Archive for the ‘ Sports ’ Category

Steve Kerr Too Conventional?

Steve Kerr Too Conventional?   The Warriors at first glance have not repeated the mistake they made three years ago when they inked Mark Jackson to a contract.  Coach Kerr appears to be a person anyone would want to work with.  He has wanted to coach and planned to coach since his playing days ended.  Though he was not a superstar fate placed him on teams where he could see the best coaches and players that the game had on a nightly basis.   Curiously the obvious choice of consensus talent head NBA coach to be, David Blatt, was not even considered by the Warriors brass.  Blatt’s incredible performance as a head coach overseas is well documented.  He is considered an offensive innovator.  Is he possibly the Don Nelson of his generation?  There is the main problem.  His generation.  At 55 he is not part of the Michael Jordan generation that obsesses over itself.  The main reason he was not considered by the Warriors was his age.  In fact they tried to entice him to be an assistant coach, judged to be too old for the real job.  To an outsider it seems they have it backwards, he has earned the head coaching job, Kerr is another Michael Jordan generation player with no experience as a coach.  At least he has front office experience and does not have the obvious personality flaws that Mark Jackson has.  Nonetheless the organization is taking a 25 million dollar gamble on a long shot rather than a 10 million dollar gamble on a odds on favorite.  Very odd.   To return to Kerr, the only question is how much has he learned?  Does he have a feel for the game like Popovich and Nelson or will he miss the ebbs and flows of the NBA game like Mark Jackson did?  Jackson was frequently criticized for not calling timeouts to stop the opposition’s momentum, a crucial role that NBA coaches must master.  It is part of the job.  Coach Popovich put the Spurs in a position to close out game six against Oklahoma and, in my view, won the game by calling time outs at just the right place and time.  However, I have to say coach Don Nelson would have won game six in last years finals by calling timeout and making sure Allen or any of the other shooters were fouled as soon as the clock ticked below ten.  First “King” James would have been fouled before the three-point shot, though he is the least dangerous of the three-point shooters and most certainly both Bosh and Allen would have been fouled on the rebound though with Nellie, Tim Duncan would have never left the game and might have grabbed the rebound.  In any case the point is, with a three point lead, Nellie fouls with less than a ten second lead, Pop does not.  Judge for yourself.  Does Kerr go with conventional wisdom and not foul or with Nellie and foul every time?  Bet on Kerr to go with conventional wisdom.   Has Steve Kerr learned how to manage games?  Giving the ball to Curry and praying is not really much of a game plan.  With all the talent the Warriors have the Coach can be expected to orchestrate the game appropriately.  Blatt must have been salivating at the chance to plan an offense around the talent the Warriors can put on the floor.  Kerr seems well aware of these nuances when he is analyzing the game for the broadcasts.  But Kerr has no experience.   However, his biggest flaw may be the very thing which caused the Warriors brass to find him so attractive.  He seems to get along well with consensus opinions and not challenge the prevailing mind sets or group think that is present in the organization for which he works.  The ability to mesh is fine, but then the ability to think outside the box and plan schemes and plays that maximize your team’s strength and minimize your opponent’s strength may be something that is hard for him.  Time will tell.  He seems to buy into whatever conventional ideas are repeated on ESPN without question.  He is a representative of Gen-X, according to studies, the most conservative generation in American history.  Therefore his inability to think creatively and to make adjustments on the fly may be his most limiting characteristic.   When ESPN announcers state that Mark Jackson changed the “culture” at Golden State to “get” the players to play defense, Kerr goes along with that line and affirms it as true like it was written in stone.  But serious fans know Don Nelson’s run and gun teams of the eighties played defense with what they had, and entertained all with the best offense in the league with several good offensive players.  How do you think run TMC would have done with a rim defender like Nate Thurmond rounding out the team?  Then no one would have questioned their “defense”.  But you coach to maximize the talent you have.  Calling out the Warriors as a “no defense” team who tried to outscore their opponents was silly.  Imagining and stating the Warriors played poor defense because of stupidity on Nelson’s part is just a way of avoiding a serious study of the team’s he  coached and their potential.   Nelson knew you were not going to beat very many teams in a half court with the line-ups he coached.  For Kerr to go along with this non-sense makes me wonder if he thinks too much inside the box to ever get the best from his players.   In a short series Don Nelson never had a problem either beating a superior team or making them suffer with whatever he had on his bench.  He could draw up defensive schemes to disrupt the game plans of far better teams.  His defeats of superior Utah, San Antonio and Dallas teams are the highlights of twenty years of Warriors basketball.   His Bucks teams shocked the Larry Bird Celtics by sweeping them in four games.  Did any other coach do this?  His “We Believe” team’s sprint to the playoffs and stunning upset of the Dallas Mavericks was perhaps the most exciting two months of basketball in Warrior’s history.  That is the challenge for Kerr, no doubt he understands the game but can he get the maximum out of every player and win when he does not have the better players?  Warriors fans watched inferior teams with undersized and undermanned benches out perform the opposition for years.  Hardaway, Richmond, Marciulionis, Mullin and Higgins formed a lethal lineup that played hard and exciting basketball every night.  But could you realistically expect that lineup to take on the “Showtime” Lakers whose point guard was taller than anyone on the Warriors?  Yet they did and made un-winnable games close and even stole a few from the a team featuring the best of the best.   Coach Kerr inherits a team far more skilled with more depth than any team Nelson ever coached in the Bay Area.  Expectations will be higher and justly so.  Time will tell if he can do more with the team than expected or if he is like most of his generation just as good as you expect them to be no better no worse.  Jackson’s total inability to maximize the offensive talents of this team was disgusting to old Warrior fans used to staggering offensive numbers from teams filled with D-league players and one or two legitimate NBA stars.  The Monta Ellis Warriors in Nelson’s last year with only rookie Steve Curry and five healthy shall we say bodies finished second in offensive production that year in the NBA.  What Kerr does with a roster full of stars will be quickly seen to be either folly or exceptional.  The Bay Area fans know offense and are waiting for Coach Kerr to show what this team can do.   The owners on the other hand are showing a clear prejudice for the conventional as well.  Though they have hired good players (for the most part but oddly claiming the signing of Andre Iguodala was the roster move of the century Monta Ellis and D. Blair could have been signed for far less and would have led to many more wins) and good assistant coaches, their choices for head coach can only be called mundane.  Clearly they wanted Kerr because NBA legend Jackson in NYC wanted him.  But Phil Jackson wanted to teach Kerr to coach.  So it will be interesting to see who plays better the well coached Cavaliers with a proven offensive star coach or the Warriors with a Michael Jordan generation side kick.  In that they could have had Blatt for less than half of what they paid Kerr his hiring says more about them than they realize.  As a final note the Michael Jordan generation prejudice of the owner’s is evident in their handling of JIm Barnett.  Barnett is easily the best color man in the NBA.  The only announcers to rival him and Papa in their heyday are Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith.  Bob Fitzgerald is terrible and no one I know likes his style, in fact I have to mute him often because of his repeatedly inane and repetitive lines.  Tim Roye on radio is hardly much better, but you can’t be worse than Fitzgerald and you can’t mute the radio.  Papa wastes away as the pre game host of the Warriors.  Bringing him back to work with Barnett would be the best thing to happen to the Warriors since the We Believe run.  But Barnett is the wrong age so the owners are planning to get rid of him.  Only a monstrous surge of opposition from their fans stopped that move this year, but you can count on some Michael Jordan fan being in his seat next year.  The owners are suffering from a huge case of agism.

Take Down: Why Mark Jackson Was Fired

The Reason Behind the Reasons Mark Jackson Was Fired


The firing of Mark Jackson created more news than the firing of a coach usually does.   By nature coaching positions are temporary.  Only a handful of NBA coaches have spent their careers with one team, Stockton, Auerbach and Popovich come to mind.  All had winning teams and were or are consensus Hall of Fame coaches.  But even the great Nellie, Don Nelson, moved from Milwaukee to Golden State and then around the horn.


There are more reasons to fire a coach than to hire one.  With Mark Jackson there were plenty of reasons to keep him and plenty of reasons to let him pass.  His relationship with some of the players (we still have not heard from Bogut or Blake) was supposedly a strength.  His weaknesses, well, that depends on your perspective but clearly it might be summed up as his relationships with everyone else and the lack of a coherent offensive plan with perhaps the best offensive team in the league.  Clearly those that are religious and those that are black have a different take on his limitations and feel he was fired for reasons of prejudice against either religion, race or both.  Many black writers have implied that Jackson’s firing was in part based on race.  ESPN has unsubtlely basically inferred this endless numbers of times.  On the Warriors many fan forums Born Again Christians, blacks and the racially sensitive see prejudice, an inability for the owners to relate to the black culture and just plain, old-fashioned white privilege.  Born Again Christians who are masters at casting themselves as victims have also claimed it was his prayer sessions with players, chapel with players, taking time off from his coaching to preach at his church (which Reverend Jackson called his real job, calling his coaching job a part-time position), spending religious services with some of his players, and finally the recording of church oriented videos at his office with the Golden State Warriors that got him fired.  The videos were posted on the internet and then rapidly disappeared.  If there was nothing wrong with recording religious videos at your place of work why take them down?  When Jackson was working for pay for the team he took time off to make videos at his place of work which reflected his religious beliefs for people totally unconnected to basketball.  This could be seen as reason enough in itself to fire him.  Of course his backhanded homophobic remarks which are now mainstream and accepted as a legitimate response to a person “coming out” in Born Again circles are not mainstream in the liberal, tolerant Bay Area.  The inference that he would pray for the souls of the sinners is insulting to some and disrespectful to nature.  For it is nature that decides sexuality and homosexual behavior is prevalent in many species.  It is utter unscientific non-sense that being gay is a life style that one prefers or one does not prefer.


At ESPN the race card is clearly being played by the “I just have no idea why Mark Jackson was fired.” group think that is the party line on that network.  That must have been said a thousand times in one week with the tacit implication that he was fired because he was black.


Stephen A. Smith “wonders” why Kerr is the “golden boy”, a strange metaphor, at the current time when the hunt for a new coach is on by a plethora of dissatisfied owners.  ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith clearly implies that because Kerr is white he is getting more interviews than “he deserves”.  Of course if Phil Jackson wanted a black coach of merit and all of a sudden interested piqued that would be fine.  Clearly Kerr has received the “Phil“ bump.   It is not complicated.  It is not racist.  Phil Jackson carries a lot of weight in the NBA plain and simple.


Many of the Bay Area Writers were smitten by Mark Jackson.  Jackson was connected to the ESPN establishment, the Holy Grail, of sports media.  His personality of convincing the unwary that they were on his side against the owners won over many of the writers who had been at war with Don Nelson for years.  A coach that uttered “We are a defense first team.”  Thus tacitly confirming what the writers fumed about for years, that is that Don Nelson could not coach defense, rather than the alternative view he got the best out of what he had.  By saying we are a defense first team, Jackson implied and confirmed what the writers wanted.  They were now his because he told them what they wanted to hear.  If he had said, anyone who can win 26 games with Monta Ellis and Steve Curry as a rookie with 5 d-leaguers is a helluva coach the writers would have choked on their wine.


When Jackson was fired writers at the Chronicle and other papers were as stunned as if Mickey Mantle were traded by the Yankees.   Or if Joe Montana was sent packing in his prime.


Mark Jackson proceeded to go on tour selling himself.  He is a victim, he did a great job.  The players loved him.  The fans loved him.  Stephen A. Smith loved him.  His congregation loves him, O’Neal loves him, Green has improved his “relationship” with God through Mark Jackson.  Why is that an endorsement for a coach?  Curry loves him.  Jackson does not use the Bible as a weapon, he said so at a press conference.  Who accused him of using the Bible as a weapon?  That statement is a perfect example of how Jackson divides people.  Upon hearing that statement religious people think that the “liberals” have accused yet another poor innocent Christian of some outrageous crime.  But not everyone buys this.


Bogut does not appear to love him, Greg Papa, the best play by-play NBA announcer alive, thinks Mark Jackson can’t coach and has said so for three long years.  Interesting.  Papa has seen nearly every Warrior game for decades?  What does he see that others don’t?


Jackson’s latest salvo that he, Mark Jackson, will deserve the credit if Coach Kerr produces a winning team fits right in to his entire MO.  If Kerr fails Jackson looks good, if he succeeds it is because of Jackson’s coaching which laid the foundation for the team’s success.  Nicely done.


Bogut according to First Take’s Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, Jackson’s most vocal supporters, is Bogus.  He didn’t show up, he does not show up.  (Conveniently forgetting last years playoffs when playing injured he clearly was the difference maker with Lee out) otherwise Jackson would have done better we presume?  But Jackson already exceeded expectations and actually was ahead with a few minutes left in game seven with the Clippers?  The Clippers who have two of the best players in the world, two of the top ten players in the entire world, and a hall of fame coach?  And his crappy team without “Bogus” nearly beat them.  Why?  Because Mark Jackson is a natural born leader, just ask him.  Jackson has actually said:  “I am a natural born leader, people gravitate towards me.”  Sounds more like a cult figure than a leader to me.


As the Warriors pondered hiring Fred Hoiberg I read a few articles about him.  His co-workers described him as a natural born leader.  Do you find this an interesting contrast to Jackson who describes himself as a born leader?


Jackson took this inferior team the owners thrust upon him and then won over fifty games and nearly beat the Clippers.  A great achievement, just ask him.  He deserves all the credit because his guys played their hearts out.  His guys.  For him.  If the owners had given him a decent bench….  He also changed the culture.  Ask ESPN, ask him.  Nellie’s teams could not play defense.  That is the tacit insult lurking behind the “changed the culture” nonsense.  Sure Nelson’s teams could score.  Monta Ellis and the rookie Steve Curry along with five d-league players put up big numbers on offense (second in the league) and won 26 games with two NBA players who could play for any team in the league, one of whom was a rookie, and five other players who would fight to make the roster, any roster in the league.  Most of the year the bench didn’t have nearly enough healthy bodies to play a decent NBA game.  Yet incredibly the fawning Bay Area Media somehow never asked Mark Jackson why it took 4 years for Steve Curry to return to his rookie year form.  In 2009 -10 Curry had perennial all-star written all over him.  But Nelson’s teams could not play defense.  It was not the lack of NBA quality players, but the “culture”.  Anyone can claim to be a defensive coach by slowing the pace of the game.  Mike Fratello made himself a millionaire by grinding the game to a halt and then claiming he was a great defensive coach.  Really are people that unobservant?  Jackson had Bogut.  Nelson had nothing.  Give Nellie Bogut and then you will see defense and offense that will be dazzling entertainment and great basketball.  Nellie would make use of all of Bogut’s skills.  Maybe the reason Jackson’s defensive numbers are good is because his offensive numbers are bad?  If the team plays a little more up tempo and scores 15 more points a game, the opposition will score proportionally more with the same defense.  The result will be more wins but a “poorer” defense.  More possessions increases the score.  This is something writers and ESPN analysts seem to have a hard time grasping.  Maybe the public schools are that bad.


With Bogut Jackson’s inferior team would be expected to beat the Clippers and quite easily according to his logic, right?  No dunks for Jordan, no domination of the post by Blake.  But Jackson has said this vastly inferior team should still lose to the Clippers because:  “The Clippers have two of the best players in the world, two of the top ten, and a hall of fame coach.”  Incidentally when the Clippers lost Doc Rivers rolled out the same excuse as Mark Jackson.  The ESPN cast has a script and they stick to it.  Rivers is part of the gang.


That is pretty strange.  A hall of fame coach that was hired because Chris Paul insisted Vinny Del Negro be fired.  With the edition of J.J. Redick, another year of experience for Blake, and a vastly more mature front court, the Clippers won a grand total of one more game than last year.  So exactly why is Rivers a Hall of Fame Coach?  Because he won in Boston with three Hall of Fame players and all-star point guard?  Or because he was an ESPN broadcaster and is part of the fraternity?   Pretty good line up to work with, how did he do when he had less talent?  How did he do with the Clippers this year?  Speaking of race what if the colors were reversed and Del Negro had been black and Rivers white?  Stephen A. Smith would be screaming racism on every broadcast.  He would be castigating the Clippers and the league for firing a good black coach and hiring a white coach who only won one more game with a far better team.  You know that’s true if you follow ESPN.


What do we learn from this about coaching?  What did Warriors fans learn about coaching from watching good people try to coach really bad teams?  Cohen never spent the money you need to spend in the NBA to win games.  That is not complicated, so all of his coaches were doomed to mediocrity.


Except one.  Nellie, Don Nelson, took an aging Baron Davis, a great team player in Jason Richardson, and a couple of other good players to the second round of the playoffs in one of the most thrilling couple months of basketball in Warrior history.  Had a few free throws fallen in Utah they would have made the West finals.  He beat the Mavericks who were the first seed with the NBA’s best record.  First time that an eight beat a one in the seven game playoff era.  Not too bad.  Dallas had a hall of fame, MVP power forward, a good point guard and played very hard.  They had Nellie’s protege as the coach.  The next year despite trading the second best player, Jason Richardson, for nothing, (a trade exemption that was not used and an unproductive rookie) Nellie’s team improved.  How could that happen?  Imagine how far they would have gone if they had kept JR or traded him for Gasol?  Did Nellie change the culture?  The personal got worse, noticeably so, and the team got better?  But it was Mark Jackson years later who changed the culture.


Don Nelson never held a press conference and talked about how God had his hand on “his” team?  More likely Nellie’s god was pushing a beer across the table.  When he was fired by the new ownership (just one more reason to fire a coach) he took his hat, pocketed the money owed him, and went off into the sunset of Maui.


But when Mark Jackson was gracefully fired he went on tour trashing the entire organization.  The same organization that did not say he was a bad coach, and the team deserved a better coach.  The same organization who said “mea culpa”.  The owners gracefully said the problem was in relationships not performance.  They let people more or less conclude his homophobic remarks set him at odds with the tolerant liberals of the Bay Area and that he could not get along with the owner’s son or the gay executives or the strait executives of the Warriors for that matter.  Looks lots better or your resume that saying that he was incompetent, divisive, and impossible to work with.  In short Jackson was not a team player, not a guy the organization could work with.  He banned Jerry West and Jim Barnett from his practices, you’d think he’d pay them to watch and advise.  Wouldn’t you?


The same organization that gave him a great team, an opportunity to coach and lots of money is now being throughly trashed by Mark Jackson and his allies in the media.  One of the Bay Area Sports writers actually said it will now be hard for the Warriors to hire a head coach because of the way they “treated” Mark Jackson.  Mark Jackson aka victim.  Does that writer still have a job now that Kerr has stated he preferred the Warrior’s organization to the Knicks?


That is why Mark Jackson should never have been hired.  His history shows he causes discord in organizations.  His run in with John Stockton and the Jazz management is well documented.  He divided the locker room into those on his side and those on the other side.  Sound familiar?


He put up lots of numbers as an NBA player.  But he played for many different teams?  Jackson and people like him can be very difficult employees, bad employers and just plain ineffective managers when they are in a position of power and authority.


Mark Jackson has an Authoritarian Personality.  That is the simple explanation for his behavior and that of his followers aka supporters.  And that is why he can’t be a team player and why any organization will have difficulty when he needs to work with, not above or below, but along side another person.


(Do you have an Authoritarian Personality?  Take this test and find out.


A certain amount of people do in all cultures.


That is why Jackson is perceived as a vindictive person by some who used his conversion to Christianity to create relationships that give him wealth and power over other people.  Others who “fall into line” see him as an authority and leader because that is how they relate to people.  Their relationships are either “follower” or “leader” relationships in all walks of life, Jackson fits that mold perfectly.  He “acts” like they think a leader should act.


Notice he has difficultly with relationships of equals. There is a hierarchy in his relationships that is somewhat inappropriate or may be perceived as such by some “non-authoritarian” people.  He sets up his team relationships as son-father, not player-coach, spiritual mentor not basketball coach or instructor-pupil relationships.  He can’t relate to coworkers who have substantial but limited authority over part of the preparation (assistant coaches) who are not interested in relating to him in an authoritarian fashion so he just refuses to even consider those relationships because he cannot handle them.   So he fires any and all assistants who threaten him in some imaginary way.  Then he has his allies, Stephen A.Smith, denigrate them on national TV.  Doesn’t it surprise you that Stephen A. Smith has spent so much time laying waste Bogut, Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman?  When has a national media figure spent so much time denigrating assistant coaches?  How is it that so much air time with the Warriors has been devoted to Jackson’s relationships or lack thereof with his assistant coaches?  Notice that Jackson said they were disrespectful (i.e. dared to challenge his place in his hierarchy) and disloyal?  There was no mention of the quality of their work because to Jackson maintaining his power was far more important than improving the team.


Because his first goal is to maintain his power, Jackson’s secondary goals have to do with the Warriors organization.  Further he can’t relate to his boss or his bosses circle of advisors and work to build a consensus or an agreement. His bosses all have power that he craves and are therefore the enemy or the opposition.  He sees them as the competition not as the team leaders.  He spends his time trying to divide the organization into his supporters and the opposition so he can gradually increase his power base.


The bottom line is Mark Jackson is a very strange man with a personality disorder.  Why would you want him to be in charge of a billion dollar business?


The key to understanding Jackson’s dysfunctional effect on organizations is to see the obvious.  Look at his relationships with co-workers.  They don’t work.  Look at his relationship with “his” players.  They don’t improve their skills, they play inspired basketball at times.  Great for Green who had impeccable coaching in college.  But how about Bazemore and Barnes who very much-needed to understand the game to improve their many natural skills. They got worse under Jackson not better.  Bazemore should have grown into a fine bench player and Barnes should be a rising star.  Hopefully his confidence has not been shattered to the point where he will not reach his full potential.  But the handling of Barne’s growth was in and of itself reason enough to fire Jackson.  Now the Warrior forums are filled with Jackson supporters who are blaming Barnes for not improving and calling for him to be traded.  Trading him now while his value has been crushed by bad coaching is a very bad way to run an organization.  Trading Green who is at the zenith of his value is a much better option if one has to be moved to get Kevin Love.


