If you’re wonder what would cause me to put words into the mouth of labor pioneer Marvin Miller that sully the impeccable reputation of the late Upshaw, it was announced this weekend that Major League Baseball planned to implement testing for Human Growth Hormone, perhaps as early as next spring. Upon hearing the news relayed by veteran blogger Murray Chass, Miller wanted to know what the union had received in exchange. The answer would appear to be absolutely nothing.
“I don’t understand the rationale of this,” Miller said. “I don’t understand the rationale of a lot of things. It’s an unproven test. We don’t know the basis for this. I haven’t heard any rationale for this and there is no rationale for it.”
Trying to offer some sort of possible explanation, I mentioned to Miller that testing for HGH was something Selig wanted.
“I understand Selig wanting it,” he said. “But I don’t understand why the union would agree to it. If the players don’t get exercised about this, I’m not going to. But it’s a step to the rear. It’s not a step forward.”
Miller, a mentally robust 93 years old, has been critical of the union’s acceptance of testing for performance-enhancing drugs, and he reiterated his view by bringing up the union’s willingness to reopen the collective bargaining agreement twice to change the steroids-testing program and its penalties to placate critics.
“They didn’t get anything when they agreed to reopen testing when there was no reopening in the agreement to test,” Miller said, speaking critically of the union, which he saw as giving too much to the clubs too easily. “I can’t imagine anything appreciable to make you think twice about saying yes.”
(CSTB subeditor Jake casts his vote for Thanksgiving TV viewing…laces out)
At least two of next Thursday’s three Thanksgiving games look pretty watchable from this vantage point (Miami at Dallas being the lesser of the trio), but the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont would prefer to sacrifice his eyeballs on NBC’s telecast of the National Dog Show. “It’s the way we watched sports in the ’60s and ’70s,” argues Dupont, ” before the whole experience turned into a full sensorial battering and an insult to our intelligence…watching sports on TV was once a leisurely, entertaining, even relaxing experience. Now it’s an exercise in survival, one that leaves me wrung out, strung out, anything but feeling good when the show is over.” I’m gonna take a wild guess that Dupont’s not a test match cricket fan.
The on-air people don’t scream. That alone is worth hanging with the broadcast. I listen to the conversation, I learn, I get engaged rather than pummeled. There isn’t a constant barrage of stats or an incessant bottom-of-the-screen crawl giving “real time’’ updates of other dog shows. We don’t have to listen to players or coaches spouting tired clichés, making lame excuses, or stammering through awkward moments such as trying to explain their latest failed HGH test or last night’s DUI charge. Dogs behave. Especially show dogs.
Think about it, would a show-level dachshund, cocker spaniel or big ol’ English sheepdog ever duck out of competition en masse to gobble fried chicken and swill beer back in the canine clubhouse? Never. Not that I think any dog would be above that, because all dogs live to sniff and eat. But these dogs have respect for the game when it’s being played. Even if it’s not their turn on the floor, they are either at their owner’s side, under a groomer’s brush, or catching a few restorative winks in their crate. Oh, maybe a small snack here or there, but all dogs do that. Their being, even in the heat of competition, is shaped around treats.
Quickly, and dramatically, but with no clash of cymbals or flashing of on-screen graphics or the least bit of gut-gushing hyperbole from the broadcast crew (“Why, Sir Godfrey, you . . . DIRTY DOG!’’), the judge sharply announces the best dog. That’s it, show over. Without a single rolled eye or harrumph from other dogs or handlers. I’ve yet to see a winning dog pound paw to chest, then point heavenward.
Yes indeed, why can’t today’s uppity self-obsessed professional athletes be more obedient, cuddly and unpaid? Dupont calls the dog show, “the kind of relaxing escapism that TV delivered many moons ago,” and while I’ve no quarrel with the event or it’s participants, there’s something a little screwy about Dupont resenting any infusion of personality (or god forbid, real life circumstances) coming to bear on televised sports. Whether or not watching mainstream sports is relaxing is a matter of taste (some would opine that spending any quality time in front of a television set is a brain-dead pursuit), but pining for a more “escapist” era in TV programming just sounds like code for not having to tolerate certain types of people on your TV screen. Like, say, John Lackey.
