Here’s my view from the CHEAP SEATS yesterday (surfing the World Wide Web on a couch)
1. Avery to Jersey: The New Jersey Nets made their first on court step towards returning to mediocrity at least yesterday by inking former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson to a deal to return to the sidelines. Johnson
has, to say the least, a daunting task in front of him by taking on a Nets team that finished with a 12-70 record, 3 games above setting the all-time losses mark. Benefits of the position are, to say the least, that it’s highly likely they won’t get worse. However, there will be a fair level of pressure to improve this team drastically within the next few years, with the announced aggressive approach of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who will be active in free agency and has the #3 pick in next month’s NBA Draft. With free agent dollars, an aggressive owner and ideal re-building blocks in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris, the keys to a nice ride are in Johnson’s control.
2. TrojanGate’s Heel: After year’s of rumors, research and Reggie scandal, the NCAA is finally taking action on the USC football program. It appears that a bevy of sanctions and retroactive action will be taken against the Trojans, including a forfeit of all wins from the 2004 season, 2 year ban from postseason eligibility and loss of scholarships. The twist on this is that this could get worse if further violations are found. These sanctions are placed before the investigation into Reggie Bush is completed, which could cause a loss of any game he participated in and the removal of both the 2004 National Championship and his Heisman Trophy award.
This is not surprising to me in any way, as the exodus from the USC athletic department has resembled the Running of the Bulls in the last few years. Key figures in this era of USC have gotten out as soon as possible, not the
least of which being OJ Mayo, Tim Floyd, Mike Williams and Reggie Bush. However, in saving the worst for last, is Pete Carroll. Carroll, who was undoubtably the ringleader around anything that is found, bailed as soon as this investigation looked to have real teeth. This isn’t a surprise, but it’s so obvious it’s funny. Carroll was the King of LA, running the closest thing to a pro football team LA has had since 1994. Apparently, he was running it exactly like a pro team as well, finances and all. So there was little reason to leave for SEATTLE when he had a much better gig in hand already, other than to get out the fire before he got burned. Well played, I suppose. The bright side for Trojan fans: the rebuilding process was handed to model of consistency Lane Kiffin (an ex Carroll assistant) to stick it out through the tough times. Good luck and pull that arrow out your heel anytime you’re ready.
3. Chicago Hope: The Chicago Blackhawks took home Lord Stanley’s Cup last night after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to bring the NHL’s title back to the Windy City for the first time in 49 years. The 49 years between championships was the longest in NHL history. It was a revival for both the franchise and the star who scored the clinching goal, Patrick Kane. Last season he was in a much different place after robbery and assault charges placed against him for assaulting and leaving a cab driver. While lifting the Cup doesn’t validate this, it certainly helps him move past it for the better. He’s only 21, I’ll cut him some slack. As for the Hawks, this win gives a city who knows all about championship dynasties and droughts a reason to look to the NHL for their Golden Fix. The Hawks, who fielded great teams for years that couldn’t overtake their rivals in Detroit, are finally drinking from the Cup (pause).
**Hit and Run**
There is much rumor that Nebraska has already accepted the Big 10’s offer to join their ranks…….World Cup referees are brushing up on their English curse words for the USA/UK World Cup opener……David Price is quietly reaching his potential and won his AL leading ninth game last night……the Cleveland Indians sold 1,000 tickets in a day when it was announced Stephen Strasburg would pitch his second game there sunday…….Justin Morneau has passed Mark Texeira in a tight AL first base All-Star ballot, voting closes July 1……..Tom Izzo discussed the Cavs job with his Michigan State squad on Wednesday…….presumptive #1 NBA pick John Wall signed a $25 million deal with Reebok……..Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson will face off again today in a rematch of Halladay’s perfect game matchup from last month.