Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Favorite "Youth Basketball Parents" Stories

I coached youth basketball for many years.  Here are my 7 favorite "youth basketball parents" stories.

7.  "My Kid Can Score In Bunches" --  We had a kid who played "A" traveling ball in 5th and 6th grades.  Good athlete.  Dad was a college athlete.  Kid simply had no desire to play D, rebound, run the offense, pass, or anything else other than shooting.  So 7th grade traveling ball comes.  He is our last pick for the team of 10.  Halfway through the season the dad approaches us -- "Hey, my kid ought to play more."  Well, he has a LOT of deficiencies as a player.  "Like what?"  (List them all).  "Well, I disagree with that analysis, and he is a Great Scorer!  He can score in bunches."  Well, we need to see improvement in [list all deficiencies].  He never improved.

In 8th grade we left him off the team.  The "B" coach doesn't take him.  He ends up playing "C" ball and not starting for them.  Dad calls -- "It would have been nice to know what we needed to work on before this all happened...."

6.  "Should We Just Leave, Go Home?"  -- Coaching girls.  We are in the state tourney.  Win game 1, so we are now in the top 8 in the entire state.  Dad, "I'd like to see you guys."  Walk out to the other room -- "So, should me and my daughter just not come tomorrow?"  Huh?  "Well, she played about 35% of the game today, so if you don't need her, maybe we should just stay home."  Look, man, we have played your kid 55% of the game all year, today she just played less.  "Well, it is humiliating to just sit there and have her barely play!"  (He is screaming now.)  Do what you want, I guess.  Just let us know by midnight.

5.  You Should Make Your Players Be Nice to My Daughter!" -- Coaching girls.  Parent of a player comes up to me, "You know, I blame YOU for what is happening to my daughter."  What is that?  "Well, in school, your players don't include her and treat her badly."  How so?  "Well, they just don't include her."  In school?  "Yes."  When I am not around at all?  "Yes. So do something!"  (she is screaming, she stomps off).

4.  The Man Who would Be Coach (Secretively)  -- I am an assistant coach for boys.   Father every third game or so will come up to me, "You know, that isn't how you run a press."  or "You know, that isn't how you attack a 1-3-1."  or "You know, you'll never defend that play properly the way you are."  I'd reply that I had discussed same with the head coach and we were comfortable with what we were doing, but if he had good insight, he should talk to the head coach.  "That wouldn't do any good."  Do you have specifics for me to pass on?  "That should be obvious."  Kid played for us for 3 years.  The dad never once gave the coach a poor written evaluation.

(Runner up for this category would be the dad of the 5'4" non-athlete who became the C coach "cuz my kid never gets a fair shake from the A coach" -- his theory, stay with me, was that we A coaches took guys who were so bad they should play C, leaving too many good players for B, so his kid played C.   We were 4th in the state in A basketball in 8th grade, playing our group of C players.)

3.  "My Kid Should Play.....Always."  -- When we coached, we had "playing time rules" that said every player needed to play 1 1/2 quarters.  So, with 10 players, your worst 5 players had to play 37,5% of the time and your best five could only go 62.5% (if you dared to risk the wrath of the worst 5's parents (you generally just played them 50-50% and maybe in the last couple minutes played the better players in a close game)).  Anyway, in 8th grade we had a girl who was probably our 5th or 6th best player.  Her dad was a former college player.  Dad, "She has to start, she plays better when she starts."  Start her.  "She has to finish.  She plays better when she is allowed to finish the game."  Um, that isn't likely.  "Look, she has to start and finish."  We do that for 2 games.  "Why is she playing less in the middle of the game?  That is hard on her.  Do I need to speak to the varsity coach?"  We go ask the varsity coach to come evaluate her as a player.  He says, "She is maybe your 7th best player.  I don't care if you play her at all."  Dad says she will finish out the season, but we have ruined her life.  We finish 6th in the state.

2.  "Why Don't You Get a Ride Home From Those Nice White Parents?"  I wasn't coaching here, but my son was playing in 6th grade AAU on a very good suburban team.  Being a Minnesota suburban team, we were all white.  We go play a team from Minneapolis.  We absolutely drill them (like 65-30).  Walk to the parking lot.  Minneapolis dad sees my son, walks over, "You are a very good player.  Great game."  Well, how nice!  Dad's kid walks up to him in the same parking lot, and  Dad, not so nice anymore.  "I don't know what you are doing out here.  You got killed by the white kids.  You think I am giving you a ride home after that?  Why don't you go get a ride with those nice white parents.  Maybe they can teach you how to play basketball!?!?"  Kid is bawling.  I drive away.

1.  "My Son Is Logging the Minutes on the Bench"  -- we are playing in a 3rd grade boys tourney -- first one we ever entered.  We have had no practices, have no offense, no defense, no press, no press break, etc.  First game we lose 58-11.  Opposing coach "How many games have you played?"  Zero, well, now 1. You?  "37."  Next game we are halfway close, so I play the better guys a little more and we lose by only 12.  We have one last losers-bracket "friendship game" the next day.  Get a call at my house at 9PM.  "My son was logging the minutes on the bench and he says your son played 18 minutes and my son played only 12."  OK.  "Well, we are not coming tomorrow if you don't play those two exactly equal."  Um, well, I was trying to be more competitive and your son played a lot and....  "Nope, he kept a log of the minutes, and he didn't play equally.  Either play them all the same or we are not coming.......Well?!?"  Sure, it is a fucking 3rd grade friendship game, I will play them all the same.  "I will be watching!"    I never engaged the dad or the son in a conversation ever again.  If he said hello, I would be polite, but I never talked to him or his son voluntarily ever again.

