Archive for the ‘dealing with adversity’ Category

Are the Recent NBA Free Agent Contracts Negatively Affecting the Attitude of Its Fan Base?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Bob Knight once said he learned a lesson from his wife about arguing a point ad infinitum. “The horse is dead, Bob. Get off it,” was her advice. Taking that comment to heart, I promise (with fingers crossed, just in case something even more absurd than what’s taken place during the first two days of free agent signing occurs) that this post will be brief and the last one on the subject.

NBA radio, Sirius channel 86, has not had a problem filling air time, whether the talk is hosts feelings about which (usually long-term) absurd contract was offered to which not exactly “difference-making” free agent, or the callers’ reactions to them. Guys who didn’t substantially increase their former team’s number of victories (some by not getting enough minutes to do so – due to injuries or DNP-CDs) are being tendered eight-figure deals – for multiple years. That’s an obscene amount of money.

Of course, this is due to the mega television deal with the NBA which raised the salary cap. The fact is the money is split between the owners and players – and salaries are, as always, “market driven.” At least that is what people, mainly agents, are saying is the reason for what seems to be overpaying players. There has always existed a segment of society who has begrudged athletes for getting paid so much more than other hard working, yet less skilled, individuals. The current unrest among those outside the NBA has seemed to spread.

I’ve heard from both casual and passionate NBA fans that they can’t believe what’s going on (see yesterday’s post for thoughts about the owners and this current situation). The rabid fans are upset that teams are making multi-millionaires out of marginal players, guys who aren’t going to improve their favorite club’s chances of playoff success. They have a point, considering that, independent of what the cap is (and it will increase again after next season), there still will be 14 teams in next year’s lottery. Fans who watch occasionally comment on the state of the economy in our country and how out of whack these numbers are. While they don’t believe in socialism, they say something is dreadfully wrong when so many people are scraping to get by while others will be getting (not necessarily earning) more than they could possibly need.

Next year will be worse (or better). Which begs the question:

“Could the NBA be killing the golden goose?”


Making Money and Enemies

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Roger Goodell’s salary for 2015 was disclosed and, apparently, his job performance was somewhat unsatisfactory. He took a $2.1 million pay cut – to $32 million. Several (actually more than several) NFL fans have expressed displeasure regarding many of Goodell’s decisions. As often as not, their rants have begun with different versions of the same phrase – “with all the money he makes.”

Critics abound on social media, most of them anonymous. Facebook users are easily identifiable, yet even that online social networking service is bombarded by blame throwers, possibly because those who castigate others are doing so to their “friends.” One such gent is a University of Tennessee Volunteer diehard who posts messages that brutally disparage the football coaches. After the Vols’ 2-3 start, the guillotine couldn’t drop soon enough. The overriding battle cry was, “Fire the head coach and (many of) his assistants” (apparently, an assistant or two were friends of his). At that point he said the Vols were a 6-6 team at best, could maybe wind up 4-8 (note: the Vols ended 9-4, their only loss the rest of the way to national champion Alabama, 19-14). The one constant in the plethora of criticisms is the mention of the enormous salaries the coaches make.

A quote directed at Tiger Woods that I dug up from long ago (although it doesn’t seem that long ago Tiger was dominating golf): “With all the money he makes at golf and through endorsements, it’s a shame he ruined his life by being so stupid.”

How about “For a guy who makes over $20 million a year, is it too much to ask Chris Paul to get past the second round of the (NBA) playoffs?”

I’ve seen fans upset at Alex Rodriguez, obviously now at the end of his career, complain about the amount of money he has made, especially considering he used performing enhancing drugs to become the player he was. Football quarterbacks probably get the most criticism from fans – much of it related to the huge contracts they have. Yet, if a great one comes along, the fans want the team to “pay whatever it takes.” Until the guy doesn’t produce a championship. Then, the cry of “why did we ever pay this guy so much?” emerge. Similar discussions will soon be taking place after NBA free agents sign new contracts.

The one question that crosses my mind when I hear all this is:

“Would the fans’ attitudes change if these guys were paid LESS money?”

