Every once in a while, I get something right. Just yesterday, I tried to convince you that this was the time of year to focus your attention on
college basketball because of the exciting and competitive conference match-ups. Last night, ESPN - and Jefferson Pilot Sports in the Mid-Atlantic
area - brought you the Duke/UNC game. If the final ten minutes of that game didn't hold your attention, then you just don't like basketball...
At the NBA level of basketball, the news is all about stuff that is 'off the court'. Maybe that should be a signal to you that NBA games at this time
of year are still formulaic and generally uninteresting. But there is some 'off the court stuff' that needs commentary:
LeBron James won't participate in the Dunk Contest during the All-Star Game weekend. For some reason, this has generated some debate among
sportswriters and sportstalkers - as if it mattered even a little bit. The NBA is never an organization to allow any negativity about itself to
linger out there and so the PR flacks announced that Josh Smith would participate in the contest and would try to become only the third player in
history to win the Dunk Contest in back-to-back years. Tell the truth now, you actually don't know who Josh Smith is and you're really hoping that
I'll give you a clue in this sentence what team he plays for, right? He's a 6'9' shooting guard for the Atlanta Hawks who averages 8.5 points per
game and 27.5 minutes per game. Translation: You'll never get him confused with LeBron James in terms of basketball skills.
Memo to NBA: The Dunk Contest is moribund. Get rid of it. Or find an angle for it that makes it interesting such as pitting athletes from other
sports against retired NBA players. How about Terrell Owens and Randy Moss against Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkens?
On All-Star weekend, the NBA has arranged for the national anthem to be the catalyst for reuniting a singing group that evidently has broken up. I
say 'evidently' because I have no idea who 'Destiny’s Child' might be or why anyone might actually want to assist in reuniting them. But the NBA
will do that. How nice of them...
Antonio Davis - with his sometimes-volatile spouse - has been traded to Toronto for Jalen Rose. Davis took the better part of a week to decide if he
was going to report to the Raptors. That ought to give you an idea of what Ring of NBA Hell is represented by that organization because the trade got
him away from the fetid NY Knicks and still he was reluctant to go to the Raptors.
According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the reason Joe Montana was not on the field at the Super Bowl with the other Super Bowl MVPs is
that he or his agent demanded a $100K appearance fee and the league would not give it to him. (All the MVPs got $1000 plus a 'gift bag' plus a first
class ticket to Detroit and nice accommodations there.) This has become a very big deal - for reasons that are not clear to me because it does not
matter even a little bit if Joe Montana was there or not. By the way, Terry Bradshaw was also missing with the excuse that he wanted to be at home
with his family for the game - or maybe he was going to join Stan Van Gundy's family for the game, I can't remember the excuse. Another MVP not in
attendance was Harvey Martin but his absence has not caused much of a ruckus because Harvey is now playing defense in the Celestial Football League as
Let me be clear about something. I too would demand a $100K appearance fee from the NFL if they asked me to be on the field at the Super Bowl as part
of the festivities. Clearly, I would not be in the parade of MVPs but that's the price I'd demand if they asked me to be one of the idiots standing
in front of the stage pretending to be enthralled and energized in the presence of some musical artist by holding my arms over my head and jerking my
body in spasmodic twitches. I figure I would expose myself to the world as a fool for $100K; my close friends already know that...
I read that the estimate for wagering on the Super Bowl this year would approach $7B - that Billion with a 'B'. Stupid people do not run the NFL so
they know that a significant part of the sport's popularity is based on the wagering activities that surround every game and engulf the Super Bowl;
yet, the league continues to posture itself as 'anti-gambling'. To understand this, think about the Congressthing who is staunchly opposed to
pork-barrel projects or rails about the evils of big money interests in funding political campaigns - - and then election time rolls around...
Directions Research Inc is one of those survey firms that does polling to determine product fit in various marketplace niches. I assume they are
competent at what they do. According to one of their recent reports, two-thirds of Americans over the age of 18 have gambled within the past year at
a casino or in a card game or on a sports event. That's approximately 100 million folks and that may begin to explain how the total handle on the
Super Bowl gets to be in the neighborhood of $7B. There were two other stats in their report that interested me.
Seven percent of Americans over the age of 18 say they gambled in a church in the past year.
While 20% of the people who gambled in the past year said they did so on NBA games, 22% of those same folks said they did so on baseball games.
Frankly, I'm surprised that more people bet on baseball than on NBA basketball. Oh, and the NCAA folks can skip the next fact because they aren't
going to like it even a little bit: 26 percent said they wagered on college basketball and 36 percent said they wagered on college football.
Finally, here is a Super Bowl observation from Brad Rock in the Deseret Morning News:
'The Super Bowl capped his Hall of Fame-caliber career. He accomplished about everything he could have in his profession. He has legions of
admirers. His game, though still good, isn't what it was.
'So why hang around past his prime?
'But enough about Mick Jagger.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...