Calling the universally panned Lou Reed / Metallica collaboration, ‘Lulu’, “an experiment in ‘phenomenology,’ much like the Andre The Giant sticker campaign by artist Shepard Fairey,”, Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick argues the album is in the rich tradition of confrontational works like John & Yoko’s ‘Two Virgins’, Lou’s “Metal Machine Music’, Pat Metheney’s ‘Zero Tolerance For Silence’ and John Cage’s ’4:33′. As opposed to, say Chris Gaines’ ‘Greatest Hits’.
One way to view ‘Lulu’ is the type of album that very few musical acts get to do — the 1% or less who reach that highest level, commercially and financially. These albums can only be done by acts who maintain their own creative control and feel the artistic impulses to challenge the very system that put them where they are. With METALLICA’s legacy secured, you can say they’ve earned the right to have a little fun and prove that they can do whatever the fuck they want to, as long as it’s done strategically (very wise that an ‘official’ METALLICA album is planned, soon to follow).
“Projects like ‘Lulu’ exist to challenge the norm and can only be pulled off by mega-successful acts at the top of their genre with a heightened artistic awareness. They are enjoyable and admirable purely as phenomena to be pondered, observed and discussed rather than listened to. They leave hardcore fans horrified at worst, scratching their heads at best.
“‘Two Virgins’, ‘Metal Machine Music’, ‘Zero Tolerance For Silence’, ’4:33′ and now ‘Lulu’. Important career milestones? Absolutely. Must-have recordings for hardcore collectors? Without a doubt. Worth repeating listenings? Absolutely not.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is dumping all three city members of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority — including former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew — in a housecleaning that could set the stage to renegotiate the White Sox lease, modify its restaurant deal and, possibly, have the state acquire and renovate Wrigley Field.
A Daley nephew fired means Chicago may finally be running on law other than Magna Carta and Dred Scott. There’s only one person in Chicago who cares about both sides of that North-South baseball equation to talk White Sox rents and a Bridgeport Baccardi franchise – John Cusack. So, I dust off the Cubs’ bureau desk to point out that last phrase, “have the state acquire and renovate Wrigley Field.” Or as I read it, “HAVE THE STATE ACQUIRE AND RENOVATE WRIGLEY FIELD.”
The idea of owning the Cubs and Wrigley has been a boondoggle since the Tribco put the team up for sale for real. Even before the current economic collapse, separating Wrigley from the club was floated to make the billion dollar combo platter possible for two separate buyers. The Tribco could never get the real estate money they wanted and the club was deemed less valuable without it’s crèche. So, buying the Cubs in the original package they came in was the deal: $1B give or take, minus a 5% stake the Trib kept). That narrowed down the number of talented owners who could afford the team (Mark Cuban publicly said, post-collapse, the Cubs aren’t worth that money) and meant the TribCo waited until a big bag of money showed up – ie, Tom Ricketts. Ricketts sports career consisted entirely of sitting in Wrigley’s bleachers as a member of – by some accounts – the nation’s most disliked and obnoxious fan base. So, who better to own the team that made its first statue – first, of any participant in the 100-plus-year legacy of the franchise – a monument to Harry Caray?
That said, it may be Ricketts wants to sell. He can’t afford Wrigley – has that realization ever occurred to him in his life, “I can’t afford this …” – so the state could buy it and charge him rent for a long time to come. A Ricketts renting … what has the world come to? In his favor, Ricketts did hire Theo, so maybe in all this he’s Mr. Magoo’d his way into making the Cubs a leaner, much more manageable franchise. Hendry psycho drama and Tribco quarterly report thinking is gone. The Illinois Sports Facility Authority isn’t there to maintain traditional deals and even Ryno didn’t get a job interview for the managing spot (Ryno, same guy who quit the team for a season, if I recall, cuz he felt like it).
