Category Archives: Celebrity

Does the NBA Need a Rooney Rule?

US Presswire Sports ArchiveSo far this season, four NBA coaches have been fired or “mutually agreed” to be fired–Mike Brown (Lakers), Avery Johnson (Nets), Scott Skiles (Bucks) and Alvin Gentry (Suns). Three of the four are African-American. They’ve been replaced by Mike D’Antoni, PJ Carlisimo, Jim Boylan and Lindsey Hunter (above), respectively.

Three of the four are white.

When the NFL enacted its Rooney Rule a decade ago (it requires team to interview at least one “minority” candidate for head coach and senior football operations openings), no one suggested the NBA enact a similar edict. That’s because the league had a long and positive history of hiring African-Americans as coaches and senior front office personnel.

Still does. In its most recent “Race and Gender Report Card,” the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida gave the NBA an A+ in the area of minority hiring.

But what’s happened so far this season is a bit troubling. Coaches get fired, not doubt. And among the other 26 NBA teams, 11 are led by an African-Ameerican head coach. That’s not bad, but the trend has worth watching.

In the NFL, solid former coaches with winning records–such as Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell–were overlooked by ownership, which in most cases decided to go with unproven coaches. (Seven of the eight new NFL coaches have never been head coaches in the league.) And a plethora of talented coordinators was overlooked as well.

The Suns promotion of Hunter, a former player with 17 years of experience and two championship rings, to interim coach at least shows that the NBA is still ahead of its brutish brethren. But not by as much as the league thinks.

How Will the Te’o Madness End?

TeoI have no idea how this Manti Te’o madness will end. Right now, all I know is that I feel as if I’m being duped. I don’t know by whom, or by everyone (including my sportswriter colleagues who are no doubt enduring some serous career soul-searching tonight).

There are still soooo many questions, too many to even articulate. And the answers we’ve received, well, at least for me, don’t quite complete the most bizarre puzzle I may have ever witnessed in this profession.

Of course, the biggest question may be the simplest one: Why?

If Te’o is truly the victim, then why would someone go such machinations to perpetrate this hoax. Is this what passes for fun in the digital age? Is this what our kids have to look forward to, or be wary of? As a friend of mine often says, Who does that?!

If he’s not the victim, then why?

He seems like a fine young man, a spiritual young man–and he’s a terrific football player. He captured our consciousness for his play on the field, for his leadership. And he should have a solid future playing on Sundays.

So why?!

It has been reported that Te’o will speak soon, perhaps has early as Thursday. He must, and he must soon.

Because right now, only he can stop the madness.

Time to Give College Football Players the Same Leverage as their Coach

Kelly's headset was barely off before he was headed to Philly to discuss and NFL job.

Kelly’s headset was barely off before he was headed to Philly to discuss and NFL job.

Maybe it’s the timing that got under my skin. Had the jet carrying beaten and battered Notre Dame even touched down back in South Bend before Irish head coach Brian Kelly was straightening his tie and fussing with his hair awaiting a meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles to discuss their vacant head coach position?

It seems like he sneaked off to another gate and booked for the Northeast as his players continued to ice down and soothe their wounds from the beat-down they endured against national champion Alabama.

Just so we’re clear: I have absolutely no problem with college coaches striking while the confetti is still raining down on their shoulders and leverage their success for a fatter paycheck. No problem at all.

God Bless Penn State’s Bill O’Brien for doin’ the NFL Dance before “deciding” (wink) to $tay at Penn State earlier this week. Last fall, the man took perhaps the most toxic and unpredictable college gig in America and handled it with dignity and success, winning more games (eight) than anyone thought he would.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly was more like that guy on the dance floor who thinks he has some moves. His awkward twirl with Cleveland, Philadelphia and reportedly Buffalo was actually pathetic. He’s been dancing for a few seasons now and it seemed as if he was a goner for sure. And good for him. Like many coaches, it seemed like he wanted to someday coach at the highest level. But after all but calling for a U-Haul, he $suddenly decided go stay in Eugene, much to the shock of many and the delight of Duck faithful.

Now, here’s the other Kelly, the Irish savior–who three years ago was a relatively unknown Kelly at Cincinnati–standing at the precipice of Notre Dame lore. Dude was being sized-up for a pedestal that would stand alongside those hoisting Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz as Irish coaches who won national championships. (A coach name Elmer Layden won one there, as well (1938) but alas I don’t believe he stands atop a pedestal, at least not one in South Bend.

But before the Irish defense has stopped flinching at the thought of ‘Bama’s 6′-2″, 220-pound running back Eddie Lacy, Kelly was dancin’.

