Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
Sports news from all over. Mostly NBA, but whatever
The Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman, was asked
It was recently demonstrated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during the seven years when he won the Tour de France. During the same period, Armstrong started Livestrong, a cancer-support organization known for its ubiquitous yellow bracelets. Is the unethical nature of Lance’s doping offset by the fact that his Livestrong organization has touched many lives in a positive way? Is it even right to consider Livestrong in our ethical analysis of Armstrong’s doping? MYRIAH JAWORSKI, WASHINGTON
The specific ethical problem with Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs is debatable. What’s less debatable are the unethical extensions of that behavior, the treatment of his teammates and his willingness to perpetuate a conspiracy that willfully deceived his supporters. But that’s not really your inquiry. What you’re asking is how we’re supposed to weigh the many bad things Armstrong did against the very good charity he created.
This is ultimately a question about motive. A cynic might argue that even Armstrong’s involvement with Livestrong was self-serving, since its beneficence made people want to believe he was not lying about his own impropriety. Yet this is mere speculation. We don’t know Armstrong’s true motives, and we clearly can’t believe whatever he claims those motives were. All we can do is work with the accepted reality: Armstrong helped the lives of many cancer victims by being the most talented cheater within a sport where cheating is rampant. Now, does that positive conclusion “offset” the unethical exploits that allowed it to occur? I would say it does not. And I say this because they are too interdependent to isolate and judge. There is no right or wrong way to feel about Armstrong, but however you feel should be based on the totality of his career. Everything has to matter.
(click here to continue reading The Lance Armstrong Conundrum – NYTimes.com.)
Hmmm, Livestrong wouldn’t even exist without Lance Armstrong cheating and lying his way to multiple Tour de France titles, and yet…
What do you think? It isn’t a clear cut question as, for instance, continuing to support Susan G Komen For the Cure of Right Wing Women despite their clear political stance, or even for that matter, enjoying Alfred Hitchcock movies despite knowing he was probably an abusive, predatory man.
Full disclosure, I have never signed up for Livestrong, but I do use their online nutritional database periodically to look up information about food I am eating – it is a good resource.
I haven’t played Wii in a long time, in fact, our Wii isn’t even hooked up to a television at the moment. I want to play now, after reading this:
In the world of health care, Nintendo Wii golf is more than a high-tech toy. The video game has become a tool in physical, occupational and neurological rehabilitation.
“It really is helpful as an adjunct to what we do in physical therapy,” said Dean Beasley, the director of inpatient rehabilitation at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga. “It allows the patient to put into practical application what they’ve done in therapy and, in some cases, it helps them know if they could still play golf.”
Balance and movement are common concerns for those recovering from brain injuries or strokes. Others may be working to improve range of motion or gross motor coordination, like walking and lifting.
Although the treatment for each patient is different, Wii golf brings an element of pleasure into physical therapy, which is often abbreviated as P.T. and sometimes referred to by patients as “pain and torture.”
“If it’s something like golf that they previously enjoyed, the patients are more motivated to do it,” said Michaela St. Onge, an occupational therapist at Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, Me. “They like it because it’s a change of pace from the normal exercises we give them in therapy.”
To play the game, a patient swings the Wii’s wireless hand-held motion-sensitive wand in front of animated screens that simulate holes on a course. Physical therapists have marveled at the ease in coaxing patients into movements that could have taken more time to achieve in the traditional manner. Patients may gain the ability to coordinate by pressing buttons on the wand and maintain balance while looking at the screen.
Two years ago, Aroostook’s inpatient and outpatient units added Wii Sports, which includes golf, baseball, bowling, boxing and tennis games.
(click here to continue reading Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients – NYTimes.com.)
Matt Moore posted this bit of frippery:
On Tuesday, the blog Cleveland Frowns posted an interview with a server at XO, a Cleveland steakhouse regarding LeBron James. It described his eating behaviors, including the infamous stories about his tipping habits, among other things. There’s the usual stuff about James acting like one of the most pampered people on earth, because, well, he’s a guy who has “Chosen One” on his back, makes $16 million a year and calls himself King. You kind of have to prepare yourself for some stuff.
But this? I was not prepared for this (emphasis mine): (S)he also told us that LeBron liked to drink apple martinis, which comes as no surprise because apple martinis are delicious, and if you had a job where you could take a four-hour nap every day to sleep off the sugar hangover, you would drink them, too. Relatedly, LeBron would ask his servers to have his steak (well done) already cut up for him, which corroborates a report by a (former?) server at Johnny’s who once told Grzegorek that LeBron would order his spaghetti cut up as well, and also of course enhances the credibility of our source. via “LeBron liked me because I didn’t put up with his crap” — Exclusive Interview with Former XO Steakhouse Server Who Frequently Waited on the NBA Superstar.
Look, I can forgive the appletinis (easy on the tini). I’m not expecting everyone to drink whiskey, scotch or gin (I suppose technically you could make a gin appletini, but I don’t consider that real gin). It’s a little ridiculous, but the man dunks on Kevin Garnett, I’m willing to let that slide.
