jpgIt had all the makings of a curmudgeon's convention. Bobby Knight was there, riffing on the various shortcomings of college basketball today. Billy Packer was there, too. So was Gene Bartow, who coached in a national championship game against John Wooden. George Gervin, of a different era of the NBA. Even perpetually overlooked legend Travis "Machine'' Grant, who played back when some Southern colleges still weren't recruiting blacks. And, of course, a theater full of coaches from days gone by - way, way by.


Hall of fame ceremonies, by definition, should be about the good ol' days, and the one for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday night in Kansas City was one defined by a golden era. The marquee names in the induction class made their reps in a single game 30 years ago that has been credited with changing the nature of the sport. But no matter how tempting it would have been to turn the night into a session of griping about how these kids today couldn't carry these guys' jocks, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird managed to bring their careers, started and ended long ago, back to life and connect it to what makes basketball great and will keep it great for years to come.

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November 17, 2009 8:43 AM

Coach of 9-0 Colts: The Invisible Man

The Indianapolis Colts are off to yet another red-hot start, now 9-0 after Sunday's stunner over New England. The most amazing aspect of this feat: they're doing it without a coach!


jim-caldwell.jpgAs far as anyone can tell, at least. Jim Caldwell is doing the impossible. Not being undefeated in November - the Colts have started at least 7-0 in four of the last five seasons - but in doing it while being a first-time NFL head coach, and having the best start of any rookie head coach in league history ... while absolutely nobody surrounding the nation's most popular sports league making anything close to a big deal about him.

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