And with the 5th Pick of the 2007 NBA Draft...

...the Boston Celtics select, STUPIDITY!

I swear this is the most inept front office of any Boston sports franchise in any generation. Yup, worse than Dan Duquette in the 90's for the Red Sox. Imagine, even worse than the current Boston Bruins management (which is still, by default of owner Jeremy Jacobs, still rooted in previous ineptitude).

How much worse? They screwed up what should have been an easy pick at the #5 slot (Corey Brewer). One of their greatest needs- 2-guard with crazy defensive skills and an improving offensive game- solidified under half an hour into the draft. Done. Close the book. Good night, we'll see you next season with this playoff team after we do some housecleaning of a few veteran contracts.

But did Ainge & Co. do that? Um, no. Instead they traded away the #5 pick for essentially someone else's (and yet another) heavy veteran contract. Now, granted the "silverish" lining is the fact they did unload 1 ugly contract (Szczerbiak's), but in the process basically got double the contract back.

Who is this mystery man for whom the Celtics so masterfully traded? Wait for it. You'll never belive this blockbuster, Wait. For. It...

Ray Allen (*sigh*).

Yes, THAT Ray Allen. The guy who was dropped off at the bus stop by the Milwaukee Bucks several years ago, picked up by the Sonics (who, as payment in return, drop off their underachieving/declining star, Gary Payton, at the same bus stop). Did I mention Allen turns 32 this year? And he's logged more frequent flyer miles than Southwest.

The guy that is virtually 1:2 ratio in steals to turnovers, and not even 2:1 ratio in assists to turnovers. The guy that is a "poor man's Paul Pierce". By that I mean a "shoot first" small forward/shooting guard who
has (if it's even possible) a lower defensive awareness than Paul Pierce himself. And look at their career stats (eerily similar):

Meanwhile Brewer, a guy that should quite easily fit into the Celtics lineup and fill the defensive liability that is Pierce was left as scraps for the #7 pick by the T-Wolves. A guy that would have been an above average-to-All-Star quality 2-man for the next 10 years was passed by for a max contract 32 year-old veteran whose contract has 3 more years. But gee, at least they dumped Wally's contract, right? Duh, the Sonics knew they shaved half the salary and 1 year off Allen's contract by doing it.

But, unlike the Celts, the Sonics filled their outstanding needs via the draft by getting Durant to take up the scoring slack of Allen and trading for the aforementioned Celt's #5 pick- Jeff Green to be Durant's wingman. Add to that they saved some cash and can now resign Rashard Lewis. This team is much better managed under 1st year (and 30 year old) GM, Sam Presti. This was an "Epstein-esque" move- on par for Presti with the Boston trade that made Theo famous- Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Dave Roberts. You get the scary feeling these moves serve the same purpose and get the Sonics towards the promised land (an NBA championship) A LOT faster than it will ever help the Celtics- kind of like the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs after the Nomar trade. The Sox took the key role players and won themselves the 2004 World Series and the Cubs held their collective breath for the next Nomar DL stint.

Here, the Sonics got themselves chemistry guys and got younger too- a 1/2 punch even the '04 Sox didn't get. Look what happened after the 2004 MLB season. The Sox should have/could have signed Cabrera to a long term deal. The Sox should have/could have kept Roberts for at least 1 more year.

Instead they let Cabrera get his asking price in Anaheim, where he's on pace to average .291, 8HR, 73 RBI, 85 R, and 22 SB in his 3 seasons since landing in L.A. Instead they have signed Edgar Renteria to a ridiculous $10 mil per year and let him go 1 year in, replaced him with Alex Gonzalez who couldn't hit his weight despite a smooth glove, and now another year later put in Julio Lugo who has redefined the worst attributes of both his predecessors- he can't field OR hit for the Sox.

And Dave Roberts has been a good outfielder in San Diego, but he would have been the perfect 4th OF in Fenway instead of Wily Mo Pena. His legs would be kept fresh instead of trying to play everyday, and he would have made J.D. Drew's woes earlier this year bearable by standing in and being relied on to get on base for a hot bottom of the order/top of the order with some lineup of Youkalis, Lowell, Varitek, and Pedroia (I intentionally have left off Lugo) to get to Big Papi and Manny.

The Sonics pulled that off. They got chemistry guys (like Cabrera and Roberts) in Durant, Green, West, and even Wally. They got younger too in the 1st three guys and Wally will be gone soon enough that he's not a liability financially- which leads to the resigning of Lewis. So the Sonics have a nucleus of Lewis, Durant, Wilcox, with Green off the bench for any of them and Ridnour/West supplying PG duties and a healthy Szczerbiak at the 2-guard until they sign a top free agent next year. I'd say that makes them Conference Finalists in 2 years, champs in 4.