Okay, so the confetti was raining on Nick Saban, not him, but Kelly was leveraging a blowout like nobody’s business–as is his right. But the timing was a bit stinky to me.

Moreover, his players couldn’t execute such leverage. What if they could? What if, say, Johnny Football (aka Maisel), the freshman Heisman Trophy winner, could have walked into head coach Kevin Sumlin office the morning after arriving back in Texas from New York and said, “Coach, I may not be any hotter than this, I’m heading to the NFL!”

But he can’t. Unless his potential one-and-done buddies on the basketball team, Johnny Football and other college players aren’t eligible for the NFL draft until they’ve been out of high school for three years.

We could debate all night about the merits of one-and-done, and in an age when the strength and condition programs at top college rival those of the NFL, I’m not wholly buying the idea that football is more physical and therefore the players should stay in college. They should at least be able to earn a living during the few years their bodies (and, ahem, their brains) will tolerate the game.

They should at least be able to do what their millionaire coaches do and leverage their success for economic gain.

They should at least be able to dance.

Griffin a Victim of NFL’s “Win Now” Mentality

griffininpain1Robert Griffin III (I’m not calling him RGIII again until he’s healthy) had surgery today. According to various reports doctors repaired a torn LCL and examined at previously injured ACL. Rehabilitation is likely to take months.

Like millions, I watched in pain as Griffin limped through the final desperate minutes of Washington’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. At one juncture, as he gamely–but with a clear gimp–tried to lead a Redskins comeback, I tweeted “Get RGIII outta there!” But Mike Shanahan didn’t pay me any mind. And soon thereafter the future–hopefully–of the franchise, and maybe the most popular man in the nation’s capital, was carted off the field.

My immediate reaction was that Shanahan’s fateful decision was to blame. And it is.

And despite the esteemed Redskins team physician Dr James Andrews’s public moonwalking, he was also on the sideline, too, as Griffin remained on the field like a hobbled doe in the sights of a hungry pride.

Yet, this is football. Check that, this is the NFL, where the lives and fortunes of so many rest on moments of success or failure, of grandeur or defeat, of desperation. It was easy for me to think about getting the young quarterback out of there, just as hindsight has prompted millions of others to say, Of course he shouldn’t have been in there!

But my job wasn’t on the line. Not my livelihood. Shanahan was in the moment and that “moment” said win now.

NFL moments are not about tomorrow.

And that may cost the Redskins the quarterback who would have saved the franchise.

Gabby: You’ve Done Enough.

If I was advising Gabby Douglas I’d have told her to pack her leotard and two gold medals right after the all-around and told her to become the most famous prime-time cheerleader on the planet.

I wouldn’t have allowed her to touch another uneven bar, floor mat, pommel horse–whatever.

Certainly not in London. Maybe not for the rest of ’12.

Why?

Because she had nowhere to go bot to fall on her tush.

Just as she did today–figuratively–finishing dead last in the unevens, an event at which she typically soars.

But who could be surprised? I wasn’t.

It was enough that she was suddenly the girl on top of the mountain–a very dangerous place to be whether at the Olympics or at back at high school. Suddenly she was the target, the potential notch on the tiny belt of every other woman in the competition.

Moreover, she she suddenly had to deal with the  asinine silliness about her hair, and the unfortunate news of her mom’s bankruptcy filing, and, well, dang, she’s just 16.

Gabby will have to content with more than a mountain of love from us when she returns home. Enough love to choke a kid. More love than we can imagine.

It’s the “price,” as one columnist eloquently stated today.

True. So why add to the bill by making her compete again when her heart and head are clearly still dealing with the good, the bad and the silly of success?

Take a seat, Gabby. Cheer your teammates. Rest. You’ll need it.

Twitter Takes Out First Olympic Competitor

Did you hear the one about Voula Papachristou, the Greek triple jumper? No? And you won’t either because she’s no joke. She’s also no longer an Olympian.

Kudos to the Greek Olympic committee for bouncing her off the team and out of London for her ignorant (and many are saying racist) tweets about Africans.

Athens is being infested Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes, which has been widely reported. On Sunday, the very blonde Papachristou tweeted: ”With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”.

Ha! Ha!

Bye! Bye!

The tweet inspired thousands of negative responses (thankfully!), and one very clear response today from the Hellenic Olympic Committee: “[Papachristou is]” placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”

After trying to awkwardly dismiss the tweets earlier, Papachristuo today struck a very different tone on Twitter and Facebook: ”I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.

”My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races. I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.”

Hey, SI, What are you waiting for?!