Go Underdogs

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

First, it was the 607th ranked golfer in the world, Billy Hurley III, winning the Quicken Loans National at Congressional for his first PGA Tour victory – his 104th PGA Tour start. In his hometown, not far the Naval Academy from which he graduated 12 years ago. For his efforts, he received $1,242,000 first-place dough and a spot in the British Open – which he plans on missing because his sister is getting married. Those Navy guys understand perspective. Makes you want to shake your head and salute him at the same time.

In an absolutely amazing display of mental toughness, Hurley III played nearly flawlessly during the final day, shooting a 2-under 69. It was a mere 10 months ago that his father, Willard Hurley Jr., died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Add focus to his list of admirable traits. If every serviceman shares Billy Hurley III’s demeanor, no one should ever criticize the military again.

The reaction from the event host, Tiger Woods, a military man’s son, spoke volumes (independent of whatever personal issues you might have with Woods). “To have a serviceman actually win the event, it doesn’t get any better than that. He’s actually one that did serve his country, and for him to win an event that honors the military more than any other event, it’s very apropos that he did it here.” Tiger has been having trouble getting the contact he used to have with his clubs but his assessment of the Congressional winner was squarely hit.

In his typical understated way, the winner summed up his first tour victory. “It’s been a hard year. It’s been a really hard year, so it’s nice to have something go well.”

Another Herculean performance (actually seven of them – to date) occurred on the hallowed courts of the All England Club. Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old Brit, who still lives at home with his parents, had earned a grand total of $290 as a professional tennis player in 2016. On Monday, Willis, ranked 772nd in the world, won in straight sets in the first round of Wimbledon, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. Just to get to the first round, Willis had to win six qualifying rounds (three prequalifying and three qualifying). His latest victory guaranteed the not-so-youngster (at least in the tennis terms) a minimum of $65,000, not exactly the haul Hurley III raked in but, for someone whose career earnings were under $100K, certainly better than a sharp stick in the eye.

While his next foe is the tennis world’s #3 ranked player, Roger Federer, it’s safe to say Willis will be the crowd favorite. Federer has to prepare for one of the truest “road” tests of his storied career. The odds are stacked against Willis but he’s got to feel better about his tennis future than at anytime in his tennis past. A series of injuries, which morphed into signs of depression, had him considering retirement and becoming a teaching pro. His latest conquest has put those plans on hold for at least another day. England so needs something to cheer.

Why, you ask? Because in the world’s most popular sport (soccer, for those of you in the U.S.), Iceland (Iceland for crying out loud!) beat mighty England. Mighty? Hey, when you’re Iceland, every opponent is mighty. The defeat was so humiliating (Iceland’s entire population is 330,000) that England’s manager (coach) immediately resigned at the end of the match. Perspective has no meaning in soccer. England’s soccer history is one of “underperforming” at major tournaments but never did any Brit think a loss to Iceland in Euro 2016 was possible.

As Stephen Colbert said in his monologue last night:

“This is the worst thing to happen to England since . . . four days ago.”

The Most Awesome Sight I’ve Ever Seen – and the Lesson It Taught Me

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

It was the summer of 1973 and I had just finished working a week of basketball camp at the University of Vermont, where I’d completed my first year in college coaching as a graduate assistant. A full-time coaching job was harder to come by than I thought but the head coach at UVM did manage to get me an upgrade as a grad assistant at Washington State. While I was anxious to get to WSU, I desperately needed the $100 I got for working the camp. So I left Burlington for my parent’s house in New Jersey. It took me a couple days to get everything I owned into my car and head out for Pullman, WA. Actually, it took me about an hour but there were some friends I wanted to see before I left on the 3,000 mile trip, having no idea when or if I’d ever be returning.

The reasons for this trip down memory lane are the going away party I attended last Friday night for a coaching friend and the story a mother at our table told about her family taking a cross country trip. She felt their family needed to be aggressive and thought they could do it in six days. Mine lasted half that time. When she heard, she nearly flipped out and asked me if I ever stopped. I gave her my itinerary. It took me 16 hours to drive from New Jersey to Milton, Wisconsin, where I stopped at a rest area and slept for about three hours. Hey, I was excited to get to my (then-)Pac 8 gig. Awakening, and still running on adrenaline, I drove to Montana and actually got a hotel room. Then, it was onto Pullman.

