Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

When Attempting to Compete in a Diet Challenge, the Mental Aspect Is Vital

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

During Michael Jordan’s basketball camp, three of us were lounging one night when a longtime friend of ours came into town. He told us of a diet he’d received via email or text or some other form of modern communication. It was entitled “21 Day Eating Challenge for Serious Hoopers.” At first glance, it looked interesting although upon closer inspection, it seemed as though there were some serious “holes” in it.

Here, in its entirety, is the diet. No candy, No chocolate, No chips, No white bread, No fast food, No ice cream and No soda.

We started talking about it. There was no money nor any consequences for anyone “winning” or “losing.” It was just a personal challenge. One man’s pleasure seemed to do nothing for another. Yet, it seemed that each of us had at least one item that could give us trouble.

As far as I was concerned, I thought I would be a lock to complete it unscathed - for one main reason: it was only for three weeks. I can keep from doing anything for three weeks, except for vital human functions, e.g. breathing, trips to the bathroom AND talking and rocking. I could say that rocking chairs and gliders are a must for my back (and they are now) but the fact remains that I’ve always preferred those chairs above any others. When it comes to talking, ask anyone who’s known me for at least 10 minutes and you’ll understand 21 minutes might have been a deal breaker, never mind 21 days.

Now, about those “holes.” It seems as though sugar is a no-no yet there’s no mention of excluding sugar from coffee or, for that matter, cakes or pies. A few days later, I called the friend who’d introduced us to the diet to tell him as much, only to hear him say, “Oh yeah, I have an apple pie in the oven right now.”

As far as the seven “No’s,” I haven’t had white bread in years and of all the others, 21 days without any of the other six didn’t seem so daunting. I really enjoy Diet Mountain Dew, especially while driving and since I had a five hour trip ahead of me when camp concluded (in eight days), I asked if diet soda counted. Naturally, the other three guys (none of whom drank diet soda) vehemently stated that soda was soda and partaking of diet would be considered a violation.

While I enjoy all the rest, in my mind, I could handle three weeks without any of them easily. It was interesting to hear the other guys, all of whom are many years younger than I am - and each in infinitely better shape - talk about the difficulty they felt they’d have, ranging from a love of any of the items on the list with the exception of my second (maybe even tied for first) favorite, fast food.

We all agreed we’d try it - on the honor system (kind of like the NCAA expects their members to do: self-report). One of us, I think it might have been me, mentioned this was the 2014 version of the masturbation contest from Seinfeld. Sure enough, the very next day (nearly as fast as Kramer had lost), the “Florida” entry called and said, “Can I start tomorrow? I just had some chocolate milk.” Naturally, we gave him a mulligan (which was probably the reason there was no money riding on the outcome). It didn’t matter. A couple days ago, he said he fell victim to Swedish fish and a Slurpee at the movies with his family. No shame.

And then it was three. There was text confirmation from the rest of us that all of us were still “chaste.” Last night, with only four days to go, our family went to our favorite Japanese restaurant. Without thinking (at least on my part), we each ordered dinners as opposed to a la carte. After I dug into the ice cream (that, along with two measly shrimp, make up the difference between dinner and a la carte), Alex (who knew about the challenge) said to me, “I can’t believe you’re eating that ice cream.”

Damn! Of all the ways to lose. One crummy scoop of vanilla ice cream. At a Japanese restaurant. If I was going to lose on ice cream, at least let me go down because I busted out a pint of Haagen Daz pineapple coconut. Or a king size Snickers. Or a Whopper with cheese at the King. With a bag of Fritos. And a Diet Mountain Dew.

Well, once I took that first bite, I could see no reason not to polish it off. I’m sure there will be other “challenges” down the road. I guess when it comes to willpower, I subscribe to the satirist Oscar Wilde:

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

What to Do When You’ve Run Out of Questions - and It’s Your Turn to Ask

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

At yesterday’s Los Angeles Clippers’ enthusiastic fan fest/rally, there was an accompanying press conference with President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Doc Rivers and new owner (how much of a relief is it to hear that term in relations to the Clips’ organization?), Steve Ballmer. Everything under the sun was asked of the new boss at both venues - and then some.

