If the refs at the UCLA game on Thursday had been working the 1983 NCAA championship game, Lorenzo Charles would have been called for goaltending, and Jim Valvano would be nothing but an afterthought.
For all the questions and skepticism of the hiring of Steve Alford as UCLA basketball coach, I will never forget the tears of pride he displayed while watching his two sons celebrate their team's improbable victory over SMU. We all tend to forget that moments like these are what makes college sports truly magical. A father's beaming pride, a brother's camaraderie, a team's shared jubilation....
I am truly amused by the furor in the national sports media over UCLA's selection into the NCAA tournament. Yes, they were a bubble team by virtue of their number of losses, but to say that a 20-win team in a major conference should have not even been considered for the tournament is ridiculous. If the Bruins had played the soft nonconference schedule of most teams instead of playing tournament seeds No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 3 Oklahoma, and No. 4 North Carolina, their record probably would be 24-9, and CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb's blood pressure could be 50 points lower.
Did UCLA deserve to be selected for the tournament? Probably not. Was it goaltending? Probably not. Is there still bias for Eastern schools and jealousy of UCLA's history from college analysts? Probably. Do the four letters UCLA still represent the greatest college program ever? Definitely.
Chris Dufresne [March 18] confuses symptoms with illness. Previous tinkering with defensive rules have much more to do with lower scores than an overemphasis on defense, or Kevin O'Neill's laughable quote that defense is easier to teach. Compare today's game, where every defender in the paint is mugging the man he is guarding, with the game when defense had to be played without constant wrestling moves. Bring back what at one time were viewed as U.S. defensive rules, as opposed to international defensive rules, and the game would be much more watchable.
Pro hockey will eventually figure out that its popularity would improve if the fighting were reduced, and college basketball needs to recognize the same thing with regard to the assault that occurs near the basket in the name of defense in today's game.
La Habra Heights
Maybe if they went back to playing tackle football instead of hit football, Chris Borland would reconsider retiring. I had an L.A. Rams season ticket for 25 years. They tackled each other then, grabbing the waist or legs of the guy with the ball. Oh, Deacon Jones would give his blocker a couple of slaps to the head of the guy blocking him, but the quarterback could expect to get up after the Fearsome Foursome hit him. Today's so-called tackler has become a flying missile propelled by speed and blunt force to his opponent's upper body.
Borland has brains and cares not to lose them.
To the Dodgers, TWC, DirecTV, Verizon, Charter, and all the rest.
Thanks for clarifying the meaning of our team, the Dodgers. They're really not our team. They're your team. You guys paid billions for them, so you could get billions for broadcast rights. Nice job, big money, congrats. But nothing in the deal guaranteed they be broadcast? Did you even think about that?
The Dodgers are yours too, TWC, and you're holding them for ransom. As to the rest of the companies in this puzzle, I don't blame you for not knuckling to TWC's demands. But you're the problem too, beneficiaries of the bundling and packaging of channels and the money we pay mostly for stuff we don't want.
So thanks for reminding us about what our team is.
If you care enough about your fan base, Dodgers, join the discussion. How does this affect your brand? Offer to take less money so that deals could be worked out. TWC, jump right in, show you have some class. Sports fans are willing to pay respectable amounts to see their team/teams, especially if they're not getting socked to pay for other stuff they don't care about.
I was reminded last week, when the FCC announced it will delay its review of the Comcast-Time Warner merger, of when Orel Hershiser was asked in January his opinion of the stalemate and he said, "It's a government issue, not a Dodger issue."
Think again, Orel.
Great article on Jonathan Quick [March 18]. How many great regular-season goalies have there been that could not keep up the effort needed to carry their teams through the Cup and wilted after a round or two? Whoever said the Kings made the Finals "in spite of" Quick must not have ever watched the Kings. I don't think the likes of Jamie Storr or Jason LaBarbera would have carried the Kings through the playoffs. Stats alone don't tell the story.
When people remember the great goalies of the previous generation, they remember Roy/Brodeur/Hasek. The next generation will remember Quick.
Serena Williams speaks of forgiveness in coming back to Indian Wells. What she should really be doing is giving a much-belated apology. I drove all the way from L.A. to Indian Wells to see that Saturday evening match as did thousands of others. After paying for parking and taking my $50 seat, we were told that no match would be taking place because Venus had tendinitis in her knee. Neither Venus nor Serena came to the court to offer any explanation or apology, which I have seen many times by more responsible players at other tournaments, including Andre Agassi at the U.S. Open. There is never any mention that Venus won the Lipton tournament two weeks later.
The crowd's reaction the next day at the Indian Wells final was blamed by the Williams family on racism, but this was purely about sportsmanship, and I am tired of hearing Serena say that there was any other reason. I sat in a crowd of both black and white spectators all booing with equal intensity.
I never met Joe McDonnell. But I always felt as if I knew him. He was without a doubt a true radio legend in "sports talk" in this city. He was funny, opinionated and always well informed. I followed his career from the beginning, when he did sports reports for another Los Angeles radio legend, Sweet Dick Whittington at KGIL in 1975. His career had its ups and downs, but Big Joe never compromised his beliefs or opinions. He was always the best-informed person on the radio. No wonder players, coaches, executives and fans all called him friend. The inane banter that now passes for sports talk, with few exceptions, pales in comparison to Joe McDonnell.
Rest in peace, Big Joe.
It's very sad to see a guy like Jack Haley pass away in the prime of his life. Haley was never the most talented fellow on a basketball court, but he made up for it with sheer tenacity and determination. Without the benefit of a shooting touch, Haley lasted nine years in the NBA by outhustling and outworking his competitors. He gained some attention as the only player in the league who could communicate with Dennis Rodman, but Haley never let that define him. He was Rodman's friend and that was it. Haley lived life to the fullest in the 51 short years given to him. He deserved more.
I'm not sure why there's been a lot of discussion about who should have the next statue at Staples Center when it's pretty much a no-brainer. You have one of the most dominant players in the history of basketball. Probably the greatest center to ever play the sport. Multiple titles in the U.S. and internationally, multiple MVPs. Yeah, it's a no-brainer. The only real question is where Lisa Leslie's statue should go.
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