The only stop I made along the way which, by the way was unplanned, was to see Mount Rushmore. Remember this sojourn was made well before the GPS was invented. Instead, I had maps – one of the United States, others of the individual states I’d be traveling through. As one map after another was thrown into the backseat (doing this motivated me to keep moving on), I opened South Dakota. I noticed the route would take me right past Mount Rushmore. Although I was foolish not to slow down and see America along the way, I was wise enough to understand that Mount Rushmore was must-see. It certainly didn’t disappoint. As my car weaved up the mountain where the observatory was located (for those who think you get to be on the mountain with the sculptures, I’m sorry to burst your bubble), all of a sudden a glimpse of Thomas Jefferson would appear through the trees, then a minute or so late, a shot of Washington. I wondered why there weren’t more accidents on that winding road.

Once you finally arrive, the view is breathtaking. After looking through the telescopes to get an up close view, I stayed long enough to watch the 14-minute video about the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum – why and how he accomplished it was absolutely mind-blowing. I mean, can you imagine one day, thinking, “I’d like to carve four presidents’ heads (actually, he intended to do full busts) into a mountain.” Where do you start with such a lofty goal? And then have the courage to do it (actually, he died, at 73, a year before the completion – his son, Lincoln, finished the project).

Last night there was a program on TBS about Borglum and the making of Mount Rushmore. There were some negative comments about the man and his project. One was that he had a big ego. Duh! Wouldn’t that would be completely understandable after hearing someone proclaim what he was attempting to do. Another criticism was the Native Americans were opposed to the idea, feeling it was a desecration of holy grounds. This is also understandable. It gave me pause that, while I view it as the most awesome site I’ve ever seen, to some people it was a trespass of their homeland. Lesson learned, nothing is 100% plus or minus, and it’s good to be able to at least understand things from others’ perspectives.

As far as Borglum himself, there were other unflattering characteristics. e.g. he complained quite a bit (which could be described as passion), and he had a quite a temper. Flamboyance, unpredictability and irascibility were also mentioned as undesirable traits. However, the show pointed out his skill as a sculptor was diminished because of this massive project (“normal” sized, spectacular sculptures he produced were so overshadowed by this massive project) and his persistence was unmatched. Still, he referred to Mount Rushmore as his “crowning achievement.” He had to plead for money from Washington and, often he would show up unannounced in DC to attempt to have a meeting with a Congressman or even the President himself. Recall much of the time was during the Depression so his plight was made that much more difficult. In today’s terms, the undertaking was a bargain coming in at under a million dollars – $989,992.32 to be exact (accounting for inflation that would be about $17 million today. Google some of the things that Congress spends $17M on).

Many of the workers would come and go due to the danger of the work and exposure to the elements but Borglum had a core who kept returning for each of the 14 years the project took. They were loyal to their boss and inspired by him. How could they not when Borglum, who was asked about attempting such a daunting task, simply said, “The faces are in the mountain. All I have to do is bring them out.”

In today’s world, there are seemingly an infinite number of motivational books and about the same number of speakers. There are self-esteem experts, people who will teach you how to reach your goals and your potential. The fact that Gutzon Borglum decided, at the age of 60, on his own, to undertake such a dream, despite all odds against him, and achieved it, reaffirms what that great philosopher, Deion Sanders, once said:

“If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there is something wrong with your dream.”


Pray for Pat

Monday, June 27th, 2016

It was reported that Pat Summitt’s health (she was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the young age of 59) has declined so badly that she is surrounded only by her family members and closest friends. As one who has experience with family members who had Alzheimer’s (my grandmother, mother and aunt – the latter two passing within the last five years), I can only hope Pat goes quickly. Knowing her as well as I do (I worked at UT for seven years and we often collaborated on recruiting weekends and practice times, as well as discussed strategy, dealing with players and recruiting ideas throughout my time there), I know she wouldn’t want to exist as she is.  

