A week ago, I praised Tom Izzo for his candor regarding his dealings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and their coaching job and I said then that the only reason he – - or any other “name coach” for that matter – - should take the job is with a guarantee that LeBron James was signed on in Cleveland for another tour of duty. Given the events, I think Izzo made the right move in turning down that job to stay at Michigan State.
There was a story out there that LeBron would welcome Izzo as a coach of the Cavaliers and that LeBron was 100% behind that kind of move on the part of the team. Sounds good – - until you heard what Tom Izzo had to say after he made his decision to stay at Michigan State. Izzo said that he had spoken with several people who then spoke directly to LeBron about the job and about various matters. Of course, Izzo could not get an answer regarding LeBron’s destination for next season; if that were revealed before 1 July, it would remove all of LeBron’s negotiating advantage and it would create charges of “tampering” against any team other than the Cavs. However, the fact that Izzo did not/could not speak directly to LeBron speaks volumes.
Forget the prepared statements from sources close to LeBron James. If LeBron James really wanted to play for Tom Izzo and was indeed 100% behind that kind of move by the Cavaliers, he would have found a way to take a call from Izzo just to have a chat.
When the third round of the US Open concluded last Saturday, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson had just made huge runs. Johnson led the tournament by 3 strokes and Woods by 6 strokes but the golf press – - resorting to their personae as Tiger Woods’ acolytes – - started murmuring that Tiger Woods had gotten it back together and would the young Johnson be able to withstand the pressure on Sunday. They only got it half-right…
Indeed, Dustin Johnson folded like cheap patio furniture. He shot a final round 82, a mere 11-over par. What they got wrong was that Tiger Woods was going to be a significant factor in the final round. On a day when the winner shot 3-over par, all Tiger Woods needed to do was to shoot par to force a playoff. Woods shot 4-over par to finish tied for 4th place. The rumors of the larger-than-life Tiger Woods’ return to golfdom were premature indeed.
You hear from the acolytes incessantly about Tiger Woods’ pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ lifetime record for wins in major tournaments. Rarely will you hear one of the acolytes whisper that Tiger Woods has never – - as in not even one time – - won a major tournament without having the lead after 54 holes. If he does not have the lead on Saturday, he loses. Maybe his nickname should be
Never on Sunday…
I don’t know about you, but I got very tired about the complaints from various golfers about the course set-up and the condition of the greens. As long as all the players are competing on the same course, the course is fair. The fact that no one in the field could shoot below par for 72 holes is not a de facto indictment of the course. Perhaps the scorn should be heaped on all of the PGA courses that are set up to assure that the PGA players have an easy time shooting under par and can record 12-under par tournament scores with regularity. Maybe the PGA should think about providing a few more challenges for its tour players? Nah … that would just engender more complaining.
One more note from the US Open that did not receive nearly sufficient mention was the double eagle recorded by Shaun Micheel. He holed out on his second shot on one of the par 5 holes on Sunday. A double eagle is far rarer than a hole in one; in fact, Micheel is only the second golfer in the history of the US Open to have one.
If you have had difficulty following all the twists and turns involved in the soap opera of the French World Cup team, here is a great summary from the LA Times.
In essence, the French team staged a one-day strike to protest – - wait for it – - their own performance. How very French… In any event, the team must have gotten the message they sent to themselves pretty quickly because they called off the strike and went back to work/practice the next day. What a goat rodeo…
I know that Buddhism is not rampant in North Korea but I do get a sense of karma from yesterday’s events with regard to the World Cup. To say that North Korea tightly controls it press and its media would be like saying Roseanne Barr’s infamous rendition of the National Anthem was “mildly annoying”. Yesterday, the regime chose to “open things up” just a tad because of its pride in its World Cup team; the game against Portugal was televised live in North Korea.
The final score was Portugal 7 and North Korea 0. It was not the most lopsided game in the history of the World Cup, but it was an ass-kicking of gargantuan proportion. According to an AP report:
“As the 7-0 loss to Portugal concluded, the North Koreans quickly halted Monday’s coverage. ‘The Portuguese have won the game and now have four points,’ the Korean Central Broadcasting commentator said. ‘We are ending our live broadcast now.’
“It then cut to factory workers and engineers praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.”
Other reports from South Africa say that fans of the South African team – - one that needs a win against the French or its World Cup participation is over – - are using “traditional means” to give the team strength and fortitude. One such traditional measure is to create a mixture called “muti” which can be burned or smoked to give strength to the team. There are many recipes for “muti” evidently, but the one reported in today’s Washington Post was a mixture including vultures’ brains and aloe. That formulation reportedly changes luck. Well, it certainly did that for the vultures…
Finally, in case you had put these two things together in your mind, it has only been a few short weeks between the passing of Gary Coleman in May and Manute Bol earlier this week. I guess that is the long and short of it for the year 2010.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…