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Los Angeles Lakers Pre-Game Report by Jeff Little

October 26, 2010 1 comment

It’s the season opener for the 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers; but before the journey to repeat commences the squad will receive their championship rings for last seasons exploits. This past off-season was the quietest off-season ever for a two-time defending champion in any sport.

The Lakers have no problem with being under the radar with all the pressure being on a certain team that plays in the east. While the majority of the NBA was enamored with a super team being assembled with the three biggest names in free agency landing on the east coast.

The spotlight, scrutiny and high expectations will hover over the Heat all-season and like it or not the move ushered in a new era in the NBA. The super team that Miami is chasing is already assembled and in place on the west coast. However, the purple reign is far from over, but it has improved. The purple and gold didn’t rest on their laurels and stand pat. The two-time defending champion Lakers retooled and are now two deep at every position.

The Additions of veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff and impressive rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter provide a needed mixture of versatility, experience and youth. The Lakers bench was a weakness last year and now should add better outside shooting as well as produce 35+ points per game.

The additions have also extended the careers of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher as well as provide the Lakers with the ability to match up with anyone. Facing the Rockets; the Lakers have to prepare to play two different teams; one with Yao Ming and one without.

It has been widely publicized that Yao will be limited to 24 minutes per game. Yao is a huge presence in the post and will get the majority of his touches in the half-court offense the Lakers have to minimize his impact on this game.

Los Angeles needs to control the tempo and not allow the Rockets to get out and run. It is a must that all five Lakers get back on defense to eliminate transition baskets. Los Angeles will have to do a good job defending the screen and roll as well as rotating out to their three-point shooters. Los Angeles needs to control the boards and play defense without fouling.

It is imperative that the Lakers take care of the ball, limit their turnovers. The Lakers can out-work the Rockets with a combination of excellent ball and player movement.  When the Lakers do a good job of sharing the ball; effectively moving it from the strong to the weak side and moving the defense in the process, they’re tough to beat. The Lakers need to trust their offense and get into a rhythm early. Los Angeles will run their offense through Pau Gasol in the post and he needs to accept the challenge and be much more aggressive.

 

Prediction: Lakers 102 – Rockets 94

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: TNT
  • Houston: TNT

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Houston: 1140 AM KHTK (Gary Gerould)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out
  • Luke Walton (Hamstring) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Knee) Listed as Day-to-Day

Rockets

  • C Yao Ming (Foot) Listed as Day-to-Day
  • PG Kyle Lowry (Back Spasms) Listed as Day-to-Day

 

Jeff Little is the mid-day host of the Locker Room on the Sports Journey Network.  Based out of Los Angeles, he is also a writer for Laker Nation.

With the “Answer” there are more questions By Reggie Williams

March 10, 2010 3 comments

Published reports are circulating that Allen Iverson is suffering from an alcohol and gambling addiction. This disturbing information arrives on the heels of a report that Tawanna Iverson, Allen’s wife of 8 ½ years, filed for divorce citing the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” On the day that Mrs. Iverson decided to call it quits with her high school sweetheart, Mr. Iverson’s working relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers was terminated; that marriage may also be irretrievably broken.

With A.I., who has affectionately been known throughout his career as “The Answer,” there appears to be nothing but questions.

During this 2009 off-season the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up Shaquille O’Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers scooped up Ron Artest, the Boston Celtics grabbed Rasheed Wallace and the Orlando Magic snatched Vince Carter for a run at the 2010 NBA championship, but the only teams remotely interested in the talents of A.I. were the Memphis Grizzlies and that other Los Angeles team – the Clippers. The question that bears asking is: what was wrong with A.I. that teams, potentially one player away from competing for a championship, wouldn’t covet a sure 1st Ballot Hall of Famer with some game left in his tank?

The question that bears asking is: did Mrs. Iverson asked for a divorce because Mr. Iverson indeed is dependent on gambling and alcohol and the destructive behavior that accompanies such addictions has made their marriage “irretrievably broken?”

The question that bears asking is: why might A.I. have a drinking and gambling addiction; is it because his once brilliant career is heading south in a runaway Toyota Prius?