What follows is a reprint of a blog I posted when I first heard of her diagnosis.

When I got to the University of Tennessee in 1980, Pat Summitt had already been the women’s basketball coach for six years. She’d been incredibly successful and had led the Lady Vols from AIAW to the NCAA. Immaculata and Old Dominion were the AIAW powers but they couldn’t keep it up after the switch of parent organizations. UT got better. To Pat, it was just another challenge. Although she hadn’t won a national championship, it was evident that, watching her work, she wouldn’t stop until she won it all.

The year I left, 1987, she finally did. The she won seven more. She’s the all-time winningest coach, male or female, in college basketball. No one is respected more. When I was at USC in the early ’90s, one of our other assistants asked me a question I’d been posed numerous times, “Do you think Pat Summitt could coach men?” My response was the same one I’d been giving since the ’80s. “Absolutely – and she’d probably be about as successful as she is now.”

How do you now write something on Pat without making it sound like a eulogy? You take a page out of Pat’s own book. No pity party, keep focused on the task at hand. She’s the most complete person I’ve ever known – confidant without any trace of arrogance, personable yet driven, brilliant but always looking to learn and improve, serious but willing to be the butt of a joke, hard worker but the ultimate team player.

She overcame being a “girl” in a man’s world (including a tough dad and competitive brothers who showed her no mercy), won as a coach despite having no experience, rose above everyone in her profession, won it all – and kept on winning.

When I first heard she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, I thought it was a joke, that the punch line was the diagnosis came after she said she was considering coaching men. But it wasn’t. She’s beaten nearly everything and everyone in her way. Now she faces a foe who’s undefeated. My mom was one of its victims, losing her battle this past June 24th. Pat’s teams always played the best schedules, never ducking anyone. But this opponent is unfair. It plays by its own rules.

All we can do is wish Pat the best. She deserves nothing less.

The worst part of Alzheimer’s is:

“It’s the only disease in which you lose your loved one twice.”

What About Those Poor College Guys Who Don’t Get Drafted?

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

After the NBA draft, as happens after every draft, there is an outcry regarding the college kids who decided to leave school early but didn’t get selected. One proposal is that these youngsters be allowed to return to college. Let’s analyze that idea.

If that were the case, i.e. that if there’s no downside to putting your name out there, wouldn’t even more kids leave school early? It used to be that the recruiting process was the beginning of a relationship between the prospect and the coach or coaches who recruited him. After making the biggest decision of his (or her) life, many of today’s youngsters pack up and leave for . . . 9 months. Even those who stay for 2-3 years, is it that much of a hardship to return to college where a player has undoubtedly made close friends (other teammates for starters) and is on a campus with others close to the same age? Plus, now that the NCAA has allowed cost-of-living increases to their full scholarships, is the life of a college basketball player that unbearable?

Recently, on Facebook, I saw a post about how a couple players from one of my former stops, USC, declared for the draft but didn’t get selected in either round. Were they blindsided by this unfortunate set of circumstances? Here’s an excerpt from an LA Times article regarding their decision to put their names in the draft pool: “(Julian) Jacobs and (Nikola) Jovanovic will have until 10 days after the NBA draft combine to withdraw from consideration and return to school, a decision that may have become easier Thursday. Neither player received an invitation to the combine. An invite doesn’t preclude getting drafted. Last season, five players without an invitation were selected. But the snub is a signal that neither player is high on teams’ draft boards.” (underlining mine) Talk about a hint-and-a-half.

When you think of the thousands of kids who’d love to attend USC (many of them deserving but rejected due to the sheer number of applicants), it’s difficult to summon up sympathy for these two. Or, for that matter, any player from any school who may have overestimated his ability. The NBA doesn’t have a rule that states if someone graduates from college, they’re ineligible to play (although sometimes it seems like that’s the case).

I’m not blind to the fact that there are many reasons for players to try to enter the NBA as soon as they can. With the ridiculous money the league is paying (the minimum contract for an undrafted rookie is a little over a half a million dollars), it’s so enticing a career move. Also, many of these kids have long dreamed of playing in the NBA and, although they might not be ready, they have so many people – some who even have their best interests at heart (but a good many of whom don’t) – telling them they are. Throw in the fear of a debilitating injury and the reasons for leaving mount.

