Few teams can lay an egg as massive as the Orlando Magic. They turned in a Bobcats-esque performance last night at Madison Square Garden as they were embarrassed by the New York Knicks, who were without Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. The Knicks won 108-86, but led by as many as 39 points late in the third quarter. The highlights for the Magic were Glenn "Big Baby" Davis' swan dive into the MSG stands and the video below. I'm not sure what Jameer Nelson is thinking on this play, which is one of the worst passes you will ever see in an NBA game, but he fires a crosscourt pass straight for ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy. I could understand if Mark Jackson was still sitting at the table given his NBA pedigree, but Nazareth College isn't exactly the same thing. Then again, with the way Orlando played last night, it would have been nice to see Van Gundy take the floor for the Magic. It would have to go better than the last time...
If there's one thing we learned from the inagural Billy Packer Chronicles, it's this... maybe we need to be doing this every week for the NBA. That's because Turner's Charles Barkley opened up an enormous lead this week thanks to his all-around stellar performance in the studio. His winning quote from the Sweet 16 may in fact be my favorite in the past year. Reggie Miller is tied for second with Clark Kellogg, who is the only one with a realistic chance to catch Sir Charles. We'll have one poll for Final Four weekend, so there's still a chance for Clark if he does his homework and takes notes while watching Food Network the rest of this week. The envelope please...
Sweet 16 Top 10
10) "Indiana leavin a little cheese at the free throw line." - Clark Kellogg (via AA)
9) "You just got Dieng'ad" - Reggie Miller (via Josh_Batelli)
8) "It shouldnt matter if the elbow was inadvertent or advertent" - Len Elmore (via xavmcd)
7) "The teacher vs. the mentor" - Len Elmore (via swampdavid1)
6) "Terrence Jones showing you his full package" - Clark Kellogg (via zacdefran)
5) "You're hot." - Lesley Visser (via AA)
4) "Big time Snatch!" - Bill Raftery (via JasonShubnell)
3) "Nail. In. The. Coffin." - Reggie Miller as Louisville goes up by FIFTEEN with 58 sec. left (via SeahawkSanders)
2) "if you look at the score you will know who is winning the game" - Charles Barkley (via tec6062)
1) "People say he can run and jump. So can a deer. And you wouldn't put a deer in the game." - Charles Barkley (via AA)
Elite 8 Top 10
10) "Winner advances to the Elite 8 in New Orleans." - Marv Albert (via revafriedel). The Final Four is in New Orleans, but we kinda knew what Marv meant.
9) "If they would have thrown a funnel cake in there it would have been heavenly." - Clark Kellogg(via AA)
8) "Still got a little gitch in his hiddy-up" - Clark Kellogg (via ClintHedges)
7) "Get the towel out, cause that baby was wet when it came down" - Bill Raftery (via jtylercampbell)
6) "They let them bang, then on the third blow called a foul" - Dave Sims (via mmenniger)
5) "Every rule ain't a rule" - Charles Barkley (via Jthethird)
4) "Dribble trenepation" - Charles Barkley (via jtylercampbell)
3) "Florida is gonna focus on 2 big areas. Long rebounds, 50/50 balls, and no turnovers." - Reggie Miller (via socialmiscondct)
2) "You used to get it up prematurely" - Bill Raftery (via Anthony_Broome)
1) "Beal for the lead... Boynton for the lead..." - Kevin Harlan (via everyone)
1) Charles Barkley 52 pts
T2) Clark Kellogg 33 pts
T2) Reggie Miller 33 pts
4) Bill Raftery 30 pts
5) Kevin Harlan 10
Others receiving votes - Matt Winer 9 pts, Seth Davis 8 pts, Lesley Visser 6 pts, Bob Wenzel 6 pts, Len Elmore 13 pts, Dave Sims 5 pts, Ian Eagle 4 pts, Verne Lundquist 4 pts, Dan Bonner 2 pts, Ernie Johnson 2 pts, Tim Brando 1 pt, Kenny Smith 1 pt, Marv Albert 1 pt.
Nope, I'm not talking about Jon Barry. Of course it's Magic Johnson who was part of a group that bid a record 2 billion dollars for ownership of one of the MLB's most iconic franchises. It's a staggering sum of loot that highlights just how much of a business professional sports are these days and how insanely successful Magic has been in his post-NBA business ventures. It's also a genuinely happy ending to the extreme ugliness Dodger fans endured in recent years that now the new face of the Dodgers is the extremely well-liked and charasmatic Los Angeles legend.
When you step back and think about this, it's absolutely a crazy story that arguably the NBA's greatest point guard is now part owner of a baseball team. Magic was rumored to have strong interest when his home state Detroit Pistons were up for sale recently, but that seemingly made some sense. But this is just a business decision, and business is something that Magic has done exceptionally well since he signed that 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers back in the early 80's.