In a lot of good ways, by design or implosion, the Cubs do look like a very new organization.
SpursNation’s Mike Monroe texted Matt Bonner soon after the National Basketball Players Association decertified this week, asking if he would consider playing elsewhere.
Bonner, who was vice-president of the union, replied ‘Possibly. I will definitely consider it.’
Monroe went on to report that the 6-foot-10 San Antonio Spurs forward told him he had an in with the NBL’s Halifax Rainmen – a friend who runs the team. That prompted this Facebook response from the Mill Rats:
“The writer made an error and said the Halifax Rainmen where it should have read the Saint John Mill Rats.”
Mill Rats GM Ian McCarthy said the team could make room for Bonner with its remaining open roster spot or by releasing someone. McCarthy said the team is not at the league’s $150,000 cap limit yet and space remains for roster moves.
“They said he couldn’t succeed in the NFL with his uncoventional style at the quarterback position. How dare they doubt Jesus: The Mile High Messiah!” ; that’s the sales pitch from the entrepreneurial minds behind Sportscrack.com, where they’d like $17 for the above monstrosity. Even a Jewish-raised atheist like myself is deeply offended by this garment ; surely if Jesus Christ were to return to this mortal coil (like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny), he’d have some clue how to throw a forward pass?
Armen Keteyian’s blink-and-you-missed-it “interview” with embattled Penn State assistant coach / ineffective whistle blower Mike McQueary on CBS Tuesday didn’t quite live up to the former’s promise of “an open window to his (McQueary’s) emotions)”, and in the considered view of the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman, promotion for said encounter qualified as “nauseating hype”.
Criticism immediately came down on Keteyian. He defended himself on Twitter, saying: “I didn’t ‘hype’ anything, exclusive or otherwise. Honest about what we got — a glimpse into his ‘shaken’ emotions. What? We don’t run it?”
Keteyian was correct — in a cockeyed sort of way. He didn’t “hype” the interview, the suits he works for did. And knowing in advance that he came up empty (unless seeing McQueary’s face on camera is a big deal), they still hung Keteyian out to dry by overselling what amounted to a photo opportunity.
If CBS, like other networks, can use its newscasts to air promos, disguised as news stories, for its prime-time entertainment programs, then the McQueary spot deserved to air, too. It just should’ve been put in its proper perspective. It was a few seconds of (very) small talk — a glorified “No comment.”
McQueary was far from “shaken.” He looked calm. Better if he flipped and told Keteyian “to get the hell off my property.” At least that would’ve passed for legit news.
Wednesday, Keteyian told a Washington, D.C. radio station that if “ABC or NBC or CNN or ESPN had that moment with Mike McQueary, they would have played it just like we played it.” What he meant to say was these other networks are capable of delivering the same garbage CBS did.
Ownership said right away that they didn’t leak it. John Henry stormed into The Sports Hub studio two days later to “set the record straight” on Felger & Mazz, using the phrase “character assassination.” We’ve heard nothing from Theo on the topic. The Cubs interviewed Terry Francona. Was this a make-good for what happened in Boston? Papelbon leaves and nothing negative gets leaked to the press. “They add up and make sense,” Gresh said.
From peddling minority shares in the franchise (and don’t even ask who’s buying) to reports Jose Reyes is all but gone to Miami, the Mets had to throw their fans a bone this week. Even if it were just a cosmetic bone. On Thursday, while unveiling plans for the club’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, Howie Rose confirmed the blue & black hats would be eliminated, along with (eventually) most elements of the garish alternate uniforms that enraged everyone from sensible persons to Phil Mushnick. From the former category, UniWatch‘s Paul Lukas is a longtime opponent of these aesthetic atrocities, and as such, deserves the his victory lap.
Disappointments? I count three, all fairly minor: (1) The black alternate jersey and solid-black cap have not been eliminated — yet. They’ll be used sparingly on the road in 2012, and then scrapped altogether in 2013. (2) I was hoping they’d go back to a blue squatchee for 2012, but they’re sticking with orange. (3) I was also hoping they’d restore the little “NY” to the skyline logo, but no dice. In the grand scheme of things, however, I can live with all of these.
And there you have it. After a dozen years of campaigning for most of these moves, I don’t mind saying that the long-awaited ditching of the black — VB Day — tastes pretty sweet. Today my giant souvenir Mets cup is filled with champagne. (Actually, I don’t own a souvenir cup, and I don’t particularly like champagne. But you get the idea.)
My thanks to everyone else who’s helped with the cause over the years. Enjoy the moment, people — an all-too-rare triumph of Good over Stupid.
Frontburner’s Michael J. Mooney reports for the mere sum of $22,000 (USD) Hall of Fame RB Emmitt Smith will pop round to your place and watch a football game with you. It’s all part of a Miller Lite promotion designed to help retired vets who probably aren’t as mobile as Emmitt.
What do you get for your 22 large? Apparently you can have a “reasonable” number of people over to meet the player (they define reasonable as 15-30) and he’ll sign autographs “within reason.” You have to provide the TV, and you’ll have to make room for 2 or 3 representatives from Miller.
There’s no truth to the rumor Lenny Dykstra is available via a similar scheme (exceptions being the fee is closer to $222K and you have to provide a cake with a file hidden inside…and there’s no autographs).
“It isn’t so much that the Irish like drinking, although there’s probably a bit of that involved, it’s that they’re basically ordered to do it,” argues the Guardian’s Paul Doyle and Simon Burnton. With Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Estonia securing the Republic Of Ireland a berth in Euro 2012, Doyle and Burnton warn, “The problem with continually telling the residents of a country that they drink and party a lot is that eventually they start drinking and partying a lot.”
In 1985, before Jack Charlton started qualifying them for major competitions, Ireland were one of Europe’s more abstemious nations – at the time they were outdrunk by France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.
Then came the 1988 European Championships and the run to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals. After their penalty shoot-out defeat of Romania in that competition, Jack Charlton confidently predicted: “I think the pubs will sell more booze tonight than in the last year. There will be a party the likes of which you have never seen before.” Then there was the 1994 World Cup: “I’m trying to encourage our fans here to have another party,” said Jack. “OK, then,” said the fans.
By 1995 consumption had shot up from 9.71 litres of pure alcohol per person per year to 11.88 – the equivalent of drinking one teaspoon of pure alcohol every three and a half hours of every day, including night-times – but the Irish still drank a bit less than Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia, about the same as Spain, Switzerland and Romania and way less than Europe’s big drinkers at the time, France, Portugal, Germany and Slovenia.
But then they qualified for the 2002 World Cup, during which tig-hat sales went up 20% – “it’s been mental for the past couple of weeks,” said one fan – and which ended with a government-funded €500,000 street party. By 2005 they were each drinking 13.35 litres of pure alcohol, more than any country in Europe except the Czech Republic and Estonia. And a fair amount of the alcohol drunk in the Czech Republic and Estonia is consumed by people from places like Ireland on stag weekends.
“The team that should be in the American League is Milwaukee,” said former All-Star outfielder Jim Wynn, who played for the Astros from 1963-1973. “Milwaukee came from the American League. The National League team is the Houston Astros. If they move to the American League, the fan base is going to get really mad.”
An informal Chronicle online poll last month showed 76 percent of the respondents opposing a league change, with 35 percent vowing to sever their allegiance if the Astros were to join the AL. Like Wynn, many fans wonder why NL Central rival Milwaukee, which was in the AL from 1970-1997, isn’t changing leagues. Bud Selig used to own the Brewers and still lives in Milwaukee — two facts that don’t sit well with many Astros loyalists.
“I live in Houston,” said former Astros player and general manager Bob Watson, who played in both leagues during a 19-year career. “Would I like to see the American League? No, but it’s not my call.”
Watson calls himself “a purist” and insists baseball “was designed to be a National League game.
“In the American League, if you’re lucky enough to have a really good club, you’re like a fan. You’re just sitting back watching,” said former Astros player and manager Art Howe, who has managed in both leagues. “You put up that lineup, and it’s, ‘Go get ’em, boys.’ The moves are strictly with your pitching staff. Does he have anything left? Should I bring this guy in? In the National League, you’re manipulating your players.”
Iverson denied playing any role in a 2009 bar fight at the South Beach Pizza Bar nightclub inside the Fisher Building. He said he hired bodyguards, including a pre-Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, to stay out of trouble.
“I get sued for stuff I don’t got nothing to do with. I ain’t involved with. Ain’t nobody never said … I touched them,” Iverson, 36, said. “I don’t do nothing to nobody, buddy.”
Lattimer had a quick reply.
“The head honcho ain’t supposed to,” he said.
Iverson: “Yeah, I ain’t no damn mob boss. I don’t live my life like that. I got five kids. I don’t put that on their head. That’s a fairytale that y’all living in …”
After nearly two hours, Lattimer said he appreciated Iverson sitting for the deposition.
“Go to hell,” Iverson said.
While NBC’s diminutive bloodhound Bob Costas (above) shrugged off the tasteless tweets and received nearly-universal praise for his grilling of former Penn State defense coordinator-turned pariah Jerry Sandusky, the competency of Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola is under scrutiny today after his client struggled to give a succinct & enthusiastic “no” when asked, “are you sexually attracted to young boys?” Though the answer, “maybe?”, wouldn’t have gone over very well, The Atlantic Wire’s Dino Grandon catalogs the ways in which Costas’ scoop might’ve buried Sandusky — if you can be buried after already being buried.
He’s admitted to a crime already in the interview Sandusky said in the interview, “Well, I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids, I have showered after workouts.” His lawyer, Joe Amendola, said that “some of the allegations, such as putting a hand on a boy’s knee, do not constitute criminal conduct,” according to the AP, and that showering with a boy also isn’t a crime on Today. But CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin vehemently disagrees. “It’s such a classic fact pattern for him to admit that he showered with these children and horsed around and confessed to touching them,” she says on CNN. “In my mind, that’s already misdemeanor child sex abuse. So I disagree when the attorney says nothing criminal happened here. That, in and of itself, is criminal.”
He’s given up his Fifth Amendment rights Normally, though, one can’t incriminate oneself as a protection of the Fifth Amendment, which says someone can’t “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” But attorney Tom Harvey says that the Costas interview last night will be an exception. “He admitted he showered with little boys, he admitted he touched little boys’ legs, he hugged little boys, he’s saying people just made all this other stuff up,” he tells the New York Daily News. “He’s just given up his Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate himself.” He continues: “If he tries to say they are hearsay, the prosecutors would say it is an exception — he made the statements against interests.
He’s tainting the jury pool “He’s obviously not in touch with reality,” Marci Hamilton, a law professor specializing in child sex abuse, tells USAToday. “If I was his attorney, I would never allow him to do this. It’s just foolishness. It’s a very bad idea … Even when a child is just touched in passing by an adult, it can affect them. Clearly, he has no sympathy and empathy for the victims.” Jurors in Sandusky’s case, who haven’t been picked yet, aren’t likely to be very forgiving for someone they find unsympathetic.
Free agent SS Jose Reyes is described in one report as “intrigued” by an alleged 6-year, $90 million offer from the Miami Marlins, one that would place him under the supervision of Ozzie Guillen and would almost certainly require incumbent SS Hanley Ramirez (above, left) approving a move to third base or the outfield. Despite prior assurances Ramirez — perhaps not the ultimate team player — was ok with such a shift, the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer insists that simply isn’t so. And if that’s the case, as SBN’s Rob Neter points out, “if the Marlins sign Reyes, they’re going to be in a tough place.”