Jackson will always have followers.  Preaching is perfect for his personality type, he can speak with the Authority of God and who is going to dare argue?  But is he the kind of guy you want to build an organization of people determined to work together to achieve a common goal?


No.  Because his goal of consolidating and maintaining his power base will always be more important to him that the goal of the group.  That is why he was fired.  The owners may have not analyzed the situation exactly this way, but, intuitively they knew he just did not fit, they knew why and they knew what to do about it.



Taking Down First Take: Jim Brown Really?

Taking Down First Take:  Jim Brown Really?


ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made it clear he was “deeply offended” by Jim Brown’s comment on TV that he would not have called Kobe Bryant and other top black athletes of today to the superstar group in the 60’s that listened to (and supported) Ali’s reasons about why he would not fight in Viet Nam.  Stephen A. Smith made it clear that he could not question the integrity or political opinions of the best living football player, Jim Brown, though he disagreed with what Jim Brown said.  In ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s opinion despite his brands Kobe would have showed.  Stephen A. Smith did make the point that it would be extremely risky for multimillionaire Kobe Bryant to speak out on anything political because of his brands.


Brown was never reluctant to speak out for social justice.  He put what was right before his career, before his “brand”.  Yet, Brown still is revered not just as a great football player but respected as a great man.


Brown pointed out that the group of athletes (and others) that came together in Cleveland Ohio to support Muhammad Ali  (Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mayor Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten) would not have included many of today’s top black athletes.  These people came together not to support a racial idea or for racial reasons, but to support Ali’s refusal to fight in Viet Nam.


Brown just stated the obvious.  Today’s black athletes represent major brands and the money they make from the brands is more important to them than social issues.  Michael Jordan is the king of the brands.  He even refused to support a democrat against noted racist Jesse Helms because:  “Republicans buy tennis shoes too.”


Four wars have gone down in the era of the Generation X athletes, the Michael Jordan era in the NBA, and I can’t remember one superstar speaking out against any of the wars.  Even though they are multimillionaires and in reality have nothing at risk because they and their family are financially set for generations they said nothing about the first and second gulf wars, the Afghanistan invasion and proposed 25 year occupation and the Drone War which is an unconstitutional and impeachable war waged largely in Yemen and other mid eastern countries.  Name one athlete who has uttered a word about this?  Or should a say tweeted?  They are a pathetic generation dedicated to themselves.


Two days later ESPN in defense of their brands which are the same that support the athletes did another hit piece on Jim Brown.  On the 30 for 30 show “Youngstown Boys” that profiled Maurice Clarett, the Ohio State star who faded away for incomprehensible reasons and never reached his potential as a runner, out of nowhere blamed Jim Brown’s statements about the racial prejudice behind the sordid affair, as the cause of Clarett’s fall from grace and the subsequent loss of his chance at a professional career.  This subtle dig at Brown furthered their agenda to promote today’s brand driven athletes over the political, economic and social justice fighters that were the generation behind them.  By lowering Brown’s status Jordan’s and Kobe’s multimillion dollar ads were wiped clean of the blemish of social irresponsibility and the stains of selfishness that these athlete’s embody.  As the two Americas grow further apart wealthy black athletes (who through their ability can make the leap from the impoverished, invisible part of America to the Goldman Sachs, Barack Obama and Corporate CEO America where you fly on private planes, land in private air terminals, travel by limousine and live in gated communities where never a discouraging word is heard) are now part of the establishment, the military industrial complex, the security state and have little use for the rest of the 99%.  Yes they need them to see their games, and buy their crappy 400 dollar tennis shoes, but speak out for higher taxes, a better schools system, health care for all, a higher minimum wage, never gonna happen.  Very few people can make the leap from poverty to the ruling class like black athletes.  Social climbing in America has stopped.  It is virtually impossible to move up in class.  In the 60’s that leap did not blind them to reality, today with the death of the fairness act and very little actual news anywhere, opinions taking the place of facts and little to no liberal voices on the public stage, it is very easy to hide and “protect my brands” as so many do.  Pathetic.  Also I want to point out that these athletes gathered to support opposition to the Viet Nam war.  The media has done a great job of painting Martin Luther King as a Black rights activist.  Most people today would have no clue that he connected the dots and opposed the Viet Nam war for the same reasons that he fought for social justice.  Today’s superstars probably don’t even know their is a relationship between the two issues.  So good job Stephen A. Smith your brands are safe.


