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March Madness Is Near
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
Countdown to the Super Bowl
--Just play the game…Eagles favored by 1.5 points as I write…Over/Under at 50/51, depending on who you are looking at.
--Tom Brady said he’ll begin his work as a broadcaster at Fox Sports in the fall of 2024, not before. Brady on Monday told Colin Cowherd that he wants to “Take some time to really learn, be great at what I really want to do [and] become great at thinking about the opportunity and making sure I don’t rush into anything.”
When Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced Brady’s deal last year, he said Brady would call games alongside lead play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and also work as an “ambassador” for the network with a focus on “client and promotional initiatives.”
As for Burkhardt, you can imagine how tired he is of handling the questions over Brady. He told Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand:
“The reality is other than being asked in every media interview that I have done, and I mean this on or off the record, I have not thought about Tom Brady as a broadcaster for 10 f---ing seconds.”
We learned Tuesday that Brady will not work the Super Bowl.
“He’s not going to be on our set,” Fox Sports executive producer Brad Zager said during an interview at the network’s media day. “He won’t be in the booth.”
--New AP Top 25 (records thru Sun.)
1. Purdue (38) 22-2
2. Houston (22) 22-2
3. Alabama (1) 20-3
4. Arizona (1) 21-3
5. Texas 19-4
6. Tennessee 19-4
7. UCLA 19-4
8. Virginia 17-4
9. Kansas 18-5
10. Marquette 19-5
11. Iowa State 16-6
12. Kansas State 18-5
13. Xavier 19-5
14. Baylor 17-6
15. St. Mary’s 21-4
16. Gonzaga 19-5
17. TCU 17-6
18. Indiana 16-7
19. Miami 18-5
20. Providence 17-6
21. UConn 18-6
22. NC State 19-5…first tanking in four years.
23. Creighton 15-8
24. Rutgers 16-7
25. San Diego State 18-5
I’d say the NCAA Tournament will be rather wide open.
--Monday, 9 Texas beat 5 Kansas 88-80. 19 Miami blasted Duke (17-7, 8-5) 81-59.
--Tuesday, 8 Virginia (18-4, 10-3) beat 22 NC State (19-6, 9-5) 63-50. 18 Indiana (17-7, 8-5) bested 24 Rutgers (16-8, 8-5) 66-60 in a biggie in Bloomington.
And 21 UConn (19-6, 8-6) picked up a big ‘W’ come tournament seeding time, beating 10 Marquette (19-6, 11-3) 87-72. Tristen Newton had a triple-double for the Huskies, 12-10-12.
Lastly, Wake Forest (16-9, 8-6) is back on the fringes of the conversation, according to Joe Lunardi, with its 92-85 win over North Carolina (15-9, 7-6), a potentially killer loss for the Tar Heels. For the Deacs, Tyree Appleby had the weirdest 35-point effort. Just 6 of 20 from the field, 0 for 6 from three, Appleby was 23 of 28 from the line, apparently an ACC record for both free throws made and attempts. Coupled with his 11 assists, he was also just the fourth player in the last 25 years in the ACC to have 30 points and 10 assists.
--LeBron did it. He’s the new all-time scoring champion, breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career record of 38,387 points, a feat that once had seemed impossible for anyone.
James broke the record on a fadeaway 2-point shot with seconds remaining in the third quarter against the Thunder.
But despite his 38 points, the Lakers lost a big one in their hunt for the playoffs, 133-130, OKC 26-28, L.A. 25-30.
--Literally like five minutes after I posted Sunday, the Nets announced the deal to send Kyrie Irving to Dallas, along with PF Markieff Morris, for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, and some future draft picks.
Stunningly, Kevin Durant and Irving only played 74 games together over three-plus seasons in Brooklyn. Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie only played 16 games together (13-3 W/L…as in the ‘what ifs’ are rampant).
What was once the NBA’s next super-team dissolving shockingly.
Kyrie was reportedly “ecstatic” and “looking forward” to joining Luka Doncic and the Mavs.
Kristian Winfield / New York Daily News
“Grand opening, grand closing.
“The superstar era in Brooklyn is over.
“When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets in the summer of 2019, the organization made it clear this team was built to win a championship.
“And by dealing Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick and a pair of seconds, the Nets are declaring the exact opposite.
“That no number of championships is worth the headache the organization knew would come with Irving the second they signed him to a four-year max contract.
“Make no mistake: This situation is largely of Irving’s doing. The Nets’ patience had already worn thin before this latest act, and who could blame Brooklyn? Irving appeared in less than half of all possible regular-season games since signing with the Nets.
“The excuses have been largely unrelated to basketball: He got suspended eight games this season for posting a link to an antisemitic film on his social media channels; he missed the first 35 games of last season and was ineligible to play at Barclays Center until late March due to his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid; not to mention he took two weeks off for ‘personal reasons’ after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the nation’s capital.
“There is a sizable subsection of both the organization and the Nets fan base with the feelings of ‘good riddance’ for a player who brought more drama than wins. The Nets only won one playoff series with Irving in town.”
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem possible. All the clamor, all the noise, all the drama, all the New-York-is-OUR-town-now rhetoric…and the Nets would up with 74 games worth of the Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving partnership. Seventy-four games.
“It’s kind of like learning that the original run of ‘The Honeymooners’ lasted for only 39 episodes. Of course, ‘The Honeymooners’ provided countless hours of happiness and laughter across those 39 episodes, those 19 ½ hours of brilliant TV. Ralph and Norton brought nothing but honor and good humor to the borough of Brooklyn.
“KD & KY?
