Jalen Rose Says Uncle (Tom)

March 16, 2011

Like most of college basketball-loving America, Jeremy and I both watched ESPN’s “Fab Five” documentary on Sunday night. The film took me back to the peak of my sports fandom. As a die-hard Duke basketball fan, I was intrigued by the Fab Five in 1992, but I don’t remember having a visceral reaction. A year later, I was avidly on board with them. The documentary was a reminder of their singular on-court style and deeply challenging off-court style.

Since Sunday, the film’s racial politics have touched off debate. Most of the discussion has centered on the Fab Five’s racially tinged comments about Duke. Specifically, there’s been a lot of dissection of Rose’s assertion that the only black players Duke recruits are Uncle Toms. In the classic sense, Uncle Toms are black men who ingratiate themselves to whites. As Grant Hill points out in his rebuttal, Rose’s Uncle Tom seems to be something else: a black man with no discernible black qualities. Hill appears as the film’s chief example, although none of the Fab Five directly accuse him.

(I’m wondering when a certain Michigander will weigh in on this. I’d imagine plenty of big thoughts on this are floating around in that wrinkly head.)

Rose’s teammates — Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard — spoke harshly of Duke. And hilariously: Christian Laettner was a b****. But their name-calling fell within the realm of generally accepted competitive trash talk. Rose went farther, launching a political attack against Duke’s recruiting practices. I hesitate to take his comments seriously now. As mentioned elsewhere, Rose was acknowledging his feelings from 20 years ago, not necessarily stating a current opinion.

The Uncle Tom discussion was one of many points where I wished Chris Webber had been involved. Read the rest of this entry »

2012 Olympics: Still Only 500 Days, 7 Hours, 6 Minutes and 56 Seconds Away

March 15, 2011

The 2012 London Olympics was always going to struggle to top this:

The London organizing committee didn’t get off to a promising start on Tuesday. From The Associated Press:

A giant clock counting down to the 2012 London Olympics stopped for several hours Tuesday, less than a day after it went on display in Trafalgar Square.

The digital clock, made by Olympic sponsor Omega, was stuck at 500 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes, 56 seconds, before workers fixed it.

If Omega doesn’t get that fixed before next summer, Usain Bolt’s 100 meters will be so fast that he’s going to time travel.

And that wasn’t the only issue:

The clock’s failure wasn’t the only Olympic glitch on Tuesday, when 6.6 million tickets went on sale. A few hours into the ticket launch, fans with Visa credit cards which expire before the end of August found that organizers were unable to process their orders.

Visa is an Olympic sponsor and the only card that can be used to purchase tickets.

Visa: It’s everywhere you want to be — except the 2012 London Olympics.

The First “First Four” Flaw

March 15, 2011

My IoT partner in crime and I are going to address the new-look NCAA Tournament later this week, but as I’m flipping between the Carolina Hurricanes-Buffalo Sabres game and the “First Four” on truTV, something occurred to me that couldn’t wait.

As I’m typing this, Clemson and UAB are just now tipping off their first-round game after dual 16 seeds UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock had to go to overtime. This game won’t end until at least midnight. The winner has to get on a plane from Dayton couple of hours later to fly to Tampa — where they will play the first game of the entire second round at 12:15 p.m. Thursday against West Virginia.

Frankly, both these teams are lucky to even be in the Tournament. But if they’re going to be full participants in it, how exactly is fair for the NCAA to make the winning team fly more than 800 miles to play another game 36 hours later? And how much of an advantage does that give West Virginia compared to every other 5 seed? I guarantee you Vanderbilt and Kansas State would rather have drawn a tired Clemson-UAB winner than either Richmond or Utah State.

The Classic 68 Tournament

March 13, 2011

Just in case you need some help getting in the mood for March Madness, NCAA.com is running the “Classic 68” bracket to determine the greatest game in NCAA Tournament history. The bracket matches up memorable games from Tournaments past and lets fans pick the winners until a champion is crowned.