Take Down, Rethinking First Take: Football Helmets and Concussions

Taking Down First Take:  Football Helmets and Concussions

20 years ago I saw Webster Slaughter run out-of-bounds.  He was a small wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns.  A defensive back hit him out-of-bounds by diving at him.  He just caught the edge of his elbow with the crown of his helmet.  The play was over yet Slaughter received a season ending injury.  Slaughter had his arm broken as a result of the impact of the hard helmet on his elbow.

Immediately I asked myself why football helmets were made of hard plastic?  Other than looking good, it made no sense.  Hard plastic makes costly injuries inevitable.  Had the helmet been padded on the outside it would not have caused the injury.

The hard helmets caused savvy coaches to teach defensive players to tackle by placing their helmet on the ball.  Since heads tend to be inside helmets, what these coaches were saying was use your head like battering ram to dislodge the ball and bring down the ball carrier.  Once you get the idea to use your head as a battering ram don’t concussions become inevitable?

Skip Bayless remarked that football players know what they are getting into.  So they should not be compensated for their injuries.  That was the implication of his thought.  His view is that the players prior to the studies on football and concussions deserve compensation but not the current players.  This is actually contrary to law.  Football players are employees and subject to the Worker’s Compensation laws in the state that they play football in.  Of course the owner’s are quite willing to out source the costs of managing chronic degenerative brain diseases to either their insurance companies, the player’s union, the families or the states.  However, the law says they are responsible.

According to the law they are completely, that is 100%, responsible for the costs of treatment and disability caused by injuries in their work place.  The football field is where these guys work.  Any injuries are fully compensated by law.  Both disability and treatment are covered.  It is the law Skip.  If the NFL has deceived them they can file law suits for further damages.  The NFL has an obligation to make the work place safe.

So an important question is how these injuries can be prevented.  Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, first a few sensible rules would decrease the amount and severity of head injuries.  Then studying the issue with money supplied by the NFL and major colleges would examine the nature of the injuries, how many blows to the head a brain can take before it shows signs of damage and how much rest is needed when mild to moderate concussions occur.

Then the engineering of the helmet must change.  Helmets are designed to protect the skull.  This is well and good, but the brain is a much more sensitive organ than the bone of the skull.  For those that might not know, the brain floats in a closed bowl (the skull) filled with a fluid.  It moves independently of the skull.  Concussions occur from the counter coup phenomena in football like in whiplash.  The brain has momentum, the skull stops, the brain bangs into one side of the skull and then bounces into the opposite side.  Thus both sides of the brain receive injuries.

Just looking at the helmet I am guessing that 2 inches of padding on the top with a hard surface underneath that disperses force throughout the helmet would be a start.  Shoe companies and car companies have spent lots of time looking at how to disperse stress from impact.  Their technology applied to the helmet with further research might provide a much safer piece of equipment.

Putting the skull in a kind suspension that created a cushion of air or fluid between the hard surface and the skull also seems logical.  This would mirror the construction of the skull and brain.

Obviously this is an area that can be studied and certainly the football teams of major universities generate enough cash to fund lots of research.

The two points I am making here is that first Skip is wrong about players “knowing what they are getting into” and second the current helmet technology is totally inadequate and can be improved.

A few sensible rule changes would be:  no tackling by putting the head on the ball, thus this would end the battering of runners by the defense trying to force a fumble.  Fumbles should only occur in the open field or during the initial hit.  Holding the runner up while other players batter him to force of fumble just encourages injuries, is very boring and cheapens the game.

Current helmets do not prevent concussions.  That seems to be the consensus of researchers.  However, that is because they are designed wrong.  Work on football helmets will benefit bicycling and other sports.  It seems like an idea waiting to hatch.  Finally how about putting sensors inside the helmet to measure the forces involved?  It is not that hard.

Take Down: Rethinking First Take Kidd, Tomlin and Jackson



Why the Cheating of Jason Kidd and Mike Tomlin Is A Big Deal Not Just Boys Being Boys


When Skip Bayless points out that Jason Kidd can’t coach S A Smith responds he is not a coach he is the face of the franchise. So his obvious lack of coaching expertise is inconsequential and he should be given time to learn the job?  But the problem there is the Nets have a one or maybe two-year window to win with a group of aging veterans.  So why would you take time to instruct Jason Kidd to coach if you own the team?  That is something only the owners can answer.