As for the Celtics? Well, I best get my "Big Baby" jersey while he's still around and hope for a playoff berth by, say, 2014- the 10 year anniversary of the '04 Sox no less. Maybe by then, Ainge will have been fired and the mistakes can be undone.


Congratulations NHL HOF's Class of '07

Uninanimous Decision- It's Oden.

UPDATE: Apparently it's not offical, and the Blazers never told the Oden camp, they are taking him #1. Now the only question is...

How STUPID would the Blazers be if they did?

I mean, seriously, why would you tip your hand the day before the draft? Why not make the Sonics sweat out #2? Not that they are anxious or nervous to get Portland's "sloppy seconds" in this draft, but maybe the Sonics really see more (a lot more) in Oden than Durant and would lay down a deal for the #1. I doubt it, but, why close the door?

More likely though is that maybe one of the other teams lower on the board (say a snake bitten Celtics team who was hoping for #1 or #2 at the Lottery a month ago and got stuck in pergatory with #5) gets an itchy trigger finger because the GM (Ainge) knows his team needs a spark or the fans will be hanging Rivers effigies in the streets of Boston right next to Ainge's tipped over car.

Even more, that simply makes the Draft Day phone calls solely about the #2 slot (Durant) by other teams. Bottom line is it alleviates any wrinkles the Blazers could have made in every other team's plans. The pure enjoyment wreaking havoc on others' draft boards, for me as an NBA GM, would be worth the price of admission alone!

With all the drama surrounding Kobe, KG, Marion, et al. by the trade mongers leading up to today, this draft is begging for some drama, some impact news, something to make the NBA relevant again- basically a trade for the ages. The Oden V. Durant debate has gotten very stale this week (only this week?), but the Blazers could have made this foregone conclusion very sexy to all insiders and passive observers alike. Hell, just seeing cuts to GM Kevin Pritchard on the phone every 20 seconds until the pick is made would be much needed fodder for a league that is, in my estimation, against the ropes from a fan/television revenue perspective.

There are probably about 5 scenarios I can think of for a plausible trade into the Top 2 by another team- however unlikely the Blazers or Sonics are to accept. But the Blazers broke a cardinal rule here: never never NEVER close the door before the (draft) clock strikes 00:00. They just lost out on their biggest PR opportunity up until they make their pick.

But hey, isn't being a loser why the Blazers are in the Lottery and picking 1st anyway?


iPhone- A Typical Apple Evolution?

The following link is a good piece covering the basic features of the new iPhone. I think the most important point to note when considering, shopping for, reviewing, comparing, contrasting, and (maybe) catapulting the iPhone is to remember what Steve Jobs & Co. do best.

is great at evolving products of a genre with style/function better than almost any other company.

Everyone is all worried that iPhone may not be revolutionary. Well... so what?
UPDATE: Here's a great new review from Newsweek and MSNBC.

The Mac, the iPod, and now the iPhone are memorable for being revolutionary. Heck there was a PC, an MP3 player and- duh- a plethora of cell phones and smart phones already on the market before Big Mac joined each product's respective battleground. And believe me, there are a lot of good phones and even a handful of great phones already out there.

knows who they are. It's almost like the Dupont Company's old slogan, which I believe was, "We Don't Make the Products You Use, We Make the Products You Use Better."

In a nutshell that is

The Mac brought a look and feel and fluidity to the desktop and laptop arena that PCs cannot match. Add to that better security, tighter/cleaner hardware, and supreme handling of files and, voila, the perfect computer.

iPods did the same thing. There were MP3 players and then there was the iPod. New look, new organization, new interface (iTunes). It (arguably) took file sharing off the map and disposed of clunky interfaces, but digital music was already there. Again, it was an evolution, not a new genus and species of technology not yet discovered.

Same with the iPhone:
  • Touchpad? Check. New? No.
  • Large screen? Check. New? No.
  • Rotating Screen? Music Browser? Web Browser? Contacts? Check, check, check and double check. But new? Nope, nada, nein, not in here.
Nothing here is being seen for the first time. What you will see is a whole new way to experience these features.

's trademark is its stylistic re-interpretation to make usable devices infinitely more user friendly and, well... cool.

And I am sure that will be iPhone- a cell phone that, while not revolutionary, will be stylish, user-friendly and cool. I can live with that.