“Nothing but ill feeling. Nothing but rancor. Nothing but an abundance of hope and a scarcity of actually memorable basketball. Seventy-four games. Seven postseason wins. One playoff-series victory. And acres and acres of off-court slapstick that has somehow made the clown-shoes the Nets have worn with rare exception since the day they were founded in 1967 seem even redder, even bigger, and even floppier than before.
“It’s almost hard to be this inept.”
So now it’s about Durant and whether he wants to stay.
But with Durant on the shelf a bit more due to his latest injury, the Nets have turned to Cam Thomas, who became the second-youngest to score 40 points in consecutive games, 47 in a losing effort Monday, 124-116 to the Clippers (31-26), Brooklyn falling to 32-21.
[Brooklyn then lost again, Tuesday, 116-112, even as Thomas scored 43, now the youngest ever with three consecutive 40-point efforts.]
Back to Kyrie, in his introduction to the press in Dallas on Tuesday following his first practice, Irving said he was “super excited and grateful for the opportunity” to team up with Doncic and begin a new chapter in his career.
And then: “I just know I want to be places where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated or dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected. There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected. I work extremely hard at what I do, but no one talks about my work ethic. Everyone talks about what I’m doing off the floor. I just want to change the narrative and write my own story.”
What a freakin’ jerk.
--Across town, the Knicks had a roller-coaster weekend at the Garden, losing another heartbreaker on their home court Saturday, 134-128 in overtime to the Clippers, but then on Sunday, they pulled off a mini-shocker against the Sixers.
You’d expect the Knicks to be drained from the prior night’s effort, and they were down 21 points early and came back, 108-97. A biggie for the 29-26 Knickerbockers, who are trying to get in the top six and stay there. The Sixers (34-18) had won nine of 10 coming in.
Make that 30-26, the Knicks beating the Magic in Orlando, 102-98.
--LeBron was not happy over the Lakers not acquiring Kyrie. He was just 36 points shy of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list as the Lakers hosted the Thunder Tuesday night, but the team was 25-29, 1 ½ games out of a play-in spot.
So, Sunday, after the Kyrie deal was announced, LeBron tweeted, “Maybe It’s Me.”
Saturday night, after Irving’s trade demand, James, who has distanced himself from any role in the Lakers’ front-office this season, said, “I’ve told y’all [for] a couple weeks, I don’t speak for our front office.”
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET, Thursday.
--The story of Ja Morant and his posse is more than a bit disturbing. Members of the Indiana Pacers’ travel party were “aggressively confronted” by acquaintances of superstar Morant after the teams’ game in Memphis on Jan. 29, according to a report by The Athletic.
Others than reported that multiple members of the Pacers told NBA investigators they saw a red laser dot pointed at them, a person familiar with the details told the Indianapolis Star and USA TODAY Sports. A Pacers security guard believed the laser was attached to a gun, The Athletic reported.
A league spokesman confirmed to the Star and USA that the league had performed an investigation. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said the incident was also “addressed internally” by the team.
Jenkins told the Memphis Commercial Appeal before Sunday’s game against the Raptors that the NBA “did a full investigation, we were fully complaint with it and I think they came out with a statement saying nothing was corroborated or found. That’s what I know and that’s all I’m going to comment on.”
Damichael Cole, the Grizzlies beat writer for the Commercial Appeal, reported that Morant and the Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard had a confrontation during the Jan. 29 game with the Pacers’ James Johnson (Go Deacs) also getting involved. Davonte Pack, a friend of Morant’s, was escorted off the floor.
League spokesman Mike Bass said the NBA investigation was unable to find evidence that anyone pointed a gun.
Morant responded to news of the investigation on his Twitter account Sunday evening:
“did a investigation seen they were cappin . still let a article come out to paint this negative image on me & my fam . & banned my brother from home games for a year . unbelievable”
[All spelling and punctuation on the above was correct.]
The Pacers declined comment to IndyStar about the incident, but one person who was present said to The Athletic, “We felt we were in grave danger.”
Fox Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe sharply criticized Morant for his response to the NBA investigating the matter.
On his show “Undisputed” Monday, Sharpe chided Morant about his friends and trying to put forth a harder image than what he is as an All-Star basketball player and one of the NBA’s bright young stars.
“I wish Ja would realize he’s not a thug. Ja is a really good basketball player. Ja did everything he could to lift himself and his family out of this environment and to get away from this,” Sharpe said. “And for some reason, he wants to surround himself with these types of people. Why? Bruh, you not hard. That’s not your life. People that (are) in that life would give anything to be in your life.
“You got a $200 million contract and you want people in the NBA to think you hood, to think you gangsta because you roll with these types of people. Bruh, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way when you don’t have to. Nobody looks at you, Ja, and thinks man that’s a thug, he’s hood, he’s down, he’s about that. You not. Stop pretending!”
Good advice. But now, think how hard it will be for Ja to break away from his loser posse. He’d be looking behind his back the rest of his life. As in, this guy blew it.
--Justin Rose ended a four-year drought on the PGA Tour at Pebble Beach Monday, a 3-shot victory over Brendon Todd and Brandon Wu for his 11th win, 23rd title worldwide over his very fine career.
The 42-year-old hadn’t won since Torrey Pines in 2019 and had fallen well out of the top 50. He’s been eligible for every major dating back to the 2010 Open, and that streak was in jeopardy until this win. Good for him.
Separately, it turns out there was some controversy in Aaron Rodgers’ Pro-Am win with partner Ben Silverman. Keith Mitchell, who teamed with Josh Allen, was not happy, commenting on Rodgers’ “crap” handicap.
