Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Plea To Clipper fans. Support Your Team!

Enough of this, Clipper fans. Halt this distraction. Put this Donald Sterling scandal to rest. Put it where it belongs, in your rear view mirror. It's time to get back to the business at hand--winning games.


The NBA has spoken. It has done all it can do. Sterling has been ordered him away from the team--forever. The process is in motion to strip him and, hopefully, his family, of Clippers' ownership. That's all that can be done at the moment. The NBA doesn't have the power to force him to sell the team. The other owners can do that. They can vote him out some time in the next few weeks. Being a stubborn, litigious old coot, he may fight to keep the team and drag this mess out in the courts. Who knows?

Meanwhile Sterling still owns the team. Revenues from its operation still go in his pockets. Yes, supporting the team still means supporting the repulsive racist. But, Clipper fans, get beyond that. Don't desert the team when it needs you most.

Here's a reality you don't want to face. The Clippers have the best team in franchise history, a team capable of winning the NBA title. How did that happen? Who's responsible? You may hate to admit it, but Sterling is, to a large degree, responsible. Known for most of his years as an owner to be cheap and indifferent to the team's success, he cleaned up his act in the last few years, hired some smart people, loosened the purse strings and set the wheels in motion to field a winning team.

He may be a racist moron but, under his watch, the Clippers have morphed into a top-notch team. As much as you hate to, give him credit. This is a winner, to a large degree, because of him. Fortunately, he didn't let his racist views interfere with building this team. He could have done something stupid like hiring all white management and player personnel, but he didn't. Being a racist doesn't make him dumb.

So, Clipper fans, just because it finally became public that he's a racist, you want to abandon the team. The fact that he's a racist really has nothing to do with the team. That's in his head. He didn't impose his views on others. The woman he was talking to when the racist rants were recorded is part black and part Mexican. Not only is he a racist, but he's a confused racist. He doesn't even know how to be a good racist. He can't even stay away from the people he hates.

Clippers fans, don't let what goes on in Sterling's mashed-potato brain keep you from backing this team. What has changed in the last few days? You found out that the owner of your team is a racist. You think that comes as a surprise to coach Doc Rivers or stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin? Of course not. It's been an open secret for years. He's a racist bully. Stories about his rude, crude, mean behavior have been circulating for decades. Just about everyone who goes into business with Sterling on a  high level knew what they were in for.

What's bothering you, Clipper fans,  is that supporting the team means supporting racism. You feel tricked and betrayed. But look at it this way. Why should what goes on in Sterling's head keep you from supporting his team. These people are not racists. They're victims, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Right now, these "victims" need your support. If you have tickets, go to the playoff games. If you don't have tickets, watch on TV. But support the Clippers. If they are focused they have a good shot at winning the Western Conference championship, maybe even the NBA title.

It would be a shame, Clipper fans, if this team didn't reach its potential because it was sidetracked by this scandal. Don't let that happen.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Are Some NBA Games Fixed?

Are some NBA games fixed?

According to several veteran bookies tuned into the underworld, a few games definitely are. One estimated that about a dozen games a season are rigged.

The issue arose as a result of Saturday's Clippers-Warriors playoff game, which Golden State, an eight-point, road underdog, surprisingly won, 109-105. Clearly the Warriors got a big boost from the refs, who handcuffed Clippers' star Blake Griffin early with questionable fouls--the kind rarely called on a superstar in a critical game. Griffin played only 19 minutes and was walking on eggshells during most of them, before fouling out with 48.3 seconds left. During that final minute, when he could have made a difference, he was on the bench. Through most of the game, without Griffin to worry about, the Warriors could focus more on the Clippers shooters, rendering them ineffective.

The refs, in the name of  keeping the game from turning into a brawl, were constantly calling "invisible" fouls. To make it look like they were treating both teams equally, they hampered the Warriors' best defensive player Andre Iguoadala with fouls, eventually fouling him out. But the loss of Griffin hurt the Clippers much, much more that losing Iguoadala bothered the Warriors. If Griffin plays most of the game, the Clippers almost certainly win.

