Gang, welcome to the sneaky great part of a holiday week — Tuesday feeling like Monday. Well, that's good for all of us other than Todd962 and his hangover, which may be so big that he had to carry it to work today. Hi Todd and hi Todd's hangover — thanks for reading.
Either way, that means you have one fewer day until the weekend — and one fewer day to get your mailbag question in. Whatcha got?
From the "Talks too much" studios, pass the Advil, drink plenty of water and remember that if rest can't heal what ails you, there's the Waffle House and the hair of the dog. Giddy up.
Midway through the first round of these playoffs we picked the Memphis Grizz to go to the NBA Finals.
This morning, after being swept by the San Antonio Spurs and making Tony Parker look like a crazy good combination of Tiny Archibald, Isiah Thomas and Steph Curry, we have to wonder if the Grizz have hit their apex. Are they going to be a fringe to legit title contender for years to come, a Dallas Mavericks-type of team that could possibly breakthrough and win a championship? Or are they going to be doomed to the inglorious fate of the Atlanta Hawks, and perpetually make the playoffs only to be good enough to be pretty good and never come anywhere close to great again?
On the pro-Memphis side of things is a deep and young roster that has balance and interior strength. This team is well-constructed, something few NBA teams can claim. Plus, there is Bar-B-Q and blues. Yay, Memphis.
On the con-Memphis side of things is the unknown future of coach Lionel Hollins, who is under contract for another 35 or so days. There also is the real and fair question about the ceiling of this group considering the outliers that aligned this postseason — Westbrook injured, Griffin injured, Lakers a non-factor, etc. — that opened up the Western Conference draw and still the Grizz fell short of the finals. Plus, Memphis is way too close to Arkansas, so there's that. Boo, Memphis.
We are expecting to hear the "future is bright for the Grizz" approach from our resident Memphis expert Downtown Patrick Brown, so we'll offer this as a starting point: Sure, the Spurs are aging and this may be their final swing in the spring sun, but are the Grizz going to be able to be better than the Thunder or the Warriors or the Clippers in the next few years? What happens if the Rockets add Dwight or the Lakers reload?
Was this the next step in the Grizz postseason climb or is this the ceiling? Discuss.
The Southeastern Conference meeting is this week in Destin. The Southern Conference meeting is this week in Hilton Head. Ever notice how these meeting are not in, say, Des Moines?
The two leagues will meet with strikingly opposite agendas.
The SEC will discuss the glorious future and pass around eight-figure checks that could hit $30 million per school.
The SoCon will discuss the unknown future and pass around seven-figure cell phone numbers of ADs of potential new member schools.
So it goes as the divide between the haves and have-nots in college sports grows. And gang, it's only going to keep expanding. That's the biggest concern for the SoCon folks and the other leagues of that size. The scraps from the table of the SECs and the Big Tens will become even more coveted by the other leagues, and positioning — and broadcast rights and fees — will be paramount for survival.
If we were a SoCon fan, the biggest news we would want to hear this week is not who will be the next SoCon members but how will the SoCon get back into the public eye. What is the broadcast plan of the future and how can the SoCon cash in on it? Finding new members is about surviving; finding new avenues to broadcast and new sources of coin are about advancing in to the future.
Your move Mr. James
Regulars around these parts know the 5-at-10 thinks highly of LeBron James. Dude has big-time skills and is delivering on his big-time gifts. Big time.
We even said earlier this spring — and re-iterated it on the radio with David Paschall in our two-week trial run on ESPN 105.1 here in town — that if LeBron entered the NFL draft this past April, he would have been a top-10 pick.
Now Joe Theismann says LeBron could be a star QB with a little training. Heck, he could be a star wide receiver right now.
Either way, James is the best basketball player on the planet at the moment and that's more than enough.
Tonight, James and the Heatles have a chance to choke the life out of the Pacers. Miami leads 2-1 after thumping the Pacers in Game 3 in Indy on Sunday. Another win in Indy would mean a commanding 3-1 lead and all-but set up a strong Finals between the Spurs (dynasty of the recent past) and Miami (dynasty of the near future).
This is the type of game that the greats normally dominate and will their teams to win. Bird won these swing games — games that either crush your opponent or give them renewed life — so did Jordan and Magic. Heck, Timmy Duncan did it in Game 3 for the Spurs against Memphis a few days ago.
Now, let's see if James continues to deliver in these moments. He's been surreal in the playoffs, and if the Pacers have not come up with an answer for him on the low post, then good night Muncie, it's all she wrote.
This and that
— Brittney Griner had two dunks in her WNBA debut. Her team lost by 20. That's all we got.
— The SEC put nine teams into the college baseball postseason. Tennessee was not among them. How Tennessee and Georgia — state schools with state-funded lotteries that could help augment the 11.8 scholarships a college baseball program has to offer — are not among the year-in, year-out college baseball powers is puzzling to us. So it goes.
— Among the teams in the college baseball postseason is Towson, the program that was disbanded earlier this season, fought for their survival, received 11th-hour funding from the state of Maryland and went on to win the CAA to earn a postseason spot. Good story.
USA Cycling Professional racers ride through ChattanoogaThousands watched as the USA Cycling Professional Men's and Women's road racers traveled through Chattanooga on Monday. Jade Wilcoxson won the women's race, while veteran Freddie Rodriguez won the men's race. This was the first year for Chattanooga to host the race, which will return in 2014 and 2015.
— Congrats to the cycling folks and all the cycling stuff they did this weekend. And a big tip of the 5-at-10 cap to TFP assistant sports editor Jim Tanner for coordinating all of our coverage this weekend. Well-played indeed.
— Colby Rasmus doubled off younger brother Cory Rasmus in Toronto's 9-3 win over the Braves. That would be a cool thing, you know? And would make for great smack talk during the holidays. Here's hoping the next time young Cory Ks big brother. Or hits him with a pitch and says, "That's for all the grief you put me through when we kids."
Doing our morning research we saw an item that Hal McClure died. McClure was a longtime AP reporter and foreign correspondent.
Of course, we are blessed/cursed with the primary sports focus that occasionally gets us in the 5-at-10 doghouse. (Side question: Does any one else occasionally get the "How can you remember who was the first person to get 100 hits from each side of the plate in the same season [Garry Templeton] but you can't remember your first cousin's name at the family reunion?" And get that look... you know the look... No neither do we. Second side question: How far removed from the immediate family do you have to go before you can forget someone's name without being in trouble? And why do we not have more events with people wearing name tags? Name tags are underrated. Anyhoo.)
So when we saw Hal McClure, we clicked on the item thinking it was about Hal McRae, which then caused us to think about those great 1980s Kansas City Royals teams. Sigh. We liked those Royals teams.
That then led us to thinking about which former franchises that used to be really good and now are irrelevant and how we miss them. What's your Rushmore of teams that were competing for titles a generation ago and now you'd have a hard time naming half their starters.
We'll start with the Royals, 76ers, Miami — man those Hurricanes football teams were so much fun to watch — and Georgia Tech hoops. Thoughts?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...