Saturday, May 31, 2014

San Antonio wins!

Something extraordinary just happened. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich actually laughed. That's like Halley's Comet making a surprise appearance or the Democrats and Republicans putting petty partisanship aside and doing what's best for the people. In other words -- a very rare occasion indeed.

Coach Pop had good reason to yuk it up. His Spurs had finally dispatched the Okla City Thunder to move on to the NBA Finals where the Miami Heat await. It was the first time the Spurs had beat the Thunder in OKC in 10 tries. And it almost didn't happen. Because of the refs. It was incredible how many missed or totally blown calls occurred in this game -- and they pretty much all went against the Spurs. To boot, their all-world point guard, Tony Parker, went out in the first half with a leg injury and couldn't play the entire second half.

Given all that, one would have thought the Thunder would have romped at home -- again. After all, the first 5 games of the series were all blow-outs, with the home team winning. Most everybody expected the series would go back to San Antonio for a game 7.

Yet in overtime, the Thunder finally blinked and the Spurs prevailed. Then again, it should come as no surprise. Okla City has two fantastic players, a couple really good ones, and that's it. No depth on their bench. San Antonio will routinely rotate 9 or 10 men deep and not miss a beat. Sometimes "system" eventually trumps a couple phenomenal talents over the course of a 7 game series.

There's likely not much joy for sports fans in Oklahoma right about now. Their only professional big league franchise was eliminated from the playoffs, and the Oklahoma Sooners girls softball team just got kicked to the curb of the ladies College World Series by Oregon.

Idle thought: I've watched a lot of the ladies softball action. So why is it every single one of them on every single team has really long hair? Is it mandatory to make the team? Nary an Ellen, Whoopie, or Jamie Lee Curtis in the bunch. Seems weird.

Now the Spurs get 5 days off before the NBA Finals start. No doubt a good thing for some of their aging bodies to rest up. And they'll have home court advantage over the Miami Heat.

But as admirable as the Spurs program is under Pop's tutelage -- and as rare as his mirth is (it's kind of like Lurch of the Addams Family trying to smile) -- their chances against Miami probably aren't so good.

Besides their obvious front-line talent, the Heat have a lot of other things in their repertoir. They'll play 9 or 10 deep as well and have size, speed, and 3 point snipers. They can run with the best of them in a slamma-jamma contest, play the half-court slow-down game if necessary, and their team defense can be suffocating when they really want to crank it up.

I suspect it will indeed be cranked up in the Finals.

It would have been nice to see Gregg Popovich smile again -- and even see Tim Duncan, one of the classiest guys to ever play professional sports win another championship, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Miami's just too much.....

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ballmer, Sterling, and 2 billion

OK, let's recap. In a secretly (and likely illegal) recorded personal conversation, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly made some racist remarks. Many, but not all, were outraged when it went public. Among those taking high umbrage was rookie NBA Commish Adam Silver.

Just four days later, Silver and the NBA had completed their investigation and the verdict was in. Guilty. Silver would quickly fine Sterling $2.5 million (chump change, but good luck collecting), ban him for life from the NBA, and move to force the sale of the Clippers. Sterling had to go.

For his part, Sterling himself became an enigma. At first he was apologetic, then defiant, then said he would sell the team, then changed his mind and said he would fight. In the meantime, Sterling had supposedly transferred control of the Clippers to his wife Shelly. And she vowed to fight the NBA. No sale. Also in the meantime, Mrs. Sterling has filed for divorce and had her husband declared mentally incapitated. (That divorce stuff can get downright nasty sometimes, especially with filthy rich people.)

So OK, we knew all that. Then presto, the lovely Mrs. Sterling changed HER mind and has reportedly already accepted an offer to sell the Clippers. That was fast. Why?

Enter Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft. He bid a whopping $2 billion bucks for the Clippers. Certainly Ballmer can afford it. His total wealth has been estimated to be around $20 billion, so 10% of his dough to buy a professional sports franchise is hardly going to put him in dire financial straits. With $18 billion left over, chances are good a ramen noodle diet and begging for spare change on a street corner are not in Ballmer's near future.

Still, $2 billion for the Clippers? Just a few months ago, the market value of that team was estimated to be around $575 million. Even $575 M seems way too high. Consider the franchise....

Since Sterling bought them in 1981, 33 years ago, the Clips have made it to the playoffs only 5 times. They've never even reached the NBA Finals, let alone won a title. Over the course of that time, the Clippers have been the losingest franchise in all of major professional sports, including the NHL, NFL, and MLB. Even the lowly Detroit Lions and Chicago Cubs have fared better. To boot, the Clippers don't even have their own arena to play in. They've long been considered second class citizens at the Staples Center in LA, where the Lakers also play -- even though the Lakers are currently terrible. And they're locked into that lease for the next several years.

So why would Balmer pony up over 3 times the market value to buy the Clips? Just because he can doesn't mean it makes sense. Many financial people are scratching their heads and wondering -- what is he doing?

Yet let's assume the sale goes through. Who wins?

Actually, a lot of people. The NBA will have accomplished its mission to rid themselves of the Sterlings. No more threat of a future player boycott, and hopefully Anderson Cooper and the like can find another scandal or disaster to endlessly blather on about.

Certainly the Sterlings win. Donald only paid $12 million for the team back in 1981. You remember 1981. That was when Bonzo the chimp's buddy, the twenty mule team Gipper, AKA Ronald Reagan was just settling into the oval office for his first term as Prez. A tough act to follow indeed. Ahem.

Now they're about to split $2 billion? Some punishment. Beat me with a stick like that. Even given inflation, going from $12 million to $2 billion is roughly a 16,000 percent return on Sterling's original investment. That's some kind of serious interest.

But you know who wins the most? The franchise owners of all the other teams -- including the other sports. If the Clips were worth $2 billion, than the price tags on their franchises just skyrocketed. How much are teams like the Dallas Cowboys, NY Yankees, LA Dodgers, Chicago Bulls, etc worth now to a potential seller? 4 billion? 6? 10?  These are big market teams that continue to pack their houses with fans, have won championships, and have lucrative TV deals and other endorsements pouring in. And what would the Miami Heat be worth right now according to this scale? A trillion?

Thing is, by Ballmer driving up the market value of the other franchises, other things are likely to follow. The players will want even more money. The teams will demand more revenue from the TV people for broadcast rights to offset those costs. And, in the end, the ticket prices for the average fan will go up -- as if they weren't ridiculously high already. In other words, simple logic dictates that for every big winner, there has to be a bunch of losers. Like playing the Lotto.

And it all started off because some gold-digger decided to secretly record her sugar daddy.

The lone consolation the average fan can get out of all this?

She's had her 15 minutes of fame, but the bimbo won't be sitting gratis courtside anymore at Clipper games, with or without the folks Donald Sterling apparently didn't approve of her hanging out with.

Ballmer may have grossly overpaid for the Clippers, but you don't become the CEO of Microsoft unless you're really smart.

And really smart people know better than to hang out with bimbos.

The only way V is seeing another Clippers game is on TV.

Idle thought: $2 billion is far more than has ever been shelled out to construct the most elaborate stadium or arena to date. That amount of money can buy one a tropical island paradise or two with likely enough change left over to purchase this newspaper, lock, stock, reporters, columnists and copy editors, and maybe even pay my editor's lunch tabs for a couple years. Huh. I wonder how many bimbos one can buy for $2 billion? Even Tiger Woods in his heyday wasn't in that class.....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NHL playoff predictions

Interesting commercial and food for thought Dept. Not sure what to make of the Fifth Third Bank. My questions would be -- what happened to the 1st and 2nd banks? Did they go under? And if this is their fifth try at a third bank, here's hoping they can finally get it right. At any rate, the name itself doesn't exactly inspire consumer confidence, ya know?

OK, enough of that nonsense. On to the playoffs.

The defending Stanley Cup champs Chicago Black Hawks staved off elimination in their own building a few hours ago, but it took them double overtime to finally put away the LA Kings. At that, the Kings lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 to be played in LA. Can the Hawks win out there to force a Game 7 back in the Windy City?

Nope. Since falling behind 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks in the opening playoff round, the Kings have been on a roll. They would come back to win four in a row over the Sharks, then defeat Anaheim in a seven games series which included an amazing five road wins between the two teams, the last being the Kings knocking off the Ducks in the shadows of Disneyland. Then again, the term "road game" was misleading in that series. How far apart are LA and Anaheim anyway? A drive and a 7 iron?

Nevertheless, the Kings seem to have regained the form they showed just 2 years ago, when they entered the playoffs as only a #8 seed and rolled to the Cup. Chicago's not going to beat these guys two games in a row, though I still think the Black Hawks have the coolest uniforms in all of pro sports. Besides, with no NFL team, the Lakers a mess and the Clippers going through the whole Donald Sterling snafu, LA could use a break right about now.

In the east, Montreal and the NY Rangers is an interesting match-up. The Rangers lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 in Madison Square Garden. They better win it to close out those pesky Habs, because they surely don't want to go back to Montreal for a Game 7. Both teams have shown they can win on the other's home ice, but can you imagine the fever pitch of the fans, players, etc., in Montreal for a Game 7 that would propel them into the Stanley Cup Finals? The Canadiens haven't hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, when ironically they defeated the LA Kings 4 games to 1. The coach of the Kings at the time? One Barry Melrose, who has become quite the noted NHL television personality and analyst. Barry still knows hockey -- big time. To boot, Montreal has suffered through even more doldrums than LA in the professional sports world. No NBA franchise. Yeah, they have a CFL team, but that's hardly the same as an NFL presence. And baseball? Their Expos folded up shop a while back and moved to Washington DC to become the Nationals. Ouch.

How huge would another Stanley Cup be in Montreal? Off the charts.

So who should win between them and the Rangers? The Rangers are a logical favorite because they have two games and only need to win one. But I'm taking Montreal to go to the Finals for sentimental reasons, one in particular. I'll get back to that.

New York's a great town. Lots of things to see and stuff to do. But the natives are also quite rude in their ways.

Then again, I was in Montreal a while back, and was treated like a peasant around town, and particularly at a fine dining establishment because I couldn't speak French.