Mitchell said: “I think Josh and I won. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t count. His handicap was crap.” And Mitchell, who finished T4 himself, was not smiling.
What I didn’t know when I wrote my comment congratulating Rodgers last time was that he plays to a 3.0 index at Green Bay Country Club, but for some reason was a ‘10’ at Pebble.
As Golf Digest put it, “The handicap police are officially on to him.” Former NFLer Larry Fitzgerald, a two-time winner of the Pro-Am, was also supposedly a notorious sandbagger.
--So now it’s on to the Waste Management Open, one of the new ‘elevated’ tournaments with a terrific field, at a course that always supplies drama, a perfect lead-in to the Super Bowl.
--So you know how the other week I wrote of how LIV Golf basically gives its tickets away, just to get folks to show up, because they at least must get some revenue off beer sales?
I was basically right. As reported by ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach Tuesday, “the circuit being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is generating virtually no revenue, according to federal court documents.
“The LIV Golf League’s attorneys made that admission in a motion filed with the U.S. District Court for Northern California on Monday….
“Former LIV Golf president and COO Atul Khosla told ESPN in October that the Public Investment Fund spent about $784 million bankrolling the circuit’s first season in 2022, including employee salaries, build-outs at tournaments and production costs for broadcasting LIV events on social media and its official website.
“Khosla, who resigned in December, said that total did not include guaranteed, multiyear contracts for players, which might be at least one-third of that.” [Like Phil Mickelson at a reported $200 million, and $150 million for Dustin Johnson.]
And LIV’s new television deal with the CW network is a revenue-sharing arrangement, with LIV not receiving rights fees, while LIV would continue to pay production costs.
--Premier League fans have known that there has been an ongoing sweeping investigation into Manchester City, some four years, but it was nonetheless stunning when the PL accused City of breaking multiple financial rules, with more than 100 charges over a nine-year span from 2009-2018.
City is also accused of not cooperating with the investigation.
The Premier League statement says City breached rules requiring them to provide “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position,” such as the club’s revenue, sponsorship revenue and operating costs.
City allegedly breached rules relating to UEFA regulations, including Financial Fair Play rules, and also did not properly disclose player and manager compensation.
City said it was “surprised” by the allegations and “welcomes the review of this matter by an independent Commission.”
In 2020, the club was banned from European competition due to FFP violations, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overruled that.
CBS Sports’ Jonathan Johnson: “The Premier League’s allegations would not be subject to the same sort of time sensitivity (as the 2020 issues) which makes it harder for City to bat them away. Also, Premier League rules would reportedly not allow for appeal to CAS by City. …Although City being kicked out of the Premier League is unlikely, a hefty points deduction should not be ruled out. …Given how long it has taken to piece all of this together, do not expect it to be over within a few months – this could really drag on for some time.”
But you would think the Premier League knows it has to act before the current season ends, or directly after. They can really do anything. They could boot them from the PL for next season, perhaps forcing them to earn their way back through the Championship League (not to be confused with the top-level Champions League), or any manner of penalty.
City has won the league the last two seasons and six times since 2011-12.
As Rory Smith of the New York Times put it:
“It is easy to lose sight of it, amid the arcane legalese and the stark list of rules and provisions and clauses that City is accused of breaking, but at the heart of the allegations made by the Premier League is a human cost.
“Sports only work if there is a common set of rules. It is possible, of course, to disagree with those rules, to feel that they are arbitrary or antiquated or written by a self-interested elite to protect their own positions, the view that City (among others) has taken of soccer’s attempts at cost control. And in some cases, that dissidence is more than legitimate.
“But the idea that when tyranny is law, revolution is duty does not hold, not in sports. It is not just that the integrity of the whole activity rests on a common acceptance of the rules – the assumption that everyone, be they teams or athletes, are competing under the same conditions – it is that the very meaning rests on it. The rules give the exercise purpose.”
--I always watch the Grammys and it was sure full of surprises, with awards in major categories to the likes of Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt. Beyonce made Grammy history, setting a record for the most career wins by any artist, after picking up a string of trophies for “Renaissance,” her hit album that mined decades of dance music.
But she once again was shut out of the major categories. Harry Styles took album of the year for “Harry’s House,” Lizzo won record of the year for her retro dance anthem “About Damn Time,” and song of the year went to Raitt for “Just Like That.” It was Beyonce’s fourth career loss for album of the year.
Nelson won for best country album and country solo performance.
What was shocking about this is while I heard many of Willie’s new songs on his Willie’s Roadhouse channel on Sirius, I never heard one on the current top country hits’ channels.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday after the Super Bowl.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted early Sunday p.m., ahead of late sports action.]
NBA Quiz: LeBron James next plays Tuesday night, 36 points from breaking Kareem’s all-time points record. James is also fourth all-time in assists. Name the others on the top ten assists list. Answer below.
--Lots of big action in college hoops Saturday, with No. 1 Purdue falling to 21 Indiana, 79-74, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers (16-7, 7-5) jumped out to a 50-35 lead, playing super defense, and then held on in the second half, forcing 16 turnovers and withstanding another monster effort from Zach Edey of the Boilermakers (22-2, 11-2), 33 points on 15 of 19 shooting, 18 rebounds.
So Purdue can be beaten after all…even when Edey does his thing. But they’ll remain No. 1 in the next poll.
2 Tennessee (19-4, 8-2) beat 25 Auburn (17-6, 7-3) in an awful game, Auburn just 13 of 55 from the field, 3 of 27 from three. The Vols were only 17 of 63, 2 of 21 from downtown! Olivier Nkamhoua, he of the boom/bust nature as I wrote the other day, was 4 of 16 from the field.