Was it a case of rigging or just horrible officiating?  In the opinion of several bookies, the game could easily have been rigged, though none knew for sure. One, though, disagreed, arguing that fixed games are handled much more smoothly, with the refs playing a less obvious role.

What usually happens in fixed NBA games, said one bookie, is subtle point-shaving, with the refs making calls that keep a big favorite from covering the spread. Point shaving, he added, generally happens in games nobody cares about, between one good team and a bad team. Fixing, he said, is tougher in a big national TV game with so many people watching.

NBA officials are constantly fretting about rigging, a stance many claim is hypocritical, considering some observers swear three major playoff games were fixed by the league: the first is game 7 of the 2000 Lakers-Trail Blazers Western Conference Finals; the second is game 6 of the 2002  Lakers-Kings Western Conference Finals; the third is the game 5 of the 2006 Miami-Dallas Finals. The NBA, naturally, claims innocence in all three cases.

Can point-shaving--instances involving the underworld--be stopped? It's doubtful. One bookie argued the problem is the crooked refs are way ahead of the investigators, much like, he added, juiced-up athletes are one step ahead of investigators, with the latest juice-masking drugs.

All the bookies consulted, though, said there will be no more questionable games in this season's playoffs. The Warriors-Clippers game, they said, heightened awareness of rigging. It's tougher to pull it off cleanly when everyone is watching out for it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fire Sandy Barbour, Cal Athletic Director

Wanna know how bad things are in the Cal athletic program? Look at it this way. The program is the Titanic and the captain is incompetent athletic director Sandy Barbour.

There's only one way out of this mess and it's this--fire Sandy Barbour, fire Sandy Barbour, fire Sandy Barbour. Just in case it didn't sink in, let me say it again: fire Sandy Barbour!

She's totally lacking vision and creativity. She's so out of touch she can't see the obvious. She's famous for her budget bungles and her mismanagement of Memorial Stadium renovation.  She makes bad decision after bad decision. Her most notorious, bone-headed move is, early last year, replacing burned-out head football coach Jeff Tedford with a second-rate, offense-first coach, Sonny Dykes, who won just one game and made Cal the laughing-stock of college football.

So we're stuck with a football coach who's guaranteed to keep the Bears in the Pac12 basement for years to come. Since men's basketball coach Mike Montgomery just retired and Barbour is hunting for a replacement, it looks like downtrodden Cal fans are about to get another lemon. Since she's been scouring the depths of the college coaching world, most likely Barbour is about to inflict another nobody on us.

Look at the candidates list: UC Irvine's Russell Turner, a titan of the Big West conference,  Notre Dame's Mike Brey, who's coming off a 15-17 season, Bryce Drew, who led Valparasio to a 18-16 season, Murray State's Steve Prohm. Is anybody else clamoring for these coaches? Are other schools waiting in line to sign any of them? Has any knowledgeable college hoops fan heard of any these guys?  Hell no. Because they're bottom-rung coaches.

The John Calaparis and Coach Ks obviously won't want to come to Berkeley, which doesn't have super facilities or a recent history of NCAA success or a fat budget for coaches. But Cal should be able to get a better coach than the guys on the above list. Think about it. Why should small-conference VCU have a better coach, Shaka Smart, than a major Pac12 school like Cal? But if Barbour tried to recruit Smart, he'd laugh in her face.

The average Cal men's team is talent-starved. You can't win without very good players. But the typical Bear team has just one or two top-notch players. Cal will never be a basketball power unless the AD hires a coach who can attract lots of talent, like some players on the top 100 list of high school stars. The Bears rarely get any of these gems. They have one now in Jabari Bird, but he's surrounded by a bunch of ordinary players. A quality coach could bring in some studs to support Bird.

Over the years, the Bay Area has produced some outstanding high school players. But they almost never go to Cal. A coach with superior recruiting skills would steer some of this talent to Berkeley. Hiring such a coach, however, won't be easy with Barbour in charge.

