published Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

5-at-10: NBA, conference meetings and forgotten franchises

Gang, welcome to the sneaky great part of a holiday week — Tuesday feeling like Monday. Well, that's good for all of us other than Todd962 and his hangover, which may be so big that he had to carry it to work today. Hi Todd and hi Todd's hangover — thanks for reading.

Either way, that means you have one fewer day until the weekend — and one fewer day to get your mailbag question in. Whatcha got?

From the "Talks too much" studios, pass the Advil, drink plenty of water and remember that if rest can't heal what ails you, there's the Waffle House and the hair of the dog. Giddy up.

Good-bye Grizz

Midway through the first round of these playoffs we picked the Memphis Grizz to go to the NBA Finals.

This morning, after being swept by the San Antonio Spurs and making Tony Parker look like a crazy good combination of Tiny Archibald, Isiah Thomas and Steph Curry, we have to wonder if the Grizz have hit their apex. Are they going to be a fringe to legit title contender for years to come, a Dallas Mavericks-type of team that could possibly breakthrough and win a championship? Or are they going to be doomed to the inglorious fate of the Atlanta Hawks, and perpetually make the playoffs only to be good enough to be pretty good and never come anywhere close to great again?

Let's examine:

On the pro-Memphis side of things is a deep and young roster that has balance and interior strength. This team is well-constructed, something few NBA teams can claim. Plus, there is Bar-B-Q and blues. Yay, Memphis.

On the con-Memphis side of things is the unknown future of coach Lionel Hollins, who is under contract for another 35 or so days. There also is the real and fair question about the ceiling of this group considering the outliers that aligned this postseason — Westbrook injured, Griffin injured, Lakers a non-factor, etc. — that opened up the Western Conference draw and still the Grizz fell short of the finals. Plus, Memphis is way too close to Arkansas, so there's that. Boo, Memphis.

We are expecting to hear the "future is bright for the Grizz" approach from our resident Memphis expert Downtown Patrick Brown, so we'll offer this as a starting point: Sure, the Spurs are aging and this may be their final swing in the spring sun, but are the Grizz going to be able to be better than the Thunder or the Warriors or the Clippers in the next few years? What happens if the Rockets add Dwight or the Lakers reload?

Was this the next step in the Grizz postseason climb or is this the ceiling? Discuss.

————

Conference meetings

The Southeastern Conference meeting is this week in Destin. The Southern Conference meeting is this week in Hilton Head. Ever notice how these meeting are not in, say, Des Moines?

The two leagues will meet with strikingly opposite agendas.

The SEC will discuss the glorious future and pass around eight-figure checks that could hit $30 million per school.

The SoCon will discuss the unknown future and pass around seven-figure cell phone numbers of ADs of potential new member schools.

So it goes as the divide between the haves and have-nots in college sports grows. And gang, it's only going to keep expanding. That's the biggest concern for the SoCon folks and the other leagues of that size. The scraps from the table of the SECs and the Big Tens will become even more coveted by the other leagues, and positioning — and broadcast rights and fees — will be paramount for survival.

If we were a SoCon fan, the biggest news we would want to hear this week is not who will be the next SoCon members but how will the SoCon get back into the public eye. What is the broadcast plan of the future and how can the SoCon cash in on it? Finding new members is about surviving; finding new avenues to broadcast and new sources of coin are about advancing in to the future.

———

Your move Mr. James

Regulars around these parts know the 5-at-10 thinks highly of LeBron James. Dude has big-time skills and is delivering on his big-time gifts. Big time.

We even said earlier this spring — and re-iterated it on the radio with David Paschall in our two-week trial run on ESPN 105.1 here in town — that if LeBron entered the NFL draft this past April, he would have been a top-10 pick.

Now Joe Theismann says LeBron could be a star QB with a little training. Heck, he could be a star wide receiver right now.

Either way, James is the best basketball player on the planet at the moment and that's more than enough.

Tonight, James and the Heatles have a chance to choke the life out of the Pacers. Miami leads 2-1 after thumping the Pacers in Game 3 in Indy on Sunday. Another win in Indy would mean a commanding 3-1 lead and all-but set up a strong Finals between the Spurs (dynasty of the recent past) and Miami (dynasty of the near future).

This is the type of game that the greats normally dominate and will their teams to win. Bird won these swing games — games that either crush your opponent or give them renewed life — so did Jordan and Magic. Heck, Timmy Duncan did it in Game 3 for the Spurs against Memphis a few days ago.

Now, let's see if James continues to deliver in these moments. He's been surreal in the playoffs, and if the Pacers have not come up with an answer for him on the low post, then good night Muncie, it's all she wrote.