Cut up for him?
I’m sorry, that’s where I draw the line.
And listen, a bunch of stats-loving geeks are going to try and talk to you about food poisoning statistics and eating efficiency. But anyon who’s ever actually eaten a steak at the professional level knows that’s all nonsense. Real steak-eaters don’t think of things like that. And they know that if you’re ordering anything above medium-rare, you’re essentially saying “please burn all the flavor out of this $35 piece of meat.”
(click here to continue reading LeBron James and a question of taste – CBSSports.com.)
LeBron James is 27 years old, according to his birth certificate, and still wants someone to cut his steak for him? I can almost empathize with ordering a steak well done in hostile environments – though not really – but if you are unable to cut a steak yourself, perhaps you should stick to easier foods, like tater tots and chicken nuggets. Or Gerber’s baby foods. Yeesh.
Oh, and that LBJ is a poor tipper on the order of a measly $10 tip on an $800 bill, seems par for the course. The man practically exudes a smell of entitlement, hubris and unlikeability.
This would be the best solution to the ongoing saga of billionaire sports owners ripping off their local communities, right? Too bad it isn’t a national bill…
According to a 23-year-old Florida law that has been mostly ignored, professional sports facilities built with the help of government funds are required to house the homeless on nights when no official events are taking place.
Two lawmakers have dug up that old statute, and are pushing bills that would make stadium owners return millions of taxpayer dollars if they can’t prove they’ve been operating as a haven for the homeless in the years since they began receiving checks from the government. The bill passed its first committee in the Senate on Monday with a unanimous vote.
“We have spent over $300 million supporting teams that can afford to pay a guy $7, $8, $10 million a year to throw a baseball 90 feet. I think they can pay for their own stadium,” said Sen. Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton, who is pushing the bills along with Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. “I cannot believe that we’re going to cut money out of Medicaid and take it away from homeless and take it away from the poor and impoverished, and we’re continuing to support people who are billionaires.”
Bennett’s bill would force owners of sports facilities like the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to refund millions of dollars and begin operating homeless shelters on off-nights. So far, the state has spent more than $270 million on constructing stadiums, with the former Dolphin Stadium receiving $37 million and AAA taking $27.5 million. It is unclear whether any of the stadiums, which receive monthly subsidies of about $166,000 each, is operating an active homeless shelter program.
(click here to continue reading Bill would enforce law turning stadiums into homeless shelters on off days – Florida – MiamiHerald.com.)
Another entry in the stadium boondoggle file – an already-overstuffed folder full of corporate welfare for the 1%. They get to own the teams, act like big shots, but we the taxpayers get to pay the debts.
A recent audit of the city-state stadium authority’s books revealed that for the first time, hotel tax revenues are not yielding the amount needed to pay off the debt that the agency took on 10 years ago to rebuild Soldier Field.
The shortfall means that Chicago’s bottom line, which is already sagging, will take yet another hit, because the city is required to come up with the money under the Soldier Field deal.
Officials for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority said Thursday that the shortfall would not be as bad as it was first feared and should not be repeated next year. Still, one of Mr. Emanuel’s new appointees to the authority’s board looked at the debt service payments due in the next 20 years and expressed concern that the problem could get far worse, even if tourism revived and hotel tax revenues rose again.
“The city has to begin to plan for some significant outlays,” said Jim Reynolds, an investment manager and new member of the board, who was attending his first agency board meeting since Mr. Emanuel replaced the three hold-over mayoral appointees on the seven-member panel.
Thursday’s meeting took place in the agency’s offices at U.S. Cellular Field, built on the South Side more than 20 years ago to keep the White Sox from moving to Florida. State lawmakers created the I.S.F.A. to guide the ballpark’s $150 million construction and then to operate the facility.
The new fiscal problem for City Hall, however, stems from the Soldier Field deal and represents another time bomb that Mr. Emanuel inherited from Mayor Richard M. Daley. To keep the Bears in Chicago, Mr. Daley pushed successfully for the authority to issue almost $400 million in bonds for the $606 million Soldier Field renovation.
(click here to continue reading As Tax Receipts Lag, Another Hole Opens in Budget – NYTimes.com.)
and Mayor Emanuel isn’t so happy about the mess the Daley Gang left behind:
The $1.1 million shortfall was disclosed in an independent audit obtained by the Tribune through a records request. The firm, , declined comment.
Earlier in the day, Emanuel said that Chicago taxpayers should not be treated like cash machines to help cover renovations at the two sports facilities. He said he wants a healthy Chicago sports industry to add the city’s quality of life, but it should not come at taxpayer expense.
“I don’t want the taxpayers of the city of Chicago to be treated as if they’re just an ATM machine; they’re not,” he said at an unrelated news conference.
The mayor recently replaced three members of the authority’s board with veterans of the financial services industry and said he “gave them clear instructions” about what role he wanted them to play.
