Lute Olson Responds to Parkinson’s Rumors

Posted in Basketball at 6:27 pm by

Much as I despise University of Arizona and that, once again, the Wildcats dropped my Sun Devils (barely) on Sunday, there’s not much to laugh at in this story. UA coach Lute Olson, 72, addressed in a conference call rumors he has Parkinson’s disease.

From the Tucson Citizen:

“It’s a complete lie,” Olson said. “I have physicals like everyone else does. There is absolutely no medical indication of a problem of that type.
“It’s a vicious rumor that gets passed on. It’s totally false. If need be, I can get my doctor to indicate that it’s totally false.”
Olson said he decided to address the rumors for several reasons: A television station began to work on a story two weeks ago, a sports talk radio caller mentioned it and a fan came up to him today and asked him about it.

Plus, “This is the kind of thing you get from people you are recruiting against,” Olson said.

“If the rumor is going around here, it’s certainly going to be passed around (the nation),” Olson said.
“I’m healthy. When you get nervous, you start to shaking a little. But most people my age do (shake).”

It’d be appalling, though not unprecedented, if opposing coaches were using that dagger in recruiting. However, Lute seems to have opened the door himself to ageism attacks by saying, “Most people my age do shake.”

Having admitted Sunday after the game that he doesn’t have a “handle” on his team, Olson can’t possibly stick around at UA much longer. At least that’s the hope 100 miles to the north in Tempe.


Put Down the Sports Section and Improve Society

Posted in Sports Journalism at 2:29 pm by

(hardcore journalist Carl “The Night Stalker” Kolchak. His gig ain’t what it used to be)

It’s an unnerving time to be in the newspaper business. Circulation is dropping and papers are taking some drastic measures to keep up and stay profitable.

At the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal, the standalone business section will be “relocated” and combined with the sports section Monday through Friday. That doesn’t sit well with some intellectuals, who apparently find stock listings more important than NBA standings.

Chris Roush writes (via Romenesko):

Let me ask all business editors where this is being considered to go to their editors and ask them this question: What is more important to people, knowing information about their jobs and the economy, or knowing whether their favorite sports team won last night? (And I went to the UNC-NC State game last night.) At some point, newspapers will have to decide whether they want to improve society or not.


A new theory on Barry

Posted in Baseball at 4:13 pm by

Here’s an intriguing — if not totally unrealistic — outlook on Barry Bonds’ pursuit of the home run record, courtesy of the great Freakonomics blog. Stephen J. Dubner wonders about Barry’s future Hall attempts amid steroids talk and Mark McGwire’s denial into enshrinement.

Here™s one proposal: hit your 755th home run and then retire, making an earnest speech (on national TV at the All-Star game, perhaps?) that recognizes your own accomplishments in the skein of history that includes Aaron, Jackie Robinson, and, yes, Babe Ruth. In exchange for this gracious gesture, however, you require Major League Baseball to agree in writing to never ban you as it banned Pete Rose. While this hardly guarantees admission into the Hall of Fame, it would at least not preclude it. And you would be tied forever (or at least until Albert Pujols finishes his career) with Hank Aaron for the most memorable record in baseball ” the tie being an acknowledgment that you could have broken the record if you wanted to but, out of a keen understanding of the baseball public™s psyche, you chose to take the high, noble road.

Interesting theory and, of course, it will never happen. There’s a lot of key words and phrases we must emphasize that likely never will be attached to Bonds’ name: “earnest,” “gracious,” “keen understanding of the baseball public’s psyche,” “high, noble road.”

Good try, though. At least Dubner knows it hooey: I put the odds of this happening at about 20,000-to-1.


Marion Wants To Remind You How Good He Is

Posted in Basketball at 10:39 pm by

Suns forward Shawn Marion is always quick to let anyone within earshot know that he’s amazing, an MVP candidate in fact. Just last year, he was singing his own praises.