Who would want to work under her?. According to several sources, she has a horrible reputation in college sports circles. Apparently the buzz out there is that the administration doesn't trust her. So why would a first-rate coach, with other options, step into a rocky program with a bumbling leader? A respected, high-profile athletic director might lure a top-tier coach to Berkeley. Most likely though, Cal will get some second or third tier guy who will guarantee a stream of two-star players who will guarantee a string of subpar seasons.

Loyal, long-suffering Cal fans deserve a high-quality program. That means getting a better leader, which, of course, means one thing--fire Sandy Barbour. Once more for emphasis:


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why the Eagles Really Released DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson, the speedy, game-breaking wide receiver, a gangster?


The Philadelphia Eagles gave no official reason for dumping their best player after six years, after his finest season--82 catches, 1332 yards, 9 TDs. Unofficially though, the team was reportedly upset with Jackson's alleged gang affiliations, claiming that he's linked to the notorious, LA-based gang, the Crips, that he flashes gang signs and hangs with gang members. The Eagles, supposedly, feared his thuggish allegiances might have ugly consequences. Recalling how Patriots' tight end Aaron Hernandez, in jail for murder, sullied the image of New England, Philadelphia reportedly wanted to get rid of Jackson before he committed some felony or was linked to some criminal activity that would drag the Eagles' name into the gutter.

 Forget all that. The gang affiliation excuse is just a cover. Here's why the Eagles really released him.

On the one hand, the team was looking to save money by dumping Jackson, who makes $10.5 million a year and has three years left on a fat but non-guaranteed contract. But that's just a small part of it. The main reason for the Eagles' move is head coach Chip Kelly's ego. According to two sources close to the team, Kelly, a bigger control freak than most head coaches, simply tired of Jackson chipping away at his authority and scoffing at his rigid, unorthodox fitness program. Sources report that Kelly and Jackson were in constant conflict. It didn't help that Jackson hated and wouldn't listen to receivers coach Bob Bicknell. Kelly felt he and his coaches were constantly disrespected by Jackson. Some coaches will put up with that kind of hostile attitude from their star players. But not Kelly.

Jackson and his head coaches always butt heads. When he was a Cal last decade he gave coach Jeff Tedford fits. Reportedly Jackson was the leader of a pack that created havoc in that locker room. His first coach with the Eagles, Andy Reid, now heads the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that could really use Jackson. But the Chiefs don't want him, partly because they don't have the money but mainly because Reid has had his fill of the Jackson distraction.

Unquestionably, Jackson is a handful for any coach. Smug and defiant, he's strongly anti-authoritarian, the kind of player who's late for meetings and doesn't listen to coaches. Like Randy Moss, Jackson, on the field, doesn't always go all out. But like Moss in his prime, Jackson, who has blazing speed, scares the hell out of defenses and is a constant threat to score, either as a wide receiver or as a punt/ kick returner. More negatives. He doesn't have a great work ethic and is a distraction in the locker room, often setting a bad example for younger players. Off the field he hangs out at night clubs and, yes, pals around with hoodlums. Jackson grew up in Compton, a tough Los Angeles suburb, and chooses not to distance himself from the dark side of the hood.

OK, so Jackson is a bad actor. But he's not a gang member. Just because he still has Compton buddies, that doesn't make him a gang-banger. If Eagles' head coach Kelly has problems with Jackson's behavior he should say so, and not hint that he's releasing him because he has gang ties.

By the way, most teams, according to several sources, have young players who pal around with gang members. These players are just more quiet about it than Jackson. According to these sources, a few players on NFC teams are actual gang members. They grew up in gangs and secretly maintain gang ties. It's all part of the seamy NFL underground. Jackson, though, sources confirm, really isn't part of that underground.

Rumors of his gang affiliations haven't scared away other teams. Jackson is in talks with the Washington Redskins. If that doesn't work out, the Raiders and the Browns are waiting in line. In addition, insiders claim the San Francisco 49ers are interested.

Clearly, this fall Jackson will once again be be terrorizing NFL defenses.