Sports Goggles

Archive for February 2007

Meet Jason Whitlock’s New Friend, Randy Hill

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Whitlock in deep thought.Jason Whitlock, deep in thought.

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It appears that Jason Whitlock’s inane array of AOL Sports rants on the NBA and the NBA All-Star weekend have now inspired a new, “back to the old days” style of racism in journalism.

In an astounding display of short-sightedness at least and racism at worst, Randy Hill in a special to FOX Sports blames the NBA for the “me-first” sports attitude. Hill must have read Whitlock’s latest “Letters from Massa’s House” diatribe in which he gives us the blueprint for the making of the “black KKK” as he calls black people who ascribe to today’s bastardized version of hip-hop culture. Early in his piece, Hill establishes that his thoughts will follow true Whitlockian un-logic:

With the exception of a former Indiana Pacer who thinks the best way to break up a fight outside a strip joint on the second night of training camp is to fire a gun in the air, the league is rife with good citizens.

But an aspiring criminal element reportedly is attracted to the NBA, especially its All-Star jamboree. How did this happen? Well, it may have something to do with the NBA’s decision to market the individual ahead of the team.

Hill goes on to say that the strategy worked in making Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird household names and therefore bringing the NBA to the forefront of American sports. However, Hill also says that the marketing of the individual over the team has resulted in this:

Maybe this nod toward individuality is why the hip-hip and/or gangsta generation has gravitated toward pro basketball. I hesitate to characterize it as a culture, since — like yogurt — any keen knowledge of what constitutes culture is beyond my purview. I also lack the evidentiary cred to slap the tag of thug on anyone. Anyway, this individual vs. team concept has parallels in basketball and music. Current co-stars representing the former are Dwyane Wade and Jay-Z, while old school group effort offered the Celtics and the Temptations.

What?!

Since when did Magic, Michael, or Larry win alone? Where would the Lakers have been without Kareem, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, and Kurt Rambis? Where would Michael have been without Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, and John Paxson? Where would the Bird have been without Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Danny Ainge, or the late Dennis Johnson? And for that matter, would Bill Russell have won if it weren’t for the efforts of Bob Cousy and K.C. Jones after him, John Havlichek, Bill Sharman, Satch Sanders, et al.?

Hill has an argument for that:

…despite the Cincinnati Bengals’ battle for supremacy with “The Sopranos,” the American sports hype machine seems more concerned with its perception of a criminal element in the NBA.

Maybe it’s because braids and tattoos aren’t obscured by helmets and shoulder pads. It certainly shouldn’t be blamed on what happens when the game is played.

Even though Bryant, Allen Iverson and some of their cronies are accused of provoking that me-first attitude in basketball, true selfishness has been in basketball for years.

I see now. It’s because of the helmets that the sports media conveniently forgets that the NFL is 65% black. That without them, the world would be told that professional football is full of me-first animals – well at least the dark-skinned ones.

But I digress (or did Hill?)… back to the “team” thing.

Dwyane Wade wins nothing without Shaq. Kobe won nothing without Shaq and he’s now trying to corral the talents of a bevy of young Lakers to take him, and them, to yet another Los Angeles Lakers championship; any hoops “scholar” will tell you that last season’s LA team around Kobe wasn’t nearly as talented nor did it have the knowledge of the triangle offense that this year’s Lakers do. Steve Nash can win the MVP every season but without great performances by his teammates Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, and Raja Bell, to name a few, Nash will be O-for the ring when he retires.

But not according to “Mr. Team Man” Randy Hill:

Some contemporary hoop scholars are hoping the generous Phoenix Suns can rise to a title, prolonging the resurrection of up-tempo basketball and rampant teamwork throughout the sport. But team-oriented basketball was working before Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash showed up in the desert.

Ahhh, the basketball scholars believe the Suns are a team as opposed to say, the other guys with 12 players the Suns are forced to score on or defend. As if Phoenix, should they defeat say, Dallas in the western Conference Finals, it will be because Phoenix plays as a team and the Mavs play as a —————– what?

Hill points to the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons as examples of teams that have recently won championships as if the Heat was comprised solely of D-Wade and he alone beat the team called the Dallas Mavericks. But wait, the Mavs, should they lose to Phoenix, is not a team. Hell, what do I know, I’m not a basketball scholar.