It was a different time, or maybe it wasn’t. In 1986, Sports Illustrated dispatched the talented Rick Reilly to chronicle the life and times of Joe Paterno, already an iconic figure in sports. Paterno was to be named Sportsman of the Year, one of the most prestigious honors in our industry and one help by a list of luminaries that is its own Hall of Fame of men and women who shaped and elevate our games.

It was a different time. Now, Paterno must be stricken from that list.

In fact, I’m curious why it’s taken so long for my former colleagues (I worked at SI 1978-81, ’89-’94 and ’03-’05) to do so.

What else do they need to know? In fact, it should have been done even before the Freeh report outlined the conspiracy of silence that allowed young boys to be molested by Jerry Sandusky long after Paterno (and others at the university) knew Sandusky was a sick and dangerous man.

On Monday, the NCAA all but put the Not-so-Nittany Lions into the ground with a package of sanctions that will tame that program for a decade–$60 million fine, significant loss of scholarships, four years probation and bowl ban and the vacating of every Paterno victory since 1998, the year she should have gone to law enforcement officials and told them about the sick bastard that was attacking victims in campus showers.

By the time, NCAA president Mark Emmert had finished reading the package of sanctions yesterday morning, Paterno should have no longer been recognized as a Sportsman of the Year.

The statue is gone.

Paterno’s name was removed from, of all places, a child care center on the Nike campus.

And Rick Reilly now recognizes that he was duped.

Yet Joe Paterno is still listed as the 1986 Sportsman of the Year.

Why?

Floyd Mayweather: Jailhouse Wimp?

AP Photo

Floyd Mayweather has served 13 days of an 87-day sentence for misdemeanor domestic battery in solitary confinement in a Las Vegas jail cell. For his own safety, prison officials say. But already the undefeated five-time champion is going stir crazy.

Or maybe he thinks we are.

Mayweather’s attorney have filed an “emergency” motion asking that the boxer be either moved into the general inmate or (wink) allowed to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

Their reasoning? Mayweather is suffering from ‘deconditioning.” (Is that even a word?)

In other words, he’s getting fat. So what’s the emergency? Well, his lawyers say, he’s become so “deconditioned” in 13 days that it threatens his career. It may cause “not just huge financial harm,” the lawyers wrote, “but huge emotional harm if he is not able to pursue his boxing career due to the deconditioning he has suffered.”

If Justice of the Peace Melissa Sargosa, who said she’d rule on the motion later this week, falls for this it’ll be as big a travesty as, well, pretty much everything else in boxing.

First and foremost, deconditioning?! When I was Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Fitness we regularly talked about publishing a story called The Prison Workout because inmates tend to be in outrageous shape. Lack of time to workout is certainly not an excuse, and prisons typically have pretty damn good weight equipment.

Now, this jail apparent does not have a tricked-out weight room (why didn’t “Money” think of donating the cash to have one constructed prior to his incarceration?). Mayweather reportedly get to spend 3o minutes twice every day outside his 7 x 12 cell in a “barren” rec room, his lawyers say.

That’s plenty of time for a good “deconditioning-fixing” workout. For instance:

The Mayweather Solitary Workout

200 push ups (do 50, rest ten seconds, do 50, rest…)

3 minutes shadow boxing

500 sit ups (100, rest, 100, rest, …)

3 minutes shadow boxing

150 tricep dips (using bed post)

3 minutes shadow boxing

100 Russian twists

3 minutes shadow boxing

5 minute plank

3 minute shadow boxing

200 push ups

If Mayweather does that every morning and evening, it’s certainly reverse the “deconditioning” he’s endured.

Now, let’s say he has turned into Kevin James, to say Mayweather could never fight again is ludicrous. Many people who haven’t worked out in years have gotten into the best shape of their lives by following a disciplined and rigorous training program and committing to healthy eating.

Mayweather’s lawyers are also concerned that jail is making their client mad, and that he wouldn’t be able to “dissipate [it} through the usual means of exercising and training.

Dude, try yoga.

I’ve got no problem with Mayweather trying to get out of solitary – though all it would take is one fellow inmate deciding to earn his tough bonafides by taking out “Money” Mayweather to perhaps his a serious end to the boxer’s career.

But getting out altogether (even to an apartment, rather than his over-the-top Las Vegas home, as his lawyers offered) would be more than a travesty; it would be an insult to every victim of domestic violence.

Work it out, Floyd. Work it out.

 

 

Hey, Oil Can: Jackie Didn’t Kill the Negro Leagues, “Integration” Did–Along with Much of Black America

Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd always had balls. Even when he wasn’t on crack. The former Boston Red Sox pitcher was one of the game’s most “colorful” figures–and that was before he revealed in his new book that he smoked cocaine before games and once ran “right down the street to the crack house” upon hearing that he would not be starting in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Today, Boyd is sober but still throwing ’em high and hard. His latest brushback, revealed today in the Boston Globe, is aimed at American icon Jackie Robinson. Boyd essentially blames Robinson for the demise of the Negro Leagues, which Boyd laments.

