The most furious sports flurry of the year is just about over. I think the spring-to-summer transitional period is the most interesting time of the year. For weather and sports. You’ve got the NFL draft hype and fallout. The final stretch for the NBA season and the major part of the playoffs. The preseason baseball talk… followed by the first few weeks where anything included in the preseason talk has been the complete opposite.
The fall is pretty good too. You know, the few weeks when football takes over during the week and playoff baseball fills the weeknights. But I think that’s why weather is the deciding factor**.
**Late spring/early summer kicks ass: a breezy summer night at the ballpark for the game and probably beers at an outdoor bar after…
With that being said, let’s get to the conversation-starters.
- We’ll miss you, Stan Van Gundy!
You’ll never convince me of your status as a sports enthusiast if you claim that you haven’t heard about the final chapter of the scientific study/graphic novel/coming-of-age teen story (tentatively) titled Dwight Howard: The First Athlete To Ever Go Through Athletic PMS.
But fine. I’ll give you the movie-trailer version:
- [Black screen with the phrase “He was the hero…” fades into a 5-second seizure-inducing highlight package of Dwight Howard dunking on everyone’s faces]
- [Black-and-white freeze frame of Dwight Howard dancing during warm-ups.]
- Narrator: Sometimes even the biggest isn’t big enough…
- [Hidden-camera footage of some evil-looking suit-guys meeting with D12 under a bridge]
- Shrewd Suit-Guy #1: Dwight, Orlando isn’t big enough.
- Shrewd Suit-Guy #2: Did you ever think about Brooklyn?
- Shrewd Suit-Guy #3: Did you ever think… about… Los Angeles?
- [Flashes of Kobe highlights/cool LA-themed sights/frenzied crowds]
- [Black screen with the phrase “… that wanted to stay a hero…” fades into montage of press conferences where Howard denies plans to leave]
- [Silence. Black screen]
- [ESPN clip announcing that Howard wants Van Gundy fired, fading into an ESPN clip announcing the Van Gundy got fired]
- [Credits and stuff on a black screen as an audio clip of Dwight Howard talking about how much he loves Orlando plays in the background]
Congratulations, D12. Personally, I can’t think of a single instance where an organization completely COLLAPSED into the demands of a selfish player… while also having the uncertainty of whether that star is committed to the organization in any way.
Basically what we have is “Superman”… that isn’t man enough to publicly give his opinion because he wants to be liked. But he WILL campaign enough behind the scenes to force his team to clear house. A guy that has said the right things to fans… and the right things to fire a coach that has done some unbelievable things. A coach that will DEFINITELY have no problem finding another gig. A coach that probably could have savaged things if that star had chosen to leave a few weeks back.
And while this is a move that says “This is the first step of a process that will need some patience”, this star is only signed for one more year. Dwight Howard still has never said he’s in it for Orlando’s long-haul. I have every reason to believe next season’s trade deadline will have all the spazzed zeal of this past season’s deadline… except now the world/league can see what kind of hand Howard likes to play**.
**At this point, if I’m an Orlando fan, I’m hating on Howard now. He is ruining the present and the future of my team. The Magic won’t pull major moves because they are holding (false?) hope that Howard stays forever. They are handcuffed in the moves they can make because if Howard leaves, they still need to field a competitive team. I might just say screw it, trade Dwight to whatever team offers me the best present players and future picks and say “New coach, new era, new start.”
- Los Angeles has sunnier days ahead.
One man’s trash has been said to be another man’s treasure. You already know where I’m going with this…
There is NO way that I’m the only one thinking this, but I haven’t seen or heard anyone mention it. Weird. I think the Magic may have just pushed the Clippers to the next step. Vinny Del Negro did a respectable job out there. But he never figured out a rotation strategy that worked and there were those rumors that the team wasn’t all about VDN. But maybe they’ll be all about SVG. I know I would be. Imagine the Clippers with SVG at the helm.
They’ve got the tools to make it to the postseason. They already showed that. They’ve got well-deserved hope that CP3 and Blake are staying put. DeAndre Jordan is a solid rebounder/D enhancer. They aren’t/won’t be scaring the Spurs anytime soon but they are in the same division as a declining Lakers team and 3 teams that need a ton of work. They need SVG and LA will be theirs. At least. That’s quite an accomplishment.
Look. I think SVG can take Caron Butler and make him remember those Washington/Dallas days. He could be a legitimate third option. SVG is the guy that can find a balanced rotation for the plethora of guards. He’ll find out how to exploit the strengths of Billups/Bledsoe/Foye/Williams/Young and he’ll hide the weaknesses. I’m just saying… Doc Rivers is my #1 coach. SVG is a good candidate for #2. And #3 is Bill Belichick.