In the end Hill implies that an influx of money from the hip-hop culture is evidence of the impending doom of the League and then asks if the NBA is served better by Nellie (Don Nelson) or Nelly:

So, while the pull toward team play continues (check Kobe‘s shots-per-game average compared to last season’s), keen observers of the NBA insist the league is doomed.

Yeah, the All-Star Weekend maintains a violent hum, although thousands of top-40-preferring customers still flock to arenas for regular-season and playoff games. It’s also true that hip-hop money has been poured into league ownership.

But it remains to be seen if the NBA is better served by Nellie or Nelly.

Okay I get it, get the rap money out of the NBA and all is well. Yeah, that’s it. Lets substitute rap-earned money, or as Hill’s House Slave Whitlock would tell him, the “four to five years posted up on the block building a small drug-dealing empire” money, for Cleveland Cavalier’s owner, Dan Gilbert’s, convicted felon and University of Michigan graduate’s way of building his empire: setting up a gambling ring, running hundreds of fellow students (and their parents) into debt and gankin’ their belongings if they don’t pay, bookie money.

Wonderful.

It is interesting that we live in a United States where Cedric Maxwell must apologize for making sexist comment for telling NBA referee Violet Palmer to “go back to the kitchen an make me some eggs” but FOX would never apologize for publishing Hill’s malevolent writings – and I know why.

Today it is in vogue once again to be a racist if you are white. It is in vogue to love black writers who love to hate black people. It’s in vogue to quote from white, liberal writers who act as “imperial protectors;” the spokespeople for us “po’ nigra peepels who cain’t speeks fo usselves” instead of quoting from black writers who oppose the Whitlocks and Hills.

Today, because of the subtleties and subtexts often involved in racist speech and action, it is difficult for those who would normally struggle with the issue of racism to even perceive its existence. Even when it is as plain as that of the writings of Randy Hill.

Written by dwil

February 28, 2007 at 7:59 pm

I’m Now at Fanhouse, Too

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Just to let everyone know, I’m now also writing over at AOL Fanhouse. Many of the pieces over there will be mini-SOMM posts which means what I do here will be the full treatment of some of the same topics I’ll touch on at the Fanhouse. The difference is, sometimes you’ll be able to get writing from me there before you do here. So check for me and all the other peeps who put in work over at the house where sports bloggers dwell. (thanks Jamie)

BTW, here’s my first post at the Fanhouse: Evander Holyfield, Gary Matthews, Jr. Implicated in Steroid Bust? Not So Fast, My Friends

Written by dwil

February 28, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Sports, Sports Media

NBA All-Star Game 2007-08: To NOLA, Or Not to NOLA?

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Same as it ever was.

I saw a post by “Bethlehem Shoals” on AOL Fanhouse just a minute ago titled, “Hunter: NOLA Can’t Handle All-Star Weekend.” So I took the relay throw from Shoals by way of a link to a Newsday article by Ken Berger, and further hunted around the Internet to finish off the play at the plate.

As soon as I read the lead to Berger’s piece I knew what I was in for:

David Stern is not alone in wondering if it was a mistake to bring the NBA All-Star Game to Las Vegas. The commissioner of conscience can’t get that decision back, but he can do something to prevent New Orleans from being the next victim.

Note to Ken Berger: David Stern lost his “commissioner of conscience” cred card when he signed that $125 million deal with Russell Athletics so that the Russell-owned Spalding Company could infest the League with that microfiber paper cut ball without entering a penny of the profits onto the NBA players – or retired players – ledger. Stern then appeared to find his card – perhaps in his limo – but then chose to give it away permanently to political hitman Matthew Dowd to provide him with guidance as to how to appear for all the world like the neocons with whom Dowd so gleefully consorts.

As reported in Shoals’ piece, the quotes from NBA Players Association chief Billy Hunter are ambiguous at best:

“I’m wondering, how will New Orleans accommodate all these people if they elect to come to New Orleans?” Hunter said. “They’ll shut the city down.

“First of all, their police force is dissipated. They’re probably dealing with half the force they had before. They don’t have all the resources that we will need to properly police the city. They’ve got a serious crime problem as it is. And so what are they going to do?”

No Billy. First, New Orleans needs to be rebuilt. Katrina and the resultant flooding destroyed 75.1% of the city’s residences; flood depths in New Orleans ranged from four to 20 feet. While the tourist areas of New Orleans have been largely restored to their pre-Katrina state, most neighborhoods remain in shambles. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin proudly told any members of the national media who would listen that 800,000 people came to the Crescent City for Mardi Gras this year, up 100,000 from last year’s Carnival.