So it's probably a fair statement to say New Yorkers and Montrealers can both be offensive to visitors, though in different ways.

Yet I want Montreal to win this series. Why?

Because I love hearing both national anthems before the games. Unlike other pro sports, the NHL trots out some world-class singers to belt out these anthems. And they don't jazz it up, blues it up, rock it up, rap it up, or otherwise change the songs to draw attention to themselves. They sing them as they were written. National anthems are supposed to be about honoring countries, not some celebrity flavor of the day getting their 5 minutes to show off while butchering the songs themselves. And certainly no crotch-grabbing. Ahem.

So for that reason alone I hope Les Habitants make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Once there, who to root for? Tough choice.

They can be pretty uppety in LA too, with all the high falootin movie stars running around. And the traffic is brutal. Six lanes both ways on a freeway and it's bumper to bumper for miles? Only in LA. WAY too many cars.

Whatever. It's two good teams that most thought wouldn't be in the Finals in the first place. It should be a helluva series.

May the best team win -- and bring on the national anthems.....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NBA playoffs. Predictions

And the teams playing in the Finals will be....

Let's start with the Miami Heat. Since losing game #1 of the conference finals to the Pacers, Lebron and Co. have been on a roll, winning the next three games easily. Even if Indiana manages to win game #5 at home, no way do they survive game #6 in Miami. And given the fickle nature of how the Pacers can play -- world beaters one game and milquetoasts the next -- did anybody really think they were going to knock off the two-time defending champs?

Okla City and San Antonio is more interesting. Sure, the Spurs spanked the Thunder in the first two games in Alamoland, but then the Okies held their own serve in games 3 and 4 when they returned to the friendly confines of Tornado Alley. If Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Chewbacca, or maybe that's Ibaka, can't find a way to win a game in San Antonio, they can't advance to the Finals. But yours truly has a sneaky suspicion they will. If they happen to win game #5 in San Antonio to go up 3-2 in the series, remember the Spurs have lost their last ten games in a row at Okla. The Okie fat lady would be ready in game 6 to turn out the lights. Even if both teams hold serve for the next two games, and it goes to a game 7 in San Antonio, I have this funny feeling that somehow, some way, the Thunder is going to pull it off. This, while yours truly has rooted for the Spurs for years, and still think they're the classiest franchise in all of pro sports. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the young studs are going to get them this time.

Either way, methinks neither the Spurs nor Thunder, regardless of home court, could defeat Miami in the Finals. The Heat are too talented, too deep, too experienced, too versatile, and when it counts the most -- besides having a championship pedigree -- they play flat-out hard, ALL over the court.

So, given the Heat are going to 3-peat, only one relevant question remains. How many more years and how many more titles will be enough for Lebron in South Beach before his Ohio roots get the best of him, finally call him home, and he returns to play for Cleveland in his twilight years?

Chances are, he's never going to match Michael Jordan's 6 rings, even if he stays in Miami. The Heat is getting collectively "old", and the back side of their bell curve likely looms soon.

James is signed for two more years with the Heat, and will become an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2016.

Here's another prediction -- if Lebron wins a couple more titles in Miami, when his contract is up would be the perfect time to go back home. By then the Heat won't be as dominant as they are now, and James makes no bones about his Ohio roots. No, he probably wouldn't win a championship in Cleveland any more than he could in the first few years of his NBA career, but hey, after 3-4 championships and a few hundred million in the bank -- how cool would it be for him to thrill the fans in Cleveland once again, by returning home to where it all started? VERY cool.

And if THAT happens, one more question arises. When Lebron James gets inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, as he surely will, which team would he choose to enter the Hall as a member of? The Heat or the Cavs? Championships versus roots. He would have to pick.

And wouldn't that be interesting?

But for now, first things first. James and the Heat have 5 more games to win before they are champions for the third year in a row.

And they're going to do it.......


Monday, May 26, 2014

Checking out the Detroit Tigers

You'd have to be at least 35 years old or so to remember when the Detroit Tigers started off the 1984 season with an astounding 35-5 record (.875) after their first 40 games. A peek back at history (with a little help from Google) tells us the Toronto Blue Jays were 26-14 at that point.

Most years, the Jays' .675 winning percentage after 40 games would have found them atop the division -- any division. But not in 1984. They were already 9 nine games behind the streaking Tigers. Though the Tigers cooled off (a little), they would go on to win their division by a whopping 15 games, and ultimately trash the San Diego Padres in the World Series that year. Obviously, they were the best team in baseball back in 1984.

They haven't won a Fall Classic since. Thirty years and counting. The last two times the Tigers made it to the Big Dance, they've been blistered to the tune of a 1-8 record. Lots of regular season wins and hype -- but no cigar in October.

And here we go again. The Tigers jumped out to the best record in baseball this year at the 40 game mark -- 27-13. The pitchers were pitching, the sluggers were slugging, and all was well in Motown. Since new manager Brad Ausmus took over, the Tigers have already stolen more bases -- and it's still only May -- than they did all of last year.

But recently something very strange has happened. In their last nine games, the Tigers are 1-8. Even more alarming is they're not only getting beaten, but battered, no pun intended. In their last 6 games, opposing teams have put up 56 runs on Detroit's supposed vaunted pitching staff, including 34 in the last three games alone. Just last night the Oakland A's skunked them 10-0. What the hell is going on here?

Reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer is holding his own, as is youngster Rick Porcello. Long time super-stud Justin Verlander, he of the Fastball Flakes breakfast cereal (seen those around lately?) has been shelled in his last couple outings and posts a journeymanesque 5-4 record.

Well OK. The bullpen's terrible, a few players have exhibited Roberto Duran's "hands of stone" in the field lately, and they've made some bone-headed base-running blunders to kill a possible rally.

Still, they not only remain atop their division with a 5 game lead, but despite their recent losing ways, also continue to have the best record in the Major Leagues.

If Scherzer continues at his present pace, he could win another Cy Young, though the name "Mad Max" comes to mind after he turned down a $140 million contract extension offer. Time out. $140 MILLION?  How much is enough for this guy? $200 million? 500? His own tropical island with an aircraft carrier to protect it?

Slugger Miguel Cabrera continues to put up his gawdy hitting stats. The dude's flat out dangerous with a bat in his hands. And wouldn't it be something if he were to win the Triple Crown again? Only Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby have done it twice. Very lofty company, I dare say.

Let's cut to the chase. Of course the Tigers will win the American League Central Division. Once again that division is woefully weak, with no other team even above .500.

It's all going to boil down to the playoffs. Once there, can the Tigers win a couple series' to qualify for the World Series? And if they get that far, can they finally close the deal after 30 years of falling short? Hard to say. Anything can happen in a 7 game series between two good teams. Winning three in a row is no small feat.

Indeed, a lot can also happen, and probably will, in the remaining 120 games. The dog days of summer baseball haven't even started. There's still millions of tickets to be sold, parking fees to be paid, hot dogs, pretzels and ice cream to eat, beer/pop to drink, programs and team paraphernalia to buy, and wondering how you're going to pay the electric bill next month after a day at the ballpark with the family.

Is this a great game or what?

Tiger, Rory, and the marriage thing

Marriage is a great institution if one hooks up with the right partner. Yours truly has tried it a couple times himself. Alas, I fired #1 and, many years later, #2 would fire me -- so I suppose that's fair on some level. But glorious as it can be, it would appear there are times when holy matrimony, or even considering it, can be detrimental -- especially in the golfing world.

Enter Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Remember, back in the early 2000s, Tiger was winning everything, including major after major. Woods was far and away the #1 player in the world. There was Tiger -- and everybody else. It wasn't a matter of if, but when he would surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major victories. It certainly wasn't uncommon for bettors to take Tiger over the entire field in any given tournament. And then along came Elin, the Swedish bombshell.

They would marry in 2004, and Tiger continued to pound out the tournament wins. Problem was, it turned out Woods had apparently stayed busy pounding out the bimbos on the side as well.

Elin and Tiger had their first child, a daughter, in 2007. Tiger won one major, down from two the year before. In 2008, along came their second child, a son. Again, Woods won one major. Then besides a wife -- he had two kids. And he hasn't won a major since. Six years and counting.

A year later, in 2009, Woods' serial infidelity would be exposed and Elin wasn't happy, to say the least. The Big D loomed immediately. When the dust cleared, Ms. Nordegren, who'd been a clerk in a clothing store before hanging out on the PGA tour and eventually hooking up with Tiger -- walked away with the kids and $100 million bucks of his money. Did Tiger have it coming? Sure. Regardless of how rich and famous a man is -- when he gets married -- he's supposed to swear off the bimbos. Somewhere in the handy-dandy guide to a successful marriage, I'm pretty sure that's spelled out in the by-laws.

Look at what's happened to Tiger since. He won his last major, the 2008 US Open, on a bad leg. He and his long-time caddie, Steve Williams, got divorced as well. Just recently, Woods had back surgery, which has put him out of action indefinitely. He may or may not ever play again, let alone return to the dominant force he was a decade ago.

And the downhill slide all started when he got married. Throw in a couple kids, and the slope into oblivion can get really slippery for a golfer.

Quick question: Why would a guy like Woods back in the day even remotely consider getting married? Good grief, he had his choice of Grade A cuisine the world over with no strings attached. Sure, Elin wasn't hard to look at -- but she wasn't all THAT.

Given all that's happened, does anybody really think Tiger remains a threat to catch Jack's record now? The dude can barely chip and putt these days, and the young, fearless studs the world over with some serious game themselves keep on coming.

Kudos to Rory McIlroy. The young Irish laddie had the wisdom to nip this problem in the bud. Remember, Rory had been in quite a slump too after a hot streak a while back. He had taken up with Caroline Wozniacki, a pro tennis player, and quite the looker herself. They were even engaged to be married. Then his game went in the dumper. Rory was lucky to make a cut at a tournament, let alone win.

So for whatever reasons, he fired Caroline. The wedding's off. Outta here. Ain't gonna be no kids getting in the way either. Forget that.

And just four days later, Rory shot a blistering final round of 66 to capture the European PGA flagship tournament, the BMW Championship.