I chose to use the
because, quite frankly, I think we all know the symbol as well as the name. And isn't everyone tired these days of the name ? See, I still didn't say it.

Tomorrow = NBA D-Day


The Rabid (Roidal?) Wolverine

Chris Benoit- 5/21/67 - 6/25/07

UPDATE: Wow! Apparently this was a murder-suicide and not the original suspicion of a homicide (though, technically, the homicide part still exists). It's a damn shame a great career is extinguished in such a bad light. Worse still the authorities are being vague, stating a gun was not used, but they will not release the details until confirmed, but do allude to the fact that it is an odd set of circumstances. (And Benoit apparently text messaged friends in the WWE on Sunday, during/after, the deaths of his wife and young son.)

Chris Benoit was found dead in his home along with his wife and son this afternoon. Officials are treating this as a homicide.
As a father and former wrestling fan, I am deeply saddened by this tragic event. Benoit was one of the all-time greats and, to my understanding following his career some, a great family man and friend. Back when I followed wrestling, I always made sure to watch the Crippler's matches because he was a guy that, although built like a tank, was only about my height and he gave you that sense of, yeah, you can do what you put your mind to. And the guy was a total performer, always giving a good/great match and willing to take a bump and "job" when another guy needed to get "put over".

Best wishes and deepest sympathies to the Benoit family.

If a Bear Falls in the Police Station, Does Anyone Hear Him?

Tank Johnson had his sandbox (aka 'da Bears) taken away for good.



I was traveling on business yesterday. So tell me why is it that every driver decides to slam on their brakes at the mere sight of a road work sign? Within a fraction of a second, even perfectly competent drivers become a mere shell of their former selves.

It's the equivalent of a pressure shot in the NBA, a 2-minute drive in the NFL, a walk-off hit in MLB or pulling the goalie in the NHL.

Some folks are Big Papi, Jordan, or Brady.

But most ''pull a Nowitzki.''


Get Well Coach Summitt

According to ESPNews the Tennessee Lady Vols head basketball coach, Pat Summitt has fainted at home and was taken to St. Mary's Hospital for further examination. MSNBC reported she was treated for dehydration, but we all know how that story plays out amongst celebrities and the like (see: Lohan, Lindsay).

At any rate, this is not someone as pathetic as Lohan in need of excuses. Best wishes to Coach Summitt and here's hoping it is nothing serious.

Years back, my best friend in high school went to UT and interned in the Athletic Department, working closely with Summitt very often. From his accounts, she's a top-notch lady and we know her coaching record speaks for itself.


Bruins to Name New Head Coach

Via Art Martone at the Providence Journal and Joe McDonald's Bruins blog on Projo.com here in RI... The Boston Bruins have called a news conference for 10:30 a.m. tomorrow to introduce their new coach. Scott Gordon, the coach of the Providence Bruins and one of the people mentioned in association with the search, will not be at the press conference. All indications are that Claude Julien, the former coach of the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils, will get the job.

I also heard the B's were holding the press conference while watching the Red Sox on NESN tonight.

From what I heard earlier this week, Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins GM, really coveted Pat Quinn (someone they considered even before signing Dave Lewis last year). But I guess Pat Quinn knows a sinking ship when he sees one.


Gentlemen, Start Your.... Wardrobes

While I typically wax philosophic on sports in my posts and leave the sidebars for postings of other interests such as tech/gadgets, fashion, etc., I do from time to time feel it pertinent to share with you good things outside of the athletic endeavor in the actual posts. So here's one about what should be in your closets: Let's preface this by saying the following caveats:
  1. I am a grown up (i.e., over 21).
  2. There is a time and place for T-shirts and jeans. This is not that time nor that place.
  3. As a grown up, I think it is important for men (again over 21) to dress appropriately if you are gainfully employed in a "white collar" world.
  4. "Blue Collar" jobs garner my utmost respect, but as they pertain to this post, are very different in the dress codes as they change so drastically from profession to profession. So this post is more about a formal attire to business casual type of workplace rather than a trade or industry workplace (again requiring different professional standards).
  5. If you don't think this applies to you in your job, take a page from it for evening and formal occasion wear. Every guy will encounter these needs at some point.
Good enough? OK.

So, men, take a look. You
need to know this (credit: men.style.com)...


Sid the Kid versus Mike Keenan, or "My Idea How to Fix the NHL."

I've been known to have a soft spot for hockey. It could be that I've played the game since I was 5, but besides that, I love the game for its combination of purity, skill, speed, flow and physicality that no other sport displays in such an amalgamation of characteristics. Add to that mix very personable players and coaches (all who love their sport more than any other professional athlete or coach in any sport) and you have a formula that should work.

