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Sports Watching & Wondering


The whole world officially said goodbye to Michael Jackson, on July 7, 2009. The main ceremony was held at Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. It may offer some consolation to his family, now that they realize that he had become the most popular personality in the history of the world. I must confess that I was greatly impressed by his enormous talent, but I am absolutely shocked by the totality of the worldwide response to his passing. Michael Jackson, the world thanks you.

Let me see if I can get back to some of the issues that sports fans like. Tiger Woods won his golf match last Sunday. It does show up as a win, but it was not easy for him. His main opponent had already finished the match, so Tiger knew what he had to do to either win or lose. It was nervous time, but he kept his focus and his poise, and delivered another victory. It appears that now he is close to being fully recovered from his surgery. That has to be a scary thought for other members of the PGA Tour. I think that the Lakers made a huge mistake by signing Ron Artest, instead of Trevor Ariza. He does have the three things that the team is looking for, tough defense, rebounding, and the ability to score. He does have all of those, but he has been a problem child in the NBA for the past 10 years. He is among the league leaders in personal and technical fouls. The management of the Lakers has decided that Artest and Bryant can coexist. Looking at the situation, I say that is very unlikely. So, now the team has a new player, who always appears to be on the brink of getting into serious trouble. They already had Odom, who seems to play well in one game, of the five that he participates in. No one seems to be certain if it is because of the lack of motivation, or that he needs to have a sugar high before and during the game. He was earning about $14 million last year, let me correct that. He was being paid $14 million last year, and doing enough work to earn between $5 and $7 million. The disparity between salary and effort did not seem to bother him. Now that the Lakers apparently want to pay him for what he actually does, he feels that it is not enough. It is my observation, that a team is more likely to win a championship, when everyone on it does his level best every game.

Trevor Ariza was in his third year in the NBA. He played just one year at UCLA, before becoming a professional. His play, especially in the latter part of the season, was surprisingly good and it helped his team win the NBA Championship. He will likely be a much better player next year, and his combination of speed and athleticism are hard to match. I have great respect for the Lakers and Mitch Kupchak, and he knows all of the reasons why he chose to make this deal. I don't know the details. However, I do know that about 99% of talented, troubled players turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. I hope that I am wrong about Artest, but right now, I have my doubts.

Every year, there is a Media-Industry Conference, in Sun Valley Idaho. They have an annual attendance of about 260 of the world's most powerful and influential people. This year, for example, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will be in attendance, as usual. There is a very young man, who has announced that he will become a billionaire. He will be attending the Conference this year, for the first time. His name is LeBron James, and he plays professional basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He will be meeting with and observing the billionaires, since he wants to learn how they do what they do.

Most of the professional athletes, who retire, have not already started their second careers. Some of them have not even begun to think about what they will do when their athletic careers are over. Most of the careers have ended by the time they are 30 years old. So, they still have a lot of energy, they usually have some resources, and some suddenly, unplanned time on their hands. Many of them are severely undereducated, since they attended third-rate schools, and even there, they were not required to study. So, for the most part, they do not plan on getting any additional education, since they do not know how to study. How is this ex-athlete going to spin this suddenly available extra time? He is likely bored and depressed, and the people who would have a good influence on him, are at work every day. So, hanging out and partying becomes his new way of life. All of you know the story, because you read it weekly, if not daily.
To my way of thinking, the friendly way that MLB has treated Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and other stars after they tested positive for illegal substances, just emphasizes the personal vendetta that Commissioner Selig had against Barry Bonds.

Bonds has not gone to trial yet, so he has not been convicted of anything. Bonds deserves the opportunity to see if he could still be a productive player, but none of the teams will even talk to him. It is as if he never existed.

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