Tennessee lost last Wednesday to Florida, 67-54.
--The Big 12 is indeed the top conference in the land this season and it’s nothing but helter-skelter.
7 Kansas State (18-5, 6-4) fell at home to 10 Texas (19-4, 8-2), 69-66.
And 8 Kansas (18-5, 6-4) lost at 13 Iowa State (16-6, 7-3), 68-53.
So the Big 12 standings look like this….
10 Texas 8-2
13 Iowa State 7-3
15 TCU 6-4
7 Kansas State 6-4
11 Baylor 6-4
8 Kansas 6-4
Yeah, I’d say having six of the top 15 teams in the country qualifies the Big 12 for best conference.
--Elsewhere, 6 Virginia (17-4, 9-3) was upset by an improving Virginia Tech (14-9, 4-8) in Blacksburg, 74-68.
North Carolina (15-8, 7-5) lost at Duke (17-6, 8-4), 63-57, the Blue Devils’ Dereck Lively II, the 7’1” freshman from Philadelphia, with 14 rebounds and 8 blocks.
12 Gonzaga (19-5, 8-2) lost at 18 Saint Mary’s (21-4, 10-0), 78-70; further proof the Gaels are for real.
Rutgers (16-7, 8-4) had an important win over Michigan State (14-9, 6-6), 61-55, the Scarlet Knights a rather stunning second in the Big Ten behind Purdue.
Cliché alert…RU will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament! [Pssst…they are also capable of being taken out by a 12-seed in the first round.]
My Wake Forest Demon Deacons snapped their four-game losing streak at Notre Dame (10-13, 2-10), 81-64.
After falling behind 16-4, a disturbing pattern in the losing streak, the Deacs (15-9, 7-6) took off behind Damari Monsanto’s career-high 28 points, 8 of 13 from three. The kid is 41.5% from behind the arc this season.
But Wake is NIT bound, it seems rather clear.
Lastly, in Saturday’s play I cared about, Pete M.’s Colgate Red Raiders had their bubble burst, 61-60 at American University (15-8, 7-5), Colgate’s first loss in the Patriot League, 11-1…17-8 overall.
--At the Colorado State-Utah State game, the Colorado State fans, at least some of them, chanted “Russia” at the Aggies’ Ukrainian guard Max Shulga.
Shulga, from Kyiv, where his family still resides, went to the free throw line late in the game, and the “Russia” chants could be heard from the Rams’ student section.
Colorado State issued an apology after.
Shulga was 3-for-4 from the line in the final minute to help Utah State to an 88-79 win.
To the students who did this, you are the worst of America.
--ESPN’s Dick Vitale commented on LSU potentially changing the name of its court from Dale Brown Court, so named just last January for the legendary Tigers coach who won 448 games and reached two Final Fours at LSU.
According to a local media report, the LSU’s Board of Supervisors is meeting on Feb. 10 to adjust the name of the court to include former LSU women’s coach Sue Gunter.
Vitale: “How ABSURD – in Louisiana the Governor wants to change the name of the LSU basketball court that was named DALE BROWN COURT in a dedication ceremony about a year ago,” Vitale wrote on Twitter. “This is wacky. Dale deserved the honor & it finally was affirmed & now UGLY POLITICS (are) involved.”
FOX Sports broadcaster Tim Brando also weighed in in opposition.
“This is about political vendetta. Nothing more, nothing less. And it needs to be stopped before Louisiana looks really bad from a national standpoint, both in the news media and certainly in the sports media,” Brando told WAFB.
Brando also claims that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and LSU President William F. Tate are at the forefront in the apparent attempt to change the court’s name.
“You don’t name anything for someone and then tell them, ‘No, we’re going to change this just because,” Brando told WAFB.
Gunter retired after the 2004 season after leading the Tigers to its first Final Four that year. She died a year later.
--As if we didn’t already know, Kyrie Irving is one of the true assholes on the planet. Irving becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and his Brooklyn Nets entered play Saturday night, 31-20, fourth in the Eastern Conference despite being without Kevin Durant for a lengthy spell, during which time the Nets have gone 4-7.
So Irving picked now to demand a trade, the trade deadline being Feb. 9. That, my friends, is a [jerk].
Irving reportedly wants to go to L.A. to play with LeBron.
But think of it. Durant will be back soon and the Nets are right there. Just play out the season, Kyrie! Durant had decided to do just that earlier this year when he was disgruntled and he’s been the perfect team player when he’s been on the court, and Kyrie has played some spectacular basketball, both first-team All-Stars.
What will Durant now do, the Nets with zero shot without both Kyrie and K.D.?
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“The only way this surprises you, even remotely, is if you believed, to the very end, that Walter White was going to break good after six years of ‘Breaking Bad’ and not die defiantly in a hail of bullets. That’s how inevitable what happened Friday in Brooklyn was.
“You put your chips behind Kyrie Irving at your own risk, your own peril. Maybe you believe you will be the one to placate him, to please him, but there is always something else. Cleveland felt that way once. Boston, too. Those cities, those fans of the Cavaliers and Celtics tried to warn you:
“Don’t be hypnotized by the talent.
“Don’t be mesmerized by the skill.
“The Nets are learning that lesson now, again, for the umpteenth time since handing Irving the keys to the car 3 ½ years ago. Now he wants to be traded, and of course the demand by itself is as hollow as the one Kevin Durant issued, and then retracted, last summer and fall.
“The Nets can comply and admit, finally, the futility of harboring hopes of a parade down Flatbush Avenue that will never happen. Or they can lose Irving for nothing this summer, which is the one part of this threat he can actually go through with on his own once his contract expires.