Kidd’s childish spilling of soda pop on the floor to stop the game and his gleeful remark about how he was never good with the ball show his disrespect for not just the game, but all the players on the fringe trying to make it.  And all people in this society who are playing by the rules and getting further behind everyday. That is why this is such a bid deal.  Kidd already has it made.  He probably made more money at Berkeley as a Freshman than most people earn in a lifetime.  He has been making tens of million of dollars for twenty years.  He is wealthy.  And like most wealthy people he now believes that the rules just don’t apply to him.  The 50,000 fine to him is pocket change.  He could drop that at lunch in a poker game and not think twice.

He has led a life of entitlement due to his skill with the basketball.  He went to the best high school in California, one of the best colleges, even though he could not pass the SATs, and walked a way from car accident and likely DUI which would be a felony for anyone else.

So he is entitled to cheat just for laughs.  Same with Mike Tomlin.  One set of rules for the rich and another for the poor.  Trickle down economics and trickle down justice.


That is the message that he and Mike Tomlin are sending.  They along with the CEOs from Goldman Sachs, Citibank, the Tobacco and Oil companies (among others) don’t need to play by any rules, those are for the 40% of Americans who have less in total than the 5 Walton’s who own Wal-Mart. And the other 59% of middle class Americans who have seen their incomes decline from thirty years of Reaganomics.  But not for the wealthy 1%.

That is what is so frustrating about Skip and Stephen A.. They just don’t connect the dots.  They are Gen Xers not children of the 60s and don’t see how the dots of injustice connect and how the web of economic injustice spins through all facets of society.  This was a great teaching moment that neither understood.

As far as coaching ability goes why Jason Kidd?  And why Mark Jackson?  Jackson is a pompous blow hard who is always selling.  He was part of the NBA national broadcast crew and is immune from criticism from them.  But the reality is he stumbled into the playoffs last year, and caught a break when David Lee was injured.  Putting Barnes at the 4 gave the Warriors the athleticism to defeat Karl’s collection of NBA role players that he miraculously coached to a home court advantage in the play offs.  If David Lee was not injured the Warriors would have never beaten the Nuggets.  But Jackson was forced to use Barnes at the four at the team blossomed.  They came with a hair of beating San Antonio.  If it weren’t for the horrendous coaching of Mark Jackson they might have.









Take Down: Rethinking First Take

The Cleveland Browns fans have to be in shock because of the double barreled shot gun fired by the kings of sports blather at the rabid fans of the forlorn Cleveland Browns.  First came a so called list of all time great quarterbacks proffered by the twins of twitter that did not include arguably the best player in football history:  Otto Graham.

Skip Bayless argues that the quarterback position is the most important in football.  This is a sound argument, undoubtedly and unfortunately proved by the greatest living football player, Jim Brown.  Though Brown shined through nine seasons and totally dominated the league, the Browns won the championship only once.  Otto Graham on the other hand in the ten seasons from 1946-1955 played in the championship game all ten times and he won seven of those games.  That record compares only to the Bill Russell era in Basketball.  Had Otto known how good Jim Brown was going to be, Otto might have played another five or ten years and added several more championships to his legacy.  He and Brown together would have been virtually unstoppable. Otto Graham’s last game was a masterpiece.  He still had his legs and many good years ahead of him if he had wanted to play on.

Not only does Graham own seven of the coveted championship rings, he still has sole ownership of at least two NFL passing records.  Graham still holds the record for yards gained per pass (nine) despite the wide open offenses and overall increased emphasis on the passing game today.  He also has the highest winning percentage it total games among  quarterbacks, winning nearly 82% of the time.  His record in playoffs at 9-3 puts him at the top of the list for quarterbacks with more than 10 playoff appearances.

This gross over-site by the kings of blather will not be forgiven by Browns fans and woe unto them should they ever bring their show to the banks of Lake Erie.

The second attack was some kind of criticism of the great Bernie Kosar by Stephen A. Smith.  I could not really follow what he was complaining about but evidently the coach of the Rams got bent out of shape about something.  I watched the game afterwards and missed the kerfuffle.  It was totally uninteresting.  However, Bernie is one of the few color announcers to actually add something to the game.  Bill Walsh was also insightful but a little dour.  Bernie sees the play coming and explains the defense, tells you what the quarterback should see and do.  Name one other announcer who does this.  Madden was entertaining but insightful?…I don’t think so. Bernie is both.

So Skip and Stephen ease off on Bernie, check out the Brown’s broadcasts, and watch some black and whites of Otto Graham.  You might learn something.