It is my belief that there is no reason why the NHL should not stand shoulder to shoulder with the big 3 (NFL, MLB, NBA) in terms of, at least, fan appreciation/popularity and quality on TV (this NBA season not withstanding). That being said, the NHL should crush the "little guys" such as the PGA, WTA, AFL, MLS, NASCAR and all the other niches that take eyeballs away from the best game not being seen.
But TV ratings, while subjective, are the death knell of sport and I am not, nor will I ever claim, that the NHL should stand among the bourgeoisie of sports on television (namely the NFL and MLB) here in the U.S. But there's no reason it shouldn't be on the radar the way it is not right now.

Note: I am deliberately leaving out college sports- especially football and hoops- simply because I have found that no matter what you do, no matter how you try to argue it, the college fan/TV viewer is different from the professional sports (average?) fan/TV viewer. Sure, many (most?) college sports fans watch other sports and have a level of fandom that matches or exceeds other's enthusiasm, but mainstream college sports on television (again, football, hoops) will always be in a vacuum with viewers- they will ebb and flow slightly, but there is a core audience and they are the same but very different from "pro sports first" viewers. I am sure there is Nielsen data and syndicated market research via ESPN, Forrester, and others to support this, but I really have not brought this up to focus on it, so let's just move on and accept it for argument's sake, agreed? Thanks.

So then, I will ask the question that has been asked before, but has no answer yet that satisfies the "Powers that be" in the NHL or sports world:

How do you fix the NHL?

Well, it will not be easy, but here's my guide to resuscitating the "Coolest Game on Earth." One caveat- I will not be discussing how to fix the on-ice game, i.e., rule changes and such. We've tinkered with the game enough. Those changes won't change fan perceptions, so stop trying. My suggestions are purely fan and marketing centered.

#1: Focus on the players.
Seriously, I challenge you to find any sport where you could literally have a full conversation with nearly any of the players, regardless of whether they are U.S. born, Canadian, European, Russian or otherwise and not come away feeling you got something out of it. You will not see another group of foreign-born players do so well at assimilating into American society- hell, too many of the (U.S. born) NFL and NBA players cannot keep up an intelligent interview, let alone do it in a language other than their native tongue. Oh, and I dare you to find me an arrest record (I'm talking to you, Cincinnati Bengals). NHL players are smart, engaging, competitive as hell and (this is for the ladies) good looking! Seriously, in the world of sports, guys know there is an unwritten rule that the hottest significant others are dating/engaged/married to NHL players and PGA players. Why? Because women think they are hot too! (With the exception of Phil Mickelson, but he's "Lefty" so his wife Amy gets a mulligan.) This is a very marketable point the NHL has yet to explore. More off-ice exposure amongst the female population will help attract a broader fan base. The Today Show, The View, Ellen, Oprah... do the daytime circuit with a powerful gimmick (Gasp! Let the players talk) and watch how fast wives get their husbands into Sid the Kid on Versus on a Tuesday night.

#2. "The Coolest Game on Earth" Part: Deux- It seems to me that after the popular tag line bid, "adieu", so did the relevance of the NHL. I also believe this coincided with the NHL's push for street and roller hockey development around the U.S. The "coolest game" was no longer, well, cool. It was, "warm, sunny and 70 with a 0% chance of snow or rain." Listen folks- hockey is ice hockey. It is a winter sport. It's cool- nay, cold. Trust me on this (again, I play the game, watch the game. love the game)... there is no comparison between street or roller hockey and ice hockey- especially played at the elite level. It's not even the same game. Told to me anecdotally, a famous college hockey coach once told his team years ago, "Gentleman it (hockey) is a slippery game, and it's played on ice." It's time to bring that aspect back. Commercials with the warrior analogy (so 2006) or- as seemed evident this year- a lack of advertising focus ("My NHL"? Huh, what?) has lost the general sports fan and credibility with said fan because there is no relevance to them.

#3. YouTube (and more generally, new media). The NHL has done something right. They signed a deal with YouTube to distribute NHL clips and games and, if done right, could do more for the League's exposure than any other piece of marketing they can think of. The New York Islanders "Blog Box" is a another fine example of the NHL recognizing what other sports have yet to admit- the fans want to (and can) run the show. It's the convergence of the Internet with the Reality TV era. Any fan with a keyboard, digital camera/camcorder, minimal editing ability and an Internet connection can produce quality exposure for ANY topic. The NHL has a chance to lead by example for once, and take us on a ride into new media long before it becomes mainstream media. I would like to note to anyone reading this we obviously might feel this (Internet, blogs, online video, etc.) already is mainstream media, but you have to accept that the general population is still clueless and this is a new form of coverage in its infancy. The NHL, if done wisely, can be synonymous with the future (present) of our media consumption.

