published Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

5-at-10: NBA's pickle, Braves clarity, breathing right and dynasty Rushmore

Gang, have you sent your mailbag question? Time is running out.

From the "Talks too much" studios, Serge is a cool name.


The NBA finds itself in a bit of a mess. Follow along.

First, tonight we have the NBA draft lottery, a celebration and reunion of former stars celebrating the tanking and losing that teams wisely order to get as good a draft pick as possible in hopes of landing a difference maker. War Tanking.

  • photo
    United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to watch a women's beach volleyball match between USA and Austria.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Second, the NBA has potential for a non-major market dream matchup in the Finals. League MVP Kevin Durant and the young and fun and talented Thunder against the league's best player LeBron James and the Heat's bid to become just the fourth franchise to three-peat would be an ideal championship series, especially considering the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics will each be at the loser's celebration tonight rather than the postseason.

That said, the first games of the conference finals portend a different version to that happy ending. As much respect as we have for the Spurs — arguably the biggest dynasty of the 2000s in all of team sports — a San Antonio-Indiana title series will send the masses to the remote.

Finally and most importantly, we know that Donald Sterling is a fool. And a racist. And a billionaire. The NBA has vowed to its customers and its employees to terminate its relationship with Sterling. Sterling has vowed to fight it to the end of the legal food chain.

The league has started the process, sending the first shot at Sterling with a statement that ""All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA constitution and related agreements." Once that's translated from the legalese, it means, we're trying to pluck your ingrown toenail-ness from the foot that is the league.

The hearing is June 3 and Sterling asked for a three-month extension, which likely will be denied. After the hearing, which will include Sterling's rambling, nonsensical interview with Anderson Cooper in which the Clippers owner covered an array of topics including Magic Johnson's place as a role model, "The Aids" and how Jews help fellow Jews, the owners will vote.

A hidden under current of the NBA's tenuous position is it has now put the other 29 owners in a tough spot. No one agrees with what Sterling says or believes, and few think he has many redeeming qualities whatsoever, but it's a fair debate to have that should one privately taped conversation cost a man his property. It is certainly a fair discussion among the other 29 men who own similar properties, especially when almost none of them want people to go digging through closets looking for skeletons and worrying about who may be taping what and when.

  • photo
    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

But the league has pointed its entire arsenal at Sterling and the players have backed them up, and while you may loathe the person Sterling is, it's entirely possible for an owner to wonder if the league's version of a nuclear weapon is over the top here and viable for any non-criminal offense.

But, if you are one of the owners, and it ever got out that you voted not to eject Sterling, it would in a lot of people's eyes be a vote in support of Sterling, rightly or wrongly. Thus, it would make running said owner's NBA team much more difficult since few if any black free agents would consider to sign with the team that supported Sterling, the biggest boil of an owner since Marge Schott was dismissed.

So, there's that. We know how Roger Goodell would handle this — "Hey, we're thinking of making a touchdown worth EIGHT points and making a field goal worth the mathematical equivalent of pi. Thoughts?" — but the league's immediate future could be filled with peril.



  • photo
    Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works in the first inning of a baseball game against Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, May 19, 2014 in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Nothing gets by Frank Wren. Speaking to Mark Bradley of the AJC, Wren says the Braves offense is struggling.

Well, yes, yes it is. Thank you doctor, would you like to see his chart.

Wren also said there is no immediate plan to move Danny Struggla, which makes since considering he would have to get on base for him to move. Wait, that's something different.

Granted a night when the Braves score a week's worth of runs in a 9-3 win hardly seems the time for sarcasm but, hey, that's what we do.

The good: Hey, hitting can be fun. So can scoring. (Shut it Spy.) Every Braves starter got at least one hit save Chris Johnson and the Braves roughed up a quality starting pitcher in Wily Peralta. Good times. And Ramiro Pena got two hits, which means at .213, the Braves now have a second baseman hitting about the Uggla line. Yay.

The bad: Very little. Nice win. Complete effort against a good Brewers bunch.

The Uggla; Maybe it's a coincidence, but also very little. We're sure Danny Struggla was aces in BP and shagging flies before the game. Through the Braves 43 games, Uggla is 19-for-107 (.178) with two homers and 10 RBIs. Both homers and five of those RBIs game in an April 14 win over Philadelphia, which was the last time he drove in a run. Ouch-standing.


Breathe easy

So California Chrome gets to wear the strips over its nose.

If were part of team I'll Have Another (and in truth, we likely are an honorary member of any team named "I'll Have Another") we'd be running pretty hot right now, considering I'll Have Another was in this exact spot two years ago — one win from a Triple Crown — and the New York Gaming Commission did not allow that horse to use the breathing strip.

  • photo
    Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome is bathed after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 17.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

But Chrome was given a pass — and the sport's need for a potential Triple Crown winner was renewed.

What if Chrome decided that horse shoes with spikes were more comfortable? What if Chrome decided a jock strap made him more comfortable on long hauls?

Hey, we know very little about horse racing, and having Chrome involved certainly makes it more fun. But there was a clear and applicable precedent for this.

