A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while waiting for the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo to even the score against the Cavaliers’ LeBron James while supporting Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsetts’ executive order “banning” goaltending:

2020 vision

Finally, the days of one-and-done players in college basketball are numbered.

Although details have yet to be ironed out, the NBA and the NBA Players Association are laying the groundwork for the league to once again draft high school players.

It appears that the 2020 recruiting class will be the first to have the option of going straight to the NBA again –  although there has been talk of requiring those players to start the season in the developmental G League.

The recently convened Commission of College Basketball, chaired by Condeleezza Rice, has taken the position that if the NBA doesn’t change its rules, it would pressure the NCAA to declare freshmen ineligible to play varsity.

The Commission would prefer future McDonald’s All-Americans and other 5-Star recruits who choose college to invest at least two years toward earning a degree. To protect players who attempt to make the jump to the NBA, but are undrafted, the committee wants them to be able to maintain their eligibility.

Currently, the NCAA allows underclassmen to receive input on their draft potential but to remain eligible they can’t sign with an agent and they have to withdraw from the draft 10 days before the NBA Combine.

This year there are a record 236 players, up 30 percent from a year ago, who are testing the evaluation system. Of those, 181 are college underclassmen and the rest are international players.

Kentucky’s John Calipari, who perhaps has benefitted from one-and-done players more than any other college coach, would prefer for the NCAA and NBA to agree to remove all restrictions on players.

“If they want to go (to the NBA) out of high school, go. If they want to go to college and then leave, let them leave when they want to leave,” Calipari said. “Why would we force a kid to stay?”

Rice and the committee also looked at issues surrounding the influence of AAU coaches, agents and shoe company representatives who have allegedly worked with some college coaches to pay top recruits. That FBI investigation led to Louisville firing Rick Pitino.

They said it

Humor writer Brad Dickson on Twitter: “Ratchet your enthusiasm down half a notch, OK? It’s Scott Frost’s staff with mostly Mike Riley’s players. #Buzzkill.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Because of a scheduling logjam, the telecast of Game 4 of the Devils-Lightning playoff series got moved to the Golf Channel. Disoriented broadcasters never did figure out whether Nikita Kucherov’s hockey stick was a sand wedge or a 9-iron.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “NBA admits last night they missed goaltending on LeBron James at end of Cavs-Pacers game 5. Silly league. Don’t they know superstars NEVER goaltend? Or travel for that matter.”’

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, drafted by Baltimore with last pick of first round: “(My mom) always wanted me to strive for greatness. She’s always seen a lot more in me than I probably see in myself sometimes.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “It’s hard to believe quarterback Mark Sanchez got caught using a performance enhancing substance. If ever a guy should demand a refund.”

CBS comedian James Corden: “A 20-year-old man from Colorado recently survived a shark bite in Hawaii. Less than a year before that, he was attacked by a 300-pound black bear. And a few years before that, he was bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking. Based on these incidents, we do know a lot about this man. For example, he must taste delicious.”

The envelope …

From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, after Jalen Hurts’ father told Bleacher Report that his son would likely transfer to another school if he doesn’t retain the starting quarterback job at Alabama: “And the winner of the 2018 LaVar Ball Trophy is …”

Hurts, of course, was replaced at halftime of January’s national championship game by freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who led the Crimson Tide from 13-0 deficit to a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia in Atlanta.

With that kind of attitude, Saban will probably pack Hurts’ luggage.

Heavy lifting

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt hasn’t forgotten that he can better the lives of L.A. sports fans. He has dreams of building a gondola system to make it easier to get to Dodger Stadium.

It’s actually the company of McCourt’s son, Drew, that has proposed having an overhead gondola system operational in time for 2022 opening day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It will be constructed with private funding and would not be built by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. But if constructed, it would provide another mass-transit option for Dodgers fans. Currently, there is the Metro express bus.

Headlines

TheOnion.com: “Tom Brady reveals that humanity will perish long before he retires.”

Fark.com: “Track meet cancelled due to aggressive geese nesting near track.”

Onion.com: “Jerry Jones hoping to use 2018 draft to find long-term solution at mistress.”

SportsPickle.com: “FBI agent friend adamant that North Carolina won’t make it past Sweet 16 in his bracket.”

Fark.com: “Baseball player removed from game after hitting himself in the head with his bat during warmups.”

TheOnion.com: “Is Andrew Luck recovered from his quadruple-amputation surgery?”

Fark.com: “Attention seeking father takes his Balls and goes home.”

SportsPickle.com: “Draft prospect says Eagles asked him if his mother is ‘woke.’”

TheOnion.com: “Should the Browns use the first overall pick on a once-in-a-generation long snapper?”

Scripted living

It’s been more than 1,000 days since Ronda Rousey won a fight that wasn’t scripted, and she’s OK with that.

She’s now building a WWE wrestling career and also making more cameos in movies. She’s even hired a publicity manager to help her navigate interview requests, teaching her how to reveal only what she wishes to make public.

Once a publicity hound willing to answer nearly every question posed to her, everything about her WWE career has been scripted. She did, however, open up about her life during a recent Q&A session with Hollywood director Peter Berg.

“We live in an age of trial by Twitter,” Rousey said. “What is really gained by stating opinion on anything? … Why should I talk? I believe hearing me speak is a privilege and it’s a privilege that’s been abused, so why not revoke it from everyone?”

Before walking away from UFC, Rousey admits she shed a lot of tears while her husband (Travis Brown) consoled her after the second loss. But her feelings of failure run much deeper than that.

“My parents expected me to be special, so I expected to be special,” Rousey said. “But one thing my mother never taught me was how to lose. She never wanted me to entertain it as a possibility. She’d say: ‘Let it suck. It deserves to suck.’”

Loose Balls

LaVar Ball’s latest headline-grabbing move was to pull sons LiAngelo and LaMelo away from Lithuanian professional team BC Prienu Vytautas because of a dispute over playing time.

Never mind dad’s irrational ways already have cost LaMelo his senior year of high school and LiAngelo his freshman year of college. Granted, he pulled  LiAngelo out of UCLA after he was suspended for shoplifting designer sunglasses in China.

While their older brother Lonzo is experiencing his ups-and-downs in the NBA as a rookie with the  Los Angeles Lakers, LaVar’s master plan of one day having all three sons suiting up for the Lakers is quickly falling apart.

LiAngelo isn’t projected as an NBA talent, at least  not this year. And LaMelo won’t be eligible to declare for the draft until the 2019. And, let’s face it, he’s not the hoops talent his dad imagines.

Considering the two youngest Ball brothers are going to need another soft landing spot soon in order to keep up the basketball life, dad LaVar may need to feed his ego and fund his own minor league team. Maybe even the geographically challenged Premier Basketball League that once had a team in Owensboro, the Kentucky Mavericks, would be an option.

The PBL even has a link on its web page soliciting new ownership. It’s currently a five-team league.

If he’s really making money off his Big Baller Brand shoes, he might even be able to afford it.

My takes

Rehastagging this week’s top Tweets from @Randy_Beard11:

  • Ravens have interesting first round, getting productive tight end with South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst and potential QB of future with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
  • Where’s Baker Mayfield going to get his Rodney Dangerfield “no respect” material now that Browns picked him No. 1. Oh yeah, the last-place, 0-16 Browns picked him No. 1
  • It will still take a lot of donuts to get UE students to Ford Center dozen or more times next season..
  • Eagles win Super Bowl and still get a winning draft pick with RB Rashaad Penny with 27th pick? Smart drafting.
  • Can’t believe UK football had more fans at spring game than Gamecocks. Wildcats must have been hosting a biddy basketball game and an Elvis Impersonator at halftime.

Visa wars

Donald Trump is nothing but a walking contradiction.

As tough as he wants to be on immigration policy, and as much as he wants to limit visas to our South and Central American neighbors, we now learn that he’s supportive of the United States Soccer Federation’s bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

He does realize the Cup will inspire soccer fans South of the Border to be drawn to our country, right? Can you build a wall for that?

In a Tweet on Wednesday, Trump stated: “It would be a shame if countries that we always support would lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations.)

Morocco is also pushing to host the games in eight years, which will be the first to feature a 48-team tournament.