“You’re not there for yourself, you’re not there socially, you’re there as the voice of the taxpayers of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.
(click here to continue reading Mayor: Don’t use taxpayers as ‘ATM machine’ to cover costs at U.S. Cellular Field, Soldier Field – chicagotribune.com.)
whether or not there was an extra $1,000,000 the City of Chicago was liable for or not, this year, we still covered most of the costs of both Soldier Field and U.S. Cellular Field, and pay at least $5,000,000 every year, and sometimes more:
This was the first time the tax revenue fell short since 2001, when a new law allowed the authority to issue bonds for renovations at Soldier Field – changes that at the time officials like then-Mayor Richard Daley and others said were needed to keep the Bears in Chicago.
At the time, the agency provided more than $400 million toward the $600 million project, which included some money for work at U.S. Cellular Field. The ISFA increased its debt, but the city agreed to cough up the extra money if hotel tax revenue fell short. Soldier Field reopened in 2003, but cost overruns made the total for the entire project about $690 million. A Tribune analysis showed the public portion was actually about $432 million.
The $1.1 million transfer was disclosed in an October independent audit that the Tribune obtained via a public records request. This goes beyond the annual $5 million subsidy the city provides already.
…More recently, the agency has come under scrutiny for its deal with the White Sox. The Tribune and WGN-TV reported last month that the authority picked up the $7 million tab to build a restaurant outside the stadium but allowed the team to keep the profits.
(click here to continue reading Chicago taxpayers helped pay for work at U.S. Cellular Field, Soldier Field – Chicago Tribune.)
Jeff Passan reports:
For two decades now, Major League Baseball has funded its rise from corporate slacker to gilded cash cow on the backs of taxpayers bullied into building new stadiums. It’s a marvel the government took so long to sniff out the rot that emanates from these deals, though not much of a surprise that the Miami Marlins were the target when they did.
The Security and Exchange Commission on Thursday launched guided warheads at the Marlins, requesting the team’s financial records, communications with MLB officials including commissioner Bud Selig, minutes of meetings with local government leaders and political campaign-contribution information, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
While the subpoenas issued by the SEC do not explicitly detail the purpose of the investigation, the feds’ motives are evident: They want to understand how, exactly, a group of county commissioners agreed to fund 80 percent of the Marlins new stadium, which cost more than $600 million, without ever seeing the team’s financial records – and whether bribes had anything to do with it.
The Marlins pushed the limits on exactly how much a team can hold its city hostage. They cried poverty and threatened to move unless they got a new stadium while refusing to disclose their financial records – records that were later leaked and showed a team swimming in tens of millions of dollars in profits and funneled millions more to a corporation run by team owner Jeffrey Loria. Miami-Dade County commissioners nevertheless voted 9-4 in favor of taking out loans that will cost the county $2.4 billion over 40 years to help build the stadium in Little Havana, about two miles west of the city.
(click here to continue reading SEC targets Marlins’ shady business – MLB – Yahoo! Sports.)
Hey, the 1% wants to own sports teams? Fine, but either the city that funds the team gets a say in personnel decisions, or the owners have to pay for their own hobby out of their own pockets.
Joe Paterno, social conservative and proud Republican, was allowed to remain coach of Penn State long enough to break the record of most victories because Penn State valued the contribution of the football program’s revenues more than raped children, and that is shameful. In the 2009-2010 school year alone, Penn State’s football program reported revenue of $70,208,584 ((as reported to the U.S. Department of Education)) and profits of $50,427,645! ((Of course, student/athletes don’t get any of that cash – all they get is free tuition, another scandal if you ask me)) That’s the reason Paterno wasn’t fired in 2002. Or rather, $700,000 reasons, give or take. (( roughly $70 million times ten years))
The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.
Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.
(click here to continue reading Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Is Fired – NYTimes.com.)
The NCAA is a corrupt money machine, more interested in television rights than student athletes.
On average, [the richest 68 college football programs] earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game.
They posted that jump in combined profit even though revenue rose by only 6% to $2.2 billion. That means the schools had a combined profit margin of 49%, enough to make any pro team owner green with envy.
Increasingly lucrative broadcast deals and strong ticket sales have been driving revenue. And, of course, not having to pay your athletes gives big-time college football the ultimate business model.
(click here to continue reading College football’s profit tops $1 billion for first time – Dec. 29, 2010.)
Also shameful is:
After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.
The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.
“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.
Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.
“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”
(click here to continue reading Penn State Students Clash With Police After Paterno Announcement – NYTimes.com.)
Really, clueless college students? You are rioting because a child molester-enabler was eventually fired, years after he should have been? Disgusting. Are football victories really that important to your self-worth? More than protecting kids from being raped? I hope for your sake, you don’t post any photos of yourself rioting in support of this creep: future employers might not think your logic skills are sound.