“At this point, the Nets have to be weary of the games and the mind-fornications Irving specializes in. They sure ought to be. The Nets – and their most devoted fans – waiting for Irving to become a fully all-in members of the organization are like Kay Adams in ‘The Godfather,’ waiting for years for the Corleone Family to go strictly legitimate.
“It’s never going to happen.
“So the Nets have an easy decision here: simply do what they’ve done from the moment they welcomed Irving to town on July 1, 2019.
“Capitulate. Give him what he wants. They have fired two coaches to mollify him. They have molded their roster time and again to pacify his restless whims. They folded in the face of their tough-guy stance to keep him away from the team’s road games last year. They decided that, after 15 hard minutes of reflection this year, he’d changed his attitude toward Jews.
“They’ve allowed Irving to play them for fools long enough, so it is right to offer one final term of surrender. Trade him. Get what you can for him. Let him be someone else’s problem….
“There is always someone willing to take a chance on talent. Find them. Make the deal.
“End the charade, once and for all.”
Well, the Nets played the Wizards Saturday night in Brooklyn and Kyrie didn’t play. In fact, he wasn’t in attendance, an excused absence, Coach Jacque Vaughn said.
But playing without Kyrie, K.D., Ben Simmons and solid reserve T.J. Warren, 21-year-old Cam Thomas stepped up with 44 points in 29 minutes. Asked if he called Kyrie, Thomas asked, why?
“For what? That’s his business. I’m trying to get ready for a game. At the end of the day, he’s made the best decision for himself,” Thomas said. “And like I said [he’s] still my brother.”
But good for the Nets. Their fans are now just waiting to see what Durant will do. He should be back right after the All-Star game, if not before.
As for Kyrie, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, he’s prepared to sit out the remainder of the NBA season if the Nets don’t grant his trade request, which is really unbelievable to think about, not that the Nets would want him around at this point.
Smith said the Mavs, Suns, Lakers & Clippers are interested in acquiring Irving and signing him to some sort of deal.
***And I just saw, right after I posted...Kyrie was traded to the Mavs...more in my Add-on.
--The Warriors were on pins and needles Sunday as Steph Curry had an MRI for a lower left leg injury suffered in Saturday’s win over an undermanned Dallas Mavericks team missing star Luka Doncic, 119-113. Curry had 21 points and seven assists when he injured the leg defending a drive, with X-rays being negative.
Last I saw, he is likely out for weeks.
--The Eastern Conference All-Star reserves: Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo, Tyrese Haliburton, Jaylen Brown, DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday.
From the Western Conference: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Damian Lillard, Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Domantas Sabonis and Paul George.
--Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“When Tom Brady went fishing with his boy on a Sunday night midseason, you sensed the close could be coming. There was peace in the picture, and peace was not something the perpetually discontented Brady ever sought during his triumphalist, over-striving, tablet-hurling 23 NFL seasons. There was peace, too, in the simple, subdued self-made video he released announcing his retirement alone on a beach early Wednesday morning. Note that the sun was coming up on him, not going down.
“ ‘Good morning, guys. I’ll get to the point right away: I’m retiring, for good,’ he said.
“Brady leaves football seeming more emotionally worn out than physically, which is perhaps his most revolutionary act. It may be a more important legacy than his all-time passing records and forklift-heavy pallet of trophies. He’s the only player to win seven Super Bowls – and four of them came after his 37th birthday, proving that it’s possible to change the pace of how you age. His self-determined walk away into the sunshine is a victory over a ruinous game that would have stolen the jersey off his back years ago had he not been so calculatedly self-protective. Was he ruthless and selfish toward the end in seeking to maximize his talents, options, value and control? Certainly, but Brady is not different in that from any other league power broker, unusual only in that he wore pads and not a suit….
“In a pregame news conference before his last Super Bowl in February 2021, Brady mused on retirement and said; ‘I think I’ll know when it’s time. …I think I’ll know, and I’ll understand that I gave everything I could. …You put a lot into it. I don’t think I can ever go at this game half-assed. You know, I got to put everything into it. So when I put it all out there and I feel like I can’t do that anymore – I don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way that the team needs me – then I think that’s probably time to walk away.’
“His exhaustive, obsessive work at the smallest details allowed him to transfer his excellence from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and lift yet another Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl MVP award. What he brought to the Bucs’ culture was the example that ‘the little things mattered,’ his former coach Bruce Arians asserted. What Brady did was show the Bucs ‘why he wins,’ running back Leonard Fournette observed.
“But the commitment clearly wasn’t there this season; he finally declined to give all of himself. His unprecedented 11-day break from training camp, as it turned out because he was dealing with his impending divorce – and a shockingly visible weight loss that left him gaunt – should have been greeted with the humane and common-sense recognition that he was suffering badly. Instead, expectations remained the same, and he tried to shoulder them without once publicly admitting that he couldn’t possibly play with his usual relish for the grind.
“But you could see it in the taut, thin face, the profane outbursts of frustration on the sideline. Brady had remarked in a podcast interview after winning that seventh Super Bowl; ‘Sports is very real time. What you see on that field from me is really me; it’s not an actor. This is my life. These are my real emotions. This is real job. This is real anger. This is real disappointment. And those things are a really vulnerable place to be.’
“It’s apparent now that what NFL viewers observed in real time was a great champion struggling with vulnerability as his sports immortality ran bang into his human frailties. And it finally caused him to accept that, sometimes, that’s just how it goes. ‘I’m 45 years old, man. There’s a lot of shit going on. So you’ve just got to try to figure out life the best you can,’ he said when he came back to training camp.
