Berman On The Quick-To-Quit Knicks

Posted in Basketball at 9:51 pm by

Declaring that coach Larry Brown “is is no different than his players now. Overpaid, underachieving ” stealing Knicks owner James Dolan’s money”, the New York Post’s Marc Berman reveals the club’s biggest transgression to date ; somebody on the roster is spending their meal money on something other than food.

Brown has practiced his players too hard, demeaned them too often and changed their roles too often. Those are not traits of a great coach. Ultimately, that is why he has lost the locker room, why the young players have regressed instead of gotten better, why they are 15-40, the joke of the NBA, the shame of the city.

“We have too many young players right now,” the $40 million defensive genius said as recently as Friday night.

Brown should stop his whine about the Knicks being too young and start doing what he was brought in to do ” get the most out of them, make them a team.

The Knicks’ core group now isn’t as green as Brown wants you to believe. The starting perimeter is Stephon Marbury, 29, Steve Francis, 29, and Quentin Richardson, 26.

The two perimeter players off the bench are Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford. The starting center, Eddy Curry, has been in the league five years. Brown now starts rookie Channing Frye at power forward, but he’s worthy. Last time we proofed them, Malik Rose and Maurice Taylor weren’t teenagers.

The veterans have shown no leadership and Brown has been incapable of motivating this group. The players want to run. Brown wants to run set plays.

The players don’t seem to care about winning anymore. Two Knicks ” without mentioning names ” munched down on Chicken McNuggets and McDonald’s fries an hour before tip-off Saturday night in Washington.

During the Wizards’ rout, a heckler yelled at new Knick Steve Francis, “Hey Stevie, Where are you going next?” Francis turned to the fan and quipped, “To the bank.” It took only three days for Francis to feel the emptiness of a lost season.

I already wasted the joke about Jerome James and “conduct beneficial to McDonald’s” last week, so it couldn’t have been him.

(it’s hard ’nuff to contend with Tim Duncan, but now Malik Rose has to ignore the scent of those french fries, too)

Tony Parker has 20 points and 12 assists through 3 quarters tonight, with San Antonio leading New York, 100-70. Gilbert Arenas managed to score 46 against NY the other night on a mere 16 shots ; Michael Finley has 22 on only 8 attempts from the floor.

Apparently, Robert Horry’s hips have been realigned. Not at a garage, either.

It was a tough loss for the Nets this evening, falling in overtime to the Hawks, 104-102. Jersey had no answer for Atlanta’s Josh Smith down the stretch, and Vince Carter narrowly missed a 3 at the end of O.T. that would’ve won the game; Nenad Kristic gathered the rebound but blew the lay-up that would’ve forced another extra session.

There’s nothing funny about spousal abuse. Well, usually. Depends on the spouse, I suppose. But based on Maute Bol’s performance on “Celebrity Boxing” a while back, is there any surprise in learning he and his wife filed complaints against each other “after a verbal dispute turned physical”, yet “neither was injured”?

The Most Sickening Story Of The Week Arrives Early

Posted in Baseball at 5:33 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Roger Clemens’ son took dad deep on the Rocket’s first pitch of spring training, crushing a trademark fastball over the left-field fence Monday.

“That was probably one of the harder fastballs I cut loose,” Roger Clemens said after throwing to Koby and other Houston Astros minor-leaguers. “He got my attention.”

Then the Rocket got Koby’s. The next time his oldest son came to the plate, Roger buzzed him high and tight with another fastball. The younger Clemens dodged the pitch and then smiled at his father.

“He was like, ‘Sorry about that pitch inside. I was trying to change the view of the ball for you a little bit,'” said Koby, a third baseman who was drafted by Houston last summer. “I said, ‘I knew what you were doing.'”

Aside from the only normal human reaction —- ie. I’ve seen “The Great Santini” once and I really don’t need to see it a second time, thanks — this incident brings us two points to ponder ;

1) If an 18 year old is taking the Rocket deep, perhaps Team USA should look elsewhere for pitching help
2) If an 18 year old is taking the Rocket deep, why hasn’t the former been recruited for Team USA’s WBC squad?