Tony Auth’s take on Penn State’s priorities
Update: Elizabeth Gettelman of Mother Jones concurs:
Penn State did the right thing tonight when it fired its storied football coach Joe Paterno (and its president, Graham Spanier). But it’s pretty little, and it’s way late. Joe Paterno remained Coach Paterno for nearly a decade after learning that his former defensive coordinator had allegedly raped a 10-year-old, and for nearly a year after a grand jury investigation confirmed as much. In fact, he stayed coach just long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I college football history, a record he achieved two weeks ago, 11 months after said grand jury investigation (see page 8 referencing December 2010 interviews). Had his complicit role come to light last December would Paterno have had a shot at his record-breaking victory? If present outrage would have held, and it should have, then no, he wouldn’t have coached at all this season.
The timing is probably not a coincidence, and it’s illustrative. This whole hellstorm was swept under the rug for so long because of the money machine that is college football, a successful program with a superstar coach and a sterling reputation is money in the bank, and when you’re Penn State that’s $50 million a year kind of money.
(click here to continue reading Penn State’s Joe Paterno Shouldn’t Have Coached a Game This Season | Mother Jones.)
Signe Wilkinson’s take on Penn State, Inc.…
and Mike McQueary should be drummed out of the coaching business for his cowardice:
Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing a sexual act on a young child in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2002…and didn’t intervene.
This detail is in the grand jury report about the scandal surrounding Sandusky and Penn State University.
I’ll start this by saying my knowledge of the law is limited, but I understand the idea of an accessory. Usually, however, the person is a witness to murder. In this instance, McQueary was a witness to an alleged rape.
And he left.
These are all things that McQueary has admitted. He must feel terrible, being that he was 28 years old at the time and did nothing. However, the thought that he physically walked away from a rape is disgusting.
(click here to continue reading Penn State Scandal: Why Mike McQueary Deserves Jail Time | Bleacher Report.)
A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin tried to recreate Dock Ellis’ famous no-hitter, albeit on a video game, but the LSD was real.
“Can we get some pizza now?”
But in order to get that type of nourishment one must go
I had been instructed not to go outside by people who were more accustomed to these types of activities than I was. The cozy confines of the apartment were the only place for a 37-year-old first-timer like me, they said. It only took a few brisk steps to realize what they had been talking about. The normally straight sidewalk on Court Street between Union and Sackett started to tilt to the left in a comical, funhouse way. The storefront signs were more vivid than usual; the swooping cursive letters on Italian bakeries were now a menacing Satan font. Couples pushing strollers passed by me and I looked the other way because I was ashamed and too paranoid that they’d see my eyes bouncing or that I’d stare too long at their kicking babies and they’d call the cops.
By the time we arrived at the pizza parlor things were threatening to go haywire. That ricotta pie was clearly agitated by my presence. Toder relayed my order for me and handled the money transaction with the counterperson, because I could not possibly participate in such activities with the dickhead pizza being all mouthy and with the fearsome heat of that big oven so close by. Toder handed me my large cup of Dr Pepper and we were soon outside again on the crooked sidewalk, headed back to the ballpark inside my TV to accomplish greatness. The Dr Pepper was so good. So, so good. Why this was not the beverage of choice for all when life goes awry was unfathomable. Hey, look, the sidewalk is back to normal. Everything’s coming up me. I needed to hug something.
(click here to continue reading The Electric Dock Ellis Acid Test: An Attempt To Recreate His Drug-Addled No-Hitter, On Xbox.)
Amusing, though A.J. Daulerio doesn’t actually succeed in throwing a no-hitter, but you should read his explanation of the experience.
Actual footage of Dock Ellis on LSD don’t seem to be available, but this YouTube creation by James Blagden and No Mas is pretty good. Excellent, in fact.
In celebration of the greatest athletic achievement by a man on a psychedelic journey, No Mas and artist James Blagden proudly present the animated tale of Dock Ellis’ legendary LSD no-hitter. In the past few years we’ve heard all too much about performance enhancing drugs from greenies to tetrahydrogestrinone, and not enough about performance inhibiting drugs. If our evaluation of the records of athletes like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds needs to be revised downwards with an asterisk, we submit that that Dock Ellis record deserves a giant exclamation point. Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.
Sadly, the great Dock Ellis died last December at 63. A year before, radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel, had recorded an interview with Ellis in which the former Pirate right hander gave a moment by moment account of June 12, 1970, the day he no-hit the San Diego Padres. Alexander and Ilels original four minute piece appeared March 29, 2008 on NPRs Weekend America. When we stumbled across that piece this past June, Blagden and Isenberg were inspired to create a short animated film around the original audio.
Sam Smith, the Chicago Bulls beat writer 1 answers a question I’ve long wondered about: namely, who comes up the wacky trade rumors, most of which have no basis in reality? Who benefits?
