Luka. My oh my Luka. Anyone else want to discuss my stance on how the Hawks will regret trading Luka for Trae Young for a generation? I'll wait. Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks over the overall 1 seed in the NBA playoffs in a brilliant Game 7 at Phoenix. Luka's line at halftime was 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists on 9-of-14 shooting. The Suns as a team at halftime had 27 points, 20 rebounds, six assists on 10-of-41 shooting.I will stay up late to watch Luka vs. Draymond, because with every step-back 3 Luka buried in the desert last night, he was Larry Bird-level yapping to the Suns crowd about it.
UTC softball. How about that? The Mocs go to the SoCon softball tourney and roll back the clock to the time that the three surest bets in SoCon Sports were Lady Mocs hoops winning the tournament, Lady Mocs softball winning the tournament, and Bob McKilliop being irate about something. Here's more from Weeds, as the Mocs get ready for their 12th trip to the NCAAs.
K.H. Lee. OK, this popped into my head while K.H. Lee was part of the parade of 'par-is-a-poor-score' at the PGA event over the weekend: Is there a better sport to be truly great at one venue or home field than golf? K.H. Lee has now won back-to-back Byron Nelson events with a combined 51-under par. Yes, 51-under over eight rounds. If you can completely dominate one tract like that, it's multiple wins, multiple millions, and multiple extensions of your Tour card. Sure being that great at Augusta National and Nadal's dominance at Roland Garros are better, but you get the idea.
Rick Barnes. They may call him Preacher. He may look like one too. But dude is out there doing New York City lawyer-level hustle on the recruiting trail, and it paid off with Julian Phillips' commitment over the weekend. Phillips is the sixth five-star Barnes has landed in the last four recruiting cycles, which is pretty stout.
Shohei Ohtani. You know how we like to discuss those "Only players to" do-whatever lists and the names on that list are every bit as meaningful as the qualifiers to said list? For example, if there's a golf list out there and it's you, Tiger and Jack, well, it's a lead-pipe certainty that it's something you are proud of. If there's a football list out there and it's you, Bubba Bean and Haskel Stanback, not so much. Well Ohtain joined two lists this weekend with his 100th homer. First, he's the third Japan-born player to crack triple digits in dingers, joining Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. That's fine and good and all. Ohtani also became the second player since 1900 to have 100 career homers and strike out 250 opposing hitters. The other is some fella named George Herman Ruth. Seems like he has a nickname though.
PGA Championship. Quick name the biggest star showing up this weekend? Because until the whole LIV stuff, this would have been a Phil Mickelson love-fest, as he's the reigning champ. But now, his glaring absence will only prompt another round of Saudi Tour questions. Plus, snapshots from the grounds have Mich Ultras going from $18 a pop. Hey, want to cure alcoholism in the country, making beers $20 a pop is a good place to start. The PGA folks could use a really fast start from some dude named Eldrick this week.
Chris Paul. I normally choose a winner OR a loser from a single event. (Side note: Of all the butcherization of the English language out there, none of it bothers me more than the goofs who spell 'loser' 'l-o-o-s-e-r' so there's that. Do I write a lot of words? Yes. Do I misspell more than I would like. Again, yes. And many thanks to the editors who save me from myself more times than I can count. Heck, I used butcherization in a sentence like it's actually a word. But 'looser' as in more loose? Be better than people.) Anywell, Chris Paul is a Hall of Famer. A great player. Not a superstar. Sorry. And the people who say he's one of the best point guards ever? C'mon. He's certainly not top-five and may not crack the top 10. Name them you say? OK. Magic. Stockton. Isiah. Kidd. Cousy. Big O. If you want to say West is a shooting guard, fine, but then I will say LeBron plays point. Would you rather have Chris Paul than Allen Iverson, knowing only one of those two has an MVP and a Finals appearance? Thoughts?
Reds. OK, it's been a dismal start to the season for the Lookouts parent club. They were 3-22 at one point and that was after a 2-2 start against the Braves. Well, Sunday, the Reds officially became the Big Dread Machine, losing a 1-0 game in which Hunter Green and a reliever no-hit the Pirates. (Side question: Someone correct me here, but it never says you have to win a no-hitter anywhere, right? And the other team got its full allotment of swings and got no hits and it's not a no-hitter? OK. I once saw a fellow named Homer in Smyrna befuddle the teenager at the counter of the Dairy Queen by ordering a chili dog with no chili. That feels about right here.)
Braves TV telecasts. Yeah, get off my porch, and yeah, it's the way of the future, but Braves games on Peacock — and the knuckle noggin' who came up with the 11:36 a.m. start time Sunday clearly does not know how much of Braves country finds a Sunday pew before a Sunday baseball game — and other streaming services still feels very odd. No, not the streaming, as much as the Braves streaming, because Braves games are the backdrop sites and background sounds of the spring and summer on the family TV, you know? And speaking as someone who works for an industry who is still trying to make up for some interweb mistakes in the early days, MLB is far from the rage for the folks who are streaming demons these days, while the core audience would rather here Chip and Frenchy on SportsSouth (or Fox Sports Net or Bally or whatever letters it goes by these days. Be careful irritating your base while trying to lure the next generation folks).
