Hello #SportBits readers! How are you handling the #madness? It certainly was a great weekend of college basketball- both men and women’s. Bummed I have to wait until Thursday before it starts up again. We’ll get to the scores and highlights in a minute. But first, I want to pass along some interesting information and insight I got from NY Knick president and former Laker and Bulls coach, Phil Jackson. That’s him in the cover photo. It was the only shot where he’s smiling, so I had to use it! He came into the vintage watch store I work at with a couple beautiful timepieces to be repaired – one was a gift from Jerry Buss, given to him when he was kicked out of a game for defending Kobe. Naturally, I took the opportunity to chat him up. His son Charlie was with him, and it was fun quizzing them both on some #SportBits topics.
We started out with a little tourney talk and it turns out that, like me, they both have Kansas winning it all. #greatminds
Next came a quick question on the state of the Knicks head coaching position. Former Laker and Knicks head coach Derek Fisher was let go in February, and veteran assistant (and former Laker) Kurt Rambis was named interim coach. According to an ESPN.com article, Jackson took some blame for Fisher’s performance. He said he could have done a better job mentoring him. I asked PJ (that’s what Charlie calls him) if Rambis was his permanent pick, and if there was any truth to the rumors he might step back into the coaching arena and coach some Knick home games? “At this point, I haven’t made any decisions,” Jackson said. The Knicks are 5-11 under Rambis and near the bottom of the Eastern division. I mentioned my theory on Kobe’s coaching aspirations, as it seems he’s doing a lot it from the bench this season. I jokingly suggested to Phil he might want to hire him for the job. He smiled and said, “No comment.”
Next was my standard question on concussions in sports. I asked Coach if he knew then, what we know now, would Charlie be able to play football as a kid? He looked at Charlie and said, “Well, ask him about that.” Charlie told me he was NOT allowed to play football growing up. “My mom saw too many injuries in the game and didn’t want us getting hurt,” Charlie said. “We weren’t allowed to play.” I asked him if he was bitter about that and he responded, “Not at all. I’ve got two young boys and I’m not sure what I’ll do when they get old enough to play. Hopefully, they will have figured out proper safety measures by then.”
The last topic I touched on was the Adam LaRoche controversy. If you haven’t heard, Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam LaRoche retired from baseball last week because the team president asked him to “dial back” his son’s time in the clubhouse and on the field. LaRoche walked away from $13 million dollars remaining in his contract to put #familyfirst. Charlie Jackson answered this one too. He explained that growing up in Chicago while his dad coached the Bulls, and here in Los Angeles with the Lakers, he was rarely allowed in the locker room. “Kids and wives were not on the team planes or in the same hotels even. That’s not the atmosphere Dad wanted. It was business. But I think things are a little different now. It’s a different generation.” Phil agreed. “I’ve got to think there is some kind of compromise here,” Charlie said. I agreed with them both. Surely, there must be a better way to work this one out. Lots of support coming on both sides of the issue, and I’m hoping there can be an amicable resolution before the boycotts begin. The whole thing is ridiculous if you ask me. Kids in the workplace…yes or no?
That was all the time I had with Phil. I was surprised he let me snap a picture (photocred: Charlie). I thanked him and asked permission to post. I then told him it was his friend Jeannie Buss who I REALLY wanted to interview, and asked him to put in a good word. #workit
On to the #madness… It was a fun weekend of hoops filled with some wicked upsets and bracket busters (HELLO Middle Tennessee State (men’s side), U of Albany in the women’s); a phenomenal half court buzzer beater, tip-ins and those Cinderella teams no one expected to advance. So much happened over the four days, it’s just too much to cover here. If you want to get all the details, check this article. Here are a few of my take-aways from the men’s side:
• The Sweet 16 round is made up teams mostly from the power conferences. Other than Gonzaga, the mid-majors melted away.
• The biggest upset of the weekend had to be No. 2 seed Michigan State falling to Middle Tennessee State in the first round. It killed my bracket.
• The ACC conference is the big winner with 6 teams heading to the Sweet 16.
• There are zero African American coaches in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. #S16sowhite
Here is a look at the bracket going in to the second weekend. How have your teams done?
In the women’s tournament, the two big stories are Syracuse advancing to its first Sweet 16 in program history, and powerhouse Tennesee advancing after a hugely disappointing regular season. Other teams moving on: No. 5 Mississippi State, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State. Check here for the full bracket. If you haven’t watched any of the women’s games, you should check them out. They are just as entertaining and exciting as the men’s games.