The moral of the story? Marriage can be a great thing. But if you just happen to be a young, good-looking male professional golfer that's already made big bucks -- with the pretty girls standing in line every place you go hoping for a chance to get close to you -- you just might want to think long and hard (no pun intended) before you get a preacher involved to swap vows and wedding rings. Easy to get into. Most times painful to get out of.

And your game will never be the same. Rory figured it out before it was too late. Tiger's still in rehab years later.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Indy 500 is here again. Glorious

Somewhere, they'll probably be playing the final rounds of golf tournaments. Same with tennis. Major League Baseball will have a full schedule of games. The NBA and NHL will both feature terrific playoff contests. I'm pretty sure the NASCAR folks will be running a 600 mile race in Charlotte. And Landon Donovan, the highest scoring forward by far in American soccer history, will still be wondering how the hell he got left off the World Cup team.

And you know what? I don't care about any of it. The holy day has arrived. Time for the Indianapolis 500.

Bring on Gomer, oops, Jim Nabors, to sing "Back Home In Indiana". Sha-ZAM. (Got beer)

Let loose the thousands of balloons into the sky. (Already set up the pizza delivery)

All quiet while the chaplain offers his words of thanks and prays for the safety of the drivers. (Praise the Lord, the significant others have once again decided they have better things to do than watch a stupid race. May the force and credit card limits be with them)

Rise for the national anthem, even in man-cave, hand over heart. (Generator's gassed up and good to go in case something stupid happens -- like a power outage caused by an earthquake, tornado, tsunami, nuclear war, or the "smart" meter going berserk. You never know. Always best to have a back-up plan at critical times)

And finally, the sacred words themselves. "Start your engines". (Reloaded the propane tank and got brats and chicken for the grill -- just in case -- but such an assignment would be delegated to the lowest seniority viewer in attendance)

The crowd in attendance rises to its feet as they approach the green flag. Here they come out of turn four, three abreast. (The house is now in official lock-down mode. All cell phones must be turned off)

Qualifying at 230+ MPH? As in, if a driver can't average at least 225 all the way around the track, including the four corners, they need not bother to show up? Amazing.

Oh yeah. I am so ready for this. With all due respect to the tennis and golf folks, guys named Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Les Habitants of Montreal and the NY Rangers, and everybody else in the sports world -- these people are all on hold. It's time for Indy. And in my world -- this is a glorious thing.

Bring it on.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Detroit sports. Panic? Shut up

I read it for the first time this year a few days ago -- but I knew it was coming. Because it always does. And it needs to stop. Because it's so stupid.

After a terrific start to the season, the Detroit Tigers lost four games in a row. And there it was in print. Is it time to panic? Evidently, some Motown sports scribes seem to think the fans in the Detroit area live on the brink of hysteria, and are one small nudge away from running wild in the streets and shooting up the town.

Well, guess what? They're already doing that in Detroit, and have been for years. Combine murders, armed robberies, muggings, car-jackings, drugs, gangs, blight, political corruption, and the largest city bankruptcy in US history, and it's not a pretty sight.

Yet if the Tigers lose a few games, Detroiters are supposed to consider panicking? Really? Hey, if all the above didn't make them gulp down handfuls of Xanax, then how their baseball team fares, win or lose, isn't likely to make the difference between life as usual or total anarchy.

What's ironic is the Tigers have the best record in all of major league baseball after a quarter of the season. Nevertheless, some local scribes will continue to pick away at their weaknesses. This guy is in a slump. That guy isn't putting up the numbers he did last year. And OMG, their bullpen is a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe it's time to panic. Two words. Shut up.

Reporters don't panic. They compliment, criticize, and analyze, but they never panic. So why, pray tell, do they think they can get the fans to? Do they think such fans are so naive and gullible as to be led into anxiety attacks by their written or spoken words? The same fans that are watching the same games they are, and BTW, actually paying for the price of admission, while the scribes get in free on their press passes? These people are telling us how WE should act? Enjoy the free hot dogs and cokes -- but shut up about the panic thing. Most of us have enough problems in our lives to deal with already, and don't need the added hassle of somebody else telling us when to panic over a sports team of millionaires.

Besides, consider Detroit sports in general. Maybe the Tigers go on to win the World Series -- but chances are they won't. Even though they're the favorite, the overall odds are still against them. And they haven't won it in 30 years, since 1984. The city of Detroit is still there -- barely.

Though they've enjoyed great success in recent years, the Red Wings are currently a mediocre team. They barely made it into the playoffs and were knocked out in the first round. Nobody wants to say the word "rebuilding", but with a couple aging super-stars and a roster full of young studs trying to find their way -- chances are also good it's going to be a few years until the Wings rise to championship caliber again. But nobody's panicking.

The Detroit Pistons are a mess. Besides being terrible on the court, they've screwed up trades, free agency, the salary cap, and don't even have a first round draft pick this year. Joe Dumars is out and Stan Van Gundy is in. Here's hoping part of his $35 million contract includes a magic wand or a genie popping out of a lamp to give him at least three wishes. Because short of that, the Pistons don't have a prayer to be contenders in the next few years. But fans didn't panic over the Pistons. They just stopped going to see the games. No biggie.

Of course, that leaves the Detroit Lions. That team itself is a testimonial as to how Detroit sports fans cannot be talked into panicking. There are only 4 current NFL teams that have never made it to a Super Bowl, let alone win it. The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans -- all "expansion" teams. The other is Detroit. Since 1957, a full decade before the first Super Bowl was even played -- the Lions have won a grand total of ONE playoff game. Sixteen head coaches have come and gone, most of them leaving town with losing records (and lots of money).

If ever there was a reason for people to panic and start jumping out of tall buildings -- it was the Lions over the years. But their faithful remains to this day, as loyal as ever, and still thinking their team has a chance to be contenders every year. Hmm. Maybe the scribes are on to something with the gullibility factor -- but dammit -- the Honolulu blue and silver faithful never panic. Perhaps after all this time, they've become conditioned -- like Pavlov's dog.

A Lions trivia question. Who was their most successful head coach in the franchise's history? A hint. It was a long time ago.... 

It was actually a man named Potsy Clark who coached the team from 1931-1936, fittingly enough during the Great Depression. Potsy compiled a 54-25 record for a winning percentage of .669.

Why do I mention this? Hey, if a guy named Potsy was the best coach the Lions ever had, then maybe they're going about things all wrong hiring a new head coach named Jim Caldwell. Get rid of him and bring on Ralph Malph to run the show, with the Fonz as the offensive coordinator. The Fonz certainly knew about "scoring". Score enough points and who cares about how bad their defense still is? Couldn't hurt. Given their history, what do they have to lose that they haven't lost already?

At least there wouldn't be any of this panic nonsense. Just a lot of laughs. And if ever their was a laughable franchise not named the Cubs, it's the Lions.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Indy 500. Partying in days past

Once again, yours truly won't be at the Indy 500 this year. It's been quite a while now, over two decades, since I last attended "the greatest spectacle in racing". But back in the day, this was an annual must go to event on my calendar.

Pre-purchase a handful of infield tickets.
Arrive on Thursday in a van with a couple buddies even crazier than I was.
Load up on beer, ice, munchies, and at least a six-pack of pop. I'll get back to that.
Find a parking lot to camp out in.
Party with the rest of the maniacs that had the same game plan.
Repeat on Friday.
Saturday morning was moving day.
Do whatever it took with your vehicle to make your way into the "back 40" when it opened up. This was basically a very big campground on Speedway property, but outside the track itself
The partying got even more intense. Tents were pitched, music blasting, dirt bikes running around, alcohol and other goodies everywhere to be shared. Strange as it may seem, there was even some conjugal interaction going on in tents, vans, Winnebagos, what have you.
By Saturday night, one could trade a single ice-cold Coke for a six-pack of beer, or perhaps something else. Lots of hot pipes by that time.

But then came Sunday, the holy day, and it came early. The Speedway people would open the tunnel to drive under the racetrack and into the infield at 6 AM. But you had to have tickets, of course. Some people in the back 40 didn't even have them. They were just there for the party. This was where those extra tickets could pay off, depending on how things had played out in the previous couple days.

Winnebagos, motorhomes and the like were shunted aside into a separate parking area because they were too tall to clear the tunnel. While they had lived the life of "luxury" for the last few days, they had to walk into the track and take their chances.

Once inside the infield, it was another mad vehicle dash in all directions to stake out a "claim". Find a spot to park (we always went to turn 4), then lay out your blankets and coolers as close to the track as you could get.

It was then approximately 7 AM. If not still under the influence, most were at least seriously hungover. And the race didn't start for another 4 hours. Also, for the hard cores that arrived on Thursday -- they now hadn't had a shower in 3 days. To the average person, things likely wouldn't have smelled so good on those blankets in turn 4 on race day, but hey, the average person didn't know what it was like to be an infield Indy maniac. Besides, we all stunk equally -- so who cared?

At any rate, it was time to crash for a few hours. Once the parade laps got started, even someone comatose would come back to life. This was Indy, dammit. We didn't come all this way just to brush our teeth with tequila, or even get lucky in the back 40 the day before with some Ohio State college girls in their own tent.

And the start of race itself was always magnificent. Those who have never been there cannot appreciate just how fast those cars really are. TV does not do it justice. When you see it up close and in person, the sheer speed of those racing machines is mind-boggling. It makes NASCAR, even at their "superspeedways", look like slow motion.

Thing is, unlike being at home watching on TV, when you're there, particularly in the infield, one can only see a small portion of the two and a half mile track.

After an hour or so, and a couple pit stops, or maybe wrecks/caution flags, which jumbles the field, it becomes hard to sort out the leaderboard as all those cars continue to go by.

This was the perfect time to abandon one's blanket and wander about the infield to check out what else was going on. And there was always stuff going on. Just when you think you've seen everything -- you would see something new, and maybe outrageous happening in the infield. Hey, they haven't had a shower or change or clothes in 3 days either. This can drive normally civilized people into doing crazy things they would never consider in their regular lives. Throw in a 72 o'clock shadow and gentlemen can become cavemen. Normally pristine women have three days worth of hair growth on their legs, armpits, and perhaps other places. They can become cougarish predators themselves on the prowl.

