BOZICH | Monday Muse: NBA to Louisville, Part 41; Who was Darrell Griffith???
Another day, another NBA to Louisville discussion; Which college basketball coach would make the best president? Did somebody really ask who Darrell Griffith was?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- College basketball rules in this space. Can't go wrong with a college basketball item. Recruiting. Rankings. The works.
But I also enjoy the NBA. I do.
The first basketball game I covered in this town was a pro basketball game -- Game Six of the 1975 ABA playoffs. The Kentucky Colonels defeated the Indiana Pacers for the title.
I made my way to work in Louisville several years later. The wound of losing the Colonels was raw. Indiana, Utah, Denver and San Antonio survived the NBA merger. Louisville did not.
So the NBA discussion in this area has raged for four decades. It's a perfect launch for the Monday Muse.
1. NBA & Louisville Mating Dance, Part 41
Have I mentioned I like the NBA? I am not a pro basketball basher.
I used to pay about $150 a year for the NBA League pass on DirecTV. Great way to follow local players doing big things in The Association.
Who wouldn't want a chance to see Donovan Mitchell, Gorgui Dieng, Karl Anthony-Towns, John Wall, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Courtney Lee and D'Angelo Russell on a regular basis?
The local sports fabric would be enhanced. The narrative would shift from the often-tiresome Louisville vs. Kentucky dynamic to following one team the entire community could embrace. Media people see the NBA as unlimited content -- and let the accountants and lawyers fuss over the numbers and contracts.
The most encouraging news about the recent push by a group of local businessmen who have joined the NBA to Louisville dynamic is that people are writing checks. We saw faces, not another discussion about a mysterious overseas businessman.
Now, I'll pivot to the name of another NBA fan: Louisville attorney Scott C. Cox.
Cox told me he also enjoys following former local guys in the league, especially Mitchell.
But that was not why I talked NBA with Cox. He is nearly halfway through his appointment as the Louisville Arena Authority chairman.
Cox said that any group interested in bringing an NBA franchise to Louisville needs to talk to three people -- David Grissom, the chairman of the University of Louisville's board of trustees; interim university president Dr. Gregory Postel and interim athletic director Vince Tyra.
"I don't think it would be practical to play in Freedom Hall when you have a world-class facility in perfect shape in our core business district," Cox said.
Amen. Prudent observers would consider it a colossal waste of resources to drop millions into Freedom Hall, which is three decades past its prime.
Second and Main is the place. The arena needs more activity and more revenue. And the University of Louisville deserves a front-row seat in any discussion about the arena. A change in the athletic administration at U of L should not put the program in a weakened position.
"The University of Louisville is our anchor tenant and I'm a strong advocate that they are happy and satisfied," Cox said. "They've been with us from the beginning and when we needed their help (with renegotiating financing of the facility) they stepped up and helped."
The challenges to working out a deal between the university and another tenant are considerable. U of L has control of all suites in the facility. An NBA owner could not accept that. They'd have to talk.
Naming rights and signage issues would also have to be negotiated. U of L has first call on scheduling for its men's and women's basketball programs, but Cox said that the Staples Center in Los Angeles makes it work with two NBA teams and a hockey franchise.
That is a discussion for another day. No team is available. They're going for over $2 billion these days. No round of expansion is planned. If that changes, Seattle has the first slot in the line and the price of an expansion team would be at least $650 million.
But if things get more serious than talks have advanced the last 40 times we've had this discussion, the University of Louisville will have its say.
For now, it's a fine Monday Muse or talk radio topic -- and not much more than that.
2. If Basketball Coaches Ran the Government
I strive to keep the Monday Muse a Politics Free Zone. I will suspend the rules for one item because ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla is a clever guy who made me think when he answered a Twitter question about which coach would make the best U.S. president.
Nice four, Fran.
Here are my picks:
Prez: Mark Few, Gonzaga: quiet, humble, consistent winner who does a lot with a little. Great steward of lesser resources. Just does his job.
VP: Tommy Amaker, Harvard: Smart, well-read. Experienced at Duke, Seton Hall, Michigan and Harvard.
Secretary of Defense: Tony Bennett, Virginia. Nothing to discuss.
Secretary of Offense: Roy Williams, North Carolina. Don't make me justify this, gad-dummit. The man has won three national titles because he lets his guys play offense without calling timeouts or over-coaching.
3. Who was Darrell Griffith?
One story I did not expect to read after former Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest Saturday was this one from SBNation:
Who was Darrell Griffith, also known as Dr. Dunkenstein?
Played in The Association for a decade. National college player of the year. Had his own poster. Taught players how to dance through the air.
Next in a three-part series: Who were Denny Crum and Wes Unseld?