Asked by ESPN’s Buster Olney what he might say to Jackie Robinson if he were to meet him in the afterlife, Boyd kicked high and let it fly. “I’m not real thankful to Jackie at all because I’m me – my style of baseball, the way I played it in the major league transpired from the Negro leagues,” he said. “So that’s why people found that I was a hot dog or I was flamboyant.”

Interesting thought. And in truth, this is not the first time I heard it expressed–although others don’t single out Jackie. Many owners and players and others led to the “demise” of the Negro Leagues, which ultimately fell as Major League Baseball, which had barred black players, began signing the most talented Negro players, one-by-one, team-by-team.

Negro America cheered the most. Finally!, we roared (or our parents, did.) Indeed the Brooklyn (soon to be Los Angeles) Dodgers, which signed Robinson, became Negro America’s team. My folks almost disowned me when I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as my team of choice–in large part because of its three Negro stars, Curt Flood, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson.

The real, hard truth is the Negro Leagues befell the same fate as many other black institutions from America’s era of segregation–from major insurance corporations to local black-owned grocery stores, restaurants and movie theaters. Many slowly disappeared as integration began to unfold, as barriers fell in schools, on buses, in restaurants, in department stores.

My hometown, Tulsa, Okla., is known as the place where “Black Wall Street” thrived throughout much of the 20th Century. It was a bastion of Negro commerce (we even owned the bus system) with nearly 200 Negro-owned businesses, including by dad’s store, Kyle’s Sundry.

It was created because whites in the area when the railroad was being built erroneously believed land hard by the tracks wouldn’t be very valuable, so they forced blacks to stay “on the other side” of the tracks. Greenwood Avenue, the 125th Street of “Black Wall Street,” ended to the south at the tracks and was the primary thoroughfare for the myriad Negro enterprises that sprang forth.

When I was a young child, Negros were not allowed to cross the tracks without good reason. Yeah, they could shop at some of the major department stores, but I distinctly remember my mother being forced to put tissues in a hat before trying it on–something white shoppers did not have to do.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the culmination of an effort to end segregation nationwide, led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, essentially spelled the death knell for “Black Wall Street” and other Negro institutions.

Instead of going to Betty’s Chat & Chew for Sunday dinner, we went to the Piccadilly cafeteria downtown.

Instead of going to a movie at the Rex Theater, we went to theater that had once been “whites only.”

And we cheered for Negro players across baseball’s major leagues.

Jackie Robinson didn’t kill the Negro Leagues any more than Martin Luther King, Jr. killed “Black Wall Street.”

But still, it’s sad that they are gone.

My Five Greatest ‘Jersey Nets!

They’ll close the doors, turn out the lights, pack their bags and head out of town tonight.

The Nets will leave New Jersey, closing out the team’s 36-year stay in the land across the Hudson, and head for Brooklyn, N.Y. and an intriguing future.

I covered the Nets for several seasons in the early 80s, starting in 1981, the team’s first season at the Meadowlands (They now play in Corey Booker’s Neighborhood, Newark).

Interestingly–and to me, fittingly–the franchise ends its Joisey run with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team against whom the Nets had their greatest triumph. At the end of the 1983-84 season, the Nets upset the defending champion 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, winning a deciding Game 5 (it was 3 of 5 then) after Doctor J had promised a Game 5 win, saying, “You can mail in the stats.”

That team was led by Buck Williams, Mike Gminski, Otis Birdsong and coached by Stan Albeck. Today, the nostalgic folks at NJ.com are allowing readers to pick their all-time New Jersey Nets team (meaning only players who played with the franchise while it was in the state; hence, no Doctor J.

Here’s mine:

Buck Williams (the foundation, maybe my all-time great NJ Net)
Jason Kidd (at his peak)
Bernard King (imagine if they’d kept him)
Darrel Dawkins (he called me Big Scoop)
Jayson Williams (yep, him…this is about on-the-court)

I loved a few other guys, but eliminated them for various reasons–including the late great Drazen Petrovic (just didn’t play long enough), Deron Williams (not enough team success), Michael Ray Richarson (close), Suuuper John Williamson (close, as well) and Vince Carter (stellar dunker who never bought into team concept).

No surprise, Jayson Williams was not invited to tonight’s closing festivities. Understandable. Just last week, he was released from prison after serving his time in the death of chauffeur years ago and the ugly aftermath. It was just too soon to bring him back.