- Everybody Hates Spoelstra.
Speaking of coaches that players hate… what is going on down in South Beach?
I’m not sure where the beef comes from, but there’s so much tension between Dwayne Wade and Erik Spoelstra. Granted, there’s a lot of tension in that underachieving locker room. And if the Heat don’t win the title this year or next year, I think that window got uncomfortably small. Many might see Miami as a failed party.
Does anyone remember that D-Wade already has a ring? He’s been there, done that. But his previous championship team was of a different build than this non-championship team. Derek Anderson, Michael Doleac, Udonis Haslem, Jason Kapono, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, Gary Payton, James Posey, Dwayne Wade, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams (2005-2006). Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, LeBron James, James Jones, Mike Miller, Ronny Turiaf, Dwayne Wade (2011-2012). I think that team was better at defining roles, but the current team has more raw talent.
As far as I can tell (and I admit, I’m watching from afar… as a Celtics fan, WAAAAAAAAAAAY afar), Spoelstra has done a really good job as a coach of a team with ridiculous expectations. So what’s up with Dwayne Wade? How do you pull off plays like this one night and not the next? Spoelstra’s job is each. Coach.
But shouldn’t the majority of the blame fall on the players? The ones… playing? If you’re getting blown out and have lost motivation, I don’t think there’s much a coach can do. But as a marquee player, maybe you can demand the ball more… or make yourself shots… or yell at teammates… or I guess you can yell at your coach. Shut up, Dwayne. A lot of players can win a title with an above-average team and Pat Riley. Pat FREAKING Riley. Show you’re a star and win one with a good non-Hall of Fame coach.
- Fear and Loathing In Indiana.
Crap. It happened. It happened just as I was declaring them all but dead. I don’t care that the Heat won and all still alive in the playoffs (I’ve said time and again that I want one last Heat-Celtics battle). But it’s how they won that I hate/fear the most.
44 minutes. 14-27 shooting (no 3-pointers at all). 12-16 from the charity stripe. 2 steals, 2 blocks. 9 assists, 18 rebounds (!!!), 40 points (!!!!!).
That’s outrageous. I might be the biggest LeBron hater of all time. But WTF?! Those are hard numbers to put up in a video game. 40 points, kinda easy. But that whole stat line? Maybe if the difficulty level is on Rookie. MAYBE**.
**I don’t know why, but I am horrible at rebounding in NBA 2K9-12.
When you’re up 2-1 in a 7-game series, that’s nice. And to play Game 4 at home, even nicer. And if the sports-world is already talking about how you’re playing out of your mind, but at a level that actually surprises no one, that’s an ideal situation. And then you have a double digit lead in the third quarter of a huge Game 4… the chance to go up 3-1… shock yourselves into the conference finals and almost a week’s worth of extra rest… that’s a dream.
Because what LeBron just did to the Pacers is crazy nightmare. One performance. That’s all it took to change all of that stuff around. Now the series is 2-2. Now Game 5 is in Miami. Now everyone is back to talking about how they picked Miami all along. Now everyone is talking about how the Pacers have no chance of winning this series.
That was the LeBron that I fear**. That was the LeBron that I don’t want to face. Don’t get it twisted, I still like my chances against the Heat. Bosh is out. They have a point guard situation only slightly better than the Lakers. They pretend to have a bench. But that’s the LeBron that can ruin your night.
**Luckily that LeBron has never lined up on the other side of the floor in an important game against the Celtics.
Indiana, it should never have happened the first time. Don’t let it happen again. This is just as much a warning as it is a request.
- 2012 NBA Playoffs: Where collapses happen.
The slogan used to be: “Where amazing happens.” The NBA is still full of amazing surprises and I don’t have enough words to express how glad I am that we got this season**.
**No season, no event, no nothing… has ever kicked off with a better video package than this:
Quick question: does anyone else remember a time in the NBA when having a big lead was so dangerous? I’m serious. Leads are becoming such an ominous sign of future horror that I’m almost convinced that it’s better to be losing after 3 quarters.
Memphis lost to the Clippers, even though they had a 24-point lead with less than 8 minutes to go.
Boston lost to the 76ers, even though they held an 18-point lead (which actually looks kinda ok when you consider that Grizz-Clips game).
The Spurs were actually losing to the Clippers, before they went on a 50-17 run. I’ll type that again: 50-17.
The Bulls were up double digits on Philly when Derrick Rose went down. Then the Bulls lost the series.
The Lakers collapsed a few times to OKC. Up by 7 with 2 minutes left in Game 2. Lost the game. Up 13 with 8 left in Game 4. Lost the game.
