Monday, July 21, 2014

Why Tony Dungy's Comments Reflect a Bigger NFL Problem

I respect Tony Dungy as a man, as a coach and as a figure worthy of respect. Yet his comments today saddened me regarding that he'd pass up drafting Michael Sam to avoid the circus. It didn't surprise me either, given what we've known about him for years.

Tony Dungy's been a no-nonsense guy for decades. He came up in the Steelers organization where that attitude was ingrained by the hard-hat, workman-like style of head coach Chuck Noll. Dungy coached his teams that way and his organizations provided that same structure. He's a man of courage and outspokenness on several pertinent issues such as race in coaching hires.

However, this is not a case of homophobia. This is not about Dungy's faith possibly as a factor*. This is not a case to lecture a Black man about the civil rights struggle he lived through and how Black athletes were once avoided**. It's about a culture in pro sports that is scared if guys appear to have something bigger than the game around them.

That's why I found his opinion on Michael Sam being drafted so cowardly. It's the cowardly, old-school line of thinking in pro sports that you want guys who'll put their head down and work, not be somebody who'll bring a lot of attention to themselves. It's why we overvalue "humble" athletes as opposed to "boisterous, loud" ones.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Selling the Melo-Drama (Why the Lakers should re-evaluate Carmelo Anthony)

I would’ve hoped the Lakers management learned from Dwight Howard to think wisely on which big names to chase. The Lakers need a new face but they need the right face and the right pieces around said face to work. That's why when considering Carmelo Anthony, I don't like it because it reminds me of the chase for Howard.

Howard is a great player but he wasn’t a good fit because 1) he didn’t have a role in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, 2) he was coming off a back injury, 3) he didn’t solve the Lakers biggest problems. Defending the perimeter and point guard play. Plus the Lakers didn’t need size as much as they needed help in the backcourt and on the wing.

Enter Melo. A shooting star who can score from anywhere. A volume shooter who happens to play similar to one Kobe Bryant. Which is nice except Melo isn't a ballhandler or a good defender. I've seen him for 11 years and I don't see where he can lead any team to a championship with the way he plays. Yes he won at Syracuse but Jim Boeheim's system isn't the NBA and while he can you into the playoffs, he needs more help than just outscoring folks.

So why go after him? Because he’s a big name? That’s a sign of desperation. You can’t convince me Carmelo is a great fit here with the team as constructed. When you need upgrades at point guard and defense, what on Earth makes you think he fixes those problems?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dee Gordon: A Comet Becomes a Star

If you asked me three years ago if Dee Gordon had the potential to be an All-Star, I would've said no. He had potential to be a great leadoff man and an exceptional base stealer but on first glance, I didn't see All-Star. All I was hoping for was him to develop into a better hitter so he could be a weapon.

Safe to say the guy my former co-worker called Speedy Dee back in 2011 has exceeded that. He's an All-Star reserve, a .300 hitter and the major league leader in stolen bases and triples that has helped galvanize this Dodgers offense. And I'm happy for him.

Yasiel Puig? Expected All-Star the minute he took MLB by storm. Clayton Kershaw? You've seen his last seven games right? Zach Greinke? Unquestionably the best "No. 2" pitcher in the National League. But Dee? A diamond in the rough who finally started to shine.