I am sure there are more good stories, but those come immediately to mind.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fox News to Fire Bill O'Reilly After Only..........13 years of sexual harassment

No one seems to recall that the complaints against O'Reilly stretch at least as far back as 2004, when he famously conflated the word "loofah" with "falafel" and offered to rub a female employee with one in the shower.

BOLD move by Fox cracking down after less than two decades!  Here is the Smoking Gun article and attached Complaint.  The woman apparently tape recorded O'Reilly when he called (he was often masturbating while speaking to her).


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lip Synch Battle -- Kaley Cuoco

THIS is a hard body. Geez:

Kate Upton -- Lip Synch Battle

If you want full confirmation that Ricky Martin is gay?  Watch him LAUGH when Kate Upton does this.  I had ZERO chance of laughing at this performance.

Looks like I better set the DVR.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Is Andrew Wiggins a Good Player? Future Superstar? Bust?

I have previously opined upon Andrew Wiggins and determined that he is an "inefficient scorer" type of player who is deficient in rebounding, assists and defense.  So, he is basically a bad Dale Ellis or a bad 32 year old Carmelo Anthony.  Glen Rice's name came up.

For some reason, there is suddenly a very spirited debate on Twitter that consists of two primary groups:

-- Andrew Wiggins is a complete bust
-- Andrew Wiggins is a future superstar and the second coming of Kobe Bryant.

If you do not agree with either camp, you are immediately lumped into the other camp.  You say, "Hey, look, Wiggy is no Kobe...never will be..."  Reply, OH SURE!  YOU CLAIM HE IS A BUST!  20 points a game scorer, HORRIBLE BUST!

You say, "I haven't completely given up on Wiggy as a player.  He is young...."  Reply, OH SURE!!  CAN WE WAIVE THE WAITING PERIOD AND ELECT HIM TO THE HALL OF FAME TODAY!?!?  NOT QUICK ENOUGH FOR YOU?!?

The primary problem with evaluating Andrew Wiggins is he just turned 22 and he is really streaky, so he has some games where he looks great and some games where as a Wolves fan if you see one more horrid "possession of Wiggy" you'd like to take a gun and shoot yourself.

His game, overall, is remarkably inefficient.  His defense, rebounding and assist stats are terrible, and he has never been on a winning team.  He has poor WS, WS/48 and VORP stats.  On the other hand, he has impressive scoring stats and he is an OK shooter who gets to the line a fair amount.

So, the issue really comes down to -- is he "good" and if so, how "good"?  Well, if you look for guys who are high Usage (25.9% or higher) and low WS/48 players (.100 or lower) and not super great defenders (104 or higher DRtg), you get the following list of guys who have played at least 8,500 minutes in the NBA:

Jerry Stackhouse
Pete Maravich
Glenn Robinson
Antoine Walker
Ray Williams
Ben Gordon
(The Less Good) Cliff Robinson
JR Rider
Darrell Griffith
Super John Williamson
Michael Beasley
"San" Quintin Dailey  and
Andrew Wiggins

Now, Wiggy is at the bottom of the list because he has the fewest WS of anyone on the list.  It should be noted, however, that someone like Pete Maravich has roughly double the WS/48 that Wiggy has. So Wiggy ain't Pete Maravich yet, or, for that matter, Jerry Stackhouse.

But the real question to be asked here is -- are these guys "good"?  Are they, or were they, "good" NBA players.  It all depends upon what you want, correct?   Every guy on the list was a pretty effective scorer.  There are some all-star appearances on the list.  Maravich is a Hall of Famer and ESPN has him as a top 100 NBA player.  So what you really need to evaluate is 1) whether you consider these guys to be "good" and 2) whether if Wiggins ends his career equal to these guys, would you be happy with that?

I'd say that if Wiggy ended up as good as Stack or Maravich or Big Dog or Antoine Walker or Ray Williams that most people would consider that as "good" and be fairly happy. 

Ben Gordon and Darrell Griffith - probably not as happy

Robinson and Super John -- unhappy

Rider, Beasley, Dailey -- very unhappy.

But let's put to bed the fiction that there is any realistic chance that Wiggy will ever be Kobe or Durant.  When Kobe was 21 he had a PER of 22 and accounted for almost 11 Win Shares, got 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.5 steals + blocks a game.  His Defensive Rating was 98 (Wiggy is 114). 

Durant at age 21 has a 26 PER and put up 16 WS.  He would have won the MVP had LeBron not been having an insanely great season (18.5 WS, .299 WS/48).

So, is Andrew Wiggins an absolute Kwame-Brown-esque bust?  No.  Has he demonstrated ANYTHING close to being or becoming a Kobe or a Durant (two of my top 25 players of all-time)?  Certainly not.    Will Wiggy ever approach these players' career.  I say no, and I say no confidently.  That will never happen.  Could he become a Glen Rice or a Glenn Robinson or maybe a poor man's Carmelo Anthony or DeMar DeRozan? Certainly.  So you need to ask yourself - is that "good"?  Would you consider Wiggy to be "good" if he reached that level of play? 

I cannot make that judgment for you -- but that is where the truth lies; Wiggy could be kinda disappointing, or he could be a couple time all-star.  It is up to him.  Whether you consider that "good" or not, is an entirely subjective call.

And your response to this item should start with "OH SURE!"

Monday, March 27, 2017

Liam Payne (23) Has a Kid With Cheryl Cole (33)?

He, like I, must remember her from these two pics taken 10+ years ago when she was Cheryl Tweedy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aaron Hernandez Killed a Guy For a Spilled Drink

Was concerned he was considered as "soft."


Well, let this be a life lesson to you young men out there.  If you are in a "club" where huge men congregate and where you kind of get the feeling that the law does not apply, be extremely careful with what occurs.

