January 21, 2010

Uh-oh, Mark Sanchez has his picture on the cover of this weeks SI. Isn’t that supposed to be a jinx?
The Jets lead the NFL in pass defense; now the Colts are primarily a passing team. So to say that the Jets’ DBs will have a big challenge is an understatement.
They were supposed to do badly against SD because of size disadvantages, however, they did pretty good.
The Jets front seven is going to have to hurry, pressure, and bump Manning as much as possible to keep him out of a rhythm. More to come….

Frank Deford, of, talked about the offseason for big-time college football programs.                                                                                                                         
“Hardly had Alabama and Boise State settled in as co-champions of college football, did this new decade open with a veritable bombast of negativity about college sports. Coaches were fired for being abusive to players, coaches jumped contracts, money kept rolling into the fun and games, and even the Secretary of Education popped up to excoriate the whole business. The stink just continues to rise, but don’t worry, college fans, nothing good will come out of all the complaints.
We can start with USA Today, which has never won a Pulitzer, doing an absolutely terrific front-page enterprise piece on how college sports continue to keep on draining colleges of money, even as colleges everywhere have to make cutbacks in that quaint little adjunct to the football and basketball programs, which is called education.
College athletic departments always respond, Well, gee whiz, we’re not really taking all that much money away from the book-learning business because we get a lot of our money from boosters — which is akin to a company protesting to its stockholders that, don’t worry, we don’t have to borrow from banks
because loan sharks are supporting us.
And booster buddies — the coaches. Never have their excesses been more pinpointed. Besides the three highly-paid football coaches fired for physically
mistreating their unpaid athletic workers, we had even more spectacular job jumping. Lane Kiffin, the new USC coach, surely is this year’s star mover and
faker, pulling out of Tennessee after just one year to go to USC, which had just seen its coach, Pete Carroll, mysteriously abandon college football, where he’s been a master, to return to the pros, where his past performance has been mediocre. But then, USC was just penalized for basketball transgressions, and the rumors are that the football program may also be marked.
Coaches are seldom penalized and seldom criticize each other. But Bob Knight, a Hall of Fame coach himself, dared publicly point out that John Calipari, the highest-paid basketball coach in the country, at Kentucky, has twice left colleges behind which suffered sanctions on his watch. Ever hear that the past is prologue, Kentucky? But never mind, the Wildcats are now number-two.
The sorrow is that college sports have the capacity to soil almost anyone who is enticed by them. Lois DeFleur was the president of Binghamton University
for 19 years. She did an amazing job for Binghamton, academic division. But when Binghamton tried to go big-time basketball, it ended up in a scandal, and President DeFleur was tarnished. The other day, she said she was stepping down for personal reasons. The ones who are hurt by sports and leave always say that, just like the coaches who jump and leave their old teams in the lurch always proclaim that it’s a new challenge.
Meanwhile, Arne Duncan, the Education secretary, says it’s a disgrace that colleges don’t graduate more so-called student-athletes.
But the truth is, sadly, that so many of these players are just sham students, being passed along. Don’t waste your time with college sports, Mr. Secretary.
American education has enough real problems … and no boosters to pay the bills.”
Norman Chad gave his opinion about Kobe Bryant and related how Wilbon might react. “Let’s cut to the chase (because I know a lot of you have the
attention span of a tsetse fly and the rest of you already have wandered out of this sentence to go do a Sudoku puzzle):
Kobe Bryant might be better than Michael Jordan.
(That thump you just heard was Michael Wilbon’s head falling off of his body after his assistant read him the previous passage.)
Even if Kobe is not superior to MJ, he is the best finisher the NBA has ever known.
In a recent four-week period, the Lakers star beat Miami with a preposterous 27-foot, three-point, off-balance, fadeaway bank shot at the buzzer, he beat
Milwaukee with a 15-foot turnaround at the buzzer and he beat Sacramento with a three-point, back-of-his-heel- just-inches-inside-the-sideline shot at the buzzer.
In NBA history, the greatest clutch shooters — we’ll just list them chronologically — are Jerry West, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
(Note: This is somewhat unrelated, but the three greatest clutch architects of all time are Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson and I.M. Pei.)
Just last week, against the Mavericks, Kobe was playing with a fractured right index finger, a strained right elbow and newfound back spasms. He had no
points, rebounds or assists in the first quarter. He sat out the second quarter, sprawled on his back in front of the team’s bench. He then came back in the
second half — playing like a quasi-Kobe — and somehow managed to make a 19-footer with 29 seconds left to give the Lakers a 97-95 lead en route to a
100-95 victory.
He could be scoreless at the half and finish with 81 for the game.
Amazing happens with Kobe almost nightly — when you go to Benihana, you expect the chef to slice the beef with precision; when you go to Staples Center, you expect Kobe to perform some act of death-defying derring-do.
(I exaggerate, but for the price of a Lakers ticket, you do hope for an out-of-body experience, an Elvis sighting or maybe a Laker Girl mishap.)
Kobe and I both came to Los Angeles in the 1990s — by most standards, he has had more success — and his basketball brilliance has largely defined my time here. When I first moved to L.A., I watched the O.J. Simpson trial every day for nearly a year. Since then, I’ve watched Kobe every night for nearly
14 years — I find it more satisfying, plus nobody gets away with murder (except the Celtics, when they get every call in the playoffs).
But for all his second-half heroics, can Kobe really be Michael Jordan’s equal? Granted, all the numbers favor MJ: six NBA titles, five MVP awards and 10 scoring titles to Kobe’s four NBA titles, one MVP and one scoring title. MJ
averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game; for Kobe, it’s 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
(Note: This is somewhat unrelated, but although Plato had better numbers than Socrates, most serious thinkers consider Socrates the better philosopher.)
I tried to contact Wilbon to get his take. His generation is more MJ, my generation is more Kobe — actually, Wilbon and I are the same age, but my peeps skew younger — and Wilbon’s an NBA expert on ABC. But have you tried to get a hold of Wilbon lately? Ever since he became a rock star on “PTI” — along with his partner, the sweet, older gentleman whose name escapes me — he’s unreachable. President Obama can’t get to him. The queen of England can’t get to him. Maybe Barkley can.
(True story: When Wilbon had a heart attack two years ago, I sent him a get-well card. You know how sometimes you’ll get a piece of mail back and it will
say on the envelope, “Return to Sender: Address Unknown”? Well, this one came back and it said, “Return: Sender Unknown.”)
Anyway, let me close with this thought: Sources tell me that Kobe has a soccer itch. I’m told he might retire from the NBA, try his hand at minor league soccer and see if he can make it to MLS. If, after that dream fails, he returns to the NBA, joins the Wizards and leads them to the NBA Finals, well, good people, he definitely will have eclipsed Michael Jordan.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Have the Klitschko brothers ever thrown a punch in anger or do they simply wait for their opponents to quit due to boredom? (Lou Rossano; New Castle, Pa.)
A. It’s safe to say Wladimir and Vitali tend toward nonviolence in the ring.
Q. Why don’t they eject that guy with the noisy bullhorn that keeps blasting during all the basketball games? (Carl A. Smaida; Whitefish Bay, Wis.)
A. Nobody wants to toss Dick Vitale out of the arena.
Q. Do you agree that you make more sense than anyone in sports journalism? (Monty McIntyre; Ravenswood, W. Va.)
A. Sir, I will hand-deliver your buck-and-a-quarter ASAP.
Q. Did your best man skip your first two weddings so that he avoided injury and was fresh for your third? (J. Peters; Pittsburgh)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.”


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