Lots of folks claim – mostly correctly – that the college basketball season is not all that interesting and that the tournament in March is all that matters. I must reluctantly agree with that assessment; and to some extent, I think the over-the-top success and appeal of March Madness has contributed to the diminution of the regular season in college basketball. Meanwhile, not everyone shares my view that the regular season of the NBA is mostly useless and uninteresting although most folks will agree that the real focus of the regular season is in the final 15-20 games for each team. Absent a game in November that produces a major injury to a star player on a potentially contending team, there is no gravitas associated with much of anything in the NBA prior to March 1.
The good folks in Las Vegas recently issued a new set of odds related to the NBA that makes my point. Here are the odds – posted before the season started and revised odds posted this week – for who will win the NBA Championship in June courtesy of the Westgate LV Sportsbook. Remember, there are 30 teams in the NBA playing 82 games each meaning there are more than 1200 regular season games.
- Opening odds = 3-2 Current odds = 5-7 Golden State Warriors
- Opening odds = 5-2 Current odds = 7-4 Cleveland Cavaliers
Currently, the next team on the board would be the San Antonio Spurs at 6-1 and they are the only teams out of the 30 teams in the NBA at odds below 20-1 as of this week. [The Clippers are at 20-1; then come the Celtics, Raptors and Rockets at 25-1 and then we get into stratospheric odds very quickly.]
The NBA will start their playoffs with 16 teams. Even the oddsmakers are suggesting that the first two rounds – at least – of those playoffs are nothing more than window dressing.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will have 7 new members in August 2017. The loudest debate about the selection process centers around the exclusion of Terrell Owens for the second year in a row. You can check his career stats here if you need to convince yourself that his on-field performance merits induction into the HoF. And yet, he is still on the outside looking in…
Terrell Owens is today’s focal point for the ongoing debate regarding how much a Hall of Fame should be about accomplishments within the sport itself as opposed to how much it should be about “character” and “locker room presence” and all that sort of stuff. This is the NFL version of the ongoing “debate” that MLB has regarding players who may or may not have used PEDs. If you look at those career stats I linked to above, you will also note that T.O. played for 5 teams in his career and that he fundamentally wore out his welcome in at least with 3 of the 4 teams that let him walk. Does that diminish what he did on Sundays? If you say that it does, is it a sufficient diminution to keep him out of the hall of fame as compared to some other WRs there who were ”good guys”? You make the call…
When he missed out on the vote, T. O. quickly turned to Twitter to vent – as is the current custom – and he said that the voting process is “flawed” and that he does not care if he is ever voted into the HoF. Here are two predictions:
- T.O. will eventually be voted into the Hall of Fame when the voters believe that he has been sufficiently chastened from snubs in the prior balloting which inevitably lead to another round of public re-hashing of what a “bad teammate”/”locker room cancer” he was.
- When he is voted in, T.O. will not rail against a “flawed process” and – more importantly – he will not decline the invitation to be part of the Hall of Fame.
Here are two reasons to keep an eye on the Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting over the next couple of years. These two players are soon to be eligible and both have prodigious on-field accomplishments and some “outside-the-lines flaws”:
- Ray Lewis
- Randy Moss
There are reports that the NFL is considering a punishment for the Seattle Seahawks because the team did not put Richard Sherman on its injury report for most of the year after Sherman admitted that he played most of the second half of the season with a knee injury. I realize that the “Deflategate Discombobulation” established that the NFL Commish can hand down just about any punishment short of “off with his head” and that punishment will stand up with or without substantial backup evidence. Nevertheless, a punishment in this case would be more than a miscarriage of justice.
Richard Sherman has a bad knee and he says he has had it for half a season but the Seahawks never put him on an injury report. There are rules that say the team is supposed to do that. However, Sherman never missed a practice because of the injury nor did he miss a game. The only conclusion to draw here is that he may indeed have an injured knee, but it was not sufficiently injured to keep him out of practice of a game. At that standard for reporting, would a wide receiver need to be on the injured list for a hangnail?
The irony here for me is that the league has this rule on the books only as a way to make it more difficult for gamblers – you know, those bad guys – to uncover such a tidbit and to use it to the advantage of the gamblers – you know, those bad guys. That is the basis for the rule; and in this case, if Sherman had been on the injury reports – and then played virtually every defensive snap for the remainder of the season – the league could easily have been ridiculed because one of its teams was making a mockery of the injury reporting system. Oh yeah, one other team in the league has been accused of doing just that too…
Finally, here is a comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot regarding the TV ratings for the NFL Pro Bowl:
“Numbers game: The TV ratings for Sunday’s Pro Bowl were down for yet another year – a demonstration of good taste by a segment of the American TV audience.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………