A Case of the Mondays
Recapping the important events of the weekend...
-Lebron James scored 44 points against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and had at least one addition to the highlight reel of his short career. In a sequence that is already being overhyped, Lebron swatted a layup by Leandro "Captain" Barbosa and then ran the length of the court to throw one down. Strong and smooth, LBJ also hit threes and runners with ease. It's truly amazing this guy is just 21 years of age. If he was a Cuban baseball player, we would be speculating that he doctored his birth certificate and was actually closer to 30. Anyway, the show was quite impressive, but was overshadowed by the fact that King James was wearing full length tights, made (in)famous earlier this year by Kobe Bryant.
- Flip Saunders has the easiest coaching job in sports, excluding manager of any baseball team. After a 102-93 victory over the Lakers Sunday, his Pistons team is so good, it will be a HUGE upset if they don't win the NBA championship. During television timeouts, he must be hard pressed to find things to talk about. "Keep up the good work, guys. OK, let's do that play where Rip runs around in a big circle with everyone setting picks for him. If that isn't there, Tayshaun, you just post up whoever is guarding you. If we don't make the shot Ben, just throw the ball off the glass, maybe we will get a lucky bounce and it will go in. 'Sheed, leave Darko alone, he's not a toy. Can you believe they pay me $5 million a year to do this??? OK, take the next 4 minutes to discuss amongst yourselves." The Pistons already had Larry Brown's defensive teaching permanently burned into their memories, so all Flip had to do was open up the offense just a bit to get on the players' good side. Sometimes, less is more.
- The Detroit Lions named Donnie Henderson defensive coordinator. Henderson, who filled the same position with the New York Jets for the past 2 years, is supposedly just as fiery and intense as new head coach Rod Marinelli. Let's hope the two coaches never disagree, for fear it might get ugly ("I said Cover 2! Donnie, you're out of your element! That's it, push-up contest!!!"). Henderson seems well qualified and has experience coaching with Marinelli in the college ranks. In fact, Marinelli was also an assistant coach at Utah State while Henderson played defensive back at the school.
For Henderson's offensive counterpart, the Lions have had discussions with Mike Martz, former head coach of the St. Louis Rams. Martz, who just removed himself as a possibility for the Oakland Raiders head coaching vacany, will supposedly have an answer for the team Monday. Hiring Martz would have to be interpreted as good news for the Lions since he has been labeled as an offensive genius. It would also be quite a coup for Marinelli, who initially had trouble filling his staff. Mad Mike would first need to decide if he can salvage Joey Harrington and then devise ways to best use the rest of Detroit's considerable young talent.
So why would Martz take a coordinator job? Well, I'm not so sure that he will, but if he does it will be because he believes he can fix the offense right away, and turn that success into a new head coaching gig quickly. Also, Martz can't stay away from the game; after being forced to take a break from the Rams because of health issues, he tried calling Ram assistants during a game to offer advice on which plays to run. Too bad that even Martz can't make Mike Williams faster or get Charles Rogers to put down his bong.
In other Detroit coaching news, Steve Mariucci said that he would take "a long time off" from coaching football, presumably to spend the $10 million still owed to him over the next 2 years. Mooch would not comment about reports that he recently bought a quaint, little bungalow in Saugatuck with Tom Izzo.
- Tiger Woods came back and won the Buick Invitational Sunday, outlasting Hamish "Mulligan" McGregor and Dominic "the Don" Donatello in a playoff. I wonder if it is possible for the PGA to cater its first event of the season to Tiger any more than it already does. Woods had won the event three times previously, has played the course frequently since he was a child, and the event is sponsored by Buick (a company which also sponsors Tiger) just to make sure he shows up every year. It is almost as if they want him to win, or that he's good for ratings or something. Sarcasm aside, it worked out beautifully for the PGA when, as scripted, Tiger got hot and charged from behind to steal the win. At 30, Woods has at least 15 more prime years of golf left in him. For most golf fans, this means at least 15 more years of half-hearted interest in PGA events followed by lengthy naps, only ending just in time to see Tiger try on a jacket or shake hands with the competition.
- Mike Piazza joined the San Diego Padres, signing a one year, $2 million contract. The 2005 National League West champs will let him catch 90-100 games in 2006, with Piazza also playing some first base and DH-ing during interleague play. I actually like this signing; Piazza would have led the team in homers last year with 19 in 398 at bats. However, I do question why the Padres chose to get even older this offseason. Currently, the Padres are counting on Piazza (37), Vinny Castilla (38), Ryan Klesko (34), Woody Williams (39), Dave Roberts (33), Brian Giles (35), Chan Ho Park (32), Mike Cameron (33), Trevor Hoffman (38), Doug Brocail (38), Doug Mirabelli (38), Eric Young (38), and Shawn Estes (32) to be regular contributors in 2006. Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia round out the bullpen. Sadly, the Padres might still be the favorites to win the division.
- Predictably, the unstoppable Roger Federer beat Marco "Bombs Over" Baghdatis in the finals of the Australian Open. He has now won 7 of the past 11 major events and is beating down the competition like Samir and Michael Bolton did the copy machine. Meanwhile, Baghdatis went home to girlfriend Camille Nevieve, made an offering to Jeff Garcia (the patron saint of athletes with disproportionately hot girlfriends), and immediately forgot about the loss.
- The Winter X-Games are in full swing. This is the only sporting event where you will see an athlete use the phrase "sacked up" in an interview as moto rider Jeremy Stenberg did on Sunday night. Apparently, X-Games athletes reach their peak physical and mental condition at around age 16, which actually does lead to good entertainment. If you can stand constant pop-punk intros and the obligatory Mountain Dew commercial during every break, we recommend the Snocross and the Slopestyle events.