April 28th, 2014
So wait a second…..you mean to tell me you all just figured out that Donald Sterling is a racist? Where have you people been? I guess nobody was paying attention when he got sued in 2003 for racial discrimination, or 2006 for housing discrimination, or when Elgin Baylor sued him in 2010 and claimed he had a “plantation mentality”. It has amazed me that for over thirty years, the NBA never forced this guy out. Even more amazing is the fact that when David Stern knew all about this, he handed him Chris Paul, and created a suddenly marquee franchise for an owner that didn’t even deserve to have one. The blame starts with the NBA. Now, you “Clipper fans”, who are really Laker haters, look like morons for supporting this guy, while those of us that didn’t start watching the NBA yesterday knew better. Although I do feel for the Clipper players, in many ways, Chris Paul and Doc Rivers also had their heads in the sand when they decided to commit to a franchise whose owner had this well documented history. Now everyone is outraged at the alleged recording of Donald Sterling’s argument with his girlfriend. In case you haven’t heard it, here it is:
On the floor, the Clippers were a disaster yesterday. There’s no question the team just wasn’t focused on basketball when the game started. There was no defensive intensity, and the mere fact that Doc Rivers said before the game that he wasn’t sure what his future with the team would be if Sterling were still the owner, really told you where their focus was. This series was going to be tough enough to win without the Sterling distraction. Now they have to deal with it? I’m not even sure if the Clippers are going to have a real home court advantage come Tuesday night at Staples, if the fans are going to boycott going to the games. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding this team right now, its difficult to imagine them playing too much longer in the post season.
So what’s Adam Silver going to do now? At the very least he’s going to have to fine and suspend Sterling from his involvement with the team, but long term how can he make him sell the team? This isn’t a Frank McCourt situation, where Sterling doesn’t have the money to run the team. Still, keeping him around the Clippers would insure many fans won’t show up anymore, players and coaches won’t want to be there, and the franchise would be bombed back to hell. This is a pivotal point in Los Angeles Basketball history. If the Clippers end up with a new owner, it could further elevate them as a new elite NBA franchise, and further the gap between the Lakers and Clippers. However, if Sterling stays, we could see the Clippers quickly erode back into a the crummy franchise they were previously.
Meanwhile, according to several sources, the Lakers have internally decided that they are going to bring back Mike D’Antoni for the third year of his contract. D’Antoni is actually requesting that his 4th year team option already be guaranteed as well, to insure his success, which the Lakers are reluctant to do. By bringing D’Antoni back, the Lakers have insured that Pau Gasol will not re-sign, and that no real game changing free agents like Carmelo or Lebron will be signing with the team this summer, even if the chances were remote anyway. Mind you, the chances were remote the Lakers would end up with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Pau Gasol as well, and it happened. Jim Buss has already declared that he is on the clock to turn this team around, and gave himself three to four years to get it done. Why not get rid of D’Antoni now if you know he isn’t going to be the guy after next year? The Lakers are planning on being a lottery team next year, but when Lebron and Carmelo opt out of their contracts this summer, their front office is going to look stupid for not having a recruiting plan, and still having D’Antoni as their coach.
On to the NHL Playoffs, where I most certainly did not expect to be writing about the Kings getting ready for game 6 against the Sharks tonight. San Jose completely dictated the style of play in games 1 through 3. In the last two games, the Kings have turned the tables, and slowed down the pace of the game, playing their own physical style. The problem now is, the Sharks have discovered the Kings weakness: an inability to score against mediocre backup goaltenders. The Sharks will likely start Alex Stalock in game 6, since he has shut down the Kings so far in his relief appearances. Look, the Kings are mentally tough as hell, and this is a team to be proud of. However, LA has played a lot of playoff hockey the last 3 years, and it has taken its toll on them. The reality is, they’ll be shaking hands tonight at Staples Center, and their chances of winning this series are about as good as my chances of dating Kate Upton.
As for the Ducks, they had an amazing comeback last night in game 6 vs the Stars, which launched them into the 2nd round of the playoffs. With two minutes left in the third period, it looked like Anaheim was on their way to another game 7 at home, and another Bruce Boudreau choke job. Instead, Nick Bonino pulled the Ducks within one goal with 2:10 left, then Devante Smith-Pelly tied with 24 seconds left. In overtime, Bonino struck again, to clinch the series. There’s definitely moments where I question the Ducks coaching, grit, and mental toughness, but they sure are talented. The win is also huge, because it buys the Ducks an extra day or two of rest before they have to play the Sharks. Last year it was the Ducks who robbed us of a Kings vs Ducks 2nd round matchup. Unfortunately, it’s the Kings who will disappoint us this year. Here’s Bonino’s winner…
To baseball, where the Dodgers seem to be struggling against everyone other than the Diamondbacks and Padres. They lost 3 out of 4 to the Phillies, whose entire roster has an AARP card, then they dropped two out of three to the Rockies. The offense has been wildly inconsistent. Only three teams have struck out more times than the Dodgers, they haven’t been clutch with runners in scoring position, and they are very dependent on the long ball. Then there’s the defense, which has made appalling 23 errors in 25 games. The starting pitching has been phenomenal, and figures to get better when Clayton Kershaw gets back, but the back end of the bullpen has been shakier than a Malaysian airline. It’s early, and the Dodgers issues aren’t disastrous by any means, but they need to be careful, or else they could find themselves needing to make up ground in the NL West soon.
You know what I learned last night? No, not that the Angels bullpen sucks. We already knew that. It’s that Masahiro Tanaka isn’t that good. How good can he be when he’s giving up a home run to David Freeze? Despite getting crappy production at third base, things aren’t so bad for the Angels. They are third in the majors in runs scored, and 1st in home runs. Their starting pitchers have been decent too, giving them lots of innings. Relief pitchers are a dime a dozen, and as long as the Halos can stay in the race for a while, they may be able to find some bullpen arms at the deadline or in their farm system later in the season. At least it’s better than what we’ve seen to this point the last few seasons.
Bad news for UCLA basketball this weekend. Jordan Adams changes his mind more than a 16 year old girl, and he decided to enter the NBA draft. Now, the Bruins have lost arguably their 3 best players to the NBA in Adams, Kyle Anderson, and Zach Lavine. The irony of it is, if the Bruins really had that many NBA players on their roster, they probably would have gone further than the sweet 16. Get ready to see a lot more of Bryce Alford UCLA fans.
Game of Thrones returned last night for the 4th episode of the 4th season, called “Oathkeeper”. Spoiler alert for those of you who still haven’t seen in. To recap, Dany opens the episode by getting Grey-Worm to convince the slaves of Meereen to revolt against their masters. Once they are free and join forces with Dany, she then punishes all the masters by nailing them to crosses. She did so because the masters did this to numerous children. Jamie goes to visit Tyrion and realizes that he did not kill Joffrey. Tyrion also assures Jamie that Sansa could never kill anyone. We then learn that it was both Little Finger and Lady Olenna that plotted to kill Joffrey, done by placing a poison crystal from Sansa’s necklace in Joffrey’s wine. Cersei is angry with Jamie for visiting Tyrion and thinking he’s innocent, as well as not keeping closer watch over Tommen. Margery sneaks into Tommen’s room in the middle of the night to begin to build a secret bond with him. Jamie sends out Brienne to find Sansa and protect her, although Cersei wants her head. Jon recruits members of The Night’s Watch to go to Craster’s keep to get re-inforcements, but he has a hunch Bran is there too. He’s right, because Bran and his buddies were captured and held hostage there. Finally, in the last scene, a White Walker takes Craster’s baby, lays it on some ice and another White Walker picks it up. The White Walker touches the baby and its eyes turn blue.
This episode was much more interesting than the previous one. As I suspected, Lady Olenna was involved in the murder of King Joffrey, although I didn’t see Little Finger’s involvement coming. His motives still aren’t fully clear to anyone. I love the fact that Dany’s army is getting bigger, because she is getting that much closer to interacting with the people of Westeros. It figures that Jon and Bran will soon be re-united, or one of them will probably die, given the way the show goes. It’s amazing how slowly, Jamie Lannister is becoming a far more lik-able character than before. After he said goodbye to Brienne, I do wonder if at some point, the two of them will kindle some type of romance. That might have sounded crazy before, but not so much anymore. It’s amazing how all Margery cares about is being The Queen, and will do whatever she has to in order to have the throne. As for The White Walkers, they look scary, but they are so far north, I’m just not seeing where they will play a factor. Can they even survive in a warm climate?
Mad Men also returned last night for episode 3 of Season 7. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it. Let’s recap quickly. Don receives a phone call from Megan’s agent, about her frantic behavior in auditions, and immediately flies out to see her. Megan confronts him about why he’s still living in New York, and reverting to his “old ways”, but then Don admits he hasn’t been going to work. Megan kicks him out, and Don flies back to New York to meet with a rival agency. After getting a formal offer, he takes it back to Roger in his hotel room, who lets him have his job back. When Don arrives at work, it’s as awkward as can be. Nobody is prepared for his return, as Roger didn’t tell anyone. Everyone from Joan, to Peggy, to the rest of the partners are not comfortable with Don returning, but they agree to bring him back because it’s too expensive to let him go. They also give Don some humiliating terms upon his return: he reports to Lou, can’t be alone with clients, can’t drink outside of client meetings, and must stick to the script. He agrees. Meanwhile, Betty takes a field trip with Bobby, but is infuriated when he trades her sandwich away for some candy. Betty takes her anger to the dinner table after the field trip, and expresses her displeasure to her husband.
This was a great episode. What is Don thinking? Why would he take his old job back under such humiliating conditions, when he can just take a job in California and fix his problems with Megan? I’m sure Don’s competitiveness is driving him, and he believes that when it’s over, he will be back on top. Also, seeing Betty snap at Bobby has to be a reminder that you probably aren’t as bad a parent as you think, if you have kids. Betty once again, let’s her selfishness ruin the bonding opportunity with her son, and further damages their relationship. I felt like the theme of the episode was women not taking news well. Peggy and Joan hate the fact that Don is coming back, Megan handles her Hollywood rejections badly, and Betty just can’t seem to handle a simple bonding experience with her son. An entertaining episode, and looking forward to seeing more of season 7.