The question that bears asking is: has A.I. penchant to “keep it real,” – cornrows, tats and cronies who may have never understood that A.I. was a brand name with whose potential was limitless, really kept him in a dark place where now he seems to be stuck?

The question that bears asking is: those cronies that A.I. “kept it real” with, will they “keep it real” and support the dude who supported them or will A.I. become contagious to them like his hometown boy Michael Vick became infectious to his “keep it real” boys?

The question that bears asking is: can one of the hardest, toughest players – arguably the hardest and toughest player when you consider his stands just 6 feet and weighs a buck-sixty, end his career has a quitter. He quick on the Grizzlies after just 12 games; quick on the Detroit Pistons the year prior and while Messiah, his 4-year-old daughter, has been ill and I do believe family is far-far, way far more important than basketball – it’s fair to ask did he quick on the 76ers using his daughter’s illness for cover?

The question that bears asking is: what does the next chapter of the Iverson’s novel read when one considers that A.I. is on the verge of a divorce; his wife will probably seek a handsome alimony – does he have it? Will the next chapter reveal that he has failed to endow any assets into a subsequent career after pouring his heart and soul into a 13-year career? Will the next chapter become even more compelling when A.I. has to compete against a divorce and a declining career all while the troubled star allegedly battles the gripping addictions of gambling and alcohol.

The question bears asking: will A.I. fight the way he did when he would challenge a 7-footer in the paint, or will he become a fade away memory?

For 10 years (1996-2006) whenever Iverson stepped on the court he provided the answer. During the course of his first 10 seasons in Philly Iverson scored 28.9 ppg, dished out 5.5 assists and made victims of opponents with 2.3 steals per game. He led the League in scoring four times (one of only four players in League history to capture at least four scoring titles); named League’s MVP in 2000-01; a 10-time All-Star and two-time All-Star game MVP. Iverson was named to seven All-NBA Teams and if we “keep it real,” he’s public perception wasn’t as rebellious as the reputation that preceded it. Unfortunately now, there’s nothing but questions swirling around the Answer.

Reggie Williams, an award-winning editor and journalist, is reachable at rwilliams@itsflawless.com

King Kobe! by Lake Lewis

February 25, 2010 1 comment

Earlier in the year after watching Kobe Bryant drop 42 points on the Chicago Bulls in the “place that Mike built”, I could not help but think that he was a victim of the guy who won those 6 championships in Chi-Town.  Having watched his late game heroics against Memphis in his first game back after being out of action for a few weeks, Kobe Bryant in any era of basketball could be mentioned as perhaps the greatest of all time.  But we now must say “could have” and that’s because any player who plays after Michael Jordan will never get their just due.  Just like we date things in history from BC to AD, we now need to start looking at basketball history the same way.  There is the before Jordan era (BJ) and the after Jordan era (AJ).  Depending on when you played will determine how fans can place you historically.  I have said on numerous occasions as great a player Kobe Bryant is I can not put him in my top five as of yet.  When I actually said that on my radio show was during last years NBA Finals that Kobe and the Lakers won in convincing fashion over Orlando.  At the time I had Kobe ranked seven on my all time NBA player list.  That’s right I had him trailing Jordan, Magic, Bird, Chamberlain, Russell, and Kareem.  No one can argue that these guys at best can be mentioned with Kobe.

What keeps these players at the top of most NBA fan lists is that these guys played (BJ).  Kobe is the lone victim who is playing (AJ).  Sure LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony are great young players now, but they are not benefiting from playing in the Jordan era.  Kobe is the last link to this greatness.  He actually played against Jordan and had the torch passed to him directly.  This helps his cause along with his great game to be mentioned along side the greats.  All of the players that are on my list had one two special things in common.  Dominance on the floor, and championships.  At no time is Kobe the second best player on the floor.  Never!  He is at worst the second best player on a particular night if things are not going well.

Here lie the problems with me putting him ahead of these great players at this point in his career.

