You know those times at the gym when you just want to put your iPod on shuffle and see where the music takes you? The same is true of sports thoughts. I’m putting my iThink on shuffle while blasting “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley in honor of Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim’s Cameron-crazed tantrum in Syracuse’s 66-60 loss to Duke last Saturday.
1. I think as a molder of young men, Boeheim needs to take accountability for his hoops hissy fit and apologize. Boeheim was tossed with 10.4 seconds left after a game-tying Syracuse basket from C.J. Fair was waved off on a charge call. The block-charge call is one of the more difficult in sports. But Boeheim’s apoplectic response was over the top — flailing his arms, turning his suit coat into a sky glider, charging onto the floor, and repeatedly shouting that the call was male bovine waste. Referee Tony Greene had no choice but to toss him, ending any hope of Syracuse winning, as Duke made three of four technical foul free throws.
Worse than Boeheim’s impulsive belligerence was his arrogance after the game, when he pronounced the judgment call “the worst call of the year” and said he had no regrets about his court rage, “not today, tomorrow, or next week.” Boeheim is the second-winningest coach in Division 1 college basketball history, but that doesn’t absolve him from accepting responsibility for unbecoming behavior.
2. I think the charge call on Fair wasn’t even the worst call in a Syracuse-Duke game this month. Like some Patriots fans, Boeheim sure has a short memory about calls that go his way. Syracuse defeated Duke, 91-89, in overtime the first time these two regal programs met on Feb. 1 and benefitted from two egregious calls. The first was a phantom offensive foul call on Duke phenom Jabari Parker with 1:42 left in the game that fouled Parker out. It was acting worthy of Matthew McConaughey by Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas. Then with 14 seconds left in overtime and Syracuse up by a point, Christmas clearly clipped the arm of Duke’s Rodney Hood on a dunk attempt that missed. There was no foul. Both bungled calls were worse than Greene’s.
3. I think one of the things I don’t like about college basketball is the genuflecting for and deification of coaches. The cliché goes that college basketball is about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. No, it’s about the name of the coach — Boeheim, Krzyzewski, Pitino, Calipari, Williams, Self. They become sacred cows. Kudos to ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who immediately called out the iconic ’Cuse coach for his actions.
4. I think the NHL needs to return to the Olympics in 2018. The Olympic hockey tournament is like an 11-day All-Star Game played at full intensity. It was a captivating and entertaining display of patriotism, passion, and pucks. Pyeongchang, South Korea, site of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. NHL teams are never going to like seeing their players put at risk for someone else’s hockey cause. But playing at Olympus is great marketing for the NHL.
5. I think NFL teams have to determine whether Johnny Manziel is more interested in being Johnny Famous or Johnny Football. Rolling with a retinue, hanging with LeBron James, or dating models isn’t going to matter if Manziel can’t go through his progressions or find the hot route. He has to want to be famous for his football accomplishments, not a media-cultivated persona. The autograph-signing imbroglio that caused him to miss one half of Texas A&M’s season opener is a non-issue, and so is his sub-6-foot height (Drew Brees is not 6 feet, no matter what the media guide says). But if Manziel’s not dedicated to the mental preparation and film work it takes to play NFL quarterback he’ll be Johnny Forgotten.
6. I think umpires are going to rue the new MLB home plate collision rule. The upside is that the rule should eliminate the tackling-dummy collisions we see at the plate when a runner should call for a taxi to get home safe. But the provision about a catcher still being able to block the plate and the pathway of the runner if it’s to field a throw and contact was unavoidable leaves room for ambiguity and umpire error. Why would teams not just start making throws home that lead the catcher into the path of the runner? That provision also seems to contradict the obstruction call against Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks to end Game 3 of the World Series.
7. I think many of the Celtics fans who e-mailed me about Rajon Rondo’s value would feel totally different if he weren’t wearing green. Rondo has become one of the ultimate examples of laundry logic. He is a fantastic player, an unorthodox dynamo, and the best passer in the league. But if Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry were Celtics and Rondo were playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Golden State Warriors there is no way so many Celtics supporters would be claiming a pass-first point guard is more valuable than a capable scoring one.
8. I think I’m glad that Jason Collins didn’t “distract” the Brooklyn Nets in his first game — the NFL can take a lesson from the NBA when it comes to the alleged distraction of having an openly gay player. We can dispense with that tripe. Collins made his season debut Sunday, becoming the first openly gay athlete in any of the four major North American sports leagues. The 35-year-old Collins is a rugged pick-setter and good team defender with a high basketball IQ. The Nets can’t be the only NBA team that could use such a center on their bench.
Bonus track: I think I’m going to become a vegetarian. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, don’t believe in the space bar, but they do believe that a bacon logo has a place on a professional baseball team’s caps and uniforms.