Monthly Archives: May 2020

Monday Morning Coffee

The Last Dance': Michael Jordan's 'flu game' turned out to be bad ...

May 25, 2020

We are a whole week after the ending of The Last Dance, and everybody is focused on “The Flu Game”, which is really now “The Bad Pizza Game”. These dudes had 23 years to come up with a story and all they could come up with is food poisoning? Jordan’s camp forgot that this is the social media era, and when the former manager of that Pizza Hut in Utah heard the story, he completely shot it down. There weren’t five guys that delivered the pizza, and it wasn’t tampered with. Also hard to believe MJ’s camp would allow that with his always tight security. Was it altitude sickness? Maybe. Did he smoke a couple of cigars and throw back a few drinks? That’s possible too. It’s hard for me to believe that he went out to some club or bar in Park City and partied. Although nothing would surprise me, I’m thinking a couple of cigars and a drink or two combined with altitude sickness made him ill. Either way, poor judgement by MJ’s camp in thinking nobody would call him out on this story. They should have just said he had the flu and that was it and people would have bought it. Can’t wait until the next Jordan Nike shoes come out. They’ll probably be called “The Bad Pizza 12’s”.

I love how everyone is talking about what other sports figures they want to see a Last Dance style documentary on. Look people, I know we’re desperate for sports content, but there is nobody I can think of that would warrant a documentary this long and in depth. Tom Brady’s last season with the Patriots and the truth behind their breakup would be interesting, but I don’t need to see 10-parts on it. Even Tiger Woods wouldn’t cut it, unless he had footage of all the babes he hooked up with on the road for a decade. This Lance Armstrong documentary might hold my attention for a little, but don’t even try to compare it to The Last Dance.

The Match: Champions for Charity was really good television yesterday. Tom Brady was hot early, and then ice cold late. Early on it looked like Brady learned how to deflate golf balls. However by the end it looked like nobody needed the beverage cart more than him. Good thing he quit before it started to impact his football legacy. I also love the trash talking that Peyton Manning did about who he would have as his caddie: “Do you bring Eli? You could do that. Do you bring Nick Foles? Maybe.” Even Sean Payton had this savage barb while watching it.

Look i’m definitely interested in “Blackballed”, and the Donald Sterling story from the players side. However, leave it to Steve Ballmer to stick it on some subscription only platform that nobody has ever heard of. I realize that there is a 14-day free subscription, but this is a significant story in the history of the league that needs to be told. Why stick it somewhere that nobody can see? Mind you, we are in the middle of a global pandemic where people are starving for entertainment, and Quibi isn’t even one of the 50 most downloaded apps.

Gavin Newsom clearly reads Jock Talk LA. Last week, after I criticized him for being overly cautious and not allowing sports to resume anytime soon, he is now saying pro sports teams can now resume activities without fans. Sports are going to come back, but they will look as different as Khloe Kardashian now looks. I’m not saying this is financially driven, but I am saying he suddenly changed his mind once the NBA, NHL, and MLB started talking about playing their games elsewhere than California. Apparently someone in Newsom’s office refreshed their Excel spreadsheet, and informed him there’s a $54 billion deficit, and over $100 million in taxes would have been coming from a full baseball season alone. Even more would have come from the NHL and NBA. Why do you think LA is suddenly bidding for NHL games even if they don’t involve the Kings? At this point, every little bit of revenue counts to get California out of debt.

Speaking of NHL games, they are farther ahead than anybody else in planning to get back to playing and finishing the season. These guys already have a union and owner approved playoff structure. It’s got 24 teams. Imagine being such a bad hockey team that in a season where 24 teams make the playoffs, you get left out. And you won 7 in a row before this decision was made! That’s the LA Kings folks. It’s probably not worth it anyway for the Kings to finish the regular season and get their older players hurt, while also risk damaging draft positioning. However, no matter how many good players the Kings draft, they badly need to fix their system and their culture.