————

This and that

— Brittney Griner had two dunks in her WNBA debut. Her team lost by 20. That's all we got.

— The SEC put nine teams into the college baseball postseason. Tennessee was not among them. How Tennessee and Georgia — state schools with state-funded lotteries that could help augment the 11.8 scholarships a college baseball program has to offer — are not among the year-in, year-out college baseball powers is puzzling to us. So it goes.

— Among the teams in the college baseball postseason is Towson, the program that was disbanded earlier this season, fought for their survival, received 11th-hour funding from the state of Maryland and went on to win the CAA to earn a postseason spot. Good story.

  • USA Cycling Professional racers ride through Chattanooga
    Thousands watched as the USA Cycling Professional Men's and Women's road racers traveled through Chattanooga on Monday. Jade Wilcoxson won the women's race, while veteran Freddie Rodriguez won the men's race. This was the first year for Chattanooga to host the race, which will return in 2014 and 2015.

— Congrats to the cycling folks and all the cycling stuff they did this weekend. And a big tip of the 5-at-10 cap to TFP assistant sports editor Jim Tanner for coordinating all of our coverage this weekend. Well-played indeed.

— Colby Rasmus doubled off younger brother Cory Rasmus in Toronto's 9-3 win over the Braves. That would be a cool thing, you know? And would make for great smack talk during the holidays. Here's hoping the next time young Cory Ks big brother. Or hits him with a pitch and says, "That's for all the grief you put me through when we kids."

————

Today's question

Doing our morning research we saw an item that Hal McClure died. McClure was a longtime AP reporter and foreign correspondent.

Of course, we are blessed/cursed with the primary sports focus that occasionally gets us in the 5-at-10 doghouse. (Side question: Does any one else occasionally get the "How can you remember who was the first person to get 100 hits from each side of the plate in the same season [Garry Templeton] but you can't remember your first cousin's name at the family reunion?" And get that look... you know the look... No neither do we. Second side question: How far removed from the immediate family do you have to go before you can forget someone's name without being in trouble? And why do we not have more events with people wearing name tags? Name tags are underrated. Anyhoo.)

So when we saw Hal McClure, we clicked on the item thinking it was about Hal McRae, which then caused us to think about those great 1980s Kansas City Royals teams. Sigh. We liked those Royals teams.

That then led us to thinking about which former franchises that used to be really good and now are irrelevant and how we miss them. What's your Rushmore of teams that were competing for titles a generation ago and now you'd have a hard time naming half their starters.

We'll start with the Royals, 76ers, Miami — man those Hurricanes football teams were so much fun to watch — and Georgia Tech hoops. Thoughts?

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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ordinaryguy said...

First the Rushmore of long ago great franchises...The Orioles who during the heyday of Earl Weaver with the last team to have FOUR 20 GAME WINNERS on the hill...Laugh if you will, The Dallas Cowboys who will NEVER return to their past glory as long as Butthead Jones is in charge of player selection...The Pirates, consistent during the 60's and 70's (WE ARE FAMILY)and somewhat during the Barry Bonds days, but very inconsistent since then...Finally, drum roll please, I agree with you the Miami Hurricanes, the poster child for all things wrong with college athletics, things could get even worse when the NCAA is finished, can you say SMU...no not death penalty but very close...

As far as Brittany Griner..who cares?...the only thing worse than the WNBA is gum surgery...I am surprised the world wide leader is not bombarding us with stories about how she is now talking about how Baylor wanted her to keep quiet about her sexual preference...

Fox sports creates a race stoppage Sunday night, sunday's racing coverage illustrates one thing...open wheel racing is DEAD, what does it say about a sport where a NASCAR nobody finishes 7th (A.J. Almendinger)

A lot of chatter over the possible 9 game SEC schedule...with the possibility existing (and being pushed by Les Miles) to in effect do away with the permanent cross divisional rivalries, can you say goodbye to the third saturday in october..

Finally, although not a bicycling fan, great coverage by @MocsBeat and @JFTanner for the continuous updates on twitter yesterday...

May 28, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
mrspud said...

To quote Hank Jr. "Hangovers hurt more than they used to" Todd may eventually figure this out and adjust his Co'cola intake....maybe.

Is it just me or does the NBA just bore the heck out of everyone? I just can't get into it at all. I was once a slight fan, then only a playoff watcher, migrated to a finals only watcher and now I don't even watch the ESPN highlights.

I loved the Royals back in the day...George Brett was the man. I can watch that pine tar clip over and over and still chuckle. My Rushmore of once relevant franchises:

Royals Pirates Dolphins Bills

May 28, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
chas9 said...