Now, I have never once entered a "gentlemen's club" or "strip bar" or "strip joint," but here is what I have learned from independent third-party accounts:  1) many of the gentlemen in the establishment are not actually "gentlemen" in the common understanding of the word; 2) they are, instead, often people with nothing to lose; 3) they are there to drink a lot and establish their general overall dominance over someone; 4) they'd really like to kick someone's ass if at all possible.

Based upon these reports, I would suggest that if someone comes up to you at 11PM or later in such an establishment and suggest that you "get the fuck out of here" that you do not hesitate to leave forthwith.  You do not inquire as to why.  You do not engage the person in conversation.  You leave.

There are certain places in the world (southern Waffle House after midnight for example) where you are dealing with people who generally have very, very little to lose.  They are angry, and you happen to be in the way.  Get out of the way.  When this gentleman spilled a drink on the enormous Aaron Hernandez, he should have immediately apologized, offered to do whatever it took to get in Hernandez's good graces, and, failing that, have left ASAP.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Russell Westbrook, Chandler Parsons and KAT Call the NBA Offices

Of the 3, KAT is best, then Parsons close behind.  Russ by far the worst.

Russell Westbrook's Usage Rate Explosion

Russell Westbrook has always been a guy who had a high "Usage Rate".  Usage Rate, broadly defined, is the % of your team's plays that you are involved in while you are on the floor.  Even more broadly stated, it measures how much of a ball hog you are.  Because if you are not touching the ball, you are not "using" the possession.

The guys who tend to have the ball all of the time and dribble around wildly and either pass for an assist or shoot are the guys with big Usage.

So, going onto the 2016-17 season, the top 6 all-time ball hogs were:

6.  Carmelo
5. LeBron
4. Allen Iverson
3. Kobe
2. Dwyane Wade
1.  Michael Jordan

Obviously, it helps to be really talented to be on this list, because no matter how much you WANT to possess the ball, if you suck, your coach will eventually not allow you to possess the ball.

This is, of course, why the pairing of Wade and LeBron was such an awful idea.  You generally don't want to pair two super high usage players.  In Year 1 of that experiment, LeBron reduced his Usage 2 points in the regular season and 4+ points in the playoffs, deferring to Wade.  The LeBron/Wade experiment only worked after Wade reduced his Usage, LeBron jacked his back up, and LeBron became a far more efficient player.

Anyway, moving on.  The Holy Grail of seasonal Usage was accomplished by Kobe in 2005-06.  In 2004-05 the Lakers had missed the playoffs with Kobe at his typically high 31.7 Usage.  Kobe went bazonkers (technical term) in 2005-06 and raised his Usage by 7% to an NBA record 38.7%. 

Kobe's ball hogging during the 2005-06 season was so legendary that, after he was criticized for shooting too much in Game 6 of the First Round playoff series against the Suns, Kobe went into full tank mode and REFUSED to shoot in the second half of Game 7, thus insuring a Lakers loss.  One of the most vile and childish acts ever seen from an NBA all-star:

In any event, having witnessed the ballhoggery of the 27 year old Kobe (at the height of his physical powers and his mental selfishness) I really never felt his Usage mark would ever be challenged. 

But then came Russell Westbrook without Kevin Durant.  In 2014-15 Durant was hurt for a substantial stretch of games, and Westbrook went Usage mad, taking his mark up from around a career median of 32 to a shocking 38.4.  Only a late season lack of physical energy kept Russ from reaching Kobe's magical 38.7% mark.  In 2015-16 Durant returned and Westbrook's usage went down to a still-high but rational 31.5 for a season.  Then Durant left.

Russell Westbrook is 28 years old.  So one would imagine that while he might challenge Kobe's mark that it would be at least a close contest.  It has not been a close contest.  Russ is at a 42.1% Usage.  He is shattering Kobe's mark.  No one this season even approaches this level of Usage.  No one in history approaches this level of Usage. 

Westbrook's Usage in 2016-17 has been so high that he has gone from 7th place all-time in career Usage to SECOND.  He trails only Jordan.  This year he has passed such Usage greats as Carmelo, LeBron, Iverson, Kobe, and Wade.  If he has a similar year in 2017-18, Russ will move ahead of Jordan for career Usage %.

What Russ is doing is really a tribute to his mental and physical endurance and his "don't give a fuck" attitude.  I really never thought anyone could combine these three attributes like Kobe.  But Russ has gone Kobe plus 9%. 

To give some perspective, in 2014-15 when LeBron James was playing in the playoffs with Cleveland and basically any decent Cav was hurt, his Usage for the playoff stretch was only 37.6.  In the Finals, when the Cavs were basically running "23 stand" where LeBron held the ball for 23 seconds and then tried to make a play, LeBron's Usage was only 40.8.  LeBron would complain after every game that he knew this was not close to the correct way to play basketball, but he had no real choice if he wanted a chance to win.

Westbrook has registered a 42.1 (versus Finals LeBron 40.8) and Russ has done it for an entire season.  So, Kudos to Russ.  I just hope we never have to see this again.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Sam Bradford Checking on the Vikings' Offensive Line Progress

Monday, March 06, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Nina Agdal

This was what almost every woman I saw in Denmark and Sweden was built like.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Top 36 NBA Players of All-time

I have these spread out throughout my Blog, but so you have it in one spot:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
4. LeBron James

5. Tim Duncan
6. Magic Johnson
7. Karl Malone
8. Bill Russell
9. Shaquille O'Neal
10.George Mikan
11.Jerry West
12.Oscar Robertson
13. Larry Bird
14. David Robinson
15. Hakeem Olajuwon
16. Moses Malone
17.  Bob Pettit
18. Kobe Bryant
19. Julius Erving
20.  Elgin Baylor
21.  Charles Barkley
22.  Kevin Garnett
23.  Dirk Nowitzki
24.  John Stockton
25. Kevin Durant
26.  Chris Paul
27. Rick Barry
28. Ray Allen
29. Clyde Drexler
30. Steve Nash
31, Dwyane Wade
32. John Havlicek
33. Patrick Ewing
34. Reggie Miller
35. Gary Payton
36. Scottie Pippen.