I always wondered how trade “rumors” begin. Are 99% of what we hear really started at the water cooler or some bored journalist? Do pro-ball teams have a representative that reports to the media every time they are considering a deal? How can all these “reports” out there even get out in the first place? For example, “Lakers are said to offer Lamar Odom to the Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick.” – How would this info get out? Do GM’s have a private line or access to every other GM in the league or a yellow pages of sort where just they have access, call them up and talk shop? Are their phones tapped? Someone under the desk listening with a notepad? Are any offers emailed through today to other GM’s? I’ve been caught up in draft day, free agency periods the last 30 years and I am finally just too damn curious how this entire process works. If anyone can explain this the right way to us all, it’s got to be you.
Sam: You have come to the right place. I even had an owner ask me this a few days ago when one of his players was mentioned in a deal and he said no one on his staff discussed it with anyone. There are some that start badly as you say, with a couple of guys talking and “what if” becomes “I hear.” That’s tremendously irresponsible, but there are some major web sites these days which basically have a policy never to admit a mistake and just publish denials, as if that covers them. Plus, it has become a bit of a game to report something with the idea that this is just entertainment reporting and for discussion so what’s the harm? There are two ways most rumors begin and one problem is the pressure many media people are under for these internet scoops with the constant refresh button issue. Often a team will call another and propose something, like Odom for Love and No. 2. The other team laughs and says how about Kobe and Pau for Darko. And that’s that. But then some scout who heard it in their office tells someone “can you believe the Lakers asked for this?” And technically it is true that is was “discussed.”
For some media people to get “hits” in this era that’s enough as it is true that it was “talked about.”
The evil underside is agents. That’s where much of the ugly stuff comes from. What some of these guys do is leak stuff to reporters in an attempt to embarrass a competitor. So then they pursue their client and tell him that if he changes agents things will be better. Though, after all, it is just discussion. And by now, really, most players and fans have come to understand often it just good talk and talk radio type discussion. The truth also is teams routinely ask other teams about basically everyone on their roster to try to determine the worth of their own players. I have no doubt, for example, the Bulls have mentioned to other teams everyone but Rose to get an idea what the player’s value might be. That goes on all year, and what the reporting really shows is how few of these talks ever really get out as opposed to you thinking so many do.
(click here to continue reading Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 06.24.11 | Bulls.)
- and former Chicago Tribune star [↩]
How did Novak Djokovic conquer the tennis world?
Maybe the answer is as simple as this: Since last year, he’s swearing off pasta, pizza, beer, French bread, Corn Flakes, pretzels, empanadas, Mallomars and Twizzlers—anything with gluten.
It’s no secret that Djokovic has had a breakout season, or that he has been, by any reasonable standard, the world’s best athlete of 2011. On Sunday, he beat Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters, his fourth-straight win over the Spaniard. It was his second win over Nadal on clay in two weeks, and again, amazingly, he did it without losing a set. The match ran Djokovic’s 2011 record to 37-0 with seven titles.
As the French Open begins Sunday, Djokovic’s amazing streak—the longest to start a season since 1984—is threatening to push Roger Federer (the winner of a record 16 Grand Slam titles) and Nadal (the French Open’s five-time champion) off the front pages. But the transformation from odd man out to invincible overlord also is leaving gobsmacked tennis fans searching for answers. Clearly something has clicked for the Serb. But what?
Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand. And then there’s the gluten.
Last year, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered that Djokovic is allergic to the protein, which is found in common flours. Djokovic banished it from his diet and lost a few pounds. He says he now feels much better on court.
(click here to continue reading Novak Djokovic’s Gluten-Free Ascendancy – WSJ.com.)
Steve Aschburner reports on why Luol Deng is in all probability the most interesting NBA player still playing in this years playoffs. Joakim Noah has an interesting backstory too, but not as deep a tale as Luol Deng’s:
A member of the Dinka tribe, Deng was born in the Republic of Sudan as one of nine children. He remains devoted to his homeland through his Luol Deng Foundation, which focuses on charitable work in Chicago, in London and back home. He is especially active in the Lost Boys of Sudan efforts to help.
• His father, Aldo, served in the Sudanese parliament and was the country’s Minister of Transportation before sending his family to Cairo, Egypt, to avoid Sudan’s civil war.
• While in Egypt, Deng received basketball instruction from former NBA center Manute Bol, another Dinka tribesman.
• When Deng was 8 years old, his father was granted political asylum in England. That explains his participation in international competition with the Great Britain national team, with an eye on the London Games in 2012.
• He came to New Jersey at age 14, sent with his older sister Arek. They enrolled at Blair Academy, a prep school in Blairstown, which promptly became a serious basketball threat. Arek went on to play at Delaware, their brother Ajou played at Fairfield and Connecticut and Deng spent the 2003-04 season at Duke.
He averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Blue Devils and became the seventh pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. (Phoenix traded his rights to Chicago for Jackson Vroman and a 2005 first-round pick that became Nate Robinson.)