“You hope that what Brady felt sitting on that sand dune filming his retirement announcement was a sense that he had figured his life out. You hope that he has finally laid down his all-in-ness and can go on peaceably to less rigid and obsessive pursuits – such as fishing with his son on a Sunday, a simple and commonplace pleasure in the week of an ordinary middle-aged man.”
So the big story in Brady’s retirement is the ripple effects.
Brady was thought to be a candidate to go to Vegas or San Francisco, the Raiders primed to part ways with Derek Carr. Jimmy Garoppolo could now go to Vegas.
Or Garoppolo could go to Tampa Bay.
As for the Jets, Aaron Rodgers could still be traded to them, but the Jets could land Carr or even Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, should he become available.
But they want Rodgers, only with Brady retiring, there’s a lot more competition for him, ditto more competition for Carr (who I’d be very happy with, though I want Rodgers).
Except I didn’t know this about Carr. He has a 0-7 record in games where the temperature was 36 degrees or lower. Which has some saying he’ll go to the Saints, where he gets 8 or 9 games guaranteed in the Superdome. The Saints also play the Falcons, Buccaneers and Panthers, so little cold weather impact with these (let alone the Falcons are in a dome).
Rodgers could end up in Vegas with his favorite receiver, Devante Adams, who is very publicly calling for his former teammate to join him.
Tennessee needs a quarterback, after they release Ryan Tannehill. Garoppolo could end up there.
Back to San Fran, with the injury to Brock Purdy, and Trey Lance’s injury issues, Rodgers could go there.
Carr could go to Tampa Bay.
Isn’t this fun?
Of course it would be very Jets-like for them to come up empty, and have to settle for a Tannehill.
Lastly, for now, it’s just been assumed the Giants would sign Daniel Jones to a big extension, but Jones can go anywhere….and some of us Jets fans have mused, why wouldn’t he sign with us and stay in the area he’s comfortable in?
Well that seems highly doubtful, but with Brady’s retirement, Jones has a ton of options.
Meanwhile, Brady has this massive FOX Sports contract that he can jump headfirst into at any time, no doubt in some fashion at the Super Bowl.
But next season, does his staggering $37.5 million per year deal mean he will replace current No. 1 game analyst Greg Olsen, who teams with Kevin Burkhardt?
I’ll say the following year. Which will be too bad, because Olsen has proved to be very solid (while Tony Romo has been erratic at CBS with Jim Nantz, as everyone has observed this season).
And as others have said, Burkhardt and Olsen have chemistry – like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman – that is hard to replicate.
--Eagles offensive lineman Josh Sills was indicted by a grand jury on one count of rape and one count of kidnapping, both first-degree felonies.
This is an Ohio case that goes back to December 2019.
The alleged crime (engaging in sexual activity that was not consensual and holding the victim against her will) was immediately reported, according to a release by the court.
The NFL put Sills on the commissioner’s exempt list and he is not permitted to participate in practices or games or travel with the Eagles while on the list.
Sills only appeared in one game for the Eagles, but what gets me is he was attending West Virginia when he committed the act, and then transferred to Oklahoma State in 2020. He was an undrafted free agent out of OSU this offseason.
Who knew what, when?
--The Cowboys would appear to be all in on Dak Prescott, despite his generally crappy season, a league-leading 15 interceptions in just 12 games.
But via NJ.com, I saw this quote from the Dallas Star Telegram from Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones:
“Obviously, Dak is the key guy on this football team, first and foremost. No one respects him more than Jerry and myself. I think we were just counting, you’re going to have 12-13-14 quarterbacks making $40+ million bucks when you look up. He deserves to be in that category. But when someone on any of those 13-14 teams is making that kind of money, you’re always talking about what he’s making. The bigger thing for us is Dak is going to be our guy for, hopefully, the next 10 years. You say, ‘that’s a long time’ because he’s already played 6 of 7. But I think Dak will play that long because he takes care of himself and he’s driven to be great and we fully expect him to be here for 10 years.”
Well, that will be ten more years without getting to the Super Bowl, is my guess.
--Bengals running Joe Mixon was accused of holding a woman at gunpoint and threatening to shoot her last month.
Well, as we say in the ‘burbs, that’s not nice.
A warrant was issued Thursday for Mixon’s arrest.
Police said Mixon pulled a gun on the woman in downtown Cincinnati on Jan. 21 and told her, “You should be popped in the face. I should shoot you, the police [can’t] get me,” according to the warrant obtained by local ABC affiliate WCPO.
But get this…the incident occurred one day before the Bengals played the Bills in the playoffs, which they won before being eliminated by K.C.
Incredibly, though, Mixon, 26, was charged with one count of aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor. His agent claimed the charge would be dropped Friday morning.
And it was. It seems the police screwed up in one form or another and if the victim so desires, the charge could be refiled. The Cincinnati Police Department said new evidence has been recovered and an ongoing investigation is still permitted.
In 2014, Mixon was caught on camera punching a woman in the face at a restaurant after an alleged use of a racial slur. The woman, and Mixon, were students at the University of Oklahoma at the time. Mixon in that case received a deferred sentence and community service.
--Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was finally cleared from concussion protocol on Wednesday, more than a month after he entered it for the second time of the season on Dec. 26, a day after the Dolphins’ 26-20 Christmas Day loss to the Packers. He appeared to hit the back of his head against the ground when he was tackled, but he remained in the game. Tua then sat out the rest of the season.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tua is “confident he’ll be 100% when the time comes for football.”
But a lot of us would love to see him hang it up. It was a brutal season for him and his brain. He was knocked unconscious during Week 4. He was stretchered off the field and didn’t return until Week 7.