But towards the end of the race, most everybody gets back to their blankies, because they want to see the final exciting laps and who wins.

Yet after the checkered flag falls, they all quickly pack up, and try to get out of town as fast as they can. Like they say about Vegas -- whatever happened in the Indy infield -- stays in the Indy infield. It's like it was only a dream. And the thought of a long hot shower, change of clothes, and sleeping in one's own bed tends to speed up the massive getaway procession out of Indy for some reason.

After they tried to slow them down -- I hear the Indy cars are running over 230 MPH again. Amazing.

Though I'm older and not as crazy now, I think I need to go back just one more time to check this out. Perhaps next year. Forget the high-priced grandstands where you cook all day in the sun. Once an infield rat -- always an infield rat.

And who knows? Maybe those Ohio State girls remember the back 40 and are thinking the same thing at this very same time. Wouldn't that be something?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spurs basketball. A thing of beauty

For basketball purists, watching the San Antonio Spurs, under head coach Gregg Popovich's tutelage, is a thing of beauty. The Spurs may or may not go on to win the championship this year, but when it comes to fundamentals, execution, and all-around team play -- nobody does it better than the Spurs.

A short while ago they absolutely trounced the Okla City Thunder to the tune of 112- 77, to take a 2-0 lead in the western NBA finals. By anyone's standards, a 35 point difference isn't just a convincing win -- it's a beatdown. The entire 4th quarter was "garbage time", with both teams emptying their benches, because the game was completely out of hand not long after halftime.

But the Thunder are really good. A team doesn't make it through two rounds of the playoffs just by accident. So how could this happen?

The recently concluded game pretty much told the story. Again, the Spurs play the ultimate team basketball. See a player pass up a good shot while passing to a teammate for an even better shot. See that player pass to a cutting teammate under the basket for a lay-up. The ball keeps moving. They are totally unselfish on offense. Sure, they can execute the "pick and roll" but, unlike so many other teams, that's just one weapon in the Spurs' arsenal. See back door cuts with a bounce pass arriving right on time. See constant motion of all their players -- always looking for a better percentage shot. If the opposing defense packs it in in the "paint", see them kick it out to a wide open 3 three point shooter -- and the Spurs have their share of long range snipers as well. All in all, it's just a total team effort.

On the other hand, Okla City has two phenomenally talented players. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant is the newly crowned MVP of the league and rightly so. Westbrook appears to be more in the Kobe Bryant mode. Vastly multi-talented himself to be sure, especially offensively, but also a ball hog when the pressure is on.

There lies the difference between the Spurs and the Thunder. When the Spurs get behind, they continue to play team basketball. They may win or they may lose, but they always stay within the system Popovich has drilled into their heads.

When Okla City finds themselves looking up a deficit, all the team play seems to go out the window. It becomes the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook show. The other 3 guys on the court might as well not even be out there, because they're never going to touch the basketball -- at least not on the offensive end. See Russell Westbrook get frustrated and keep trying to bull his way to the basket with every move he can think of. See him ignore wide open teammates along the way. Sometimes it works, but most times not. He's just as likely to get a charging foul or wind up on the floor as make a spectacular play. See Kevin Durant throw up off-balance 35 foot bombs. Sometimes they go in -- and sometimes they're bricks. He forgets about team play as well. It seems like the Thunder only play as a team when the game is close or they're ahead. When they get behind, their dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook forget about their teammates and try to take on the other team -- 5 guys against 2. This might work against some lesser teams, but not against a disciplined and talented squad like the Spurs. Hence the 35 point blow-out mentioned above.

However -- one never knows how these things are going to turn out. Just two years ago (2012), the Spurs took a 2-0 lead over the Thunder in the playoffs. The Okies would come roaring back to win 4 straight, and go on to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat for Lebron and Co.'s first championship.

Could they storm back again this year against the same Spurs? Maybe, but not if they continue to play 2 on 5 basketball. Durant and Westbrook are really good - but nobody's that good. Okla City made a big mistake when they let James Harden get away to the Houston Rockets, future draft choices or not. If the Grady look-alike from Sanford and Son was still there moving the ball around as a point guard -- things would be different.

Nevertheless, while my sentimental favorite remains San Antonio for the way they play, and due credit to Larry Bird and the great Indiana Pacers squad he has assembled -- I just don't see anybody knocking off the Miami Heat on their way to a three-peat. Champions die hard, and those guys are still very much the real deal.

But in the meantime, kick back and enjoy basketball the way it's supposed to be played -- and by nice guys that are humble as well. That would be the Spurs. A thing of beauty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Donald Sterling and the Constitution

Turns out, there's more than one constitution. Many moons ago, yours truly had the pleasure of touring a very old ship named the USS Constitution, which I believe still sits moored in Boston Harbor. It was very cool hearing the narrated history of that frigate, and almost unbelievable when it came to the rigors the sailors of those times had to endure. An arm or leg badly wounded in battle? Step right over here and lay down on this table. The doc will be in to saw it off in a few minutes -- before the days of painkillers, much less anesthesia -- and you'll be alright in a couple of days. Pretty sure I wouldn't have had the constitution for such duty.

Now there's Donald Sterling and a couple other constitutions. One is the NBA version. Evidently, the league and the private club of billionaire NBA owners have their own sacred document. They shall protect, defend, and abide by all the articles, subsections, and amendments contained therein -- or risk the danger of finding themselves accused of high crimes and misdemeanors. In other words -- in a heap of trouble, like Donald Sterling is now. For argument's sake, let's call this the little Constitution, though few seem to know exactly what that Constitution consists of. It's remains a mystery -- a secret -- to the public.

But by thunder, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, with the help of a more than eager media, have decreed Donald Sterling is in gross violation of their holy book. Sterling should be fined, banned, stripped of ownership, and exiled over his recent personal comments, they claim. After all, Sterling has engaged in "conduct detrimental" to the league, significantly undermined their effort to promote diversity, and even made a "false and misleading" statement to the press. They say.

Looked at objectively, this is all nonsense, of course. The only person Sterling's conduct has been detrimental to is Sterling himself. The league is doing just fine, with their ratings soaring during the playoffs.

Undermined their effort to promote diversity? At last count, the league consisted of players that were 78% black, 17% white, 4% Latino, and 1% Asian. If we can safely assume these players aren't going to walk away from millions of dollars to play basketball and go flip hamburgers somewhere for 8 bucks an hour -- then just where exactly is the problem with diversity? If anything, the whites, Latinos and Asians have a beef when it comes to true diversity.

A "false and misleading" statement to the press? That would likely be the Anderson Cooper interview. It was a trap, and Sterling walked into it. Shame on him for not knowing better, but the interview itself -- while eventually spun to Sterling's detriment -- was fairly innocuous. No "bombshells" were dropped. Just an old guy speaking his mind and, unless I missed something, people still have a right to do just that in this country, supposedly not to their detriment. But that's now how it works anymore -- is it?

So the NBA is getting after Sterling under the "little" constitution. Bring on the tar and feathers.

But the "big" Constitution remains. The one that was crafted by our founding fathers back in the late 1700's.

The other NBA owners may well vote with the 3/4 vote majority needed to banish Sterling from their country club. But that's a mere formality. The real battle will begin in the court system. Lots of high-priced legal-eagles on both sides are likely gearing up for a war that could last for years.

No doubt, the NBA lawyers will be pointing to their own constitution which they found Sterling in violation of.

But Sterling's lawyers will likely drag in that pesky US Constitution and the First Amendment rights guaranteed therein, amongst other things.

Eventually, some day, somewhere, a judge, judges, or even 9 justices will have to decide this thing.

The US Constitution is the Holy Grail in the American jurisprudence system. Ultimately, every legal issue must be in compliance with this historic document. Though courts can issue some screwy rulings sometimes, nobody's screwy enough to declare the US Constitution itself unconstitutional. That would be problematic -- to say the least.

Idle thought: What if Sterling's lawyers prevail with the big Constitution, and get the NBA's little constitution declared unconstitutional? Then what happens with Silver, Sterling, the Clippers, etc?

I dunno. Too much heavy thinking for me. In times like this -- there's only one thing to do. Grab my latest issue of Mad magazine, sit down on the throne and -- of course -- partake of my daily constitution(al).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sparky, Leyland, and Ausmus

What did George "Sparky" Anderson, Jim Leyland, and Brad Ausmus have in common? They all fell into rose gardens as big league managers.

Consider Sparky. He was but a minor blip on the minor league managerial radar screen when -- wham -- he was named the manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1969. Sports reporters at the time asked, Sparky who? This was at a time when a team we would later come to know as the "Big Red Machine" was coming into maturity. Sparky inherited enormous talent. Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey Sr, George Foster, etc. Any wino off the street could have managed that team. Pencil in a different starting pitcher every day and turn the rest of them loose. Indeed, few would question that team was considered quite formidable during the mid-70's, but they only ever won two World Series'. Hardly a dynasty. Yet after they peaked, and the players got a few years older, they went downhill fast. Sparky was fired after the 1978 season, a mere two years after the Reds had been World Series champions.

The following year, 1979, he fell into another rose garden. The Detroit Tigers. For whatever reason, the Tigers dismissed then manager Les Moss in mid-season to bring Sparky on board. Like the Reds of a decade before, Anderson inherited a boat load of talent. Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, etc. Another team on the rise. At the time, Sparky said if he and that team couldn't win a World Series within 5 years -- he'd quit. Technically, he lied. It would take them 5 1/2 until they won the Fall Classic in 1984. Despite that nucleus of talent, it would be their only championship. Shortly thereafter, like the Reds before under his guidance, the Tigers started heading south and eventually became terrible. The Tigers would eventually ease him out of town in 1995. Sparky won a lot of games as a manager, and even got inducted into the Hall of Fame. Why? Because he fell into a couple rose gardens chock full of talent getting ready to peak. People remember him for the great teams he managed, and tend to forget how terrible his record as a skipper was otherwise.