In January, Deng was cheered by fellow relocated Sudanese at a makeshift polling station on the city’s North Side when he voted on a historic independence referendum for that country. At one point, he draped the Southern Sudan flag around him. The effort was successful and in July, the southern state will officially secede and Deng’s proud father Aldo will be there.
“It’s OK for people to take basketball seriously,” Deng told a New Jersey reporter after practice Monday. “It’s not something to resent or lecture them about, ‘Oh, you take all this for granted.’ … But I know how good I have it. Sometimes people struggle, even here in Chicago, and it’s no more than bad luck.” •
Oh yeah, we almost forgot: Deng is President Obama’s favorite NBA player.
(click here to continue reading Chicago’s Deng in position to add to already-lengthy resume | NBA.com.)
Sam Smith, perhaps the sports writer closest to Phil Jackson, the soon-to-be-retiring Zen Master for the Los Angeles Lakers, dubbs Thibs, the first year Chicago Bulls coach, as the new Zen Master. Intriguing, and even plausible.
There always has been a Zen Master in the NBA. Red Auerbach was perhaps the first, which may be why he and Phil Jackson were so at odds, because they really were so alike. Red was a teacher, as all the great coaches truly are, and one whose mantra of sacrifice and teamwork transcended the individual. Phil Jackson most popularized this Zen appellation, but it perhaps is best represented now by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who Sunday accepted the award for the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year, the Red Auerbach trophy.
Tom Thibodeau really is the NBA’s Zen Master.
I was awakened to this notion in discussions with a friend of mine, Erv Ruhl, a retired psychology professor from Fresno State. Erv had been struck by a comment Kyle Korver made after the Bulls clinched the Pacers series. Someone asked about the Bulls looking ahead and Korver interrupted with a quip about whether the questioner knew the Bulls coach, a guy named Tom Thibodeau, whom we know chants the “one game at a time” mantra. But more than that, as Erv pointed out, Thibodeau has raised basketball teaching to an existential level. Bulls players now universally see the season and the playoffs only as far as the next practice, the next play, the next game.
It’s all they talk about, less rhetoric than lifestyle.
It’s something of the ultimate for a coach and teacher. Players routinely offer doltish clichés about one at a time. The Bulls believe it and live it like few teams I’ve ever been around because of Thibodeau.
Thibodeau doesn’t say it that way. But Bulls players have embraced the journey. They know now instinctively a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, that the jug fills only drop by drop.
Yes, classic Eastern philosophy.
And then there’s Thibs’:
“When you get a team that truly commits and everyone puts everything they have into it every day you don’t have to worry about anything else,” Thibodeau said at his press conference at the Berto Center Sunday. “You’ve done all that you can do. And that’s how I measure success. We know if we are doing the right thing every day, good will come.”
It’s one thing to promulgate those views, but then another to issue the imperative that resonates with the group. It’s the ultimate hope of the teacher. It is the Thibodeau liturgy repeated. Not championships or awards or matchups but doing your job hour by hour, day by day and being satisfied knowing you are prepared and taught the correct way that you will achieve what you are due to achieve.
The teacher opens the door, but you enter by yourself.
(click here to continue reading Thibs is Coach of Year and Zen Master | Blogs.Bulls.com.)
I will say that this year’s Bulls have been the most fun Bulls team to watch in a long, long time. Besides the rapid, explosive growth of Derrick Rose into super-stardom, there isn’t anyone else on the team who is a stellar, transcendent talent, and yet they won the most games of anyone in the league this year. Will they win a championship? I’d like to say yes, because I want them to succeed, but I’d be surprised if they did. But that’s looking too far ahead. Better just to watch each game and then go from there. You know, Thibs-like.
The Tribune Bulls beat writer, K.C. Johnson, adds about the Coach of the Year award:
The ritual became a game among the Bulls, no matter the player, no matter the hour.
Enter the Berto Center for a workout and glance up at the office window on the far north side of the building to see if Tom Thibodeau’s light was on.
“I don’t know if he gets here at 5 or 6 a.m.,” Luol Deng said. “But he’s here early. And he’s the last to leave.”
Joakim Noah put it more colorfully earlier this season.
“It’s kind of annoying,” he said playfully. “He lives at the gym. You can’t get away from him.”
Thibodeau’s tireless work ethic has led to success.
Capping his history-making rookie season, Thibodeau ran away with NBA Coach of the Year honors on Sunday, earning 76 first-place votes and landing on 113 of 119 ballots to post 475 points, far surpassing former Bulls and current 76ers coach Doug Collins. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and Nuggets’ George Karl rounded out the top four.
Thibodeau, who tied Paul Westphal’s NBA record for most victories by a first-year coach at 62-20, joins Phil Jackson, Dick Motta and Johnny “Red” Kerr as franchise winners of Coach of the Year. He’s also the seventh first-year coach in NBA history to win the award, joining a list that includes Kerr and Thibodeau’s former boss in Boston, Doc Rivers, who texted him congratulations.
