Ex-Hoya, ex-Knick, current Georgetown coach Ewing has COVID
Georgetown basketball coach Patrick Ewing tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a hospital.
“This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly,” the Hall of Famer as a player for the Hoyas in college and the New York Knicks in the NBA said in a statement issued by the university. “I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Now more than ever, I want to thank the healthcare workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this.”
The school said the 57-year-old Ewing is the only member of its men’s program who has contracted the coronavirus.
As a player, the 7-foot Ewing helped Georgetown win the 1984 NCAA men’s basketball championship and reach two other title games.
During Ewing’s four years playing for John Thompson Jr., Georgetown went 121-23, a winning percentage of .840.
He was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft after the Knicks won the NBA’s first lottery. Ewing wound up leading New York to the 1994 NBA Finals, where they lost to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.
Ewing played 17 seasons in the NBA, 15 with the Knicks.
After retiring as a player, he spent 15 years as an assistant or associate coach with four teams in the pros. In April 2017, he returned to Georgetown for his first job as a head coach at any level, replacing Thompson’s son in that job with the Hoyas.
In his first three seasons at his alma mater, Ewing’s teams have gone a combined 49-46 with zero trips to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2019-20, Georgetown finished the season with seven consecutive losses and a 15-17 record.
Last week, sophomore guard Mac McClung announced that he was planning to enter the NCAA transfer portal, joining four other Georgetown players who said during the season they would be switching schools.
Jerry Sloan, coaching great of Jazz glory days, dies at 78
Jerry Sloan walked up the steps to the stage at the Basketball Hall of Fame to give his enshrinement speech in 2009, almost as if he were dreading what the next few minutes would bring.
He never wanted the spotlight.
“This is pretty tough for me,” Sloan said that night.
Talking about himself, that wasn’t easy. But basketball, he always made that seem simple.
Sloan, who spent 23 years as coach of the Utah Jazz and took the team to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, died Friday at 78. The team said that for four years he had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.
Sloan presided over the glory days of the John Stockton and Karl Malone pick-and-roll-to-perfection era in Salt Lake City. He is fourth on the NBA’s victory list.
“Before coming to Utah, I was certainly aware of Coach Sloan and what he meant to the NBA and to the coaching world,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Friday. “But, upon living in Utah, I became acutely aware of just how much he truly meant to the state.”
Sloan was a two-time All-Star as a player with the Chicago Bulls, led his alma mater, Evansville, to a pair of NCAA college division national championships and was an assistant coach on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal at the Atlanta Games. He fell in love with the game as a student in a one-room Illinois schoolhouse, never forgetting his roots.
“His more than 40 years in the NBA also paralleled a period of tremendous growth in the league, a time when we benefited greatly from his humility, kindness, dignity and class,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
Sloan often said numbers meant nothing to him. That’s a shame, because he has so many to marvel.
Sloan had 1,221 NBA coaching wins, behind only Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich. And Sloan’s 23 seasons with the Jazz are the second-longest string with one team in NBA history; Popovich is in his 24th season with the San Antonio Spurs.
“We lost one of the giants of basketball, not only of the NBA variety but basketball in general,” said longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn, who hired Sloan as coach of the Bulls in 1979. “No one ever played harder. He was a very, very good player and then became one of the top coaches in the history of the NBA.”
Out of Sloan’s 23 seasons with the Jazz, the team finished below the .500 mark only once. He’s one of five coaches to roam the sidelines for at least 2,000 games, and the only one of those five with a winning percentage better than .600.
And he was revered as a player with the Bulls, and his No. 4 jersey was the first retired by the franchise.
“Loyalty was his badge of honor and his no-nonsense approach to competition was perfect for the game,” said Miami Heat President Pat Riley, the fellow Hall of Famer who called it a privilege to coach against Sloan. “Jerry will go down in history as one of the most admired great winners and respected teachers of basketball ever.”
Sloan spent 34 years in the Jazz organization, as head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started as a scout, was promoted as an assistant under Frank Layden in 1984 and became the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, after Layden resigned.
“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization,” the Jazz said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”
Sloan retired as coach of the Jazz abruptly in 2011, amid reports of conflict with Deron Williams, the team’s point guard at the time. Williams, in an Instagram post Friday, said he was “blessed” to play for Sloan.
“I know things didn’t end well between us in Utah, however I’m glad that i got the chance to sit down with him before it was too late,” Williams wrote. “Definitely something that would have haunted me for the rest of my life.”
Sloan was the coach at Evansville for all of five days in 1977. He then made an arduous – and fateful – decision.
He was going to take over for his college coach, Arad McCutcheon, who was retiring. Sloan signed a contract but backed out quickly, citing undisclosed personal reasons. Later that year, a plane carrying the Evansville team and coaches crashed, killing all 29 people aboard.
Had he not left Evansville, Sloan could have easily been on that plane. And he thought about that countless times over the next four decades.
“That incident on December the 13th, 1977, made me realize that there are a lot more things more important than basketball,” Sloan said in 2009. “Even though I love this game, I will always be grateful for what it’s given me.”
Sloan’s longevity with the Jazz was remarkable. During his time in Utah, going 1,127-682 in regular seasons, there were 245 coaching changes around the league and five teams – Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota – did not even exist when he started with the Jazz.
Fellow coaches raved about him. The majority of George Karl’s coaching career overlapped with Sloan’s, and Karl simply adored his rival.
“What I admired about him, is he was a friend to all coaches,” Karl said. “He stood up for coaches. … He was a man that stated his opinion, didn’t mind being overly aggressive with referees and many times got thrown out because of it. But if he thought he was being wronged, he stood up for himself. I admired that.”
He coached Chicago for parts of three seasons, going 94-121. His playing career there was cut short by knee issues, and he averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 755 games.
They called Sloan “The Original Bull” because he was selected in the 1966 expansion draft and became known for his toughness and grit. He remains the only NBA player to average more than seven rebounds and more than two steals a game in his career.
Jerry Reinsdorf called Sloan “the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s.”
“A great player and a Hall of Fame NBA coach,” the Bulls chairman said Friday. “Most importantly, Jerry was a great person.”
NHLPA approves going forward with 24-team playoff talks
The NHL Players’ Association’s executive committee authorized moving forward in talks with the league on returning to play from the coronavirus suspension, approving 24 teams making the playoffs with other aspects still to be negotiated
The NHLPA did not provide a breakdown of the vote of its 31 player representatives in making the announcement Friday night, a day after the proposal was presented to the union’s executive board. In giving the format the green light, the NHLPA stressed several details still need to be negotiated before games can begin.
The proposal will now go to the NHL board of governors, which is expected to approve the plan in the next few days. Once approved, the proposal effectively ends the season of the league’s bottom seven teams.
Under the plan proposed by the NHL/NHLPA Return To Play committee, the top four teams in each conference would play each other in a mini-tournament for seeding while the remaining 16 teams face off in a best-of-five series play-in round to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Though the approval is considered significant, the task of establishing a path to getting players back on the ice remains challenging.
The next step would have the Return To Play committee sort out a host of other issues, ranging from health and safety protocols to determining where games will be played, with the league preparing to group teams in a select number of hub cities.
Las Vegas has become the city most mentioned as a potential site, particularly because of its large concentration of hotels that could house numerous teams. Other cities mentioned include Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Edmonton, Alberta.
Numerous other questions remain unanswered, including when players can return to their respective teams and what non-playoff teams will be allowed to do during what could potentially become a 10-month break between games.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place, but stopped short of providing details by saying it would be premature to do so at this time.
“All good questions and all questions with answers. But not in a position to answer any of them at this point in time,” Daly wrote in an email. “If and when we are in a position to make an announcement, we will try to make sure they are answered in that context.”
At the very least, the league has the framework of a plan on which to build off for the first time since the regular season was placed on pause on March 12.
Games would likely be played without fans present. It’s unclear how the league will address players’ concerns over spending potentially lengthy stretches of time in self-isolation away from their families.
Both sides agree there is no ideal plan, while acknowledging the limitations they face because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The NHL’s regular season was paused on March 12, with 189 games remaining and its 31 teams having played an uneven number of games.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal, but I think in a time like this, how can anything be super traditional?” Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said this week. “I think we all have to adapt and be willing to adapt and kind of realize that it’s not going to be this perfect, classic NHL playoffs. I think for the situation we’re in, for a year, I think that’s fine.”
Under the proposed 24-team format, Montreal would be the final team to qualify in the East based on a slim points-percentage margin. With 71 points in 71 games (.500), the Canadiens edge out Buffalo, which had 68 points in 69 games (.493) and would extend the league’s longest active playoff drought to a ninth consecutive season.
The difference in the West is much larger, with Chicago (.514) beating out Anaheim (.472). All three California teams would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
A person with what would be one of the seven non-playoff teams told The AP the performance staff is already preparing workout programs for players during what will be a long layoff.
“Overall, I think players will be fine during the summer months,” the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the return to play format has not been approved. “Finding creative ways to keep them motivated in the fall will be the challenge.”
The NHL is open to having the playoffs extend into September and pushing the start of the 2020-21 season as late as January — or when fans can begin attending games in some capacity.
Whatever it takes, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine said Friday.
“I just want to play, and I can do whatever format they decide,” Laine said. “It’s just still hockey, but I don’t mind the format. It’s not an issue for me.”
Carolina Hurricanes player representative Jordan Martinook said finishing the season and awarding the Stanley Cup would be a considerable feat.
“In a year of such negativity and uncertainty, for you to have that kind of celebration, I feel like it would be a big positive for you, your family, your team, your city,” Martinook said.
Jets, QB Joe Flacco agree to terms on 1-year deal
The New York Jets and quarterback Joe Flacco have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, the 2013 Super Bowl MVP’s agency announced on Twitter.
The move to bring in Flacco gives third-year starter Sam Darnold a veteran backup, but one who is also coming off a herniated disk that cut short his only season in Denver and required surgery to repair.
JL Sports, headed by agent Joe Linta, announced the agreement Friday. Financial terms were not immediately disclosed, but ESPN reported the deal is worth $1.5 million and could reach $4.5 million with incentives.
The 35-year-old Flacco spent his first 11 NFL seasons in Baltimore, where current Jets general manager Joe Douglas was a scout in 2008 – when the Ravens drafted the quarterback 18th overall out of Delaware. Flacco helped lead Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory to cap the 2012 season, beating Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.
Flacco was rewarded by the Ravens by becoming the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history at the time with a six-year contract worth $120.6 million.
Last winter, Flacco’s time in Baltimore came to an end – officially clearing the way for Lamar Jackson – when the Ravens traded him to Denver for a fourth-round draft pick. Flacco started the first eight games for the Broncos, but injured his neck against Indianapolis in Week 8 and missed the rest of the season.
He was waived by Denver in March with a failed physical designation, but is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in the summer – if it goes on as scheduled with the coronavirus pandemic making uncertain any plans for the season.
With Flacco in the mix, the Jets suddenly have a crowded quarterbacks room that includes Darnold, David Fales, Mike White and James Morgan, who was drafted in the fourth round as a developmental arm out of FIU.
But the need for a veteran backup for Darnold was magnified last season when the quarterback missed three games with mononucleosis. Trevor Siemian took over, but lasted just over a quarter, injuring an ankle and missing the rest of the season. Third-stringer Luke Falk started the next two games, but was ineffective.
Flacco has thrown for 40,067 yards with 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions in 11 seasons. He struggled during Denver’s 2-6 first half of the season, throwing for only 1,822 yards with six TDs and five interceptions, and was sacked 26 times. Flacco said he initially had neck issues a few weeks before the game against the Colts.
After the season, Flacco was optimistic he would be medically cleared and be able to continue his career. He also said he would be open to a backup job, if that scenario played out.
“I’m probably a little bit more worried about other things at this point,” Flacco said on Dec. 30. “If that’s what it has to be, then, I want to play football … whether it’s here or wherever, if that’s what it’s going to take for me to get back in and start playing again, then yeah, I’ll go that route.”
Joining the Jets marks a bit of a homecoming for Flacco, who’s from Audubon, New Jersey, which is about 90 minutes south of the team’s training facility in Florham Park.
The Latest: Steelers hold back some of 2020 ticket inventory
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding back a portion of their ticket inventory for the 2020 season to be ready in case social distancing measures are required in stadiums this fall.
Individual single game tickets went on sale Friday. Team spokesman Burt Lauten says the club withheld 50% of the allotment as a “proactive” measure should the NFL use social distancing guidelines.
The NFL released its 2020 schedule last month. The Steelers will play 10 games at Heinz Field, beginning with a preseason meeting with Tampa Bay on Aug. 14.
The Steelers will make full refunds available “if the NFL or the team cancels a game and it cannot be replayed, or if it is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending.” If games are postponed or rescheduled, the tickets will be valid for the new date.
The Southeastern Conference is allowing voluntary athletic activities to occur on each of its campuses starting June 8, at the discretion of each university.
SEC officials noted the workouts would take place “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.”
The SEC had suspended all athletic activities through May 31 due to the pandemic. SEC officials consider June 8 the start of a transition period allowing student-athletes to adapt gradually to full training.
The SEC decided to resume athletic activities June 8 with the guidance of the league’s task force on medical guidance and return to activity. That task force includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools. The task force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to serve as a guide for each school.
Permitted actions are limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel.
Badminton is aiming to begin its revamped schedule in mid-August at the Hyderabad Open in India.
The world tour would resume at the Taipei Open from Sept. 1-6 in an updated calendar released by the Badminton World Federation.
The Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Denmark are confirmed on the new dates of Oct. 3-11 and the World Tour Finals have been pushed back a week to Dec. 16-20.
The season-ending Finals in Guangzhou is one of five tournaments in China at the end of the year. That is not including the Hong Kong Open in November.
The Asia championships scheduled for April in Wuhan have been canceled and the European championships remain without a new date after being suspended since April.
The BWF says it is still working on how to unfreeze the rankings and make necessary changes to Olympic qualifying.
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is starting the “202 Assist” program to help with paying rent for people in the nation’s capital affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The John Wall Family Foundation set a goal of raising $300,000 over the next month.
The program is named for Washington’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and disperse funds.
Wall is a five-time NBA All-Star who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards in the 2010 draft. He sat out all of the 2019-20 season after tearing his left Achilles tendon.
His foundation donated 2,300 masks and hundreds of meals to front-line workers in Washington and in his home state of North Carolina in April.
Novak Djokovic is planning to set up a series of tennis tournaments in the Balkan region while the sport is suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The top-ranked player’s media team says the Adria Tour will start in Belgrade on June 13 and end on July 5 with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian player Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo. The other events are scheduled for the Croatian Adriatic resort of Zadar, Montenegro and Banja Luka in northern Bosnia.
Djokovic will play in all of the round robin tournaments. The other participants are to include Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov.
Organizers left open the possibility that the “humanitarian” tour could be played in front of spectators.
No professional tennis tournaments have been played since March. The French Open has been postponed and Wimbledon has been canceled because of the coronavirus.
QB Caylin Newton, Cam’s brother, transferrring to Auburn
Former Howard quarterback Caylin Newton, the younger brother of ex-Carolina Panthers starter Cam, says he is transferring to Auburn.
Newton announced his decision on Twitter Friday, following in his brother’s footsteps. Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy in 2010 while leading Auburn to the national championship.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Caylin Newton will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer. He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal in October after playing in four games. He will walk on with the Tigers, who are already at their 85-player scholarship limit.
Newton was the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference offensive player of the year after passing for 2,629 yards and rushing for 504 yards.
He was the league’s rookie of the year as a freshman.
Auburn returns starting quarterback Bo Nix, but has scant experience behind him.
Osaka tops Serena on Forbes’ list of sports annual earnings
Naomi Osaka has been a Grand Slam champion and No. 1 in the WTA rankings — and now she’s No. 1 on another list: top-earning female athlete.
According to a story posted on
on Friday, the 22-year-old player earned $37.4 million over the past 12 months from endorsements and prize money, eclipsing Serena Williams in that span.
Forbes said Osaka’s total is a one-year record for a female athlete, topping the previous mark of 29.7 million set by Maria Sharapova in 2015.
Osaka is No. 29 overall, with Williams at No. 33, on Forbes’ annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes.
Williams had led the way among women each of the past four years.
Osaka beat Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final and then added the 2019 Australian Open title, allowing her to become the first player from Asia to be No. 1 in the women’s or men’s tennis rankings.
Osaka has won about $14.5 million in career prize money, according to the WTA, a little less than half of which was earned in 2019.
SEC, Big 12 to allow football workouts on campus next month
Southeastern Conference schools will be able to bring athletes in all sports back to campus for voluntary activities starting June 8 at the discretion of each university, and the Big 12 plans to welcome football players back to campus a week later.
The Friday announcements are the latest signs that a college football season will be launched in some form this fall. Other conferences are expected to follow, though decisions could be left to individual schools.
The move comes two days after the NCAA Division I Council voted to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus by football and basketball players, effective June 1. The NCAA updated that ruling Friday by saying voluntary activities would be allowed in all sports starting June 1.
“At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.
The SEC initially announced Friday that voluntary in-person activities could resume June 8 on SEC campuses only for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. But after the NCAA issued its updated ruling Friday afternoon, the SEC announced that June 8 date would apply to athletes in all sports.
Big 12 presidents and chancellors met Friday and decided voluntary activities could begin June 15 for football, July 1 for other fall sports and July 15 for all other sports.
SEC officials noted any workouts would take place “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.” They referred to June 8 as the start of “transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity.”
Permitted actions are limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said it was “only the first step with further details and plans coming over the next several days and weeks.”
“This is an important first step toward having a season this fall, and we will continue to collectively work together as our top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement.
Defending national champion LSU said it will resume voluntary workouts for players on June 8 in accordance with the SEC decision.
“Our administration has worked very hard to make sure that all of the necessary safety procedures and protocols are in place to keep our team safe and healthy,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. “This is a great first step to take in order for us to get back to playing the great game of college football in the fall.”
The SEC decided to resume athletic activities with the guidance of a league task force that includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools.
The task force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to serve as a guide for each school.
Recommendations included testing of symptomatic team members (including athletes, coaches and staffers) as well as screening athletes before they arrive on campus within 72 hours of entering athletic facilities and on a daily basis once they resume athletic activities.
Other recommendations include immediate isolation of team members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are under investigation, followed by contact tracing under Centers for Disease Control and local public health guidelines.
“Health and safety have been our top priority as we’ve gone about this planning process, and we’ll continue to follow guidance from medical experts and health officials as we navigate the coming weeks,” Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said. “Our staff and student-athletes should be prepared for a ‘new normal,’ as we’ll be implementing changes to how everyone accesses and uses our facilities.”
SEC officials said the task force’s recommendations could provide a guide to league members, Sankey noted that each school would get to make its own decisions regarding plans for how to make sure student-athletes return safely.
For example, even though the task force’s recommendations only mentioned testing symptomatic team members, Georgia senior associate athletic director for sports medicine Ron Courson said in a statement that the Bulldogs “will conduct COVID testing and perform medical evaluations on all student-athletes.” Florida announced that it also would be testing all of its athletes.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday he thinks college football will return on schedule with at least some spectators. Abbott has already issued new rules to allow youth sports leagues to resume in June and for some professional leagues to hold events without spectators.
“Once we get to college football season, our goal right now is to have college football season start as planned, with fans in stands,” Abbott said in an interview with Austin television station KXAN. “What we don’t know is what the capacity level would be.”
Packers’ Montravius Adams faces marijuana, driving charges
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Montravius Adams was arrested in Georgia this week and charged with marijuana and driving offenses.
He was stopped Tuesday just after 6 p.m. on suspicion of driving with a suspended registration and no insurance, according to a Houston County Sheriff’s Office report. It was not immediately clear why police had such suspicions.
An officer detected a scent of marijuana, which was found in a search of the car, the report said.
He faces misdemeanor charges of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, driving with a suspended registration and driving without insurance.
Adams was released from the Houston County Detention Center on $2,964 bond.
The Packers said in a statement they are aware of what happened but will not comment further because it is an “ongoing legal matter.”
Adams, 24, is a 2017 third-round draft pick from Auburn. He had 19 tackles last year while playing in 14 games and making two starts. He finished with 26 tackles and 1 + sacks in 2018 while playing 16 games and making one start.
REPORT: RUSSELL WILSON ‘WOULD LOVE’ FOR THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS TO ADD ANTONIO BROWN
The Seattle Seahawks want to maximize the championship window they have with Russell Wilson. Could Antonio Brown be a part of the solution?
Writing for 710 AM ESPN in Seattle, NFL insider John Clayton shared a fascinating nugget.
Per Clayton, “it’s not out of the question for the Seahawks to add another wide receiver. According to sources, Wilson would love to add Antonio Brown. Brown is also close with backup QB Geno Smith, whose one-year contract with the Seahawks was finalized Wednesday.”
This isn’t completely out of the blue. Wilson has reportedly shown interest in playing with Brown last year, too.
If the Seahawks are in fact considering Brown, Clayton writes that it won’t happen any time soon. He shared: “If the Seahawks would do something with Brown, it would be in late July or August.”
Really, there’s no rush whatsoever. If another team were going to sign Brown, it would have already happened.
As things currently stand, the former All-Pro receiver is still being investigated by the NFL. Due to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, he’s been effectively out of the NFL since the New England Patriots cut him last season.
Until the investigation is over, there is a looming threat from the NFL that any team signing Brown would be subject to having him land on the commissioner’s exempt list. Meaning, Brown would get paid but wouldn’t be able to play.
WHY DAK PRESCOTT SHOULD STICK TO HIS GUNS IN CONTRACT DUEL WITH DALLAS COWBOYS
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have been locked in a contract stalemate for months. While both sides want the same thing — Prescott to remain in Dallas for years to come — they just can’t seem to close the gap on a long-term contract extension.
The holdup preventing both parties from reaching an agreement is rather simple. Prescott is determined to sign a four-year deal, while the Cowboys are sticking to their guns and pushing for a five-year pact. Dallas clearly isn’t willing to bend and with the organization using leaked offers to sway over the fans, it’s time for Prescott to stick to his guns.
Missed opportunity: The Cowboys put themselves in this position. Prescott entered the 2019 offseason ready to negotiate a long-term extension and negotiations started early. However, a re-examination of the team’s actions demonstrates how Jerry Jones already bungled this situation.
In July 2019, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones emphatically pushed back against the idea of the team giving out a market-setting contract.
Facing a choice between extending Prescott and Elliott in the summer, Dallas prioritized the player who left the team in August to train in Mexico.
A few weeks later, the Cowboys signed Elliott to a record-setting six-year, $90 million contract. The organization ignored the history of highly-paid running backs disappointing, and rewarded Elliott for leaving the team.
At the time, Prescott wanted to top Jared Goff’s new contract and set Russell Wilson’s deal as the bar to reach.
The Cowboys decided to let Prescott, who was already underpaid on his rookie contract, play out the rest of his deal. Prescott bet on himself, putting contract talks aside. He then set career-highs in passing yards (4,902), touchdowns (30) and quarterback rating (99.7).
The offseason: After Prescott proved he could take his game to the next level, the Cowboys acknowledged he was their guy. Prescott’s agent already held the leverage as a free agent and Dallas gave him even more words to use against the organization.
Stephen Jones came out after the season and said the team is “all in on Dak” and wouldn’t even give a moment of consideration to Tom Brady.
The organization made it clear Prescott was the No. 1 priority and Jerry Jones compared him to his son.
Prescott held firm to his $35 million asking price and the Cowboys kept steadily increasing their offer, working toward the four-year, $140 million figure.
Dallas kept him from hitting free agency by using the exclusive franchise tag. Finally, after more negotiations, Jones met Prescott’s annual asking price, but he reportedly is set on Prescott signing a five-year deal.
The newest offer: Prescott has reportedly insisted from the beginning that he wants a four-year contract. It would allow him to enter free agency while still in the middle of his prime. The Cowboys want control, as evident by their history of five-year extensions, so Prescott pushed back with this reported compromise:
He offered to sign a five-year deal that would pay him $35 million annually in each of his first four seasons.
In exchange for giving up an additional year, when the salary cap will be significantly higher, Prescott asked for $45 million in the fifth year of the deal.
The Cowboys leaked the counter-offer almost immediately, leading to a wave of public scrutiny from fans and former players.
The economics: Prescott has quickly become the greedy villain in this saga, seeking $10 million more than the highest-paid NFL player. While the number might sound ridiculous, it could be a bargain for the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys don’t agree to the deal, Prescott can play the next two seasons under the franchise tag and make nearly $70 million guaranteed, per Will Brinson.
The salary cap jumped from $188.2 million last year to $198.2 million this year and could skyrocket past $210 million in 2021.
As part of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, players will receive a higher share of the league’s revenue moving forward.
Even if the NFL takes an economic hit during the COVID-19 pandemic this season, billions of dollars will be made in the future. While Prescott’s deal might be staggering, the money coming the NFL’s direction is even more incredible.
Broadcasting rights for NFL games end for CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN 2022, per CNBC. The league is already discussing new record-setting contracts.
The bidding war for Monday Night Football could reach $3 billion per year and the rights for afternoon games could hit $2 billion, per CNBC. In total, executives have projected the NFL could get $8-10 billion annually under new broadcasting deals.
The NFL already sold the rights for its two expanded playoff games this year and renewed its deal with Amazon to stream Thursday Night Football.
As part of the new CBA, the NFL could expand to a 17-game season by 2021. That will create 16 additional games for the NFL to generate revenue from.
Prescott isn’t on Patrick Mahomes’ level and he knows it. He’s not seeking $45 million per year when the salary cap is $200 million. Instead, he is looking at the NFL’s lucrative future and seeking $45 million in 2025, when the salary cap could be closer to $275 million.
The Bottom line: Prescott and his agent will continue to be portrayed as greedy, setting absurd figures on a record-breaking contract that many feel he isn’t worth. Instead, Prescott must just focus on sticking to his guns and taking advantage of the value he brings.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t have the leverage. They’ve made it known they are committed to keeping Prescott beyond the 2020 season, even if that means using the franchise tag multiple times. Jerry Jones knows this is the only option because the risk of losing an outstanding quarterback and being in purgatory for the next decade is far more crushing then overpaying a top passer.
Quarterbacks are the most coveted asset in the NFL. This is why teams reach for unproven passers in the NFL Draft, just hoping to land a franchise-caliber quarterback. It’s also why even above-average talents rarely hit free agency.
Dallas should take the offer Prescott made and run with it. He’ll prove to exceed the $185 million price tag and gives this team its best chance to win the Super Bowl. If they don’t, the Cowboys are destined for quarterback purgatory and that is something this organization can’t afford to experience.
NBA SEASON LIKELY TO RESUME IN BOTH ORLANDO AND LAS VEGAS?
There’s increased confidence around NBA circles that the 2019-20 season will resume within the next two months. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to lay out the plan to players and teams on June 1.
Recently, Walt Disney World in Orlando has taken over as the favorite to host the season amid the ongoing pandemic. The Las Vegas Strip in Nevada has also been bandied about as a possibility.
According to Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, it’s not an either/or proposition. Lasry told CNBC on Thursday that he expects the Eastern Conference will be played in Florida with Western Conference games taking place in Nevada.
This is interesting for a multitude of reasons.
First off, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has joined others in indicating that some regular-season games will have to be played before the playoff starts. There’s still east-west matchups remaining on the schedule. Would the NBA change up the remainder of the regular-season schedule to take this into account?
Secondly, this adds another layer to the playoffs. Where would the NBA Finals be played between the two sites? As noted multiple times before, the season is expected to take place in a “bubble city.” The Finals will not switch between destinations due to restricted travel amid the global pandemic.
These two states are prime locations for the season to resume. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just opened up the state to both the economy and professional sports. Some casinos in Nevada are slated to open at some point later this month. Nevada has already started a phased reopening, too.
There’s obviously a lot of logistics to work out between now and the resumption of the season in less than two months. But the idea of playing in both Orlando and Las Vegas makes sense.
It’s certainly something to keep an eye on in the days leading up to Silver laying out his plans to the Association.
REDSKINS’ ADRIAN PETERSON CALLS TEAM OUT OVER TRADE OF TRENT WILLIAMS
It stands to reason that numerous members of the Washington Redskins are not happy with their decision to trade future Hall of Fame tackle Trent Williams for pennies on the dollar back in April.
The seven-time Pro Bowl tackle was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers during the 2020 NFL Draft for a fifth-round pick last month and a third-round selection in the 2021 draft.
Fellow future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson is the first high-profile Redskins player to speak publicly on the trade. To say he’s not happy would be an understatement.
“I DIDN’T LIKE THE TRADE,” PETERSON TOLD REPORTERS ON THURSDAY, VIA NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON. “I FEEL LIKE TRENT IS THE BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN IN THE GAME. I WAS HOPING THERE WOULD BE SOME GOOD ENDING TO HIM AND WHAT THE REDSKINS WERE DEALING WITH. BUT I’M HAPPY FOR HIM.”
Peterson’s outward frustration with the trade can be summed up by the fact that he’s good friends with Williams. Both starred at Oklahoma, they are both from the Houston area and own a gym together.
Even then, this has to be considered the overriding sentiment of Redskins players. They are set to rely on a young quarterback in that of Dwayne Haskins under center. Trading one of the best offensive tackles in NFL history, no matter the drama-filled backstory, can’t sit well with these players.
5 MOST INTRIGUING NBA PLAYERS TO WATCH WHEN SEASON RESUMES
The NBA season will likely resume at some point in July after a four-month hiatus due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic.
We’ve focused on some of the top stories surrounding the Association during these odd times. It’s going to be interesting to see games played in bubble cities and without fans in attendance.
Though, some of the focus has to be on players returning to the court. Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo will have played a grand total of 13 games in about 17 months when the season resumes. Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is also returning from injury.
These are among the handful of players we’re most intrigued to watch once the suspended NBA season resumes in less than two months.
Victor Oladipo, guard, Indiana Pacers
It’s clear that this former All-Star was not in playing shape when he returned from a year-plus absence on Jan. 29 after suffering a serious leg injury. Oladipo averaged just 13.8 points on 39% shooting from the field in 13 games. He was a shell of his former self for an otherwise title-contending Pacers squad.
We have absolutely no idea how Oladipo is going to handle four months of inaction. When the season does resume, he will have played a grand total of 13 games in an estimated 17 months. If he’s in shape and ready to go, it could propel Indiana to a deep playoff run. If not, Oladipo’s future as a star in the NBA could be in question. He has a lot riding on the season resuming and performing at a high level.
Luka Doncic, guard, Dallas Mavericks
This international sensation was turning in an MVP-caliber sophomore campaign prior to being slowed down by multiple ankle sprains. We’re talking about a dude who was averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists when the season was suspended. Doncic also has his Mavericks as the sixth seed out west.
Now that he’ll have about a quarter of a calendar year between games, Doncic’s ankle will be fully recovered. We’re more intrigued to see how the logistics work as he returns from overseas and whether the youngster is in shape. It’s certainly a story to follow.
Ben Simmons, forward, Philadelphia 76ers
When the season was suspended back on March 11, there was an open question whether Simmons would return from the back injury that had sidelined him. One of the unintended consequences of the pandemic from a sports perspective is the fact that Simmons will now be ready to go once the season resumes.
That’s no small thing for what was a struggling Sixers squad. Things were seemingly coming unraveled with Simmons’ injury as well as the drama and injury surrounding Joel Embiid. This former No. 1 pick now has a clean slate to help Philadelphia as it attempts to atone for what was seemingly a lost season. That’s certainly going to be something to watch moving forward.
Ja Morant, guard, Memphis Grizzlies
The odds-on favorite to take home Rookie of the Year honors prior to the season being suspended, Morant has his Grizzlies in playoff positioning. The team currently sits as the eighth seed out west with a 32-33 record. It is 3.5 games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers for that final playoff spot.
Morant, 20, has also put up a tremendous individual performance as a rookie. He’s averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. Teaming up with fellow youngster Jaren Jackson Jr., it will be fun to see how Morant plays with more rest under his belt. Remember, he’s not accustomed to playing such a long season. Fresh legs could do a world of wonders.
Lonzo Ball, guard, New Orleans Pelicans
Just imagine the possibilities. If Ball is able to lead his Pelicans to a playoff spot once the season resumes, there’s a darn good chance that the young guard would be facing off against his former Lakers squad in the first round. Regardless of the potential series being played in a bubble city and without fans in attendance, this would be something else.
After struggling early on his first season with New Orleans, Ball picked it up big time once Zion Williamson returned from injury. The former No. 2 overall pick was averaging 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.8 steals on 46% shooting from the field in the 16 games prior to the season going on hiatus. He continued to make sweet music with Mr. Williamson. It will be fun to watch these do their thing when the season resumes.
Michigan Football: To play with or without fans inside the stadiums
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh said on ESPN’s Get Up that games should proceed in his mind without fans jam-packing the college cathedrals that diehards flock to in droves. He continues his outspoken stance during this difficult offseason for the most popular stage in this country to go on again.
To add to that, June is approaching and college athletes are scheduled to head back to campus to somehow get focused on the upcoming campaign.
In a mere two months camps are supposed to signal the arrival of a new hope for every school that buckles their chinstraps. No spring ball brings up the argument to move the timetable of preparations for the year to sometime earlier in July depending upon how the NCAA handles those unique conditions. It is truly a life or death decision that was made on Wednesday that it can reopen on June 1, but the important guidelines are yet to be worked out.
Countless precautions will predictably have to be taken into effect for a complete schedule to succeed all over the United States.
The likelihood of a Michigan football opener in Seattle is gaining traction of being in jeopardy with how the Pac-12 is deciding to manage the ebb and flow of the events. Fortunately states are slowly making efforts to regain any kind of normalcy, which signifies an eagerness of another autumn to begin on time.
Ryan Leaf arrested for domestic battery
Ryan Leaf was arrested on Friday for domestic battery.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s jail management system, Leaf was arrested in Palm Desert, Calif. around 2 p.m. He was booked into jail an hour and a half later on misdemeanor domestic battery charges.
Leaf was being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional facility and had a $5,000 bail.
Leaf, 44, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft behind Peyton Manning. He turned into one of the biggest busts in NFL history, throwing just 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions during his NFL career.
Leaf has been arrested numerous times and spent time in prison before being released in 2014. He has since repaired his image and even joined ESPN last fall as an analyst.
News of Leaf’s arrest was first reported by TMZ Sports.
Raheem Mostert bulking up in anticipation of heavier workload for 49ers
Raheem Mostert is preparing himself for a bigger role as his San Francisco 49ers look to defend their NFC title.
In an interview this week with Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Niners running back said that he was bulking up in anticipation of a larger workload for next season.
“I’m actually gaining some more muscle, which is kind of bizarre,” Mostert said. “I’m just trying to incorporate those things in my daily workouts so I’m able to take those hits and be one of those guys that are getting 200 carries. I’ve got to get prepared for that. And the only way I know how is to get bulky and stronger.
The 28-year-old, who used to play receiver in high school and college, also added that he wanted to take on more pass-catching responsibilities as well.
“I want to be multi-dimensional and being able to catch the ball out of the backfield is one thing that I really pride myself on,” Mostert said. “Even lining up in the slot position … Just trying to get back to my wide receiver days.”
Mostert is listed at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. He rushed for 772 yards and eight touchdowns on 137 attempts last year despite splitting carries with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. While Coleman is still around, Breida was traded to the Miami Dolphins this offseason (though Jerick McKinnon now looks poised to return from injury for the Niners on top of Jeff Wilson also re-signing).
We heard recently that Coleman could be traded as well, and Mostert offers some further evidence here that he may be the clear top dog in the San Francisco backfield next season.
Report: Devonta Freeman willing to sit out season without right offer
Devonta Freeman is a two-time Pro Bowl running back in his prime, but it sounds like there is a real chance he may not play at all in 2020.
Freeman will go unsigned by the Seattle Seahawks after they agreed to terms with running back Carlos Hyde on Friday. Hyde signed a one-year deal that could see him earn up to $4 million. According to Michael Silver of NFL.com, that is very similar to a deal that Freeman ultimately declined.
Silver added that Freeman does not feel he has to play from a financial standpoint, and will not sign for less than he believes he’s worth.
Freeman ran for 1,000 yards in both 2015 and 2016, but his production has tailed off since and injuries cost him virtually all of 2018. The Falcons released him in March, and it appears that he might not be playing in 2020 at all.
Carlos Hyde reportedly will sign with Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks reportedly have their veteran running back.
According to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Seahawks have agreed to terms with Carlos Hyde on a one-year deal.
With Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both coming off serious injuries, the Seahawks wanted a little bit more certainty in the backfield. Hyde was a 1,000-yard rusher last year with the Houston Texans, and will provide an excellent complementary option in Seattle’s backfield. They had been looking at other options as well, but negotiations with Hyde apparently proved simplest.
Hyde turns 30 in September. 2019 was his first 1,000-yard season, but he’s always been good at finding the end zone, racking up at least five rushing touchdowns in each of his last four NFL seasons.
Fact or fiction: Evaluating 10 major NFL plot lines
The NFL’s offseason, despite the unprecedented situation confronting the United States and the world at large, is still generating plenty of compelling storylines. In addition to the usual offseason transactions, there have been some major surprises — none bigger than the Packers’ move to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th pick in the draft. That decision touched off immediate speculation about Rodgers’ future with the team as well as debate about how he would handle it, having been in Love’s position when he was selected in 2005.
No one knows for sure how Green Bay’s quarterback situation will play out in the long run, but it’s worth trying to separate fact from fiction in that particular instance as well as in several other major storylines around the league.
2020 will be Aaron Rodgers’ final year as Packers’ starter: FICTION
The temptation to place an expiration date on Rodgers’ tenure with the Packers is understandable; he won’t finish his career with the team, something he has already more or less acknowledged. That said, it’s going to take more than a year for Love to be ready; he had a disappointing junior season at Utah State, and his accuracy is very much a work in progress. Ideally, he will sit for a full two years behind Rodgers, learn his craft and then take over for the 2022 season. Conveniently for Green Bay, moving on from Rodgers becomes considerably easier after 2021 when his dead cap number drops from $31.5 million to $17.2 million. In the meantime, Rodgers is still plenty good enough to lead the Packers to the playoffs, particularly if he and head coach Matt LaFleur can get along.
Dak Prescott will be wearing a different uniform in 2021: FACT
Call this one a hunch, though admittedly it is difficult to envision Jerry Jones and Dallas moving on from Prescott, even if the two sides can’t reach a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline. Prescott will make $31.4 million on the exclusive franchise tag this season and would cost $37.68 million on the tag in 2021. Jones has surrounded his young quarterback with elite weapons, but Andy Dalton is now in the mix, and if Prescott fails to deliver a deep playoff run this year, it’s not inconceivable that Jones would decide to move on, make Dalton the bridge to a different young quarterback and use the money he would have spent on a long-term deal for Prescott to build a more complete roster, particularly on defense.
Ben Roethlisberger’s return makes Steelers a Super Bowl contender: FICTION
Roethlisberger represents a massive upgrade at quarterback for Pittsburgh, but it’s unrealistic to assume that his presence alone morphs them into one of the AFC’s best teams. The Steelers forced a league-leading 38 turnovers last season, only the third time in the last decade they’ve topped 30. Moreover, at least three of their wins were the direct result of defensive scores. There is no established feature running back — or reliable tandem — to take some of the offensive pressure off Roethlisberger, and airing the ball out is not a winning recipe; in his regular-season career, Roethlisberger is 21-36-1 when attempting at least 40 passes. No Antonio Brown means no clear No. 1 receiver either. Pittsburgh should absolutely contend for a playoff spot but is closer to the middle of the AFC pack than the top.
Josh Allen holds the Bills back: FACT
After Baltimore and Kansas City, the Bills have the best roster in the AFC. If they had Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes, they’d be the odds-on favorites in the conference as well as likely defending Super Bowl champions. Instead, they have the wildly inaccurate Allen, who looks more like a project than a polished product as he prepares for his third season. While he is better than average at making intermediate (10-19 yards from the line of scrimmage) throws, Allen had the fifth-worst expected points added on throws of at least 20 yards, with Devlin Hodges, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen joining him near the bottom. There is nothing in Josh Allen’s history to suggest he’ll magically become a more accurate passer, and if he doesn’t take a step forward, opponents will take away intermediate throws, stifle Buffalo’s offense and, in turn, the team’s chances of winning the AFC.
Russell Wilson will win the MVP Award: FACT
In Wilson’s eight seasons, he has not received a single MVP vote. Not one. This despite leading the league in passer rating in 2015 and having a combined 66 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions over his past two seasons. Wilson is also going to top 4,000 career rushing yards this year and remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to extending plays. He has never missed a start, and he dragged the Seahawks to an 11-5 mark almost single-handedly last season. Only two teams attempted more runs than Seattle in 2019, but the Seahawks ranked just 23rd in pass attempts. That ratio should be flipped. If it is, not only is Wilson going to get the respect he deserves in the form of some long-overdue MVP votes, but he also should earn enough to win the whole thing.
The Patriots will have a winning season without Tom Brady: FICTION
Bill Belichick’s great, but the biggest reason for his coaching success is a 20-year run with Brady in New England. The league has changed plenty since he was coaching the Browns, but he mostly struggled in five seasons in Cleveland, save one 11-5 season. Jarrett Stidham has all of four pass attempts in his career, and one went the other way for a pick-six. The idea that Belichick can win with defense and a conservative offensive game plan is flawed; in the Patriots first three Super Bowl runs, Brady made innumerable big plays in close games. There is no reason to expect that New England will catch lightning in a bottle twice in a row. And last year’s vaunted defense looked off against better offenses; when the Pats couldn’t force turnovers in bunches, they were merely good, not transcendent. Add everything up, including major losses in free agency, and you get a long, mediocre year in Foxborough.
Bill O’Brien will get fired before the Texans’ bye week: FACT
Houston’s bye comes in Week 8, but O’Brien won’t make it that far. The Texans open the NFL season with a road tilt against Kansas City and then have a home date with Baltimore, a road stop against the Steelers and a home contest with Minnesota. An 0-4 start is a distinct possibility, and given the unpopularity of O’Brien’s offseason maneuvers, that might be enough to cost him his job. Even if it isn’t, the rest of the pre-bye schedule includes a road game with Tennessee and a home matchup against Green Bay. Only a home date against the Jaguars looks like a definite win. O’Brien shot for the moon last season and came up short, and he’ll reap what he sowed in 2020. Not even Deshaun Watson can save him.
Antonio Brown will play in the NFL in 2020: FICTION
Brown has kept a mostly low profile of late, but the league still has not formally completed its investigation of him, and despite his working out with Lamar Jackson, it seems more and more likely that the pool of teams willing to take a chance on the mercurial wide receiver has dwindled to zero, at least for the time being. Only stable franchises seem like plausible destinations for him, but there’s a catch-22: The organizations most equipped to provide Brown with both structure and major offensive opportunities seem the least likely to take such a chance. There is always the possibility that Brown gets cleared and does not have to serve any sort of suspension, and a team desperate for wide receiver help takes a chance on him. For now, it looks like one of the league’s all-time best receivers will continue to languish in a purgatory of his own creation.
Tampa Bay will win the NFC: FACT
I’m all aboard the Tom Brady hype train for 2020. Tampa has elite wide receiver talent in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and a situation weapon in Rob Gronkowski, and the Bucs got better at major areas of need, particularly offensive tackle and safety, with their first two picks in the draft (Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr.) The Buccaneers also have a dynamic linebacker duo in Lavonte David and Devin White and seem a near lock to put up points in bunches. Rumors of Brady’s demise in 2019 were greatly exaggerated; he had the 12 th- highest passing grade from Pro Football Focus despite operating an offense nearly devoid of quality targets. Outside of Julian Edelman, the Patriots had no trustworthy receivers. That won’t be a problem in Tampa, and Brady will be hypermotivated to prove that he was the driving force behind New England’s unprecedented run of success. The rest of the NFC should be very, very afraid.
The league will start its season on time: FACT
I’ve grappled with this subject for weeks now, much like the rest of the football-obsessed public, but there’s enough time between now and Sept. 10 for the coronavirus situation to change dramatically. Moreover, due to the timing of the virus’ emergence, the NFL has had ample opportunity to beef up its planning and strategy, and there is time for testing production to ramp up to a degree that allows games to proceed with an absolute minimum of risk. Or, more cynically, the NFL sees itself as some sort of beacon for the rest of America and has no intention of losing any more money due to COVID-19 than is absolutely necessary. There probably won’t be fans in the stands, but when the Chiefs set out to defend their title, they’ll do so on schedule.
Nikola Mirotic reveals he turned down offer to return to NBA
Nikola Mirotic last played in the NBA in the 2018-2019 season, and his departure may end up being a permanent one.
In an interview this week, the former Milwaukee Bucks big man told the story of how he turned down a three-year deal from the Utah Jazz last summer.
“I wanted to spend free agency while on vacation in Greece with my family,” he said, per EuroHoops. “Utah wanted to have a meeting on June 30 to sign me as the first player in free agency. They offered me three years guaranteed, a great contract. I spoke to my wife and she told me to take what made me happy. I took a ticket for two days, a round trip, and I left.
“I was waiting at the gate of the Thessaloniki Airport when I started to think, ‘What do I do at the airport? Why am I not with my family? The NBA?’” added Mirotic. “I said to myself, ‘Don’t do it Niko. If you go, you will sign.’ I left the airport and went back to the hotel. I told my agent that I wasn’t going to catch the flight and to apologize to Utah for not attending the meeting. ‘I’m going to take another path, I don’t want to continue in the NBA.’”
The 29-year-old Mirotic was part of the 60-win Bucks team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019. He also previously played for the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls, averaging 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his five NBA seasons.
Mirotic instead signed a three-year deal to return to the EuroLeague, where he first began his professional career in 2008, and play for Spanish basketball powerhouse FC Barcelona. We know that the sharpshooting big also turned down a chance to return to one of his old NBA teams that summer, and now Mirotic is revealing that the second team he had an offer from was the Jazz.
Joe Ingles clarifies comments about playing again for Jazz
Joe Ingles is setting the record straight about some comments of his that went somewhat viral this week.
The Utah Jazz forward was quoted earlier in the week as saying that he was willing to “walk away” from the NBA to protect his family, the implication being that he might not play for the Jazz again this season, even if it were to resume. Ingles took to Twitter on Friday to clarify the remarks.
“For context, I said this over 2 months ago when we knew nothing about the virus & what it could do,” wrote Ingles. “I know the Jazz/NBA would only have us play if they were confident that everyone’s health has been put first. When it’s safe to go back and play, I will not let my teammates down!”
The 32-year-old Ingles, a major contributor for the No. 4-seeded Jazz, hails from Australia. For him to make those comments over two months ago is understandable given how adversely his team was affected at the time. It is also understandable that Ingles’ position may have changed since then now that more information has become available.
Survey indicates vast majority of college football players want to return to campus
The NCAA has decided to allow football programs to bring players back to campus for voluntary workouts beginning on June 1, leaving it up to individual conferences to decide how they want to proceed. If the decision were up to the players, the offseason would likely be proceeding as scheduled.
David Ubben of The Athletic surveyed 45 current college football players from the Power 5 conferences, the Group of 5 and the FCS to get an idea of how they feel about returning to campus. Almost 80 percent said they would be comfortable returning to campus to resume football activities even if other students were not allowed to do the same.
The players were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how comfortable they would feel returning to campus, with 1 being extremely uncomfortable and 5 being extremely comfortable. No players said they would be extremely uncomfortable and only three total responded that their level of comfort would be a 2.
“Honestly, I’d be fine returning today,” one player from a Power 5 team said. “If they want us to wear masks and have us have hand sanitizer in every room we walk into to feel better, I’ll do it. I’m just ready for this to be behind us.”
Players were a little more split on how they would feel not playing in front of fans. More than half of the 45 players said they would rather delay the start of the season than play in empty stadiums, with one Power 5 quarterback expressing concern that “if it’s not safe for fans, it’s probably not safe for players.”
The full results of the poll are worth looking at if you’re interested, but the overall sentiment seems to be that many players are willing to assume the risk associated with returning to campus and playing. The NCAA has extensive guidelines in place for resuming play, and positive tests are to be expected. Ultimately, it will be up to each university to decide what they want to do.
2020 NBA DRAFT PROFILE: Deni Avdija, NBA Draft Scouting Report
Deni has an intriguing skill set with his ability to stroke the 3pt shot and score in the half court. He plays an all-around game, has a decent physical build but his greatest NBA skill is his shooting ability.
As a 6-8 3pt shooter he doesn’t need a lot of space to get his shot off and he’s got a smooth, quick and just about picture perfect release. He shoots with confidence, follows through on his shot
Another big strength is his passing ability, which reminds a little bit of Luka Doncic. He’s a quick slasher who draws the defense and can light opposing teams up with his passes. He’s not really a primary ball-handler type of player but he can create offense for himself and others.
On defense he’s purely a wing, lacking the strength and power to guard in the paint and lacking top end agility to stay with guards. He gives good effort and seems to know team concepts and when to help defend but don’t expect him to make any all-defensive teams. His less than ideal +1 wingspan doesn’t help.
BUTLER BASKETBALL: Tucker not returning
Jordan Tucker announced via Twitter Friday he is not coming back to play for the Butler Bulldogs and will remain in the 2020 NBA Draft.
“This is a difficult decision, but it’s the one I want to make to be completely focused on my professional goals over the next few months,” Tucker’s post said. “My time at Butler has made me a better player and a better person. Thank you to my coaches, my teammates, and everyone at Butler who has invested so much in me.
“I’ll miss wearing the Butler jersey and playing in front of Bulldog Nation.”
The 6’7” forward announced March 26th that he was entering the NBA pre-draft process.
Jordan averaged 8.9 ppg and 3.8 rebounds per game in his junior season.
“In his two seasons as a member of our program, Jordan has matured on and off the court,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said in a statement. “He has taken strides in becoming a more all-around player, and that growth made us a better team.
“Jordan has always had the goal of playing professionally, and we support him as he pursues his dream. He’ll always be Butler Family, and all the Bulldogs will be rooting for him.”
Derek Daly sues Bob Lamey, the Colts and Emmis
Former broadcaster Derek Daly has filed a civil lawsuit against former Colts announcer Bob Lamey, radio host Joe Staysniak, the Colts and Emmis Communications alleging they lied concerning an incident that got him fired two years ago.
WISH-TV fired Daly in August of 2018 after they determined Daly was the source of a racial slur Lamey repeated during an off-air conversation between Lamey and Staysniak. The suit says Lamey said the phrase “…there aren’t any (racial slur) in this race,”and attributed the slur to Daly.
The phrase was also heard by Emmis employee Sharlene Birdsong who reported it to the Emmis human resources department.
TENNIS: IU EAST’S SCHMIDT REPEATS AS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONOREE
RICHMOND, Ind. – Recent Indiana University East graduate Krystal Schmidt repeated as an Academic All-District® honoree, as selected by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), for the 2019-20 school year.
Schmidt, who recently completed her career in the IU East women’s tennis program, is one of 10 athletes on the District 2 Academic All-District Women’s At-Large Team. District 2 includes NAIA schools from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The “At-Large” division for the CoSIDA Academic All-America® program includes 16 sports.
Schmidt was the Naomi Osborne Scholar, an honor given to the graduate with the highest grade point average, for the IU East Class of 2020. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Life Science with minors in psychology, exercise science, chemistry and neuroscience. She will continue her studies in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Indiana State University,
Schmidt finished her tennis career as IU East’s program leader in total singles wins (56 in the fall and spring seasons). She represented IU East on the 2020 River States Conference women’s tennis Champions of Character team.
To be eligible for Academic All-District consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale and have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing.
Schmidt owns the highest GPA on the District 2 Academic All-District list.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY-1948
CLEVELAND-Joe DiMaggio drove three successive home runs at Municipal Stadium today before a record gathering of 78,431 fans, to sweep the Yankees to victory over the Indians in the first game of a twin bill. What is believed to be the second largest crowd ever to witness a ball game-it is said only a Yankee‚Red Sox record of 81,841 in New York tops today’s paid turnout, which displaced the old record of 74,529 here-thrilled to the spectacle of DiMaggio’s hitting in the opener. He struck a single his first time up, hit his first homer after Tommy Henrich walked in the fourth, exploded the second when Henrich walked again and Charley Keller singled in the sixth, and capped it all with his third round-tripper, solo, in the eighth.
The matchless Rapid Robert Feller was the victim of DiMaggio’s first two for the circuit, a more or less surprising Yankee greeting in the first meeting of the champions with the Iowa strong boy this season. The blow influenced Rapid Robert’s rapid withdrawal for a pinch hitter in the seventh and sent Feller crashing to his third defeat. Bob Muncrief felt the pain of DiMaggio’s solo homer, the one thrust he yielded as he hurled the final two innings. Once before in his brilliant career DiMaggio hit three homers in one game. That was on June 12, 1937, his second year in the “big time.”
With his three round-trippers and a single, DiMaggio swept across the runs which gave the Yanks the decision in the opener, 6 to 5, with the aid of a dramatic exhibition of relief pitching by the redoubtable Joe Page. Adding to the thrill of DiMaggio’s robust slugging in the opener, and the drama of a pitching piece in which Page fanned two Tribe club wielders on six pitches with the bases loaded in a tense ninth inning to preserve for Allie Reynolds his sixth victory, was the fact that the Yanks rallied from a four-run deficit to score this triumph.
Bill Veeck, the young president of the Indians, looked on, distressed, from the press box through the opener. Bill “escaped” from the Cleveland Clinic Hospital because he just couldn’t resist the lure of his record crowd, which would have been greater but for the rain that fell today. Veeck is convalescing from a third operation on his right leg.
DiMaggio’s homers put the Yanks in front and it was fortunate, for Reynolds wobbled badly in the seventh, eighth and ninth. When Allie had walked Dale Mitchell and pitched two balls to Hal Peck, swinging for Jim Hegan, Manager Harris called Page.
DiMaggio’s tempo must have been too fast for the double-feature routine and Wallopin’ Joe went hitless in the second game. When he didn’t hit, neither did his mates, and the Indians romped to a 5‚1 victory.
1941: Joe Louis beat Buddy Baer on a seventh-round disqualification to win the world heavyweight boxing title in Washington, D.C. Baer was disqualified because he and his manager argued with the ref over whether Louis should be deducted points for a late hit in the sixth round.
1958: Wilt Chamberlain, the all-America center from the University of Kansas, announced that he was giving up his senior year of eligibility to turn pro as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He barnstormed with the Trotters for one year before joining the N.B.A. with the Philadelphia Warriors.
2002: Sam Snead, owner of the smoothest swing in golf and three-time winner of the Masters and the P.G.A. but never the United States Open, died at his home in Hot Springs, Va., after a series of small strokes. He was 89. “Whenever I needed to remind myself how to swing a golf club,” said Tom Watson, the five-time British Open champion, “I’d look at Sam’s swing.”
1942: Cornelius (Dutch) Warmerdam of Long Beach, Calif., the supreme pole-vaulter of the World War II years and early 1950’s, soared 15 feet 73/4 inches at a meet in Modesto, Calif., setting a world vault record that lasted until 1957. Wamerdam, using bamboo poles in the pre-fiberglass era, cleared 15 feet or more 43 times in 1940‚44; no one else made that height until 1951.
1962: Joe Pepitone hit two home runs in the nine-run eighth inning of the Yankees’ 13-7 victory over the Kansas City A’s. Pepitone became the second Yankee to achieve the feat, following DiMaggio, who hit two blasts in the fifth inning of an 18-11 win over the White Sox in 1936. Alex Rodriguez — who turned the trick twice — and Cliff Johnson are the other Yankees who have gone yard twice in the same frame. Not only do Pepitone and DiMaggio have this date and playing for the Yankees in common, but they also are two of the 56 MLB players who have hit two home runs in an inning.
2002: Shawn Green had a great week at the plate all in one day. The Dodgers slugger became the 14th player in MLB history to homer four times in a game and set a big-league record with 19 total bases in L.A.’s 16-3 victory in Milwaukee. Green went 6-for-6 — adding a double and a single — with seven RBI, and he scored six runs. He’s the only player in MLB history to have a 6-for-6 day that included four home runs. “That day, and that week, I had a very calm sense of being in the zone,” Green told mlb.com’s Ken Gurnick. “As opposed to other times, when you’re in the zone and you almost start pressing because you don’t want to waste that great feeling you have. When that happens, in some ways you feel more pressure when you’re in that zone. But for that week, I was just very relaxed. Everything slowed down. All the cliches.” Since Green’s big day, four other players have hit four blasts in a game: Carlos Delgado of the Blue Jays (2003), Josh Hamilton of the Rangers (2012), Scooter Gennett of the Reds (2017) and J.D. Martinez of the D-backs (2017). “A friend of mine texted me, saying it must be nice every time somebody has three home runs in a game to be remembered,” said Green, who hit a Dodgers-record 49 home runs in 2011. “It’s true. It’s nice to be thought of a couple of times a year, especially when it’s a Dodger, and a left-handed hitter at that.”
2013: The Colorado Avalanche named Patrick Roy their head coach. Roy won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1996 and 2001. “This is an unbelievable day for me,” said the legendary goaltender, who also won Stanley Cups with the Canadiens in 1986 and 1993. “It’s a new and exciting challenge that I am really looking forward to.” Unfortunately for Roy, the honeymoon didn’t last long, as he resigned on Aug. 11, 2016, after going 130-92-24 in three seasons with Colorado. He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year after leading the Avalanche to 112 points and the Central Division title in 2013-14, but Colorado missed the playoffs the next two seasons. Roy remains the only three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy and is the only player in NHL history to win the award with more than one team.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1890 The Giants and the Pittsburgh Alleghenys established a National League record when the teams combine to steal seventeen bases in a single game. New York will win the Polo Grounds contest, 17-10.
1901 Scoring nine runs in the bottom of the ninth at Cleveland’s League Park, the Blues, later to be known as the Indians, stun the Senators, 14-13. The incredible comeback, which consists of six singles, two doubles, a walk, a hit batsman, and a passed ball, comes after two outs.
1901 Clark Griffith, the White Sox’s pitcher-manager, working in relief for his club, decides to walk Philadelphia’s Napoleon Lajoie with the bases loaded intentionally. The strategy proves to be successful when he induces the next three batters to ground out to complete the 11-9 victory at Chicago’s South Side Park.
1910 In the top of the ninth inning in a game against Boston, Cincinnati’s outfielder Dode Paskert steals second base, third base as well as home plate. The thievery proves to be the margin of victory when the Reds edge the Doves, 6-5.
1918 Provost Marshal Enoch Crowder issues a “work-or-fight” order, originally setting July 1 as the deadline for players to enter needed war workforce or face induction into military service. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, who ignores Woodrow Wilson’s letter stating that the President saw “no necessity” for curtailing major-league play, does permit the major leaguers to continue to play through Labor Day, allowing the completion of the shortened season and the World Series with the teams’ rosters staying intact.
1924 Senator right-hander Walter Johnson strikes out 14, including six consecutive batters to tie an AL mark, en route to tossing a 4-0 one-hitter over Chicago. A fourth-inning single by Harry Hooper spoils the ‘Big Train’s’ bid for his second career no-hitter.
1935 The first-ever scheduled major league night game is rained out in Cincinnati, but the team will face the Phillies tomorrow night. The Reds will play eight evening contests this season, including one against every club in the National League.
1936 With the Reds trailing by three runs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning at Crosley Field, Sammy Byrd hits Cy Blanton’s pitch for a game-ending home run, giving Cincinnati an incredible come-from-behind 4-3 victory. The 29 year-old outfielder becomes the third major leaguer to hit a walk-off grand slam, which is a homer that comes in the home team’s final at-bat and erases a three-run deficit, resulting in a one-run victory.
1945 The Braves trade pitcher Red Barrett along with $60,000 to the Cardinals for Mort Cooper, who was dissatisfied with his salary in St. Louis and had threatened to leave. After the early season swap, the newest Redbird goes 21-9 for his team while Boston’s newcomer, a twenty-game winner for the previous three seasons, posts a modest 7-4 record for the sixth-place club.
1948 Yankees’ slugger Joe DiMaggio hits three consecutive home runs, the first two off future Hall of Famer Bob Feller. The trio of round-trippers helps the Bronx Bombers defeat the Tribe, 6-5.
1954 The White Sox send infielder Grady Hatton, obtained from Cincinnati in April, along with $100,000 to the Red Sox in exchange for George Kell, the 1949 American League batting champion. Chicago acquires the 31 year-old six-time All-Star third baseman, who started the season with a .311 lifetime batting average, as a major upgrade, both defensively and offensively, at the hot corner.
1962 Joe Pepitone homers twice to become the second player in Yankee history to hit two home runs in the same inning when the Bronx Bombers score nine times in the eighth inning of a 13-7 rout of Kansas City. In 1936 as a rookie, Joe DiMaggio became the first pinstriper to accomplish the feat.
1963 Mets first baseman Gil Hodges is immediately named as the manager of the Senators, replacing Mickey Vernon, when the teams complete the deal that sends Jimmy Piersall and a player to be named later to New York. The 33 year-old part-time outfielder, who will bat only .194 in 40 games for his new team, will be released in July after drawing the ire of manager Casey Stengel for running the bases backward to celebrate his 100th career home run.
1965 Mets’ outfielder Ron Swoboda takes his position wearing a batting helmet – on his foot. After kicking the protective headgear, which gets stuck on his spikes, manager Casey Stengel ordered the young player to go out to the field.
1965 In the first inning of a 5-2 loss to San Francisco, Jimmy Wynn is unable to catch Jim Ray Hart’s two-out routine fly ball when he loses the ball in the glare of diffused Texas sunlight streaming through plastic panes of the newly-opened Astrodome. The play, now a base-clearing inside-the-park three-run home run instead of an easy third out, results in the painting of the ballpark’s ceiling the next day and will lead to the use of Astroturf next season because the grass will be unable to be grown due to the reduced amount of sunlight.
1970 After a 17-16, 15-inning loss, the Padres replace manager Clyde King with Charlie Fox, their Phoenix PCL affiliate skipper. San Francisco, with a 19-23 record at the time of the Goldsboro, NC native’s dismissal, recovers to go 14 games over .500, finishing third under their new field boss.
1980 In the early morning hours of the players’ planned walkout, the MLBPA and the owners reach a preliminary four-year agreement, allowing the matter of free agency to be reopened the following season. The unresolved issue over free-agent compensation will lead to a 50-day strike next year that results in the loss of 712 games.
1984 The Tigers win their 16th consecutive road game, defeating the Angels, 4-2. Detroit’s victory ties an American League record established by the Senators in 1912.
1991 In front of a sparse Olympic Stadium crowd of 8,833, Tommy Greene, making his 15th start as a major leaguer, no-hits the Expos, 2-0. The Phillies’ right-hander joined the rotation replacing Danny Cox, who had suffered a pulled groin in his last start.
1991 Kirby Puckett strokes five singles and a triple in the Twins’ 10-6 loss in 11 innings to Texas at the Metrodome. The game marks the second time the outfielder collects six hits in a game, making him the fourth post-1900 major leaguer, along with Doc Cramer, Jim Bottomley, and Jimmie Foxx, to have accomplished the feat twice during their career.
1991 With his fourth-inning swipe of second base at Shea Stadium, Andre Dawson becomes the third major leaguer to become a member of the 300/300 club, with his 300th stolen base. The 36 year-old Cubs outfielder, who has also hit 354 home runs, joins Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays in reaching the milestone.
1993 The Royals Hall of Fame inducts team owner Ewing Kauffman. The public appearance at the stadium will be the philanthropist’s last trip to the Kansas City ballpark, which will be renamed in his honor shortly before his death on the first day in August.
1998 Carl Pavano, making his major-league debut for the Expos, allows two runs, one earned, on three hits and strikes out six in the 3-2 win over the Phillies. Montreal acquired the Southington, Connecticut native in the Pedro Martinez trade with the Red Sox.
1998 David Wells extends his American League record consecutive outs streak to 38 when Boston leadoff hitter Darren Lewis grounds out to begin the game. The Yankee southpaw, who authored a perfect game in his last outing, had also retired the final ten Kansas City batters he faced in the start before the ‘perfecto.’
1999 Brady Anderson gets hit twice by a pitch in the same inning to set an American League record. The Oriole leadoff man, the third major leaguer to accomplish the feat, scores each time when the Birds tally ten runs in the first inning, routing the Rangers at Camden Yards, 16-5.
2000 Mariners’ outfielder Rickey Henderson draws his 2,000th career walk, becoming only the third player in baseball history to reach the milestone. Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Ted Williams are the only other major leaguers to have accomplished the feat.
2002 Shawn Green hits four home runs in one game to become the 14th player in major league history, the second this month, to accomplish the feat. The Dodger right fielder’s 6-for-6 performance in Milwaukee’s Miller Park, which also includes a single and double, breaks Joe Adcock’s 1954 mark for total bases by one, with a total of 19.
2002 The Dodgers set a franchise mark when the team hits eight homers in one contest, bashing the Brewers, 16-3. Shawn Green’s four round-trippers account for half of the record-breaking barrage, with Brian Jordan, Hiram Bocachica, Adrian Beltre, and Dave Hansen also contributing four-baggers in the Miller Park contest.
2004 Kaz Matsui, who surpasses Tommy Agee’s 1969 team record, sets a franchise mark with his fifth leadoff home run of the season, becoming the first Mets player to accomplish the feat in consecutive games. The 28 year-old Japanese shortstop is also the first big leaguer to have his first five career round-trippers be hit batting first in the first inning of a game.
2004 The River City Rascals, a member of the independent Frontier League, announce a ‘Sports Criminals Night,’ which will turn T.R. Hughes Ballpark into a giant cell block, with complete with a ‘dugout jail’ for fans during the June 2 game against the Rockford Riverhawks. Although the promotion is intended to humorously poke fun at the media’s coverage of athletes in trouble, the team will cancel the event the next day after protests from the community.
2008 Six weeks after his successful thyroid cancer surgery, Diamondback hurler Doug Davis allows just one run over seven innings in an 11-1 win over the Braves at Turner Field. The 32 year-old southpaw joins Red Sox starter Jon Lester, who threw a no-hitter earlier in the week, to serve as an inspiration for cancer patients and their families.
2008 Giving up just one run in 6.1 innings in the Giants’ 8-2 victory over the Marlins, southpaw Barry Zito avoids becoming the first starter in franchise history to start a season 0-9. The former Cy Young Award winner, who signed a $126 million deal with San Francisco prior to last season, has posted a 12-22 record since donning the orange and black.
2009 At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Jason Giambi hits his 400th career home run. The A’s designated hitter goes deep off Dan Harden leading off the fourth inning in an 8-7 loss against Arizona to become the 44th major leaguer to reach the milestone.
2011 In a profile piece written for The New Yorker magazine, Fred Wilpon makes some very candid comments about some of the ‘stars’ on his payroll. The embattled Mets owner is critical of the often injured Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, and calls David Wright a nice kid, but “not a superstar”.
2011 Chasing a sixth-inning foul pop near the Rangers dugout in the sixth inning, A.J. Pierzynski nearly makes contact with George W. Bush, who is sitting in the owner’s box with his wife, Laura. The ball drops harmlessly into the stands, but the former president takes the opportunity to comment the startled White Sox catcher.
WORLD SERIES HISTORY 1963
The National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers had rebounded from a late-season collapse in 1962 and went on to win the National League pennant with a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest factor in the team’s comeback was an all-star pitching combination featuring a young lefty named Sandy Koufax and a right-hander named Don Drysdale. Koufax had struck out a staggering three-hundred six batters in three-hundred eleven innings and his counterpart had won nineteen games with a 2.63 ERA. Veteran Johnny Podres had added fourteen wins of his own (five of them shutouts) and ace reliever Ron Perranoski made sixty-nine appearances while going 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Their opponents, to no surprise, were their long-time rivals the New York Yankees, who in classic “Bomber style”, boasted four sluggers with twenty or more home runs and an equally qualified pitching rotation. Whitey Ford had twenty-four victories and Jim Bouton, Ralph Terry and Al Downing prospered as well winning the American League pennant by 10½ games. It was the seventh meeting in the Fall Classic between the two ball clubs with the American Leaguers leading the marathon 6-1.
Koufax went against Ford in the opener and quickly set the pace by striking out his first five batters including Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Before the Yankees had a single hit off the rising left-hander, his team was up 4-0. Former Yankee Bill Skowron (who had been obtained after the ’62 Series) singled home a Dodger run in the top of the second and John Roseboro cracked a three run homer later that inning. He added another run in the third and Koufax continued to dominate at the mound. After four innings, the Yankees were still waiting for their first base runner and things would not get much better. After sitting down Mantle, the Dodger ace forced Maris to foul out, but allowed the “Pinstripes” to load the bases on consecutive singles by Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone and Clete Boyer. The threat quickly disappeared though as Hector Lopez (batting for Ford) became the eleventh K victim. After striking out pinch-hitter Phil Linz in the eighth, Koufax had moved one K within Carl Erskine’s single Series game strikeout record of fourteen. The record would have to wait though as a late-inning homer by Tresh stalled the impending celebration, but it was only a matter of time. The first three of New York’s final four outs in Koufax’s 5-2 triumph came on a grounder, a liner and a fly ball. The last out of the game was record-breaking strikeout No. 15, with pinch-hitter Harry Bright submitting the score.
Podres attempted to keep Los Angele’s momentum alive in Game 2 and combined with two out relief from Perranoski to beat the Yankees, 4-1. Willie Davis set the pace at the plate with a two run double in the first and was followed by Skowron’s homer in the fourth. Adding to the Yankees frustration was the Series-ending injury to outfielder Roger Maris who was hurt running into a rail in pursuit of a Tommy Davis triple. With a two-games-to-none lead, the Dodgers returned to their newly christened west coast palace known as Dodger Stadium. Don Drysdale made the homecoming even sweeter with a three hit, 1-0 victory that ended with nine more strikeouts for the Yankees. Bouton had completed the outing while holding his own, but surrendered the critical game-winning run in the first on Jim Gilliam’s walk, a wild pitch and a single by Tommy Davis, who had just captured his second straight National League batting championship.
In a classic rematch of the Series opener, Ford and Koufax went at it again as one pitcher tried to complete a sweep and the other attempted to keep his team alive. Both adversaries held each other scoreless until the fifth inning when the Dodger’s Frank Howard launched a rocket homer to left. Mantle evened the score with a blast of his own in the seventh after going a miserable one for thirteen in Series at bats. Maury Wills, known primarily for his speed (one-hundred four steals in ’62) regained the lead for the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and from there on it was all Los Angeles. First, Gilliam led off the eighth with a high-bouncer that resulted in a critical Yankees infield error between Pepitone and Boyer who had missed to connect on the throw. Then, Willie Davis came in with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored his leadoff man. Finally, Koufax stayed in to finish the job and went on for the six hit, eight K, 2-1 triumph that not only swept the Yankees, but also ended their latest consecutive Series winning streak at two.
BASEBALL’S BEST: GARY CARTER
It simply should not have taken six years for Gary Carter to get into the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best catchers of his era, and many observers put him in the top ten in major-league history. He was an outstanding defender with a strong arm who did all the other things expected of a receiver. He combined that with a powerful bat – Carter’s 298 homers as a catcher are sixth-most at that position – and a gung-ho competitive spirit. A broad grin and pumping fist were The Kid’s visual trademarks.
Carter’s best years came with the Montreal Expos in the late 1970s and early ’80s, but he was still in his late prime when he joined the New York Mets in 1985. Carter was the final ingredient that helped a promising young club become a World Series champion in 1986. He became the team’s cleanup hitter and handled its excellent pitching staff. One of those hurlers, Ron Darling, called Carter the moral compass of the hard-living squad.
Knee injuries ground Carter down – in part because he always wanted to stay in the lineup. His last season as a full-time regular came at age 34 in 1988, though he hung on for four more years. Subsequently, he stayed involved in baseball as a broadcaster with the Florida Marlins and Expos. He then coached and managed in the minors, independent ball, and college, but his hopes of returning to the majors went unfulfilled. Alas, Carter also died in 2012 at the too-young age of 57.
For the definitive account of this man’s youth and family background, one must turn to Before the Glory (2007), by Billy Staples and Rich Herschlag. All the details one could want are in Carter’s chapter, as told by The Kid himself. Of necessity, this story offers only a tiny selection.
Gary Edmund Carter was born on April 8, 1954, in Culver City, California, near Los Angeles. He was the second of two boys born to James H. Carter and his wife Inge. Jim Carter, a mechanically minded man from Kentucky, moved to California after World War II to work in technical jobs in Hollywood. When Gary was born, he was working as an aviation-parts inspector for Hughes Aircraft Company. (The aerospace industry was a big employer in Southern California.)
Inge Charlotte Keller was born in Chicago in 1929. Her parents were German immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1920s. Gary later attributed his athletic ability to Inge, a champion swimmer, although Gary himself said, “Funnily enough, I’m a terrible swimmer.” His older brother Gordon was also good enough to be a second-round draft pick of the California Angels in 1968 and the San Francisco Giants in 1971. Gordy played two years of Class A ball (1972-73) in the Giants organization.
Gary Carter started playing Little League at age six, but he also loved and was talented at football. In 1961, the National Football League sponsored the first Punt, Pass & Kick contest. At the Los Angeles Coliseum, seven-year-old Gary became the national champion in his age group. He was a finalist again two years later, but lost in sub-zero conditions in Chicago.
When Carter was 12 years old, his mother died at age 37 after a battle with leukemia. This crushing loss at a young age was at the root of Carter’s later charitable work, raising funds for leukemia research and on behalf of children with other disorders. Jim Carter took on the role of both parents, making great sacrifices for his boys. In addition to his job in procurement for McDonnell Douglas, another aerospace/defense company, he coached Gary at various levels of youth baseball and supported him in all his sporting endeavors. Brother Gordy was also a mentor and role model for Gary.
Carter followed Gordy to Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California (the family had moved there when he was five). There he was a three-sport star, becoming captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams. He was also a member of the National Honor Society. In football, he was a high school All-America quarterback and received nearly 100 scholarship offers. He signed a letter of intent with UCLA. (If he had played for the Bruins, he would have competed with and/or backed up Mark Harmon, who went on to become a well-known actor.) Carter suffered torn knee ligaments in his senior year, however, and had to sit out the football season. Noted sports surgeon Dr. Robert Kerlan warned him that one more bad hit could end his athletic career.
That prompted Carter to turn pro in baseball instead. The Expos had selected him in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft. He had played shortstop, third base, and pitcher for Sunny Hills – and only six games as a catcher. But scout Bob Zuk, special assignment scout Bobby Mattick, and farm director Mel Didier looked at the ruggedly built teenager (6-feet-2, 205 pounds) and envisaged him behind the plate. Zuk also craftily downplayed his interest in Carter, which enabled Montreal to draft him earlier than other teams expected.
Although Carter was totally raw as a receiver, his ascent through the minors was rapid. He played in rookie league and Class A in 1972 and jumped to Double A for 1973. He got his first promotion to Triple A at the end of ’73 and needed just one more year at that level in 1974, when he became the Topps Triple-A All-Star catcher. He never returned to the minors except for a brief injury-rehab stint in 1989.
According to Carter, he got his enduring nickname – “The Kid” – during his first spring training camp with the Expos in 1973. “Tim Foli, Ken Singleton and Mike Jorgensen started calling me Kid because I was trying to win every sprint. I was trying to hit every pitch out of the park.” One history of the 1986 Mets, Jeff Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won, wrote that pitcher Don Carrithers (an Expo from 1974 to 1976) sarcastically hyped “The Kid” as a way to get the goat of incumbent catcher Barry Foote. Pearlman then went on at length to describe how Carter’s naïve enthusiasm rubbed a lot of his teammates the wrong way. Another nickname – “Camera Carter” – later came from his love of doing interviews. “Lights” and “Teeths” were two more labels that captured the behind-the-back sniping in Montreal.
Yet there wasn’t anything phony about Carter – his chatty, cheery exterior truly reflected what was in his heart. As Ira Berkow of the New York Times wrote upon Carter’s induction to Cooperstown, “He delighted in relationships.”
In that first camp in 1973, Montreal assigned Carter to room with John Boccabella, a veteran catcher. “Boc” was traded for Carrithers toward the end of March 1974, and after the deal, Boccabella said of Carter, “He impressed me both as a player and a person. He learns fast and I think he has the stuff to become a superstar.”
Boccabella’s personal influence on Carter was even stronger. The veteran was a man of deep religious faith who attended Mass daily and had led Sunday services for the Expos. Carter, who had lost his faith after his mother died, found it again. As his daughter Christy recalled in 2013, “John Boccabella led Dad to Christ and he accepted Jesus in his heart.”
Carter told Montreal sportswriter Ian MacDonald about this himself in 1977. He called Boccabella “a beautiful guy. Always enthusiastic. Always up. Always reading from the Scriptures or [basketball coach John] Wooden’s book. I had met Wooden two or three times when I was being recruited by UCLA but I hadn’t read the book until Boccabella gave me a copy. It was overwhelming. It reinforced everything that I believed in and gave me the physical strength to practice my beliefs – to be happy to be alive, to be enthusiastic, to not fill your life with hate over the stupid things…I learned a lot from ‘Boc’ and I’ll always be grateful to him.”
Playing winter ball in Puerto Rico also aided Carter’s development. He played for the Caguas Criollos in the 1973-74 season. Montreal sent a number of its prospects to Caguas, which was loaded with future big-leaguers. One of them, Otto Vélez, called that club the best Puerto Rican team he ever played on – they became league champions and went on to win the Caribbean Series. Vélez told author Thomas Van Hyning, “There was no envy on that team, though there were many who could really play. Gary Carter wanted to become a better player, [Mike] Schmidt had to overcome a season with a lot of strikeouts.”
Carter started that winter in Instructional League, but a month into the Puerto Rican season, Caguas needed a backup catcher. Montreal’s general manager, Jim Fanning, recommended the 19-year-old, who became the youngest member of the Criollos. He got a chance to play when the regular catcher, Jim Essian, got hurt. As was true everywhere Carter played, the fans loved him for his enthusiasm and desire to win. In the Caribbean Series, Carter hit a homer off Pedro Borbón of the Dominican Republic and was named the catcher on the series all-star team.
The Expos called Carter up to the majors for the first time in September 1974. He made his debut at Montreal’s old Jarry Park on September 16. On September 28, also at Jarry, he hit his first of 324 regular-season homers in the majors. It came against a great pitcher, Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton. In 27 at-bats, Carter got 11 hits for a .407 average.
Carter wore uniform number 57 in that brief appearance. The following season, Carter was assigned the number 8, and considered it fate. “I was born on April 8. I got married on February 8. We moved into our first home in California on November 8. And look at all the great players who wore No. 8. Carl Yastrzemski. Willie Stargell. Yogi Berra. Bill Dickey. Joe Morgan. Cal Ripken, Jr. All Hall of Famers. So when I was assigned No. 8, I remembered all those things and figured it would be a lucky number for me, and it was,” Carter wrote in 2008. He wore it for the rest of his career.
Carter played with Caguas again in the winter of 1974-75. He hit .261 with five homers and 32 RBIs; of interest was that he alternated between catcher and third base. Though the Criollos wanted him behind the plate, Jim Fanning sought to get him action at third and in right field. The experiment at the hot corner was curious, since one of Montreal’s other prize prospects was third baseman Larry Parrish.
The Criollos made it to the league finals once more, and had they repeated as champions, the resulting trip to the Caribbean Series would have endangered Carter’s wedding date. The Bayamón Vaqueros won in seven games, though – and so, on February 8, 1975, Carter married his high school sweetheart, Sandra “Sandy” Lahm. At the time, Sandy was training to be a flight attendant. The couple spent their honeymoon in the Expos’ training camp at Daytona Beach! They later had three children: Christina (“Christy”), Kimberly (“Kimmy”), and Douglas James (“D.J.”).
In March 1975, sportswriter Brad Willson of the Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote a spring-training feature about Carter and his enormous promise. He quoted Karl Kuehl, who had managed Carter in the minors and in Instructional League, as well as Jean-Pierre Roy, the Montreal native and former Brooklyn Dodger who later went into broadcasting with the Expos. They both gave glowing assessments – but what mattered even more were the opinions of Fanning and manager Gene Mauch.
Fanning said that Carter’s tools were as good as those of any player they had, but added, “He also has the intangibles not all the others possess – desire, determination, and hustle. He’s a superkid.” After much deliberation, Mauch said, “Gary Carter is a highly gifted, intelligent young man. In every league in which he’s played, he’s adjusted to the caliber of play. In Double A, Triple A and winter ball he had some difficulty at first. But he adjusted; that’s where the intelligence comes in. I’ve seen players who can run better and who can hit better but I’ve never seen a better package. I’ve never seen someone who loves to play the game more.”
Carter finished second in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year in 1975 behind San Francisco Giant pitcher John “The Count” Montefusco. He was also named to his first of 11 All-Star teams. That year, however, he started 80 games in right field and only 56 behind the plate. Carter and Barry Foote continued to share the catching duties for Montreal in 1976, though Carter missed most of June and July after breaking his thumb in a “spectacularly ugly” outfield collision with Pepe Mangual. It was his worst season in Montreal.
The Expos had a new young star in right field: Ellis Valentine, who had power and a cannon arm. Carter seized the catching job from Foote in 1977. From then through 1984, he started 89% of the games that Montreal played and posted an OPS of .823 (simple averages of seasonal statistics are distorted by the strike of 1981). He won three Gold Gloves in succession from 1980 through 1982 and was runner-up to Mike Schmidt for the NL’s Most Valuable Player award in 1980. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) numbers were consistently high.
At the plate, Carter was an imposing figure. Players were not nearly as bulked up in that era, and Carter had one of the burlier upper bodies in the game then. He gave the impression of using his upper half and especially his forearms when he swung – it was a chopping horizontal stroke, like a lumberjack attacking a tree. He stood up almost straight at the plate, with just a slight knee bend; he held his bat high and nearly vertical.
As a receiver, Carter cited his own hard work and natural progression with experience, especially once he could focus on catching full-time. He also seconded the opinion that Norm Sherry, whom Expos manager Dick Williams had hired as catching coach after the 1977 season, had been a very helpful tutor.
Carter remained one of the best in the game at stopping enemy runners. From 1974 through 1976, he threw out 49% of would-be base stealers (49 of 99). That ratio remained at 40% from 1977 through 1984 (481 of 1189). Larry Bowa, who stole over 300 bases in the majors, offered extra insight in 2003. “This guy put a little fear in you when you were on first base even if you got a good jump…A lot of catchers were on ego trips, they didn’t want you to steal, so they would call just fastballs…I respect Gary Carter because he would call breaking balls. He was not intimidated by any base stealer. He would call his game.”
The Expos became one of the better teams in the National League in the late 1970s, thanks to Carter, Parrish, Valentine, André Dawson, pitcher Steve Rogers and other members of a homegrown core. In 1981, they made it to the postseason for the only time in the franchise’s history. Carter was 8 for 19 with two homers as Montreal beat the Phillies in five games in the NL Division Series. He was 7 for 16 in the NL Championship series against the Dodgers, and drew a walk in the bottom of the ninth after Rick Monday’s homer had put L.A. ahead. The Expos could not get the tying run in, though, and their chance for a pennant was gone. They fell back to third place in 1982, despite another strong year from their catcher.
Ahead of the 1983 season, Sports Illustrated put Carter on its cover, proclaiming him “The Best in the Business.” In the accompanying feature article, Ron Fimrite covered Carter’s game and personality in depth. Among the notable points, in summary:
Batting: It wasn’t just about slugging for Carter – he had worked to cut down on his strikeouts. “I’ve learned to be more disciplined,” he said. “If you want a sacrifice, I’ll do it. If you need someone to go to right field on the hit-and-run, I’ll do that.”
Fielding: Aside from his strong arm and quick release, Carter excelled at all the other valuable catching skills – framing pitches, blocking the plate, and calling the game. Fimrite also observed, “Carter’s nonstop commentary behind the plate has been known to drive even the most single-minded and level-headed hitters to distraction.”
Character: Beyond the ceaseless boyish enthusiasm (which caused cynics to doubt his sincerity), the genial Carter could also get angry on the field. He once shattered Bill Buckner’s bat and the two came to blows. Johnny Bench called Carter, “a fiery, forceful, aggressive player.”
In February 1982, Carter had signed a seven-year contract for roughly $14 million plus incentives – then the sport’s richest deal, or close to it. “He’s a franchise-type player,” said Expos president (and general manager) John McHale. “If you can ever justify paying that kind of money, he’s one who earns it.” The Expos could not make it back to the playoffs, though, and owner Charles Bronfman was disappointed because he was also losing money on the club. In September 1983, Bronfman said, “Two months before Carter signed the contract, we were perfectly aware we were making a mistake. The next day and a month later we still knew we were wrong. I’ll know it until my dying day. And I’m not just saying that because Carter had a bad year.”
Indeed, Carter had fallen off with the bat while battling assorted injuries. He bounced back in 1984, but Montreal still finished fifth in the NL East. The club decided it was time to reload and get value for their star. (John McHale also said that Carter wanted out, though Carter denied that he broached the idea.) That December, after lengthy talks, the Expos traded the catcher to the Mets. They got four players in return: infielder Hubie Brooks, catcher Mike Fitzgerald, outfielder Herm Winningham, and pitcher Floyd Youmans. Brooks moved to shortstop and gave the Expos some solid (if not huge) years. Fitzgerald was a good defender, though not a big hitter, whose career was spoiled by a badly broken finger in 1986. Perhaps the biggest setback for Montreal was the talented Youmans, who developed arm and substance abuse problems.
Meanwhile, Carter fit in immediately with the Mets. On Opening Day 1985, he hit a game-winning homer in the 10th inning at Shea Stadium, smacking former Met Neil Allen’s 1-0 curveball over left fielder Lonnie Smith’s head and the fence. The delighted Met fans roared and Carter got his first-ever curtain call. “I learned right away that New York was going to be different,” Carter wrote later. “I was now playing for a special breed of fans. If hitting a walk-off home run in your first game with a new team is not special, I don’t know what is.”
He set a career high with 32 homers that year while making less visible yet invaluable contributions. Manager Davey Johnson later called Carter “a one-man scouting system.” Both Johnson and Ron Darling observed how important the catcher’s detailed knowledge of hitters was to working with the talented but young staff.
Carter was back on a home field with natural grass at New York’s Shea Stadium, which helped ease his main physical concern. In a 2010 interview, he referred to “that god-awful Olympic Stadium [in Montreal] that tore our knees up, ’cause I’ve had 12 knee surgeries and both my knees replaced.” Torn cartilage was a concern in mid-1985, but he gutted it out with a brace and waited until the season was over before getting arthroscopic surgery.
The Mets could not overtake the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, but ran away with the NL East in 1986. Carter had his last truly big year, remaining a near-constant in the lineup except for a two-week stretch on the sidelines in August. (He hurt his thumb diving for a ball during one of his occasional starts at first base.) He finished third in the NL MVP voting.
During the National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Carter got just one hit in his first 21 at-bats. But in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game Five, with the count full, he hit a game-winning single. It was a grounder up the middle, past Astros reliever Charlie Kerfeld (who, according to some viewers, had taunted Carter by showing him the ball after making a behind-the-back play in Game Three). Carter said after the game, “I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to come through here.’ I knew it was just a matter of time.” At that point – he had no idea of the drama to come – he also said, “It’s at the top of all the games I’ve ever played in.”
After the Mets finally overcame the Astros – the concluding Game Six was an excruciating 16-inning battle – they faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Carter was 8 for 29 (.276) with 9 RBIs. He cracked two homers in Game Four at Fenway Park as the Mets tied the Series. Yet his most crucial hit came three days later, in Game Six. Carter’s single in the bottom of the 10th sparked the most improbable two-out, three-run rally that snatched the championship away from Boston.
In 2012, teammate Bob Ojeda said, “If you watch the video with Gary walking to the plate, you see that sense of determination…in his step, in his swing. . .he was not going to make that out. You can see [it] in his face.” Carter told reporters exactly the same thing after the game. According to first base coach Bill Robinson, when Carter reached base, he let loose a rare expletive –“No f***ing way” – to intensify the statement. (Carter is credited with coining the euphemism “f-bomb” in 1988.) It’s also noteworthy that he had donned his catcher’s gear, ready to play another extra inning, when the winning run scored on the ball that got by Bill Buckner.
In April 1987, Carter published the first of his three books, A Dream Season. That year, the physical pounding of his position became harder to endure. Ahead of the 1988 season, the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel wrote, “It took six cortisone shots [for Carter] to get through last season – to sustain a troublesome ankle, knee, shoulder, back and elbow. No wonder his offensive production slipped (.235, 20 HR, 83 RBI).” Carter said, “I was hurting every day last year. I should have been put on the disabled list several times, but they weren’t disabling injuries. In my early- to mid-20s, a lot of the type of injuries I have today were easier to shake off. You learn to appreciate the good days in which you feel like a human being.”
That spring, Davey Johnson also made Carter a co-captain of the Mets. In 2012, Johnson said, “I had a captain of the team – Keith Hernandez, he ran the infield – before Gary got there, but after seeing what he did, he was so special, I made him a co-captain. It was an honor he deserved.” The drop-off continued, however: even though Carter still started 116 games behind the plate, his basic batting line fell off to .242-11-46. His caught stealing percentage also hit a career low of 19%. He was 6 for 27 in his final postseason activity, as the Mets lost the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The decline was even more severe in 1989 – Carter played in a career-low 50 games after knee problems forced another arthroscopy, costing him nearly three months from early May through late July. He hit just .183-2-15 in 153 plate appearances. The Mets released him (and Hernandez) after the season. In typical form, Carter said, “I know I can still play this game. I know there will be an opportunity out there.”
In January 1990, he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. He platooned with another veteran, Terry Kennedy, who had been with the Giants during their pennant-winning season in 1989. Nonetheless, he still had the desire to play every day and didn’t want to hang on if he wasn’t contributing. Indeed, he made a respectable comeback (.254-9-27 in 92 games).
Even so, Carter became a free agent again, and did not sign with another team until March 1991. This time it was the Dodgers, the team he had followed as a boy. He made good on a non-roster invitation from manager Tommy Lasorda and backed up Mike Scioscia. When Scioscia was sidelined by a broken hand, Carter played every game for two straight weeks, including both ends of a doubleheader against the Braves. He did another creditable job (.246-6-26, while throwing out 32% of base stealers).
Late 1990 and early 1991 marked the release of a series of baseball novels for young adults under Carter’s aegis. The Gary Carter’s Iron Mask books followed a youth named Robbie Belmont – who wore number 8 and had been converted to catcher – from high school to the majors. Carter did none of the writing, but he signed the introductions and shared in the royalties. In 2014, author Robert Montgomery said, “I did meet with Gary before a game for an hour interview, and found him high-energy and very forthcoming. I sent him a few follow-up questions after the interview, which he promptly answered.”
Carter did not file for free agency after the 1991 season, and the Dodgers placed him on waivers. As a result, he returned to Montreal in 1992 for his final year as a big-leaguer. He said it was something he’d always had in the back of his mind. At age 38, his teammates still called him “The Kid.” As it developed, he played more than any other catcher for the Expos that year, and though he didn’t hit much (.218-5-29 in 95 games), he still helped the team rebound from sixth place to second in the NL East. Carter went over the 2,000 mark in games caught and the 1,200 mark in RBIs in 1992, both milestones he wanted to achieve.
Carter’s career ended on an upbeat note. At Olympic Stadium on September 27, he drove in the game’s only run with a double. As he told it in 2004, “I had announced my retirement, and [manager] Felipe Alou said, ‘You will catch that game.’ In the seventh inning, in my last at-bat, I got the opportunity. Felipe Alou was going to pull me out of the game. He said, ‘Go on up there. Whatever happens, happens, but this is your last at-bat.’ It turned out to be a game-winner in front of that fan appreciation crowd. Nice way to finish.”
After retirement, Carter became a color commentator on television for the Florida Marlins. He held that job for four years, but his contract was not renewed after the 1996 season. Shortly thereafter, he returned once more to the Expos, working in their TV broadcast booth from 1997 through 1999. His main focus in 2000 was golf with the Celebrity Players Tour. Carter felt a desire to get back on the field, though – as early as 1998, he had expressed managerial ambitions. In 2001 and 2002, he was a part-time roving catching instructor in the Mets minor-league system. He took on that role full-time in 2003 and became minor league catching coordinator in 2004.
Off the field, Carter’s strong character manifested itself again in 1995, when the Internal Revenue Service began investigating active and retired ballplayers for failing to report income earned from appearances and autograph signings at baseball card shows. Under the microscope were Met stars Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Hernandez, Darling, and Carter. But when the IRS subpoenaed Carter to appear before a grand jury, they found that he was as honest about his taxes as everything else in his life. Carter spent $25,000 in accountants’ fees to produce his invoices and receipts. When he left the witness stand and the courtroom, he said, “There was nothing the US Attorney’s office was ever going to be able to question me about.” Carter was swiftly dropped from the probe.
On another front, the Gary Carter Foundation began operations in 2000. Its mission, through its own donations and funds raised externally, is to better the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of children in addition to supporting faith-based initiatives. Among the endeavors it supports is the Autism Project of Palm Beach County, Florida. The Carter family made its home there for many years.
Carter was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003, his sixth year of eligibility. The vagaries of the process are well known, but his pattern was still unusual. In his case, “first-ballot” bias may have reflected his lack of milestone career numbers, yet Carter suffered an odd dip in his second year before gaining momentum. The voting disparities between him and two other top catchers of his day – Carlton Fisk and Lance Parrish – were also peculiar.
Carter’s Hall of Fame plaque shows him in an Expos cap. He suggested that “it would be nice to have a split hat” that also featured the Mets, but the decision rested with the Hall, and he abided by it. During his induction speech, Carter grew very emotional as he honored his parents’ memory – Jim Carter had died that January, less than a month after his son was voted in – and thanked his brother Gordy.
In 2004, the press bandied Carter’s name about as a future manager of the Mets after some grooming in the minors. He drew some flak for lobbying for the job with the big club that September, while Art Howe was still the incumbent. Carter got his first opportunity as a skipper in 2005 and led their rookie-ball club in the Gulf Coast League to a 37-16 record. He then had another winning season with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League (high Class A). In both 2005 and 2006, Carter was named Manager of the Year in his league. The Mets offered him a job with their Double-A affiliate, Binghamton, for the 2007 season. He turned down that promotion, however, citing the rigors of the long Eastern League bus rides.
Carter was also disappointed not to have landed a coaching job with the Mets’ major-league squad – he wanted to bring his experience and inspiration. He hinted that it might have helped as the club folded down the stretch in 2007. As it developed, he took all of 2007 off. In 2008, though, he returned to managing with the Orange County Flyers (based in Fullerton) of the Golden Baseball League. That March Carter again voiced his desire to manage the Mets, while Willie Randolph still held the job. He stayed in Orange County and again was named Manager of the Year.
For the 2009 season, Carter was skipper of another independent team, the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. After his year with the Ducks, he became head baseball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. That was near his home in Palm Beach Gardens. Carter joined his daughter Kimmy, who had been a star catcher in softball at Florida State University from 1999 through 2002. She was named head softball coach at PBA in 2007.
In May 2011, Carter began to experience headaches and forgetfulness. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. His case was inoperable, but he fought it with a course of radiation and chemotherapy, displaying the same positive outlook and competitive fire as always. Kimmy chronicled the grueling battle in an extensive journal on the website CaringBridge.org. The account was filled with hope and faith, which continued even after a magnetic resonance imaging scan showed the presence of several new spots on Carter’s brain in January 2012.
Carter’s assistants had taken over his coaching duties at Palm Beach Atlantic, but he visited his team on February 2, 2012, when it opened its season in Jupiter, Florida, against Lynn University. It was his last public appearance – two weeks later, he died in hospice care. He was survived by his wife, three children, and three grandchildren.
The Expos retired Carter’s uniform No. 8 in 1993, and it retains that status with the Washington Nationals (which the Expos became after the 2004 season). There have been frequent calls for the Mets to do likewise. In May 2013, the city of Montreal renamed a section of a street – adjacent to Jarry Park – Rue Gary-Carter. The following month, it inaugurated Gary Carter Stadium in Ahuntsic Park. A crowd of old Expos diehards greeted Gary’s widow Sandy and daughter Christy, who emphasized how much Montreal meant to the Carter family.
Gary Carter captured essential parts of himself in the titles of his two other books, The Gamer (1993) and Still a Kid at Heart (2008). Yet to round out the picture, one may choose from among the many tributes this man received from his teammates after his passing. Perhaps the most fitting came from Darryl Strawberry, “I wish I could have lived my life like Gary Carter…He was a true man.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: CHARLES HARLEY
Charles Wesley Harley, known as “Chic,” was a 5-10, 158 pound halfback for Ohio State who made All-America in 1916, 1917 and 1919. (In 1918 he was a pilot in the Army Air Corps). Harley was Ohio State’s first three-time All-America player, was on Ohio State’s first Big Ten championship team, and led Ohio State to its first victory over Michigan. In three seasons he made 23 touchdowns, 39 extra points, 8 field goals, 201 points, a school record that lasted 36 years until broken by Hopalong Cassady. In 1916, he ran 20 yards for a touchdown and drop-kicked the extra point to beat Illinois 7-6; ran 27 and 80 yards and drop-kicked two extra points to beat Wisconsin 14-13, ran for 20 and 67 yards and drop-kicked a 34-yard field goal to beat Northwestern 23-3. In 1917, he scored four touchdowns against Indiana, threw two touchdown passes against Wisconsin, made a touchdown pass and two field goals against Illinois. His best play of 1919 was a 40-yard run against Michigan. Chic Harley attended Columbus East High School as a classmate of James Thurber and George Bellows. Many feel that Harley was college football’s greatest player until Red Grange and would have won two if not three Heisman Trophies had the award existed at the time. His play inspired his school to build Ohio Stadium.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S BEST: HUGH GREEN
Hugh Green (DE, Pitt, 1977-80)
Sacks: 49 | Tackles: 441
Pittsburgh coach Jackie Sherrill once said Green had only one speed: full speed. “He’s so reckless and so quick,” Sherrill told Sports Illustrated. “Nobody in college football can block him.” Green was a three-time first-team All-American. In 1980, he won the Maxwell Award as the country’s best player, won the Lombardi Award as the best lineman and won the Walter Camp as the nation’s most outstanding player. He finished second to South Carolina’s George Rogers in Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, the highest-ever finish by a full-time defensive player. The Panthers went 39-8-1 during Green’s four seasons, when he started every contest but one.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: 1946-47
At a Glance
NCAA Champion–Holy Cross (27-3; coached by Doggie Julian/second of three seasons with Crusaders).
NIT Champion–Utah (19-5; coached by Vadal Peterson/20th of 26 seasons with Utes; finished in second place with a 12-2 record behind Wyoming in the Big Seven Conference).
New Rule–Transparent backboards are authorized.
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans–Ralph Beard, G, Soph., Kentucky (10.6 ppg); Alex Groza, C, Soph., Kentucky (10.6 ppg); Ralph Hamilton, F, Sr., Indiana (13.4 ppg); Sid Tanenbaum, G, Sr., NYU (13.2 ppg); Gerry Tucker, C, Sr., Oklahoma (10.5 ppg).
Which enterprise was deemed Bob Davies’ second job when he pulled off one of the most amazing feats in college basketball history? Davies coached Seton Hall, his alma mater, to a 24-3 record the same season he also earned National Basketball League Most Valuable Player honors (averaged 14.3 points in 43 regular-season and playoff games with the Rochester Royals). The “Blonde Bomber” is credited with inventing the behind-the-back dribble. He was 26 years old at the start of his only season as coach of the Pirates.
Kentucky standout center Alex Groza saw limited action in the SEC Tournament because of a back injury, but the Wildcats cruised to victories over Vanderbilt (98-29), Auburn (84-18), Georgia Tech (75-53) and Tulane (55-38). The all-tourney team (considered the All-SEC team that season) included five Wildcats on the first five–forwards Jack Tingle and Joe Holland, center Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones and guards Ken Rollins and Ralph Beard. Sophomores Beard and Groza are the only set of underclassmen teammates named NCAA consensus first-team All-Americans in the same year since the start of the NCAA Tournament. Tingle, a four-time All-SEC selection, died in 1958 at the age of 33 because of cancer. UK, without Converse All-American guard Jack Parkinson (serving in the U.S. Air Force), almost repeated as NIT champion but bowed in the final to Utah, 49-45.
Wisconsin, after finishing in ninth place the previous season, won three league games by one point en route to its last Big Ten Conference championship of the 20th Century. Defending Big Ten champion Ohio State fell to a tie for sixth place. Wisconsin, involved in a bizarre late-season game to determine the title, was locked in a battle with Purdue atop the standings when the Bud Foster-coached Badgers visited Lafayette, Ind., on February 24. At halftime, newly-installed wooden bleachers at Lambert Fieldhouse’s east grandstand collapsed under the overflow crowd of more than 11,000, crushing three student spectators and injuring hundreds of other patrons. The second half of the ill-fated contest was suspended for more than two weeks until it was completed at a neutral site (Evanston, Ill., High School), where Wisconsin outscored Purdue, 39-26, to claim a belated 72-60 triumph.
Oklahoma center Gerry Tucker became an NCAA consensus first-team All-American after having his career interrupted for three years while serving in the U.S. Army. He later coached the 1956 U.S. Olympic team.
Texas, the “Mighty Mice” team featuring three starters 5-10 or shorter, compiled a 26-2 record with both of its defeats coming by one point (40-39 to defending NCAA champion Oklahoma A&M and 55-54 to Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament Western Regional finals). The Longhorns were coached by Jack Gray, who was hired in the 1936-37 season when he was only 25. In an era of slow, deliberate play, Gray’s squads were known for their innovative running, pressing style and were one of the first to don white sneakers.
UCLA senior Don Barksdale, a second-team selection, was the first African-American player named to an NCAA consensus All-American squad. After a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, he led the Pacific Coast Conference Southern Division in scoring. . . . The top major-college single-game output of the season was a 54-point effort by St. John’s Harry Boykoff against St. Francis (N.Y.). “(Coach) Joe Lapchick deserves credit for making a player out of me,” said the 6-9 Boykoff, who scored a total of one point in his first 20 high school games. “When I came to St. John’s, I soon found out that I didn’t know much. There were other tall guys around. Lapchick showed me how to roll on a pivot play. He taught me how to move around, how to draw out my guard.” . . . Connecticut’s Walt Dropo, who would become American League Rookie of the Year in 1950 as a first baseman, was the only non-Rhode Island player to lead the Yankee Conference in scoring in the league’s first 13 years of competition through 1951. . . . Princeton captain Butch van Breda Kolff eventually coached his alma mater to four NCAA Tournament appearances in a five-year span from 1963 through 1967, including the 1965 Final Four. . . . NYU All-American guard Sid Tanenbaum, who had rheumatic fever when he was a youngster, became famous for his two-handed set shot. . . . Boston College’s Elmore “Al” Morganthaler (7-1) set a Boston Garden scoring record with 37 points against Fordham. Unfortunately for the Eagles, he was declared academically ineligible after 15 games and left school to return to his home state of Texas.
Bowling Green (28-7/coached by Harold Anderson), Holy Cross (27-3/Doggie Julian) and Montana State (25-11/Brick Breeden) had their winningest seasons in school major-college history. . . . LIU lost its NIT opener to Kentucky, but the Blackbirds placed more players in the original NBA than any school by supplying eight alums in the league’s inaugural season. One of them, New York Knicks captain Ossie Schectman, was credited with scoring the first basket in NBA history against the Toronto Huskies.
Cincinnati, winning more than 10 games for the first time in eight years, compiled a 17-9 record in John Wiethe’s first season as coach of the Bearcats. Wiethe, nicknamed “Socko,” was a two-time first-team All-Pro guard for the NFL’s Detroit Lions (1939 and 1940). . . . Illinois’ famed “Whiz Kids,” who won Big Ten titles in 1942 and 1943, returned after missing three seasons while in military service and tied Indiana for second place. Whiz Kids Jack Smiley, Gene Vance, Andy Phillip and Ken Menke were joined in the Illini starting lineup by Fred Green. . . . Branch McCracken also returned to coach Indiana after taking a three-year leave of absence serving in World War II. . . . Notre Dame defeated Indiana in their first meeting in 15 years. Two one-point verdicts prevented 11 consecutive IU victories from 1948 through 1956 although the Irish had only one losing season in that span. . . . Forward Robin Roberts finished among Michigan State’s top three scorers for the third consecutive year. Roberts became a Hall of Fame pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies after becoming a 20-game winner six consecutive seasons from 1950 through 1955, leading the National League in victories the last four years in that span. . . . Miami (Ohio) notched its most lopsided victory in history by overwhelming Wright State, 89-32. . . . Creighton compiled a 17-8 mark in Eddie Hickey’s final season as the Bluejays’ coach before they suffered nine consecutive non-winning records.
NIT-bound Duquesne won its first 20 games before bowing at Georgetown. Duquesne’s 21-2 record included a 2-0 forfeit victory over Tennessee when coach John Mauer, Adolph Rupp’s predecessor at Kentucky, pulled the Volunteers off the floor at McKeesport High School in Pittsburgh when the Dukes insisted on playing black center Chuck Cooper. Three years later, Cooper became the first black selected in the NBA draft.
North Carolina State (26-5), in Everett Case’s first season as a college coach, posted the best record in the 16-team Southern Conference (11-2) just one year after finishing in a tie for ninth place. The Wolfpack squad was comprised of nine freshmen and a sophomore. N.C. State’s game against visiting North Carolina was cancelled by fire marshals because of overcrowding. . . . Western Kentucky won its first meeting with Miami (Fla.), starting an 11-game winning streak against the Hurricanes. . . . Georgia Tech guard Frank Broyles, SEC football Player of the Year in 1944 as a quarterback, was named to the second five on the SEC All-Tournament basketball team for the third time in four seasons. He went on to notch a 149-62-6 record in 20 seasons as head football coach at Missouri (1957) and Arkansas (1958 through 1976). Broyles guided 10 teams to bowl games, winning the AP and UPI national title in 1964. . . . Richmond guard Louis Miller, who averaged 10.5 points per game, went on to coach VMI for six seasons from 1958-59 through 1963-64, including an appearance in the NCAA playoffs in his final year at the Keydets’ helm.
Washington’s Hec Edmundson ended his 29-year coaching career with a 508-204 record. At the time, he ranked second to Kansas’ Phog Allen for most victories in NCAA history. In an 18-year span from 1927-28 through 1944-45, Edmundson notched 20-win seasons 11 times. . . . Oregon State forward Red Rocha, a three-time All-PCC North Division first-team selection, went on to become head coach at Hawaii for 10 seasons from 1963-64 through 1972-73. He directed the Rainbows to the 1972 NCAA playoffs.
Kansas posted a 16-11 mark, but Howard Engleman concluded the campaign as coach after Allen was ordered to take a rest because he had difficulty shaking the flu in mid-season when the Jayhawks were in the midst of a five-game losing streak. . . . Kansas’ 22-game winning streak in its series with Kansas State ended with a 48-45 setback against the Wildcats. . . . Kansas State started a streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons by compiling a 14-10 record in the initial campaign of Jack Gardner’s second go-around as the Wildcats’ coach. Meanwhile, Maryland registered the same 14-10 mark for its only winning season in a 10-year span from 1940-41 through 1949-50. . . . Drake notched its lone victory over Oklahoma A&M (42-34) in a 24-game stretch of their series from 1939 to 1958. . . . Warren Woodson, the football coach for Hardin-Simmons in its 20-0 victory over Denver in the Alamo Bowl, also was the school’s head basketball coach.
1947 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Fifty years earlier, Penn visited Yale on March 20, 1897, to play the first intercollegiate game between five-man teams. This year, New England again made news as Holy Cross became the only team from that region to win an NCAA championship until Connecticut in 1999. Holy Cross, an all-male college at the time entering the tourney with 20 consecutive victories, fell behind early in all three playoff contests (against Navy, CCNY and Oklahoma) before rallying to win the title. Holy Cross, which ran a two-platoon system most of the season, erased an 11-point deficit against CCNY. It was an incredible turnaround for the Crusaders, who compiled a meager 4-9 record two years earlier and had no gymnasium at their Worcester, Mass., campus.
Outcome for Defending Champion: Oklahoma A&M (24-8 record; 8-4 in Missouri Valley) finished in a tie for second place in the MVC with Drake three games behind St. Louis. The Aggies’ only double-digit defeat was to visiting St. Louis, 38-20.
Star Gazing: The lowest team-leading scoring average for an individual in the season he was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player was compiled by George Kaftan, a forward-center with an 11.1-point average for Holy Cross’ NCAA champion after becoming the first player to score 30 points in a Final Four game (tourney-high 30 in a 60-45 victory over CCNY in East Regional final before tossing in a team-high 18 in a 58-47 triumph over Oklahoma in the national final). Go-to guy Kaftan broke up the tension during coach Alvin “Doggie” Julian’s halftime speech against CCNY by rolling a garbage can across the room. . . . Wisconsin guard Glen Selbo, the Big Ten Conference’s MVP, played for Michigan the previous season.
One and Only: Julian is the only coach of a championship team to subsequently coach another university and compile a winning NCAA playoff record at his last major college job. He captured a national title in the middle of his three seasons as coach at Holy Cross before compiling a 4-3 playoff record in three tournament appearances with Dartmouth from 1956-59. Julian was an easy-going man who liked to rub his players’ foreheads for luck before sending them onto the court. . . . Kaftan, a native of New York, is the only Most Outstanding Player to cross state lines to attend college before scoring more than 25 points against a school from his home state en route to or at the Final Four.
Celebrity Status: Freshman forward Tom Hamilton, who averaged 3.3 ppg for Texas’ Final Four team that set a school record for most victories in a season with 26, was a star first baseman for the Longhorns’ 1949 baseball squad that won the first of the school’s four College World Series titles. Hamilton hit .474 that season to lead the Southwest Conference. The 6-4 first baseman played briefly for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1952 and 1953 under manager Jimmy Dykes with star outfielders Dave Philley and Gus Zernial. . . . Oregon State’s Don Samuel, who played against eventual runner-up Oklahoma, was a second-round draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams as a back.
Numbers Game: Six of Holy Cross’ top eight scorers went on to become college head coaches. . . . Seldom-used Ken Pryor’s only basket in the tourney, a long jumper in the closing seconds, gave Oklahoma a 55-54 victory over Texas in the national semifinals. The Longhorns’ sluggish play was blamed on a 17-day layoff between the end of SWC competition and the start of the NCAA playoffs. . . . Wisconsin made its last NCAA playoff appearance until 1994. . . . Navy’s Ben Carnevale became the first coach to guide two different schools to the NCAA playoffs in back-to-back seasons. He directed North Carolina to the 1946 championship game. . . . The EIBL (regular-season champion Columbia), SEC (Kentucky) and Southern Conference (North Carolina State) did not have representatives in the tourney. St. Louis from the Missouri Valley lost a district play-in game against Oklahoma.
Putting Things in Perspective: Holy Cross suffered its three defeats in successive early-season games to North Carolina State (16-point margin), Duquesne (10) and Wyoming (1).
Scoring Leader: George Kaftan, Holy Cross (63 points, 21 ppg).
Most Outstanding Player: George Kaftan, F-C, Soph., Holy Cross (48 points in final two games).
Championship Team Results
First Round: Holy Cross 55 (Mullaney team-high 18 points), Navy 47 (Waldrop 15)
Regional Final: Holy Cross 60 (Kaftan 30), CCNY 45 (Dambrot 14)
Championship Game: Holy Cross 58 (Kaftan 18), Oklahoma 47 (Tucker 22)
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S BEST: JOHN WOODEN
In early 2003, leadership author John C. Maxwell fulfilled what he described as a lifelong dream: he spent a few hours in Los Angeles with the man he considered his mentor, legendary basketball coach John Wooden.
Maxwell relates that during their time together, he asked to see a card that Wooden reportedly always carried with him because it guided his life. Wooden produced the card. On it was a list that his father had given him when he finished elementary school. Titled “Seven Things to Do,” the list included this piece of advice: “Make each day your masterpiece.”
WORDS TO LIVE BY
On the occasion of his graduation from elementary school, young John Wooden received a piece of paper from his father, Joshua. On one side his father had copied a short verse, later summed up by his son in these few words: “Think clearly, have love in your heart, be honest, and trust in God.” On the other side he had handwritten a list of “Seven Things to Do.” As he handed the paper to the boy, he said only, “Son, try and live up to these things.” The paper remained in the young man’s possession until it was tattered, at which point he transferred its contents to a card.
In a 2005 interview, the coach shared how much the words had framed his daily life. He said, “I tried to live by this and I tried to teach by it. I haven’t always been perfect, but I’ve tried.”
Here are Joshua Wooden’s seven principles for daily living:
Be true to yourself.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance, and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.
A masterpiece is something that’s done with extraordinary skill, and a review of John Robert Wooden’s life journey suggests that this maxim was indeed a daily focus.
Born in the small town of Hall, Indiana, on October 14, 1910, Wooden was fascinated with basketball from a young age. He was a superb player with the skills to lead his high school team to three consecutive appearances in the state championship finals, and his college team, the Boilermakers of Purdue University, to a 1932 national championship. His ability to bounce right back up from dives on the court earned him the nickname “the Indiana Rubber Man.” According to his official Web site, Wooden was “one of only two men enshrined in the Hall of Fame as both a player and as a coach.” An equally remarkable achievement was his Big Ten Award for Proficiency in Scholarship and Athletics.
After graduation from Purdue, Wooden played professional basketball and also coached and taught at a number of schools in the American Midwest. He had met his wife, Nellie, at a local carnival in 1926. They began their married life in a small ceremony in 1932 and were together until Nellie’s death in March 1985, following a long illness.
The Wooden family would grow and endure a succession of coaching positions at several colleges and universities. However, it was his tenure at the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA), as head coach of the Bruins from 1948 until his retirement in 1975, that secured his status as one of the greatest coaches of the game.
Broadcaster Al Michaels recalled that Wooden didn’t want to hear others refer to him that way. Michaels recalls replying, “You have only yourself to blame. You shouldn’t have gone out and won those 10 national championships in 12 seasons.”
Under the guiding hand of Coach Wooden, the Bruins became an almost unbeatable force in college basketball. What separated him from most other coaches was not just his emphasis on top physical conditioning; he also demanded high character and values on and off the court. This relentless and persistent focus led to an extraordinary record that remains unmatched. Marques Johnson, a key player during the last years of Wooden’s tenure, remembers being awed by the record and the legacy in the making: “I couldn’t really sit down and have a conversation with him about real things just because I had so much reverence for him—for who he was and what he had accomplished.” Not that Wooden wanted to be treated that way; it was simply the feeling he engendered.
And he didn’t just talk. He poured himself into each player for the enrichment and betterment of the team as a whole. After the news of Wooden’s death on June 4, 2010, star player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar commented, “He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn’t let us do that.” Billy Donovan, head coach of the University of Florida basketball team, noted, “John Wooden was a great coach and a great man. He was a man of humility who embodied the best in character and values, and exemplified what coaching is all about.”
“Talent is God-given: be humble. Fame is man-given: be thankful. Conceit is self-given: be careful.”
When the coach retired from professional basketball at the end of the 1975 season, he used his fame and prestige as a platform to help develop leadership skills in others. Employing a program he called “The Pyramid of Success,” Wooden expanded his influence beyond the basketball court. He had developed the pyramid over a period of years from an idea he had during his early career as teacher and coach. Finally completing it in 1948, not long before he left Indiana State for UCLA, his purpose was to encourage students to aim for high marks in their work. The pyramid comprised 15 building blocks named for various traits such as industriousness, loyalty, enthusiasm, skill and self-control. Its purpose was to help others envision what he felt were the elements of true success. “Success is peace of mind,” he famously said, “a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” (See “Helping Children Develop a Positive Sense of Self.”)
John Wooden was 99 when he died. He impressed his former players, admirers, and those who felt mentored by him with his humble enthusiasm and zeal for life. What was more impressive, however, was his unnatural ability to look beyond a game or a term paper toward the development of personal character and integrity.
Steve Jamison worked closely with the coach on books and other writing projects. On their last visit together, he felt that the elderly man was winding down as he reviewed the final drafts for The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith, and Friends. Jamison recounts how Wooden carefully inspected the text and photos that would be included in his last and most personal work. “He was going back home to the unbelievable journey he made for himself—a journey which included a consensus by many that John Wooden is the greatest coach America has ever produced. And, an even greater man.”
In effect, John Wooden was looking over his life to examine whether he was living up to the standard passed on to him by his father years before. “Make each day your masterpiece.” In many ways, the famed “Wizard of Westwood” led his life in the only way he knew how: as a work done with extraordinary skill.
