Basketball

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 »

Why cancelling the NBA playoffs would be fine with me [UPDATED]

Featured image Last night, I wrote that I couldn’t care less whether the NBA playoffs are cancelled due to a players’ boycott protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake. On reflection, I’m going to amend that statement. I’d be slightly happier if the playoffs were cancelled. I haven’t watched a minute of the playoffs or the “bubble” games that preceded them. It’s my understanding, though, that the players use these games to »

Will the NBA playoffs continue? I couldn’t care less.

Featured image NBA players decided not to participate in the playoff games scheduled for tonight. They are talking about shutting down the playoffs entirely, but no decision has been made. The players are responding to the shooting by the Kenosha, Wisconsin police of Jacob Blake. He’s a career criminal and a chronic abuser of women. According to this report from a Wisconsin newspaper, Blake has been charged with rape. The facts surrounding »

The NBA gets low ratings on its return

Featured image The NBA resumed its season Friday night with two televised games. How were the ratings? Ethan Strauss of the The Athletic reports: After a four-and-a-half month absence, tons of lead-up media coverage regarding the bubble, with little competition on the airwaves and a schedule specially constructed to deliver us the draw of Zion Williamson, Pelicans-Jazz garnered 2.1 million viewers. For context, that’s roughly 400,000 fewer viewers than the average audience »

Tuning out the NBA

Featured image The NBA resumes its season tonight. Some players will be wearing BLM-related “social justice” slogans on their shirts, where their names normally appear. In addition, “Black Lives Matter” is printed on all three courts where games will be played. On top of that, some broadcasters will likely offer their views on race in America. This article in the Washington Post strongly suggests that one or more of the Washington Wizards’ »

Wuhan coronavirus infections in the NBA and MLB

Featured image NBA players, a poorly educated group of mostly 20-somethings, plan to wear “social justice” messages on their jerseys when play resumes at the end of the month. Inasmuch as they wish to instruct us on public policy, it might be fair to ask how well these guys have done in protecting themselves and, by extension those close to them, from the coronavirus. The answer is they haven’t done well. According »

F*ck you, he explained

Featured image Adrian Wojnarowski reports on basketball for ESPN. He became a media star by breaking big stories (as NBA news goes), the way Adam Schefter does with the NFL but probably more so. His tweets of major NBA news are called “Woj bombs.” To drop these bombs, Wojnarowski relies on league sources, including players and team executives. His sources could give the information to any of a number of reporters, but »

A man ahead of his time

Featured image Yesterday, I wrote about how some top high school basketball players are talking about choosing to play at historically black colleges, rather than at schools with top basketball programs. One highly-rated prospect just committed to Howard University, reportedly turning down Kentucky, Oregon, and Memphis, among others. I assume that most black basketball players have always considered the extent to which the colleges that recruit them will provide a good, comfortable »

Will top black athletes opt for HBCUs? Will top black students?

Featured image Trevor Keels will be a senior guard next season on the powerhouse high school basketball team Paul VI in Fairfax, Virginia. Keels is a five-star recruit and ranks among the top 25 high school players in the class of 2021. Reportedly, he’s being recruited by the likes of Duke, Virginia, Villanova, and Michigan. The Washington area high school league Keels participates in has sent players to all of these schools »

Slogans from the poorly educated

Featured image According to this report, the NBA will allow its players to replace the last name on the back of their jerseys with a statement on “social justice.” To me, this is more offensive than permitting a one-time gesture — kneeling, a clinched fist, whatever — at the beginning of an athletic contest. Watching some ill-educated 20-something who attended a basketball factory university for a year or two run up and »

Wes Unseld and what might have been

Featured image In reading tributes to the late Wes Unseld, I learned that Adolph Rupp, the racist coach at the University of Kentucky, wanted to make Unseld the first black member of his team. Indeed, Rupp tried very hard to recruit Big Wes. Unseld, an outstanding student on top of everything else, was recruited by top programs throughout the country. But he was a Kentucky native and quite interested in playing at »

Does fan noise affect the games? A former player’s take.

Featured image For a while, it looked like major sports leagues and tournaments would proceed despite the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, but with no fans admitted. This plan ended when players, coaches, and referees were found to have been infected by the virus. I did watch one German soccer match played without fans. It was a Rhine derby between arch rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln (Cologne). Fans called this a “ghost match” »

Major conferences cancel basketball tournaments [UPDATE: “March Madness” is canceled too]

Featured image All five of college basketball’s so-called Power 5 Leagues have canceled their tournaments due to the coronavirus. The five conferences are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12. The Big East, which is comparable in the quality of its basketball to some of the Power 5 Leagues is proceeding for now with its tournament, which began yesterday. [NOTE: The Big East has now canceled its tournament.) Other conferences »

The lives Morgan Wootten touched

Featured image The late Morgan Wootten didn’t just help shape the lives of his basketball players and history students at DeMatha Catholic. He touched thousands of lives through his annual basketball camp. According to this report, Wootten didn’t just preside over the camp. He lived in the dorms with campers and ate meals with them. A friend who was an outstanding high school basketball player has first-hand knowledge of Wootten’s camp. He »

Morgan Wootten, RIP

Featured image Dean Smith called him “the best coach I’ve ever seen.” John Wooden said of him, “I know of no finer coach at any level, high school, college or pro.” Morgan Wootten, the subject of this praise, died yesterday at the age of 88. Wootten coached basketball at DeMatha for 46 years. His teams won 1,274 games and lost 192. He was the first basketball coach who coached only at the »

2019 in reading

Featured image Every year at around this time, my friend Tevi Troy provides his list of books he recommends. I have found his recommendations to be sound and sometimes inspired. Here is Tevi’s list for 2019. For me, this year in reading centered around my travels to Austria, Croatia, and England. Every country’s history interests me, but I found that of Austria (and its associated empires) to be especially intriguing. I highly »

NBA television ratings plummet

Featured image These days, televised sports on Christmas center on the NBA. Five of its games were shown today. College football took the day off. So did big time soccer. There were a few college basketball games on television, but none of note. For me, this nearly meant a day off from watching sports on the tube. I caught only the last ten minutes of the NBA’s marquee game between the Clippers »