Open Season On Philly Fans, Pt. II

Posted in Baseball at 5:19 pm by

Yesterday it was Billy Wagner. Today, it’s Tim Worrell weighing in on the paying customers who fill Citizens Bank Ballpark. From the Philadelphia Daily News’ Paul Hagen.

Phillies fans might recall Tim Worrell as a relief pitcher who habitually wore the dour look of a man who had just sucked a lemon during most of his tenure in red pinstripes.

Or they might recall him as the guy who asked to be placed on the disabled list for “personal psychological reasons” 2 months into last season, collected about a million bucks while sidelined and then forced a trade to the Diamondbacks.

They probably would not have recognized the jolly fellow who was horsing around with his new Giants teammates recently at Scottsdale Stadium after signing a 2-year, $4 million free-agent contract this winter.

Even when asked if he had a moment to discuss his impressions of Philadelphia, he continued to smile. He also continued to walk toward the door. “That’s past. Looking forward,” is all he had to offer.

Worrell, however, wasn’t as brusque with the Sacramento Bee. He made it clear that, on the whole, he’d rather not be in Philadelphia.

“Philly is a tough place to play when things go right,” he told veteran Giants beat reporter Nick Peters. “I’m a West Coast guy. I grew up in California [Pasadena] and I live in Arizona. It’s a different mentality back there. I don’t want to say it’s wrong, but I’m just not used to it.

“It was a night-and-day difference, a shock to my family. [Philly fans] want to win, but they seem happy being miserable.”

OSU’s Damage Control, 55 Years Later

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 4:44 pm by

Oklahoma State President David Schmidly has sent a letter of apology to his Drake counterpart, David Maxwell, expressing regret over Johnny Bright being sucker-punched by Oklahoma A&M’s Willbanks Smith during an October, 1951 football game.

The Oklahoman’s Barry Tramel discusses the incident, along with how it came to be documented.

It almost never happened.

The publicity. The outrage. The scars. The apology.

Only the football gods made it possible for Iowans and Oklahomans, much less all Americans, to know the ugly tale of that day at Lewis Field.

So says Don Ultang, one of the Des Moines Register photographs who won the Pulitzer.

Ultang, long retired and now living in Johnston, Iowa, refutes many of the long-standing legends from the Johnny Bright incident.

First, the Register photographers were not dispatched to Stillwater in anticipation of racial problems. The Register regularly sent photographers to Drake, Iowa and Iowa State football games. Even bought a plane, a Beech Bonanza, with Navy veteran Ultang as pilot, to get to games all over the Midwest.

Ultang said his editors never mentioned the possibility of racial problems in Stillwater. At the game, a friend, Bob Speigel, said he had heard rumors around campus about A&M™s desire to knock Bright from the game.

œWe had no idea what we were getting into, Ultang said.

Thus, the Register cameras were not focused exclusively on Bright. In fact, the initial hit by Wilbanks Smith was captured by Ultang only in the background of the photo.

The photographers routinely stayed only for the first 10 minutes of road football games. Then they would scurry back to the airport, fly back to Des Moines, process their film and make the first-edition deadline for Sunday™s paper.

Ultang and his sidekick, John Robinson, shot the first few minutes and left Lewis Field with no idea of what they had photographed.

œThe football gods wanted us to have this, Ultang said. œIf a lot of things hadn™t been just right, nobody would have known it had happened.

Oh, The Vulgarity

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 4:05 pm by

The St. Louis Cardinals’ move from KMOX to KTRS has been mentioned in this space previously, but not with the impassioned plea for decorum provided by the following gent’s letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch ,

I live 120 miles from St. Louis and have listened to KMOX for years, attend six or seven Cardinals games each year, and am a baseball fan.

I don’t listen to KTRS much simply because it just doesn’t have the class of KMOX. I’m not sure of the market that KTRS is trying to reach, but listening to on-air personalities using vulgar phrases seems pretty tasteless to me.

I’m certainly not a prude, but have found a long time ago that I can communicate just as effectively without marginal talk like that.

I’m sure the Cardinals will make more money in the short run with KTRS ownership. But in the long run, I’m not sure the dumb-down image of KTRS as the Cardinals flagship station will serve the Cardinals’ image well.

Max Jaeger, Mattoon, Ill.

Mr. Jaeger has a point. I checked out KTRS’ daily schedule and was dismayed to see that legendary shockjock Paul Harvey (above) appears on the station 3 times every weekday.

It’s The Pits : NBA’s Love Affair With Killer Canines

Posted in Basketball, Dogs at 2:04 pm by

In Sunday’s Boston Herald, Mark Murphy spoke with a number of players — Mike James, Gerald Green and Rip Hamilton, to name 3 — who are devoted pit bull owners.

New York’s Qyntel Woods, as we know all too well, has already demonstrated his own brand of TLC for the breed in question.

There does seem to be a certain cachet associated with the care and breeding of these powerful dogs, and with that mind, I have the perfect pet to recommend to a certain 7-footer recently relocated to Orlando.

Brown Wonders How Soon ‘Til Garbage Time Starts In The 2nd Quarter

Posted in Basketball at 1:25 pm by

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that Garden boss James Dolan will be joining the Knicks for tonight’s game in San Antonio. I’ve checked to see if JD & The Straight Shot have any Central Texas gigs to coincide, but sadly, this appears to be a basketball trip.

More happy stuff from Isola,

The Knicks’ players were unavailable one day after losing for the 19th time in 21 games. Washington’s Gilbert Arenas scored 46 points in 30 minutes Saturday night and could have done more damage had his team not been so far ahead that Wizards coach Eddie Jordan rested the All-Star guard in the fourth quarter.

Still, it was an incredible performance and one that again revealed the philosophical differences between Brown and Stephon Marbury, his point guard. Marbury reinjured his left shoulder during Saturday’s loss and likely will sit out tonight’s game against the defending champion Spurs.

Brown can accept the injury rationale, but had a hard time understanding why Marbury ran the team the way he did in the first half. Marbury, who was guarding Arenas, tried to keep pace and ultimately was outscored 33-15 in the half. Marbury recorded just two assists as the Knicks fell behind 71-45 at halftime.

“We tried to run with him and we gave up 71 points,” Brown said.

Later, Brown said that he has to gain control of the team, which may have been a veiled reference to Marbury breaking off plays. In previous seasons, teammates have criticized Marbury for ignoring plays called from the bench.

When asked what he meant by “control,” Brown said: “We can talk all we want but if the team is shooting 65% and we’re turning the ball over and we get in early foul trouble you can’t make it a high-possession game. The second half we didn’t make it a high-possession game. We can’t play like them.”

Marbury has said the Knicks should run more now that he and Steve Francis share the same backcourt. It was a surprising comment since Marbury knows that successful running teams must play defense and rebound. The Knicks, however, don’t stop anyone and they don’t do windows.

The Newark Star-Ledger’s David Waldstein does his part to jumpstart speculation that the Knicks are primed to make a run at Atlanta’s Al Harrington during the off-season. Harrington’s mom describes herself as a Knicks fan — Mike Woodson would like to see her fined for tampering.

There’s no byline on the following item from today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press, which is just as well, given as the situation is pretty obvious to anyone watching Minnesota squander their franchise player’s golden years.

Don’t be surprised if the Timberwolves begin evaluating whether Kevin Garnett, who turns 30 in May, has reached his peak. If so, Garnett, who is being paid $18 million this year and is signed for another $66 million through the 2008-09 season, could be traded while he still has marquee value.

Before the NBA’s recent trade deadline, only one team inquired about Garnett’s availability, and that was to determine whether media reports about his availability were accurate. They were not.