Later in his article, Berger revealed his true feelings about New Orleans hosting next years All-Star game:

On one hand, it’s not fair to punish New Orleans for the 403 arrests, massive crowd-control problems and at least two shootings that occurred during All-Star Weekend in Vegas. Thomas Urbanski, 43, a native of Commack, was paralyzed from the waist down in one of the shootings as he worked security at a strip club in the early morning hours before the game on Feb. 18.

No NBA players or personnel were involved in that incident, or any incident involving police, for that matter. And even though it defies logic that a sports league should be in charge of policing strip clubs, Stern and Hunter still need to talk this over.

They need to know what the NBA is getting into by going to New Orleans. Even more important, they need to make sure New Orleans knows what it’s getting into by opening its already distressed city to the NBA and the violent element its All-Star party has begun to attract.

However, Stern, despite his conscience card loss, expressed some of the concerns that are on many people’s minds:

“We think it’s time to move past having this wonderful tourist ability, a great convention center, and a covered arena, and then you take your guests on tours of areas that have been devastated and where it seems like very, very little has been done,” he said earlier this month. “We don’t understand it.”

People might think that with the storm clouds that hang over the NBA, Stern would be the person sucking up to the “New Orleans is back” rhetoric, pushing the city to ready itself for the 2007-08 All-Star game. One would be completely innocent in thinking that Billy Hunter, “the players’ guy” would attempt to diffuse the “NBA players and the crowd that follows them are thugs” rhetoric.

One would think.

But in this case it is Hunter whose logic appears cloudy and Whitlockian, allowing the likes of Berger to publicly spew his vitriol. It is Hunter who is selling out the players, the All-Star weekend, the league, and the commissioner down the murky, toxic waters of Lake Pontchartrain. Conversely, it is Stern who is clear in his perception of the true state of New Orleans and clear in the role the NBA will play there beyond housing the New Orleans Hornets.

If Hunter has his way, next year’s All-Star game will be relocated to a city prepared to exercise an impromptu police state-like atmosphere in a moment’s notice – or at the sight of more than 10,00 or so black people congregating in one area at once. If Stern has his way the game will be relocated and will not be played in New Orleans for the foreseeable future because the powers that be in the city and in the U.S. government haven’t kept up their end of the rebuilding bargain; Stern’s NBA isn’t going to contribute tourist dollars to a city whose residents may never see the spoils.

Perhaps David Stern is returning to a place of personal balance. Perhaps he now understands that for his league to succeed he must act in the best interests of corporate sponsors, owners, and the players. Perhaps he also understands that we have cultural problems in the U.S. not exclusive only to hip-hop culture or to the culture of the NBA.

Hey wait. Anybody seen Matthew Dowd? Perhaps Dowd, with a presidential election on the horizon, has thankfully returned to his neoconservative pulpit in politics.

Perhaps soon we who love the NBA, write about the NBA, and play in the NBA can breathe again; fresh playoff air.

Written by dwil

February 27, 2007 at 4:34 pm

NBA Notes: The LA Clippers’ Clipper is Taking on Water

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Shaun goes down yet again.Damn this is painful to see! (tx TBL)

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Of course this happens just when Los Angeles Clippers PG Shaun Livingston was coming out of his shy shell. Because of the LA Times’ Bob Baker (Confessions of a Cliptomaniac blog) is such an excellent writer I became a Clips addict.

They’re a team full of intrigue: why are they so bad this season after being so good last season, can they, with nearly the exact same roster as last season, go from a 50+ win playoff squad to out of the playoffs the following year, will they be the first team in NBA history to blame their erratic play and lost season on a preseason road trip to Russia, do they all really hate head coach Mike Dunleavy (or do they really hate his son and therefore, by extension, the old man), is Corey Maggette being kept around because of the potential spectacle of a Latrell Spreewell-P.J. Carlisimo moment, and will Shaun Livingston emerge into the on-court leader or will Sam Cassell give him the alien gas face (sulphuric?)?

With all these questions, what’s not to love about this team – or at least what’s not to watch about this team?