Most people, if they put their minds to it, could guess the queries posed to “Steve” - as he informed the Clipper faithful they should call him. The obvious questions like, “Are you planning on moving the team?” (an emphatic “No” came from the head honcho - he did explain he lived in Seattle and a friend of his, a “Bill Gates,” asked him to work for him - and that had worked out OK, so he didn’t regret living in Seattle), and “Where do you plan on sitting?” (”Court side” was that answer  - although, when you shell out $2 BILLION, the answer could have been, “Anywhere I want!” and no one would have raised a concern).

One question I thought I didn’t hear correctly was asked by a member of the media. “Do you plan on changing the name?” Why in the hell would anyone want to change the name? There might have been a time when the Clippers should have changed their name, but certainly not after their three most successful seasons in team history (60.6, 68.3, 69.5 wining percentages, respectively). The reason it was brought up was because there was a feeling that the Clippers would be associated with their previous owner. After watching yesterday’s love fest at Staples - where his name wasn’t uttered even once - it’s a whole new generation for the Clippers. Now is the time to capitalize on the team name, not change it. Besides, why would the team change its name. Because they’re no longer in San Diego, where the Clipper name originated?

It’s not like boats are never seen in the Los Angeles area. It’s definitely more appropriate than calling the team in Utah the Jazz. Or calling a team that got its nickname from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (the line that’s on the bottom of Minnesota license plates) the Lakers. Changing names and logos are done at considerable expense, too. When will the Charlotte Hornets, Bobcats, Hornets recoup all that money from their change(s)? Maybe that’s a little different situation but how happy are the folks in New Orleans they can now root for the Pelicans?

With all the positive vibes flowing throughout the Staples Center, why would someone bring up such a foolish question? What should have been considered was a line I learned from my late mentor, the brilliant John Savage:

“Before you open your mouth to speak, make sure what you have to say is an improvement on the silence.”

Forgetfulness Meets New Age Incompetence

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Since January, 2013, I was issued a disabled person parking placard, due mainly to, as loyal readers of this blog can testify, the multitude of operations (now into double figures) I’ve had. Since 1987 I’ve experienced operations on cervical and lumbar disks (not so uncommon), on a thoracic disk (quite uncommon and the one that’s caused me a zillion other problems), on numerous other body parts, and have had foreign objects implanted to manage pain (one that never worked, one that makes the pain tolerable - most of the time). I admit I feel somewhat guilty when I pull into a handicapped parking space when there are many people much worse off than I am but I also admit, prior to obtaining the placard, going to restaurants, not being able to find a parking spot close to the door and driving off to find another restaurant.

As a commissioner at Michael Jordan’s basketball camp, my duties were to run one of the leagues. We would line up at the dorms for early morning, after lunch and after dinner roll calls. When the eight coaches would let me know all their team members were accounted for, I’d send them off to whatever location was designated for our league that session. For the past couple years I would then get into my car and drive to the appointed courts. Note: for the other ten or so of my years at the camp, I would walk to the sites, as the other commissioners do.

When I would arrive, I’d park in the closest handicapped spot to the courts (more times than not, the spot was still quite a ways away from where I needed to be), take out the blue placard and hang it on my rear view mirror. This ordeal would take place three times/day. Following one set of games during the second session (of two) of camp, I returned to my car and found a ticket on the windshield. Sure enough, I had forgotten to take the placard out from the glove compartment and hang it on my mirror (it blocks too much of my vision to leave it on there permanently). The fine, as it should be, is quite costly ($311).

To appeal the ticket (which, naturally, I planned to do), I followed the directions on the back of it. It gave me a website and, for “further information regarding citation appeals,” there was a phone number and the hours of operation (M-F, 8a-5p). As a card carrying member of AARP (and the segment of that population who enjoys face-to-face encounters, especially when dealing with such issues), I knew I could deal with this problem by simply calling. Possibly even going to the office. I checked my watch. It was 5:05 pm. On Friday. Camp ended on Sunday.