So, what does this mean for Magic's other job as an NBA analyst on ESPN? Well, I'd certainly think that will be put on the backburner for the time being although it's too early to say definitively. When you likely have hundreds of millions of dollars invested into a baseball team all of a sudden those NBA debates with Tim Legler about the San Antonio Spurs offense seem a bit less important.
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years. Knowing Magic's track record, I wouldn't bet against him to make this work.
In a story that could potentially have a great impact on the sports world, Bloomberg today released a story detailing Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. taking steps to build a national cable television sports network. Already, NBC and Comcast launched NBC Sports Network earlier this year to try and challenge the Bristol behemoth. Fox may now be on the verge of stepping up to the plate as well. Here's the juiciest portions of the Bloomberg report:
News Corp. is assembling the required rights from pay-TV carriers and sports organizations, said the people, who requested anonymity because talks are private. While a final decision hasn’t been made to move forward, the company is considering converting its Fuel action-sports network to the new channel, two of the people said.
The new channel could begin service by the end of this year, one person said. The effort is being led by David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports, one person said.
News Corp., based in New York, has clearance from some carriers, including DirecTV, the biggest U.S. satellite television provider, two people said.
Fuel, a 24-hour action-sports network that carries mixed-martial arts fights, is available in 36 million U.S. homes, according to Fox.
This, quite frankly, is massive news. If there is any force in the world of media powerful enough to take on ESPN and Disney, it is News Corp. Fox has attempted to compete with ESPN before through their local Fox Sports Network affiliates, however, this would be a much different ballgame. Instead of content being scattered amongst local and regional networks, this would be a cohesive national network. (Maybe this means the Best Damn Sports Show Period will be making a comeback too! And who doesn't miss Tom Arnold and his zany sports related hijinx!)
CBS and Turner have done generally an excellent job with the tournament. However, if there was one thing some fans have universally griped about (other than the fact that Kentucky is just ridiculously good), it would be the odd over the court camera angles that have been employed at times during tournament games.
Used sporadically in different scenarios at different angles it has been distracting. Essentially the equivalent of introducing a skycam to basketball, the experimental camera angles haven't been well received by most fans who quickly clamor for a return to the standard mid-court zoom. (I just named the default camera angle....not bad, eh?)
On a conference call yesterday, coordinating producer Bob Dekas commented on the use of the camera angles and seemed to downplay the prevailing feedback about them.
"We're using an angle that has been used on NBA telecasts. We've used it in previous years. We try not to overuse it. It does get some reaction, a lot of it positive. Some of it negative. It's a different view. It shows how the players are spaced in a better way. But I don't think we have overused it. It will be used sparingly as it has been in the past."
When watching games where I don't have a rooting interest, they've been annoying yet tolerable. However when watching my alma mater, I plead guilty to cussing out these angles and blaming them for missed free throws and turnovers. Totally reasonable right? It's the camera angle that the players aren't even aware of. Anyone else guilty of this?
Seriously though, I am three times as more likely to have a stroke when someone is on the line when CBS cuts to this view over the standard one. I guess it adds extra intrigue and excitement as you don't have a good view of the shot at all... but the mental health of fans should be first and foremost!
When Linsanity was at its height, ESPN mobile published an insensitive, controversial headline regarding a Knicks loss against the New Orleans Hornets. The story made national news and the ESPN editor, Anthony Federico, eventually was fired by ESPN. In the aftermath, Federico claimed the headline was an innocent mistake and openly wished to talk to Lin and explain the situation to him. Tuesday, Federico was able to meet Lin in person as the Knicks point guard connected with the former ESPN employee in New York City. Federico spoke to Newsday about the meeting:
"The fact that he reached out to me," Federico said. "The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule . . . He's just a wonderful, humble person. He didn't have to do that, especially after everything had kind of died down for the most part.
"We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation. We talked about our shared Christian values and what we're both trying do with this situation . . . We didn't talk about the headline for more than three minutes."
Hopefully this can bring closure for Federico and allow him to move on from the unfortunate situation. The fact that Jeremy Lin would reach out to Federico and be willing to show that kind of grace is remarkable for a high profile athlete given his meteoric rise to fame this past year and the controversy that surrounded the headline. It's a testament to Lin's faith and his character to take those steps and brings a positive ending to what was a negative story.Jeremy Lin meets with ex-ESPN headline writer - Newsday
Maury Brown of the Business of Sportstweeted the above picture, blacking him out from watching the season opening Mariners-Athletics game. Now, we've ripped MLB's blackout policy to shreds before. We've even shared some of your blackout horror stories from around the country. But, this may be a new low, even for baseball's archaic blackout policy. The season opening game between Seattle and Oakland was played in Tokyo. Not Tokyo, Washington or Tokyo, Oregon. TOKYO FREAKIN JAPAN!!! MLB blacked out a Mariners game a mere 4,784 miles away. The larger purpose of MLB working so hard to prevent baseball fans from watching baseball games is one of the great mysteries in all of sports. Forget opening the season a half a world away before the sun comes up, but blacking it out stateside as well? Bravo, MLB Blackout Policy. Bravo. According to Google Maps, it would take Mariners fans just 34 days and 8 hours to kayak across the Pacific Ocean to get to Tokyo. So this blackout seems COMPLETELY REASONABLE, right?