Four days before the Bengals game in Week 4, he had taken another hard hit. He appeared to show concussion symptoms, but was evaluated and stayed in the game, drawing criticisms of why he was allowed to return.
It’s estimated Tua actually suffered at least four concussions this season.
--We note the passing of legendary NFL executive Bobby Beathard, who died at his home at Franklin, Tenn. He was 86…complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to his son, Casey.
Beathard had that blond, California surfer boy look, having been a surfer since childhood. He refused to don a tie and sports jacket, let alone a suit, and his everyday attire of shorts and jogging shoes gave him a sort of rakish affability.
But he was a master of sports administration, a skillful negotiator and had an uncanny intuition about the promise of many young players.
In a career spanning almost four decades in the NFL, his teams won 10 division titles, seven conference championships and four Super Bowls.
As head of the Miami Dolphins’ scouting operation from 1972 to 1977, he worked with coach Don Shula to build the Dolphins dynasty. In Beathard’s six seasons they won two Super Bowls. Shula later said, “He’s a guy with a great eye for talent… And he found some kids for us nobody else would take a chance on. He wasn’t ever afraid to take a risk.”
His years in Washington, from 1978 to 1988, formed the centerpiece of his legacy and one in which he cemented his reputation as a nonpareil talent scout. It was a decade in which he hired a little-known NFL assistant, Joe Gibbs, as head coach and formed one of the league’s dominant franchises, taking three trips to the Super Bowl and winning twice. By the end of his tenure, Sports Illustrated had dubbed him the “smartest man in the NFL.”
Eventually, Gibbs and Beathard had some disagreements over player personnel issues and Beathard was hired by the Chargers in 1990, where he proceeded to rebuild that franchise, his first draft pick as GM being Junior Seau, the USC great who went fifth overall to San Diego in 1990. Like Beathard, Seau ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Beathard as a contributor in 2018).
The Chargers made the postseason during Beathard’s third season, and two years after that, they advanced to the Super Bowl, a 49-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It remains the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance.
--I got a kick out of 247Sports’ final rankings on the recruiting classes.
1. Alabama, with nine 5-stars! 18 4-star
2. Georgia…5 and 17
5. Ohio State
10. Notre Dame
13. Penn State
And then way down as usual, the Deacs….
50. Oregon State
53. Wake Forest
Wake has zero 5-star, one 4-star, and 19 3-star recruits. That’s what Coach Dave Clawson specializes in. Taking 3-stars and turning them into 4-stars over time. I still have nightmares over last season and ‘what could have been,’ but the fact is we’ve gone to seven straight bowl games, which isn’t too shabby for the smallest football school in the Power Five.
--Poor weather conditions have led to a Monday finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and after three rounds we have….
Justin Rose -12
Peter Malnati -11
Kurt Kitiyama -11
Keith Mitchell -10
But very cool Aaron Rodgers won the Pro-Am with his pro partner, Ben Silverman.
--That was a scary deal at Pebble Beach on Friday, when a caddie for one of the amateurs playing alongside pros Beau Hossler and Max McGreevy collapsed on the 11th hole.
The caddie was apparently working for Pebble Beach businessman Geoff Couch and the group had just teed off when the caddie collapsed.
McGreevy said the caddie collapsed in the middle of the fairway and they attempted to get his bag off him quickly so medical assistance could be rendered. The caddie received CPR and was placed on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.
Country singer Lukas Nelson, the other amateur in the group, told ESPN the caddie was doing better and taken to a local facility for tests.
Hossler and McGreevy requested time to regroup so other players played through before they resumed their second round.
--Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith both missed the cut at the Saudi International, Lefty’s first start in three months, having vowed to be a better golfer this year.
But as Tod Leonard of Golf Digest pointed out, you have to go back to Mickelson’s start last year in the Saudi International to find his last made cut in a 72-hole event, when he finished T-18. In a handful of starts on the PGA Tour last year, Mickelson made only one cut, tying for 36th in the season-opening Fortinet Championship in September 2021. He followed with a T-30 in the no-cut Sentry Tournament of Champions, then missed cuts in the American Express, Farmers Insurance Open, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Mickelson’s last top-10 finish in a tournament with a cut is when he won the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah.
LIV golfer Abraham Ancer won the tournament, wire-to-wire, as Cameron Young finished two shots back.
This was an Asian Tour event so many of the LIV golfers were in it. Young only got to play because he received a conflicting event release from the PGA Tour to play. He now heads to back-to-back elevated events on the tour in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
--New Everton manager Sean Dyche enjoyed a dream start as his boys stunned Arsenal at a raucous Goodison Park, 1-0.
Dyche was appointed just last Monday following the departure of Frank Lampard, who was sacked with Everton in the relegation zone.
So this meant after we had already crowned Arsenal as champion, with basically half the season to go, that their lead at the top would suddenly be cut to just two points if Manchester City beat Tottenham today.
But my Spurs won it 1-0 on a Harry Kane at 15’ and then held on for dear life in an exciting second half, despite it being scoreless, Tottenham playing one man down the final 9 minutes or so.
For Kane, the goal was momentous as he became Tottenham’s all-time leading scorer at 267, one ahead of Jimmy Greaves, and it was also his 200th Premier League goal, just the third to hit that level behind Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).
Good for Harry, and great he could do it at home. The missed penalty kick in the World Cup, for one day at least, put in the past.
I also have to note that Tottenham’s manager, Antonio Conte, was out following gallbladder surgery, so very sweet for his assistant, Cristian Stellini, as well.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fans are breathing a sigh of relief and tonight, I could walk into an Arsenal pub with my Tottenham shirt and receive free pints.