It’ll be tough to trade Ramirez, because he’s coming off a lousy season and is owed $46.5 million for the next three seasons. Ramírez’s value at the moment is at an all-time low, so if the Marlins trade Ramírez they’ll be trading from a position of weakness. Which is almost never a good thing.
If the Marlins keep him, he’ll almost certainly be less valuable playing somewhere else than he was playing shortstop.
Still, the bottom line is that Hanley Ramírez, when right, is good enough to play anywhere. And, if right, will be worth more than $46.5 million whether he’s playing center field or third base or second base or wherever.
At the risk of sparking a real life version of Earles & Jensen’s “Ed Asner Strongest Related Idea On CD”, I wonder how the members of Cheap Trick must feel about a framed 8X10″ glossy of themselves, circa ‘In Color’, hanging adjacent to the Joseph Brooks-autograph sheet music on the back corner wall of New York’s Palm Too? The disgraced Academy Award winner would probably find himself unwelcome in many of the city’s finer eateries had he not offed himself earlier this year, but it appears that either the Palm Too is shrugging at his sex crimes, or perhaps they’ve just not considered changing the decor in several years.
This is how far standards have fallen, folks. Merely by not being Fred Wilpon, one of the biggest creeps in professional sports is being proclaimed some sort of civic hero. “Jeffrey Loria has been criticized, even vilified, a lot over the years,” writes Forbes’ Patrick Rishe, briefly explaining the art dealer-turned Marlins owner’s role in the destruction of the Montreal Expos, his habit of undermining field managers (though weirdly, not mentioning the serial attempts to suck up to Hanley Ramirez). And through all of that — on a day Loria is rumored to have seduced Jose Reyes away from the Mets, Rishe declares, “Loria’s ownership of the newly renamed Miami Marlins has officially become a success.” Yes, as long as nothing’s been measured in ticket sales or recent contention, he’s the greatest owner of all time!
Loria stands in stark contrast to the biggest problem baseball faces today, irresponsible owners who are sinking important franchises with their own reckless behavior. Loria is building something in south Florida, an important market where the game has a good shot to expand. His Marlins have put down $155 million for their new stadium and now appear poised to invest more money at precisely the right time—when its new stadium opens. He has already secured the services of Ozzie Guillen, a showman who can attract attention like no other manager or coach in professional sports. Contrast Loria’s behavior to the disaster in Queens, where the Mets’ embattled owners are cutting payroll in the key earlier years of Citi Field. The point of revenue sharing shouldn’t be to have small-market teams pointlessly spend a little extra money each year, but to give them the financial resources to strategically build a strong franchise so they can spend some money when it counts. The Marlins spent about $50 million on payroll in 2011 and are expected to have a payroll of some $80 million in 2012. The team is reportedly paying Guillen $10 million over four years.
Baseball in Miami might still not work. It may or may not make sense for taxpayers in Florida to finance a baseball park. Loria will have made a small fortune off of baseball one way or the other. But the man deserves credit for his persistence and shrewdness in making the best of a tough situation.
…even if the photography is making me, dizzy. Calm down, Sam Raimi, just because you can put a camera on stick doesn’t mean you have to. Hosts Paul Doucette and Hugh Stewart describe “Flag On The Play” as “the world’s number one source for magic and conspiracy related football news,”, though I’m sure listening to Jerry Glanville talk in his sleep would be very close second.
Pittsburgh resident John Matko, 34, drove 3 hours yesterday to stand in front of Beaver Stadium prior to the Nebraska/Penn State game, staging a one-man protest against the school’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case(s). Matko (above), a PSU alum bore a sign reading, “The Kids Are What This Day Is About, Not Who Wins Or Loses Or How They Lost Their Jobs And How! Honor The Abused Kids By Cancelling This Game And Season Now!” As you’ve probably already guessed, this didn’t go over too well, as the Washington Times’ Nathan Fenno explains.
“Put abused kids first,” one of Matko’s signs read. “Don’t be fooled, they all knew. Tom Bradley, everyone must go.”
