Archive for the ‘dealing with adversity’ Category

Do Sports’ Critics Ever Look Inward?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

If you happen to be a frequenter of this blog, you undoubtedly have read of my dislike of those talking heads and columnists who feel compelled to criticize players or coaches who fail to live up to their self-proclaimed standards. If Jim Rome has a legacy, it’s that he created such an industry. He knew, well before others, that a large section of the American public can be made to feel better about themselves when others, whose lives seem infinitely more successful, are ridiculed for something they’ve done or haven’t done. Although the latter group’s accomplishments in their chosen fields far surpass what most of society can lay claim to, still it is comforting to point out the “superior” groups’ shortcomings.

While we’re not dinner companions, I count Bill Self as a friend of mine. We became acquainted when he was the coach at Tulsa and I was on the staff at Fresno State. One year, his Tulsa team lost four regular season games and three of them were to us – by one at Tulsa, by two at Fresno and by three in the WAC tournament (the one year it was held in Fresno). I coached for 35 years so I feel I can comment intelligently on what makes a good, even a great, coach and what doesn’t. This year, Bill Self led Kansas to a Big 12 regular season championship – for the 13th consecutive season! As far as defining coaching greatness, that definitely qualifies.

Yet I came across a piece, written a year ago following the Jayhawks’ first weekend loss to Wichita State, in which Bill was blasted for his underachieving NCAA tournament record. Certainly, losing during the first weekend of March Madness – which his KU clubs have done three times – is no one’s idea of a successful conclusion to a season. But to dismiss his 2008 national championship (KU’s first in 20 years and, by the way, the only Final Four to feature all four #1 seeds) as the only national championship he’s won, is downplaying an overwhelmingly successful career.

The author of the article compared seven coaches’ post season records: Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Bill. Self’s record was the weakest of the seven, having reached the Sweet Sixteen 10 times, the Elite Eight seven times and the Final Four twice. My answer to that is that somebody had to be seventh out of that list – and it’s not like the group is a bunch of shlubs. In fact, if Kansas were to win it all this year, he’d still rank seventh of that septet. Was the point that Bill Self is just an outstanding regular season coach but, when it comes to the postseason, he forgets how to coach – or, worse, he chokes? If so, what is the explanation for the 2008 season? Or his appearance in the title game in 2012? Luck?

Earlier in the week, I caught the end of a rant by Bomani Jones regarding Self’s poor NCAA tournament coaching record. Jones has strong opinions and expresses them eloquently. He’s obviously incredibly bright guy. But to hear him refer to the NCAA tournament as the “Bill Self-gag tourney” (or a some such term – the exact terminology escapes me now), makes listeners think there’s a hidden agenda of some kind here. As for the list of awards Jones has to his credit, in January 2014, he won three consecutive Around the Horn episodes and, as of October 30, 2014 (sorry, my search to find the updated Around the Horn stats proved more difficult than finding NCAA champions), has 104 wins in 373 appearances on the show. When it comes to winning actual awards, his greatest claim to fame is his sister is an award-winning novelist.

Wonder how he’d feel if someone went on the air with a, “Yeah but …” rant regarding her writing career? As in, “sure she won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction and the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices but where is her name when Pulitzers are handed out?”

Although I fully understand that a large segment of sports fans enjoy listening to shortcomings of those more successful than we are, I still have to think:

“Isn’t it a sad commentary on America?”

A Blast from the Past

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

After watching the selection shows, I had the identical feeling I’ve had in past years – especially after Jay Bilas, deftly displaying his background as a lawyer, criticized the seedings of several teams. Not that he was wrong (certainly Wichita State should have received a better seed – and that mis-seeding a team causes problems for the rest of the schools in that bracket). It’s just that anybody can pick and choose the committee’s “errors.” Read on and dream of what would happen if my proposal of overhauling the committee was adopted. This was posted a year – and a day – ago.

Selection Sunday is the most exciting day of the college basketball season – certainly for those teams that have won their conference’s automatic bid – but also for those “power” schools that know they’re in but want to see where/whom they’re playing, the bubble teams and, of course, the fans. For the selection committee, their charge is both impossible and thankless. First, they spend an interminable amount of time trying to consider every team, factoring in such things as strength of schedule, wins against the top 50, road record, injuries to key players.