(click here to continue reading Chicago Bulls: Tom Thibodeau NBA’s Coach of the Year – chicagotribune.com.)
There is simply no way to say with any degree of artfulness so I won’t even try: Los Angeles Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt is a vile piece of shit who not only ruined what was once the classiest franchise in all of sports but should also face legal consequences if allegations are true that he did reportedly not pay any taxes on $105 million he siphoned from the Dodgers’ for his own personal use. Co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt have recently divorced, causing the team to suffer.
Ruthless. Litigious. Nasty. Dishonest. That’s just a small smattering of the descriptions that the media have applied to McCourt, prima facie proof that all professional sports teams, like the Green Bay Packers, should be community-owned so fans don’t have to witness the destruction of an institution they love.
Some are saying they are shocked by Wednesday’s news of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig appointing a trustee to take over operations of the Dodgers. Given McCourt’s track record, I have no idea why. Perhaps the most vigorous defense in his favor comes from Tommy Lasorda, a profane clown when he managed the Dodgers and even more of a profane clown on the talk circuit. Lasorda says McCourt really loves the Dodgers, which is like saying that Hannibal Lecter really loved his victims before he ate their livers.
(click here to continue reading Frank McCourt and the Demise of the Dodgers – The Daily Beast.)
I strongly support the idea of more teams owned by the community, like the Green Bay Packers. The owners cry poverty whenever a new stadium is required, but when they want to move franchises to another city a few years later, nobody seems to be able to stop them.
And, for the record, I wouldn’t want to be invited to Frank McCourt’s Christmas party either, he seems like a real jerk, especially if you read Buzz Bissinger’s whole rant.
I agree with Matt McHale’s assessment of the 2011 Chicago Bulls. I’ve watched more Bulls games this year for whatever reason, not every single game, but some or all of 60 or more out of the 82 regular season games, and there weren’t many victories that the Bulls destroyed their opponents. They out-worked, out-hustled, out-coached, and then let Derrick Rose win the game for them. The 2011 Bulls are an enjoyable team to root for because they aren’t the most star-studded roster – not the most talented, but willing to expend effort to compensate for their lack of South Beach-esque talent and hype.
No, what they did was not “storming” so much as it was grinding out win after gritty win. As the season wore on and other teams struggled with injuries, boredom, or a general pulling back of the throttle to reserve energy (both mental and physical) for the playoffs, the Bulls came out with the same level of focus and desire to win every game every night.
The Bulls were the league’s best regular season team not because they are the most talented group of players but because they wanted it more. Because their focus and intensity was more consistent than any other team in the Association.
And so now there’s been a major shift in perception. Remember: The Bulls were not expected to lead the East in regular season wins. Many people figured they would finish behind the Celtics, Heat and Magic at a bare minimum. Maybe the Hawks, too. And, as I’ve mentioned, there were people who genuinely believed that the Milwaukee Bucks might win the Central Division.
With great power comes great responsibility, right? Well, with 62 wins comes increased expectations. When the Bulls were grinding out win after regular season win, they were exceeding the expectations that had been set for them prior to the season. But now, because they were the league’s best team for 82 games, there are new expectations. Namely, that they should be steamrolling their opponents, especially lesser teams like the Pacers.
Look, I’m not trying to demean the players on this team, because they’re great guys. That said, the Bulls’ success this season has caused many people to overrate the team’s talent. I think this has happened for two reasons. First, because the Bulls have been so successful, people need to reframe the situation to better understand it. “Oh,” they decide, “these guys must be a lot better than I gave them credit for.”
Second, in the rush to argue against Rose’s MVP candidacy, it became a popular notion to suggest that his teammates were actually better (or even much better) than previously assumed. “Hey,” they pointed out, “check out those plus-minus numbers. The Bulls aren’t just Rose. They have a lot of really good players.”
I’m not sure that’s actually the case, though. If the Bulls truly had a lot of really good players, they wouldn’t have to start Bogans. No, what Chicago has are a lot of solid NBA contributors who bought into a concept (defense and teamwork) and played their butts off for six months.
I mean, let’s face facts. Carlos Boozer was a major free agent last summer, but he was definitely on the second tier of the most sought-after acquisitions. Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer might have been on the fourth tier. As far as I could tell, there were no bidding wars or trade battles for the services of C.J. Watson. Kurt Thomas is ancient. And everyone realizes that Omer Asik is a rookie with almost no offensive game to speak of and even less upper body strength, right?
Oh, for the record, I’m not saying any of this to boost Rose’s MVP resume. I just think that it’s worth reevaluating the updated perception of the Bulls. The 62-20 record looks overpowering, but this was not an overpowering team. The Bulls might be number one in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of pure talent, they might not be in the top five. They are very well coached, they play exceptionally hard and they believe in each other. Oh, and they have Rose to clean up any messes.
(click here to continue reading Game 2 Recap: Bulls 96, Pacers 90 » By The Horns.)