Update: The game was evidently blacked out in the Bay Area as well, according to one of our readers via Twitter:
Marshawn Lynch is one of the more interesting athletes in the NFL today. But, Lynch isn't necessarily one of the biggest football stars in the country. Despite his quirky vices, his past celebrations that are certainly unique, and actual on-field accolades, Lynch isn't exactly a household name outside of Seattle. If anything, Lynch is mainly known for this singular TD run against the Saints in the 2011 Playoffs, where America truly learned what "Beastmode" was all about (sorry, Matt).
But now, maybe Lynch is taking a step into a brave new world that few athletes dare to tread... movies. That's right, Lynch is looking to make his acting debut in an independent fllm shooting in Seattle. Local outlet NWCN has the details:
"Lynch signed on to play a role in a movie being filmed in Seattle. It's called "Matt's Chance". It's about a mid-20-something cowboy who's betrayed by his girlfriend. It sends him into a downward sprial. The movie tackles all the things Matt is going through, from the mafia to corrupt bankers to even God himself."
Not exactly an Oscar worthy premise. Then again, maybe American movie goers have been looking for a way to jam Westerns, mob movies, Wall Street greed, and religious zeal all in one two hour thrill ride. The article from NWCN doesn't exactly say what Lynch's role in the film will be, but it will probably be somewhere between background extra and headlining star. And of course, with co-stars like Hollywood legends Lee Majors and Gary Busey, it would be understandable that Lynch would be making a cameo appearance.
Still, all aspiring actors have to start somewhere. So, props to Lynch for doing more with his offseason than slipping on a pair of dancing shoes. He may not be the next Jim Brown or Alex Karras, but I could get behind a Beastmode movie franchise if Lynch's second career takes off.
In an interview conducted by hard hitting reporter his daughter, former ESPN college football analyst Craig James finally gave a thorough explanation continued to spin the motivation behind his effort to remove Mike Leach as coach of Texas Tech following a squabble between Leach and James' son, Adam.
James conveniently doesn't get into any real specifics of the incident between Adam and Leach or his reported PR smear campaign to have Leach fired, but he does say bully three times and reinforces his commitment to supporting his family and standing up for what's right.
James has opened up a bit about this subject of late with similar rhetoric on a radio talk show:
"I did nothing more than support my son against a bully," James said. "It was a bully act what he did, an evil act against Adam, he didn't do it just once, but twice.
"There are no alleged. It's under oath by doctors, trainers, and players who were there, that Mike ordered [Adam] to be put away in dark, solitary confinement twice, punishing him for having a concussion. Any parent I know would have done exactly what we did.
"All of these other things you've heard are lies and distractions about what a man did to a fellow human being. He wronged someone. All we did was support our kid. And anyone who doesn't understand that, I don't want their vote."
When this incident was first reported, James was going off on Leach for locking his son in an electrical closet. Now, Leach just put the younger James in dark, solitary confinement... notice how the story is starting to change as time goes on? Adam James testified that Leach didn't actually lock him in an electrical closet, and the elder James has to change his story now to keep up the narrative that Mike Leach is a very bad man. Now it appears James is trying to get the "bully" tag to stick to Leach.
The dust-up between James, Leach, Texas Tech, and ESPN has only grown more consequential over time as litigation, a Leach biography, the removal of Bruce Feldman from ESPN, and a supposed Friday Night Lights movie storyline all trace back to James vs. Leach.
Many are still awaiting answers as to what exactly unfolded but unfortunately this self serving campaign video really didn't add much other than some more acrimony between Leach and James.
H/T to Ben F
During Tim Tebow's introductory press conference with the Jets yesterday, he beat home the point that he was excited. So much so, that he said it 44 times during his 32 minutes press conference. Now, I'm not sure why he's so excited, going from a starting job with the Broncos to a backup job with the Jets, where he'll be crushed by even more media pressure than he ever faced in Denver or even under the heavy SEC scrutiny at the University of Florida.... but dammit, HE'S SO EXCITED!
This almost reminded me of a high school kid giving a speech, and how they get nervous and just keep repeating the same word or phrase over and over again. Example: when I was 14, I had to give a two minute speech about an object. I used my 1996 MLB All-Star game ticket. I remember saying the words "awesome" and "fun" about six times apiece, and that was only in two minutes! Tebow consistently using the word "excited" and successfully deflecting questions the media asked reminded me of that situation.
Remember Mark McGwire and his "I'm not here to talk about the past" during the Senate steroid hearings? That's the same vibe I got from this presser. The repetition and tone of the presser gave me a sense that Tebow is irritated about the whole situation, and isn't actually excited, no matter how much he tries to convince himself. Tebow even admitted as much saying it was the Jets brass that forced him into the contrived press conference. Of course. Who would want Skip Bayless as a stalker?
[h/t: Philly Sports Live]