  1. He has benefited from a water downed league where he does not have a legitimate rival to his greatness.  Until James and Wade came along there was no other player who had the burden Kobe has to carry Jordan’s torch.  This may not seem fair to Kobe but that is the way it is.
  2. There has been only one “dynasty team” opposing Kobe’s Lakers during his entire career.  That team is the San Antonio Spurs.  All of the great players mentioned above had two and sometimes three “dynasty teams” that they had to conquer in order to win their championships.  Magic and Kareem’s Lakers teams had to go through Boston and Detroit.  Bird’s Celtics had to go through the Lakers, Detroit, and finally MJ’s Bulls.  Michael Jordan’s Bulls had to go through Boston, Detroit, L.A., and to a lesser extent Utah who had a great team.  Chamberlain and Russell had to go through each other and the Lakers when Wilt was playing in Philadelphia.
  3. Until last year when LeBron won the MVP there had not been a player or non-center to rival Kobe’s greatness.  Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal are the only players that could be mentioned with Kobe but the world would have liked a real rival from the non-center position.

Should Kobe win another championship which is highly probable I would have to put him in the top three trailing only Jordan and Russell?  His career averages of 25.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assist put him in this select category.  More importantly he will have 5 NBA Rings to back that.  That is where only the true greats can be mentioned because they dominated and won championships.   Take nothing away from Kobe because he did not choose which era he was going to play in.  He has been a true student of the game and has never shied away from greatness.  When he plays the best players in the game you can see him take it upon himself to show those players that he is the “man”.  This is what all of the games greats have done over time.  They would rise to the occasion to show that they could not be equaled.  At least in the (AJ) era Kobe is establishing the (KB) era.  That’s not such a bad deal is it?

Lake Lewis is the President and CEO of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network.  He was a host on ESPN Radio 1060 Orlando, ESPN Radio 1080 Melbourne and the Drive Time host ESPN Radio 1240 Maryland and WMET 1160 in Washington DC

Let the Flip Flopping Begin: The NFL is waiting for Brett Favre’s Decision Again by Lloyd Vance


Brett Favre’s “Thank You” note to fans on his website has started speculation once again whether he will or will not retire

Immediately after the Minnesota Vikings’ disappointing Championship Round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion, New Orleans Saints, everyone wanted to know what was Vikings quarterback Brett Favre’s decision on the 2010 NFL Season.

Even after throwing another heartbreaking interception to end another season –  Favre the last 3 seasons while playing for the Packers, NY Jets, and Vikings has ended his year by throwing an interception  – the graybeard wanted to focus more on the fun that he had competing against the Saints with the youngster Vikings.  However it now looks like another offseason and another flip-flopping affair for the “John Wayne” of quarterbacks.

As only he could do, Favre left a thank-you note to his fans on his official Web site, acknowledging their support during his 19th season. Of course there was no exact indication of his future plans.  There were only vague statements like, “Regardless of what the future holds, I want everyone to know that I will cherish the memories of the past year for the rest of my life”.  You could tell from Favre’s message that retirement may have been on his mind again.  But like the last three offseasons, it will be see you in the spring or summer for any decision.

The Vikings have said, via GM Rick Spielman, that they will allow Favre to take his time to decide.  “I think you go ahead and let Brett decide what he wants to do,” Spielman said. “I know the organization, from our ownership, from our coaches and I think from our fans out there, we’d love to have Brett Favre back for another year and see if we can make another run at this.” And who could blame the Vikings for leaving the ball in Favre’s court.

The 2009 NFL Season truly was a bounce-back season for Favre.  There wasn’t even a hint of the worn-down gunslinger from the 2008 season that the New York Jets threw on the scrap heap after Favre threw an NFL-high 22 interceptions with the J-E-T-S losing down the stretch to miss the playoffs.

The 3-time NFL MVP looked like a legitimate candidate for a fourth honor as he led the Vikings to a 12-4 regular season record (second seed in the NFC) and Minnesota won the NFC North title plus came within a 31-28 overtime loss of making the Super Bowl.

Individually, Favre arguably had his best season statistically in his 19-year NFL career.  He completed 68.4% of his passes for 4202 yards, 33 touchdowns, a career-low 7 interceptions, and a 107.2 passer rating.  Those numbers were good enough for Favre to make his 11th Pro Bowl, though he took a pass on the actual game as he recovered from the battering that the Saints delivered to him in the playoffs.

