The University of Illinois lost their first game of the basketball season; they were the last undefeated team. And there is a lesson in what happened
after that game that needs to spread.
Please notice that Bob Knight and all the members of the 1976 Indiana team - the last ones to go through an entire season undefeated - did not set up
a conference call and drink champagne toasts to each other. Additionally, they did not "leak" the fact of the call and this "tradition" to a bunch of
toadies in the media to get their names in the paper one more time. Maybe they did celebrate; maybe they didn't. But they did not strut around in
public like a bunch of superannuated teenagers saying in effect, "Oooh, oooh, look at me!" The players and coaches from that Indiana team demonstrated
a level of class that clearly has evaded the understanding of the Miami Dolphins undefeated NFL team.
Imagine for a moment that Illinois had gone through this season undefeated and had won the national championship with a 39-0 record. Now imagine what
John Wooden might say when someone asked him to put that feat in the context of his experiences at UCLA. I can't see Wooden saying anything like,
"Well, it's an OK thing, but even if they do it again next year, they'll still be 10 games short of the UCLA record so I think they ought to stop
celebrating now and get to work to see if they can match the standard of greatness that UCLA set..."
The Dolphins demonstrate a huge need for attention every year with their preening but it is the toadies in the media that continue to fawn over these
strutting peacocks. The story is no longer news; the players and the coach are no longer interesting or relevant; continuing to "report" this story is
either laziness on the part of the media or it is jock-sniffing at its worst.
Now that Alonzo Mourning has signed his minimum contract with the Heat, he continues to portray what he has done as a huge financial sacrifice. He
"left money on the table in Toronto" when he allowed them to buy him out for about $10M because he refused to report to the team. Now he is making a
"financial sacrifice" playing for this minimum salary, which comes out to about $13,500 per game. Well, I can play with numbers too and in his first
game with the Heat, he played 2 minutes and that works out to be $405,000 per hour.
Memo to Alonzo: Shut up about your sacrifice. You are well above the minimum wage. Some jamoke making $6.75 an hour will work an entire year to earn
$13,500 and you get that for next to no effort.
The settlement of the Kobe Bryant incident in Eagle, Colorado means that we can now begin to calculate what that dalliance might have cost him. I read
somewhere that Kobe lost $8-10M in endorsement deals - call it $9M to split the difference. His legal fees were reported to be in the $6M range. His
wife got that $4M ring. The young woman with whom he copulated will get a settlement that has to be at least $1M. That means his moment of
indiscretion cost something on the order of $20M. Wow...
The new Cleveland Cavaliers owner has added the singer, Usher, to the Cavs' ownership group. That's fine; I could care less who the minority owners of
NBA franchises are. However, majority owner, Dan Gilbert, seems to be missing an important piece of reality when it comes to the NBA. Gilbert
supposedly said that top free agents will now be lining up to come to Cleveland for the chance to play with LeBron James and to rub elbows with Usher.
Those factors may be involved in the thought processes of some players and their agents but there is a two-word phrase in NBA negotiations that
carries more weight than any sizzle that might exist by being next to LeBron and/or Usher. That two-word phrase is "max contract". Hand out enough of
those puppies and the Cavs can get a boatload of free agents. The problem is that if you make even one mistake with a huge contract like that, it can
strangle the team for years. For reference see Knickerbockers: Houston, Allan.
The firing of Mo Cheeks has left the TrailBlazers with a team of anti-social misfits who are likely to miss the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row.
Maybe - remember I said maybe - some of the fans could tolerate the brutish behavior of previous Blazer teams because they were pretty effective as a
basketball team; but these guys are substandard on the court and off the court. In addition, the firing of Mo Cheeks now raises the total of "interim
coaches" in the NBA to four. The Lakers, Timberwolves and Knicks also have guys at the helm who do not figure to coach a day longer than the final
game of the season for those teams.
It could be a big off-season for coaching changes in the NBA because in addition to the four interim coaches, there has been talk that Larry Brown
might be leaving Detroit and Don Nelson has actually taken off time this year and turned the team over to Avery Johnson. If you just toss in one or
two surprises, there could be something near one-third of the teams changing coaches this summer.
When Randy Moss went to Oakland to make his trade to the Raiders official, he arrived in a black limo with a police escort of four or five
motorcycles. I can't believe that Al Davis was worried that Moss would try to dump the whole deal and so the police weren't there to prevent Moss from
fleeing. So, my only other conclusion is that there is no longer any significant crime in Oakland, California and these officers had nothing better to
do in terms of public safety.
Kurt Warner was a free agent and has now signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Lots of people - including me - have thought for a while that Warner was
on the downside of his career and I wasn't sure he'd get any significant offers in free agency this year. The Lions, Bears and Cardinals expressed
interest - that is the Devil's Trifecta of the NFL! - and Warner got a one-year deal from the Cards worth $4M. The euphoria of that offer must have
gone to his head because Warner supposedly said that his goal is to finish his career in Arizona and helping the Cardinals to win a championship.
Finally, the Cincinnati Reds have a minor league affiliate - the Chattanooga Lookouts. The manager there this year will be Jayhawk Owens. This is a
guy who ought to be coaching the University of Kansas Baseball team; and of course, the Chattanooga manager ought to be Choo-Choo Coleman. No?
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon