The Best Sports Story You’ve Never Read

Sports Illustrated ran this feature about 15 years ago, and posted it online last year. It’s an amazing true story of heart and community. I can’t believe there still hasn’t been a movie made of it yet. In a sleepy little Ohio community of old-fashioned Mennonites, the new high school basketball coach was, as they put it, “an unmarried black Catholic loser.” Just try reading it through to the end without choking up.

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My 2012 NCAA Tournament Brackets

I know we want to see UNLV get a crack at Duke, but the way we’ve been playing lately, we’ll be lucky to scrape past Colorado, and I can’t believe we’ll get past Baylor.  The rest is open for discussion.

Looks like San Diego and New Mexico should represent the conference quite nicely.

Beautiful Basketball

An amazing lump-in-your-throat sports story from Yahoo!

It was nearly midnight on Wednesday. Doc Rivers had to go.

He needed to hightail it back to Boston, where the Los Angeles Lakers are waiting to take on Rivers’ Boston Celtics on Thursday night. But that reality could wait a sweet moment longer. Right now, Doc was not an NBA coach. He was a deliriously proud dad. And he was not leaving the Dean Smith Center until he had a chance to embrace his son, Austin, after he had the basketball moment of a young lifetime.

Finally, Austin emerged from the Duke locker room in sweats and walked 20 feet, back behind a black curtain, to see his family. They briefly relived the shot that became an instant classic in Blue Devils lore, the long 3-pointer that swished after the buzzer and shocked North Carolina 85-84 in one of the wildest installments in this endlessly compelling rivalry.

The shot:

 

The 1992 Christian Laettner shot mentioned in the article:

NCAA Tournament Brackets

My NCAA Tournament brackets are at left.  A little early, perhaps, but I think they’re all solid. 

I have my local team, UNLV, beating Illinois this Friday, but then falling to Kansas on Sunday (much like last year).  For that matter, I think Kansas will take the championship this year, beating out defending champ Duke in the final. 

BYU will make it to the sweet sixteen, where I predict they’ll fall to Florida.  Mountain West Conference winner San Diego State will do a little better, getting to the elite eight before Duke takes them down. 

I got my chart here, by the way.  Steve, you got your brackets to put up here?

Basketball Trivia

Pop quiz time, folks.  There are only four teams in the NBA whose names do not end in “s:” the Utah Jazz, the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and _________.  The first person to comment with the right answer (without looking it up, please!) may email me their physical address and get their choice of a banana peel, a dead spider, or some pocket lint.

UNLV Beats BYU 75-74

unlv_rebels_200I got to see Saturday night’s sold out game at the Thomas and Mack, courtesy of my father-in-law.  The Rebels have had only a so-so season, often playing, as R-J columnist Ed Graney said, like “a koala on Quaaludes.”  Saturday night’s game started out in a familiar fashion, with BYUoutplaying on offense and UNLV looking less like a team than five random guys all playing on their own, actually seeming confused when they tried to work together. 

But things clicked soon enough.  By the end of the first half, the momentum was strong and the second half saw a real treat for UNLV fans: Wink Adams had a great night, at the line and all around.  Mo Rutledge got more indomitable the closer he got to the net, growing practically unstoppable inside the key.  Tre’Von Willis also stood out, scoring solidly and sinking his fair share of UNLV’s many three pointers.  Though BYU brought it up to only a one point loss, UNLV was ahead by as much as 12 at one point in the second half. 

This bodes well for the next stage. 

And so as not to write a post without any dreary social commentary, on my way home I saw a police officer texting on his cell phone.  While driving.  Arrrgh!

Talking Phil Jackson Down From The Ledge

Phil?  Phil?  Whoa there, buddy, it’s cool.  Don’t get skittish on me.  The police asked me to come up here and just talk to you for a bit, OK?  Can I sit out here with you?  It’s a little breezy this high up, isn’t it?  Could I bring you up some coffee?  No?  OK, how about a windbreaker to take off the chill while we talk?  OK, great.  Let me radio that in.

So, look, Phil, I’m not the kind of guy to sugar coat things, and I’m gonna give it to you straight, because I know you’re tough and you can take it…you blew it.  You blew it big time.  You were ahead by 24 points before the half–the biggest lead at that point in the game in playoff history–and you blew it.  Instead of insuring a comfortable win at home for your Lakers, you guys just set the stage for the Celtics to mount a comeback straight out of those cheesy movies they make down the street. 

But you know what, Phil?  It’ll be OK.  Life goes on.  Hey…hey!  No need to cry and get all shaky, that makes me think we can’t communicate here.  Can you take some deep breaths and calm down?  Alright.  Good.  Now, as I was saying, this is going to be a big black mark on a great career, but it happens.  Nobody’s perfect.  Sure, you had Kobe and the crowd on your side and you were playing a team whose star players don’t have nearly the experience your squad does…but it’s not your fault.  In the history books, this loss will just be a footnote.  A really big, dazzling, chapter-long footnote, but still…

OK, Phil, sorry, just trying a little humor there.  You don’t need to squat down and put out your arms like you’re about to dive; you could slip and really fall.  Is that what you want, Phil?  To fall and end it like this?  After all you’ve accomplished?  That would hardly be a fitting exit for your image, would it?

Look, here’s the jacket I ordered for you!  Thanks, seargeant.  Well, gosh, look at that, this is a Knicks jacket, and that’s your old number on the back!  Remember those days, Phil?  Remember all those fouls?  Is this a dignified way to go for a guy like you?

That’s right, take my hand and let’s just step through this window and make a plan.  After all, it’s not impossible for you guys to come back and win it.  Even though no team has ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit to actually win the championship, I suppose there’s still a chance that–oh no, Phil!  Phil!  Don’t do it!  Phiiiiiillllllll!  *sigh*  I sure hope they got those big mattresses in place in time…