Is Today Pinocchio Day?

The use of juxtaposition as a teaching tool is on display in this morning’s sports section. There is a life lesson available there for those who are prepared to consider it. The firing of Bruce Pearl at Tennessee is a big story – - albeit one that I believe is about 4 months late – - and it is important to look at the story to find the reason that Tennessee fired him. True, Bruce Pearl was caught in the act of violating NCAA recruiting rules; but make no mistake, that is not why he is out of work today. Bruce Pearl is out of work today because when confronted with evidence that he did something wrong – - and something he knew was wrong – - he lied about it. Some communications hack has made a lot of people refer to that behavior as “providing false and misleading information to NCAA investigators”; what Bruce Pearl did was lie through his teeth. He is out of work.

The other big story is that the Barry Bonds trial is underway; the jury is in place; the lawyers have their vocal chords tuned up and ready to go. Why is Barry Bonds on trial and in danger of serving prison time? The allegation is that he used illegal steroids and when questioned about that usage he lied to Federal investigators and then lied under oath to a grand jury. If the government can convince those 12 jurors that Bonds lied under oath, he will be guilty of a felony and could go to jail. Lying under oath is lots worse than lying to NCAA investigators.

The life lesson here is that lying your way out of a bad situation may work some of the time and perhaps may work many of the times you find yourself in hot water. However, lying your way out of a bad situation might also make things a whole lot worse. Bruce Pearl would never have been fired with a winning percentage in the neighborhood of .660 and with six NCAA tournament appearances in six seasons absent the lies. Barry Bonds would not be staring down the barrel of prison time had he been completely candid.

It would be scary indeed if the original story of Pinocchio was introduced on 22 March in whatever year it was created…

Since the time that the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony in “The Trade Heard Round The World”, the Knicks record is 7-9. The other interesting event that went down in NYC since that trade hit the papers is that the Knicks announced a huge ticket price increase for next season. The operative word here is “huge” and here is one example:

    For seats behind the basket off to a corner, the price for 2010/11 has been $110 per game. Frankly, that is outrageous enough for me; but in 2011/12, those same seats will cost $300.

To be fair, not all of the ticket price increases are in the 170% range. Neither are any of them in the 1% range…

Then to dip even further into the pockets of Knicks’ fans, the team and MSG management announced they will make major new renovations to Madison Square Garden and will provide venues with new ways to collect money from fans. Here are some of the highlights from the Knicks’ announcement:

“The Garden transformation will provide our fans with best-in-class service, new amenities and outstanding food and beverage offerings.”

“This will be a new state-of-the-art arena with wider concourses, new seats, better sight lines and improved social settings.”

Well, to give the Knicks credit, they did stop short of requiring fans to buy PSLs to attend the games at the Garden. However, in light of the product on the floor, a consumer would need to behave in the manner that Thorstein Veblen described in his book, The Theory of the Leisure Class. In that book, Veblen spoke of “conspicuous consumption” wherein consumers of a certain asset level purchased goods and services not because of the utility of those goods and services but merely to demonstrate to others the level of their affluence and status.

I have gotten to watch the Knicks play 3 times since “The Trade Heard Round The World”. Much of the commentary has been that the Knicks problems stem from their lack of defensive efforts and results. Certainly, those critical analyses are correct; nevertheless, I also think the Knicks have some offensive deficiencies too. The second half of last night’s game between the Knicks and Celtics showed all of the shortcomings in a condensed setting.

    The Knicks led by 14 at the half. The Celtics were shooting jump shots on most possessions and were missing plenty of them.

    In the second half, the Celtics scored “at will” – - they put 59 points on their side of the ledger. The Knicks defense “broke down”.

    However, the Knicks offense “broke down” just as badly. The Celtics won the 4th quarter 33-17, which is bad enough; but in the fourth quarter, something even worse happened. Amare Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony combined to score ZERO points.

One more thing for Knicks’ fans to think about as they consider going to the hip for season tickets … when might the 2011/12 season begin? Fans that pay in full for 41 home games might only get to see 20 of them in the season and you can bet that the folks from the Knicks and MSG will not be sending refund checks out as each home game is missed.

On the assumption that Lakers’ coach, Phil Jackson is a man of his word, this will be his last season on the bench for an NBA team. If that is the case, the perfect way for the NBA “to script the NBA Finals” would be to have the Lakers play the Bulls. In case the conspiracy theorists had not considered that to date, let me put them on notice as of now…

More interesting to me with regard to Phil Jackson leaving the Lakers is this question:

    Is taking over the LA Lakers’ coaching job in 2012 a dream or a nightmare?

On one hand, the new coach will inherit Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and a loyal fan base. On the other hand, the new coach gets to follow a legendary coach – - one who has won 11 NBA championships in 20 seasons – - and following legendary coaches usually does not work out very well for the successors such as:

    Gene Bartow
    Phil Bengston
    Ray Perkins
    Bill Guthridge
    Earle Bruce
    Mike Davis

Finally, here is a comment from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

“Louisville coach Rick Pitino, after the embarrassing sex scandal during the offseason, gets knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round. Guess you could call it premature extermination.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • rainier beacher  On March 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I just read that Barry Bonds personal trainer Greg Anderson is going to do MORE jail time for contempt of court for refusing to testify. By any account, Barry Bonds is a jerk, and yet his trainer is showing incredible loyalty. I don’t think it’s all about money, do you?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    rainier beacher:

    If I am ever given the choice as to whether it is all about the money or not, my choice will always be that it is.

    Greg Anderson may be the single most principled and purposeful human in the world such that he does not mind time in prison as the price he has to pay to stand up for his beliefs. Or … he may be “on retainer” for behaving that way. I don’t know because I cannot read his mind.

    Is he showing loyalty or doing his part for some past or future recompense? I have no idea and his behavior so far cannot distinguish between those two options.

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