Just when the Clips win consecutive games to climb into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, just when Livingston starts to respond to Baker’s wailings of, “Shoot Shaun, Shoot!” Just when the Clippers finally appear to have recovered from Russia, Livingston suffers one of the more unwatchable injuries in recent memory (if you have other unwatchable bodily collapses, please share). A simple layin, an awkward landing and – bang! Livingston is gone yet again and with the registration expiring on Cassell’s body, the Clippers appear doomed.

Last night young Shaun suffered a dislocated left knee, his third major injury in four years. Ironically he injured his right kneecap two years ago. We obviously don’t know how good a player he’d be right now without the injuries. Donald Sterling and Elgin Baylor might now be privately wincing for failing to pull the trigger on one of the many trade offers for Livingston.

The questions are still out there and are more pertinent than ever. The Clippers have 26 games to answer them all. 

I can’t wait for Bob’s Confessions…. post today. 

Written by dwil

February 27, 2007 at 8:58 am

Three Strikes in the NFL: Behind the Veil of the Roger Goodell-Gene Upshaw Lie

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Sixty-five percent of the players in the National Football League are black.

As of July 1, 2005, the estimated population of black residents in the United States, was 34,658,190 people. They made up 12.3% of the total U.S. population, an increase of half a million residents from one year earlier. In 1996 blacks constituted 62.6 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2005 Bulletin (.pdf), black males represent 40% of all inmates with a sentence of one year or more 35% white, 20% Hispanic. In terms of percentages 8.1% of all black males age 25 to 29 were in prison as of December 31, 2005, compared to 2.6% of Hispanic males, and 1.1% of white males. In California, 38% of all “three strikes” prisoners are black, while 29% of all California state prisoners are black.

Why quote these seemingly disparate figures? Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) was interviewed today on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show. Upshaw related to the audience that he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell entertained a cross-section of players led by recently-released Washington Redskin Troy Vincent and DeAngelo Hall last Thursday in Indianapolis, the site of the NFL Combine. According to Upshaw the players involved recommended a “three strikes and you’re out of the league” conduct policy for the NFL. Later Upshaw admitted that the players’ suggestion was due to prodding by he and Goodell and that the rule could be on its way to being in place by the end of the owners’ meeting in late April of this year. Other management-side attendees were Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and assorted NFL management council representatives.

It is troubling to me on many levels that black athletes would, even at the “prodding” by Upshaw and commissioner Goodell, suggest such a policy.

Perception-wise, such a policy can only embolden an already conservative and burgeoning neoconservative U.S. judicial system to use the NFL’s enaction of the rule as fodder for influencing national public rhetoric on the issue. Since California passed the three strikes sentencing law in 1993 (it became law in 1994) 25 more states have adopted this way of punishment. Though lauded by pundits and politicians alike, each election year citizens attempt to have this law overturned. Critics of the law point out that the three strikes sentencing law is little more than a ploy for politicians to appear tough on crime while failing to provide or support crime prevention programs.

Many judges privately at first and then publicly expressed concern with the advent of “mandatory minimum” sentences, where citizens could be sentenced to long-term prison sentences for possessing as little as one and-half ounces of marijuana; they felt they could no longer use their discretion to mete out proper punishment. Three strikes laws, which came to national prominence after mandatory minimums, became the out pitch for many judges, who either retired or allowed themselves to be recused from the bench in protest to laws they felt stripped them of their judicial responsibilities.

The lawless law that is three strikes has claimed innumerable victims for petty breaches of moral conduct that have become cause celebre instead of being otherwise unnoticed. The following is but a minute sample of the “crimes” for which men with two strikes were imprisoned for life:

Johnny Quirino – petty theft of razor blades

Thomas Williams – possession of a stolen bicycle

Gabriel Pineida – stealing a portable vacuum from a patio

Richard Morgan – shoplifting a baseball glove

Robert Di Biasi – shoplifting one $2.69 pack of AA batteries

Why would professional athletes – employees – in a predominantly black league where they are treated as highly-paid chattle want to be associated with anything that has a correlate in what can only be termed a racist prison industrial complex? Did they really intimate what Denver Broncos owner, Pat Bowlen, told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News:

“They don’t want to be painted with the same brush as these guys [that are getting into trouble]. They want players held accountable for their actions and their decisions, just like they are with the drug policy. They want penalties for guys who continually put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They feel a guy should only have so many chances. They want three strikes and you’re out.” (emphasis mine)

Do players like Vincent, the Atlanta Falcons Hall, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and the Denver Broncos Dominique Foxworth who was a close friend of murdered Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, all in attendance at the Thursday meeting, have an understanding of the larger rammifications of such a conduct policy?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the fact that long-time NFL veteran Troy Vincent is felt to be first in line to replace Gene Upshaw upon his retirement. This meeting is at once a forum for Upshaw to cement his legacy as executive director of the NFLPA and the same time to unofficially pass the torch to Vincent. Though this may be a behind-the-scenes act in the player-management play for the sports media and the general public, two more insidious reasons probably lie behind this knee-jerk reaction to indiscriminate behavior by some players in the NFL.

The first reason is to put on a “good face” for a Congress lying in wait to hang their collective hats on the next sports transgression. The NFL, for decades, has been known as the “teflon league” for its ability to circumvent lawmakers scrutiny with its brand of internal policing. With a seemingly mounting number of NFL players in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, time will soon come for Congressional intervention; the last thing Goodell and the team owners want.

Secondly, and most insidious, is the overall ignorance of the players themselves. These men, most of whom are feted by college coaches, street agents, and boosters from their teenage years, know well the supply-side of the game they play. They know they are ultimately not much more than an already obsolescent tool with a strict and limited shelf life. They know that if they fail to earn large bonus dollars when they sign their initial contract, then they must work twice as hard, subject themselves to twice as much punishment as their first round drafted peers to garner a large bonus when they become free agents.

However, they fail to realize, respect, or understand the complex trysting of the league offices, team owners, and those who stay in good favor while they cover the games – sports media outlets and their reporter representatives. Oh sure, the players understand that to acquire endorsement contracts they must maintain a certain image in the eyes of the public; that they must maintain a manageable relationship with the press in order to “get that money.”

What the players fail to comprehend is that none of the parties with which they are involved give a damn about them. The tryst machine will morph from benevolent patriarch to venomous hydra in the time it takes a team to fly from one coast to the other to play an away game. And the player or players who are the objects of the beasts’ poisonous fangs will only know their lifeblood has been removed from them after they witness their own playing days corpse lying before them; then it is too late.

There is a very basic fact that lies behind the first-thing-in-the-morning rant of Mike Greenberg to the mid-morning rants of Skip Bayless, to the afternoon rant of Bob Ley to the late afternoon rants of the me-first Around the Horn crew, and to all those sports writers who don’t have to be told to toe the NFL line to toe the NFL line.

The fact is this: 36 NFL players were “in trouble” with the law in the 2006-07 season. These 36 athletes represent exactly 2% of all the players in the NFL. Can you read that Troy, DeAngelo, T.J. and the rest? Do all of you know that the powers that be in the NFL league offices and every team owner knows this fact?

TWO PERCENT.

This isn’t the the 40% of all incarcerated males are black figure.  This isn’t the 8.1% of  of all black males between ages 25-29 – the prime NFL years – figure. This is two percent of all NFL players. Six of the 36 players were white. That leaves 30 black players who ran afoul of the law, or 1.6% of all NFL players and 2.5% of all black players, or one-third the national average.

So fellas, what’s the problem? Really, tell me what is the problem with these statistics?

2.5% – “bad.”

Remember that percentage the next time someone tells you what a problem the NFL is having with its players in relation to the law. Remember that means 97.3% of all black NFL players are cool with the law.

97.3% – “good.”

Joe Theisman said to Mike Greenberg this morning, “It’s not a right, it’s a privilege to play on the NFL.”

98% of all NFL players know this and of them, 97.5% of black players.

2%… 2.5%. In reality, those are some lonely numbers.  If only America’s crime rate was that low….

Written by dwil

February 26, 2007 at 10:55 pm

John Thompson III: The “Deal” at Georgetown

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The Georgetown “All-Blacks” Are on the Rise Again.

Saturday is NCAA day and I’m watching Pittsburgh, with a limited Aaron Gray, play Georgetown. More often than not, nine out of 10 or all 10 players on the floor are black. Same with the previous Tennessee-Arkansas game; same with Florida-LSU game. But this black-on-black basketball isn’t the case when I see Marquette play Notre Dame. These two teams have at least two if not three white players on the court at all times.