“That is such [expletive]!” one young woman screamed at him after glancing at the signs. “Who the [expletive] do you think you are?”
The night before, thousands of students held candles and sang Coldplay’s “Fix You” a capella in front of Old Main to support victims of sexual abuse. They wanted to show a different side to Penn State than the 40 charges of child sexual abuse against ex-football assistant Jerry Sandusky or the riots late Wednesday after the university fired iconic coach Joe Paterno for his role in the cover-up. Under Saturday’s cloudless sky, Curtin Street revealed something else.
A beer showered Matko. One man slapped his stomach. Another called him a “[expletive].”
“You’re going to get your [expletive] kicked, man,” a man bellowed.
Abuse flew at Matko from young and old, students and alumni, men and women. No one intervened. No one spoke out against the abuse. Over the course of an hour, a lone man stopped, read the sign and said, “I agree.” Those two words were swallowed by the profanity and threats by dozens of others during the hour.
A burly man wearing a “JoePa” T-shirt strode up, wrestled away the sign urging abused kids be put first from Matko’s right hand and slammed it to the ground.
After reading the signs, another woman glowered at Matko.
“Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) was never around,” Shaquille O’Neal complains in “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” his forthcoming autobiography co-written by former Boston Globe scribe Jackie MacMullan. “And, whenever I did see him, he usually ignored me. The disappointing thing to me was, being in LA all those years and trying to fill those shoes, I would have liked to have a conversation with him.” Screw conversations, Shaq, from here on in you’re limited to reading Kareem’s Facebook status updates like the rest of us.
I went down to LSU and worked with Shaq on the fundamentals of the Skyhook as a favor to Coach Dale Brown. I spent time with Shaq in the gym and gave him some drills he could use to develop the hook shot. But when I followed up with his Coach, Dale Brown, I was told that Shaq’s father told his son he didn’t need to develop a hook shot and all he needed to do was smash everything into the basket. Shaq’s father felt that he was so overpowering physically that he should just dunk everything and not worry about developing a finesse shot like the Skyhook.
As a pro I never approached Shaq because I thought he was pretty successful dunking everything and I assumed he didn’t want my help. I was never on the coaching staff of any of his teams. I was never unfriendly to him and I would talk to him, but Shaq was enjoying his success, doing it his way. He never asked me of what I thought he should be doing and he never tried to reach out to me for any instruction and I respected that decision.
If I had any idea that Shaq wanted to learn from me, I would have been happy to have worked with him, but all indications that I had received was that he felt he was doing fine and he didn’t need or want my help. I am totally surprised by Shaq’s comments as I tried to respect his privacy and never got any indication from anyone that he wanted or needed any input from me with regard to how he played the game. Shaq had a great career, and I like everyone else, respect what he has achieved.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for a locked out NBA workforce, the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey claims Isiah Thomas — presumably still under the employ of Florida International University — “has been creepin’ round Billy Hunter’s back door to get his job.”
Should an opening occur any time soon, the union’s search committee might want to check out how successful Thomas was the last time he and Stern haggled.
In the spring of 2000, Thomas was the Hawks’ first choice to become head coach. But before he could gain approval from the commissioner, he was told to detach himself as majority owner of the Continental Basketball League (a conflict of interest was cited). Despite already having built a home in Atlanta, Thomas vehemently refused. That prompted the Hawks to retract their offer. Ownership did not want a long, ugly court fight with the league.
Shortly thereafter, Pacers president Donnie Walsh proposed to Thomas, but was barred by Stern from signing him. Walsh convinced owners Mel and Herb Simon to be patient so Thomas would have time to sell the CBA. Looking to latch on to a minor league, Stern bid $9M, figuring he might as well start his own (Developmental League) for anything above that figure.
Thomas was outraged. He felt Stern purposely low-balled him because he knew how badly he wanted to coach. Kinda the way Hunter must feel knowing how badly his players want to play.
So, Thomas showed Stern! He let the CBA go out of business and got nothing.