Those people who say kids who don’t get drafted ought to come be able to return to college have good intentions but are we not forgetting one reason to go to college in the first place? College is where an individual (including a basketball player who may or may not be good enough to play someday in the NBA) gets to be on his own and learns to make decisions for himself. Whether to leave school and try to make an NBA roster is one of them. Maybe he’ll make it or maybe he won’t.

With apologies to Sir Winston Churchill:

“Playing in the NBA isn’t final; not playing in it isn’t fatal. Make your decision and live with it.”


The Nerve of Some Media People

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Yesterday afternoon I heard a talking head on one of the sports shows on Sirius-XM make the comment, “Steph Curry most definitely let us down. I’m not going to take back the things I said during the season but” . . . and the he blathered on about something or other. It was like he was saying that, while he extolled Curry’s virtues during the season, he wished he had tempered his comments because . . . now he looked bad. His callers, especially LeBron fans, were coming down hard on him – and it was basically Curry’s fault. His saying he wouldn’t take back any of his initial remarks meant he was a stand-up guy – but if only Curry had the intestinal fortitude, people wouldn’t be questioning the limitless knowledge he obtained by watching and reading about sports throughout his childhood and however much of the adult life he’s experienced. His biggest hope is the program director can get Steph to come on the show and apologize to his listeners for his (Curry’s) poor performance in the Finals (although it would be even better if Steph would ask directly for his forgiveness).

People are bringing up that this is the second straight year Curry has been regular season MVP and in neither, was he Finals MVP. This year, had he gone off in Game 7 and the Warriors won the championship, LeBron James would still have won the award – and not one negative word would have been said. James was simply that dominating (disregarding, naturally, Games 1 & 2).

Last year, Andre Iguodala was named MVP for not only his formidable stats of 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists, but mostly for the job he did on LeBron. For the record, James’ stats in 2015 were 35.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Curry put up 26.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists. During the regular season Curry’s stats were 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists so it wasn’t like there was such a dramatic drop-off. Had Curry received the MVP, there wouldn’t have been too much of an uproar.

As I was perusing the Internet last night, I came across an article in which Dan Le Batard was complaining about John Calipari being on ESPN nearly as much as SportsCenter. “It’s simply not right to give him the entire platform to be out recruiting by himself,” said Le Batard. He included his program which Cal was scheduled to make an appearance on later in the day, saying he should cancel it. This criticism coming from a guy who has his father as a regular on his show rings hollow. While there is certainly a segment of the viewing public who thinks his dad adds to the show, I’m not a member of that segment.

Calipari is so far ahead of every other coach when it comes to recruiting. He was the first to master the art of twitter (I assume it’s an art; I decided not tweet – for two reasons: I’m a technological dunce and, more importantly, can you imagine limiting me to 140 characters)? Unfortunately, the greater majority of coaches would rather complain about one of them gaining an edge than to create a (legal) advantage as Cal has. Isn’t it a major plus for Duke’s recruiting that Mike Krzyzewski (and, to a lesser extent, Jim Boeheim, when he assisted Coach K in 2008 & 2012) to coach the Olympic team and have access to all that publicity? Mike was selected because the decision-maker(s) felt he was the best coach to accomplish the United States’ goal of winning the gold medal. Along similar lines, ESPN is going to pick whichever coach they feel is best for ratings.

As far as Curry and Calipari hearing criticism, I recently received an article via email in which the following quote hit me as the ultimate thought process for someone who has been criticized. It was spoken by Mohandes Gandhi:

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”




Was this Baylor Recruit’s Dad Really Surprised?

Friday, June 24th, 2016

There have been intercollegiate scandals nearly as long as there have been colleges. The only thing worse than the laundry list of recent transgressions by institutions, administrators, coaches and players is the fact that, more likely than not, there were so many more in the past that were never reported. With the power of modern technology, however, illegal and immoral acts are not only more difficult to get away with, they no longer can easily be covered up. That type of progress is applauded far and wide.

