Hey, remember the Friday mailbag. We're still on the jury duty watch all week but we'll keep a better eye on the happenings around the camp fire today.
From the "Talks too much" studios, looking at the categories of today, let's have an 1980s music dance party (you know we love a theme show):
Love Shaq baby
Orlando Magic's Shaquille O'Neal dunks the ball and comes down on Denver Nuggets' Dikembe Mutombo during action at the Orlando Arena Tuesday Feb. 13, 1996. Orlando defeated Denver, 121-93.(AP Photo/Steve Simoneau)
The Lakers retired Shaquille O'Neal's jersey Tuesday night. Can you dig it?
Shaq was many things. His larger-than-life personality transcended the NBA. His larger-than-life physicality transcended the game. His larger-than-life elephant in the room — dude was the strongest dunking and worst shooting Hall of Famer of all time and shot better from the field (58 percent for his career) than the foul line (52.7 percent) — at times transcended his greatness.
All told, Shaq won four titles — three with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant before the clashing egos forced the Lakers to send O'Neal to Miami in 2004 — led the league in scoring twice and was the league MVP in 1999-2000.
The Lakers retired his No. 34 — he's the ninth Lakers player to have their number retired and Kobe, who not surprisingly posted a triple-double last night after Shaq's ceremony will be the 10th whenever he hangs it up — and deservedly so.
But where would you rank Shaq all-time? He's not in the elite echelon of centers, in the rarified air of Kareem, Wilt and Russell.
Is he in the next category with Hakeem and Mikan and Moses Malone? We're not so sure. Shaq was a physical monster, a 7-foot-1, 300-pound-plus athlete who controlled the paint. But the fact that he could not make a free throw made him a liability in the fourth quarter, and if you can't be on the floor in the final minutes of an NBA game, when every contest is ultimately decided, can you be in the conversation of the best all-time?
And why was that tin roof rusted?
Yu, Yu got what we need
Yu Darvish took a perfect game into the ninth. It was foiled with a 22-bounce single to center that went through Darvish's 5-hole (between his legs).
In his first start of the season, Darvish got 26 consecutive hitters out and struck out 14. And amazingly, his performance was more dominating than that.
Before the ground-ball-with-eyes single, Darvish had allowed one ball to leave the infield. That friends is the definition of overpowering.
With Darvish, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and some of the other starting pitchers in the game today, there's a threat to be a no-hitter almost any day of the week.
In fact, we'll say the game is stacked with as many dominating starting pitchers as any time since the late 1970s when Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Ron Guidry and J.R. Richard were at the height of their powers.
And you say he's just a friend.
We're not going to take it
Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice is in hot water. Boiling hot in fact. (Get it? Rice.... boiling water... where's Uncle Ben? Wow, tough room.)
Where were we? Oh yes, Mr. Rice.
ESPN showed video of Rice flinging basketballs and insults and what have you around at his team during practices before the season. The Rutgers athletic department officials knew of this and suspended Rice for three games in November. Now, after the evidence has gone public, Rutgers officials are reviewing the incident to determine if Rice should be fired.
Should he be fired?
Well on the merits of the tape, yes, he probably should. And he likely will.
But let's take a step back.
This is not to defend Rice's actions. They were stupid and fireable and offensive. Plus, they are clearly out-of-bounds to what is acceptable today.
But how is this different from the tired act Bobby Knight got away with for decades? Knight was a staggering bully on all fronts but got away with it. Different time, and maybe that's enough of a reason why Knight was viewed differently, but if Rice's actions deserve termination — and we believe they do — then do we need to re-examine Knight's legacy? Maybe the times change and allowances were given then, but were those lifetime passes?
Secondly, if this was not fireable back then, why is it fireable today? Because it got out? If that's the case, then the AD needs to be handed a pink slip next.
If the Rutgers AD thought they could keep this quiet, well, then he's got no BID-ness leading anything more complex than T-ball practice. (Side note: Leading T-Ball practice is harder than it looks.)
Twisted sister indeed.
This and that
— Another one bites the dust. Scratch one name of the UTC wish list. Lots of folks asked about or seemed intrigued about the possibility of Craig Neal replacing John Shulman on the Mocs bench. Neal was named as the head coach at New Mexico, getting promoted after former UNM coach Steve Alford took the UCLA job.
— Don't you forget about me. Hey, that sounds like Phillip Fulmer's intro music. So, Coach Fulmer, the former Vols coach whose resume gets better and better with each passing UT football season, has accepted a job with ETSU to help restart football. Great move by ETSU, considering the free pub they receive from the hire and the experience Fulmer brings. And here's saying the early motto for the Bucs will be either "work like heck" or "watch the film."
— Patience. The Chattanooga Lookouts start this week and the roster — especially super prospect Yasiel Puig — looks impressive as our all-around ace David Paschall tells us here. We know this, if you get athletic comparisons to Bo Jackson, then you get the 5-at-10 seal of approval. (Side note: Love G-n-R's "Patience" then and now. Makes us think of spring break our senior year in high school. Good times.)
— Maneater. Mark Cuban says he'd give Baylor All-American Brittney Griner a chance with the Dallas Mavericks. OK. She'd last about 12 seconds and get dunked on 12 ways from Tuesday. She may be the greatest player in women's history but in the NBA? PUH-lease, and even someone who wears their sunglasses at night can see that. (Yes, that was a double-play with a Hall-n-Oats start and a Corey Hart finish. Things can only get better... Howard Jones. Are you Too Shy to appreciate this? Are you not Tempted to play along? Are these jokes Missing You? Don't, Don't You Want Me to keep this up? Are we Dancing With Myself here? Seriously, it's The Reflex. And it feels like Home Sweet Home. Think we'll stop now and pour a Brass Monkey... That funky monkey.)
We'll go quick answer today:
Favorite 1980s song? (Don't over think it. When we said 1980s song, what was the first one that came to your head? Share.)
Current big league pitcher with the best stuff? We'll start with Verlander, but Yu is right there. Discuss.
Is Shaq a top-five all-time center?
Discuss, and don't forget the mailbag.
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 ...