NFL HALL OF FAME: DOUG ATKINS
Full Name: Douglas Leon Atkins
Birthdate: May 8, 1930
Birthplace: Humboldt, Tennessee
Died: December 30, 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee
High School: Humboldt (TN)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 23, 1982
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 7, 1982
Presenter: Edward W. McCaskey, Vice-President, Bears
Other Members of Class of 1982: Sam Huff, George Musso, Merlin Olsen
Pro Career: 17 seasons, 205 games
Drafted: 1st round (11th overall) in 1953 by Cleveland Browns
Uniform Number: 81, (83)
“The toughest part of it all is not the physical punishment you take, but rather it’s the constant fatigue you must fight off. You drain yourself on every play, pushing and pushing yourself. Your body is conditioned to absorb the knocks, but no matter what shape you’re in, there are many factors that tend to tire you out. If someone hits me a good lick, chances are good I won’t even feel it until the next day. But you don’t realize how much it takes out of man when he tries to hand-wrestle or throw a 250-pount lineman?”
Doug Atkins originally went to the University of Tennessee on a basketball scholarship, but once Gen. Robert R. Neyland, the football coach, saw his combination of size and agility, he was recruited for the grid team. After he earned All-America honors, the Cleveland Browns selected him as their first choice in the 1953 National Football League Draft.
After two seasons in Cleveland, he was traded to the Chicago Bears and there he developed into one of history’s most awesome defensive performers. Exceptionally strong and agile, the 6-8, 257-pound Atkins earned legendary acclaim as a devastating pass rusher who would often leapfrog blockers to get at the passer. That was a skill that carried over from his collegiate days when he won the Southeastern Conference high jump title.
An All-NFL choice four times and a veteran of eight Pro Bowls, Atkins wound up his career with three successful seasons with the New Orleans Saints. For 17 years and 205 games, Doug wrecked absolute havoc on opposing linemen, quarterbacks, and ball carriers. Linemen who faced Atkins usually had just one thought in mind: “Don’t make him mad.” It was common knowledge among players that as tough as Doug was, he was even tougher when angered. An outspoken free spirit, Doug often clashed with the Bears’ fiery head coach George Halas. Atkins’ easy-going approach to practice particularly annoyed the coach.
But still, the two developed a mutual respect. Although their relationship was at times tumultuous, it lasted for 12 seasons and Atkins was a key part of the great Bears defense that won the league championship in 1963. However, in 1967 Atkins demanded to be traded and Halas sent his star lineman to the Saints, where he finished his career. After Atkins finally retired following the 1969 season, Halas openly admitted, “There never was a better defensive end.”
TODAY IN NBA HISTORY
May 23, 1975
Golden State notched an NBA Finals game record 17 steals during their 109-101 victory over Washington in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
May 23, 1976
Boston center Dave Cowens dominated the opener of the NBA Finals against Phoenix with a 25-point, 21-rebound performance as the Celtics defeated the Suns, 98-87. Boston eventually took its 13th NBA title in six games.
May 23, 1978
Portland center Bill Walton was named the NBA’s MVP for the 1977-78 season. Walton led his club to a 50-10 record before succumbing to multiple foot injuries, playing in 58 games and averaging 18.9 ppg and 13.2 rpg.
May 23, 1982
The Philadelphia 76ers, after leading Boston three games to one only to have the Celtics draw even, invaded Boston Garden and came away with a 120-106 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “Beat L.A!” was the chant that resounded through Boston Garden late in the game. Although the Sixers were beating their beloved team, Boston fans wanted anyone to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. It didn’t happen, though, as the Lakers beat the Sixers in six games for the NBA title.
May 23, 2002
The NBDL established new league offices in Greenville, S.C.
BASKETBALL’S BEST: TOM HEINSOHN
Known for his hard-nosed style of play, yet possessing a superb shooting touch and good body control, Tom Heinsohn was a vital cog in the Boston Celtics’ dynasty of the 1950s and 1960s. Chosen as NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957, he helped the Celtics win eight NBA titles during his nine-year tenure, was named to the All-NBA Second Team for four years, and was an All-Star for six.
Averaging 18.6 ppg in 654 regular-season games, he was a versatile scorer but was often overshadowed by such illustrious teammates as Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman and Bill Russell. After turning in his jersey in 1965, Heinsohn coached the Celtics to two more world championships and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986.
Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across the river from New York City, Heinsohn attended Saint Paul of the Cross school through the fifth grade. Then his family moved to nearby Union City, New Jersey, and he was introduced to basketball while attending sixth grade at Saint Joseph’s.
A high achiever, Heinsohn poured his heart and soul into the sport, practicing as much as he could, both at school and on local playgrounds. By the time he reached the eighth grade he was leading his team in scoring.
As a junior at St. Michael’s High School he was awarded all-county honors. The following year he was named a high school All-American after averaging 28 ppg. After considering more than 40 scholarship offers he decided on Holy Cross College.
Heinsohn continued to improve during his collegiate years, playing under coaches Lester Sheary and Roy Leenig. He pumped in 23.3 ppg in his junior year and as a senior he set a Holy Cross scoring record by averaging 27.4 ppg. Named to almost every All-America team, he also made the dean’s list for scholastic excellence in his last four semesters.
The Celtics claimed Heinsohn as a territorial pick in the 1956 NBA Draft, the same year that Boston coach Red Auerbach worked a deal with the St. Louis Hawks for the rights to a rookie named Bill Russell. Auerbach was impressed with Russell’s potential, but he wasn’t particularly optimistic about Heinsohn’s chances of making the team. Heinsohn responded by flying to Illinois to look into the possibility of playing amateur ball for a national industrial league. If Cousy hadn’t advised the youngster to stick with Boston, Heinsohn might never have played in the NBA.
As if to prove Auerbach wrong, Heinsohn had a sensational rookie year with the Celtics. A slender but tough forward with exceptional agility, he averaged 16.2 ppg and played almost 30 minutes per contest. His jump shot had a flat trajectory that made the ball look as though it were attached to a string, and he shot often, with a quick release. Russell missed the first 24 games of the 1956-57 season while helping the United States to a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, so Heinsohn claimed the inside track in the race for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Boston’s two outstanding newcomers combined with the legendary backcourt duo of Sharman and Cousy to forge the best record in the NBA at 44-28. The Celtics advanced to the 1957 NBA Finals, in which they met the St. Louis Hawks and Bob Pettit. The series was decided in a memorable Game 7. Heinsohn’s 37 points helped the Celtics to a thrilling 125-123 double-overtime victory that earned Boston its first NBA championship.
The Boston blitzkrieg was now underway, and for most of the next decade the Celtics would dominate professional basketball as few teams in any sport ever have. Boston won eight consecutive championships from 1959 through 1966, and Heinsohn was a part of seven of them. He led the Celtics in scoring three times during those years, made six All-Star appearances, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team four times. He had his finest offensive season in 1961-62, when he averaged 22.1 ppg.
If there were any complaints about Heinsohn’s play, they were that he sometimes shot too much and that he took the occasional low-percentage attempt. During his career, Heinsohn, nicknamed “Tommy Gun” by his teammates, tossed the ball up an average of two times for every three minutes he was in a game. And for every assist he was credited for, he shot the ball nine times. Although the media sometimes railed against him for being a selfish shooter, his teammates didn’t seem to mind.
“Sure, he takes a few bad shots now and then,” Cousy told the Saturday Evening Post, “but over the long haul the confident player is the one who takes the initiative and wins games for you.”
A former New York Knicks coach added that Heinsohn would “take five miserable shots that’ll make you sick. But then he’ll turn around and hit with five or six straight. Even on a bad night he’ll get his 17 or 18 points.”
Some of the premier offensive players in the league marveled at Heinsohn’s astonishing shot-making flexibility. Sharman, known as one of the NBA’s best pure shooters, claimed Heinsohn had more variety in his repertoire than anyone else in the game. “There are better shooters, I suppose,” he said in the Saturday Evening Post, “but Tommy’s agility and his exceptional body control give him a big advantage.”
Heinsohn’s deadliest shot was a long-range jumper that he liked to launch from the corners and from beyond the head of the key. He also boasted a righthanded hook shot that he lofted from the 5- to 15-foot range, a short-range lefthanded hook, a one-handed set shot and several types of driving layups.
In addition to employing him as a go-to scorer, Auerbach directed his criticism of the team at Heinsohn, knowing that other players’ egos were too fragile for such a direct assault. “[Auerbach] knew that some of the big guys had sensitive egos — egos that didn’t like it if Red started to get on them verbally,” Heinsohn recalled in an article in the Boston Globe. “So when he wanted to get on someone to stir up things in the dressing room, he got on me. He knew I could take it. I was his whipping boy. I understood what he was doing, so I could handle it.”
For example, Heinsohn remembered one game in which he had scored more than 20 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds in the first half. But Auerbach, unhappy with the way the team was playing, lit into Heinsohn. The player silently withstood the attack for a while, then asked, “Red, what the hell have I done wrong tonight?” Auerbach looked at him with a serious face. “Tommy,” the coach said, “you warmed up lousy.”
One of the few legitimate criticisms Auerbach leveled at Heinsohn was his lack of conditioning. The coach once said that Heinsohn owned the “oldest 27-year-old body in the history of sports.”
Heinsohn probably laughed at the quip and shot back one of his own, for he was the team’s resident jester. Once, to get even with Auerbach, who had given him an exploding cigar, Heinsohn fiendishly tried to return the favor. But Auerbach was too smart and refused to accept cigars from him. Heinsohn kept offering him perfectly good cigars until Auerbach let his guard down. As the coach was holding a press conference before a playoff game with Syracuse, he lit a cigar Heinsohn had given him, and proceeded to give the reporters — and himself — a start when it blew up in his face.
Heinsohn was also an ace mimic and would often parody the speech and mannerisms of his fellow players. He also wasn’t above cutting somebody’s shoelaces just enough so that they broke when being tied. His clowning, however juvenile, served a useful purpose for the team. “Before a game,” Sharman said in the Saturday Evening Post, “Heinsohn bursts into the dressing room and, no matter how important the game is, he’ll get one of the guys in some give-and-take that relaxes the tension.”
By his own estimation, Heinsohn’s most memorable contest was the sixth game of the 1960 Eastern Division Finals against the Philadelphia Warriors. It capped a season in which Heinsohn had placed eighth in the league in scoring, averaging 21.7 ppg. But it was also the year that Wilt Chamberlain entered the league as Philadelphia’s center.
The big man put up incredible numbers as a rookie, leading the NBA in both scoring (37.6 ppg) and rebounding (27.0 rpg). In a classic duel between a superstar and a squad whose strength was teamwork, Boston took the lead in the playoff confrontation after five games. In the sixth game Heinsohn contributed 22 points, including a game-winning tip-in at the buzzer that was, he told the Saturday Evening Post, “the biggest thrill I’ve had from basketball.”
The 1964-65 season was Heinsohn’s last. His point production had fallen every year since his career high of 22.1 ppg in 1961-62. Missing 13 games because of injuries in 1964-65, he slipped to just 13.6 ppg, the lowest mark of his career. Yet the Celtics earned the NBA’s best record at 62-18 and beat Los Angeles in five games in the NBA Finals. It was Boston’s seventh consecutive championship and the eighth in Heinsohn’s nine seasons.
Three years later, after Russell had retired, Auerbach offered the post to Heinsohn again. This time Heinsohn said yes. He had a monumental job ahead of him. With no experience as a coach, Heinsohn was supposed to create a team that could carry on the winning ways Boston fans had grown to expect without the services of the greatest defensive center the game had ever seen, and with one of the greatest coaches of all time scrutinizing his every move. “It was pure trauma,” Heinsohn recalled.
In Heinsohn’s rookie season as coach, 1969-70, the Celtics won 34 games and lost 48, marking the first time in almost 20 years that Boston had posted a losing record. During the offseason the Celtics drafted Dave Cowens from Florida State. At the start of the next season, Heinsohn assigned the 6-9 Cowens to play center despite his relatively short stature. Don Chaney, only 6-5, played forward. Jo Jo White was a quick, slashing guard who ran the fast breaks.
The team started to jell, winning 44 games and losing 38 in 1970-71. Later, Heinsohn reflected that this was one of his most satisfying seasons at the helm, as the Celtics won with a simple, effective game plan — run the fast break and use only three plays. The following year Boston fared even better, posting a 56-26 record and making the playoffs for the first time in two years.
The Celtics began to steamroll in 1972-73, racking up the best record in the NBA at 68-14, including a 32-8 showing on the road, the second-best mark of all time. Their .829 winning percentage overall was the third highest ever. But New York derailed Boston’s fast break in the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Celtics in seven games. Though denied another championship ring by the Knicks, Heinsohn did win NBA Coach of the Year honors.
After a solid 56-26 regular season in 1973-74, the stage was set for the Celtics’ first NBA Finals appearance since 1968-69. Their opponents, the Milwaukee Bucks with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, were favored to win. But the shorter Cowens capitalized on his quickness and determination, proving that a championship team didn’t need a big man in the middle. In the climactic seventh game in Milwaukee, Cowens scored 28 points and snatched 14 rebounds to push Boston to a 102-87 win.
The victory was an affirmation of Heinsohn’s coaching ideas. In what he called “guerrilla warfare,” his teams kept the pressure on opponents at all times, controlling the tempo of the game and playing with great intensity. “We made teams crack in these playoffs,” he told the Boston Globe. “We got them to points in big games in the fourth quarter where they just didn’t want to play anymore.”
The Celtics regained the championship in 1975-76. During Heinsohn’s eight full seasons as coach, Boston won five Eastern Division titles in a row, took two NBA championships and compiled a 416-240 record. At the start of the 1977-78 season, with the Celtics at 11-23, Heinsohn stepped down.
Since retiring from the NBA, Heinsohn has done basketball commentary for television, has run a life insurance company and has indulged his lifelong passion for fine-arts painting. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986.
In 1995 Heinsohn received the Jack McMahon Award, given annually by the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) to an individual who has made a special contribution to the NBA coaching profession.
In 2015, he became the fourth person ever enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a coach and player after Heinsohn coached the team to two titles in the 1970s and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1973.
TODAY IN NHL HISTORY
2015: The Chicago Blackhawks continue their success in extra-long Stanley Cup Playoff games when Antoine Vermette scores 5:37 into the second overtime for a series-tying 5-4 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at United Center.
It’s the fourth win for Chicago in as many overtime games during the 2015 playoffs; each of the four goes into multiple overtime periods. The Blackhawks are the first team in NHL history to win four multiple-OT games in the same playoff year.
Vermette, a forward who dresses after being a healthy scratch in Game 3, gives Chicago the win by tucking the puck past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. It’s a disappointing finish for the Ducks, who take a 4-3 lead by scoring three times in 37 seconds in the third period but allow the Blackhawks to tie the game 4-4 on a power-play goal by Patrick Kane with 8:21 remaining.
1979: The New England Whalers, one of four teams from the World Hockey Association slated to join the NHL for the 1979-80 season, officially change their name to the Hartford Whalers.
1991: The Pittsburgh Penguins score four times in the first 13:41 and hold on to defeat the Minnesota North Stars 6-4 at the Civic Center in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Mario Lemieux scores 5:36 into the game and Kevin Stevens makes it 2-0 at 10:08. Mark Recchi then scores twice in less than two minutes to give the Penguins the fastest 4-0 lead in Final history. The North Stars twice get within one goal before Pittsburgh’s Troy Loney scores with 1:39 remaining in the third period. Defenseman Larry Murphy finishes with four assists for the Penguins, who take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
1995: Paul Coffey of the Detroit Red Wings ties Denis Potvin as the highest-scoring defenseman in playoff history. Coffey has a goal and an assist in Detroit’s 6-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. The two points give him 164, matching the record Potvin set with the New York Islanders before retiring in 1988.
2000: Joe Nieuwendyk scores at 12:10 of overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Reunion Arena in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Ed Belfour makes 29 saves for Dallas before defenseman Richard Matvichuk takes a shot from the left point and Nieuwendyk deflects it past Patrick Roy for the victory. The win gives the Stars a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
2010: Chicago advances to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1992 by defeating the Sharks 4-2 at United Center to complete a four-game sweep in the Western Conference Final. Dustin Byfuglien scores his third game-winner of the series when he gets the go-ahead goal with 5:55 remaining in the third period, and Kris Versteeg scores into an empty net to cap Chicago’s comeback from down 2-0. Goalie Antti Niemi finishes with 16 saves.
2016: Joe Pavelski scores two goals to help the Sharks defeat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Scottrade Center. Pavelski ties the game at 18:33 of the second period and puts the Sharks ahead to stay when he beats Jake Allen 18 seconds into the third. The win gives San Jose a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series and puts the Sharks one win from their first appearance in the Cup Final.
2018: The Washington Capitals advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998 when they defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 at Amalie Arena in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Alex Ovechkin gives Washington a quick lead when he scores 1:02 into the game, Andre Burakovsky scores twice in the second period and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal in the third for Washington. Braden Holtby finishes with 29 saves, giving him back-to-back shutouts.