When it comes to misdeeds (to use the term much too loosely), one of the worst institutions from a historical perspective is the athletics department at Baylor University. Should there be any Baylor apologists, the Bears’ athletics department needs to be reminded of this: “If one person calls you a horse, it might be an insult. If three people call you a horse, it might be a conspiracy. If ten people call you a horse, get a saddle.”

Few people have forgotten the 2003 tragedy that happened at Baylor when one basketball player shot and killed a teammate. An assistant coach recorded a staff meeting (itself an inexcusable act of disloyalty – even if it did expose the head coach as a liar and someone who had lost his moral compass, if not his mind) in which the head coach had decided the best way to handle the situation was to paint the deceased player as a drug dealer, hoping the public would dismiss the death as one less drug dealer on earth. Naturally, this strategy blew up in the faces of all concerned and the NCAA investigated that and several additional allegations, from players’ drug use to coaches making illegal payments to players. The school self-imposed punishments but the NCAA came down harder, including the elimination of one year of any non-conference contests. It was one of the harshest actions taken against a member institution, short of the death penalty.

Memories must run short in Waco. The most recent transgressions include allegations of sexual assault, domestic violence and other acts of brutality involving several Baylor football players, as far back as 2011 and as recent as this past season. It’s been reported that some coaches and administrators knew about the actions, yet the players involved were not disciplined. Worse, it’s alleged that school officials failed to adequately investigate, or did not investigate at all, the allegations of sexual violence.

In no way can any of what occurred at Baylor be discounted but in a story that could be entitled Ultimate Naivete, the father of a Baylor Bears football signee said he felt betrayed by the school. He said no one from Baylor ever informed its recruits that they were investigating sexual assault allegations. Because of the oversight, he demanded a release for his son from his national letter-of-intent.

Wait, this parent was disappointed the school never notified the prospects they were trying to recruit that there was an investigation going on regarding the mishandling and outright covering up of sexual assaults? What if they had told him and his son, he was asked.

If we would have known, we would never had considered Baylor,” was his response.

How could a school, undergoing a plethora of sexual assault and domestic violence cases, not tell a recruit and his family?

“Sir, I think you just answered your own question.”

A Few Lessons that Can Be Learned from Ben Simmons’ Latest Commercial

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The hottest NBA topic that has nothing to do with Xs & Os, coaching or drafting is the Foot Locker commercial that features Ben Simmons – who has yet to play a minute of professional basketball. This is the NBA – that’s what agents are for.

The part of the commercial that should mean most to Simmons is not how much his agent negotiated for him but the advice Karl-Anthony Towns offers at the beginning. The rest of it is what everybody’s talking about and why Foot Locker’s advertisers created it. “Getting drafted doesn’t mean a thing,” Towns replies when Simmons asks him what’s next after the draft. “Now the real work starts. This isn’t college. This is a grown man’s league.” Towns would be a wonderful mentor for the newest #1 pick when it comes to basketball advice. Not sure exactly how much KAT knows about college (other than the hoops part) as he was a one-and-done product out of Kentucky but it certainly couldn’t be any less than what Simmons experienced in the one year basketball season he spent at LSU. Still, the message is spot on and, if Simmons’ attitude actually is what he claims it to be, Towns’ advice should solidify that philosophy.

The main point of the commercial – and what has been getting rave reviews throughout the nation – comes from D’Angelo Russell, the first pick of the Los Angeles Lakers last year. He asks Simmons if he has a phone and when Simmons hands it over, the Lakers guard throws it out the window, saying only, “Trust me.” This, of curse, refers to the incident in which, during their miserable season, Russell used his cell phone to record his teammate, Nick Young, aka Swaggy P, discussing how he cheated on his fiance, Iggy Azalea, the Australian rapper, songwriter, and model. Coincidentally, Simmons hails from Australia, although there’s no indication that makes the advice any more meaningful.

The recording went viral (“Really, in this day and age, how did that ever happen?”) before Russell deleted it, but in the category of “You can’t unring a bell,” the damage had already been done. Young tweeted, “Real funny,” supposedly in response to the TV spot. Many people saw Young as the victim, someone who had been betrayed by a teammate. To that extent, there is no doubt that Russell violated a confidence and can no longer be viewed as someone who deserves to be trusted.

