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Sports Watching and Wondering

TROUBLED & CONFUSED!

Black news from Pasadena - Sports - Boston Marathon tragedy, Lakers, USC women's basketball, '42' movie news In today's troubled world, there has been a blending of sports and tragic events. It does not seem possible to me to cover one without the other. Just when you least expect it, something horrible happens.

Someone chose to explode two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It takes a lot of planning and work to build and transport bombs. There is also some danger that the bombers might blow themselves up. A few people were killed, and a larger number was seriously injured. As a result, the entire nation feels less secure today, than they did yesterday.

I have never run in a Marathon, and I was never interested in doing so. However, I admire people who have the discipline and dedication to undergo that kind of training. I do not understand why they do what they do, but I have always wished them well. I have the feeling that this attack was launched by two or more amateurs, who have personal grudges against this Marathon, or someone who was participating in it. Time will tell, since they will be caught. With respect to this year's Playoffs, the Lakers are on the bubble. If they can beat Houston, then they are in. Win or loose, they still get in, if the Jazz loses to the Grizzlies. So, local fans are crossing their fingers and holding their breaths.

There is great concern among local fans regarding the recovery of Kobe Bryant. A ruptured Achilles tendon is a serious injury, especially for a world-class athlete. They seem to happen more frequently for athletes over 30 years of age, rather than the younger ones. Bryant is 34 years old, and he has a lot of wear and tear on his body. He loves the game and the limelight too much to not do everything that he can to continue his basketball career.

As for the Lakers, their prospects for the remainder of this year are not good. If they do get into the Playoffs, they will have to play against the high-powered San Antonio Spurs. They are coached by Greg Popovich, arguably one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA. They simply will not allow themselves to be defeated by the Lakers even if Bryant had been available, there would've been the same results. There are those who think that the Lakers may "Amnesty" Bryant for next season. That means that they would pay him approximately $30 million in salary, and cut him from the team. He would then sit out all of next year, and return as a player season after next, at a much reduced salary. This approach would save the team $50 million that they would have to pay for exceeding the salary cap. This approach would also have the risk of Bryant deciding to sign with another team. That seems highly unlikely, since most of the other teams in the NBA game him "uncoachable".

While the Lakers may or may not make the Playoffs, the Clippers certainly will. They will most likely be playing against the Memphis Grizzlies. The teams would be fairly evenly matched, so the series between them should be exciting to watch. The Grizzlies play bump and grind, hard-nosed basketball. The Clippers may be more talented, but they are not as disciplined. One of those teams will win this series, but I cannot hazard a guess as to which one it will be.

USC made a great decision, when they hired Cynthia Cooper-Dyke to be the new head coach of the women's basketball team. I had lobbied for Lisa Leslie to get the job. In retrospect, Ms. Cooper-Dyke is the ideal person. She and Ms. Leslie have similar backgrounds, in that they both attended USC, and have enjoyed great success as basketball professionals. The big plus that Ms. Cooper-Dyke has is that she has nine years of coaching experience, and Ms. Leslie does not have any. In addition, Ms. Cooper-Dyke coach Texas Southern to a Division championship last year. This hiring does add some diversity to the coaching staff at USC. Not as much as Stanford, and more than UCLA.

"42", the movie about Jackie Robinson grossed about $28 million on its opening weekend. That exceeded the most optimistic expectations of the film's producers. I have not seen it yet, but I will before I write my next Column. Most of the critics are praising the movie, and they have expressed some concern about the liberal use of profanity. I have often wondered if anyone other than Jackie Robinson himself could have endured the first five agonizing years.

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