Even though I made a pact a couple of offseasons ago that I would not try to predict what Brett Favre would do.  In this “one” circumstance, I will try to read the tea leaves surrounding this surefire Hall of Famer.  Despite Favre taking a vicious beating at the hands of the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, I still believe that he still has the competitive fire to play.

The Vikings were a drastically improved team last season and should be considered Super Bowl contenders again in 2010.  Plus the team rallied around Favre all season as he made players around him like receiver Greg Lewis better — remember his game-winning catch against the Niners in Week 3.  There also is the little matter of the 40-year old having one-year remaining on his two-year contract with a base 2010 salary of $13 million dollars.

The key to me will be how long the Vikings are willing to wait for an answer.  You have to wonder if they will want to know by the 2010 NFL Draft — scheduled from April 22-24 – because that’s when teams map out their future direction.  The real fun will be, if Favre does indeed finally retire and sticks to it (doubt it).  The Vikings would then have to look to either make a trade (current Eagles QB’s Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick prime targets) or turn over the reins to one of their inconsistent backups, Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels.

Anyway stay tuned for the next installment of “As the Favre Turns”, because this melodrama is not going away anytime soon.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Playoffs – Wild Card Round Preview by Lloyd Vance

The 2009 NFL Playoffs – Wild Card Round is here and it is time for teams and players (Arizona Cardinals’ WR Steve Breaston pictured) to make their mark or go home

At times the 2009 NFL Season seemed to have already written its playoff script with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, both undefeated for the majority of the season, headed for a collision course at Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida.  But as fate usually does in the National Football League, the Colts and Saints plus other early season favorite, the Minnesota Vikings, have shown towards the end of the regular season that nothing is pre-determined in the world’s best sports league.

I am not saying that none of the top four seeds (Colts, Saints, Vikings, and San Diego Chargers) may not go full throttle through the playoffs and win it all, but I am expecting that this year’s playoffs will be another wide-open affair.  As Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said, “It’s an exciting time right now, it’s the NFL playoffs!”  There are now 12 teams scratching to survive on the long road to the Super Bowl and there are obstacles everywhere in the toughest single-elimination tournament around. 

“We’re all 0-0 now”, said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.  It doesn’t matter how any of the teams got into the playoffs, all that matters is that the remaining teams are in the mix for the biggest prize in pro football.  It has been one wacky NFL season with many exciting storylines and I am sure the excitement will continue in the 2009 “Own the Moment” NFL post-season. 

 Every team has a chance as ten of the twelve teams in the postseason have double-digit wins and for the 14th consecutive season, five or more teams qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year — six new playoff teams are the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Cincinnati Bengals.  Anything is possible and hope rightfully abounds in all twelve playoff cities. If the 2009 NFL Regular Season has taught us anything, it showed that “On Any Given Sunday” any team can step-up their level of play to beat any other team in the parity-filled NFL (Remember the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocking off the playoff bound Green Bay Packers way back in Week 9). Besides attaining the No. 1 seed in your conference is no guarantee of Super Bowl entry as surprisingly it has been fifteen seasons since the last time two No. 1 seeds faced each other in Super Bowl (1993 season, Buffalo vs. Dallas in Super Bowl XXVIII).

The theme of the 2009 NFL Wild Card Playoff round should be the same as one of my favorite ’70s films, “Let’s Do It Again”.  The film starred African American film icons Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitiere making a killing by prearranging boxing matches with all the marbles riding on a big payday rematch.  The word “rematch” fits perfectly when talking about this year’s Wild Card round as all four games will be rematches with 3 out of 4 being immediate rematches from the regular season’s Week 17.  Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, there have been nine instances when two teams have played in the final week of the regular season and again the next week to start the postseason. The losing team in Week 17 has won five of the nine playoff games. 