Remember when Rutgers fired their basketball coach for abusing his players? Now we learn the woman hired to clean up the mess has been abusive too. AD Julie Hermann's volleyball players from her time at Tennessee claim the only emotion in their practices was fear. One former player sys she "crushed our dreams, broke our hearts."

Hermann denies the claim of 15 of her players who say they presented her a letter (about the time she left UT) stating that she regularly called them "whores, alcoholics, learning disabled." She says they misunderstood. She actually used those terms to characterize the TFP sports department, who weren't giving her volleyball program enough ink.

Todd--Is your skin dry?

May 28, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

chas abuse is relative...the athletes of today are not used to having a coach be tough...lord forbid if bear bryant were alive and still coaching...so many athletes today, brittany griner a perfect example, wanted to be coddled and petted...

mrspud...there is a reason I call it the NEVERENDING BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION...

May 28, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Morning Ten-Ring

Rarely do I ever see the SEC and SoCon in the same paragraph as both conferences couldn't be further apart. In fact, when I usually think of the two in the same sentence, I draw images in my head of some big shot muckraker smoking a cigar with dollar signs made out of puff smoke wearing a top hat and somewhere on his suit is written "SEC" while on his knees is some ragged looking shoe-shine boy with the words "SoCon" written on his clothes (Think "Guilded Age" political cartoons if that helps).

Again, the fact the SEC is crying over lack of attendence is due to the almighty flat screen. Heck, I wouldn't go up to Knoxville (next year being the one exception) given the massive headache involved. I've lived in Dallas for six years now. Never been to one Cowboys game live. Don't need to.

Unfortunately, as glass half full as Blackburn wants to be about keeping the SoCon healthy, the truth is the SoCon is no longer the scrappy little conference that could. I respect his loyality but loyality can only go so far when the very health of the program you were hired to helm is on the line.

This fact I know: no respectable sports channel is going to offer TV rights to the SoCon. And even if I-Man helped ink a deal with the Deuce for example, NO and I mean NO Joe/Jane fan is going to "randomly" tune in to see Furman/Western Carolina when they have 60+ options (cable, DirectTV, Premium sports channels etc.) to see the schools with the most name recognition.

I've said my peace on the Grizz so I'll bypass that.

My Rushmore is as follows:

Mocs BB team (seriously, I followed everyone from Johnny Taylor to Chris Mimms to the "other" Wes Moore; today, I could only name two players: Z-Mason and "That Dirk-looking fella" who can't hit the broad side of a barn with a BB)

Dallas Cowboys (The DMN Sports Department has actually addressed the fact that with most schoolchildren in the DFW Metroplex, they tend to wear Ranger and Maverick attire then Cowboy attire. That also has to do with the fact most weren't even born when the Cowboys were winning championships)

Tennessee Titans (No explanation needed)

Toronto Blue Jays (They were post season contenders for many years and have now fallen off the radar)

May 28, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
hometownhero said...

I loved this years Memphis team but in the WC Finals they looked like somebody who suddenly realized they were walking on water and as soon as that happened, sunk!

Good Mt. Rushmore question..

  1. I agree with JMCs Tennessee Titans pick. Although things may turn around this year with the offseason they had.

  2. Tennessee Football Vols. And only because I LOVE to take any opportunity to take a shot at UT :D hahahahaaa!

  3. The Run and Gun Phoenix Suns of the early 00's.. The Nash years, what a fun team!

  4. For the golfers among us: Vijay Singh. Where did that guy go?

HTH out..

May 28, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang —

And to be fair, we just assumed Todd did some heavy 12-ounce curling.

And to be fair, part II, he certainly was not the only one. (Thank you sir may we please have another?)

OG —

Really nice call on the Pirates. Love that late 70s bunch and Dave Parker was awesome in his awesomeness.

And, while the differences in how coaches can/do act is obvious and high-arcing, we're just not going to comment on the statement, "so many athletes today, brittany griner a perfect example, wanted to be coddled and petted..."

Petted? Nope, not gonna do it.

MrSpud —

That line is so true, hangovers do hurt more than they used to. That or we're not in the same drinking Co-Cola shape we used to be — which is a good and bad thing on multiple levels.

Dolphins is a nice call, too.

9er —

If you're the Rutgers president are you not making 12 million percent sure that whomever you bring in to fix this mess is squeaky clean? Like Andy Taylor on Easter Sunday clean?

And if Ms. Julie wants to bend the Sports Editor's ear, well, she can just get in line behind the rest.

JMC —

Interesting call with Mocs hoops.

No, the Duece is not walking through that door. Heck, the Ocho is unlikely to walk through that door — Cotton needs new shorts — but still.