The first question I ask myself is where are the black players from Milwaukee, Madison and other parts of Wisconsin and where are the black players from Indiana? The next question is how can Georgetown a Jesuit Catholic school with a white student body rivaling those of Marquette and Notre Dame field and all-black team, save for the inter-racial guard Jeremiah Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers?

Ahhh, it’s the coaches. John Thompson III is black – and the son of legendary Hoya head coach John Thompson. But JTIII came to Georgetown from Princeton where he fielded a predominantly white team, so what’s the deal at G-town?

The answer white people come up with which is often parroted by black people is Thompson III is surrounding himself with players with whom he is comfortable. Oh wait, that’s the answer these people come up with to excuse the whiteness surrounding their own white leaders; not true for black people. For schools like Marquette and Notre Dame and other schools like them, the excuse is high academic standards. Blacks just don’t have the SAT scores to enter schools with such high academic standards like Notre Dame, Marquette, Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford, etc. They don’t have the ability to match the standards people like Irish alum Paul Hornung say should be lowered to allow black athletes in colleges and universities like Notre Dame.

The apologists for these schools, and they are legion, shrug and say, “It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.” And for JTII and his father before him it is some sort of Underground Railroad and a secret test-lowering standard alliance with the Georgetown academic department that allows the Hoyas to put an all-black team on the court and the bench.

Right? Right???!

That’s the real reason Georgetown’s recent 11-game winning streak has barely caused a blip – if you discount the local Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area – on the national and Internet sports radar. And if you don’t think it is the reason, it certainly is the reason no one wants to hear or read. It’s the reason the Hoyas entered the week at only #12 in the country a scant one spot ahead of Air Force. To think of the national fervor such a streak would cause if it was happening on Tobacco Road and on the pristine floor of Coach K Court. We’re talkin’ about Air Force! Not North Carolina, not UCLA – Air Force!

Think about that. The Air Force Falcons, a team that plays the same offense as the Hoyas but without the number of skill players that has lost back-to-back games against UNLV and TCU; A team whose biggest win is against Stanford in November is number #13 in the country. And by the way that offense that Air Force runs? It’s Pete Carill’s Princeton offense. It’s a motion offense that he used to “even out the playing field against schools with better talent”; a fairly complicated offense predicated on “cerebral” players. It’s the same offense that for decades “experts” felt would be nearly unstoppable if played by teams with top-tier athletes. It’s the same offense John Thompson III learned as an assistant at Princeton and used when he coached the Tigers after Carill’s retirement; the same offense the Hoyas, the most efficient offensive team in all of Division I basketball, use now.

The sole difference in the way Carill’s offense looked then and how it looks now with Georgetown is that all the players in the offense are black. But the Princeton offense isn’t discussed in conjunction with the Hoyas. Nor is it discussed as a “thinking players'” offense. And there is certainly no discussion of the “Pete Carill Tree” and its, at present most successful disciple, John Thompson III.

The NCAA’s biggest nightmare is a successful Georgetown Hoyas basketball team. A team of young black men with a young black coach at an almost all-white private Catholic school.

Ironically – and sadly – this is the same type of problem John Thompson, Jr. faced in the early 1980s when his Patrick Ewing-led teams crashed the “traditional power” party” and forged their way into national prominence. Thompson felt he had a promise to keep as a black head coach at an elite nearly all-white private university. The promise was to allow young black men, through basketball, the opportunity to acquire an elite education and learn the ways and the workings of Western Society from its finest minds.; a promise he kept.

Equally ironic is the fact that Bill Raftery and Billy Packer, the same “color” (pun intended) announcers who called the Hoyas thugs and called their style of defense street-muggings, who said Thompson intimidated referees because he was 6’10” (and black), and who largely created the forum and the rhetoric through which Thompson’s teams would forever be discussed, still announce today.

The national press, bolstered by Raftery’s and Packer’s racist insinuations, implied that what was at work at Georgetown was the impossible “reverse racism” resulting in an all-black team at an esteemed university; that John Thompson had intimidated the effete white priests of the university as he did referees to allow these black heathens into Georgetown and then strong-armed the bursar’s office into providing the sports media with transcripts saying these common street criminals from far-flung states like Louisiana had passing grades.

No one dared mention that during Thompson’s tenure, Georgetown teams were perennially in the top five in graduation rates of all Division I basketball schools. Just like no one mentions it today with either Thompson or his son. According to the Hoya Saxa:

Georgetown, Northwestern, Holy Cross, and Lafayette were each cited as the only Division I schools having graduated every entering student-athlete who completed their eligibility over a 10-year period from the freshman classes of 1984 to 1993, as reported in the 2000 survey.

Those athletes include Georgetown University basketball players – every basketball player. Can Coach K say that? How about Dean Smith? Or Tubby Smith, or Bob Knight, or Pete Carill, or Digger Phelps, or – well, you get the picture.

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Today there are no writings implying academic improprieties at Georgetown, no cries of thuggish, sullen athletes playing defense as if they were committing assault. Today there is no talk of the JTIII-led renaissance of the Hoyas’ program from its ebb time during the Craig Esherick, post “Big John” era. And there is certainly little talk of how good a college coach JTIII is, no consideration for national coach of the year – or, for that matter, Big East coach of the year.

For a team that was picked so high in the preseason polls that was 4-3 early in the season, the Hoyas climb is grossly underreported. To now be at 22-5, which means they’ve really been on a 20-game tear(!) and not be widely discussed, to go a “Memphis in Conference USA-like tear” but do it in the Big East is normally a national story – like four games ago! If this was UConn, the Huskies would have been #12 three weeks ago and by yesterday ranked ahead of Pittsburgh. Jim Calhoun’s baleful mug would be everywhere and sports writers across the country would be reaffirming his HOF credentials.

However, despite this lack of coverage it’s like this: quiet as kept, there are the whispers – Georgetown is coming! Georgetown is coming! Shhhhhhhh! Don’t let the almost all-white school’s, all-black team come getcha.

‘Cause when they do, they’ll use those dangerous black minds to out-cerebral, Princeton offense your favorite team to death.

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addendum: Someone over at the informative blog “Can’t Stop the Bleeding” accurately pointed out that Kenny Izzo and Sead Dizdarevic are white. However, both players are seniors and are not JTIII-recruited Hoyas; they’re Esherick holdovers. They are the only two seniors on Georgetown’s team and neither has played more than three minutes in any game this season.

Additionally, Saturday was the first time since the beginning of the season that the Hoyas were a featured story anywhere. Before today, the Hoyas had the quietest 11-game winning streak of any big-time hoops school in the country.

Written by dwil

February 24, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Welcome Back Roland Lazenby!

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Roland Lazenby, an incredible basketball writer and NBA historian, is back online. His blog, Lakernoise, has been silent for about two months and the NBA blogsphere, and the general sports public, has missed a much-needed voice.

In his first effort since his return, Mr. Lazenby supplies the NBA blogsphere with a much-need post on the worth of Scottie Pippen to the Los Angeles Lakers and some serious knowledge as to why Jason Kidd not coming to the Lakers was a blessing. From his post:

Scottie Pippen certainly needs the money, now that a St. Louis court has ruled that he owes an airplane finance company about $5 million in cash for a failed attempt to launch his Air Pip company.

But will his decision to attempt an NBA comeback at age 41 come to be known as Err Pip?
That’s what the Lakers are trying to determine as they ponder what personnel moves to make in the wake of mounting injuries. Their latest casualty is forward Vladamir Radmanovic, lost for up to eight weeks with a separated shoulder.

…and on Jason Kidd:

He [Jason Kidd] rebelled mightily against the triangle when Jim Cleamons tried to run it as coach of the Dallas Mavericks in the 1990s.

“Kidd does like to have the ball in his hands an awful lot,” triangle guru Tex Winter observed.

Would Jason Kidd be the second coming of Gary Payton?

That could well be.

Already, two delectable pieces of little-known information supplied by one of the masters. In Pip’s case, who knew of his financial problems and how they may be driving his want-need to return to the court in some form or fashion. And I certainly had no idea at all that Jim Cleamons tried to entice Jason Kidd to run the triangle! When I wrote my piece on the trade deadline, which included an extended mention of the Lakers and Kidd, I thought that with Kidd’s hoops IQ he would be a great fir for LA – at the right price. Little did I know that Jason’s hoops IQ isn’t nearly as high as I thought, or his need for the ball is greater than his want to learn how to play without it.

I, for one, am incredible happy that Mr. Lazenby has returned to rain knowledge on my head.

I got the buckets out collecting every drop.

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p.s. good-bye DJ.

Written by dwil

February 23, 2007 at 3:43 pm