Friday, January 24, 2003

DETAILS, DETAILS: NBA gossip king Peter Vecsey fills in the blanks for the recent nonsensical-seeming Rasheed Wallace suspension:

One of the most important precepts taught to officials is not to provoke a confrontation, and walk away should one occur. Yet another reason I couldn't be a ref.

Evidently, Tim Donaghy can't walk away from trouble, either. When Rasheed Wallace verbally abused him as he was leaving the Rose Garden Jan. 15 an hour after the Grizzlies-Blazers game with his partners (Javie and Scott Wall), he met venom with venom.

So, I presume Donaghy wasn't exactly startled when 'Sheed's spew of vile escalated in intensity. In an idyllic setting, he doesn't need much of a motive to snap, crackle and pop at a teammate, coach or an official. Imagine 'Sheed's anger when challenged by a ref.

It wasn't pretty. According to sources, 'Sheed went totally ballistic, cursing Donaghy's and threatening him with violence. Somehow, onlookers were able to restrain him, and the three refs took the opportunity to pass through the arena doors onto the loading dock. That's when 'Sheed took a menacing run at Donaghy and faked an intimidating, roundhouse punch. Involuntary muscle reaction and common sense compelled him to cover up.

"I knew you'd flinch, you punk (fill in the blanks), 'Sheed ranted incoherently, earning him a well-warranted seven-game suspension.

At the same time, thankless job aside, a number of refs, including Donaghy, are not helping their cause, or evoking spasms of sympathy by bungling critical calls . . . worst yet, taking pride in being belligerent. That's the longest and loudest complaint heard today from all slants of the sphere.

Via Lang Whitaker, who also takes on ESPN today:

Oh, and to call the worldwide follower in sports out...last night on SportsCenter, and then again today on, they said that LeBron James has said he won't play for the Cavs since they fired John Lucas. And two people emailed me this quote from today's NBA Outsider column, where you pay money and then don't find out any good trade rumors. They said:
"The aftermath of the John Lucas firing continues to haunt the Cavs. The latest? High school phenom LeBron James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer Thursday that he won't play for the Cavs if they draft him with the No. 1 pick. That's a huge blow to a team that traded away its best player and basically tanked the season just to get a 25 percent chance of landing Bron Bron."
My question is, When did LeBron say this? Because the story I read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted "a source close to the St. Vincent-St. Mary team," and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer even mentioned, "Although James has not said so publicly..." So where did LeBron tell them anything? Let's don't go putting any words in LeBron's mouth, please. I know ESPN's huge, but surely someone there went to journalism school and learned that you're not allowed to just make up quotes from people. Come on...

This is different from the Sportsfilter argument contra ESPN--which is that it's this huge Microsoft-esque corporation threatening to monopolize people's choices for sports information--but I prefer an argument where ESPN is taken to task for actual shortcomings, not for market share oppressiveness. Which is also the kind of anti-Microsoft arguments I prefer.

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