My wallet. Egad. The economy is in the outhouse and inflation is heading to the stratosphere — and gang, everyone is talking about gas prices and I get it, but that chatter and those drastic increases are not as big as the rising cost in the aisle of your local grocery store. If you buy your family's groceries like I do, you know. (Side note: Made a wonderful sausage-and-collard-greens-stuffed pasta in a cheesy Alfredo sauce for dinner last night. If you want the recipe, email me.) Uh, Joe, let's get cracking, huh?
Bonus pick: Fred Ward died over the weekend. Fred Ward is an ultimate, 'always brings something to the table' THAT guy actors. And in truth, for those of us a certain age, the missed opportunity with a Remo Williams franchise is staggering. That character could have taken off.
OK, and maybe the terrain is so new, so unknown, so anti-everything we have come to know and rely on in college sports that each passing NIL headline is the next rung down the ladder to the bottomless pit of "total college sports game-changer."And yes, yahoos like me much-too-frequently use the extreme superlatives of 'most' or 'GOAT' or will change this or that or ruin this or that forever.
Change is often a great thing. Think of the many milestones that folks at the time wondered if that would ruin a sport when in actually it was never close and in a lot of cases made the sport better.
Dunking was that way. The shot clock. The 3-point line. The DH. The pass-friendly rules of the NFL. The two-point conversion. Free agency and salary caps. The shift. OK, strike that last one.Same with Name, Image and Likeness, in a lot of ways. Yes, it will bring monster change. Yes, players getting compensated in meaningful ways and in the open is a better system than players receiving scraps and doing it in dark parking lots or with $100 handshakes.
Yes, the failures of the NCAA leaders have left the questions outnumbering the answers and the shadows abundant, but that's on them more than the system that we all saw coming for years.
And as a fan of college athletics, I fault those leaders and applaud the players for getting a seat at the financial table.That said, if you are unaware of Senate Bull 1401 in the anything-but-great-state of California, then all of that over-the-top language I mentioned above, well, get ready to recycle it.
Bill 1401 is called the College Athlete Race and Gender Equity Acts and it's Jaws to the NIL's goldfish. If passed, SB 1401 will require all California colleges to share 50% of the annual revenues in football and men's and women's basketball with the athletes in a direct 'pay for play' model.
Oh there are line items and loopholes, but according to the story in the L.A. Times, after removing 'grant-and-aid given to each player, the cut for each scholarship USC football player would be $200,000. That would be close to $20 million that the school athletic department uses for a variety of reasons, noble and less than so. Everything from funding non-revenue sports to paying coaches not to coach.
And the original SB1401 has been amended to directly address that this is not 'pay for play' (tricky words to make it harder to lobby against) and removed Title IX allowances and any protection about possible cuts or elimination of non-revenue sports to make sure the bill is fully tuned on revenue sharing.And this hangs in the balance as the Pac-12 is about to renegotiate its media rights deal, which likely will be in the billions of dollars, which will make a very liberal state very sympathetic to the athletes.
This and that
— Local golf update: Stephan Jaeger entered Sunday's final round at 15 under and poised for another run at his second top-10 in as many weeks. He carded an even-par 72 on Sunday, and standing still was moving backward at the Byron Nelson. He finished tied for 38th, which was good for $36,855. Fellow Baylor School alum Keith Mitchell had a similar scenario, shooting 72 in the final round and finishing at 9 under, tied for 76th for a check of $17,381. Luke List missed the weekend.
— Here's Saturday's A2 column from some round-faced fella. And hey, the Bo Watson, state senate finance chair, married to Mrs. Watson, attorney that represents issues and lobbies the state legislature may be as clean and decent as Ivory soap. But the appearances — and the knowledge of who Mrs. Watson's husband is and what he does for a living, to her employers and the causes that hire that firm — matter.
— Impossible to be among the winners when your team loses Game 7, but dang Giannis, you go dude. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the best player on the planet — period, end of chat — set this record in the Bucks' season-ending series against the Celtics: There is only one dude to get at least 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in a seven-game series. Giannis, who went 237/103/50 in Boson's 4-3 series win. That's averaging 33.9/14.7/7.1 per. Yeah, that'll do.
— Don't do it Drew. Drew Brees is out after one year at NBC calling NFL games, and that makes sense. He was not very polished at it, which is fine because it's a lot tougher than it looks. (Side question: That has to make the Fox folks a little uneasy about committing 3/8s of a billion dollars to Tom Brady without knowing whether he can do this right?) But Drew. Stay away. This will not end well. Book that.
— So there's a Johnny Cash mural on the water tower in Kingsland, Ark., the birthpakce of the Man in Black. Well someone shot a hole in the water tower and the location of that hole, well, hit Johnny Cash's crotch. And now the perpetual leak from the water tower makes it look like, well, you can see that image here.
So weekend winners and losers. Go.
As for Multiple Choice Monday, OK, let's do this one:
Through two rounds of the NBA playoffs, who has been the biggest star?
— Jayson Tatum;— Jimmy Butler.
Discuss. (And the email is open at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As for today, May 16, let's review.
The original "Top Gun" premiered on this day in 1986. And the next "Top Gun" hits theaters later this month. "Top Gun" makes the Rushmore of military flying movies right? (And by all accounts, the next "Top Gun" is aces.)