Magical Thinking

The Celtics have swept the Knicks out of the first round of the NBA playoffs. It is hardly a surprise that the Celtics won the series; a sweep, however, is always a surprise. Knicks’ fans are already at work conjuring up scenarios for trades and free agent signings that will put the Knicks back on top of the league next year. Sadly for those fans, Willis Reed is not going to limp out onto the Garden floor next year… However, the fans’ fertile imagination seems also to have infected the Knicks’ locker room. After losing the fourth game in a row, here is what Carmelo Anthony had to say:

“Tonight was one of those games that we have to leave it all out on the court. Wasn’t no need to take anything home with us, and we did that, so I’m pretty sure that we gained a lot of respect from a lot of people right now, but this is the first step of something great.”

I will grant that the NY Knicks are a better team now than they were at the beginning of the 2010/1011 season and that they were better at the beginning of this season than they were last season. The team has improved; that is beyond doubt. To say that the Knicks are on the path to “something great” is – - to be polite – - a stretch. Consider:

    In last night’s game – - “leaving it all on the court” and playing at home – - the Knicks shot 34% from the field. It is a long journey from shooting 34% to greatness.

    The Knicks finished above .500 this year – - by one game – - for the first time in 8 seasons. That is not anywhere near greatness.

    The Knicks have not won a playoff game in a decade. The last time they were in the playoffs (2004), they were swept out of the first round then too. That is not exactly in the “greatness neighborhood”.

      Memo to Melo: I hope you have your Garmin with you on your journey to greatness because it is going to be a long one with lots of twists and turns along the way…

The presumptive Rookie of the Year in the NBA is Blake Griffin; I would have no problem seeing him receive that recognition and if it happens, there will be an interesting bit of irony associated with it.

    Since Donald Sterling moved the Clippers to LA in 1984, the Clippers have never had the Rookie of the Year. That is surprising to the extent that the Clippers have been drafting at or near the top of the draft more years than not.

    The LA Lakers, who share the LA market and the Staples Center with the Clippers, have only had one Rookie of the Year in their franchise history. That would be Elgin Baylor back in the late 50s.

    Elgin Baylor was the Clippers’ GM who drafted Blake Griffin – - and also the one who drafted most of those other “top of the draft” picks for the Clippers that did not win the RoY award.

    Wheels within wheels…

Harkening back to Carmelo Anthony’s statement that had little grounding in reality, there seems to be an epidemic of that kind of rambling amongst NFL players. Recall that Adrian Peterson recently likened NFL players to modern day slaves. That comment scored a “10” on the Stupid Scale but one could simply write it off as a statement made in the midst of some tense negotiations over a new CBA. If that were the case, then it is difficult to explain a comment last week from retired NFL WR, Amani Toomer, who said that NFL Commish, Roger Goodell, uses his power in “kind of a Gestapo-type situation”. Really? Goodell has had NFL players snatched from their homes in the middle of the night and sent off to prisons and work camps and the like?

To be complete, Toomer has apologized for his remarks admitting that the remarks were “stupid, inappropriate and offensive”. I do not recall Peterson making such a stark declaration about his statement but I surely hope that in his reflective moments he does realize that he and his NFL cohorts are not slaves in any sense of the word. That kind of rhetoric – made by folks associated with either side of the NFL labor dispute – cannot move the process forward. Angry name-calling rarely solved any disputes on the playground when I was a kid; it is not going to produce a new NFL/NFLPA collective bargaining agreement.

By the way, I wonder if anyone is paying attention to the economics of the four major pro sports leagues in North America.

    The NHL bought the Phoenix Coyotes out of bankruptcy. The Coyotes’ putative new owner along with the league are pushing for a new financing deal that will keep the team in Phoenix but there is a legal challenge that alleges the deal violates Arizona state law. Meanwhile, the city of Glendale – - where the Coyotes play – - says it will lose $510M if the Coyotes move to Winnipeg. Oh, by the way, several other franchises are taking on water…

    The NBA essentially owns and operates the New Orleans Hornets and will look to sell that team to a new owner once the NBA has a new CBA negotiated. Where that new owner will put the Hornets is open to question but the league is paying the freight and incurring the losses for now.

    MLB has taken control of the LA Dodgers assigning someone to run it day-to-day. That is the moral equivalent of receivership in a bankruptcy situation. In addition, the NY Mets’ finances are hardly robust and might actually be in a death spiral.

    Meanwhile, the NFL enjoys $9B per year in revenues; and by the league’s admission, no team is operating in the red. Naturally, it is the NFL where there is a lockout and a dispute over how to proceed with play for the next several years in order to collect and share the $9B annual bounty.

David Whitley had this comment at regarding the LA Dodgers’ financial mess:

“The most Sandy Koufax made in a season was $125,000. Jamie McCourt got almost that much a year to have her hair done. That says all you need to know about the franchise formerly known as the Los Angeles Dodgers.”

Greg Cote had this “analysis” of the NFL labor dispute in the Miami Herald:

“The ponderous NFL lockout drags on, and the sides won’t meet again until next month. Meanwhile, the hardship continues for financially strapped players. Just overheard a Dolphin admit he’s using regular gas now instead of premium in both of his personal watercraft and both of his Bentleys.”

Finally, here is one more item from Greg Cote:

“Wilson Sporting Goods reports that one cow yields 10 footballs. I pass that along purely to upset PETA.”

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

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  • Rich  On April 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

    If one cow yields ten footballs, then why do we still call a football a pigskin?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 29, 2011 at 10:10 am


    That is done just to confuse the folks at PETA. It makes them think two animals are exploited to make footballs…

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