“If I’m averaging 20 and 10 and I’m 6-7 and 225, am I just supposed to do that?” Marion (above, right) said late in the regular season as he lay on a hotel bed playing handheld electronic poker. “How the hell do I not get the same credit as Garnett and Tim Duncan and those guys? I’m 225, barely. Is this just what we’ve come to expect of Shawn?”

Marion sat up and put the game aside as he continued.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve been doing this since I got here. I’ve been playing with Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury and Steve Nash and been able to adjust my game to everyone.”

Well, the Matrix is at it again, and no better time to campaign for himself than during his sort-of homecoming to Las Vegas for the All-Star Game. This time, Marion isn’t just an MVP candidate. Oh, no.

For Marion, it was much of the same. Fantasy league owners and opposing coaches adore him. Even with a loaded West forward crop, Marion was named to the team. But he continued to resent that it was even up for debate.

“It sucks that I’ve got to speak up for myself more than ever,” he said. “But at the same time, people who know and see what I’m doing out there know what I’m capable of.

“I have the ability, and I have the determination to be one of the best small forwards to ever play the game, if not the best. Hopefully, I’m almost at that. By the time I hang my shoes up, I’m going to be the best small forward ever to play this game – all-around, anyway.”

Just off the top of my head, I’d still take Scottie Pippen — in his prime, anyway — over Marion. I’ll give Marion this: He can jump and he’s as athletic as anyone in the league. But I’d never let him run the point like Pippen could, and have you seen him shoot? His short-arm delivery looks like a T-Rex taking a jump shot.

But for “the best small forward ever to play this game,” he makes a hell of a local furniture pitchman.

Tim Hardaway Pisses Off Bald People Now

Posted in Basketball at 9:32 pm by

In addition to losing all his loyal gay fans, Tim Hardaway has now lost an endorsement deal with BaldGuyz. From the Miami Herald:

Hardaway’s comments could hurt him financially. BaldGuyz, a New Jersey-based company that makes grooming products for bald men, dropped him as a spokesman Thursday, four months after making him the first former pro to represent the two-year-old company.

”BaldGuyz, like baldness, does not discriminate based on lifestyle choice, color, education, financial resources, religion, physical capabilities or in any other way,” Howard Brauner, CEO of BaldGuyz, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got nothing better going on with your Friday night, the Sophomores are routing the Rookies at halftime, and GC will be pleased to know that David Lee has 18 on 9-for-9 shooting. But he’s got nothing on Bow Wow.

Scottie Pippen Wants to Come Back (Insert Joke)

Posted in Basketball at 6:30 pm by

Former Trail Blazers Bulls great Scottie Pippen, 41, is hoping to return to the NBA, riding the gravy train of a playoff-bound team. Of course, the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith just soiled his drawers.

Pippen, who turned 41 on Sept. 25, says he’s in better condition and health than at any time in the last five years. And in the Eastern Conference, his veteran presence could change the balance of power and be a major influence in the playoffs. Or he might be the long-sought backup to relieve the pressure on the Suns’ Steve Nash. The possibilities are intriguing.

Pippen will give an indication of where he is physically when he teams with the Bulls’ Ben Gordon and the Chicago Sky’s Candice Dupree in the “Shooting Stars” contest part as part of Saturday night’s All-Star festivities.

“I’m thinking of trying to come back for the playoffs,” Pippen said. “Something like the last two months of the season, somewhere I can come back and play limited minutes to start, play point forward for someone and build toward the playoffs. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last three months.”

As a Phoenician who watches the Suns quite often, I doubt Pip will head this way. They already signed Jalen Rose, who plays less than Pat Burke.

But here’s the kicker:

Pippen wants to move into coaching and said his ideal situation would be to serve as a player-coach. He believes his experience running Phil Jackson’s Bulls offense and as the leader of good Trail Blazers teams in the late 1990s gives him a step up in coaching.

This no doubt guarantees he will call his own number for the final shot in a playoff game with 1.8 seconds left.


$126 Million in Hand, Zito Decides It’s Good Time to Change Delivery

Posted in Baseball at 11:30 pm by

He hasn’t abandoned his bread-and-butter curveball (yet), but Barry Zito, the Giants’ prized off-season acquisition, has tweaked his delivery, much to the concern of pitching coach Dave Righetti.

