Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend Hangover - Love/Hate - Defending Isiah?!?


- Knicks fans are up in arms about the return of Isiah Thomas to the front office as a special consultant. Knicks fans have been calling into talk shows and bragging about how they are canceling their season tickets with the return of Thomas, and are quoting George Costanza: “It’s like an onion, the more layers you peel, the more it stinks!” While Thomas does have an impressive track record as the “Bizarro World” King Tut – everything he touches turns into a turd instead of gold – the Indiana Pacers, the CBA, the Knicks and now Florida International U. Yet I actually think there is a value to having Thomas return to the Knicks. During the recruitment of this summer’s free agent class, it was obvious who the biggest winners were – those teams where the owners, presidents, or GMs could flash championship bling at the young players. Riley was able to convince Prince James and Chris Bosh to bring their talents to South Beach. Jerry Reinsdorf and his Jordan-fueled rings were able to get Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. And the Lakers were able to add Kevin Martin and resign Derek Fisher based on the recruiting of Kobe and Phil Jackson.

The Knicks were going into the meetings with these free agents with an aging Donnie Walsh (who never won a championship with the Pacers), James Dolan (who has a reputation as a bumbling fool) and Allan Houston (a solid player that couldn’t get a ring with the Knicks). None of those people could inspire today’s young free agents that they know what it takes to win an NBA championship.

Thomas does that. Thomas has credibility with the players because he was an amazing player and he has the hand jewelry to prove that he knows what it takes to win it all. As long as Walsh and Houston control the personnel decisions, the Knicks can benefit from having Isiah as an ambassador for the team when they recruit Carmelo Anthony next summer.

- Loved having football back on television on Sunday night – even if it was pre-season. But the football highlights of the weekend were the Hall of Fame speeches. I didn’t see all of them, but my personal favorite was Emmitt Smith. Emmitt was a trainwreck when ESPN put him on the air with no training, leading to classic comments like being “blowed up” among many other lowlights. So I was ready for the Hall speech to be off the charts in unintentional comedy. Yet the NFL’s all-time leading rusher was tremendous, sounding smooth, confident and emotional. And his thanking of Darryl Johnston was awesome. Well done, Emmitt.


- Fans who think that because Lance Armstrong raised money for a good cause, he can’t be a cheater and a bad person. Whether or not he took steroids does not take away from his remarkable drive and determination to beat cancer. What it does change is that he cheated to be successful at his sport – just like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Raphael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jose Conseco and many, many more athletes. Combined with the stories about how he was kind of a prick in his break up with Sheryl Crow, you realize that despite his humanitarian efforts to raise money for cancer research, he has some ugly traits – just like all those other cheaters. Keep them separated – praise him for raising money for a good cause and for being driven enough to recover and inspire others, but be realistic and realize that it is becoming overwhelming evidence that he didn’t win all of those Tour de France races on simple sweat effort.

- What is the deal with the Tampa Bay Rays? They have the second-best record in all of baseball but they seem to put it on cruise control for random games. They have been no-hit twice this year, thrown a no-hitter themselves (Matt Garza) and then they were completely dominated by Brandon Morrow yesterday. Morrow was one out from a perfect game and struck out 17 Rays along the way. So why do the Rays forget to show up every couple weeks and will that be a problem in the playoffs? Probably not, but they have the potential to be less reliable than a story from Jen Sterger about Brett Favre’s texting habits.

- It was a tough weekend for Tigger on the golf course, shooting the worst final round he has ever shot, 77 and finishing in 78th place at 18 over par. Ouch. I’ll leave it to the gold experts to determine how much of his problems are physical and how much are mental, but there is no doubt that he has completely lost his mojo. Maybe he is simply stressed because Mistress #1, Rachel Uchitel had to check herself into rehab again this weekend.

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