Russia is hosting this summer’s 32-Team tournament in which the United States failed to qualify. Qatar has been awarded the 2022 rights.

All FIFA member nations will vote for the 2026 host on June 13.

 Long shot

Despite his effort to tease his summer plans by saying he would be at the World Cup in Russia this summer, Zlatan Ibrhimovic will not be playing for Sweden.

That didn’t stop the ultra-confident striker from teasing the audience during a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

“I’m going to the World Cup, yes. If I say more, they will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say,” said the Swede.

Sweden’s football association quickly put those rumors to rest, saying the 36-year-old player would not be returning to duty with his country’s national team. Ibrahimovic, who recently left Manchester United to play for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, last played internationally at Euro 2016.

Lars Richt, head of the Swedish FA, said he talked to Ibrahimovic on Tuesday and confirmed that playing for the national team is no longer something Ibrahimovic is focused on.

“He announced he did not change his mind about the national team – it is no.”

Before that declaration was made, Ibrahimovic had generated some excitement by leading the Galaxy back against the Columbus Crew with two goals, including one from 38 yards.

Considering his knack for coming through in the clutch, Sweden would be wise to keep Ibrahimovic’s availability to the national team this summer as a “long shot” option.

Year of the QB

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the first pick of the NFL Draft Thursday night. He was soon joined by three other quarterbacks, all taken among the first 10 selections of the first round.

That made it an historical moment for the position.

After Mayfield went No. 1 overall, Southern California’s Sam Darnold was selected third by the New York Jets. Then with the seventh pick, Wyoming’s Josh Allen went to the Buffalo Bills and UCLA’s Josh Rosen fell to No. 10 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

But it may have been the 33nd pick that will turn out to be the steal of the draft. The Baltimore Ravens managed to claim Louisville’s Lamar Jackson with the last pick of the first round.

While much was made of how upset Rosen was to be selected as the fourth QB of the draft. Jackson also is determined to prove himself. Thankful to get his shot as an NFL quarterback, he said he would report to Baltimore with “two chips on his shoulders.”

In terms of development, it will prove to be a good thing that he will have a chance to settle in before taking too many body shots from some of the NFL’s  fiercest pass rushers.

For now, Jackson will get to be the understudy for veteran Joe Flacco, who has led the Ravens to one Super Bowl win. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will have some packages that will get him on the field this season and, if everything goes as planned, he’ll be ready to step in next season.

The Ravens also have Robert Griffin III to help prepare the 6-foot-3 Jackson, who is viewed as a bigger, stronger and faster Michael Vick. It also helps that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg coached Vick in Philadelphia and Greg Roman was in San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick.

“They’re going to get a Super Bowl out of me,” said Jackson.

He and Mayfield became the first two Heisman winners to be drafted in the same year.

Pizza pick

The 14th pick of the third round – No. 78 overall – came with a bonus this year. The “Pi Pick (3.14)” – Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson — was awarded a year’s worth of pasta pies from Pizza Hut when he was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals 78th overall.

The Bengals got the pick in trade involving Kansas City and Washington.

Pizza Pick II

Freetail Brewing, a craft beer company, is offering Kawhi Leonard free beer and pizza for life if he agrees to sign a new contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

But its doubtful that pizza alone will keep Leonard in San Antonio. Leonard is currently rehabbing a right quadriceps injury, but he’s eligible for a big raise that will pay him roughly $219 million over five years starting next season.

Trivia time

Florida State’s Charlie Ward (1993) and Oklahoma’s Jason White (2003) were Heisman winners who went undrafted, by the NFL, although Ward played in the NBA and White signed with Tennessee as a free agent.

But which Heisman Trophy winner fell the deepest in the NFL Draft?

Naval Academy running back Joe Bellino won the Heisman in 1960, but wasn’t taken until the 17th round by Washington. After four years in the service, he played in the AFL with the Boston Patriots, who had drafted him in.19th round in 1961 because of his service commitment.

Three years later, Roger Staubach also went undrafted until the 10th round in 1965 because of his commitment to the Navy. He was 27 when he was a rookie with Dallas, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying a hall of fame career.

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