There you go - that is the definitive list.

Andrew Wiggins -- Many Thoughts On How to Improve

With Wiggy's recent scoring and shooting tear, his advanced stats are slowly improving.  His Net Rating is now only -6 (Ortg 108, DRtg 114) and he has (as of today) a VORP of 0; his best ever (versus a replacement player, he is exactly as good - contributes no extra wins and no extra losses).

So, I ask myself, how can Wiggy possibly look so good at times and yet (on an overall season long statistical basis) contribute virtually nothing to his team?  I mean, certainly his scoring should be adding something, and are his other stats where he really struggles (4 rebounds, 2.5 assist per game, terrible defense) really that awful to drag him down so far?

So I looked at players who played at least 1,500 minutes in a season and averaged similar stats to Wiggy -- over 23 points per game and under 4.5 rebounds and under 2.9 assists.

Of note, these sort of seasons appear to be EXTREMELY rare.  If you are a little guy and a scorer, you generally get more than 3 assists a game.  It is hard not to.  Similarly, if you are a big guy and can score 23 ppg, you generally play a lot and can garner either 3 assists or 5 rebounds a game.

Wiggy's inability to contribute either as a rebounder or assist man is almost unprecedented.  If you look at 2016-17, there are only 6 guys total in the league who play much and play as poorly as Wiggy on the defense, rebounding and assist metrics.  None of the 5 competitors plays nearly as much as Wiggy does.  So his poor play on a per minute basis in these areas of the game is unmatched.

So, if you go back and ask yourself what type of player Andrew Wiggins has been this year, your answer will be (going back to list #1)

Dale Ellis
Michael Redd
Glen Rice
Kiki Vandeweghe
Kevin Martin
Ricky Pierce
31 year old George Gervin
Super John Williamson

What do all of these players have in common?  They were all known as "one-dimensional scorers". 

Now, if you would simply say that Wiggy could get to both 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, he could be at the absolute bottom of this much better list of players: roughly equivalent to a 32 year old Carmelo Anthony (Wiggy would also have to drop his DRtg by two points to 112 to reach Carmelo - Carmelo is a BETTER defender!). 

So, Wiggy is (today) a bad 32 year old Carmelo.  If you look at the above link, if Wiggy could double his performance in both rebounding and assists, or, for example, triple his rebounds or assists, he would be amongst the best players in the league!    That, of course, would be tough to do given that Wiggy already plays huge minutes and has shown no signs of significant improvement per year in any of these categories.

Another concern for Wiggins and his supporters is that even if you go back to the "one-dimensional scorers" list and look at the 15 similar seasons, Wiggy is likely to end up 13th or 14th in Win Shares and ranks poorly in every shooting category:

8th in 2-point percentage
10th in field goal percentage
11th in 3 point %
11th in Effective FG %
13th in True shooting % and
15th in free throw %.

So Wiggy right now is a one-dimensional scorer..........and he isn't particularly efficient in that role.

So, baby steps:
1) get your rebounds and assists up to 32 year old Carmelo levels (6.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists)
2) get your defensive rating down to a Carmelo-ian 112.
3) improve your 3 point shooting and FT shooting to more elite scorer levels.

At that point, you would be a good player (top 40 in the league). 

then Wiggy needs to find some way to get to

23-6-5 (Jimmy Butler) or maybe 27-5-4 (DeMar Derozan).

It is hard to imagine that Wiggy will improve so much that he could ever reach the rebounds and assist numbers that The Greek Freak or LeBron have.  And he is never going to have a defensive rating of 102 like Kawhi Leonard (who gets 2.5 steals+blocks to Wiggy's current 1.3).

But what is clear is that right now Wiggy is like a bad version of Kevin Martin, Michael Redd and Dale Ellis.  Start with being a good version of them, work your way up to equaling an old Carmelo, and then, from there, see what your upside really could be.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The 15 Worst Efforts By Starters In an NBA Finals Games During the Past 30 Years

There were some criteria imposed.  First, the game had to be in the database.  Second, the game had to be in a loss (playing in a win means that, arguably, you did something at some point in the game to help your team win -- these guys did not help a team win).  Third, you had to be a starter.  I am not going to criticize players like Bob McAdoo or Rasheed Wallace who are on their last legs and have a shitty game when they are 100% washed up. 

Finally, I am going to judge by "Game Score" which is allegedly a function of your game productivity. 

One might argue, for example, that John Starks' horrendous gunning of 2-18 and 0-11 from 3 should be the worst game, instead of only the 14th worst.  But statistically it was somehow better on Game Score.  Look, everyone who was a fan of the losing team will think that their guy sucked the worst, so we will  let the computer give the objective Game Score and then you can subjectively evaluate the terrible performance.

With that in mind, I give you the 15 statistically worst starter efforts in a Finals loss:

 15th worst (so, the best of this awful bunch)

Paul Pierce, Age 30, 2008 NBA Finals --  32 MP      2 for14 FGs  (0-4 from 3) NEGATIVE 3.1 Game score.
The Celtics would go on to defeat the Lakers in the series anyway.

John Starks Age 28  1994 Finals  42MP  went 2-18 from the floor (0-11 from 3)   NEGATIVE 3.4
Game Score
Starks single-handedly cost the Knicks the NBA title as his shameless gunning simply would not stop.  The Knicks lost to Houston, making Hakeem a legend and tarnishing Ewing's NBA legacy.

Larry Johnson  Age 30   1999 Finals     37MP   2-8 (0-3 from 3)          NEGATIVE 3.4
The Knicks were overmatched and lost to the Spurs in 5.