Even if you don’t want to vote, this is definitely worth checking out because the NCAA has posted complete videos of nearly every game in the bracket. So if you’re an N.C. State fan who wants to relive some past glory, you can watch Jimmy V run around the court looking for someone to hug after the 1983 title game upset over Houston. Or if you’d just rather experience a little schadenfreude, there are a couple of gems from 1999 available: Carolina’s first-round loss to Weber State and Harold “The Show” Arceneaux and the Connecticut-Duke title game, which ended with Trajan Langdon dribbling the ball off his foot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sid Sendek? Herb Lowe? A Pro-and-Pro Discussion

March 9, 2011

Here’s the latest in a series of what are turning out to be the editors’ totally agreeable exchanges on the issues of the day. Today, we take you all the way back to March 2001. Crazy Town, Shaggy and a young lady named J-Lo were topping the charts. The Russian space station Mir went kaput.

And in Raleigh, North Carolina, the administration of N.C. State University was in an eerily similar position to the one it now occupies

Jeremy: Jimmy, it seems like an article of faith these days that Sidney Lowe is done as the head basketball coach at our alma mater as soon as the Wolfpack’s increasingly disappointing season is over. The calls for Lowe’s ouster take me back a decade to when we were spending late nights on the third floor of Witherspoon Student Center putting a newspaper together and State fans were calling for another fifth-year head coach to be shown the door.

The comparison between Lowe and Herb Sendek has been done plenty of times before. Still, the parallels between Sendek’s first five years and Lowe’s first five are just begging for the IoT treatment, starting with these little charts that I assembled below: Read the rest of this entry »

Not ‘Very Nice’: Soccer player ejected for tackling streaking Borat impersonator

March 8, 2011

And now for IoT’s weekly report from English soccer’s minor leagues (courtesy of The Associated Press):

LONDON — The streaker wore green. The soccer player saw red.

A man wearing nothing but a bright green thong and a curly black wig dashed onto the field during a low-level game in England on Monday. Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers ended the intruder’s 30-second jaunt with a thudding, neck-high tackle during the 70th minute of the game against Havant & Waterlooville.

Vickers was shown a red card for violent conduct with the score 1-1.

“I’m dumbfounded and speechless,” Vickers told local newspaper The Dorset Echo. “My only thought was to get hold of him so we could get on with the game. I managed to grab him and bring him to the ground, and the funny thing was the stewards actually thanked me for it. But the ref decided to send me off and it beggars belief.”

Dorchester lost 3-1, a blow to the team’s hopes of making the playoffs in England’s sixth tier of soccer.

Granted, I’m not all that familiar with the intricacies of English soccer, but I kind of figured a player who tackles a streaker wearing Borat’s swimsuit would automatically earn his team a promotion into the next division, not a red card.

As you can see in the video below, the referee got an earful from both teams for interpreting the rulebook a little too strictly. As you’ll also see, Vickers might have a promising future in the NFL if the soccer thing doesn’t work out.

Jets fan can’t beat Patriots in court

March 7, 2011

Spygate” felt like a federal case when it was uncovered in 2007. Who knew that one litigious Jets fan actually made it one — and nearly took it to the Supreme Court:

Carl Mayer, a lawyer in Princeton, N.J., known for filing legal actions against New Jersey politicians, is a Jets season ticket-holder. He wanted millions of dollars from the Patriots and (Bill) Belichick, claiming they deceived customers by secretly videotaping Jets coaches’ in-game signals. His lawsuit claimed fans spent large sums to see games that were essentially rigged.

The suit alleged that the Patriots taped the Jets’ signals in their twice-yearly contests for seven years, and sought triple damages for Jets fans based on a rough average of $100 a ticket. Mayer sought $185 million in damages for Jets fans alone.

The Patriots were caught taping signals at the Jets’ 2007 home opener in Giants Stadium, a game New England won 38-14.