USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett's selection of Kevin O'Neill to be the new head basketball coach, came as a big surprise to me. I had lobbied and hoped that the job would go to local favorite Reggie Theus. I do know that Theus was one of the potential coaches who were interviewed for the job. I also think that he had become a serious candidate, before it was reported that he no longer wished to be considered for the job. No reason was given.
The entire USC Athletic Program is under an NCAA Investigation, and is possibly facing some very severe sanctions. This might include loss of scholarships, and possible forfeiture of games that they had already won. So, the University is waiting to see what their punishment will be. The uncertainty of what will happen to them has led to some of their would-be recruits asking for, and getting their releases from USC. Tim Floyd's resignation came so late, that all of the really successful coaches have already signed their contracts. There was a suggestion, that some of the more successful coaches, would be willing to sign with USC, if the contract gave them an "out clause", if they did not feel that they could live with the sanctions. I can understand why a good coach in a good situation, might not want to risk his career in an uncontrollable situation.
So, that being the case Garrett had to do what he could to make the best of a bad situation. If he could not hire a famous coach, then the next best thing would be to hire a tough one, someone like Gene Hackman in "Hoosiers." He needed a guy who had been around, who knew the game, and who was fearless. He also needed someone who understood, that this might be his last big chance. USC now welcomes Kevin O'Neill.
O'Neill is now 52 years old, and he had his first college head coaching job. He has had a variety of coaching jobs in both college and the NBA. This is not his first dance, so he understands that he will now have to drive over at least 100 miles of bad road. I get the feeling that he is mentally prepared to do that, without whining or complaining. I also think that he might understand how to turn the current negatives at USC into positives.
A great coach can tell a potential recruit, "We are going to have a tough time here, and I am looking for tough guys. If you are tough enough, you will enjoy being here. However, I will understand if you choose to go someplace, where other tough athletes have already done the heavy lifting. Even then, you may have to deal with some tough times. So, do you think that you are tough enough for USC?" This is what Vince Lombardi, John Thomson Jr., John Thomson III, Coach K, or Nolan Richardson would say to anyone who wanted to play for them. Tough times don't last, but tough players do, except for the Clippers.
My brother, ‘Mr. New Yorker' lives in Long Island, and my nephew, ‘Mr. Attorney' lives in Brooklyn. I contacted them last week to ask them to be sure that they would be good weather for Tiger at the Open last week. Each of them said "don't worry about it, no problem." So, since that problem was solved, I dedicated my time to the various celebrations for the Lakers. I turned on the television, and shocked to see that Tiger was trying to play golf, while he was swimming for his life. So, you may be absolutely certain that they are fearfully waiting to hear from me.
I think that if you took a poll of citizens in this area, he would find that Clippers Owner Donald Sterling is one of our least popular citizens. The team that he owns is the worst performing one in the history of the NBA. Recently he has been running large ads in the Los Angeles Times describing the various awards that he has recently received. He has been feted by the NAACP, The Black Business Association, and other prestigious organizations. It maybe mean of me to point out that he has not received any awards from the NBA, and most local sports fans would force them to sell the team to someone else, if they could. The NBA Draft is coming up this week, and the Clippers will most likely draft Blake Griffin, who was the best college basketball player in the nation last year. If you are a fan of this game, please don't get too excited. The Clippers Organization has the rare talent to be able to turn every positive into a negative, so they are likely to find a way to mess this up. Under normal circumstances, Blake Griffin could help to turn the Clippers around, but this is an organization beyond salvation. My apologies to Mr. Griffin, I wish that you were going to the Lakers. You will likely have to do a sentence of at least four years with the Clippers before you can escape. Please do what you can; we will be cheering for you. Try to stay as far away from Donald Sterling and Mike Dunleavy, as you can.