Heck, you know what they say in NASCAR — if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying. Maybe that's all of racing, huh?

Here is what Scott Palmer, New York State Gaming Commission equine medical director (that would fill a business card), wrote:

"I recommend that the stewards at state-based thoroughbred racetracks discontinue their ban on equine nasal strips. Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated.

"While there is research to indicate that equine nasal strips decrease airway resistance in horses and may decrease the amount of bleeding associated with EIPH to some degree, I am unfamiliar with any research indicating that equine nasal strips enable a horse to run faster with nasal strips than without them. In other words, there is no evidence they have a performance-enhancing effect."

That is roughly translated to, "Duh, we have to Chrome here. Do whatever it takes. Giddy-up"

Whatever. And if you are waiting for more of an explanation, well, don't hold your breath.


This and that

— Peyton Manning was arrested Monday. No a different one. It made us think of that ESPN commercial where the delivery guy knocking on Michael Jordan's door and the limo driver holding the "Michael Jordan" sign. What relatively common name of a celebrity would be the best? What would be worst?

— Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Open. Lucy Li is 11. Read that again. What were you doing the summer between fifth and sixth grades? We played a lot of Intellivision and ate a bunch of junk food. Wow.

— Tiger Woods said there is no date for his return. That's no good for golf, which has been consumed by faceless winners like Brendan Todd — SAA-Loot — and just crowned a new world No. 1 in Adam Scott, who ascend to the top spot after taking last week off. Grand.

— Brandon Marshall signed his three-year extension with the Chicago Bears on "The View" TV show. Take that Oprah.

— The Spurs overwhelmed the Serge-less Thunder. Difficult match-up for the scrappy Thunder in this one, no?


Today's question

In honor of the Spurs — side note: We have mistakenly typed Spurts and Lackers for NBA teams in today's ramblings; thought that as strange — let's name a Rushmore of dynasties since Y2K.

First we have to answer if an individual can be a dynasty? If the answer to that is yes, Tiger Woods is far left and Jimmie Johnson is next to him. If we are only talking team sports, we think it's UConn women's hoops then a mixture of the following of Tide football, the Spurs, the Pats and who else?

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jomo11 said...

Great story by Weeds on Donnie Tyndall and the legendary Bill Gleason. . . . but damn, that Tyndall dude sure looks like Chaz Bono so much it scares me. Have we ever seen Tyndall and Chaz Bono together ?

May 20, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
jgreeson said...

No Jomo.

We do not have documented evidence of Chaz and Donnie Knoxville in the same room at the same time.

Looking like someone can be a blessing and a curse. Goodness knows how many folks say we look like George Clooney. Or George Clinton.

Either way, it's funky.

May 20, 2014 at 10:48 a.m.
Stewwie said...

The reader comments on other media sites' articles about the Sterling stuff are quite entertaining. I'm seeing close to a 50/50 split on whether Sterling should stay or go. One guy also noted that it seems out of whack that you can get charged with assault, rape, DUIs, drugs, dogfights, and other criminal activities, then get punished yet welcomed back to your league. But heaven forbid that you make non-criminal comments in private about something. You'll get banned for life!

If the owners' vote is secret ballot, that might help Sterling's chances to staying in. And what's become of any investigation into the tape? Was it one of the tapes Sterling wanted recorded? Either way, it was his property and someone sold his property to TMZ for financial gain. The girl said she didn't do it, so either she's lying, or someone has illegally profited from this.

The Thunder came back in the 3rd quarter to take the lead on the Spurs briefly, but it really hurts them not having their rim protector (Ibaka) out there. Durant is having to play out of position at the 4 at times so that the Thunder can try to play to their strengths on the offensive end. The Thunder were able to come back from a 2-0 hole 2 years ago, but that was because the Spurs had no answer for Harden (who is no longer with the Thunder). Unless Ibaka makes a miraculous return, I don't see the Thunder winning this series.

Will be interesting to see how the Heat respond tonight.

May 20, 2014 at 11:13 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, did you see the condescending comment Woods had toward the media yesterday? And I quote: "Woods even joked that he wished he could join reporters on the course for their media day rounds — 'even though I don't like to play with you guys.'"

Which I'm sure drew nothing but guffaws from a sycophantic press corps that no matter how much feet kissing they do of Woods will never, ever get an exclusive or get to peek behind the curtain or play video games with Tiger.

Hey, Tiger, the ex-Mrs. got her a degree. And we know she can take a full swing with a 9-iron right now. How bout you?

And Brandon Marshall, uh, could you, uh, produce your man card for us? Thanks. We, uh, kinda need to take a look at it for a sec.

5, for all that talk about Uggla's spring training numbers, almost all of his offensive production has come in one game since, as you so succinctly pointed out. That in itself is condemning enough. Right now, the Braves are wasting a roster spot if they intend to let a multi-million dollar second sacker pick splinters out his beehind the rest of the season.

May 20, 2014 at 12:48 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

That final graph was gold.

Stewwie —

Yes, we're very excited to see how Mr. LBJ responds.

May 20, 2014 at 1:54 p.m.
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