A sports tale for our times

Featured image DeMatha Catholic High School is the dominant basketball power in the Washington, D.C. area. It is one of the top basketball programs in the country. Mike Jones, a Black, has coached DeMatha’s basketball team for the past 19 years. In May, he abruptly announced he was leaving to become an assistant coach at Virginia Tech. Two days later, DeMatha named Pete Strickland as its interim basketball coach. He will be »

Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, compare and contrast

Featured image Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr have several things in common. Both are legendary NBA coaches who coached their teams to multiple championship. Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs have won five. Kerr’s Golden State Warriors have won three. Kerr played on two of Popovich’s championship teams. Both are outspoken about politics. Both were severe critics of Donald Trump. I can’t think of any coach in any sport who attacked Trump as vigorously »

Celebrating Russell Westbrook

Featured image Sometimes you don’t know how good a star player is until he comes to a team you follow. That’s certainly true if you’re only a casual fan of his sport, as I am these days when it comes to the NBA. But it can even be true if you follow a sport closely, as I did when Robbie Alomar came to the Baltimore Orioles and blew me away with his »

UCLA’s all-time basketball greats, an embarrassment of riches

Featured image I am delighted that UCLA made this year’s Final Four. It gives me the opportunity to review the Bruins’ great basketball history and to select the program’s top players from an embarrassment of riches. UCLA has won eleven national championships, more than any other school. It won ten of them during a remarkable twelve year run under legendary coach John Wooden. That includes seven consecutive championships from 1967 to 1973. »

The Few, the proud — Gonzaga’s all-time basketball greats

Featured image Until the mid-1990s, Gonzaga basketball was known nationally only for John Stockton having played there. And this slice of fame was based on what Stockton accomplished in the NBA, not on anything that happened at Gonzaga during Stockton’s time in Spokane. But under Don Monson, Gonzaga started to emerge as a regional power. And under Mark Few, who took over in 1999, the Bulldogs (also called the Zags) began their »

Vinnie, Acy, and Chat the Cat: Baylor’s all-time college basketball greats

Featured image Baylor last made it to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1950. They lost to Bradley and then to N.C. State in the third place game. For perspective, I was the only Power Liner alive that March. Also, the whole tournament consisted of eight teams and was considered by many to be less prestigious than the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Since 1950, Baylor basketball has had »

The Big E, The Dream, and The Glide: Houston’s all-time college basketball greats

Featured image The Final Four is set for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It features two teams from Texas — Baylor and Houston — and two from the west coast — Gonzaga and UCLA. The east coast, home of the last six champions and 16 this century, has no team in the Final Four. Neither does the Big Ten, which most people considered the strongest conference in the country this year. The »

Creighton basketball team defies woke PC pundits

Featured image I have been following Creighton basketball ever since our friend Dave Begley, with the help of a very nice man in the athletic department, gave me a tour of the school’s basketball facility. That was in November 2015. Earlier this month, Creighton suspended its outstanding coach Greg McDermott. He had told his players, after a tough loss: “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need »

Remembering Elgin Baylor [UPDATED]

Featured image Before there was Michael Jordan, there was Julius Erving. Before “Dr. J,” there was Elgin Baylor, who died yesterday at the age of 86. When you watch highlights of Baylor, you probably won’t see anything that looks extraordinary. The moves in the old tapes are ones that top players in the NBA and even some in college regularly pull off. But when Baylor entered the NBA in 1958 (for the »

Short takes — “excessive whiteness,” Myles Leonard, and Vanita Gupta

Featured image *Did you know that law schools are now being rated according to their “whiteness”? The rating system determines a school’s “excess whiteness” by comparing the degree to which a law school’s student body is more white than the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) applicant pools and state population. Credentials to study law don’t factor in, of course. “The Whitest Law School Report” found Case Western Reserve University’s law school to »

Where is the best high school basketball played?

Featured image Ask any basketball fanatic in the Washington, D.C. area, and he will say the best basketball is played in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). Of course, if you ask the same question of fans in a dozen or so other cities, they will identify their top league as the nation’s best. Last season (2019-2020), though, the WCAC’s claim had more behind it than just local chauvinism. Consider the way »

College basketball’s season on the brink

Featured image The pandemic has dealt a huge blow to the finances of sports teams, both professional and collegiate. However, most leagues have managed at least to complete their seasons in one form or another. The NBA and NHL resumed and completed their 2020 seasons in “bubbles.” (The NBA is struggling some with its current season, though.) Major League Baseball had an abbreviated season which, fortunately, produced a worthy champion, not a »

NBA players again display their ignorance

Featured image NBA players are a poorly educated group. But lack of education can’t explain the stupidity of some player remarks in response to the rioting at the Capitol and to the decision of local prosecutors in the Jacob Blake case. Players for the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat issued a joint statement before the game between these two teams. They said: We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after »

NBA to revisit “social justice” messaging

Featured image In response to President Trump saying he wasn’t watching NBA games, Lebron James said, “I could care less.” James meant he couldn’t care less. But Trump wasn’t alone in eschewing pro basketball. Millions of Americans did. That’s clear from the abysmal television ratings for the NBA playoffs. James might not care about that, either. He still gets paid. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver “could care” about the TV ratings. In »

NBA’s kowtowing to China pays off

Featured image The NBA (or should I call it the ChBA) is back on Chinese state television after a one-year absence. The absence occurred because Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, expressed support for protesters in Hong Kong, as they suffered from ramped up oppression by the Red Chinese. The NBA and its players, led by Lebron James, bowed and scraped as best they could, but the Red Chinese weren’t »

NBA playoff viewership falls off the cliff

Featured image Ben Strauss of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the television ratings for this year’s NBA conference finals. He finds that the ratings themselves took a deep dive: [T]hese were two of the least-watched conference finals series ever, despite featuring the league’s most famous player (LeBron James) on the league’s most famous franchise (the Lakers). It happened despite Nielsen using “Out of Home” viewership for the first time ever »

Remembering John Thompson

Featured image John Thompson Jr., who died yesterday at age 78, was already a Washington, D.C. legend before he became Coach Thompson. He had starred, and then some, as a high school player on phenomenal teams at Carroll High; starred at Providence College for an NIT championship team; and been Bill Russell’s backup on two championship Boston Celtics teams. Thompson is still one of the best big men ever to come out »