by Bert Beiswanger
A couple of days ago, I was ready to write about the most disrespected franchise in sports, The San Antonio Spurs, and the complete over-reaction by the media to Game 2 of the NBA Finals (which I was ultimately proven right by in Game 3). But a day or two has passed and other juicy topics have sense entered or resurfaced in my mind. It’s like going to the store to grab some beer and coming home 15 minutes later with, let’s say, the beer, a rotisserie chicken and a container of cookies…none of them related but all good and filling. Yeah, it’s just like that…
Anyway, all of the topics in my sports bag are still fresh, so here we go:
Forget all the talk about LeBron James being the most criticized figure in sports. It comes with the territory as being the most popular figure in sports. What, Peyton Manning is never criticized? The notion that it translates to LeBron not being respected enough is absurd. What’s more absurd are the actions and reactions by the media so far during the NBA Finals. ESPN is on 24/seven Heat/LeBron watch. They are so smothering in their coverage that they are completely blind to the excellence of the San Antonio Spurs.
If you listened to media Monday morning after Game 2 – on TV and radio – you would’ve thought that after winning one game, the Heat had just wrapped up the series. Here’s a sampling of what I heard by “experts,” …”Do the Spurs have a chance? I just don’t think The Spurs have an answer for LeBron James. They have no answer.”… “When the Heat decide to turn it up and play like that, they can’t be stopped.”….”Let’s remember, we are only an air-conditioning malfunction away from this thing being 2-0 and us talking potential sweep right now.”
Allow me to reset the stage here: This was after Game 2, a game in which the Spurs led in the fourth quarter, missed four crucial free throws in the fourth quarter and lost by two points; TWO POINTS. AND the series was tied 1-1! AND we’re talking about a Spurs team that, just last year flat out gave away the championship to the Heat, up eight points with a minute to go in whats should have been the close-out Game 6. Had San Antoini finished the job in Games 6, the Spurs would now have five championship banners. AND the experienced Spurs have future Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach.
Yet, some in the media seemed mesmerized by the Game 3 performance of players like Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs after appearing to write them off after Game 2 and make excuses for the Heat in Game 1. What a joke by over-hyping, over-reacting experts, supposed worldwide leaders in sports, at that.
Jim Irsay Punishment
What should Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s punishment be? This has been a topic of conversation since the day Irsay’s arrest made headlines and has come to the forefront again as ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that people around the NFL feel Irsay may get suspended six-eight games and fined $1 million. There’s one scenario I hadn’t thought and for good reason. It doesn’t make any sense. On local spots talk radio Tuesday, the idea was presented that the Colts should lose draft picks as part of Irsay’s punishment. Discussion about that idea continued Wednesday.
Losing draft picks is something that makes zero sense to me. Maybe others have floated it out there, too, I don’t know. But the punishment needs to fit the crime. What does taking draft picks away from the organization have to do with Jim Irsay’s personal issues and problems? This isn’t about the organization cheating to gain a competitive advantage on the field and management circumventing rules. This is a personal matter, not a personnel matter.
If Schefter’s report of the possible punishment by the league office is accurate, that seems MORE than fair. Jim Irsay’s biggest punishment is having to address his problems every day of his life. Does this issue make the organization look bad? I suppose it does to some degree. But mainly, it makes Jim Irsay look bad. Fine him, suspend him, but taking away draft picks?
I think the idea that the Colts should lose draft picks will sail about as far wide right as Mike Vanderjagt’s game-tying field goal attempt against the Steelers in the 2005-2006 NFL Playoffs.
What do the Pacers do with Lance Stephenson? That is probably the biggest question to be answered in the off-season. President Larry Bird has chimed in as has just about everyone. Usually, the opinions on the topic take some form of..”For the right price the Pacers should keep him” or “He’s bad for team chemistry, get rid of him.”
Let me tell you what I think the right price will be: Whatever the Pacers need to pay to match the open market bidding. We can talk all day about how the Pacers need to make trades to improve the team. I’m not saying they won’t. But the Pacers aren’t exactly sitting in a position of strength. Roy Hibbert’s contract is what it is – not good. You’re going to pay Hibbert $14 million per season but let Lance Stephenson, one of your two most talented players, walk? I doubt it.
In my opinion, the Pacers don’t have a choice but to re-sign Stephenson. Do you like the alternative? Do you even know what the alternative is? It’s not better than keeping Lance Stephenson, I can tell you that. The Pacers are in the position they’re in and they’re not in position to lose a player the caliber of Stephenson.
I leave you with this golden nugget:
It’s too bad the Pacers couldn’t achieve it’s goal of winning it’s first championship, if for no other reason than the fact that there would definitely been an interesting book chronicling the bizarre and incredible journey of the season. It could have been titled: From Catfishing to Bass Fishing: On Golden Swagger Pond.
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