Here And There

With my long-suffering wife on a trip that has her 11 time zones away, I sat down last night after a comfort food dinner to watch the Duke/Louisville game.  I thought this was a perfect trap game situation for Duke coming between a trip to UVA last weekend and upcoming games against UNC.  Given that Duke is a predominantly freshman team, I wondered how they would handle such a situation.

I thought they played nothing but uninspired basketball for the first 30 minutes or so; it was worse than a sleepwalking performance.  With about 8 minutes left to play, the light went on and the Blue Devils did more than just wake up.  It was as if they snapped to attention and looked around and realized they were “in a predicament”.  Louisville was up by 20 points and were dominating on both ends of the floor – – and then the entire tone of the game flipped 180 degrees.  I don’t recall seeing that dramatic a turn-around in a game recently.  In the final 8-10 minutes, Duke erased a 20-point deficit against a very competent Louisville team and won the game at the very end.

What will be interesting to observe is the effect this game will have on Louisville.  They had the game under control and in hand and then everything turned to mud.  Clemson visits Louisville on Saturday; I cannot find any lines on that game this morning [For college basketball, lines tend to show up about 48 hours ahead of game time.]; I think it will be interesting to see how the oddsmakers see the outcome of last night’s game in light of the game on Saturday.

In the NBA, James Harden has a streak of 31 consecutive games where he scored 30 or more points.  Impressive…  Also, in the NBA, Russell Westbrook has had a triple double in 10 consecutive games.  Likewise, impressive …  Someone asked Michael Jordan which  of those feats was more difficult – given that he had never done either of them.  His answer was:

“Winning six titles.”

Even though Jordan abruptly changed the subject, I have to agree with his conclusion.  However, I would like now to change the subject on him just a bit and suggest that people recall some basketball happenings before Michael Jordan was a household name.  Bill Russell turned 85 this week; Bill Russell was a critical performer for 11 Boston Celtic teams that won NBA titles.  That is E-L-E-V-E-N!

The following paraphrase comes from Bob Ryan in his appearance on Around the Horn yesterday:

  • Counting NCAA tournaments, the Olympics, and NBA playoff series, Bill Russell played in 21 games where it was “win or go home”.  His team’s record in those games is 21-0.

So, kudos to James Harden and to Russell Westbrook and to Michael Jordan.  And an equal helping of kudos to Bill Russell…

When the Cleveland Browns announced the signing of Kareem Hunt earlier this week the social justice warriors went apoplectic.  You may recall that we have conclusive video evidence that Hunt assaulted a woman – even kicking her when she was down on the floor.  That behavior is despicable, and it got him suspended from the NFL and cut by the KC Chiefs.  He remains on the Commissioner’s Exempt List – which is even worse than double secret probation.  But the Browns signed him to a 1-year contract earlier this week.  I was wondering how long and how loud the voices of outrage would last for this action.

Now, in today’s Washington Post, Sally Jenkins provides a column of reason.  She does not excuse, dismiss or minimize what Kareem Hunt did.  [Aside:  Note that I am not hedging this by saying “allegedly did” because I saw what he did with my own eyes.]  What Sally Jenkins has done is to consider the possibility that there is a way to have something good come from that which is unmistakably bad.  I commend this column to your reading; here is the link.  Just to whet your appetite, here is the first paragraph of that column:

“Giving Kareem Hunt a second chance in the NFL is not just the right thing to do; it’s the only thing to do.  The alternative is to designate him incurable, a lost cause at 23.  It’s to say that his character is permanently set; and he’s incapable of making a willful better choice.  That’s not right, and it’s not true.”

Kyler Murray has decided he wants to play pro football instead of pro baseball – – at least for now.  Radio and TV commentators are now in full “debate mode” about how Murray’s short stature – – he is listed at 5’ 10” but we will have to wait until the Combine to get his official height recorded – – will affect his ability to function as an NFL QB.  Some have said that he will be the shortest QB ever.  Once again, people need to realize that all of history has not happened since 1990.

Eddie LeBaron was a QB for the Skins and the Cowboys over an 11-year career.  He is listed at 5’ 9” tall but plenty of reporting on him says that he was only 5’ 7” tall.  Interestingly, Google thinks Doug Flutie at 5’ 10” tall is the shortest NFL QB of all time.  Whatever…

José Canseco is back in the news.  Here is a recent Tweet from the volunteer Chairman of the Fed and/or the President’s Chief of Staff:

“Go on a Bigfoot and alien Excursion with Jose Canseco contact Morgan Management at XXX-YYY-ZZZZ.”

This is simply stunning.  If you were to consider – even for a fleeting moment – going on a “Bigfoot and alien excursion”, would you go with:

  1. A respected archeologist
  2. A TV producer such as David Attenborough or Jacques Cousteau (who is currently dead)
  3. A scientist
  4. An outdoorsman
  5. A former MLB player who has been hit in the head with a fly ball?

Tough choice…

Finally, Brad Rock had this comment in the Deseret News recently regarding celebrity status in the sports world:

“Norwegian world chess champion Magnus Carlsen is reportedly a celebrity in his home country.

“He edged out curling, ice fishing and fjord-yodeling champions for the honor.”

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



11 thoughts on “Here And There”

  1. On Canseco item #5, that led directly to a home run when he was with the Rangers. IIRC he also decided to pitch that season in true 40-40 form, messed himself up into a stint on the injured list for the rest of the season and his pitching line was front and center on the Houston Chronicle’s reporting of (Dallas) Texas Ranger pitching stats. It really was the beginning of the end for Canseco as a major leaguer.

    No rivalry there to speak of….

    Where does Wilt Chamberlain fit in to the points and titles discussion?

    1. Rugger9:

      Wilt holds some scoring and rebounding records that have never been approached. He also won 2 NBA championships (Sixers and Lakers). He played for 3 NBA teams (Sixers, Warriors, Lakers) and all three retired his number.

  2. Thanks for remembering Bill Russell. All too often his prodigious accomplishments are completely ignored by the basketball media.

    1. Gil:

      As I said, too many people believe that nothing happened before 1990. It is almost as if that is prior to recorded history.

  3. Who remembers when the Chicago Bulls could never get by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs? Michael Jordan does. After one particular loss, Jordan went to the back of the team bus and cried.

    And he never lost to them again.

    1. Tenacious P:

      The old Pistons/Bulls games were wars – nothing at all like today’s spread-the-floor and throw-up-30-three-pointers-per-game exhibitions.

  4. Jordan needed Pippin to take the heat off of him. That was one key element needed because even though MJ scored lots of points routinely, the bulls didn’t always win.

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