So what would be the epitome of these suggestions? I dare the NHL to hand the marketing reigns over... to the fans! Run an online contest, offer a sweepstakes, Hell, make a reality program out of it! But you could combine all three above suggestions and give a group of fans the power to: 1.
Access the players and shed a new light on them from a completely new perspective; 2. Bring back the "cool" to a game in desperate need of such a face lift; and 3. Extend the fan's power to a place we all know it is headed with or without the help of sports leagues anyway- your desktop/laptop/phone.

I even have a few samplings here, here, here, and here from the folks at "Warrior", a newer face in the hockey equipment game, as an example of a group who is starting to get it. Granted this is just print media, but its this fresh edge, with it's acceptance of current culture, the look and feel of now, that should encourage others to bring this perspective on behalf of the NHL to the masses via your dial-up/cable/T1/fibre optic/cellular connection the 'Net.

You bring this edge to new media, sports fans, and you just may return the League to its prominence as the "Coolest Game"- on Earth or in Cyberspace.


Junior Makes His Choice- HMS

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is headed to Hendrick Motorsports. I am not even a NASCAR uber-fan and yet I need to blog about this because it is huge- nay... HUGE- sports news.

The purists can cry, "Sacrilege"! The casual fans can say, "What about my #8 hat (or indoor/outdoor cooler table with umbrella)?!!!" The non-fans can say, "What number is he again?" But make no mistake about it, the biggest factor here is not what this does to the fans (hint: they'll still show up, they'll still root for Junior). Nope, the biggest line item here is that Dale Jr., despite a "mere" 17 wins to his resume, is proving he is the most marketable face in NASCAR- and maybe all of sports.

Where's the evidence? Two words- Hendrick Motorsports. Call them the Yankees. Call them greedy. Call them arrogant. Call them whatever you want, but know this- the most successful racing team in the business (10 wins out of 14 races this year) with 3 of the most high-profile drivers already under its hood (John, Gordon, Busch) just landed the biggest fish in the business. They gave Kyle Busch his walking papers to do it (read: he's an attitude problem they were glad to be done with anyway
). They were willing to take the quick PR hit (read: fan backlash) that will last a mere 24 hours (until the official Hendrick press conference) to ensure their (already) dominant future in the sport. They told the 2006 Cup champ, Jimmie Johnson, that he needs to make room on the team for a driver that is not as skilled as he is (Jimmie's top 3, Junior maybe top 10). And they just told Jeff Gordon- a guy that has finished 1st in nearly 80 races, has 4 Cup titles and garnered over 75 million dollars in winnings that he is second-best to one of his biggest rivals (and don't think for a second Gordon is upset).

Why? Because the face of the sport, for better or worse, is Junior. The kid is a money machine, a merchandiser's dream. And better yet- he wants to simply... win. This gives Hendrick literally a three-headed Hydra that will be gunning for Cup titles for at least the next decade. And how can you not, not put these guys in the Top 10 (i.e., Chase for the Cup) at the start of every season? Imagine that? When February rolls around and everyone is talking Daytona, Hendrick just insured they will be first on everyone's lips no matter what for the entire season- from first race to last. That is exposure you simply cannot buy my friend- well, um... at least not until now.

This is bigger than Messier signing with the Rangers in the early 90's. Way bigger than Reggie White opening NFL free agency to sign with the Packers. Infinitely bigger than A-Rod's payday with the Rangers. Beckham's move from Manchester U. to Real Madrid? Small potatoes. (Which, by the way, makes his signing with L.A. in the MLS infinitesimally small by comparison.) This is bigger than almost every free agent deal ever signed in any sport.

The only thing that comes close to another athlete holding court over a sport like Dale Jr. does with NASCAR is Tiger. And that's because Tiger is universal- a worldly figure known in every corner of the globe. Like Beckham was in his prime. Or Pele before that. (Note- these types of figures have global presence, the key factor that trumps Junior's signing with HMS because NASCAR is a U.S. Sport- and a niche one at that.

Make no mistake about it. You may not like Junior. Or Hendrick Motorsports. Or, heck, NASCAR. But like the Yankees, you now better stand up and respect a team and its players willing to throw down the gauntlet to win it all- for a long time to come.