The Sports Hangover: Lucha Libre LeBron, Hollywood's Super Bowl, 31-0, and More
Was that LeBron or the Lone Ranger? Didn’t Julio Cesar Chavez retire? Nick Saban doesn’t support the “Saban” Rule? Really? The Sports Hangover makes sense of the wild weekend in sports.
Would ‘Fisting’ Be a Technical Foul or Merely a Foul?
The NBA announced that it will donate proceeds from the sales of Jason Collins jerseys—already number one in online purchases—to several gay pressure groups, including the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). At Tufts University a couple of miles from where I grew up, the group once sponsored a gay-sex symposia for teens in which the instructors provided a how-to presentation on “fisting,” which one “educator” confessed “often gets a really bad rap.” She described the practice, the intricacies of which I shall leave to your imagination, as “an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with.” To borrow basketball lingo that Commissioner Adam Silver can surely understand, this is foul.
We Talkin bout Practice
Allen Iverson gave the Philadelphia ’76ers the best years of his life. The Philadelphia ’76ers gave him a bass fishing boat.
The franchise retired the guard’s number three on Saturday night. “I want to thank Michael Jordan for inspiring me and giving me a vision,” Iverson opened his speech. “Yes, I was one of those kids who wanted to be like Mike. So I thank him for making me want to play basketball.” Mike’s mention precipitated a scattering of boos. Things got more cheerful when Iverson name-dropped Dikembe Mutombo, Derrick Coleman, Doug Overton, Larry Hughes, and other ghosts of teammates past. But the biggest cheers came when Iverson gave a shout out to “my fans in Philadelphia,” applause possibly eclipsed when the guard called Philadelphians “the best fans in the world.”
Seeking to affirm that assessment, the 20,856 in the Wells Fargo Center aggressively booed when Iverson strangely announced, “I got to thank Stephen A. Smith, Howard Eskin…” Just when you thought the guard had begun to spin out of control, dribbling all over the place without a point, Iverson recovered and scored. “Dr. J, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Mo Cheeks, Bobby Jones—Are you serious? My name can be mentioned with those names?”
Clearly moved, Iverson saved us the tears. Gangstas don’t cry. The speech came more from the heart than the head, probably because Iverson didn’t rehearse. He’s not much for practice.
How Does It Feel to Be One of the Beautiful People?
The Oscars is called the Super Bowl for Hollywood. But it draws less than half the audience as football’s Oscars. Americans may watch the likes of Star Wars or ET at levels eclipsing the Super Bowl. People love good movies. An elongated show paying tribute to films? That’s as narcissistic as that group selfie.
Saban Punts on the Saban Rule
What does Nick Saban think about the Saban Rule? “I really don’t necessarily have an opinion on the 10-second rule,” the Alabama coach told the Georgia Minority Coaches Association on Friday night. Did this ambivalence compel him to take the unusual step of lobbying the rules committee in-person for the proposed change? The idea of putting the brakes on the blur, which nearly three in four Division 1 coaches polled by ESPN rejected, appears so unpopular that even the coach who unwittingly gave his name to the proposal plays agnostic on the question. On Thursday, the oversight committee gives its imprimatur, or doesn’t, to the proposed “safety” rule requiring that ten seconds run off the play clock before the center snaps the ball.
Seven Division 1 teams have run the table on a college basketball season. Wichita State won’t be the eighth. The Shockers may have shocked with their record. They didn’t shock any of their opponents. Who were they supposed to lose to? Certainly not Missouri State, who on Saturday, like so many before them, got blown out by the Shockers. Wichita State didn’t play a single ranked team, at least all were unranked when they played. In the NCAA tournament, should they get past the first two rounds, they’ll step up in competition and only play ranked teams. How good are they? We’ll find out when they play good teams. That said, Wichita State essentially didn’t have a bad day in thirty-one days. Who has a month without a bad day? Unlike every other undefeated team in history, Wichita State will play in the postseason with a chip on their collective shoulder because of the disrespect. A 31-0 team with something to prove is a dangerous thing.
Goalie Gear APB
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford blocked every Penguin shot save for one Saturday night at snowy Soldier Field. Fans thanked him by swiping his gear. “No, I didn't find the mask, and you’re not going to believe this, but my pads got stolen at Soldier Field—white pads, gloves,” he explained after first having his Stadium Series goalie mask stolen. “I don’t even know what to think anymore, seriously. I’m stunned by the whole thing.”
The playoffs have proved successful that new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver thinks aloud about adding a playoff to get into the playoffs and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seems well on his way to expanding the NFL postseason pool from twelve to fourteen. The NBA idea most commonly discussed involves win-or-go-home games for the final playoff spot in each conference. “By having a seven-game series, you reduce the randomness of the outcome,” Silver told uber goober Malcolm Gladwell at a sports conference in Boston. “I think what’s so exciting about college basketball—and I’m a huge college basketball fan—is the single-elimination tournament, the NCAA tournament. There, statistically, you’re gonna have a lot more upsets. So, I think for us, well, I have mixed views.”
Julio Cesar Chavez Is His Father’s Son
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bested Brian Vera over twelve rounds on HBO Saturday night, leaving no controversies or conversations over the decision as he did in their first bout. Despite a sheltered start to his career, Chavez has emerged as one of the best fighters in the world at middleweight/super-middleweight, which raises the question: Is he the greatest boxing son of a great fighter? Sugar Ray Leonard was smart enough to allow his son to box in a 7-Up commercial but not in the ring. Marvis Frazier’s dad was certainly great; Joe Frazier’s son was merely very good. Floyd Mayweather’s dad once squared off with Sugar Ray Leonard. But one-degree of separation from greatness does not greatness make. And Ray Mancini surely fought a notch above Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Although his dad fought great fighters, he never really achieved greatness on a Julio Cesar Chavez scale. If I’m forgetting somebody—and I probably am—remind me in the comments section. The point stands even if this example falls: boxers don’t want their kids to stand in their ring boots. Barry Bonds? Brett Hull? Peyton Manning? Sure. But in boxing, in which the blows outside of the ring attract one to the blows in it, inherited wealth seems poison as an ingredient to making a great fighter.
Superheroes wear masks. Villains try to remove them. Not since that bus driver (Or was it a camp counselor?) ordered Rocky Dennis to take off his mask has anyone committed such a faux pas on facial-coverings etiquette as the NBA has in ordering LeBron James to remove the black protection over his broken nose. Mil Mascaras does not approve.