Damn. After I got back home, I called first thing Monday morning. I was greeted with “You’ve reached the UCSB . . . If you’d like to appeal, go to our website . . . Appeals are not handled over the phone. Appeals are only handled in writing on our website.” Welcome to the 21st century. Hey, I figured this is the way “people” now deal with “other people” and it was high time I realized that. I went online, made my (lengthy) appeal “in writing,” and shortly thereafter, received the following email:

Please provide proof of ADA placard from DMV including registration information.  You can scan the information and email it to This must  be completed in order to adjudicate the citation issued. You have till 8/15/2014  to complete this request.   Thank You 

I located the registration information provided from DMV and clicked on the email address. My wife had to scan that information (did I mention I’m not too proficient in anything tech?) in order for me to proceed. When I attached the scan, I hit “Send.”

It seemed like ten seconds had elapsed when I heard the sound that informed me I had a new email. I checked it out. It was in my “Spam” box, from “Mail Delivery System”. The subject was “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender” and there were a few paragraphs before ending with:

—– The delivery status notification errors —–   <>: host[] said: 550     5.1.1 <>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown     in relay recipient table (in reply to RCPT TO command)

For someone with as little knowledge and confidence as I have in my computer skills, news like this is akin to alarms going off on a cruise ship and hearing “Fire on board! Man the life boats!” I’m completely frozen, not knowing what to do. Guess what I did? Of course! I re-sent it, hoping for a different outcome. You know, the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Not surprisingly, once again, I received the “Mail Delivery System” notification. I reverted to the phone, not really expecting (or even hoping) someone would answer (even though I was calling during business hours). I left a long message, explaining, as I did in my initial correspondence, that I simply forgot to place my placard, yada, yada, yada. The frustration in my voice must have been come across. No, no one called me back. But I was sent another email, informing me the email address in their previous email was mistaken. There was an “s” missing in the address.

Yup, the university had put an incorrect email address in a form email. Apparently, they didn’t want appeals and, until me, must not have received any. Talk about an effective method of collecting fines! Maybe I’m foolish for posting this before my case is heard but I’m taking that chance.

To some, it might be OK, but it only proves the old adage:

“There’s no progress without change but not all change is progress.”

Parents Say the Darndest Things

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It’s that time of year again. For me (and hundreds of others), the first ten days of August can only mean one thing: Michael Jordan Flight School, i.e. MJ’s basketball camp (back-to-back sessions held on the campus of UCSB). This blog will return on August 13 (after some out of town business a couple days following camp). No doubt, there will be some humorous stories about the kids and their parents - like the following anecdote which I posted after returning from camp in 2007.

Another true story from the Michael Jordan Flight School, a basketball camp held each year at the University of California, Santa Barbara from August 1-10.

As a commissioner of one of the eight leagues, one of my duties is to make myself available to parents of campers (or simply fans who want to observe) to answer questions they might have, e.g. where is my child playing, what time is Michael speaking today, what time is dinner being served, etc.

I’ve been a commissioner for the past five years and I can say I’ve yet to be asked a question I couldn’t answer, or at least put the questioner in touch with the right people. Until a couple weeks ago. Or so I thought.

A parent told me his son was playing on Magic Johnson court #3 and wondered if I could direct him to it. There are 16 courts used at once when games are being played. Six of them are in the Events Center, otherwise known as the Thunderdome. Two are in the Recreation Center, another two are in Robertson Gymnasium, another two are in a building known as the MAC while the remaining four are outdoor courts designated as the Michael Jordan courts 1,2,3 and 4.

When I mentioned this to the camper’s father, he told me his son had called and was certain the youngster said he’d be playing on Magic Johnson Court 3. I asked if he knew the name of his son’s team or that of his coach (two items the coaches explain to the members of their team on the first day as being vitally important to know). He knew neither but was certain of the game’s location. I emphasized there was no such court. Could he try and remember the exact conversation with his son as he’d never have been given that information.

The father had a look of deep concentration, then said to me he specifically recalled his son saying he’d be playing on the MJ #3 outdoor court. I didn’t say a word, just let this information sink in and when it inevitably did, he looked at me sheepishly and said, “You probably can tell I’m a big Lakers fan.”

There’s no better quote for this occasion than Elbert Hubbard’s:

“Everyone is a damn fool for five minutes a day. Wisdom consists of not exceeding that.”