Maybe they partner with a Leerfield Sports-type of media group that works it from a third-party deal. Who knows?

We do know this: something needs to happen or something will happen, and in the absence of the former means pain in the latter.

— 5-at-10

May 28, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Yeah JMC, TV was as big a gut shot to the SoCon as anything...From PBS to online only at the worldwide leader thrice...you should have been around Mocs back in the day when they were ranked #11 in the final poll..

May 28, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

I did not think about the petted comment JG...my politically incorrect apologies lol...

May 28, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

OG-

I was "technically" around when Mocs BB was in mega-glory years. However, I was going through my "Transformers/GI Joe/He-Man/Thundercats" phase. I didn't really start following Mocs hoops until I actually found myself being a student of the institution.

Anyway, let's de-bunk the TV myth as I like to call it.

Even when the Mocs were being broadcasted on both Fox SportsSouth and PBS, the games were only broadcasted within our direct market (meaning you couldn't watch it outside of the Tri-State viewing area). A lot of it has to do with the obvious: We're not Tennessee or any other school in a major conference with a wide viewing audience (aka no Jefferson Pilot syndication). Therefore, the only way to reach a quote "wide audience" for a niche market (such as the SoCon) and not lose massive amounts of money in revenue is through online broadcast with the Treis. Unless UTC becomes another Boise State, this is the world we are currently living in.

Also, when programs like the UCA Cheer/Dance Championship tends to draw more viewers then the FCS Championship, that's not going to make a strong case with I-Man for the SoCon to get a better slice (Even if App and GSU were still in).

May 28, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Yes, I survived. And please, less caplocks, its hurts....

No, I think Lady Todd has gotten better at managing my self inflicted warpath. My sunburns after this weekend would be described as no worse that 1st degree, minimal bruising on various limbs, and she is still talking to me, which all in all is pretty good after this weekend. Few more curls at Champys last night to nip off the last of the hangover symptoms and I am back in the saddle today, after lunch I could even be mistaken for being productive.

There werent a lot of tv's or cell phone coverage for sports this weekend on the river, so till tomorrow...

May 28, 2013 at 12:07 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

jmc great point...the ratings for the FCS Championship are horrific...they were much better before it was moved to a daytime game...my thoughts are we just wait it out...dominate the conference and then in three to five make that move up...

May 28, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

OG-

Thank you for the acknowledgement.

On a side note, it was a fun atmosphere and a packed arena. Definitely a must attend if you live in the greater Dallas area. However, it an't the Cotton Bowl and as Jaymeister will confirm, the DMN reserves coverage for the back of the paper. Outside of Frisco ::yawn::

May 28, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, I'll take the Orioles for $1000. Colorful Manager Earl Weaver's Orioles era of excellence from the late '60's to the early 1980's has not, and I dare say will not be repeated. Lot's of players in mélange at one time or another: Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Cal Ripkin, Jr are all Hall of Famers.

My first entry was OG's Pirates just one name here and he remains unique: Kent Tekulve.

May 28, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Great stuff all-around gang.

And Todd, glad you eased through another holiday weekend.

— 5-at-10

May 28, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
chet123 said...

YEAH YEAH YEAH.....IF THE REFEREE'S KEEP MAKING CALLS IN JAMES FAVOR......HE MAY HAVE A NBA TITLE AND NFL TITLE IN THE SAME YEAR

May 28, 2013 at 1:34 p.m.
chas9 said...

JMC--Excellent Rushmore of has-beens.

Oh Gee--Totally agree that abuse is relative. I always wonder if the accounts we get square with the players' experience. Lots of Bobby Knight's players loved him. And in the women's game, it must be really hard to instill the necessary competitive toughness without tripping the emotional wire. I've talked with successful coaches who have experience with both genders and they say you have to do it differently. I'd say Pat Summit found that proper balance.

Still, a coach should probably never call her players whores.

May 28, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

First things first, The Irish used to believe the best cure for a hangover was to bury a person up to their neck in river sand. Being of Scots-Irish descent, I can safely say that the Irish should know a thing or two about hangovers. If the Goody's headache powder and cold pizza have run their course with no success, you may want to head down to "Chickamauga Beach" with a friend and a shovel.

Common theme for the day is altered states of mind. Just read that Josh-Harvey Clemons will miss the season opener against Clemson for a dorm room blunt incident. Well, pop-a-top and pass the sunscreen, the start of summer is official now.

May 28, 2013 at 3:09 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I was a bigger fan of the early 70s Pirates.

I'll go Kansas City Chiefs, the Montreal Expos (the Expos ... not the Nationals), the Hartford Whalers ... and Georgia Tech hoops.

May 28, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.
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