My pet peeve: Something that’s always baffled me is the mention of power conference teams and how many “top 50 wins” they have (even though most of them are at home ) while teams from lower leagues are penalized, e.g. Monmouth, for having losses to teams with RPIs of 200 & up (games which are usually played on the road). Basically, the committee’s message is if a “low- or mid-major” has some great upsets (always either on the road or, at best, a neutral site), they still must never lose a conference game (like Syracuse did at RPI 200+ St. John’s)? Power conference teams have the opportunity to win top 50 games during their league schedule; teams from lesser conferences have the opportunity to get “bad losses.” The better a team is, the more “up” its opponent is, its fans are – and when the game’s played in a band box, which many of those smaller schools call home – upsets occur – because it’s their Game of the Year. 

Back to the “overhaul” everybody, especially committee members, would love to see. What about – just one year – the committee was made up solely of the media, i.e. the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee would be a group including, but not limited to, Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb, Seth Davis, Joe Lunardi – and selected sportswriters and talk show hosts? Not only have them choose the tournament field but seed it as well – including the play-in games. Also, they must take into account conference and geography concerns (or go with Bilas’ idea of just seeding the tournament from 1-68).

Then, put them front and center on television (allow them to choose a chairperson if they wish) to answer questions from the committee people – and their peers who were left off the committee. Put their feet to the fire and analyze why some teams got in, while others were left out – and why the seeds were chosen they way they were. Have them explain to the viewing public that there was no “looking ahead” to future match ups of a coach and his former school or two teams that would make for a controversial contest.

What would be a reason for such a change? Simple:

“Empathy”

The United States Has Become a Culture of Hate

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Independent of how you feel about the past presidential election, there can be no debate that our country is now more divided than ever. Half (give or take) of the nation’s people are now gloating – yet they continue to hate former President Obama and most, if not all, of the programs he passed or was in favor of. The other half are shocked and embarrassed, upset beyond belief – and are protesting and complaining about President Trump and … everything he says, does or does not do. The latter group, who consider themselves logical, reasonable human beings has been driven to hate as well.

The stories have been told and the lines have been drawn. Nearly everybody has decided which side they’re on – although some more passionate than others. As the saying goes, “it is what it is.” Anyone who knows me will tell you I have always highly opinionated. Maturity – and some will say, sensibility – has come to me later in life than to most. Since I retired in 2012 I’ve become Switzerland. I try to take an evenhanded approach to all issues.

Rather than try to attempt to bring parties together, pick a side or incite one group against another, I’ve chosen to sit back and observe. The main reason is I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong. Plus, I realize how limited an effect I’d have. To me, there’s good and bad in everybody and every organization. I read something a few days ago, written by Steve Keating (someone I do not know), which describes what’s happening in this country:

“Sorry folks but no one but you can make you hate. No one but you can get you to stop hating. Until everyone, EVERYONE, accepts responsibility for their own emotions the hate will not only continue, it will grow. Hating a hater is still hate.”


The Wisdom of Warren Buffett

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

One thing about being retired is you have plenty of time to do … whatever you want. My friend, mentor and former boss, George Raveling (whom I’ve known nearly 45 years), is the greatest dispenser of knowledge of anyone I’ve ever met. Never does a day go by in which I don’t receive an email from him. Maybe one percent – and probably less – are of a personal nature. Rather, they deal with life – leadership, general people skills, business topics (many of those he sends because he knows my two sons are interested in that area – Andy because he recently received a promotion to senior account executive at Salesforce, Alex because he is about to enter the workforce after  graduating from college and finishing his basketball playing career (including a year hooping for fun and money in Australia).

A good deal of Rave’s emails are for them but, having been a student of people and life, many of the correspondence is quite interesting to me. One, in particular, was about different successful people and their tips on how to be successful. Granted, I wish I’d have seen these 50 years ago, when I was just graduating from high school, but nonetheless the information – and the attached links – were absolutely fascinating.

While I have not yet watched all of the links, the person whose thoughts are so illuminating is Warren Buffett. I say this because, having been a math major, logic is at the center of most of what drives me and I am amazed at the common sense approach Buffett, who is regarded as the single most successful investor of the 20th (and probably 21st) century, takes on almost every topic. What follows are just a few of his quotes. See if you don’t agree with me.

On whether or not to further your education (which doesn’t necessarily mean going to college): “Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. If you’ve got talent and you maximize that talent, you’ve got a terrific asset.”

On choosing a job: “Take the job you would take if you were independently wealthy. You’ll do well at it.”

On assuming risk: “Don’t drive a truck weighing 9900 pounds over a bridge that says, ‘Limit 10,000 pounds’ because you can’t be sure about it. Go down a little farther and find a bridge that says, ‘Limit 20,000 pounds.’ ”

On overwhelming odds: “How do you beat Bobby Fisher? Don’t play him in chess.”

On continuing to succeed in business: “The  biggest thing that kills a business is complacency … you always want to be on the move.”

On having limited knowledge: “It’s a terrible mistake to think you have to have an opinion on everything. You only have to have an opinion on a few things.”

On how to know if you’re in the right business: “If you have a good person running a business and it isn’t making any money, you’re in the wrong business.”

On what to look for in an employee: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

On cash vs. assets: “Cash is a bad investment. Its value is sure to decrease. But it’s a good thing to have – like oxygen. You want to make sure you have enough but you don’t need an excessive amount.”

On parenting advice: “There is no power like unconditional love.”

On his childhood idol, Ben Graham: “He looked at the people he admired said, ‘I want to be admired so why don’t I start behaving like them?’ And he found that there was nothing impossible about behaving like them.”

On his incredible success: He quoted Thomas Wolfe who said, “I’m no genius but I’m smart in spots – and I stay around those spots.”

Listening to the simplicity of Warren Buffett, I came to the conclusion:

“Common sense is not so common.”

Foster Didn’t Help Himself at the Combine But the Damage Will Be Minimal

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

By now, every football fan knows Alabama’s Reuben Foster blew a gasket, waiting not so patiently in line for a physical at the NFL Combine. NFL teams knew about it minutes after it happened. Maybe even before it was over. That’s how “intel” works in today’s professional sports world.

Independent of the situation and how tired, upset or demeaned a player feels, he just has to behave since his every little move is being scrutinized. Apparently, Foster was so beside himself with the delay that he played the “don’t you know who I am?” card. The incident escalated to a physical confrontation with a hospital worker and Foster was sent home – certainly not his strategy when he packed his bags to attend the event.

Reactions were mixed – mostly because of Foster’s considerable talent. Feelings ranged from this is a red flag and needs to be looked into in greater depth to, no worries, everyone at Alabama say it’s totally out of character and is an anomaly. It was universally agreed that Foster’s action was that of an immature young kid, the majority chose to emphasize the young part of it. While many felt there was cause for concern, on the flip side, especially on-the-record spokesmen for franchises that might be in a position to draft him, there were apologists, some going as far to say he might have even been provoked. Naturally, the obligatory apology written by Foster (or, more likely, one of his representatives) followed.

Thus is the state of professional sports. If you are considered an impact player – which Foster certainly is – negative character traits will be overlooked, especially something as, and this might be a poor choice of words, but innocent as what he did. Skill and a player’s “numbers” matter more than anything to football coaches and executives because they win and lose games more so than any other aspect. However, in today’s NFL, the character of a player is being analyzed more closely than ever due to recent domestic violence cases as well as dependency on illegal and performance enhancing drugs. Maybe due to the public demanding these guys understand right from wrong but mostly because teams are paying more and more for players – and no team can afford to shell out millions in guaranteed money to a first round pick – also which Foster is assured of being – if he has a fatal flaw in his character. Wasting a first round pick can cripple a franchise.

In the case of Reuben Foster’s melt down, the voice of reason belonged to the one and only Stephen A. Smith who, in his own inimitable style, reminded the youngster – and everybody in ear shot (which encompasses quite an area) – that the NFL has eyes and ears everywhere. Stephen A’s reaction was simply:

“Why would you allow yourself to be in any kind of predicament whatsoever?!?”

One Thing to Consider When Discussing NBA Trades

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

It just so happened that I had a couple of long distance trips the day before the NBA trade deadline and the day of it. Because of the timing, I decided to listen to sports talk radio. Hours and hours of it. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the reactions of both talking heads and fans whenever trades go down. Or are simply rumored to go down.

When a big trade doesn’t happen, it’s almost as if those guys are offended – as if the owners/decision makers of the franchises involved were mandated to shake up their rosters. One caller was indignant. “Danny Ainge better get up off his ass and do something with those draft picks he has!” Does this person really think Danny Ainge is sitting on his ass at this time of the year? If he is, the rest of him is engaged in a phone conversation trying to make the Celtics better. The caller wasn’t privy to any of the intel Ainge had nor what he was doing. Does anyone in the universe believe this jackass on the phone has more of a vested interest in the Celtics welfare than Ainge does? No one does - except, of course, Bill Simmons.

Having minimal knowledge on the inner workings of trades, especially when salary caps are involved, I don’t comment on trade rumors when they hit the airways, or make their way onto different versions of social media. There is so much that must be considered before pulling the trigger, it’s best to observe. Then, if fans want to speak from their hearts, hey, head to the nearest mountaintop. Just remember your comments are made with limited knowledge. Even the “anonymous sources” tend to be mistaken. Probably why they want to be anonymous.

Naturally, it’s intriguing to hear the various possibilities. After speaking with my friends who are actually in the business, I realize so many rumors are unfounded (I hope I didn’t shock anybody with that disclosure) or, even, impossible. I find it more prudent to wait until they’re actually reported before getting worked up.

To hear statements made following a trade, you’d think the people talking about them, independent of which side of the microphone they’re on, i.e. caller or host, are the ones who should have been in the negotiations. Recently, the biggest trade was made between the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans.

As difficult as it is to acknowledge, one thing is vital to any conversation regarding NBA trades. The people who made the trade, or decided not to make it, know a helluva lot more than any of the people offering their expertise. I listened to talk show hosts say the Pelicans got the best center in the game for a bag of donuts, got “garbage” for Cousins and that the Kings were victims of a heist. The Kings are not immune to criticism, however, as it’s been one of the poorest run franchises in recent years.

After excoriating the Kings for trading such an “asset,” the self-proclaimed experts do admit that Sir Boogie is, be kind, somewhat of a handful – to coach/play with/deal with – during games/practices/in the locker room/off the court. It’s easy to look at all the positives Cousins brings to the table – and there is a laundry list of skills he possesses that few, if any, other players his size are capable of – but, remember that he just as easily will knock over and destroy that table. Especially if you don’t have to deal with him on a daily basis.

In one report in which the Kings were mocked for making the deal, another item was mentioned, almost as an afterthought. “There is some risk, aside from his volatile personality, that the Pelicans won’t be able to re-sign Cousins after next year.” Oh yeah, how will it look if Boogie boogies out of The Big Easy when it’s time to re-sign him. Will these same critics be as cynical about what Sacramento did.

As with most situations in life, there are pluses and minuses. In most instances, the pluses and minuses range between 3-7. In the case of DeMarcus Cousins, they’re more like 0s and 10s. As previously mentioned, his skills are a 10: not only his ability to score on the block (which might be better than anyone in the game today) but a terrific passer out of the post; add to that the fact that he can take his defender beyond the three-point line and be effective separates him from other big men.

The negatives are in the 10 category too (unless a higher number is allowed): the inability to display any type of self-discipline, (allegedly) the eggshells everyone in the organization has to walk on, the technical fouls, which lead to disqualifications, meaning game multiple game plans must be prepared, a (richly deserved) reputation of being uncoachable and, finally that, had he stayed, a down-the-road decision to pay him $209 million for five years. If he acts the way he does now, does anyone think his behavior will improve after signing that kind of deal?

When I’m asked about any trade, I give the same, boring, yet wise, answer:

“Check back in a couple years.”

Sometimes Wrong Is Just Wrong

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

As a parent, we always have to be on the lookout for “teaching moments.” The sports world usually offers many such opportunities. The most recent example is the case of Charles Oakley – what he did, how he was treated and how he reacted.

If you don’t know the back story of Oakley, you’ve probably tripped up and landed on this blog by mistake but, to sum it up, Oakley was a very good NBA player for, among others, the New York Knicks. Not a superstar, a la Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson or Bernard King, but a guy who brought it every game and earned his money, something that fans appreciate.

James Dolan, Knicks owner, has seemed to have done all in his power to destroy this proud franchise, making one awful move after another. Although I’m not sure which is which, the relationship between Oakley and Dolan is like that of oil and water. The facts are a little muddled but at a recent Knicks’ contest, Oakley may or may not have been drinking, may or may not have been spewing nasty comments to his former boss but, what is known is that he was asked to leave the Garden. He did not, however, leave peacefully, rather he confronted security and got into shoving matches with those attempting to do their jobs.

Fans have been overwhelming pro-Oakley in this situation, some because they love their Oak, some because they despise Dolan, many because of both. Whichever side you belong to, one thing is necessary for this discussion. Regardless of Dolan’s ineptness or fan reaction, Oakley’s actions that night were wrong.

About a week earlier, DeMarcus Cousins got a technical foul with 1.1 seconds to go. It was his 16th of the season, meaning he was suspended for the next one (and pay a fine of $4K but that means little for a guy making so much that the suspension will cost him $154,000, or 1/82nd of his salary). The game was lost. He couldn’t control his emotions one more second? So the people who shelled out dough for the next game are deprived of catching him in action because of a hissy fit.

Fans of Cousins, e.g. those who like unstoppable low post players who can play beyond the three-point line and also protect the rim at the other end, claim referees are against the big fella. After watching Cousins pick up his 17th T, they might have a point as replays showed it was nothing more than a flop. When asked about it postgame, Cousins’ reaction was, “It’s obvious I can’t be myself. Me playing how I play is what makes me the player that I am. Obviously it’s not acceptable, so I’m trying to find a way to, you know, do what these guys are asking me to do. It’s not easy, but I’m trying to find a way.”

True to a point but the “Me playing how I play is what makes me the player that I am” comment shows the lack of maturity his critics have leveled at him since his career began. The axis of “right” goes through the top of Boogie’s head and out the other end. His world revolves around him, not unlike many folks. Whatever his beliefs, though, they don’t give him the right to be a boor.

In another basketball related incident, broadcaster Dan Dakich, known for – and proud of – his controversial commentary, stepped over the line while working the Michigan State-Ohio State game, calling the Spartans’ fans whiners and making the comment that one kid attends MSU because he couldn’t get into Michigan.

Funny line. I used to hear similar comments. When I worked at USC there would be signs at our home games against UCLA which said, “My maid went to UCLA.” Ha. Freedom of speech, right? So what’s the difference between that sign and what Dakich said? First and foremost, the signs are made by fans while he’s a professional, paid broadcaster who is on the air.

Next, Dakich’s son is a member of the Michigan basketball team (as a redshirt), making his tweet that much more inappropriate. Making the twitter war look worse for Dakich was the fact he deleted the tweet but, naturally, not until after somebody took a screen shot of it – so it lives forever. Dakich, enjoying his new career as enfant terrible, has been milking the situation, refusing any type of apology. He’s using what he created to his advantage, becoming somewhat of a role model for those who look up to him, similar to the way Jim Rome spawned a band of “shock jocks” in the sports world. It’s a way to be someone, for the first time as Rome and his minions are, or reinvent himself as Dakich, whose playing and coaching careers are over, is doing.

Not so great for parents who might have had higher hopes for their children. “Fame” is something people (not all let’s be clear) want desperately to acquire. Yet rude or barbaric behavior shouldn’t be acceptable, whether the person believes it’s necessary or that the end justifies the means.

What much of this reminds me of is the line that’s become part of our culture – and upsets me to no end:

“He was speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment.”

Weighing in on the Charles Oakley Incident

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

By now every NBA fan, and many others who probably don’t give a flip about the Association, have seen the video(s) of Charles Oakley being escorted by a plethora of Madison Square Garden security members. No one really knows exactly what was, or wasn’t, said by Oak – or to whom he directed those comments.

It was a sad situation, seeing one of the warriors (small w) of some of the best teams that represented the proud franchise which is down – and trending lower. Possibly Probably Most definitely, because I’m a Jersey guy who vividly remembers the championship clubs, as well as those that battled fiercely but came up oh-so-close, I side with the New York fans who are fed up with the seemingly rudderless ship that is now the Knicks.

However, I can’t for the life of me understand how fans and former players can feel Oakley is in the right in this incident. He claims he didn’t say anything of a derogatory nature and couldn’t understand why security guards confronted him, although he has admitted to handling the situation poorly. Was it some kind of conspiracy that brought the cops to him?

Look, this whole ordeal is getting entirely too much play, mainly because it happened in the Garden. Add in the hopeless case that is the New York franchise, both current and future, and irrational behavior becomes the norm. To sum up the whole matter, look no farther than former Jeff Van Gundy for guidance.

Van Gundy wasn’t referring to this current mess when he issued the following statement but Oakley should still take it to heart:

“When you know better and don’t do better, you’re no better.”

UK Fans Have Been Known to Be a Little Much, But This Guy Tops Them All

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Kentucky Wildcat fans are upset. After all, following an embarrassing blowout in Gainesville, their beloved hoops team had lost three of their previous four games (they bounced back with a convincing win over LSU). Let’s review UK’s inexcusable three losses during that time.

The last one was at Florida, against a team that had one of those days where they couldn’t miss. Of course, the arena was packed, loud and somewhat intimidating, i.e. a normal road game for UK. The second L was delivered by Kansas, at the time the #2 ranked team in the country. Second? So what? Wildcat fans don’t care who’s second because they’re supposed to be #1. Always. The game that was unpardonable was the first one of that “streak” – at Tennessee. Granted, the ‘Cats were heavy favorites. Could they have been looking ahead to the KU tilt? Well, let me tell you a little about the UK-UT rivalry.

I was an assistant at Tennessee for seven years (1980-87). During that time we beat them six out of seven times (in Knoxville). The game we lost was by two. After a time out, with seconds to go, we inbounded the ball and had a man-to-man play all set for our leading scorer (who happened to be the leading scorer in the SEC). Our point guard crossed half court, saw UK in a zone defense and we turned it over. For the record it was the only possession of man-to-man defense Eddie Sutton, Kentucky’s head coach, played all year!

Oh yeah, we were 0-7 against them in Lexington. One year we beat them by 17 – which was their biggest loss of the season. A month later they shellacked us by 25 – the biggest loss of ours. And there have been other cases of undermanned Vol teams beating the ‘Cats (in Knoxville) throughout the years.

Excuse me for the walk down memory lane – although I know Kentucky fans won’t. They are the most passionate and loyal, but far and away, the most entitled, group of supporters in the country. For exhibit A, I give you UK fan Patrick Stidham who, the day after the Florida beat down, posted this comment:

I love my Wildcats (fan since 1978), BUT, we might just have another “Tubby Smith” on our hands (“one and done”). Calipari is a “good” Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it. He seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships. Sorry to tell him this, but, that is NOT what we want at Kentucky!!!

Let’s examine this fool’s post. Next to UCLA, the college with the most titles is Kentucky with eight. The coach for the first four of those was Adolph Rupp. During his first two championship runs (1948, 1949), the entire NCAA field was composed of eight teams, meaning the champion had to win only three games. In order to capture their next two trophies (1951, 1958), the ‘Cats had to win four games, the tourney expanding to 16, then to 24 entrants (they received a first round bye in ’58).

Notice from his post, super (critical) fan, Patrick, has been a fan since 1978 – the year UK won its fifth national championship which (a 48-team field, UK getting a bye once again). Their coach was Joe B. Hall who worked for the Wildcats for 13 years. 1978 was his, in Patrick’s words, “one and done” season.

Another Kentucky “one and done” national championship coach was Rick Pitino (although he’s also won one leading UK’s rival, Louisville to the title). Pitino spent eight years as the ‘Cats leader and managed to get the to the Final Four on three occasions – but only won it in 1996, Kentucky’s sixth title.

During UK’s seventh national championship the head man was none other than Patrick’s object of scorn Tubby Smith – a man considered by everybody who truly knows him (I’m proud to be in that group) as one of the classiest coaches ever to walk a sideline. In his 10 seasons in Lexington he was named National Coach of the Year.

Which brings us to our ” ‘good’ Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it” current head Wildcat coach, John Calipari. While Cal did manage to win a national championship for Patrick and the UK faithful, it was for heaven’s sake. Meanwhile, “he seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships.” For the record Calipari, in his seven years prior to the current one, has led his team to the Final Four on four occasions.

This blog is plenty long enough but, if you’d like further proof of Patrick Stidham’s lunacy, compare Calipari’s overall record, e.g. total wins, winning percentage, league championships, etc. against any coach Kentucky has ever had.

It seems like the only two solutions to this issue is to:

“Either allow Patrick Stidham to select UK’s next coach or have ol’ Patrick coach the squad himself.”

If It Weren’t for His Enablers, DeMarcus Cousins Would Be His Own Worst Enemy

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

The center position in the NBA has morphed into an entirely different animal. Gone are the days when two dinosaurs would slug it out on the block. Today’s best big guys still play with their backs to the basket (some) but need to be able to step out, stretch a defense, set screens (pick & roll is the new style of basketball – pretty much at every level of the game) and either roll or, and this is a skill fans never got to see Wilt, Russell, Kareem or Walton do, pop out for a jump shot. Sometimes a three-pointer. That strategy is so prevalent some teams are eschewing the traditional center and playing with a combination of two guards and three forwards or three guards and two forwards. And since those offensive skills are necessary, it’s also mandatory for “centers” to be able to defend that type of player.

The guy who best fills out the above description is the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins. He has the strength of the best pivot men of the 20th century, the low post game of Hall of Famers, yet can play away from the basket, shoot from beyond the three-point line, put the ball on the floor – and has the ability to guard inside and out as well.

That’s the reason there are constantly rumors of a trade. An all-star center whose team is struggling is going to peak interest in other clubs who dream about what a player like that could do for their franchise. Yet there hasn’t been a trade. General Manager Vlade Divac, who was one of the hybrid centers back in his playing days for has been quoted on numerous occasions, most recently yesterday, saying, “We’re not trading DeMarcus. We hope he’s here for a long time. We are going in that direction.”

Without dancing around the subject, the real reason no trade has gone down is because the seven-year NBA veteran Cousins is basically a 26-year-old superstar with the talent to lead a ball club to a championship, maybe multiple championships, but one who possesses the maturity of an eight-year-old. In 51 games, Cousins is averaging 27.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. If the Kings could receive anything resembling fair market value for their big guy/problem child, they’d be throwing a “re-branding” party before the ink on the deal was dry.

At the 2015 Hall of Fame induction show John Calipari was the final person recognized. He had every one of his former players in attendance and asked all of them to join him onstage. With scores of players behind him, he asked them, as he looked out over the audience, “Raise your hand if you think I held your game back?”

I happened to be at the show (my former Washington State and USC boss, George Raveling was also in the HOF class) but can’t remember how many former Calipari players had their hands up. It was because Cousins was making a spectacle of himself, smiling and frantically waving his. At that moment, Cal dropped the punchline. “I don’t know how many hands are up but I can guarantee you DeMarcus Cousins is raising both of his.” It made for a good laugh for everyone but spoke volumes about what is must have been like to coach an 18-year-old DeMarcus. Had the one-and-done rule not been in effect, Cal would have started petition for one.

Last night against the Bulls, the Kings were down by as many as 27 but came back and made the game a nail-biter. Down two, with about 12 seconds left, Sacramento ran a side out of bounds play in which the ball was to be inbounded to Cousins. Replays showed that Dwyane Wade did, in fact, grab Cousins’ jersey as he stepped in front of him, stole the pass, dribbled down and dunked to secure the victory. With seven seconds left, the Kings’ big man shot a three-pointer, attempting to draw a foul. The shot went awry, no foul was called, the Bulls controlled the ball and the Kings fouled. 1.1 seconds remained.

Cousins was so upset about the no call on the side out play that he turned and displayed so much disdain toward the referee, no one in the building, including DeMarcus himself, was shocked another tech, his second of the game, meaning automatic ejection. What does that matter, you say – there was only 1.1 seconds left and the game was essentially over anyway.

Because it was also his 16th technical foul of the season. Forget the fine – he makes 17 mil a year. According to NBA rules, that magic number means his irresponsible behavior he’ll be suspended for Wednesday night’s game against Boston. At least season ticket holders will get to see Isaiah Thomas play.

While the Kings’ announcers were critical of Cousins’ behavior, “It’s the inability of him to control his temper” and, after viewing the replay, “you can’t do this” in reference his reaction toward the official with one tick left. In between those admonishments, most likely because they know who signs their paychecks, was the phrase, “He thought there should have been a foul, that Dwyane Wade held his jersey and I agree, DeMarcus is 100% correct, but …” DeMarcus needs more of what follows the “but” and less of how “right” he is.

When Cousins was asked about his techs? “It’s kind of unfortunate that it happened. I really don’t know what to say about it. If I say something I’ll get punished, and if I don’t say something I’ll get punished. I really don’t know what the answer is anymore. I’m highly disappointed in what just happened.”

It’s highly doubtful anyone who knows him is surprised at his response. He’s a guy who’s been enabled for so long, he believes he’s … right. All the time.

He’d possibly considered an all-time great if he’d take to heart some great advice that, apparently, no one as of yet has told him:

“Grow up.”