Of course having played and beaten a team in the regular season may cause some “familiarity” and a psychological edge in game planning along with dissecting tendencies. But playoff tenants of Strong Quarterback Play (i.e. Taking Care of the Football), Good Attacking Defense, a Balanced Offensive Attack based first in the Run, Sound Special Teams Play, Limiting Penalties/Turnovers, and just plain “Want-to” will be the key factors as to which teams move on to the Divisional round on long treacherous road to the Super Bowl.

Other storylines for Wildcard Weekend include: 

  • Third Times a Charm?? – The Dallas Cowboys will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night after sweeping them in the regular season.  Since 1970, 19 teams have gone 2-0 against an opponent in the regular season and then faced that club in the playoffs.  The sweeping team has won the postseason meeting 12 times (63.2 percent).  Most recently, Pittsburgh beat Baltimore for a third time in last year’s AFC Championship Game.  The last time a team swept an opponent and then lost to them in the playoffs was 2007, when the New York Giants defeated the Cowboys in the Divisional round after Dallas had defeated them twice in the regular season.
  • Future Hall of Famer is back in the playoffs –New England quarterback Tom Brady will line up under center for the 18th time in the playoffs when the Patriots face the Ravens on Sunday.  With 46 passing yards, Brady will reach 4,000 in the postseason, a feat accomplished by only five quarterbacks in history.   Brady also led to the Patriots to a perfect 8-0 record in Foxborough this season and has never lost a home playoff game (8-0).  With a win against the Ravens, Brady can become the first quarterback to win his first nine postseason home games in the Super Bowl era.  The Patriots have won 11 consecutive postseason games since 1997.
  • Rex Ryan’s J-E-T-S are tough on both sides of the ball —  The New York Jets led the NFL with 172.3 rushing yards per game on offense and allowed an NFL-low 252.3 yards per game on defense.  The Jets became the eighth team since 1970 to lead the NFL in both rushing offense and total defense.  Ryan is trying to become 10th rookie head coach since 1990 to win his playoff debut.
  • The Cardinals are back — Last season, the Arizona Cardinals advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.  The Cardinals, who have won back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1974-75, are just the 10th Super Bowl runner-up since 1990 to qualify for the playoffs the following year.
  • Undefeated at Home – The New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings both finished the 2009 regular season undefeated at home.  Since 2000, only 15 teams have posted a perfect regular-season record at home.  Of the previous 13 teams, five have gone to the Super Bowl (38.5 percent).
  • Belichick trying to climb the postseason wins board — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has compiled a 15-4 (.789) record in his postseason career.  Belichick ranks fifth all-time with 15 playoff victories, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Tom Landry, Don Shula, Joe Gibbs, and Chuck Noll.

My advice to everyone watching this weekend’s wildcard action is to pay very close attention to the winners as teams advancing from the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl 6 times including three of the last four.  A prime example of going from the Wild Card to great heights were the 2007 New York Giants, who went from the NFC’s fifth seed to winning the Super Bowl.  The G-Men won three road games and then triumphed in Arizona over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  Three years ago, the AFC third-seeded Indianapolis accomplished the feat.  And four years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first sixth seed to win a Super Bowl.

I usually like to look at the hottest teams going into playoff games as favorites and no team is hotter than the San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers enter the postseason with 11 consecutive victories, the NFL’s longest current win streak.  San Diego has clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC and is tied for the fifth-longest win streak to enter the playoffs since 1970.  Other teams entering the 2009 NFL playoffs on a roll are the Dallas Cowboys (3), NY Jets (2), Green Bay Packers (1), Baltimore Ravens (1),and Minnesota Vikings (1).  Conversely six teams enter the postseason carrying a losing streak led by the suddenly reeling New Orleans Saints (3) – other losing streak teams are the Indianapolis Colts (2), Arizona Cardinals (1), Philadelphia Eagles (1), New England Patriots (1), and Cincinnati Bengals (1).

