Weekly sports ramblings - March 20, 2009
Welcome, everybody, to my weekly-online sports column where I will be discussing and commenting on the past week(s) of sports news. I’ll be commenting mostly on Michigan sports but also on the National level.
It’s March, the weather is finally starting to come around; and St. Patty’s Day came and went without one single fatality in Michigan (quite an accomplishment of responsibility at its best if you ask me). That can only mean a few things. March Madness is here; Opening Day is almost here; and the NHL isn’t far from the playoffs.
It also means the NBA playoffs are coming soon, but I’m not that interested. For that matter nobody seems very interested in the NBA this year. Sure I follow the highlights and catch parts of the ‘Stones when they’re on, but I don’t make it a point like usual to catch the game. The NBA is falling faster than (insert your own cliché simile; I’m not feeling very creative so I’ll let you do it). Ticket sales are down, revenue is down, and most of all, ratings are down. Can’t say I’m surprised. David Stern gets all the credit in the world for making the NBA the great league that it is; but in my opinion he makes just as many awful moves as he does good moves. For instance, dress code=good move. Replacing the leather ball at the request of PETA (which only lasted half a season)=bad move.
It just seems to me, Stern is all about self-promotion and whenever somebody criticizes him, he comes back with a smug response or a fine. The main problem with the NBA isn’t his fault directly, but his refusal for reform is where I think his biggest mistake is…officiating. For far too long, the NBAs officiating has been too inconsistent. Games down the stretch, especially in the last minute of a game is anybody’s guess as to how a game will be called. Sometimes you’ll get a last second drive where a point guard flies down the lane and gets hacked by two or three guys with no call. I can understand a no-call on a really close call, but when you get somebody winding up on the floor under a pile, there should probably be a call. For that matter, when somebody tries to argue a call, they get T-ed up almost instantly. A lot of times, it’s not a problem and the right calls are made, but far too many times a game is decided by a horrible call.
Last week the Pistons lost a game against the Grizzlies by five or six points because of two obviously blown calls. It started when former Piston Darko Milicic tried to save a ball going out of bounds and when he grabbed it, his feet were clearly out of bounds and Kwame Brown stood there pointing as if he couldn’t believe the whistle hadn’t blown. The Grizzlies turned around and scored putting Detroit behind by four instead of two. The next trip down with only like 15 seconds remaining, a rebound was tipped back out to the three-point line where a Grizzly guard had Arron Afflalo boxed out. The ball, on the tip, went over the Grizzly guard’s head, at which time he and tried to keep backing up, completely plowing Afflalo and himself to the floor five feet behind where both players had established position, Afflalo’s being the position in back, in which anything behind him should have been called at the Grizzly guards expense. But instead, Afflalo was called for over the back, which sent a look of complete disbelief over his face as he lie on the ground wondering how that could possibly be. Of course, he couldn’t argue the call. He would have been T-ed up and after that point, the Pistons were down four with just under five seconds remaining, no point to argue. An absolute train wreck of officiating. Of course, the instance was never brought up, and never will be brought up, because if anybody in the Pistons organization did say something about it, they’d be fined.
For this reason, I hate the NBA and David Stern; and apparently, so is everyone else. How can argue that at a time when the NBA has its biggest multitude of talent since the Jordan, Bird, Thomas, Magic era, is the NBA becoming less and less popular? You can’t. For Heaven’s sake, you have the biggest phenomenon in all of sports, LeBron, and people aren’t flocking anymore. Something has to give and I believe the horrendous officiating and Stern’s ignorance to grab hold of the situation is why fans are collectively turning the station.
Has anybody noticed Duke continually gets “home” games for the NCAA tournament? Two out of the last three years, I believe, Duke has played the first round in North Carolina. It’s not a big deal, but it does make me wonder. I picked a big upset this year, Duke, 2-seed, losing to a 15-seed, only to find out Duke was playing in Greensboro. Not that they couldn’t have won by 20 in California, but it kind of eliminates the 2-percent chance I had for an upset playing an hour away from Duke campus.
Enough complaining. Michigan has been a point of interest for me the last several years as I’ve followed the team during its years of turmoil amidst scandal after scandal. I loved the move to bring in Beilein from West Virginia last year. He has a good track record of turning a program around. Just look at WV. They weren’t constant tournament contenders in the early 90s.
Now he has Michigan in the round of 32 after a big win over 7-seed Clemson. They’ll play Oklahoma on Saturday, a game they’ll most likely lose. Michigan is a team with loads of athleticism and a couple of star-caliber players in Junior DeShawn Sims and Sophomore Manny Harris. The only problem with Michigan is their a collectively young team that has turned in some dud games throughout the season, although, they’ve also turned in some shockers with wins over Duke and UCLA and a close loss to UConn. That’s what makes them scary though. ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd has been talking up Michigan for the last week, calling them his dark horse to make a run in the tournament, although he hasn’t been specific as to how far he thinks they’ll go, only saying they could knock off a few teams. Oklahoma presents a challenge though as they have one of the top players in the nation in Blake Griffin. If they’re able to win Saturday, that’ll make up for 10-plus years of exile in my mind.
to be continued soon…check back for MSU and U of M results this weekend
John Fischer’s “Weekly Sports Ramblings” are his own personal opinions and do not express those of the Independent. He has his own personal Lions blog that can be seen by clicking here.