The Super Bowl’s half time show is always lame, but of all the spectacles I’ve seen1 the Black Eyed Peas was by far the worst. They weren’t even good lip syncers, much less musicians, or anything resembling entertainment. My focus group were laughing hysterically at the Black Eyed Peas antics, and not with them, at them. So bland, so mediocre.
And there was not even a chance at a wardrobe malfunction since Fergie seemed to be wearing some sort of breastplate to protect her nipples from destroying the nation.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Black Eyed Peas began life a decade and a half ago as a socially conscious, dance-friendly underground hip-hop group and are now the ambassadors for hip-hop to the rest of the world. Their fundamental tenets remain — good cheer, movement, gauche taste — even as they churn out supersize, occasionless songs, at breakneck tempos, designed for maximum impact.
Theirs is music that works harder than the performers, which was a liability during the early part of the set, especially on “Boom Boom Pow,” one of the most limber pop songs in recent years, which the group delivered largely standing still, letting phalanxes of dancers around them do most of the work.
Those clusters of bodies were key. Unlike in previous years, in which fans were allowed on the field to suffocate the stage, this year, there were hundreds of dancers in illuminated unitards helping round out the Black Eyed Peas’ space show. They formed arrows to direct the eye to the stage, and during “Where Is the Love?” formed hearts, lit up red and scattered across the field.
After two songs, Slash was inserted into the setup for a jolt of arena rock, playing a crisp version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” dodging Fergie’s vocal and physical histrionics. That was for hip-hop novices, even though the Black Eyed Peas know how to service that audience on their own. They played “The Time (Dirty Bit),” which borrows from “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (the theme from “Dirty Dancing”), and “Pump It,” which samples Dick Dale’s “Misirlou,” popularized in “Pulp Fiction.”
These are the group’s dimmest songs, the ones on which they pander the most. Stiffness aside, “Boom Boom Pow” was better, as was the relentless “I Gotta Feeling,” which opened and closed the set. The show peaked when Usher joined in, performing his hit “OMG,” which will.i.am produced and is featured on. But Usher’s spectacular choreography, including a high leap over a kneeling will.i.am, landing in a split, only highlighted the headliners’ weaknesses.
(click here to continue reading Hip-Hop Comes to the Super Bowl – NYTimes.com.)
At least they didn’t get paid:
In 2010 the group grossed a whopping $81.6 million from touring alone…So it may come as a surprise to learn what The Black Eyed Peas are earning for their halftime show at Super Bowl XLV: Nothing.
That’s right. Fergie, will.i.am, and those other two guys whose names you can never remember (for the record, they’re called Taboo and apl.de.ap) will not be receiving a performance fee for their efforts in Dallas. So why the charity? Because the acts that play Super Bowl halftime shows traditionally don’t get paid. A better question: Why have dozens of other high-profile acts agreed to play the Super Bowl for free?
The simple answer is exposure. At first glance, that sounds preposterous. Turn on any pop radio station and you’ll be hard-pressed to go more than seven minutes without getting the echoey, bass-laden, auto-tuned strains of The Black Eyed Peas firmly implanted in your brain. A remarkable 1.3 million people paid to see the Peas in concert last year alone
(click here to continue reading Why The Black Eyed Peas Aren’t Getting Paid For Their Super Bowl Gig – Zack O’Malley Greenburg – The Beat Report – Forbes.)
Greg Kot writes of the BEP:
The Peas didn’t exactly perform so much as cheerlead, their “Boom Boom Pow” just a centimeter or two removed from “sis-boom-bah.” With lyrics like Madison Avenue slogans plastered over relentless beats, the quartet’s big, proudly superficial music advertised and celebrated itself. It’s not meant to be scrutinized, but blasted over big speakers at Cowboys Stadium or in saloons worldwide hosting Super Bowl parties.
Coming in short minute-long bursts, the Peas’ songs actually benefited from the nervous, jump-cut energy of the medley, exiting long before their repetitiveness and trivality could become apparent. Even the second-tier Peas, Taboo and apl.de.ap, inexplicably got some screen time.
and of the National Anthem, as warbled by Christina Aguilera…
The National Anthem, as pole-axed by Xtina: At least Christina Aguilera looked dignified in a black outfit, in contrast to the dressed-down pole-dancer look she favors in concert and video. But after that things went downhill quickly. She bungled some words, leaving out the line, “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming,” and instead repeating a line from earlier in the song. She stretched the approximately minute-long song to twice its length by making sure to punctuate just about every phrase with an inappropriate growl or melisma. On the first line, she transformed the word “night” into about seven syllables. On the final “brave,” she lingered on for more than 10 seconds before being drowned out, barely, by jet fighters zooming the stadium. As usual, Xtina managed to make even this most revered of songs sound like it was all about her.
(click here to continue reading Turn It Up: Super Bowl halftime review: Black Eyed Peas, plus pre-game music.)
- I’ve watched most since 1982 or so, even in the hipster years when I didn’t own a television [↩]