--Saturday, the Wolves blasted Liverpool 3-0, sending the Reds down to 10th place!
Standings 20/22 of 38…played – points….
1. Arsenal…20 – 50
2. Man City…21 – 45
3. Man U…21 – 42
4. Newcastle…21 – 40 …Champions League cutoff
5. Tottenham…22 – 39
9. Chelsea…21 – 30
10. Liverpool…20 – 29
16. West Ham…21 – 19
17. Leeds…20 – 18 …relegation line
18. Everton…21 – 18
19. Bournemouth…21 – 17
20. Southampton…21 – 15
--Ford confirmed rumors on Friday that it was returning to Formula One to partner with Red Bull, currently the series’ top team and the employer of its reigning champion, Max Verstappen. In the new arrangement, Ford and the Austrian drinks company will join forces to design a new power unit ahead of the 2026 season, which is when there is a fundamental shift in engine rules, when teams must become reliant on 100 percent sustainable fuels and, crucially for Ford at least, greater electric power.
As the New York Times reported, that looming shift has lured German car manufacturer Audi to Formula One. Porsche is considering joining the fray, as is General Motors. Ford, which left Formula One almost two decades ago, was looking for a way back in.
While Ford CEO Jim Farley described the partnership as “a tech exchange,” clearly Ford is interested in tapping into a new audience, as Formula One’s popularity has grown, due in no small part to a Netflix series. America is getting a third race this season; a first Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The Netflix series, “Drive to Survive,” has made F-1’s drivers stars and has brought in a whole new fan base, a young one, and a much broader demographic, and it only makes sense that a Ford (and later GM) would want to be part of it.
So look for some very cool commercials, for one, in the years to come.
--A Sumatran tiger believed to have attacked and injured farmers in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh was captured Saturday after a days-long hunt.
It comes after two separate tiger attacks in the same town over the past week left at least four people seriously injured.
The animal entered a trap set by conservationists inside a forest preserve. It was found to have several wounds on its body.
“One of the victims said he injured the animal when he was being attacked and was defending himself,” the head of the conservation agency said.
The big cat was found with a gaping wound on its face. We wish it a speedy recovery and a hoped for resumption of the mayhem.
--The Biden administration took a first step Friday toward ending federal protection for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which would open the door to future hunting in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said state officials provided “substantial” information that grizzlies have recovered from the threat of extinction in the regions surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.
But federal officials rejected claims by Idaho that protections should be lifted beyond those areas.
Martha Williams, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, told the head of Montana’s wildlife agency that a law allowing grizzlies to be killed if they attack livestock was inconsistent with the state’s commitment to bear conservation.
Republican lawmakers in the region in recent years also adopted more aggressive policies against gray wolves, including loosened trapping rules that could lead to grizzlies being inadvertently killed.
Bar Chat is against such moves. Wolves and Grizzlies rule! ‘Man’ blows.
As many as 50,000 grizzlies once roamed the western half of the U.S., until they were brought to the verge of extinction through hunting and trapping. Today, there are a reported 2,000 bears in the Lower 48, with much larger populations in Alaska, where hunting is allowed.
--A 16-year-old girl died after being attacked by a shark while swimming in a river in Western Australia. She was pronounced dead after being pulled from the Swan River, in the Perth suburb of Fremantle, on Saturday.
It is believed the girl, from Perth, was riding jet skis with friends on the river when the incident happened. An official from the Western Australia Police said it was possible she jumped in the water to swim with dolphins seen nearby.
Inspector Paul Robinson described the incident as “very, very traumatic.”
Fisheries experts say it is unusual to find sharks in that part of the river. It is believed to be the first fatal shark attack in the Swan since a 13-year-old boy was killed in January 1923…as in 100 years ago.
Australia had two fatal shark attacks in 2021, and seven in 2020. There was just one in 2022.
Late word is authorities suspect it was a bull shark.
--We note the passing of actress Melinda Dillon, 83. She will forever be known as Ralphie’s mother in “A Christmas Story.”
Prior to the role, she had been in a number of films and Broadway productions, receiving a Tony nomination in 1963 for her Broadway debut as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Darren McGavin, “The Old Man,” aka Ralphie’s father, died in 2006, also at the age of 83.
--Bobi, from Portugal, claimed the title of the world’s oldest dog after reaching the venerable age of 30, according to Guinness World records. His breed, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, usually lives for around 12 to 14 years. Bobi’s long life was very nearly cut short; his owners intended to put him down as a puppy but he escaped.
He’s been guarding livestock all his life, and his longevity is apparently due in part to eating human food, his owners said.
Top 3 songs for the week 2/5/77: #1 “Torn Between Two Lovers” (Mary MacGregor) #2 “Car Wash” (Rose Royce) #3 “Dazz” (Brick)…and…#4 “New Kid In Town” (Eagles) #5 “Hot Line” (The Sylvers…dreadful…) #6 “Blinded By The Light” (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) #7 “Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)” (Barbra Streisand) #8 “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) #9 “Enjoy Yourself” (The Jacksons) #10 “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith…C week…)
NBA Quiz Answer: Top ten all-time assists….(thru Saturday’s play)
1. John Stockton 15806
2. Jason Kidd 12091
3. Chris Paul 11271
4. LeBron 10351
5. Steve Nash 10335
6. Mark Jackson 10334
7. Magic Johnson 10141
8. Oscar Robertson 9887
9. Isiah Thomas 9061
10. Russell Westbrook 8984…moved into top ten this week, as LeBron moved into fourth.
11, Gary Payton 8966
Brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed.