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Sports Watching & Wondering


African American news from Pasadena - Sports OpinionAt the beginning of March every year, 64 of the country's top collegiate basketball teams compete in a tournament. Before they are selected, experts have analyzed every aspect of their season, including their wins and losses, and the strengths of the schedules of their opponents. Pundits use thousands of hours of television time, explaining why one team should be favored to win it all. In addition, each team is assigned a rating number, from 1 to 64. The teams with the lowest ratings numbers are expected to win most of the games.

The usual suspects like Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, Syracuse, and Georgetown are usually highly rated. When you see how teams are rated, it does not make sense for some of the other teams to even bother. However, we have learned that strange things happen on the way to NCAA Championships. Some teams just don't understand, that they were not supposed to win. So, teams like Baylor, Butler Washington, Xavier, and St. Mary's show up and cause a lot of trouble.

At the end of the day on Saturday in Indianapolis, we will know the identity of the two teams that will play for the Championship. The game will be between the winner of the Michigan State and Butler game, and the winner of the contest between Duke and West Virginia. The Championship Game will be played on prime time television, next Monday night. I am breaking my long tradition of trying to pick the winner. I have been wrong so often this year that I think that I will save myself any further embarrassment. By the way, I think that President Obama should continue the tradition of inviting the ultimate winner to the White House. However, my unsolicited advice to him is to stop attempting to select the brackets of the tournament. He will never, ever be right, and to me, his involvement seems a little less than Presidential. He already has more than enough on his plate, so he should leave the selection to the fans.

In her divorce suit against Frank McCourt, Jamie McCourt is requesting $988,845.00 a month in temporary spousal support. For a simple boy from Texas, that seems like a lot of money. However, she has inspired me to ask for a raise, a big one.

The Lakers played the New Orleans Hornets on last Monday night. They lost by a score of 108-100. The performance of former UCLA star Darren Collison was quite outstanding. He scored 17 points in just 21 minutes. He also had three assists and three rebounds. From the point of view of his immediate future, I think that he is fortunate in that he did not wind up with the Lakers. Phil Jackson typically ignores rookie players for about the first five years of their careers. The only exception that comes to mind is Andrew Bynum. He was treated differently, in that the team hired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be his personal mentor. This approach has helped Bynum to become a starter at the tender age of 21. He can now have all of the playing time than he wants, if he can just stay healthy. One of the reasons that the Lakers are so eager to have Phil Jackson come back for at least another year, is that they fear that Kobe Bryant may not accept another coach.

The incredibly talented Bryant works as hard as he can to try to help the team win its games. That is the good side of him. However, the bad side is that everything must be done his way, or he will go into one of his pouts. He is free to take as many shots as he wishes, and is also free to yell at, or criticize his teammates. They do not enjoy the same privileges, and they know that. Bryant has decided that he will always be the one who takes a last shot. If he makes it, he will receive the praise and gratitude of all of the Lakers fans. If he misses it, then no one will discuss it. The biggest stars in any activity always receive the best treatment. That is the way it is, and everyone understands that.

However, as an athlete, Bryant demands more special handling than any other NBA player ever has. One of the results of this Kobe first policy is that the younger players are not given the opportunity and the encouragement to develop their talents.

So, they become perpetual benchwarmers, who play a few minutes in games from time to time. When they first joined the team, they showed flashes of brilliance, and the fans got excited about their futures. As time passes, they become seldom seen and little used. You remember Vujacic, Farmar, Brown, Walton, Powell, and Mbenga, don't you?

By the way, Paul Gasol is a great player. However, he is the puniest player that I have ever seen in the NBA. He does not seem to have a single muscle. If Sally Struthers ever met him, she would try to feed him. Will someone please take him to a gym, and have him lift some weights. Do not start them out with anything that weighs more than 1 pound. Marriage seems to have agreed with Lamar Odom. He is not only playing better on a consistent basis, but he is also doing a number of television commercials. Good for you, Lamar!

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