Chris Dudley Age 34     1999 Finals     24MP     0-3          NEGATIVE 3.6
Look, the computer says that Dudley started for the Knicks and (as we all know) he sucked.  No wonder they lost in 5.

Tyrone Hill  Age 33  2001 Finals 26MP        1-7          NEGATIVE 3.8
It was an utter miracle when the Sixers got Game 1 off the Lakers -- their success lasted all game.  They lost in 5, thanks, in part, to this Ty Hill effort.

Robert Parish Age 32    1986 Finals    25MP    3-15   NEGATIVE 4.5
Smoked in this game by Hakeem and Ralph Sampson, but the Rockets would fall to Parish's Celts 4-2 in the series. 

Sam Perkins   Age 29     1991 Finals     43MP       1-15  (0-3 from 3)        NEGATIVE 4.5
Perk hit a huge shot to win Game 1.  That would be the only game the Lakers won, as Michael's Bulls steamrolled Magic and his pretty mediocre crew 4-1.   Ended up being Magic's last Finals as he contracted HIV the next year.


Ralph Sampson  Age 25   1986 Finals   27MP     1-13        NEGATIVE 3.9
Ralph was truly awful this game, and he really was never thought of the same as an NBA player after this series was over.  Rockets lost the series to Parish and the Celts.
Harrison Barnes Age 24   2016 Finals      16MP    0-8  (0-5 from 3)      NEGATIVE 5.1
We jump right over the negative 4s and end up with this wretched effort from Mr. Barnes, who, despite being left WIDE OPEN every possession could not make a shot and who was so ineffective he was forced to the bench with only 16 MP.   Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and lost to Cleveland in 7.  The result cemented LeBron James' legacy as a top 5 player, as he earned his 3rd title and 3rd Finals MVP.

Tony Parker Age 21  2003 Finals  31MP     1-12 (0-2 from 3)       NEGATIVE 5.3
Few recall that there were serious efforts by the Spurs to dump Parker after this series and acquire Jason Kidd.  The Spurs won the series, but largely no thanks to Parker, who was generally terrible throughout.   Pretty sure Tony was forced to split minutes with Speedy Claxton.
Kenyon Martin Age 25   2003 FInals     39MP     3-23 (0-2 from 3).  NEGATIVE 6.0
Do you know how difficult it is to go 3-21 from 2-point range when you are 6'9" tall?  Very, very hard.  And the level of stubbornness that it requires is remarkable.  KMart was able to do it, nonetheless, helping his Nets lose the series despite the generally poor play of Tony Parker on the other side.
Ray Allen Age 34  2010 Finals   42MP,   0-13  (0-8 from 3)        NEGATIVE 6.9
Despite an injured Kevin Garnett, the Celts were in a spot to win another title, but that effort was not helped by this historically terrible Ray Allen effort.  The 4th worst Finals game of the past 30 years.  Kobe went 6-24 in Game 7, yet was awarded with a curious MVP decision despite being outplayed by his own teammate Pau Gasol.

3rd Worst
Byron Scott Age 30  1991 Finals 43MP   0-8 (0-3 from 3)      NEGATIVE 7.2
Now, Byron Scott was never a great overall player; he was a very good scorer.  So for him to play 43 minutes and provide ZERO made baskets and yet stay on the floor that long indicates how overmatched the 1991 Lakers were that Finals and how finely Magic had honed his scoring, rebounding and assist games by 1991.  Jordan had a better team and was a slightly better player than Magic at that time.  Bulls won in 5. 

2nd Worst
Harrison Barnes Age 23   2015 Finals     19MP     0-8  (0-1 from 3)  NEGATIVE  7.3
In an eerie preview of the 2016 Finals, Barnes' terrible play would allow LeBron to singlehandedly gain a lead for the crippled Cavs.   The Warriors were able to regain their balance and overcome the "LeBron and almost no one else" Cavs, in part because Barnes' generally poor play was overcome by the play of controversial Andre Iguodala who became the second consecutive Finals MVP awarded the honor because he could at least bother LeBron James and could make a wide open shot.  Warriors won in 6. 

Mario Chalmers Age 273  June 11, 2013 NBA Finals, MIA at San Antonio 20MP,  0-5  (0-1 from 3)       
Chalmers somehow managed to put up a NEGATIVE 7.4 Game Score in 20 minutes, helped by the fact that he had only 2 rebounds, 1 assist to 4 turnovers and committed 4 fouls while the opponent was +19 while he was on the floor.  He was certainly not alone, as the Heat lost by 36 in Game 3 to fall behind 2-1.  The Heat would rally and actually get an OK game from Rio in Games 2 and 6, taking the series in 7.  The only time a Tim Duncan team was ever defeated in the NBA Finals series

Monday, January 30, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

My Thoughts as We Begin the Trump Era

As we have inaugurated a man who is clearly unqualified for the job, and who has demonstrated no desire or ability to learn the job, and who has appointed as cabinet members (primarily) people who are likewise unqualified, let me offer my thoughts:

1) I still prefer Trump to the likes of Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Mike Pence.  For Pence, it is because he is apparently even dumber than Trump and because I really do not care to have my nation turned into a theocracy.  For the other three guys, it is because I have seen the George W. Bush Administration, and I really do not care to re-live that 8 years.  At least with Trump there is the slight hope that he may be so unstable and unprincipled that he may occasionally do the right thing by accident.  It is like if you lined people up on a road with 5 being your best friends and 5 being your worst enemies, and told the drive to drive.  With Trump, he will swerve wildly all over the road and may hit some you like and some you do not like.  With the 4 other guys, you can be sure that they would kill your 5 best friends and leave your 5 worst enemies alive.  Even if Trump kills all 10, that is a better result.

2) Trump's cabinet appointees are beyond awful.  You would have hoped that a guy who was not beholden to the Rich Wing of the GOP would at least have selected a few wild card entries who might actually, say, be qualified?  You would be wrong.

3) My hope for Trump is that he, in fact, does what he said in his speech at the inauguration and a) tries to bring back more high-paying jobs for the Rush Belt; and b) punishes corporations for trying to send jobs and money overseas; c) uses federal resources to stamp out crime and decay in the inner cities; and d) pay all sorts of money to upgrade U.S. infrastructure to 2020 standards.  That would be great - "Please proceed, President Trump."

However, I don't see how he can promise to do any of those things while at the same time:
-- doesn't support unions
-- doesn't support a higher minimum wage
-- wants to get rid of ObamaCare and deny those same worker health insurance
-- wants to give corporations and the very wealthiest people enormous tax cuts
--  has expressed no plan for helping the inner cities other than ending the "carnage"
-- has not identified any spending program or tax increase that would accomplish any infrastructure improvements, but, in fact, has proposed an enormous tax cut that would make it impossible to fund any such infrastructure program,

Would it be great if Trump kept us out of all foreign wars and put "America First"?  Sure.  But how do you square such an idea with his constant complaints that Obama was too weak or that our navy must be built up to some ridiculous level?  Are we just going to use our million new aircraft carriers to patrol our harbors?  Are we expecting an "Independence Day 2" type of invasion?  We are going to build our military resources to a point where no one fucks with us -- and if they do -- I assume we will use our resources, right?  So isn't that the opposite of staying out of wars?

So, on my hope level, with Clinton as a 9 and Obama as a 9 and GWB as a 2, I place Trump as a 4.  I hope that he does some of the things he claims he will do (another example, replace ObamaCare with something that gives every American health care -- hey great!  That is called "single payer" or Medicare for All"). 

On my fear indicator, with Clinton as a 1 and Obama as a 2, and GWB as a 7; I gotta give Trump a 9.  He is so unstable and lacking in basic knowledge or desire to work hard that I really fear that he becomes a WORSE version of a typical GOP President.  He tells people horrid lies about what he will do (some of which is positive), and then just allows the people he hangs around to make decisions that do the exact opposite and cause extreme harm.  Plus who knows when he nukes Mexico or Iran or Russia or China?  It is a real chance (it is likely to be a country where he doesn't have a hotel, so maybe Iran and North Korea are the leading contenders).

If I were Trump, I would hold off on giving the Congress their huge tax cut for the wealthy until after they have done whatever else he wants done.  Once he gives them the tax cut for the wealthy, they could not give a fuck whether he lives or dies.  So he can best protect himself from impeachment by saying, "Look, gotta do A, B, C., D then we will turn to the tax cut...." 

They have always said that the key to success was intelligence and hard work.  If Trump succeeds as President, he will be the exception that proves the rule.

Recall -- Dow at 19,800, unemployment at 4.9%, gas prices in Minneapolis about 2.35 a gallon for regular. 

Good luck.  As I said, there are a bunch of things you say you will do that would be great.  We shall see if they get done.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The No-Win Situation That is Gopher Football

I used to coach town-team "traveling basketball" and AAU basketball, both for boys and girls.  We would have long practices before the season started and try to develop the kids' skills and stamina and knowledge of the game.  Then we'd think "OK -- team is ready to play."

But sometimes you would show up for your first tournament and the other team would just, literally, beat the living hell out of you.  Hold, push, elbow, grab - every possible illegal move.  And the refs would call nothing.  So once you complained for a quarter or so and got no help, you were left with two options:  1) lose; or 2) fight back and cheat also.  As a coach, I always took option 2.  I remember one game where at halftime I noted that we could either be the hammer or the nail, but I would think it would be better to be the hammer.  One girl went out and committed two very hard fouls after halftime and looked over at the bench.  We shared a smile.

The point is, we would all like the world to be wonderful.  It would be great if people let you in when you are trying to merge in traffic.  It would be great if your boss were reasonable.  And it would be great if your college basketball team featured 12 athletes who were all 4.0 scholars and who stayed all 4 years and led the team to 4 national championships.  The world, unfortunately, does not work like that.

You generally have 5-10 teams in either college football or college basketball who are truly contenders to win it all based upon coach or pedigree.  Football -- Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State.  Basketball -- Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas, UConn

Now, this is not to say that these teams cannot fuck it up -- I mean, all of these teams have suffered at least brief bumps in the road (cough, UNC under Matt Doherty) but they have something to sell -- the nameplate.  "We are _____ and we have won a BUNCH of titles!  Now, do you want to come play here and continue that tradition, or do you want to go to some school and hope to get a few votes for top 25?"

And there have been very, very serious efforts at re-writing the script and making new great teams.  I mean HUGE amounts of booster money have been spent at Oregon and Oklahoma State.  Spurrier made Florida great for a while.  UNLV rose to prominence.  Wisconsin is trying to become a constant Top 10 force.  Tony Bennett has become a regular season force in Virginia and hopes to turn that into tourney success.   

But let's face it.  For most college football teams and college basketball teams, there are two real options -- accept your lot in life, or cheat a lot.  If you are NC State or Clemson in basketball, you generally will be 5th-8th in the ACC depnding upon how hard the other teams fighting for those spots are cheating.  If you are BC or Syracuse in football after 1986, you are going to be fooling around with .500, maybe 2 games over, maybe two games under.  You may get lucky and go 9-4.  You may get unlucky and go 4-8.

Faced with this option, a lot of teams that want to win cheat.  And if they don't cheat, they look the other way, and I mean 180 degrees the other way.  Do you remember when Peyton Manning was kicked out of Tennessee for tea bagging the school employee?  Or when Tennessee investigated allegations that its employees wrote student papers and found itself guilty and shut down the program?  Or when UNC agreed not to play in last year's NCAA tourney because of rampant academic fraud in its men's basketball program?  Or when Oklahoma State sanctioned itself when finding out that Dexter Manley could not read?  Remember those profiles in courage?  No?  That is because THEY DID NOT HAPPEN.  Remember Cam Newton and Jameis Winston's stated scandals and how they resulted in forfeiture of all games they ever played in?  No?  Again -- schools looked into it - found they did nothing wrong.

The coaches and the administrations of these schools determined that (like me coaching basketball) they were not going to discourage conduct occurring outside of the rules if that it what it took to win games.   UNC's ridiculous claim that its WOMEN'S basketball program was primarily to blame for the decades of academic cheating is perhaps the low point of all legal or factual arguments ever made.  Yet it has stymied the NCAA for what appears to be at least 2 years!!!  UNC set up and operated an academic fraud system for 20+ years that was designed to help a women's team who was almost never any good?  Talk about a desire to comply with Title IX!!  How noble. 

Against this background, we have the state of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota.  I grew up in Western NY.  I moved to Minnesota in 1989.  Here is my observation about Minnesota sports fans -- there really aren't very many.  If you live in the Eastern time zone, you are taught as a kid that sports are everything, you live and die for them and that is your identity.  "I am a ________ fan."  Acceptable responses: "Fuck you, I am a _________ fan" and "So I am, let's be friends."  I would say of the guys I grew up with that 90% were avid sports fans.  I gave a speech in Philly 15 years ago where I started with "and I am an alum of Duke - with our three national titles" huge applause line (with a few muttered "fuck yous" included).  If I gave that same speeech in Minnesota, people in the audience would wonder why I would ever mention Duke basketball. 

In my years in Minnesota, I would say that I have met maybe 100 people who are truly avid sports fans.  When my son played Little League baseball (or whatever they call it here), the dads would gather around at functions.  Here were the primary topics:  1) drinking, 2) the cabin, 3) boating, 4) fishing, 5) hockey.  So, I figured, well, at least I am pretty up (at the time) on the NHL - let's discuss that.  Nope, it was YOUTH hockey they were discussing!  I was at a baseball party and literally no one was talking baseball, football or basketball. 

And these are the dads who care enough about sports to have their sons in sports.  Now imagine the level of sports fandom from moms or from dads whose kids were not in sports.  This explains why Minnesota for many, many years struggled to get a new stadium for sports while places like Cleveland and Cincicnnati and Pittsburgh were building new stadiums after voter referenda.  In those cities, people love sports.  In Minnesota, most people can take or leave sports.  This is an attitude shared, from what I can tell, only in cities like L.A. and Seattle.  Minnesota lost its hockey team to DALLAS!!  The only sport in which Minnesotans have a modicum of interest (at least on the youth level) was lost because Minnesotans would not spend money to renovate Target Center to house both the Wolves and North Stars.  The water freezes in Dallas roughly 10 days a year.  They stole our team.  The Twins in 2001-02 were about to be contracted back into the MLB.  No one really cared all that much.  The Twins' threats to simply take money to dissolve got them a new stadium in.......2010.

This brings us to the Gophers.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers play football against high Division I competition.  I have talked to people with Division I connections.  The player stories they tell are eye opening even for a 52 year old guy who has seen a lot.  If you enjoy watching high D-1 sports, do not ever have an honest conversation with someone who has played or been around high D-1 sports.  Suffice to say, the Gophers play against teams who cheat in recruiting, don't send their kids to class, pay players, hire hookers for their players, cheat on player drug tests, etc., etc.  That is their competition.   (side note on drug testing -- I asked my source, "well if they don't take their tests, why do they sometimes get caught?"  the answer was that if the coaches were angry enough with you, they'd make you take your own test, knowing you would fail). 

People in Minnesota, for whatever reason, feel that the Gophers should be really good at football.  Why?  That is a great question.  I wish I knew.  The Gophers have not been to the Rose Bowl in 50 years.  The Gophers have one 10-win season....ever.  They have never, for example, been 14-0, 13-0, 13-1, 12-2, 12-1. 11-3, 11-2.    So why would anyone expect that level of play?  I mean, you can HOPE for that level of play, and I can HOPE that tomorrow People Magazine will tell me that if I drop 25 pounds I will take over for The Rock on its "Sexiest Man Alive" cover.  But is that really a reasonable expectation?  I have never won a beauty contest or even been thought of as particularly handsome.  Would it be nice?  Sure.  Should my wife chide me if I fail to achieve the goal?  No.

The Gophers play in a metro area of around 3 million people.  They have a nice 60,000 stadium.  Big Ten teams from large metro areas -- Ohio State and Michigan -- have 110,000 seat stadiums.  Wisconsin (80,000+) and Iowa (70,000+) have stadiums bigger than Minnesota's.  They play in the huge cities of Madison and Iowa City.  There is nothing about Minnesota's "facilities" that would make you think that they are supposed to be awesome at football.

But the biggest impediment to success in Gopher football is that the University feels a great need to self-report and "self-find-itself-guilty."  I mean, I kid you not, after the Gophers self-guilted themselves on the "we write papers for players" issue, Tennessee employees came out and said "oh yeah, we do that too, always have".  Tennessee investigated -- "nope, never happened, we are innocent." 

Look at the latest Gophers "scandal."  If you read the 80-page report, multiple Gophers football players had sex with a 21-22 year old woman.  They said it was consensual, she said it was not.  Her story is littered with credibility issues.  (There are many - she said she was drunk, though not overly drunk and had stopped drinking hours before....or maybe dehydrated.....she asked her first rapist what had happened to her, then later claimed to the University a very specific knowledge of the events that occurred....the report itself finds that the first alleged rapist did not, in fact, rape her).