I probably overreacted. Mitchell earned 5-stars with his ode to Griff before and during the contest, when he flashed Griffith's signature No. 35 to the crowd.
Griff has been retired from the league for more than 25 years. He'll turn 60 in June, even though he's never looked a day over 37. Today's NBA fans don't know much more about him than they do about Crum or Unseld.
But … next thing you know they'll be asking: Who is Pervis Ellison?
4. Injury Bug
We are 20 days from Selection Sunday. Before you put pen, not pencil, to your NCAA Tournament bracket, make certain you check the injury report. Many top teams are dealing with significant injuries.
Here is partial list of players on contending teams who are trying to get healthy. The guys listed in all caps are likely lost for the season.
Duke: Marvin Bagley Jr. (knee).
Villanova: Phil Booth (hand)
Purdue: Vince Edwards (ankle).
Auburn: ANFERNEE MCLEMORE (ankle).
Texas Tech: Keenan Evans (toe); Zach Smith (foot).
Clemson: Shelton Mitchell (neck); DONTE GRAHAM (knee)
Miami: Bruce Brown (foot).
USC: BENNIE BOATRIGHT (knee).
Notre Dame: Bonzie Colson (knee); D. J. Harvey (leg); Rex Pflueger (back).
Nevada: LINDSAY DREW (Achilles).
Texas A&M: DUANE WILSON (knee).
SMU: Shake Milton (finger).
X-rays and MRIs matter.
5. NBA Still Fantastic for Jerry West
It is basketball's turn to command the stage now that the footballs have been put away. With NFL ratings in a lull and questions percolating about head injuries, it is inevitable other sports have pursued more love.
It was all-star weekend -- and NBA legend Jerry West pushed back with his comments at a luncheon Sunday.
Don't ever change, Jerry.
6. NBA All-Star Madness -- College Style
There's not always love between fans of the college game and pro game, especially in this area.
But as a peace offering to both groups, I thought I'd share this All-Star game tweet. It highlighted the players from the 2018 All-Star game in their college uniforms.
By my count, 21 college programs were represented, led by four programs with two players each:
Kentucky (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns); Florida (Bradley Beal, Al Horford); Texas (Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge) and UConn (Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond).
Make a note that Kentucky actually had four all-stars but John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins scratched with injuries.
7. Bob Huggins: Why Can't Officials Answer Questions?
I miss Bob Huggins. Miss watching him interact with the Freedom Hall crowds when he built those barbed-wire tough teams at Cincinnati.
Miss the way he'd sometimes stand near the end of the bench and talk to fans or people sitting along press row.
Miss the way he was always ready to launch at post-game press, the way he did over the weekend at Kansas after the Jayhawks shot 35 free throws and his West Virginia team shot two in a game Kansas won by eight in Allen Fieldhouse.
Bob Huggins, ladies and gentlemen.— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) February 18, 2018
"Why aren't [the referees] in here answering your questions? We're gonna bring 19-21 year olds in here who don't get paid and you're gonna ask them questions... because [the referees] don't want to get asked 'why didn't you call this?'" pic.twitter.com/3SFTOnUpbS
Huggins got tossed but he continued to talk about the situation long after the game ended. His most pertinent question was this:
Coaches answer media questions after the game. So do (some) players. Why aren't the officials made available?
They are (at least to a pool reporter) during NCAA Tournament game. But not during the regular season.
A fix would be complicated. Many officials are in a hurry to leave town to start traveling to their next assignment. There are legitimate security concerns. And how many calls should they have to discuss? One? Five? A dozen?
It's at least worth a discussion.
8. Dan McDonnell Q&A
I'm familiar with Josh Nelson's work from his writing and podcasting about the White Sox and the team's farm system.
No big-league team is as invested in Dan McDonnell's program as vigorously as the White Sox.
Former U of L outfielder Adam Engel started in center field over the second half of last season. Zack Burdi, on the mend from Tommy John surgery, is expected to be the team's closer, beginning in 2019 or 2020.
The Sox added three more U of L products -- outfielder Logan Taylor as well as pitchers Kade McClure and Lincoln Henzman last June.
Seemed like a good time for Nelson to conduct a Question-and-Answer session about McDonnell. Here is your link.
9. Poll Results I
What has been a bigger factor in Kentucky's slide to seventh place in the Southeastern Conference?
Improvement by other SEC programs 28.1 percent
Slippage by Kentucky 71.9 percent
10. Poll Results II
Virginia lost at home to Virginia Tech Saturday -- and climbed to #1 in the AP college basketball poll. Which team would you vote #1?
Virginia 43 percent
Michigan State 20.7 percent
Villanova 18.2 percent
Xavier 11.5 percent
Cincinnati 6.7 percent
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