2009 NFL SEASON – WILD CARD WEEKEND

Saturday, January 9 

AFC:    4:30 PM  New York Jets (9-7) at Cincinnati (10-6) (NBC)
   
NFC:    8:00 PM  Philadelphia (11-5) at Dallas (11-5) (NBC)

 

Sunday, January 10

AFC:    1:00 PM Baltimore (9-7) at New England (10-6) (CBS)
   
NFC:    4:40 PM Green Bay (11-5) at Arizona (10-6) (FOX)

 

Wild Card Game Previews and Picks to follow

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

BCS Stands For “Bogus Championship Series” by Lake Lewis

Is it me or does it seems as if we are being taken advantage of with the BCS National Championship game that college football fans are stuck with on January 7th?  I say stuck because only one of the teams playing in the game is deserving of their perch.  I will let you determine whom I speak of by giving you the following clues.

  1. The non deserving team narrowly beat an opponent that they were favored to beat in their conference championship game by 2 touchdowns.  They did so by benefiting from some very timely officiating.
  2. The non deserving team benefited from playing in a traditionally strong conference that this year was not strong at all.
  3. The non deserving team had 3 quality wins over teams that had rankings of 14, 20, and 22.  Not necessary big time teams.

Let us make a case for the obvious deserving team who will play the non deserving team.

  1. The deserving team dismantled the consensus #1 ranked team over the last two years in their conference championship game.  They avenged their only regular season loss over two years.
  2. The deserving team benefited from playing in a far more superior conference.  They became battle tested from the quality of opponents that they played and beat.
  3. The deserving team had quality wins over big time teams with rankings of 1, 7, 9, and quality wins over teams with rankings 20, and 22.

If you do not know by now who the deserving team is?  They are the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.  Going undefeated this year was a daunting task because of the road (SEC) they had to go down.  Top that with a win for the ages over their nemesis Florida there is no denying that they are the best team in the land.

The undeserving team is the Texas Longhorns.  Do they have a great quarterback in Colt McCoy? Yes.  Do they have a great coach in Mack Brown? Yes.  But the fact that the Big 12 was not “big” this year makes this game look like a beating in the making.  As fans and as a journalist I can only hope that we will all be entertained.

I think the best team to not be playing in this game is TCU.  This is a great offensive team averaging over 40 points per game.  They play in the   Mountain what – I mean Mountain West Conference which does not help their cause.  But keep this in mind.  They beat the ACC runner-up in Clemson; beat another ACC school in Virginia.  TCU hung a combined 93 points on the two ranked teams that they beat in Utah and BYU.  Both of those teams entered their games against the Horn Frogs ranked 16th.  They will have to accept a bowl bid to either the Fiesta Bowl or the Orange Bowl.

Two other deserving teams will also not get their chance at the title.  One team because of their lack of a tough schedule in a mediocre conference.  Yes that would be Boise State who after going undefeated again in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) is primed to play spoiler in either the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

Finally, the Cincinnati Bearcats had a magical season going a perfect 11-0.  They won the Big East Conference championship outright (second straight year) with a come from behind win over Pittsburgh.   Over the next few weeks we will be hearing a lot about their head coach Brain Kelly as his name is sure to come up over and over regarding the open coaching job at Notre Dame.  Kelly’s Bearcats team had quality wins over 3 ranked teams.  They will probably be facing last year’s national champion Florida in the Sugar Bowl. (This article was written 24hrs before the Bowl Selection Committee pairs teams for their respective games).

Imagine if we could have had a playoff.  We would have seen 5 undefeated teams going at it.  But instead we have to wait and see if chaos comes from an undeserving team playing for it all.

Lake Lewis is the President and CEO of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network.  He was a host on ESPN Radio 1060 Orlando, ESPN Radio 1080 Melbourne and the Drive Time host ESPN Radio 1240 Maryland and WMET 1160 in Washington DC

Not Out Of The Woods by Lake Lewis

December 3, 2009 1 comment

Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is the best golfer on the planet.  The most recognizable sports figure of any continent.  Perhaps the most envied person on the planet.  Right?  I am not so sure of the latter after the world has learned of his self professed “transgressions”.  Over the pasts few days we have been transfixed with details that led to his SUV being totaled with the windows broken out by his wife.  All this sounds like a story from All My Children or Days of Our Lives.  The way the media vultures (don’t include me) have salivated over this story has been embarrassing to say the least.  Why is it important for us in today’s society to rake individuals over the coals?  From the moment this story broke no one cared for the safety or well being of Woods but more importantly wanted to know what was he doing out at 2 am in the morning.  You know what none of your damn business.