Everyone Wants to Know If Rory Is the New Tiger

Monday, July 21st, 2014

A multitude of issues will cause this blog to be temporarily halted. At first, there were only two: 1) today is a trip to Stanford Pain Management for both a refill for my morphine pump and a consultation with my doctor to see if a change in strategy would make my life more “comfortable” and 2) tonight, after the three hour (one way) trip to Redwood City, a trip to Los Angeles for another couple sessions (for Alex) with shooting expert Mike Penberthy. A third roadblock has appeared. My computer served me fairly well for the better part of two years but is ready for extinction. The past few days, it shuts off while I’m working, causing me to save what I’m writing every few minutes or else lose the text. Not only is this frustrating, it’s time consuming. Today I figured out to make a word document and then, cut and paste it to word press (please excuse me if I butchered that explanation as far as proper computer dialogue goes but I’m not from the tech world). All I do is put together words and thoughts people (seem to) like to read.  

If you have a child with a mind of his or her own or one who does as he or she pleases, you’re stuck with the problem - and do everything in your power to understand and help it - but when a computer starts getting impudent, if it negatively impacts your life and it’s more problem than solution, you replace it. While it might be a tad expensive, it’s well worth it. My problem is the one I want has to be shipped in and it might take a week or so.

This blog will return as soon as I receive it. Please check daily beginning Friday.    

Rory McElroy went wire to wire to win the British Open, giving him three of the four Grand Slam championships - at 25 years of age. Now, only the Masters eludes him. Now, the whispers by writers (and the louder chatter of fans) of “the next Tiger” are beginning to be heard. McIlroy is doing nothing to suppress the babble. “Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up and try,” he said. “I want to be the guy that goes on and wins majors and wins majors regularly.”

How long will it take for the comparisons to Woods begin? Ironically, Woods career collapsed after his marital indiscretions became national news while McIlroy’s career has skyrocketed since he got cold feet and put an end to his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki (it couldn’t exactly have been devastating to her, either, at least as far as her career is concerned as she won the Istanbul Cup yesterday). Even if the McIlroy continues his success on the links, and people get weary of Tiger comparisons, there’s always Nicklaus.

Our country wants superstars – even, for some people - just so they can shoot holes in their reputations. McIlroy’s transparent honesty is refreshing but it might be just a matter of time until the media, using the term loosely for those who cross the line between truth and fiction - and enjoy doing so – bombard him with whatever will make for good reading. The fact that many of the stories rely on anonymous sources and twisted words doesn’t ever stand in the way someone trying to get ahead. Or, maybe, get even.

Golf is a sport unlike all others. In order to win, you have to beat the whole field - all at once. In team sports you expect help from your teammates. In other individual sports, e.g. tennis, bowling, boxing and wrestling, you have to win against another competitor, then win against another winner, and on and on, until you’ve beaten all of your foes. The comparison between golf and track & field or swimming is closer, but in those sports, while you have to win every race or heat, you’re only pitted against about seven or eight at a time. Golf and cross country are probably the most similar in that there are a multitude of people trying to beat you but, skill-wise, aerobics is the main ingredient in cc, while golf requires much less oxygen intake but a whole lot more dexterity and finesse.

How will all the scrutiny affect Rory McIlroy? He’s demonstrated remarkable poise thus far but, after more tourneys and more pressers and more demands on his time, will he be able to withstand it or will it make him crack?

We all will see because as Thomas Carlyle once said:

“No pressure, no diamonds.”



LeBron and Northeast Ohio

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Will the love (no pun intended) affair with Northeast Ohio (NE OH) and LeBron James ever end? What if the Cavs never win an NBA championship? With all the moves the organization is making, that’s looking more and more doubtful. They’re giving their “home boy” everything he needs to bring a Larry O’Brien trophy home to Akron Cleveland. But what if, even after all the front office finagling, the King never rules the playoffs - like he did on a couple of occasions in Miami? Will the fans of NE OH turn on him then?


The return of LeBron James transcends basketball. It isn’t about a savior coming home to win multiple championships (although, for Cleveland, even one would suffice). His return is about a savior coming home to resurrect a franchise. Coming home to uplift a city. Coming home to reclaim NE OH as home.

