March 6, 2010

Michael Wilbon posted his opinion of, Caps star player, Alex Ovechkin on his DC Post blog:                                                                                                                                    
“One of the biggest Olympic winners has to be Canada’s Sidney Crosby, who at 22 years old has already won Olympic gold, a world championship and the Stanley Cup. And for the second straight time Crosby went through Alex Ovechkin en route to winning. If this doesn’t make Crosby the preeminent player in the world, I don’t know what does. Crosby didn’t exactly light it up, in terms of scoring; he’d have gone three straight games without a point had he not scored
the game winner in overtime against the United States. But he did. And before that, Crosby’s team trashed Ovechkin’s Russian team, just as Crosby’s team went on the road to beat Ovechkin’s team in a Game 7 during last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
Capitals fans might as well stop with the argument that Ovechkin is a better player; sure he is a bigger scorer and more entertaining player. But he can’t get his team past Crosby’s teams and they’re undeniable rivals and will be for the length of their careers. Right now, Ovechkin would need a telescope to see Crosby, who’s that far ahead in this race.
But far more disturbing is Ovechkin’s behavior in Vancouver, B.C. First, he shoved a female fan’s camera and reportedly she suffered bruises in the incident.
Now comes the news that he broke the camera of a man asking for an interview. There is video of each incident. How this has gone largely undiscussed is nearly as annoying as Ovechkin’s churlish behavior. Is he so distraught about Crosby kicking his butt repeatedly that he has to take out his frustration by smashing people’s cameras? The woman referred to earlier was reportedly a fan who traveled from Russia to Vancouver to root on her hockey heroes, including Ovechkin.
Somebody needs to get Ovechkin under control. Opponents have wondered whether his knee-on-knee hits are accidents. His own coach, Bruce Boudreau, wondered this season whether his star was out of control. At the time it seemed like Boudreau might have been overreacting; not now. Boudreau’s radar is simply more accurate than most. Remember two weeks ago when Tiger Woods said he was guilty of developing such a sense of entitlement he didn’t think the rules applied to him? Has Ovechkin reached that point? Does he think the rules of society and the ice don’t apply to him? The worst thing Ovechkin can have around town is too many apologists. Look where it got Gilbert Arenas a couple of years ago after he’d become, arguably, one of the five to 10 best players in the NBA. Ovechkin is quite a bit better in his sport than Arenas is in his. If Crosby is a rough equivalent of a young Kobe Bryant, in terms of talent and results, then Ovechkin is a rough equivalent of LeBron James, which is to say young and physically unstoppable but as yet undecorated.
That also means Ovechkin is far too good to be involved in something as stupid and as petty as grabbing a woman’s camera. Seriously, when is the last time an athlete of that stature, in any sport, was involved in such an incident? Don’t tell me Randy Johnson because he was never as big a figure in baseball as Ovechkin is in hockey, and the Big Unit at least confronted a member of the paparazzi, who are (in my mind) fair game for confrontation. But some ordinary fan, and a woman at that? Can you imagine Gretzky or Jordan or Elway or LeBron or Jeter doing such a thing? No, never. An inflated sense of self and entitlement can bring any athlete crashing down. All you have to do is listen to Tiger’s assessment of his own fall. Somehow, Ovechkin’s lapses in judgment
(or was it a disregard of civility?) went largely unnoticed. Ovechkin is damn lucky he’s not black and playing basketball; my brethren in the national (and local) media would have put on their Sunday church robes and preached him to death by now. We’d have read about “those thug basketball players” and such.
Ovechkin, apparently, is for whatever reasons, beyond their reach. He’s untouchable. All these folks writing and talking about the Winter Olympics and I haven’t seen a word of criticism directed at Ovechkin, famous as he is.
Here’s the issue that should concern the Capitals. Every time a truly great athlete, and Ovechkin is that, thinks he’s above the law, a hard, steep fall seems to follow. Since Ovechkin appears to have gotten away this time with barely a scold, perhaps somebody in the Capitals organization or in Ovechkin’s life might seize the opportunity to get in his ear now. The cost of not doing so could be enormous.”

Tom Fitzgerald, of The SF Chronicle, reported that there WERE athletes on the other end of the “Tony Dungy Priorities Scale.” Kayla Pederson, the Stanford cager, is one such person.
“As if she doesn’t have enough to do with majoring in psychology and communications and leading the vaunted Stanford basketball team in minutes played, Kayla Pedersen reads motivational books in her spare time.
The latest was former Colts coach Tony Dungy’s memoir, “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices and Priorities of a Winning Life.”
“What I admire about him,” she said, “is that, even though the NFL is full of players who do bad things on the side, he took the Indianapolis organization and
said: We’re going to develop our players to be great role models in society, to stick to their faith and their morals – and win by doing it.
“It shows people that it works being the good guy. It doesn’t mean you’re always soft.”
Quiet strength is also an apt label for Pedersen’s game. Between the U.S. team that romped in the World University Games last summer in Belgrade, Serbia, and the second-ranked Cardinal, the 6-foot-4 junior forward has been on the losing side just once in her last 35 games. She may pack a Bible everywhere she goes, but nobody calls her soft.
“She’s kind of the rock on the team,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “You can depend on her. I’m probably the hardest on her of any player because she’s one of our toughest kids. You want to go into battle with her.”
The Cardinal (27-1 overall) try to wrap up a perfect Pac-10 regular season when they play Cal (17-11, 11-6) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Haas Pavilion. If they go 18-0, it would be the fifth time Stanford has run the table. No other Pac-10 team has done it, although Washington (17-1) came close in 1989-90.
If Stanford can also win the Pac-10 tournament next week, that would be a first. Since the tournament’s inception in 2002, only that season’s Cardinal team came in unbeaten, and it lost in the final to Arizona State.
“It would truly be an honor to be the first Stanford team to accomplish both feats,” Pedersen said. “A lot of people say the Pac-10 is an easy conference, but I don’t think so. It’s a great conference.”
Maybe so, but the Cardinal are having an overpowering season. Despite their 12-point loss to top-ranked Connecticut in December, they are outscoring opponents by an average of 24 points.
In their most recent game, Pedersen filled up the stat sheet with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a win at Arizona, celebrating a visit to her home state. She is fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring (16.4) and rebounding (9.0).
“There are people that I call 3 o’clock shooters,” VanDerveer said. “Everybody can shoot in practice. She’s a 7 o’clock shooter. A great game shooter.”
Pedersen, whose father, Gary, played at St. Mary’s, an NAIA school in Michigan, was a power forward at Stanford until VanDerveer moved her to small forward midway through last season to take advantage of her outside shooting and make room for Nneka Ogwumike.
Overcoming some initial discomfort, she has adjusted well and is hitting her threes at a 41 percent clip. The WNBA people love her, and she’ll probably play overseas as well. And with the help of her textbook shooting form, what she aims for she generally gets.”


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