Congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks for persevering to win the NCAA championship last night. Today, everyone has been concentrating on the missed Memphis Tiger free-throws, and well, they should. No, the game wasn’t exactly lost or won on a single play…..they rarely are. But it seems like we are conditioned to pick out the most egregious mistake and focus on it like it’s our one and only. But aside from this season, Memphis has had a tumultuous relationship with the free-throw line in the past.
Let me take you back to March 12, 2005. Memphis, with a record of 16-14 entering the Conference USA tournament, won three straight games (against Saint Louis, Charlotte and USF) to set up a championship match against 28-4 Louisville. Before the CUSA tournament began, Memphis had no chance of making the Big Dance and was probably going to come up short of the NIT as well.
The championship game against Louisville was hard-fought and down to the wire. Of course, free-throw shooting was crucial for both teams. With 6.7 seconds left, Louisville’s Brad Gianiny knocked down only 1 of 2 FTs, giving the Cardinals a 2-point lead, 75-73. Memphis had plenty of time to push the ball the length of the court for a basket, and they did…..to the horror of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, Memphis’ Darius Washington Jr. was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer at the buzzer. How could Pitino’s star player, Francisco Garcia, do such a thing?
Zeros on the clock, down two, three free-throws: Make two, you go to purgatory. Make three, you lead your team to the glory of the NCAA tournament. Miss two, and your team starts packing for the NIT. Was there more pressure on Washington’s FTs than on the FTs in last night’s game? I would say so. Yes, I’ll concur, there is much more on the line in a national championship game than a conference championship game — that’s an obvious distinction. However, last night’s outcome did not solely rest on FTs. Mario Chalmers hit a helluva shot and the Jayhawks fought tooth and nail back into the game. Against Louisville in ’05, the weight of his entire team, his coaches, his family, the Memphis Tiger fan nation, rested on the shoulders of Darius Washington, Jr.
A freshman all alone on the free-throw line. The first one easily went through the net, leading to dances of rejoice from Washington’s teammates. The second one would clang off the front of the rim and fall to side. Uh oh. The third….would miss in the same exact manner as the second. In defeat, the freshman Washington collapsed to the floor. “Somebody’s gotta help that kid up.” Calipari was the first one to do so, as he was the first one to nobly take the blame last night. Unfortunately, John can’t be on the court shooting for his players.
In the land of the just….in my opinion, Washington traveled before he even attempted the 3-pointer. You can judge for yourself with this YouTube clip. If only a free-throw lesson was learned for John Calipari and his Memphis Tigers two years ago……In reality, it’s American basketball as a whole which would benefit from such a lesson.
By the way….One Shining Moment: it’s a classic highlight package from CBS, but the song by David Barrett is starting to wear thin on me. In fact, I never really liked it in the first place. Last night, my experiment was to put the TV on mute and play Common’s ‘Be (the intro)’ leading into ‘Go’ — and it actually worked (notwithstanding proper timing of clips to beats). NCAA blasphemy? Who cares. One Shining Moment is more cheesy and out-of-date than it is entertaining. Of course, if CBS attempted to ‘hip-hop’ the tournament culminating montage, they’d probably choose something even more cotton-candy like Justin Timberland and 50 Cent.
Now for some links of the sports world….some of these are recent, some are months old, but they are all truthfully recommended:
>> Have you ever read HoopsHype? I hope you don’t call yourself a fan of basketball if you haven’t. Well, read this Wall Street Journal story about a website, HoopsHype.com, run by three stripped-shirt wearing dudes from Spain, Spaniards, (one doesn’t like basketball, one created the site from a basement 125 miles north of Madrid, and one is just there). HoopsHype.com has become required reading for NBA executives and NBA agents alike.
- The sister of Miami Heat owner, Micky Arison (Carnival cruise ships), is the richest person in Israel.
- The owner of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Cohan, is in a lot of trouble with the IRS.
- Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos is the king of the skeevy Multi-Level- Marketing world.
- Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls owner, made a lot of money off an IRS tax loophole which was later closed.
- The owner of the Houston Rockets, a guy named Leslie, last name Alexander, hates meat.
- The divorce of Bobcats owner, Bob Johnson (BET), made his former wife the second richest woman in America next to Oprah.
>> If we are starting an All-Shyster-Team, I’m not sure who I’d draft first, William Wesley [via True Hoop] or the Pump Brothers. Essentially, both contingents are po
werful people in the world of basketball. What exactly they do? No one really knows….except that they know major players and can “get things done” — enough to raise my suspicion. My best guesstimate: White Collar Hustlers.
Pump Brothers Resume:
- Involved with AAU ball since age of 16 (and we all know how much a money hustle AAU ball can be).
- Ran teams that got paid in upwards of 25K to play colleges in exhibition games — essentially, additional paid recruiting for college coaches (In 2004, the NCAA banned non-collegiate teams from playing in exhibitions).
- Association with Jim Harrick.
- A steady source of income through “involvement” with big-game tickets.
William Wesley Resume:
- Has the NCAA asking schools about him.
- A ringing endorsement from Michael Irvin: “What Paris Hilton has done in Hollywood, Wes has done in the sports world.”
- For some reason, Wesley was in Memphis’ post game handshake line against Tennessee this year.
- Got his first break from Rick Mahorn.
Read the articles and you be the judge. Maybe the Pump Brothers and William Wesley are simply Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen all rolled into one (a case study for Malcolm Gladwell). Not sure who I’d pick first in the shyster draft, but William Wesley is the guy whom I would most want in my corner. And hey, David Stern kinda has Worldwide Wes’ back. [True Hoop]
>> Who is Kobe dissing more: Puff Daddy P. Diddy Diddy….or Ronnie Artest?
Kings collar victory over Lakers [Sam Amick, sacbee.com]
“Kobe popped his collar in Sacramento, and the Kings’ fans weren’t too happy, so the best thing was to have a chance to pop it back,” said Artest.
“He’s got to get his own material,” Bryant said. “Don’t be (rapper) Puff Daddy and sample every song. You’ve got to create your own music sometimes.”
>> I’ve always been curious to see this happen with those “professional” trampoline jumpers at basketball games. I’ve also been curious as to how the NBA gets away with letting fans try…..they never know to jump off two feet, at least in the experiences I’ve witnessed at Washington Wizards games.
>> Along those lines, The 22 Worst Dunks Ever [on 205th]
>> When walking through the ticket scalpers around the Verizon Center, I often feel as if I were walking through Hamsterdam (you gotta watch HBO’s The Wire to know what that means). This sad story about a Milwaukee ticket scalper who keeps bobble-heads in his garage is nothing like that. Then again, maybe he’s the white Bubs of the ticket scalping world.
>> A kinder, gentler Peter Vescey?….he speaks out on Dennis Johnson not making it to the Basketball Hall of Fame….again. Yet, Vescey doesn’t take the time to rip into Dick Vitale. What gives? [NY Post]
>> Calling foul on those who said the NBA would increase crime [NewsOK.com]
Clearly a case of the vocal ignorant being the unsilent minority. Oklahoma City has more than shown the ability to support an NBA franchise; I just hope it’s not the Hornets or Sonics.
>> Bobby Knight on increasing the NBA age minimum, sort of…
“This is college basketball, and to keep it college basketball somehow the NCAA has got to do away with one-year players,” Knight said after mention of the USC-Kansas State game. “All you have to do is pass six hours the first semester and you can play right through the NCAA tournament. That’s not what college basketball should be, and the NCAA should be just ripped apart for allowing that to happen.” [LA Times]
>> Old man gets hit by bat (and it’s not in the crotch) [MachoChip]
>> Allen Iverson can dribble a pig-skin [YouTube]
>> Simon on Sports presents great athletic BJs. How curious are you to click on the link?
>> Here’s to staying classy up at Penn State [Epic Carnival]