Sure, NE OH wants to win it all - and they want to do it again and again. But just by returning, LeBron showed the people of NE OH that the best player in today’s NBA, with his choice to live basically wherever he so chooses, chose there. His return illustrated to not only the people of NE OH that he wanted to live there, it showed the world the area he selected to move his family to live their lives. Yeah, he was from there and, yeah initially, he played there. But that was because, by rule, he had to play there.

Then, as a (not-so) free agent, when he had the opportunity to stay (and get paid a lot of money) or leave (and get paid a lot of money) . . . he left. He claimed it was about championships but, heck, didn’t he and his Cavs come about as close as a team could to winning one? Why not stay and just improve a little?

LeBron left and in doing so, he jilted his homies. Left them high and dry. Turned a winning franchise into the laughingstock of the league. And why? For a better lifestyle? No! (Well, maybe a little - the “climate” at South Beach is known to be somewhat stimulating). The real reason he left was for exactly what he got - four straight trips to the NBA finals and two championships.

And now he’s back and the people of NE OH - his people, i.e. the people who did not have the opportunity to go with him (certainly not for the bread he was going to make), the people who have a pride in their hometown area that goes beyond weather and location, location, location - absolutely love this guy. The same cat they so despised when he took off out of town for . . . more. More than NE OH could offer. Why? Why do they love him so much?

Simple. Because he’s one of them. His return says, “I hope you understand why I left but if you don’t, that’s OK. I’m here now and am going to do everything I can to bring pride to this area of the country. My area. Our area.”

And they will forgive him (unless he leaves again in two years - and then . . . watch out). Until then, he’s been embraced like few in our society have ever been. And the reason is that in this country:

“Everybody deserves a second chance.”

An Unrealistic Plan to Right the Country

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

If you haven’t noticed the United States doesn’t seem to be so “united” these days, you must either be completely oblivious to your surroundings or belong to the hermit association, a group that meets every February 30th. Today, as soon as a proposal by anyone is made, we can be assured that somebody or some group, somewhere will mock it as impractical, illogical, insane and/or irrational. Even before the proposal is completed.

My wish, as I’ve stated previously (to anyone who will listen, and even some who wouldn’t), is that the Republicans win the next presidential election. I can almost hear the groans now (which further proves my above observation). So, please, let me finish. Then, my hope that the Democrats do to the Republicans exactly what the GOP has done to them while they held the office of the presidency. What would occur is that the roles would be reversed. The party that’s not in power would criticize every move their “opponents” would make. It’s become you don’t want your party to be in power because it’s easier (and more fun) to criticize than be accountable.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Somebody, even better, a lotta somebodies will come to the realization that this attitude doesn’t work. And it never will! Once elections are over - and I know this next statement defies the essence of politics - you’re no longer opponents. You’re actually active participants of the same team. Our team. The United States of America. Kinda like the World Cup. There were basically two types of Americans - those who wanted the U.S. to win and those who didn’t care. I can’t think of anyone I know - or even heard of - who wanted our guys to lose.

Make no mistake about it, it will take a person, or group of people, who will have the courage to tell politicians (especially if the bearer of this news flash happens to be a pol him or her or themselves) that their current actions are ruining the country. Independent of how much money there is to be made in the political game - and, unfortunately, it is a game - our elected officials (and their strategists) must start treating this country like a team. This means everybody working together. In order for all of us to prosper, sacrifices are going to need to be made. Not only sacrifices by others (the kinds everyone favors), but changes that will make our own lives hurt some. Maybe even more than “some.”

People with large dollars will object because the majority of them solve problems by throwing money at them. OK, charge them for that way of thinking. We sure as hell could use the extra revenue. For the rest of us, we have to change our way of thinking - and living. For my people (Baby Boomers), we’re going to have to suffer somewhat for our kids’ well-being. Truth be told, we (and our lifestyle of excess) have screwed the next generations quite a bit. Some of us more than others. Much of it not really our fault, i.e. we weren’t emphatically told much of what we were doing was bad for the nation (or earth). If we were, I wasn’t paying attention.