Enter Jim Leyland. The Marlboro Man was the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 11 years (1986-1996). He had decent, but not spectacular talent on those teams, and posted an overall winning percentage of .496. On to the Florida Marlins in 1997 where he also inherited a ton of talent. Leyland and the Marlins would go on to win the World Series that year. When that campaign was finished, Florida ownership decided to dump the ridiculous salaries they had been paying for. Predictably, the team crashed in 1998. Leyland had one good year and one bad year. Then he quit. His overall winning percentage there was .451.

The Colorado Rockies came-a-calling and Leyland signed a multi-year contract with them beginning with the 1999 season. After only one year, and posting a .444 winning percentage, Leyland quit again.

He was out of managing for 6 years. During that time, the Detroit Tigers had been floundering about. Yet Tiger owner Mike Ilitch had lured Dave Dombrowski away from the Marlins to be his general manager. This was the same Dombrowski who had been Leyland's GM during his Marlin days. Combine presto, abracadabra, and a little bit of the "good ole boys" network, and next thing you know Leyland was hired on as the Tigers' manager by Dombrowski. Like Sparky, he fell into another rose garden in Detroit. Lots of great pitching and sluggers galore. Leyland would manage them for 8 years (2006-2013) and even make it into the World Series twice, but they would fall short both times. Indeed, both times the Tigers made it to the Fall Classic under Leyland's watch, they were crushed. Their record was a woeful 1-8. Nevertheless, Leyland's collective Tiger teams won at a respectable .540 clip, which finally pushed his 22 year managerial career winning record above .500. Barely. .506 to be exact. Many think Leyland will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Is he worthy of it with 22 years, one World Series championship and a .506 winning percentage as a resume? You decide.

But finally, after the 2013 season, Leyland got put out to pasture as a Tigers' manager as well.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Tigers turned over the managerial reins to a former back-up catcher.

Enter Brad Ausmus. Unlike Sparky or Leyland, Ausmus had never been a manager at any level in pro baseball before.

And oh my, look at the rose garden he fell into. Arguably the best starting pitching staff in all of pro baseball, including a couple recent Cy Young winners in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The most feared hitter in the game, and recent Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Just before Ausmus officially arrived, the Tigers managed to obtain All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler. Throw in the supporting cast and, don't look now, the Tigers jumped out to a 26-12 record, the best in all of major league baseball. The wise guys in Vegas have them as favorites to win the World Series this year.

Yep, like two of his more famous predecessors, Ausmus fell into a rose garden as well when he landed in Motown as the field general. This team is loaded with talent. But can he finish? Sparky did once. Leyland never could.

Despite all the hoopla, the fact remains the Tigers haven't won the World Series since Orwellian times -- 1984 -- when a guy named Ronald Reagan was gearing up for his second term in the White House. A full 30 years ago. Before even the most primitive cell phones. Long before the Internet, let alone Facebook, twitter, instagram, and the like. Back when yours truly had a pony tail instead of a bald spot. It seems like a long time ago. Sigh.....

Thing is, with all the talent and expectations, if the Tigers don't win the World Series this year, at some level they will be considered a failure.

Good luck, Brad. See you in October. No pressure.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chris/Cliff Paul. Cut

Anyone who has watched the NBA playoffs, or various other channels for that matter, has certainly seen the commercials. For the last few months Chris and Cliff Paul have been front and center on State Farm ads. Over, and over, and over again.

So OK, they were twins that got separated shortly after birth, and years later finally re-united. We get it. Chris would go on to be an NBA player, and Cliff evidently grew up to be a State Farm insurance agent somewhere. We get that too.

But there's a couple things that seem a bit strange about all this.

Let's start with the obvious. Apparently, Cliff popped out of the womb with a moustache. This is very unusual. Then again, Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies was supposedly born with a full set of teeth, and Aunt Pearl found him under a cabbage leaf "out back". Huh. Maybe they're distantly related somehow. Stranger things have happened, I think. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un playing his first round of golf ever and scoring 38 under par with 11 holes-in-one was mighty impressive, I dare say.

But no way would Cliff even be in these commercials if his twin brother Chris wasn't an NBA star. They don't just hand out big-time ad gigs to insurance agents, unless your name is Flo and you're selling policies out of shoe boxes in what appears to be a sanitorium. Kiss my grits. No, that was a different dopey Flo. Nevermind.

As for Chris? He's most definitely made it, at least financially. The dude's already making $18+ million a year to play hoops for the LA Clippers. Most consider him to be a super-star. But is he?

For all the hype he gets, Chris Paul once again finds himself eliminated from the NBA playoffs. The Paul without the facial hair may have been a lot of things. NBA rookie of the year, 7-time All Star, and a couple of Olympic gold medals to boot. But one thing he has never been is a champion in the NBA. Actually, not even close. Paul has never even made it to a conference final, much less an NBA Finals, let alone actually being on a team that wins it all. In a nutshell, not counting the Olympic dream teams, Chris Paul and the teams he has been on have never won anything. Not in high school, not in college, and nowhere close in the NBA.

Then again, one is left to wonder whether Cliff Paul is still an insurance agent at all. It's not like he needs to be. Good grief, the royalties alone from those commercials have likely made him a millionaire a few times over as well. If he signed a standard contract -- every time one of those ads airs on a TV station -- anywhere -- he gets a cha-ching. Multiply that number by the vast number of TV outlets nationwide, and multiply that number again by the hundreds/thousands of times the commercials have been shown -- and next thing ya know -- we're talking about some serious dough. Whatever that number is (and counting), it likely beats the heck out of whatever he was earning before running around checking out car accidents, house fires, and the like.

While the insurance business goes on, alas, Chris Paul and his team have been eliminated yet again, far short of a championship.

So here's an idea. Stop with the commercials already. Chris can go back to his mansion somewhere, and Cliff to his day job, if he still has it.

Seeing as how they can't seem to figure anything else out -- maybe Congress should pass a law that says only champions are allowed to endorse products, with no nepotism allowed. A long-lost brother getting a free cha-ching should at least be a misdemeanor. Overweight moms of star athletes doing soup commercials, which would have us believe if not for the cream of cheesy chunky chicken noodle gumbo she lovingly fed her boy, he never would have grown up to be a professional athlete? A 5 year felony.

Such a law should also have a provision which states any athlete over 5 years removed from being a champion is not allowed to endorse products either. We don't want or need to know what brand of body powder some seven foot tall, 350 pound has-been doofus uses, or whether he can squeeze himself into a particular compact car. Such offenses should result in a mandatory 2 year probationary period at Guantanamo, with the rest of the fun-loving folks down there, to learn a little humility.

We need to reel this ad thing in before it gets out of control. After all, kids are watching too. They need role models to look up to, not also-rans, has-beens, and whatever family they can manage to drag along on the gravy train.

People like Lance Armstrong, A-Rod and Tiger Woods. Throw in the dynamic duo of Donald Sterling and Magic Johnson. Now these are names that command attention for various reasons.

Hmm. On second thought, maybe we're better off with a few more dopey Chris/Cliff Paul commercials, but it still seems like there ought to be a better way....

Friday, May 16, 2014

Donald Sterling fights back

The embattled owner of the LA Clippers has fired a salvo of his own. Through his attorney, Donald Sterling has informed the NBA he will not be paying the $2.5 million fine commissioner Adam Silver levied against him a while back. Nor will he honor the life-time ban, much less be forced to sell his team. Told ya (see Donald Sterling II in an earlier post -- stage right).

Enter one Maxwell Blecher. Blecher is a very prominent anti-trust lawyer that has fought high-profile legal battles before in the world of sports. Remember when then Oakland Raider owner Al Davis decided to relocate his team to LA against the wishes of the league? The mighty NFL sued Davis to stop the move. Davis counter-sued, and won. Guess who his lead attorney was? The same Maxwell Blecher. And now he's taken up Sterling's case. The man is certainly a legal heavyweight and, now that he's jumped in, the gloves will likely be coming off soon in the up-coming Sterling(s) vs the NBA mega-bout. Neither side is giving an inch, and a long nasty conflict, which will likely cost countless millions of dollars on both sides for legal fees alone, seems inevitable. It's going to get ugly before it's all over.

At that, yours truly finds some of the things he's read and heard to be rather presumptious before the battle has even truly begun. Many articles/talking points about Donald Sterling include such phrases as, "the disgraced owner", "racist", and "incendiary remarks" made about Magic Johnson, as if these are all presumed truisms before moving on to other possible proceedings in the case. However, all this is not necessarily so.

If anyone has been disgraceful in recent years -- it's the media. The times of truly objective reporting seem to be a thing of the past. Nowadays, everybody's got an opinion. Be they scribes, radio personalities, or TV talking heads -- by and large the media has stopped reporting the news and has chosen to become the news with their own slants on any hot-button issue.

The term "racist" is in the eyes of the beholder. In a landmark case (way back in 1964) on the issue of what constitutes pornography, former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said "he'd know it when he saw it". Hardly a definitive explanation. Like "racism" 50 years later, there remains no one size fits all. One person's perceived "racism" may well be accepted and championed by others as a legitimate cause. How else to explain various ethnic groups and organizations that promote their own to the exclusion and detriment of others?

"Incendiary remarks" about Magic Johnson? Sterling stated Johnson slept around with a lot of women in years past. (BTW, a lot of this happened while Magic was married, which made him quite the adulterer as well). No one, including Magic himself, disputes that. Somewhere along the line, Johnson contracted the HIV virus. That's certainly been established as true. Sterling went on to say a guy like Magic Johnson shouldn't be considered a role model for kids, because of his past behavior when he was a young man himself. This was incendiary? I dare say most people with sons, and especially daughters, would much prefer their children not to have countless sexual partners, much less become HIV positive while doing so.

Some of the reporting surrounding future possibilities regarding the Sterling affair defies all logic.

The Clipper players and others around the league will refuse to play next year unless the Sterlings are removed as owners? First of all, what happens at the ownership level is none of the players' business. As basically high-priced hired hands to do a job, they are several very large steps removed from having a say-so in how the franchise decides to conduct its own business.

Second, any player under contract that refused to play for whatever reason, would be in breach of that contract. Not only could their fat paychecks rightfully stop, they could be sued themselves by their owners for such breach of contract which was causing irreparable harm to their franchises by their absence.