In the NBA there were a few noteworthy games over the weekend.
LeBron and the Cavaliers were pummeled by Dwayne Wade and the Heat on Saturday, 122-101. Down 20 at the half, the Cavs fell behind by as much as 30 in the 3rd quarter. Let’s keep an eye on LeBron’s twitter and instagram feeds this week to see if he’s posts anymore cryptic messages. His latest instagram had everyone in a tizzy once again.
San Antonio held Steph Curry to 14 points and defeated the Golden State Warriors 87-79 to stay perfect at home this season.
One night after dominating the 76ers in Philadelphia, the OKC Thunder were back in action on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers and came out with a 115-111 win. Kevin Durant had 33 points while Russell Westbrook put in14. Paul George of the Pacers had 45 in the losing effort.
In what could be a first round matchup in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers came up short against the Grizzlies 113-103 in Memphis. Former Clipper Zack Randolph has his way with his former team, scoring a triple double (28pts/11 rebounds/10 assists). On Sunday, the Clippers fell 109-105 to the New Orlean Pelicans. It’s panic time in Clipperland.
Check here for all NBA scores.
Last Monday, the NFL made news when the league’s vice president of health and safety, Jeff Miller, acknowledged a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NHL did NOT follow suit however. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said:
“Well, first of all, I don’t feel that it’s either necessary or appropriate for me to comment on what the NFL says or does,” Bettman said. “Secondly, I think it’s fairly clear that playing hockey isn’t the same as football. And as we’ve said all along, we’re not going to get into a public debate on this.”
Good luck with that Mr. Commissioner. Currently, over 100 NHL players are involved in lawsuits claiming the league did not do enough to educate or protect them from the long-tem effects of concussions. The League says players could have done research and figured out the connection on their own. #whatheWHAT? Looks like a resolution is nowhere in sight.
Last week, the League leading Washington Capitols became the first team to clinch a playoff sport with their overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes. On Sunday, they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins who extended their win streak to 6.
On Saturday, LA Kings goalie Jonathan Quick helped his team win its fourth in a row and clinch a playoff berth in the West. They beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 at the Staples Center.
Anaheim Ducks beat the Winnipeg Jets in OT.
Check here for all NHL scores.
In college hockey, the 16 teams were announced on Sunday for the Division-1 NCAA Frozen Four Tournament. If you’ve never watched college hockey, you should check it out. It’s very fast paced and exciting. Here is a look at the bracket. Games start March 25th with the Frozen Four meeting in Tampa on April 7th. Championship game is April 9th, 8pm ET on ESPN.
On the women’s side, Boston College was attempting to cap off only the second undefeated season in NCAA history against the Minnesota Gophers in the championship game on Sunday. The Gophers came up with the upset winning 3-1 in Durham, NH.
In tennis, the BNP Paribas at Indian Wells came to a close, but not without some major controversy. Event CEO Raymond Moore spoke at a press conference before the women’s final on Sunday, and made some remarks that we’re outright sexist. Moore claimed that both the Women’s Tennis Association and its players ride on the coattails of men, used the term “lady player,” and commented on the physical attractiveness of a couple of the tour’s best young athletes. He quickly tweeted a hasty apology but I’m thinking his days are numbered.
Meanwhile, in the women’s final, No. 13 seed Victoria Azarenka dominated the early stages of the match before holding off a second-set fightback to defeat Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 . Serena commented on the controversy after the match and she didn’t mince words.
On the men’s side Novak Djokovic dominated Milos Raonic 6-2 6-0 to cliam his 5th Indian Wells title. After the match he added to the controversy by stating men should be given more prize money because they bring in more TV viewers. Guess Novak was unaware that at last years US Open, the women’s final sold out before the men’s. #Joker
I’m going to end with my #HOLYCRAP moment of the week. F1 racecar driver Fernando Alonso should definitely play the lottery after walking away from this one. Check it out.
That’s it for #SportBits. I’ll be following the Knick head coaching story closely because something tells me this decision is going to make or break Phil Jackson’s tenure with the team. And hey, if you’re ever down in the South Bay, stop by MB Watch Repair and Vintage Watches. We’re always talking food, sports and of course, classic watches! Follow me on social media for more news and updates. See you back here next Monday. #out
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