Apparently, Zito wants to generate more power from his lower body, a focus of his off-season training.

From the jail-free San Francisco Chronicle:

The idea is to generate more thrust with his legs and less with his arm, which not only should preserve the arm and allow him to throw more innings, but also create later and more powerful movement on his pitches, including the fastball and curveball.”I just felt constricted, really, the last few years, like I was throwing all arm,” Zito said, “so it’s about using the core of your body, the center of your mass, instead of your arm.”

Zito has changed his workout regimen this winter to strengthen his legs and hips, so the new delivery goes hand-in-hand. Actually, he called it an old delivery he used in college.

Righetti is not thrilled with the idea:

“It’s going to change the flight of his ball,” Righetti said, suggesting Zito could lose his signature curveball. That is why Righetti said “yes” when asked if this was worrisome and “I don’t know” when asked if he might try to talk Zito out of it – something Righetti would not do until he sees how well Zito progresses over the next few weeks.

Surely, this is a pre-emptive move on the part of the guitar-slinging Zito, still waiting for that call to go on tour with Dave Matthews Band. Better he change his delivery than try his hand at Guitar Hero.


If You Can’t Beat Oregon State …

Posted in Basketball at 10:42 pm by

While the Pac-10 Conference, which Dick Vitale never knew existed, tries to cram seven teams into the NCAA tournament, my beloved Arizona State Sun Devils are on the brink of making some ignominious history.

At 0-13 in the Pac-10 (6-18 overall), they could become the first team to go winless since the conference’s inception in 1978. The Devils have five games left, and none look easy: at home vs. UCLA, USC, Arizona then away at Stanford and Cal.

The latest loss was a 59-55 setback at Oregon State, ASU’s 14th straight loss. The Beavers, who more resembled a junior high team in scoring 35 points against UCLA on Feb. 3, have two Pac-10 wins. Yes, both are against ASU.

If it’s possible, poor Herb Sendek (above) is losing more hair, though he’s a crack-up in postgame press conferences. Lamenting Oregon State’s 72.7 percent shooting from the free-throw line (the Beavers were 57.9 percent coming in), Herbie said, “We can’t work on our free-throw defense.” Hey, ooooooh!

He even got tossed — his first career ejection — in a 66-61 loss to Washington on Feb. 1.

In a comment to a pool reporter, (official Michael) Reed said Sendek ran afoul of Rule No. 1096 by “inciting an undesirable response from the crowd after he had been asked not to do that.”

But Sendek has been doing it all season.

“I wasn’t trying to get the crowd to throw eggs at the officials,” he said.

I’m afraid that may be ASU’s only chance.


How Would NASCAR React to an Openly Gay Driver?

Posted in History's Great Hook-Ups, Vroom Vroom at 8:50 pm by

Boris Said, veteran road racer trying his hand at NASCAR, might have given us an idea. In an Associated Press feature (via Yahoo!), Said takes us into the (very small) brain of these folks:

Said illustrated his point with a story about qualifying last August at Indianapolis.

“I was on the bubble for a little while and it came down to the last guy, who was faster than me in practice,” Said noted. “I’ll relate the feeling to two movies. One is `My Dog Skip,’ where everybody is crying and sad and the old dog is dying. That’s how we were in the trailer. It looked like our best friend had died.

“Then, the minute we made the show, 15 seconds later, it turned into `Brokeback Mountain,’ with guys slapping each other on the butts and hugging and kissing each other and telling them we loved each other. It was such an emotional swing that day. It’s just really hard to go through it.”

This post not approved by LZ Granderson.


It’s the First Quarter … Do You Know Where Your Pat Burke Is?

Posted in Basketball at 10:19 pm by

Watching the Suns-Trail Blazers here, and in an unbelievable development, Pat Burke entered the game in the first quarter. Then in the second quarter he followed a miss with a dunk.

If I’m on the Trail Blazers, I’m feeling pretty offended about now.

Live Burke blogging to commence at next dunk …