I once asked a teacher friend of mine if he thought the district administrators pay should be reduced. “Definitely,” he exclained.

“How about the administrators on campus?” I asked.

“Yup,” was his immediate reply.

“How about the teachers?”

“Absolutely not!!!” he screamed.

If we don’t want to tighten our collective belts, than the answer is raise more money. There are brilliant people in this country who might just come up with an idea or two which can lighten the load a little. Or a lot. A giant bake sale probably isn’t the answer, yet, a long, long time ago someone whose group was in need of money came up with the concept of the bake sale. Voila, money was raised, people enjoyed a treat or two and everyone was thrilled. So now the question becomes, “Who will come up with the 21st century version of the bake sale?”

While we wait for that revelation, a Congress that acts together, with the nation’s best interests at heart - meaning no hidden agendas (once again flying the face of what politics has become) - would work wonders for all of us. I admit I’m skeptical, mainly because the greatest indicator of future behavior is past performance but that kind of cooperation, plus sacrifice by all of us, plus some creative thinking will improve the health of our once strong nation.

Our stance must be as simple as the old saying:

“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”

There’s Never Been Anyone Quite Like Jimmy V

Friday, July 18th, 2014

The following is a blog I posted four or five years ago on Jim Valvano. The V Foundation is in full swing, raising millions on top of millions. This has, as Robin Roberts noted in her autobiography, equated to saving more and more lives (hers being one). I thought now would be an appropriate time to reprint it (since, according to how my hits have spiked throughout the years, there’s a good chance most of you haven’t seen it).

With the ESPYs on TV and the constant mention of the V Foundation, I thought I’d relate an encounter I had with the late Jim Valvano.

The story is taken from my book, Life’s A Joke. It took place in the mid-80s when I was an assistant at the University of Tennessee and Jim and his NC State Wolfpack had won one of the most improbable NCAA Championships, a last second victory over the Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars.

USA Today had done a story on, among other things, how much  (so I’ve heard), you’re getting solicitations (including guilt trips) from people you know, people you don’t know and people you don’t know who swear they know you. “V” was quoted as saying the numbers were greatly inflated and he wasn’t making nearly the amount of money that was being reported.

V played at Rutgers when I was at Highland Park High School, which is located just a mile from the RU campus. We first met at Five Star Camp in the Poconos when he was the head coach at Bucknell and I was a grad assistant at Washington State. Since we were both East Coast guys, I knew he’d appreciate the note I mailed him after the article came out. In the envelope I placed a $1 bill, along with the following message:


Just read the USA Today article. Had no idea things were so bad. Hope this helps.


About a week or two later, I received a letter with a North Carolina State return address. I was prepared for anything because I knew V wouldn’t ever let anyone one up him.

Jim had incorporated himself and his corporation was called JTV Enterprises for “James Thomas Valvano” (not sure what he did with the “Anthony” - maybe he felt a four letter corporation didn’t sound as powerful). His return letter read:


Got your money and invested it in JTV Enterprises. Enclosed is your return. Too bad you didn’t invest more.

Inside the letter were two $1 bills.

Nobody ever got the better of Jimmy Valvano.

When V was stricken with cancer, he told his closest associates (one of whom told me) that he wanted to make a difference. As he said in his now legendary speech, he felt a cure for cancer might not be discovered in time to help him but that, in time, with enough money and research poured into the cause, cancer could be conquered.

I’ve read several books by the learned rabbi, Harold Kushner. In one of them he wrote that he’d been at the bedside with people in the last moments of their lives. What he discovered is:                               

“People don’t fear death. They fear insignificance.”

V, you can rest in peace having absolutely no fear of that.

The Importance of Coaches Attending Clinics

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The 1971 New Jersey State Coaches Clinic is etched in my memory. One reason is because it was the first one I’d ever attended. Another was for two of the speakers.

One day I was telling a friend that the only two things I remembered from the History of Education class I took as a sophomore in college was 1) never make a statement you can’t back up, e.g. “If you do that again, I’ll have you thrown out of this class” and 2) when you’re finished using an overhead projector, turn it off so the students aren’t distracted by the light on the blank wall. Then we tried thinking of what we recalled from other classes. For many of them we came up empty. Nada. Granted, it was a long time ago but - not to be able to come up with even one item we were taught - that’s just sad.

It was at that point in our conversation I brought up the ‘71 NJ State Coaches Clinic. It was for both football and basketball coaches and since I was coaching both sports at my high school, I split my time, taking into account the topic and the speaker. I told my buddy there were two clinicians I had to hear. One was a football assistant from the Naval Academy whose topic was “Scouting” because one of my jobs as assistant was to scout future opponents. I can still remember a good deal of that talk even though I haven’t coached football in 43 years Example: when scouting a game in person and you’re trying to figure out the play a team is running, watch the triangle made up of the two guards and the fullback. If the guards block ahead, it’s a running play between the tackles; if they drop back, it’s a pass play or a draw; if one or both guards and the fullback go right, the play’s going that way and vice versa if they go left. There are additional examples but I don’t want to bore you (more than I already have). Obviously, the game has progressed since then, e.g. the fullback position has gone the way of the buffalo, but to be able to recall in such detail the contents of a speech over 40 years ago, that would be rendered meaningless a year later (when I embarked on a career as a basketball coach), speaks volumes of the impact that lecture had on me.

The other coach I looked forward to hearing was my college roommate’s high school coach. At that time, he was an assistant coach at Duke. His name was Hubie Brown. If you’ve ever heard Hubie, there’s no need to explain why his speech stayed with me.

At the Coaching U event I attended last Tuesday and Wednesday, the coaches on the program were the two hosts, Brendan Suhr and Kevin Eastman, George Raveling, Lawrence Frank, Shaka Smart, Billy Donovan and Gregg Marshall. Undoubtedly, the coaches in attendance will remember a lot more from that clinic than I did from the one in New Jersey. Yet everything that they do will be for the same reasons.

As William Arthur Ward said:

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

Free Agent Salaries All Depend on the Starting Point

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

On the drive home from North LA a few days ago, I was listening to Sirius XM channel 217, the NBA station, to hear what was happening with the free agent market. Justin Termine, a sports talk show host who is vying for the title of “most obnoxious radio personality” (his chance of being #1 significantly increases every time he opens his mouth), compared the “value” of every NBA free agent whose name came up to what the Cleveland Cavaliers offered the Utah Jazz’s restricted free agent Gordon Hayward. The Cavs’ offer sheet is a four-year, $63 million starting at roughly $14 million. If the Jazz want to keep Hayward, they’ll be forced to match that offer.

Every name that followed elicited the same response from Termine. One such example was, “If Hayward is worth that kind of money, what does Chris Bosh command?” The identical question was posed by “Termine” (as he refers to himself) independent of whichever NBA player’s name was mentioned. It never occurred to him that the same comparison could be done but, as opposed to Hayward’s potential salary, using Tim Duncan’s salary, e.g. “If Tim Duncan is paid $10 million/year, how much can Chris Bosh expect to get on the open market?”

Obviously, the answers would vary greatly depending on which player was used for a comparison. As far as what determines NBA offer sheets and salaries, there are a multitude of factors. Among them are a team’s need, the owner’s willingness to spend (or not to), who the organization’s decision-maker is, how much cap space is available, whether one team is trying to squeeze the free agent’s current team (in the case of restricted free agents), what trades are planned (at that time and in the future) as well as other reasons known only to the individual front offices.

Sure, it would be easier if there was a certain player every team was in agreement was being paid exactly what he deserved and he could be as the measuring stick. Negotiations would be simple. “Here’s what ‘measuring stick’ is getting, what does this guy realistically deserve?” Even then, the difficulty comes with what the team gets after their latest acquisition signs on.

George Karl wrote a book, what now seems like centuries ago, when he was the head coach of the Seattle Supersonics. In it, one of the analogies he makes deals with players’ salaries. He tells of a survey that was done in which people were asked the question, “What would be the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?” 75% of the people said they would retire.

George’s comment that followed was classic (and since he said it, salaries have skyrocketed). “With what these guys are making, it’s like they hit the lottery.

I wonder how many of them retired?”