Without delving too deeply in moral judgment, however, shouldn’t the reaction be that Young was the guiltiest party in this melodrama. It wasn’t the first hint of infidelity by the Lakers’ flamboyant guard. Such actions, however common they are in the NBA (or society in general), eventually doom a relationship. In those situations, isn’t just a matter of time? In any case, Iggy reacted as most women would and immediately “got rid of her Swag.”

When my late mentor, John Savage, would speak to insurance salesmen around the country, he used to issue this proposal to the married men in attendance. The message never failed to resonate with the audience:

“You married guys out there who are cheating on your wives? You’re all frauds! And if you don’t agree with me, I’d be happy to debate the subject with you – on local television, in YOUR neighborhood.”

Don’t Expect the Cavs to Repeat

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

One takeaway from the just completed NBA Finals is that the Cleveland Cavaliers made more people happy by winning the championship than the Golden State Warriors would have. One obvious reason is that Dubs’ fans have been riding an (almost) two year high. They need a break from celebrating. The star crossed city of Cleveland, with its 52 years of misery and series of bitter endings, as well as the entire state of Ohio, couldn’t have asked for a better ending. Include all the softhearted people out there who said they were rooting for the Cavs “because they haven’t won anything in so long.” Think about it. Doesn’t that group comprise a large majority of the nation? After all, when was the last time you won anything of significance (not counting the medium fries you scored in the last Monopoly game at McDonald’s)?

Something that’s been floated is that Cavs faithful should completely soak in the glory of this championship. Rather than giddily hoping for a repeat, the people should bask in the glow of this year – and not because of “staying in the moment.” The champagne wasn’t even dry when the rumors began flying around about the potential break up of the championship team. Richard Jefferson immediately announcing his retirement removed a vital cog in this season’s championship run. It’s unclear whether Kevin Love will be returning (not too frightening a proposition for many Cleveland people). In fact, if the Timberwolves want to swap Andrew Wiggins for their once consistent 26 & 13 machine, odds are favorable Dan Gilbert could be persuaded. How about the proposition of LeBron James, having fulfilled his promise of bringing home a championship for The ‘Land, bolting to another franchise (Los Angeles)? Who in the world would believe a kid born and raised in Akron would prefer living in La La Land? You don’t have to answer that.

Post game hugs and tears aside, there were too many stories of James and Irving not wanting anything to do with each other – on or off the court – but more of the “on.” A sportswriter who covered high school hoops in Oregon claimed Kevin Love’s high school teammates didn’t particularly cotton to his overall demeanor. As far as how Love got along with the best player in the NBA (tough to dispute after the recently concluded NBA Finals), Love admitted during the season he and LeBron were not “best friends.” NBA assistant coaches (many of whom revel in gossip – hey, they have a lot of free time on their hands) will readily disclose that K-Love has another member of the franchise who’s not a big fan of his. A hint is he may have the shortest name in the NBA (and he’s the coach). Come to think of it, though, how many coworkers really are?

One thing to keep in mind is that, teammates on championship teams aren’t always the closest of buds, e.g. Kobe & Shaq, Rondo & Ray Allen (or Rondo & Doc for that matter). Anyway, if you ever want the real scoop, figure a way to corner Brian Windhorst. Although, if he were to play basketball, his position looks less like point or shooting guard than pulling guard, the guy has his finger on the the pulse of the Cavs organization. It would be interesting, if not eye-popping, if he were hooked up to a polygraph.

All in all, there are a variety of personalities on Cleveland’s squad and, in a profession that has nearly as many outsized egos as outsized players, none of this is shocking. However, should the Cavs – or any other organization inside the world of professional sports or any other business for that matter – want to continue their era greatness (or begin one), the employees would be wise to heed the advice of a man who understood what it took to galvanize a group, lead them into battle and come out victorious. It was the late Vince Lombardi who said:

“Try to be great athletes, but don’t forget to be great friends. Teammates, above all, and leaders.”