BOZICH | Monday Muse: Don't doubt Lamar Jackson
By Rick Bozich
But, most of all, don’t sleep on the Monday Muse. The sports calendar is light, but the Monday Muse always goes 10 deep.
1. Lamar Jackson NFL Rookie of the Year
A date has not been finalized for the Baltimore Ravens’ game with the Los Angeles (yes, I said San Diego in an earlier post; can't let go of that connection) Chargers. It’s a flex game, likely to be played a few days before Christmas.
When the date is confirmed, circle it. In marker, not pencil.
What’s the fuss about a Chargers-Ravens game? They’re unlikely to be tussling for a spot in the playoffs. No stinging divisional rivalry.
Don’t tell that to Lamar Jackson, the former University of Louisville quarterback who intends to play quarterback, not receiver, for the Ravens this season.
In a podcast that Jackson taped with Ravens’ personnel last week, Jackson said a scout from the Chargers was The Wiseguy who asked him to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last winter.
You know, in case Jackson was interested in forgetting those touchdowns passes that he threw for U of L to make a transition to receiver.
The answer was NO!
Jackson was insulted. Good for him. The request was insulting.
“I guess they look at my speed and say, ‘He can play anything,’ “ Jackson said on the podcast. (The link.)
“I’m like, ‘Michael Vick was using his speed out there at V(irginia) Tech and they put him right at quarterback.’ So I don’t know why you’d look at me and say, ‘He has the height.’ No. I’ve never played receiver ever. I’m not going to start now.”
Jackson said that contrary to some reports, colleges that recruited him did not try to move him to receiver.
“That was the first time I heard it,” he said.
Was Jackson upset by the request? You be the judge.
“I felt some type of way,” he said. “I wasn’t mad. But I was going to show you. I wasn’t mad about. But it motivated me. It made me work harder.”
Some type of way. Smells like leadership to me.
2. Kevin Knox NBA Rookie of the Year
New York Knicks fans, at least the small sample size that attended the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, were not gaga about the team’s decision to draft Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox with their pick at No. 9 Thursday.
Knicks fans are like Eagles’ fan. They boo the popcorn vendor
Who can blame them? This is a franchise that burned top picks Jordan Hill, Danilo Gallinari and Renaldo Balkman.
They were ready for the Knicks to take a chance on a sexier talent like Michael Porter Jr. of Missouri.
Knox can take the knocks.
He handled the situation flawlessly during several post-draft media sessions, pledging to Knicks fans that his goal was to win the Rookie of the Year award.
Early odds favor top pick DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and the Phoenix Suns. But Knox is listed as the seventh choice at 15-1.
Same odds as Porter Jr.
3. Jo Adell (Future) AL Rookie of the Year
As long as the topic is rookie of the year, let’s not overlook baseball, especially considering there is a local connection who should be in the hunt for the American League award by 2021.
That would be former Ballard High School star Jo Adell, who earned the top spot in the most recent edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
All Adell has done this season is earn a promotion to the Angels’ High Class A affiliate in San Bernandino, Calif. (The link.)
With three hits Sunday, Adell is hitting .320 with 9 home runs and 22 runs batted in 25 games. Adell has also stolen seven bases without being thrown out.
Not bad for a guy who turned 19 in April and is performing against pitchers two, three or more years older.
4. Kentucky Class of 2023
LeBron James has said encouraging things about John Calipari. Milt Wagner worked for Cal at Memphis, where Milt’s son, Dajuan was one of Calipari’s top recruits.
James’ son, LeBron Jr., is considered one of the top players in the prep class of 2023. So is Wagner’s grandson, D.J. They’ll be eighth graders this fall.
I’m not the first person to speculate James and Wagner will be cornerstones of Calipari’s 2023 recruiting class. Why not?
Until that happens, enjoy this video of James watching his son compete at a basketball tournament in Miami last weekend.
5. Obligatory NBA To Louisville Mention
The NBA to Louisville story returned to the news last week when local attorney J. Bruce Miller withdrew from the group trying to recruit a franchise because of his displeasure with another group member.
Considering Miller has directed this movement for four decades and that his friend, former NBA star Dan Issel, was hired in February to become the group’s most recognizable face, this was newsworthy.
But this nugget I found over the weekend was also newsworthy:
There is another NBA great interested in getting a team — and he’s got more sizzle than Issel.
Miami Heat future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade is nearing the end of his career, but Wade does not want to be finished with basketball.
Wade told Joel Weber of Bloomberg News that he wants to be involved in ownership — and Wade would love to take NBA basketball back to Seattle.
Nobody said getting an NBA team here would be easy.
6. Fixing the NBA Draft (Telecast)
The NBA Draft is fun. Generally I watch from the first pick to the 60th, even in years when there are not 6 to 10 local players selected.
But the NBA Draft telecast needs work. Every player has length, athleticism and a great motor. And upside. There is always upside. Blah, blah, blah.
Actually there isn’t always upside. At least 25 percent of the guys taken in the first round bust — not that you hear that from the analysts.
7. Another Romeo Honor
Romeo Langford has settled into his new home and workout routine with Archie Miller’s basketball program at Indiana. No games until November.
That does not mean the honors have stopped.
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle collected uniforms Langford wore during his remarkable run at New Albany High School and organized them in a display.
8. Here Come The Reds
The Chicago Cubs have the best run differential in the National League. The Cincinnati Reds have the worst run differential of any team in the NL Central.
FanGraphs projects the Cubs will finish 90-72, four games ahead of Milwaukee in the Central. The Reds will finish 71-91, the second-worst record in the NL.
But the Reds made Cubs’ fans sprint for heartburn medication this weekend, by sweeping Joe Maddon’s team in a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Imagine the Bengals winning four straight against the Patriots.
Imagine the Nets winning four straight against the Warriors.
Or the Cavaliers winning one against the Warriors.
That, friends, is baseball.
9. Batter up for Indiana
I wasn’t surprised by the news that Chris Lemonis is leaving the Indiana baseball program for Mississippi State after four seasons.
Money, facilities, weather and tradition made it a difficult offer to turn down. Lemonis helped Dan McDonnell make Louisville a national power and took Indiana to the NCAA Tournament three times in four seasons.
Not that it will end up being a perfect move, except on Lemonis’ W2 form.
Ask Tracy Smith.
Smith left IU for Arizona State four years ago — and ASU is the program that produced Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson and Dustin Pedroia. ASU has suffered back-to-back losing seasons and has not advanced to the College World Series since 2010. Oregon State is the gold standard of the Pac-12. Folks in Tempe don’t understand that.
Although Smith’s contract runs through the 2021 season, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson was compelled to give Smith a vote of confidence after the 2018 season. Hard to imagine Smith returning for year six if the Sun Devils fail to advance in the NCAA Tournament next season.
Which makes me wonder: Is Smith in play for a return to Indiana?
10. Poll Results (Twitter edition)
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