Before you think I am on the Tiger soap box, think again.  Is he a great champion?  Absolutely!  Is he without fault?  Absolutely!  Is he learning a valuable lesson about being a “family man” and high profile celebrity?  Again, Absolutely!  But this is where I will stray and maybe annoy some of you with my next few sentences.  Several questions will undoubtedly come up in certain circles.  Racism is one that comes mind.  Keep in mind Tiger is married to a white woman who is attractive.  Over the years we have seen the distaste for African American athletes who marry “outside” of their race.  Maybe this is only an issue in small pockets of the community, but this issue carries weight in small pockets of the black community.  Black women have forever wondered how can black male athletes do this to them.  How can these athletes get out of the hood, make it big, and not remember them.  They were the sources that normally raised and took care of them on their way to stardom.  Well, Tiger is not from this tradition laden stereotype that believe it or not, is a small minority of players.  He comes from a structured family like most of my African American friends.    Think Kobe Bryant and his rape/adultery case in Denver.  Think O.J Simpson and his murder case.  Think of Michael Jordan too and his “transgressions”.  These men were raised with fathers in the house.  Conspiracy theorist will note all this leads to the presumption that if you are a black athlete with a white significant other and make a mistake you will be in big trouble.  The problem I have with this way of thinking is all these cases could have easily been avoided.  Not by marrying an African American woman.  That is foolish and without merit.    These situations could have been avoided because of the fame that these athletes already had.  They should have known that they would have been tracked and followed because of their enormous fame.  Does race play a part in it?  I am sure it does as we are still dealing with ignorant people in our world.

I also think that there is another major circumstance that is at heart in these matters.   And that is…get ready… YOU THE FAN drove these guys to do what they have done.  By worshiping athletes to dizzying heights and always wanting a piece of them, a lot of them have believed from the beginning of any success that they are above the law.  In the end there is a level of trust that is ingrained in them.  I just recently told a young NBA player not to get married until he was in his mid 30’s.  I told him enjoy your bachelor days and fame.  Work on your craft and finally or near the end of you’re playing career, focus on love.  The flip side to that ideal solution is that guys do not trust anyhow and now you’re about to date a person who you might think is after your money.  I am not saying that this led to Tigers “transgressions” but come on how many of you at one point thought that his wife could be the big GD?  If we have entertained that thought, then naturally the athlete is going to think that and that leads them to do what comes natural.  Not being able to trust, which leads to stupid acts.  Sure this sounds like a psychiatric session but I am telling you from experience as a former athlete and friend of a lot of today’s athletes.  There are some great family men and athletes out there and I have the privilege of some of working with me.  But, there are some athletes and celebrities out there who will continue to do what Tiger did until they get caught.  Recently late night king David Letterman had to admit his “transgressions” because he was being blackmailed.  In the past athletes such as tennis great Boris Becker, and soccer star David Beckham, have all had to face “transgressions”.  We have even witnessed a US President admit failures.  That is why I am not stung by this latest development.

Tiger Woods threw out everything he was raised to be for a damaging relationship.  Not knowing Tiger I know that I would not like to be in his shows.  Because of his tremendous wealth and stature he is on another planet when it comes to the accolades and groupies.  That is a position I would not trade with him no matter what amount of money could come my way.   That is another life style that could be very taxing, demanding, and tempting, on the weak of mind.  I just hope for the sake of Tigers “transgressions” whatever they maybe we understand that no one is perfect.  No matter the money, fame, or fortune people cannot be placed to a higher moral standard.  After all Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is just a golfer.  A darn good one at that!  And that should be all that we care about.  He has his own cross to bear with his wife, family, and friends, and that should be enough to keep him busy for a very long time.

Lake Lewis is the President and CEO of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network.  He also was a host on ESPN Radio 1060 Orlando, ESPN Radio 1080 Melbourne and the Drive Time host ESPN Radio 1240 Maryland and WMET 1160 in Washington DC.