Finally, while the NHL and NBA are quickly working their way towards a return to playing, the MLB can’t even get out of their own. Funny how a month ago we heard that MLB had a plan in place to get going. It turns out their players and owners can’t even agree on what to order for lunch, let alone how to shoulder the revenue losses that are going to occur. If they can’t agree on that they certainly won’t be agreeing on a structure for the season either. Not to mention that their league’s leadership is clueless. Rob Manfred is still probably trying to figure out how to turn his computer on after beginning his work from home stint.

Monday Morning Coffee

On this Date: MJ sinks jumper over Russell for 6th championship ...

May 18, 2020

The Last Dance concluded last night with the Final Two Episodes and it was an amazing ride. It’s sad it’s over, but wow did I enjoy that. The Flu Game was a lie! It was food poisoning all along! Makes sense since I wondered for all these years how he got better so fast for Game 6. “I ate the pizza, all by myself. Nobody else ate the pizza.” I’ve never felt so connected to MJ after that quote. I would have loved to see Rodman take off for WWE in the middle of the Finals during the social media era. I never knew about the Steve Kerr story, and the man deserves a documentary himself. His only flaw is that he actually named his son “Nick”. “Nick Kerr”. I have tremendous respect for him now. What did Michael write in his poem? “Roses are red, Violets are blue, hey Jerry, just wanted to say eff you.” Thank you to Michael Jordan and ESPN for giving us 5 great Sunday nights when we needed them most.

Speaking of the NBA, Adam Silver said last week that he plans on making a decision on whether or not to continue the season in the next 2-4 weeks. Getting ready for “The Decision: Commissioner Edition”. For those of you who are saying “just shut down the season” you are overlooking just how damaging it would be financially to the NBA. These NBA owners break out in a cold sweat when they have to pay a small luxury tax bill. You think they are going to be ok losing hundreds of millions in revenue for a lost season? I know you’re all going to say they are billionaires who can stomach the loss, but they don’t think that way. Most of the players want to play too because they want to get paid as well. You may just call this nothing more than millionaires and billionaires squabbling, but it’s really just a microcosm of what we’re all trying to decide right now: is being locked down and shutting down our lives worth the other damage that comes along with it? There’s really no right or wrong answer. Personally, I’d rather see them try and come up with an attempted solution as long as it’s safe, rather than just give up.

Congratulations to Martin Jarmond, who has been named the new Athletic Director at UCLA. The good news is that nobody knows who this guy is, he has no UCLA ties, and he’s had success as a fundraiser. The bad news is that he takes over for an Athletic Director who ran up a fat deficit like he was the CEO of Enron. As if that’s not challenging enough, he takes over a football and basketball program that can’t find a way to get fans to come to their games, in a conference that’s having it’s own issues (more on that in a moment). He also has a football coach who doesn’t really give a crap about his job or the team. This job is going to be so tough that it’s going to require a young, new, fresh thinker. Jarmond appears to have the makings of that.

Then there’s the challenges USC Football has to deal with. The noise is suddenly getting louder that USC and Alabama might not play on September 5th. We’re not even talking about a game in California. This game would be in Texas, but it doesn’t matter since there might not be any football for California schools come the fall in any situation. As if USC didn’t have enough problems with a football coach that has no idea what he’s doing, a pissed off fan base, and new University leadership that has football very low on on it’s list of priorities.

Let’s be honest, the PAC-12 looks like they are screwed right now, making the challenges even tougher for the USC and UCLA athletic programs. They have a useless PAC-12 TV network that nobody can watch, and who’s revenue is sinking faster than the S&P 500. That’s making it harder and harder to recruit, not just in football, but also for the historically elite basketball programs like UCLA and Arizona. Now the safety first approach of Governor Newsome may torpedo this conference for good. Newsome is unlikely to allow gatherings in the thousands at stadiums and arenas in California for at least a year. Pro sports might be able to deal with this, but college athletic programs can’t. Not because they can’t survive financially, but rather the fact they can’t compete against schools in states with more politically conservative governors. The entire SEC is going to ignore the coronavirus and gather in the thousands this fall for games. The SEC doesn’t even need any other conference to play football against. The Big 10 and Big 12 will have many schools that are more appealing to recruits in both basketball and football. It also doesn’t help that none of the PAC-12 AD’s are working together, and simply trying to find solutions on their own. I am genuinely concerned for the long-term viability of the conference, and if you are a fan of one of those schools, you should be too.

Finally, I’ve never understood why these Major League Baseball players can’t just have a little bit of self-awareness. This has been the case historically, and the latest one of these clueless players is Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays. Snell says that he’s got to get his money. This man just signed for $50 million. Funny how he’s saying he’s willing to play for his full $7 million salary, but it’s not worth it at $3.5 million, and suddenly not worth the health risk. I don’t begrudge anybody that makes a good living like Snell, and everyone rich or poor has financial obligations they need to meet. He even has a point that the owners should be bearing the financial brunt of a cancelled season, since the owners of any business should bear the fruits of good times and the brunt of bad times. However, 95% of Americans aren’t going to buy into what he’s complaining about during a pandemic. There’s 33 million people unemployed, and millions more trying to figure out how to pay their bills. Shut the hell up Blake Snell and let your Players Association do their job.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 11, 2020

Episodes 7 and 8 of The Last Dance went down last night on ESPN, and man was it good. Imagine someone telling Michael Jordan that the coronavirus said it was better than him. The coronavirus would be screwed. The sign that read “Legalize Kemp” might be the best thing on the show. “I’m back” is the greatest press release of all-time. MJ really can’t let anybody have a moment even 20+ years later. Gary Payton can’t have a couple of good games? BJ Armstrong can’t have one? A random dude from the Bullets can’t have a night? Jordan is still petty to this day! Funny thing about MJ getting mad at George Karl for not talking to him in the restaurant is that if Karl had talked to him in the restaurant he would have been mad about that too. I wish someone could have filmed MJ watching all 10 of these episodes because you can make a 10-part documentary out of that. This documentary has very few misses, but not having Jordan talking about crying on the floor after winning his 4th title because of his fathers’s death is one of them. I can’t believe Steve Kerr actually thanks MJ for punching him in the face, as if he cured the coronavirus. I get the feeling that when the NBA resumes, Lebron is going to start calling his teammates hoes and punching Kyle Kuzma in the face. This is powerful stuff though and you don’t have to agree with it, but you have to respect it.

This may sound outrageous, but the Rams need to take their new found cap space and sign Cam Newton. He’s a great insurance policy for Jared Goff, and so what if he plays well enough to win the job? It’s only going to give the Rams a better chance to win in their brand new stadium. Cam is going to have to accept a backup role and try to compete. He’s a nice lottery ticket for the Rams if he hits. Plus if nothing else, he’s going to provide the fashion bloggers in LA with some good content to write about after each and every Rams post game press conference.

The NFL schedule is out. According to a poll, after seeing their 2020 schedule, 99% of Cowboys fans believe they’ll go “at least” 19-0 this year. Meanwhile the Lions schedule leaked early and it revealed 2 moral victories, an accidental win in Week 8, and a win that ruins their draft position in Week 17. The schedule didn’t do the Rams any favors though. The beginning is brutal with two east coast games, and two more later on. Then they’ll have to deal with most of the brutal divisional games later on as well. It’s like the NFL decided to tell the Rams to go to hell because ultra left wing Gavin Newsome is the Governor of our state.

I had no idea that Pau Gasol still considered himself an active NBA player. In fact, Pau actually said recently that if the opportunity presented itself, he would like to finish his career with the Lakers. I know we often like to romanticize about the Lakers past. For years we wanted Phil Jackson to come back to the Lakers after he was done. We’ve always wanted Jerry West to come back for about 20 years. None of that was really a good idea. This is a little different. If there is an open roster spot next season, nothing would be better than having Pau in a mentoring role. It would be a great story to have his career come full circle. Paul is such a good guy how could you not want that. In fact, he’s such a nice guy that a few seasons ago he turned down a $40 million offer from the Lakers, which was way more than anybody else had put on the table.

Day 60 without basketball. I needed to watch Star Wars over the weekend to remind myself what a PG-13 choke looks like in the spring. I do love though how the NBA is talking about not having any fans in the arena potentially for over a year. Meanwhile, the NFL is saying business as usual, making their schedule like nothing is happening. Ultimately, it’s going to be interesting when Governors Newsome and Cuomo draw their lines in the sand and say “no gatherings in the thousands indefinitely,” while every other conservative state Governor allow it. It’s those two Governors who really could decided whether or not were are going to see sports anytime soon.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 4, 2020

Two more brilliant episodes of The Last Dance went down last night. Jordan was a real life Truman Show. MJ definitely doesn’t live by the G code: “They was drinking and doing drugs. Not me.” “That was Horace.”
I love the security dude hitting MJ with the MJ shoulder shrug after beating him at quarters. The security guards perm was also the MVP of the episode. MJ and the Bulls freaked out about the book written about them in 1991. Meanwhile today, teams have blogs, articles, and Twitter trolls coming after them after every game. Miller Lite had the best ad ever, and they didn’t even know it. I’m glad the documentary addressed his gambling, which I never thought was a big deal. I love how Kobe started as just “the little Laker boy”, but ended up commanding respect from everyone, including MJ himself. You can’t get more 90’s than MJ meeting Jerry Seinfeld. That was awesome. Of course it was Phil that kicked him out of the locker room. Those Dream Team practices were epic, and I couldn’t get enough of the trash talking between everybody.

Don’t get mad at the Lakers for applying for a small business loan. If anything, you should give them credit for returning the loan. It isn’t their fault they knew the government was going to run out of money, or not regulate who was going to receive the money. I can’t even blame the banks for prioritizing the loans that would make them money. The whole process just needed better regulation from the government. There’s plenty of public companies that took the loan when they could have raised the money through bonds or stock offerings. The same people that run the USC Athletic program must be running the loan program too.

We haven’t heard much from the Clippers during this lockdown. That’s probably because nobody really cares about them. However, everybody wants to talk about how small the Laker Championship window is, and how harmful it would be to lose the season for them. Keep in mind though, the Clipper championship contention window isn’t as big as you think. Montrezl Harrell is going to be a free agent this off-season, and he doesn’t exactly look like he’s been having a blast playing with this team. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are only under contract for one more guaranteed season, then they have player options after that. A season that gets cancelled is ultimately one that hurts the Clippers just as much as it hurts the Lakers.

The NHL is throwing around ideas as well for how they might be able to come back. They’ve even considered just having a 24-team playoff. However, why not just have a 31-team playoff at that point? What’s the point of the regular season? If they did have that playoff with every team, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Kings won the Cup. Would you? I mean they were the 8th seed in 2012 when they won the Cup. Plus the NHL is the one sport where any team can knock off the top seed easily. However, something tells me Kings fans would prefer to have the a top 5 pick then a shot in a made up playoff tournament.

Finally, a very tough week for UCLA. The Bruins lost their top recruit for next year, Daishen Nix, to the NBA G-League. This isn’t just a black eye for UCLA, but one for all of College Basketball. Unless the NCAA stops drinking its own Kool-Aid thinking their archaic model still works, they are going to continue to lose elite talent to the NBA G-League. A league where the platform is insignificant, and the coaching is not as good. This is all over money. Allowing players to make money off their likeness might help, but that came too late in this case. The NCAA needs to find a way to get creative to keep this kind of talent in college for a year or two to keep them relevant. As for the Bruins, the only thing worse could be knowing that Dan Guerrero is staying at UCLA longer. Jalen Hill however, is coming back. Hill put his name in the draft and it felt like 5 minutes later he decided to come back to school. It seems he just wanted to get feedback on what to work on from the combine. I could have given him that answer though: EVERYTHING!