Once again, it’s time to empty out that Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind:
▪ LeBron haters
Life is full of mysteries. Who eats beets? Why is Johnny Maestro not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Whatever happened to the high strike?
And the big one: Why are there so many LeBron James haters? The fact is that LeBron James has been a gift to basketball and its devoted fans. And a second fact is that his ill-advised “Decision” to announce his move to Miami occurred 13 years ago. So … get over it, you people!
I admit that I scoffed when they began televising his high school games, saying that I had seen all the great players of the previous 50 years and I could wait for this kid to at least get out of high school before taking a look. Frankly, the hype was annoying.
Well, now I have seen all the great players of the past 70 years, and LeBron has established himself as being on the very short list of the greatest of the great who have ever played the game. (Let’s table the full discussion for another day.)
What’s more, the one big fault he had en route to his current exalted status was that he was too deferential at times, owing to the fact that, dating from high school, he has always been about T-E-A-M. It was only following his semi-disastrous loss to Dallas in the 2011 Finals that he realized that as the best talent on the floor, he must accept the responsibility that comes with it and act accordingly.
A little more than three weeks shy of his 39th birthday, LeBron James remains a very potent force on the court. I suggest that if you don’t enjoy watching him play, you really don’t like basketball at all. This man knows how to play.
▪ What sport is it?
I’m sorry, but college football has it right, and the NFL needs to follow. I’m talking about what constitutes a legal catch when a receiver makes a reception on the sideline. In college football, having one foot inbounds before leaving the playing field suffices to make it a good catch. But in the NFL you must have both feet down to make it legit.
Why? The sport is football, not gymnastics. This drives me crazy.
▪ Don’t get me started …
… about — ugh — the soccer and hockey phenomenon known as “offsides.”
The concept is needless. If in either sport a team has a player hang around the goal in what we basketball folk would call “basket hanging” mode, the solution is for a defensive player to accompany him or her until they both get bored and return to the action.
Countless good scoring chances are negated in a pair of sports that need more scoring because of this silly, archaic restriction.
Yes, I know this will bring upon me the wrath of millions of hockey and soccer devotees who, I bet, have blindly accepted this rule without once really thinking how detrimental it is to their beloved sport. Sometimes an outside perspective is helpful. Look, folks, I’m just trying to improve your games.
▪ Tom Brady blasts football
Not really. No. 12 just thinks the 2023 version of his favorite sport is “mediocre.”
I find that very interesting, because for several years I have contended that we are living in the Golden Age of Wide Receivers. Whether or not we are living the Golden Age of Guards and Centers is a matter I’m not qualified to discuss.
But I have been watching this sport since childhood, and I believe we’ve never had so many gifted athletes hauling in passes. Credit must given to the astonishing influence of one man: Odell Beckham Jr.
On Nov. 23, 2014, he made a spectacular, falling-down, one-handed TD grab against the Cowboys, and football has never been the same since. You cannot turn on the TV any weekend without seeing someone, somewhere, making a one-handed catch. Clearly, receivers all over America are practicing something that was once unthinkable, and it’s all due to one man.
And speaking of Golden Ages, we are also in the Golden Age of Shortstops and Center Fielders (defensively, that is) and of Long-Distance Shooters in basketball (thanks, Steph).
I can’t speak to hockey. I’ll have to ask Kevin Dupont. The one thing I do know is that we are not in hockey’s Golden Age of Fighting. There would be no place for Lou Fontinato today.
▪ You can never have enough Reggie Jacksons
Boston College has dispatched an impressive list of guards to the NBA. John Bagley, Michael Adams, Dana Barros, and Howard Eisley have all had fruitful careers after leaving The Heights. Oh, but there is one more name that must be added to this list.
I mean, did you happen to notice what Reggie Jackson did in the Nuggets’ 113-104 triumph over the Clippers last Monday night? The BC product, who was the 24th pick in the 2011 draft, had the night of his 13-year NBA career, posting the following stat line: 35 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, and 15-for-19 shooting (3-for-4 on threes).
He has long been a solid auxiliary player for the Thunder, Pistons, and Clippers, but he has become a primary player in Denver.
By the way, did you know he was nicknamed “Big Government” as a Clipper because he often “finished the deal” in games? Neither did I.
▪ I can take it
Yes, hockey and soccer fans, I know, I know. I’m a (naughty word) idiot.
Bob Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.