Third, even if they were to boycott, their "rights" would still be held by their owners for the duration of those contracts. Either play for them, or don't play at all.

Fourth, let's hypothetically consider the "nuclear option" happens when the 2014-2015 NBA season gets underway this fall. The Sterlings and the NBA are still in litigation (entirely possible, perhaps even probable) over the future ownership of the team. Further, the existing NBA players at the time, draft choices and all, come together in a show of solidarity and decide they're not going to play until the Sterlings have been "exorcised" from the league. What would happen?

Would a few guys cross the "picket line" as "scabs"? Probably, the younger guys that don't already have millions in the bank and a bunch of endorsements in particular. The temptation of the money is too great.

As for the owners filling out their rosters to replace the guys "on strike"? Forget about the current $15-20 million dollar salaries some stars are making. Offer a mere $1 million a year and guys would be lined up around the block trying to make the team. Who's kidding who?

Sure, the skill level of the game itself would not be what it is now -- but think of the upside. Affordable ticket prices. No more dopey TV commercials bombarding us with super-rich players hawking products they probably don't use themselves for money they obviously don't need. Give it a little time to improve upon itself, and this might work out quite well for fans in the long run. Granted, some super-star playing abilities may have to be sacrificed, but the idea of paying these guys more per every 2 hour game than most of us make in an entire 2000 work hour year never seemed quite right either. They're good, but nobody's that good.

Back to Donald Sterling. Some claim if he retains ownership of the Clippers that sponsors will refuse to advertise in his arena. This is the dumbest media fabrication of them all.

The Clippers play in the Staples Center, which is also home to the LA Lakers, the WNBA's LA Sparks, and the NHL's LA Kings. The building itself is not owned by Sterling, but rather a business called the LA Arena Co., an independent enterprise, which basically rents it out to various tenants.

Businesses who pay to have their logos in various places around the arena do so to get their product names out there to the people in attendance. They also enjoy the added subliminal benefit of the TV cameras picking up their logos in the background as they pan back and forth covering the game. Millions of viewers sitting at home see these ads somewhere in their subconscious, and who knows how that works?

Thing is, these businesses don't put up their arena ads based on a particular team. They do so because of the fans such a team or teams will draw to expose them to their names. Plant a seed. Unless, of course, we're supposed to believe the sponsors behind these signs would want them shown for one game, and not shown for the next, depending on which home team was playing at the time.

Consider a scenario: The LA Lakers play in the Staples Center one night, the Clippers the next, and the Kings the following night. Entirely possible. Do you really think it logical various sponsors would want their signs on display for the Lakers, removed for the Clippers, and then re-displayed for the Kings on back-to-back-to-back days? Please. Even if that were feasible, what would they do about the signs when the Lakers play their division rival Clippers so many times throughout the year in the same building? Would they be up, down, sideways, what? See how stupid such a proposition becomes when one looks past typical knee-jerk reactions and probes deeper into the reality of actually trying to implement it?

How the entire Sterling vs the NBA case will eventually work out is anybody's guess. No objective person would question that, to date, the vast majority of the media (which has become deathly afraid of being anything other than "politically correct") and the opinions they (along with the "experts" they trot out) continue to put forth, are solidly lined up against Donald Sterling. He's going to lose. They want him to lose. He has to lose, they say. And maybe he will lose.

But the true fight hasn't even begun yet. Remember -- a couple decades ago, then Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott got in trouble for allegedly making remarks that were much more offensive than anything Sterling said a couple weeks ago. The late Ms. Schott supposedly referred to a couple of her black players as her "million dollar niggers", said all Jews were sneaky, any player that wore an earring was a "fruit", and even managed to pay a compliment to Adolph Hitler. 

One would think such remarks would have resulted in her immediate ouster as a Major League owner. The league itself and many in the public were outraged. Sound familiar? It would take two years before Schott finally sold her controlling interest in the Reds, but still remained a minority partner in ownership until the day she died in 2004.

Donald Sterling merely said he didn't want his "girlfriend" bringing black guys to the game and Magic Johnson was a bad role model.

Given the above -- if it took two years for the dust to finally settle in the Schott affair -- unlike the media, Adam Silver and his minions, or even the politically correcters that demand immediate action -- methinks the current Sterling snafu might just be a while before it's all over. And Marge Scott was a long-time widow that never remarried. Basically alone. Sterling's wife Shelly will definitely be a player when the litigation begins.

This is going to get complicated......

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Portland, San Antonio, and a magic pill

NBA fans know the San Antonio Spurs eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers 4 games to 1 in the western conference semi-finals. No big surprise there. The Blazers may be a young and up-coming team, but they're likely at least a couple years away from being serious championship contenders.

Interesting remark overheard during that game --- one of the announcers said of all the NBA cities, he could think of none where their fans were more passionate about their teams than Portland and San Antonio. Perhaps he overlooked Oklahoma City and their Thunder. Why? Because in these three cities, NBA basketball is the only professional sport available. None of them have a Major League Baseball team, an NFL franchise, or an NHL hockey team. For that matter, in the case of Portland and Okla City, the Blazers and Thunder are the only pro franchises in their entire respective states of Oregon and Oklahoma. Is it any wonder they get so rabid over the only pro team they have to root for?

And now a word from our sponsors. It appears there's yet another new "quit-smoking" pill on the market. Yet looking closely at the fine print in their ad was possible cause for concern. Taking this pill could result in behavioral changes, mood swings, paranoia, and suicidal/homicidal thoughts. Whoa.
Further, one may develop redness and/or swelling of the eyes, nose, lips, mouth, and throat. Um...
In rare cases, respiratory failure and/or cardiac arrest may occur. Huh?
Should one notice any symptoms that result in a fatal event -- one should stop taking this pill and call their physician. Say what?
Further yet, if one experiences an erection that lasts for longer (no pun intended) than two months -- one should call their doctor and set up an appointment to be examined extensively -- particularly if one is a woman.
Wow, that's some kind of pill. Seems to me, one might be better off taking their chances with lung cancer while continuing to smoke. Especially the ladies. That horizontal tent in the skirt/pants thing could get very socially awkward rather quickly.

So the Miami Heat polished off the Brooklyn Nets and await the winner of the Indiana/Washington series. Whether it be the upstart Wizards, or the Pacers that seem to be even more unpredictable than the pill mentioned above -- does anyone seriously doubt Lebron and Co. will prevail and return to the Finals?

San Antonio awaits the winner of Okla City/LA Clippers. Either way, the next series will be fun to watch. The old pros with their system versus the young guns with their speed and explosiveness. Been there, done that against very talented wannabes that are oh-so-close to championship caliber.

With the NBA and NHL playoffs getting down to the nitty-gritty, and the Indy 500 on tap in a couple weeks, this is a great time of year for sports fans.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

NBA. Pros and the playground

It's amazing when one watches it. Here we are about halfway through the NBA playoffs, and supposedly the remaining teams constitute the elite of the league. After all, they've slogged through an 82 game regular season to qualify, and survived the first round of the playoffs.

This is professional basketball at its highest levels. Along the way, all these teams have had countless practices, shoot-arounds, and watched film. Their coaches have taught them various offensive plays to run and how to be cohesive as a team defense. Besides the games themselves -- certainly hundreds, if not thousands of hours have been logged behind the scenes to get these guys to play like the  professionals they are. Besides the obvious talent, it's about discipline, and maximizing the team effort. No one guy, no matter how good he is, can win a championship all by himself. Ask Lebron about his Cleveland days.

So why is it some of the current playoff teams will play like the pros they are for the first half -- then in the second half, all that training goes out the window, and they revert back to the playground?

Consider the recently concluded LA Clippers/Okla City game. Granted, the Thunder have two legitimate super-stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant was having a bad shooting night, like 3 for 17, so when they got behind in the second half, Westbrook decided he was going to be a one man show, similar to what Kobe Bryant used to do on occasion. He forgot all about his teammates and kept trying to make one spectacular play after another. Sometimes it works here and there, but not in the long haul. The other three guys are on the court for a reason. Westbrook seemed to have blinders on. It was him and his best moves against the entire Clipper team. One on five is usually a bad idea. Over and over, he'd drive to the basket, and if he couldn't make the shot, at least hope he was fouled. If not that, Durant was jacking up 30-some foot bombs, when it was apparent his shooting touch was off. In the meantime, their teammates on the court may as well have been on the bench, because they weren't going to get to touch the ball anyway.

Miraculously, Okla City came back and won the game at the end. How? Because point guard Chris Paul of the Clippers, decided he wanted to be a one man show as well. With the Clips clinging to a 2 point lead with only several seconds left in the game -- Paul fouled Westbrook on a 3 point shot attempt. A cardinal sin. Westbrook hit all 3 free-throws, and the Clips got the ball back with a chance to win in the waning seconds. So what does Chris Paul do? While ignoring other teammates that would have had a wide-open shot, he tries to be a hero and drives to the basket. He's stripped of the ball. Game over. Thunder wins.

In the end, Clippers' coach Doc Rivers was still ranting about a previous call that went against his team. Nevermind that particular play had been thoroughly reviewed by the officials, and the original call upheld, Doc still wanted to whine.

NBA coaches are supposed to be above this. They might not agree with a particular call, but there's a window to protest, and then they're supposed to get over it. The game goes on.

Incredibly, even play-by-play announcer Marv Albert -- who can repeatedly sound orgasmic over something as routine as a lay-up -- seemed to have a couple somber moments towards the end of the game. Though it's a stretch to be sure -- the man almost came across as being thoughtful and objective.

Funny what sort of effects the second halves of NBA playoff games seem to have on so many people...

The genius of Gregg Popovich

Amongst knowledgeable NBA basketball people, Gregg Popovich, of the San Antonio Spurs, has long been regarded as one of, if not the best head coach in the league. He seems to have a knack for knowing just what to do, at just the right time -- to achieve the optimum results. I'll get back to that.

A quick bio. Now 65, Coach Pop once attended the Air Force academy, where he graduated as a specialist in Soviet studies. He did his hitch while travelling around eastern Europe, and even considered joining the CIA. But he was never far from his true love of basketball either.

Upon returning state-side, Pop bounced around here and there, mentored under legendary coach Larry Brown, and eventually landed with the Spurs. They were terrible in 1996, when Popovich first took over head coaching duties. So bad they had the #1 pick in the draft. Enter Tim Duncan. Since the mid-Clinton White House years (and how long ago does that seem?), the San Antonio Spurs have arguably been the most successful professional sports franchise of them all. Four NBA titles, most consecutive winning seasons (16 and counting), and Popovich himself has been named the coach of the year four times as well. Currently, his Spurs are rolling along in the playoffs, and have as good a chance as any to add yet another title.

Yet over the years, besides Duncan being a can't miss prospect -- Popovich has pretty much maintained a standard of team excellence by finding other less publicized guys the world over, bringing them in and coaching them up, while assimilating them into his system. Other teams like Miami, Okla City, and the LA Clips have a superstar or three, but when it comes to fundamental team basketball -- nobody does it better than San Antonio. This is Popovich's doing. To boot, he also has a knack of knowing just when to compliment his players, and when to holler at them. Nobody is immune, and the players respect that. Perhaps that goes back to his intelligence training as far as getting into the heads of people. But he's also a savvy stragetist as well.

In the recently concluded Game 4 of the western conference NBA semi-finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Popovich made a shrewd move -- on a few levels.

San Antonio went into the game leading the series 3-0. It was a "close-out" game on the road. They could attempt to win it for a sweep, then sit back and rest awaiting the winner of the LA/Okla City battle.

Indeed, the score was very close at halftime and, for whatever reason, the Spurs seem to have a penchant for not playing particularly well in the third quarter, but coming back in the fourth to win.

It happened again, as Portland quickly went ahead by 15 points midway through the third quarter. Not an insurmountable lead by NBA standards, and particularly not for the Spurs. Then Coach Pop did the unexpected.

Most teams will yank their starters during the last couple minutes of a blow-out game, one way or the other. But Popovich pretty much waved the white flag half-way through the third quarter. Why would he do such a thing? Three reasons.

1) Giving aging superstars such as Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili a little extra rest for what likely lies ahead is a good idea. Playing a lot of minutes every other night in brutal playoff games will take its toll on those ancient thirty-some year old bodies.

2) Other than the usual "garbage time", his bench players got to experience a lot of minutes of playoff action, particularly in a hostile road environment. This will certainly serve them well in the future. Long-term thinking for the betterment of the overall team. Very smart.

3) By allegedly conceding Game 4, of course there has to be a Game 5, back in San Antonio. This will make a man named Peter Holt very happy. Who is Peter Holt? The owner of the San Antonio Spurs. He gets another home date in his arena. Throw in the ticket prices, TV money, various sponsors, and this likely equates to a few more million bucks headed Mr. Holt's way. Most owners are very fond of head coaches that continue to bring them major cha-chings. This was absolutely brilliant on Coach Pop's part. Perhaps the boss will toss in a tidy little bonus on one of his paychecks soon.

Yep, that Gregg Popovich is a mighty shrewd operative -- in more ways than one.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Marv Albert and playoff predictions

So why is it every time yours truly tunes in to watch an NBA playoff game -- Marv Albert is calling it? I mean, how many different places can this guy be? Does the NBA have some sort of Star Trek transporter that beams him from one place to another so he can do the play-by-play?

Nevertheless, though the hair may be fake, his rants are real. Not counting Dick Vitale, certain radio talk-show hosts/political commentators and even my ex, nobody can get worked up into a frenzy like this guy over otherwise routine matters -- though the latter is a close call. Haven't seen her in many years and rumor has it she moved far away, though when the moon is full sometimes I think I can still hear her howling way off in the distance. But I digress. On to the NBA playoffs.

Though the Brooklyn Nets swept the regular season series 4-0 against the Miami Heat, and won Game 3 at home to only trail Lebron and Co. 2-1 in the playoffs, no way are the Nets going to win this series. At that, it's hard to imagine what that franchise was thinking when they took on over-the-hill former Boston Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with their fat contracts, thinking they could win a championship. Ain't gonna happen, and they've crippled themselves in the near future. Boston GM Danny Ainge wisely understood the Celtics might be good -- but not championship caliber -- with the aging veterans, so he bit the bullet in the short term to build for the long haul. Sure, the Celtics stunk it up this year, and might again next year. But Ainge has got a lot of draft picks and salary cap room to work with in the near future. It may take some time, but the Celtics will be back.

The LA Clippers/Okla City series is pretty much a toss-up. Both teams have already won on the other's home floor, have a couple genuine super-stars, and who knows which team will prevail to move on?

Awaiting them will be the San Antonio Spurs. The Portland Trail Blazers and their fans may have taken on the battle cry of "Rip City", but they'd have to be mighty ripped to think they can come back from a 3-0 deficit against the Spurs. Fuhgetaboutit. It's over.

The Indiana Pacers, Roy Hibbert in particular, seem to have emerged from another funk to play the kind of basketball they're capable of. The Washington Wizards eliminated the Chicago Bulls (sans the services of former MVP Derrick Rose and big man Luol Deng) in the opening round. Color them gone against Larry Bird's crew.

So it's going to be Miami facing off against Indiana in the eastern conference finals, with the Pacers having home court advantage. Prediction? Home court hasn't meant a whole lot in the playoffs so far. Regardless, when it comes to crunch time -- do you really think the Pacers can defeat the Heat in a best of 7 series? Not me.

As for the west? The Spurs will be in the finals against whoever emerges from the Okla/LA series. Who will win that to move on and face the Heat? The Thunder and Clips both have some phenomenally talented young players. But nobody plays better team basketball than the Spurs. Methinks they've got at least one more go-round left in them.

Yet in the end -- as I've said all along -- barring a major injury, yours truly suspects a Heat three-peat is going to happen. Too much talent with a bunch of guys at the peak of their careers that rise to whatever challenge faces them when it really counts.

And Marv Albert will probably be there ranting and raving away into a microphone providing the play-by-play. Though most have forgotten, there was a time several years ago when Albert got caught up in a series of very lurid sexual allegations. Desiring male-male-female threesomes, dressing in women's undergarments, sodomy, and even a nasty penchant for biting were amongst the things he was accused of, which led to him being fired by NBC at the time (1997). He pled guilty to lesser charges and got off with the proverbial "slap on the wrist". Years later, Albert would claim he was totally innocent all along. The women were at fault. Believe what you will.

But hey, America is the land of second chances and opportunites. He's been back for a while, because even though Marvin Philip Aufrichtig (his birth name) will turn 73 in a few weeks -- he's still "the voice", and is evidently coveted by many TV sports producers.

One way or the other, they think Marv Albert brings excitement to the broadcasts. It's all about rantings and ratings.

Idle thought: Maybe someday fate will bring Marv and my ex together, wherever they are. Given certain behaviors mentioned  above -- that would be just about perfect. Who would win that clash of the titans in a seven game series? Not a clue, but it would definitely be hard fought.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Adam Silver's power play

Besides the countless millions of casual observers, opinions, even amongst legal analysts, are clearly divided over how the ongoing Donald Sterling saga might eventually play out.

Prosecuting types think the NBA shedding itself of the entire Sterling family is a done deal. But current and former prosecutors think everybody's guilty. It's in their DNA.

Conversely, the defense types say -- not so fast. There are issues of rights and those pesky little details of evidence to be thoroughly examined before any judgement can be rendered. But current and former defense attorneys think everybody's innocent. It's in their DNA.

It's kind of like Republicans and Democrats. The only thing prosecutors and defense attorneys can agree on is that their side is always right, and the other side is always wrong. Once they sign on to their respective stations in life, it appears any form of objective thinking, much less getting at the truth, gets thrown out the window. It becomes a win at all costs game. If it wasn't so tragic for the average people that get caught up in it -- it would be comical. But back to Adam Silver.

The NBA Commish has fired another salvo aimed not only at Donald Sterling, but apparently his wife Shelly and co-owner of the LA Clippers as well.

The NBA has appointed an "interim CEO" to take charge of the Clippers while the current snafu drags on.

Enter one Richard Parsons. Parsons made his fame (and fortune) in banking, publishing, and even circulated in the highest level of politics. A sort of behind the scenes mercenary big-shot for hire. Yet does he have the faintest clue how to oversee a professional sports franchise?

Answer -- he doesn't have to. He's merely Silver's designated temporary toady regarding the Clippers. Here's a few things to consider......

How can Silver and the NBA appoint someone to run the Clippers before the other league owners have even voted with a three quarter majority to oust Sterling? It's hardly plausible that vote has already secretly taken place because, when it comes, as it must for Silver to have a legal leg to stand on -- surely it will be trumpeted to the media and masses. So it's a pretty safe bet to conclude that vote hasn't happened yet.

Even if Donald Sterling has been temporarily shunted aside, what of his wife Shelly? Absent her husband's participation, as a co-owner, shouldn't the vote of the Clippers' franchise fall to her when the billionaire club convenes?

Of course there are those that are trying desperately to dig up any kind of dirt they can find on Mrs. Sterling, so as to lump her in with her husband as an unsuitable owner. Surely Adam Silver and his minions in the NBA offices are aware of this and, if not fanning the flames behind the scenes, definitely savoring the spectacle. It works to their advantage.

But even if Mrs. Sterling is somehow "disqualified", the next in line of the Clipper hierarchy would be team president Andy Roeser. Quite mysteriously, Roeser has taken an indefinite leave of absence. No explanation given -- just gone to parts unknown when the room suddenly got very hot. Something is very fishy about this....

So without the principal owner, his co-owner wife, and even the team president, who's left to be in charge of the Clippers? Doc Rivers? Gimme a break. He's merely a coach, a hired hand, several very large steps removed from rightfully having a say-so in how the franchise conducts its business.

So let's sum it up. Evidently, having most, but not all of the media and court of public opinion on his side isn't enough for Adam Silver. By appointing Richard Parsons to oversee the Clippers before the other owners have given their consent  -- the Commish is pre-empting the very NBA by-laws he claims gives him authority to act in the first place. Let's get real. Silver no doubt not only wants a three quarters majority vote of other owners to enable his acting against Sterling -- he wants it to be unanimous. By prematurely putting his own stooge in charge of the Clippers over the family that still owns them, he has negated a surely dissenting vote.