Add in a specific misidentification of one player.  The University actually found that this error (a pretty big error -- "he did it....OK, I guess not....") INCREASED the victim's credibility: 

"RS misidentification of A10 demonstrates that RS memory of the events in the apartment may be faulty at times However, RS report about her misidentification also demonstrates her willingness to admit that she initially remembered something incorrectly...."   

Prosecutors (whose job it is to investigate and charge crimes) felt the story wasn't very compelling.  Her civil lawyer settled her lawsuit. 

And let me address another thing about the findings of the EOAA Report.  A great deal has been made of the fact that the Report had to use the "predonderance of the evidence" standard so the players had to lose.  This argument is wrong.  If Mr. X has 35 people come and testify that something happened, and Mr. Z has 1 person come and testified that it did not happen, and Mr. Z also has a video showing that one thing the 35 witnesses said happened pretty clearly did not happen, Mr. Z is very likely to win on the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, properly applied.  What happened here, in my opinion, is that the EOAA applied what I would call a "summary judgment" standard.  Under a summary judgment standard, if we believe everything that the claimant says and nothing that the defendants say, could claimant win?  I mean, that is what basically happened.  Every error by defendants (the report notes that one defendant, when quizzed, got the order of sex wrong, thus indicating that he was probably lying) is used against them and every positive inference is made in favor of the claimant (she misidentified one guy entirely, but that shows she is willing to admit her errors). 

So this is the scandal.  Several of these players were defendants in a civil suit.  The civil suit sought to enjoin the players from being IN THE STADIUM while this woman worked at games because she was afraid of them.  Now imagine that a lawsuit of this type had been filed in Tuscaloosa or Columbus.  "Judge, I need you to sit out the two starting corners for the Tide/Buckeyes because a woman fears that they may assault her at the game....."  Imagine that idea.  Imagine that.  Now imagine how quickly that request for extraordinary judicial relief gets denied.  This Minnesota court motion was granted - the two starting corners for the Gophers were, without ever receiving an evidentiary hearing, enjoined from entering the stadium on the off chance that they might, presumably while in uniform and on the field, assault this woman. 

After allowing these same players to play most of the season, Eric Kaler and Mark Coyle eventually suspend all 10 players involved and then lie to the players and tell them Tracy Claeys (their coach) was responsible for the suspensions. 

Now, what would have been the appropriate thing to do? 

1) Read the report -- geez guys, you guys looks like sexual predators out to have sex with any vulnerable woman you can find, do you have a response? 
2) Yes, we have filed an appeal and we think we will win because of ____________.
3) OK, well, you are entitled to privacy and due process, so we are going to let you play the Holiday Bowl, but if you lose your appeal you are done.

People who are convicted of crimes often remain out of jail pending appeal!  Corporations who are found guilty of fraud and have a $40,000,000 judgment entered against them don't have to pay if they file a bond.  What was the requirement that the University suspend these guys?  None.  Again, the administration knew what these guys were accused of for MONTHS and allowed them to play football.  But they suddenly suspend the players, lie about who did the suspending, and then face a player boycott and a coach backlash.

This would have never happened at any traidtionally top 20 program.  I mean, my lord, what was the punishment for Michael Floyd's DUI at Notre Dame?  Was he ever tossed out of school?  Suspended for a couple games?  Nope.  He lost his team captain status.  I am sure opposing coaches feared him less without the C.

Here is what would have happened at a top 20 program:

1) Report to the police - police take a report, advise no charges.  Prosecutors do not charge.
2) Civil suit filed.  Motion for restraining order denied. 
3) Booster approaches claimant - provides large amount of money through scholarship and free housing and duffel bags of cash.
4) EOAA office determines that they will agree with prosecutors and find no violation.  Claimant deemed to be not credible.

By contrast, Minnesota just HAS to constantly self-report and self-find-itself guilty. Thus the ultimate result is that it loses many players and fires a winning coach whose team loves him and who has a record of academic success with his players.  The guy went 9-4 at Minnesota, won a bowl game and has a LOT of good players on defense who will return in 2017.  That is the upside of the coach.  The downside?  When given the opportunity to suck Eric Kaler's dick, he chose not to do so.

The Minnesota press and Minnesota citizens both continue to search for the elusive set of 60 football scholar-athletes who will bring the team to a deserved 14-0 back-to-back title seasons; players who spend their Friday and Saturday evenings helping old women across the street and freeing scared cats from trees.   These 60 saints in football garb will want to attend Minnesota because Minnesota (despite no Rose Bowls in 50 years) deserves the best players in America.  I am not certain that this will occur, but I guess hope springs eternal.

A Final Note on Mark Coyle:
This is a guy who spent one year at Syracuse as AD under Jim Boeheim, oops, sorry, I meant "with" Jim Boeheim.  I grew up 80 miles from Syracuse.  I have met Syracuse residents and Syracuse cops.  I have heard their stories.  Suffice to say, if Mark Coyle spent a year at Syracuse, he knows what a northern school's program does to "compete at the highest level".  I would suggest that even in his brief tenure at the 'Cuse that Coyle saw how it is done.  He didn't want to do it, or be the AD while it was being done.  So what did he do?  He came to Minnesota.  For his travles, he got a football team accused of gang rape.  Whether rightfully or wrongfully accused, you have to figure that Coyle thought "I thought I left this behind." So when he got the choice to keep or fire Tracy Claeys, he fired him. 

Coyle will now take the position that he will hire a coach who is squeaky clean and who will uphold the Minnesota ideal (he wants a coach who "knows what Minnesota is") of all guys who get 4.0s and hang out in the Christian Science Reading Room in their spare time.    Good luck.  I think Gerry Faust is still alive.