I did some quick observing on ESPN’s 2012 NBA Playoffs page. So far, 62 games have been played. In 17 of those games, the winner was losing at the half. In 15, the winner was losing when the 4th quarter began. That’s about 1 in 4 games in which the 4th quarter has decided the game. Not all of those games were far-gone conclusions. And I don’t even know if those are the most impressive numbers of all time. But I know it makes me want to watch full games.
- Matthew Stafford has joined “That Team”.
There’s a lot of athletes that you just can’t hate**. You can dislike them because they play for a rival… or because they consistently punish your team… or because they went to a rival college… or whatever. There’s a lot of reasons to dislike them. But for some reason, you just can’t hate them. Maybe they’re sure legends. Maybe they’re just genuinely nice guys.
**There’s an idea for a future article.
I saw this article on Yahoo! and I’m proud to say that Matthew Stafford is now a member of “That Team of Guys You Can’t Hate”.
Basically, he donated tickets to a Lions-Bears game to an auction to raise money for a children’s hospital. Then he entered in the bidding for the prize. Then he made the winning bid of $15,000 (plus whatever the value of the package was). Then he GAVE it away to the family of a fan. Try and hate on that. You can’t.
- Jon Jones is no longer under consideration for “That Team”.
I’m not as into MMA fighting as I was in years past. Part of the reason is because I’m a Georges St. Pierre fan and he hasn’t been able to fight in over a year. Part of it is because I don’t understand/enjoy the title situations**.
**Why even crown a “new” champion on an interim basis? Your champ is eventually coming back, right? Either legitimize a ranked contender’s list or strip the absent champ. Then you don’t need to have 7 people claiming to be champion.
But I’ve heard all about Jon “Bones” Jones. I know he’s the reigning UFC Light Heavyweight champ. I know he’s the youngest UFC champion ever (still only 24). And I know he’s got a 16-1 record.
Other than that, I’ve only read articles and stories about what a great guy Jon Jones is. It always gets highlighted during the hype before his fights. And he’s gotten a lot of coverage lately, with fights against/victories over Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans.
But I’ve also heard that he also gets DWIs. Or a DUI. Whatever. I don’t feel too bad.
It’s one thing to be a young adult that might have a few drinks and make the drive home**. It’s completely different to be a professional athlete and do the same thing.
**I’m not advocating drunk driving. In fact, I say no—don’t do it. But I’d be a hypocrite of the highest levels if I said I’ve never done that.
For one thing, he’s a recognizable figure. If he goes to the bar/club, people know who he is (or at least know he’s a “UFWWF fighter guy”). He needs to remember to act responsibly, regardless of the whole role model issue. People are gonna document his actions in the event that he messes up and some kind of profit can be made. For another thing, I imagine he has his own entourage. You have enough fame to have your own entourage! Why are you driving anyway?!
Hopefully this is just a minor blip on his career’s radar. But it’s tarnished enough for me not to watch his fights thinking “Jon Jones is a really good guy. Can’t hate on him” anymore.
- Rest in peace, Macho Man.
Sunday (20 May 2012) marks the one-year anniversary of Randy Savage’s death.
I don’t foresee pro wrestling getting a lot of attention on LRDP (to get your fix, I encourage you to hit up John Canton’s blog–http://thejohnreport.net/), but if you’re a normal (American) male, you have watched wrestling for at least one part of your life. In fact, if you are older than 25… that era was sometime between the mid 1980s and the early 2000s. You might not have watched it every week, but I’ll bet you can rattle off a list of wrestlers that you know by name.
And one name on every list (probably including people that aren’t even old enough to really know the man behind the name) is definitely the Macho Man, Randy Savage.
I think I’ll write an article to tie pro wrestling into “real” sports sometime, but one thing I want to share with you is that the Macho Man was probably my sports hero before I knew the difference. Before I could appreciate WHIP or clutch 4th quarter shooting, I was all about the double ax-handle off the top rope. I was all about dropping the elbow. And I was ALL about “OOOOOOOOOOOOH YEEEEEEEEEEEE-AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
I wish people could just let loose and channel their inner Macho Man. Actually, I guess I just wish Brian Wilson would host a talkshow.
That’s all for this week. But before I go, I want to welcome any readers we may be getting from Mr. Canton’s reference. Feel free to leave comments and please keep coming back. And to the regular audience, hit up The John Report for wrestling stuff—it’s probably the best non-league owned blog (of any sport) out there.
If you’re looking for some more interactive ish, our promotional partner over at S.H.E.D. Avenue is about to start up a sports debate show. Should be some good stuff.
And it’s about that time of year to start planning lots of trips to ballparks to fill those summer nights. Here’s a suggestion: don’t always hit up MLB games. Minor League games can be lighter on the wallet and just as eventful. To get some tips and scoops on that, head on over to Root For the Home Team.