There's such a thing as playing serious hardball. Also, doing one's homework to cover all the bases possible, and even spinning a story to get the masses behind one's cause.

But Adam Silver attempting to stack the deck in his favor before the cards are even dealt is a definite no-no.

And don't think the lawyers working for the Sterlings haven't noticed. It just gives them more ammunition in a legal war that is likely to last for quite some time -- possibly many years.

The NFL draft and NBA/NHL playoffs

For whatever reason, in their infinite wisdom, the NFL pushed their annual draft back two weeks this year.

This was great for the talking heads, scribes, and arm-chair general managers (sometimes known as fans) all over the country. It gave them an extra fortnight to discuss, debate, analyze, predict, and mostly guess at how it would all play out.

Particularly in the first round, which NFL teams would draft which player at which position? Might there be last second maneuvering to move up or down in the draft? Swapping picks for other picks and future picks, depending on the immediate perceived need of any particular team versus planning long-term?

Of course. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the Kentucky Derby, the Indy 500, and Tiger Woods video highlights, past or present -- it's an annual rite of spring. It happens every year. And so it came to pass again in 2014.

Thing is, by delaying the NFL draft for two weeks, the mighty NFL found itself bumping heads (at least TV-wise) with the second round of the NBA and NHL playoffs. Sure, the NFL remains the Godzilla in the room of American pro sports, with their popularity and revenue far out-pacing every other sport, including NASCAR racing.

But as a universal sports fan and, trust me, yours truly can click with the best of them -- why would I want to watch the NFL draft when the NBA and NHL playoffs are going on at the same time?

After all, some of those draft picks will become stars, and others will be busts. That's the way it's always been and always will be. And nobody, including their own teams and coaches, much less the fans in their respective cities will know anything about these guys until the NFL gets serious again sometime in August.

No doubt, much be will written and said about contract negotiations, salary caps, and all the rest leading up to the next football season. But let's get real. Every team is going to find a way to sign their first round pick eventually -- period. If not, the general manager that made the pick in the first place might face a meeting with his owner that might not be so pleasant.

By it's very definition, the NFL draft is all about speculation.

But when it comes to the NBA and NHL playoffs going on at the same time, there is no speculation. The remaining teams have already gone through an entire regular season, and one round of the playoffs, to get where they are right now. These guys are all really good, and the action is fast and furious -- present tense.

So somebody please tell me why a sports junkie would want to watch the NFL draft with, OMG, a "pick" happening every 20 minutes or so -- as opposed to live playoff action going on in the NBA/NHL that are clicks away?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Donald Sterling and reality. Part II

As everyone in the sporting world and beyond knows, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently thundered down from on high meting out his punishment to LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. This included a $2.5 million fine, lifetime banishment from the NBA (including immediately barring Sterling from any contact or business dealings with his own team), and fast-tracking the other NBA owners to force the sale of the Clippers.

This could play out one of two ways. Sterling could agree to Silver's terms. That would include paying the fine, accepting a hands-off policy on the Clippers and, presuming the other NBA owners vote with the three quarters majority necessary by NBA by-laws to strip him of ownership, quickly sell the Clippers to a suitable bidder.

Or -- he can stand his ground and fight all of the above. Given Sterling's litigious history during his 33 year tenure of ownership -- currently the longest in the NBA --  it's likely a pretty safe bet the man isn't going to wave the white flag and go away quietly. Methinks some very shrewd lawyers are already at work weighing various legal strategies on behalf of Sterling.

Nevertheless, let's take a closer look at the "punishments".

The $2.5 million fine. Though it was the maximum allowed by the NBA's own by-laws, such an amount is no more than chump change to a man like Donald Sterling. His reputed total wealth is estimated to be around $2 billion. To put that in perspective, if you have $200, this is like someone demanding a quarter -- twenty five cents. Hardly a big deal to most. Yet if Sterling decides to fight -- he won't pay it. Because by doing so, he would be admitting liability (guilt) on some level, thereby providing the foundation for all the rest to quickly snowball against him. So no, yours truly highly doubts he will voluntarily pay that fine.

Banishment and no contact. Adam Silver, in collusion with the other NBA owners, have the power to ban Sterling from sitting in on NBA Board of Governors' meetings, and to deny him access/admission to all the rest of the teams' venues. Yet when it comes to the Clippers themselves -- things could get a little dicey if Sterling refused to comply and stay away. Here's a hypothetical -- what would happen if Sterling attempted to go to his own office at the Staples Center, home of the Clips, Lakers, LA Sparks and LA Kings? The building itself is owned and operated by an entity called the LA Arena Co. As a business enterprise independent of the NBA, and basically a high-priced "landlord", the LA Arena Co. is under no legal obligation to abide by Silver's mandate regarding Sterling. How might it work out if Sterling showed up and wanted to go to the office and/or luxury suite he has paid big bucks for since moving his team from San Diego to LA way back in 1984? Unknown, but it would be an interesting scenario. And remember, Silver's "restraining order" comes from the offices of the NBA, not a judge somewhere. Therefore it lacks any judicial weight of law, with possible consequences if ignored. It's not like the authorities would haul Sterling off in irons if he attempted to show up at his office. But he probably won't do that because the latest reports (rumors) have it that Sterling is devoting the majority of his attention to the most important issue of all. Which brings me to...

The forced sale of his team. It appears Sterling has indeed decided to fight such an edict handed down by Silver, and this could get very complicated and messy before it's all over. As a billionaire, and given his past history involving litigation (mostly successful), there can be little doubt Sterling has a top-flight team of very good lawyers at his disposal.

Let's assume that when Sterling purchased the San Diego, now LA Clippers back in 1981 (which required a majority of the other owners to approve -- they did), he did so while also agreeing to abide by NBA by-laws. One of those rules apparently states that if a three-quarter majority (now 23) of the other owners comes together and decides he should be stripped of his franchise ownership -- then they have the authority to do so, by the very terms Sterling agreed to in the first place. If so, this could present a formidable hurdle for his legal-eagles to overcome.

Sure, they can and likely will present arguments on several fronts. One of them is First Amendment freedom of speech rights being held against their client to his detriment. Sterling may have uttered remarks found offensive by many, but like everyone else in the USA, he and they absolutely have the right to do so.

And then there's the matter of following the recording itself. Sterling's "girlfriend", one V. Stiviano, may or may not have been justified in recording their relevant conversations, but releasing them to the public domain (media) without Sterling's knowledge or consent was illegal.

Take it to the next step. The media certainly knew, or should have, if they'd done their due diligence, that such a recording was on very shaky legal ground to begin with. Yet they ran with it anyway. This violated historical journalistic ethics, standards, and behavior. While it's understood the media has become a dog-eat-dog world that rewards those that first break a story -- it is still no excuse for not verifying their information came from a legitimate source in the first place.

A step further. The NBA and Commish Adam Silver only became aware of Sterling's comments due to the very tainted chain of custody of the tape(s) mentioned above. If the whole matter of Sterling being forced to sell his team winds up going through the judicial process -- which seems highly likely -- his attorneys could argue that the tape(s) themselves are inadmissible evidence, because of how they were obtained. Would a judge agree with such a motion? Unknown, but if so, without the tape(s) as evidence, the NBA's case against Donald Sterling would quickly collapse. Let's assume that motion is denied.

It gets trickier yet. Somewhere along the line since 1981, quite likely early on, Donald Sterling put the Clippers into a family trust. One reason such a maneuver is typically done is to protect an asset (keep it in the family) in case something unforeseen happens to the principle owner. One never knows what tomorrow might bring -- or if there will even be a tomorrow in their life. Sometimes tragic events can happen suddenly.

Enter Rochelle (Shelley) Sterling, Donald's estranged wife. Though they may be separated, they're also very much still legally married. Not even counting their two adult children, who are likely also included in the trust, Mrs. Sterling could present a major obstacle to the wishes of Adam Silver, other NBA owners and, OMG, the court of public opinion regarding the expedited forced sale of the Clippers.

Mrs. Sterling appeared to signal her future intentions in a recent statement.

"As a co-owner, I am fully committed to taking the necessary steps to make the Clippers the best team in the NBA. That has been my aspiration ever since 1981".

That doesn't exactly sound like someone who is willing, much less eager to sell their share of an asset because her husband currently finds himself under siege.

Talking head legal "experts", some of which will normally be at odds over every other issue (see former prosecutors and defense attorneys), seem to be in agreement that Shelley Sterling's status as a co-owner of the Clippers could be problematic for Silver and the NBA trying to shed themselves of Sterling ownership, regardless of their by-laws.

After all, Rochelle and, let's not forget the kids at whatever level they may be involved, have done nothing wrong. Whether or not league approval was necessary for Donald Sterling to originally put the Clippers in a family trust is unknown. But if so, and the league signed off on it way back when -- then their lawyers have a problem of their own.

How can you force innocent people into liquidating their share of an asset they don't want to sell, which would subject them to big-time capital gains taxes to boot?

Kudos to Adam Silver in one regard. As David Stern's hand-picked successor (which raises questions in and of itself, but that's a story for another day) and now rookie NBA Commissioner, the little skinny guy with the bald head and big ears was presented with an opportunity to show his true grit. On that front, he passed with flying colors. Silver's in charge. He be da man. All hail the mighty Commish, or suffer his wrath.

And so it goes for those taking the entire Sterling affair at face value and jumping on the politically correct bandwagon.

But it ain't over yet. Probably far from it.

Lots of very shrewd lawyers will likely be locking horns soon representing both sides, and the final disposition of this whole mess could take years. No matter who prevails in the early skirmishes, any ruling will surely be appealed to a higher court by one side or the other. It could conceivably go all the way to the Supreme Court before a final decision is handed down.

So while Adam Silver made a big splash in his initial press conference to the masses, as a highly educated lawyer himself (Duke grad, University of Chicago law school), he likely also knows, or should, his original slam-dunk edicts regarding Sterling and the Clippers could get very legally complicated and messy before it's all over.

We shall see.....