Open Sports (or Whatever) Thread

Because he made me laugh, David Roth at SB Nation:

It’s taking nothing away from the various appalling plutocrats that have done this of late to point out that New York’s self-pitying, self-satirizing rich dudes are the worst. There is the baroque douchery of the Bay Area’s thinkfluential techlords, the classic braying gaucheries and thudding selfishness of our leatherette petro-barons, the off-brand malapropped Galt-isms of the multilevel marketing ponzi elite — sure, yes, all of that. All great achievers in their field.

But there is no person on earth more grandiose and more loudly deluded than a New York Rich Guy. And there is no other owner in pro sports like James Dolan, and so there is no other team — with all due respect to Jerry Jones’ Cowboys, Jimmy Haslam’s Browns, Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins and so queasily on — messed up in the same way as Dolan’s Knicks…

The team that Dolan’s organization has made works about as well as you’d expect such a thing to work. Something needed to change, and — under duress and as expensively as possible and later than any other owner would have — Dolan has changed it. He did it as a contemporary New York rich guy would, in what is maybe the only way a contemporary New York rich guy could: he found another rich person with a comparably bulky sense of self and paid him. The good news for Knicks fans is that the other rich person is Phil Jackson. The bad news, as usual, is Dolan…

Dolan talked a good one about ceding authority to Jackson on Tuesday, and may well do it. Whatever his strengths as an executive might be — and this is a job he has never done, let alone done well — Jackson is accomplished enough to earn some deference from Dolan. If the stylistic signature of a New York Rich Guy is an inability to believe that he could ever be wrong, it would stand to reason that the only person to which such a person could ever defer would be someone similarly convinced who would, in the best-case scenario, also be more competent.

And this is Jackson, for better or worse. He, too, is an authoritarian world-historic narcissist, casually piloting a Nimitz-class ego wherever he goes, Buddhist-scented self-justifications trailing in his wake. Jackson has been brilliantly successful at his job, knows it, and does not believe it to have been an accident. (“This would be a pinnacle,” Jackson mused in the conference when asked what he might accomplish in New York. “It would be a capstone on a remarkable career that I’ve had.”) But he is not James Dolan, and if that’s all that can be said for Phil Jackson, executive at the moment, it is still something Knicks fans will be delighted to hear…

I’ve been seeing all sorts of “NCAA brackets” headlines around, but not much chatter here. Is it too soon / too late / too boring?

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63 replies
  1. 1
    the Conster says:

    Excellent characterization of degrees of douche. He nailed it with Phil Jackson. David Roth: the new Tom Wolfe?

  2. 2
    RuhRow_Gyro says:

    Basketball is boring.

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    I had an unfortunate conversation with my 15 year old daughter at dinner. She had to writer a paper for homework and I asked her what it was on and she said our opinions of the death penalty. I asked her what hers was, and she said she’s for it. She believes in an eye for an eye punishment. After my big sigh of disappointment, I told her why I was against it, that it’s meted out unfairly and until they can make that fair, I would continue to be against it. There are other reasons but I didn’t elaborate on them. She rolled her naive 15 year old eyes and said that governments wouldn’t do it unfairly. She has so much to learn.

  4. 4
    efgoldman says:

    No matter how good or bad Jackson is at the job, Dolan was, is, and always will be Dolan.
    I said the other night, I give this marriage made in ego heaven an over/under of eighteen months.

  5. 5
    Gex says:

    Do the Knicks have someone of similar caliber to Jordan, Shaq, or Kobe? It seems to me that Phil has been fortunate to have had one of the best if not the very best player in the league when he’s been successful.

  6. 6
    efgoldman says:


    She has so much to learn.

    At 15, she can’t even spell “disappointment.”
    Sorry mom, there’s not a lot you can do to protect her from it, either. Suggest to her that her research should include the Willingham story from TX, and also some of the Innocence Project.

  7. 7
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @efgoldman: I know you said that, and you may very well be right, but this long (LONG)-suffering Knickerbockers fan needs an excuse, any excuse, to be cheerful, be it only for a moment.

  8. 8
    Pogonip says:

    This has nothing to do with sports. Everyone run to the library or bookstore and grab Mother Nature Is Out To Kill You, by Dan Riskin. Where else can you read about the giant carnivorous mice of Gough Island?

  9. 9
    kindness says:

    Funny stuff. March Madness though? I’ll pay attention when it gets to the sweet 16.

  10. 10
    efgoldman says:


    It seems to me that Phil has been fortunate to have had one of the best if not the very best player in the league when he’s been successful.

    Nobody wins at a top level for that long without one or more of the greatest players of the time.
    Red Aurbach had (among others) Russell and Cousy.
    The Yankees had the Babe Ruth generation, then the DiMaggio generation, then the Ford/Mantle generation…
    The Montreal Canadians had Rocket Richard, then Henri Richard, then Beleveau, and each of their cohorts…..
    John Wooden at UCLA….

  11. 11
    efgoldman says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    an excuse, any excuse, to be cheerful, be it only for a moment.

    No, sorry. No cheer for you!

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:


    I’ll pay attention when it gets to the sweet 16.

    The first couple of rounds, though, bring the great upsets and near-upsets.
    Cinderella has to be created out of the poor girl, first, before she can go to the ball.

  13. 13
    cathyx says:

    @efgoldman: I know. I actually voted for Reagan when I was 18, so I’m hoping she will wise up too.

  14. 14
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:


    No. Their best player, Carmelo Anthony, is a whiny, thin-skinned punk who has complained his way through several coaches during his time in the NBA.

    Jackson can squash that ego like a grape.

  15. 15
    cmorenc says:

    First thing wrong with the Knicks is that their (genuinely talented) best player, Carmelo Anthony, is every bit the self-centered egotistic head case that Dolan is. The current version of the LA Lakers are an alternative example that an extremely talented star who is nevertheless a self-centered egotistic head case (Kobe Bryant) is not sufficient to carry a team by himself with a bunch of dysfunctional supporting role players. Not even Michael Jordan could carry Chicago until he got some decently talented players around him who could play harmoniously around him and carry their own weight (Scotty Pippin, John Paxon, Horace Grant, and Bill Cartwright). As Cartwright’s example shows, key players don’t have to be immortal stars themselves, just better-than-average journeymen who hustle and give it their all.

    But you’ll never put together a successful team by simply throwing money into collecting a bunch of selfish stars-in-their-own-head together. It works for Miami not because LeBron is such an outsize talent (Cleveland didn’t come close to winning any chanpionships with him there), but because LeBron, Wade, and Bosh really wanted to work together to make a great team.

    Now maybe Phil Jackson is just the guy to get into the current Knicks players’ heads and get them all rowing together at maximum effort using their given talents. But he’s only going to go so far with this bunch of meatheads.

  16. 16

    Not interested in basket ball or its brackets. Is anyone else here watching Cosmos?

  17. 17
    🍀 Martin says:


    She has so much to learn.

    That’s why she’s in school. Don’t be disappointed. She doesn’t want to feel judged. Show her examples of where the death penalty has gone wrong.

    Glenn Ford

    Allan Nicklassen

    Cameron Todd Willingham

    Cory Maye

  18. 18
    🍀 Martin says:


  19. 19
    Gex says:

    @efgoldman: Is not the question of whether the Knicks have a player of that caliber still relevant then? You’ve made the point that every great coach has had a top player. That still doesn’t mean the Knicks have a top player.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I just can’t watch without Carl Sagan Saying “billions.” I did just watch a couple of episodes of the first season of DaVinci’s Demons. I am not sure about it it yet.

  21. 21

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t really remember Carl Sagan’s Cosmos much, my father used to watch it regularly, I was only marginally interested.

  22. 22
    cmorenc says:

    One of the longtime greatest sports franchises in the world that is running painfully downhill toward mere middle-drawer status is the Manchester United Football (soccer) team. Part of it is the retirement of their longtime master coach (manager) Sir Alex Fergueson and his replacement with David Moyes, but part of it is the progressive lossor replacement over the last few years of some key core players they won so often with over several years with some other decent talent that simply isn’t meshing. Wayne Rooney isn’t quite as much of a petulent punk as he used to be, but he also seems to be past the peak of his skills and mojo. Robin Van Persie can produce, but the current squad as a whole, functioning team seems less than the sum of its parts at the moment.

  23. 23
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @kindness: Nah, that’s when it gets boring. The good stuff is usually in the first two rounds.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Gex: They don’t. And they won’t have one next year either. And Phil, no matter how proud and talented, can’t make a silk purse of a sow’s ear. But if (hoping agianst hope) he can stick it out for a few years, maybe some progress will be made.

    I know, I’m probably deluding myself. But we don’t have much else.

  26. 26

    I think I need a cigarette after reading this.

    Blow me, you monstrous, bloodthirsty fraud, you silly, stupid chickenhawk motherfker who plays army man with the children of people who are so much better than you are, and who would feed innocent civilians in lands you will never visit into your own personal meatgrinder to service your semi-annual martial erection. You and the rest of your cowardly cohort helped prepare the ground for the worst geopolitical mistake the country has made in 30 years.

  27. 27
    The Dangerman says:

    …with all due respect to Jerry Jones’ Cowboys, Jimmy Haslam’s Browns, Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins…

    Any list of asshole owners that doesn’t include Dan Snyder at the very top of it is suspect.

    ETA: Although, to be fair, before he got run out of town, Frank McCourt was the biggest hole of them all.

  28. 28
    Keith P says:

    @RuhRow_Gyro: It’d be more exciting if the shoes had sound effects instead of just squeaking.

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    @schrodinger’s cat

    Not anymore. Two episodes was enough to decide to stop.

    What a torpid mish-mosh.

  30. 30

    @NotMax: Overall I like it, but I find it a bit too blingy and the sound track is obtrusive.

  31. 31
    efgoldman says:


    You’ve made the point that every great coach has had a top player. That still doesn’t mean the Knicks have a top player.

    All of those coaches either chose players, or somehow persuaded their great players, to sublimate their own stats and individual success in order for the team to win. If the coach can’t do that (and the front office can’t bring in the right supporting cast) then you get Carmelo or Dominique Wilkins – great, great talents who never won a damned thing.

  32. 32
    the Conster says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    HO.LEE.SHIT. That’s gonna leave a mark. The Battle of the Green Rooms is on!

  33. 33
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Comrade Dread: C’mon, Charles, tell us what ya really think.

  34. 34
    Cervantes says:


    She has so much to learn.

    So do we all.

    But it’s great that you spoke to her about it. Given her age, here are some questions you might consider:

    Q1. Ask her if she thinks people on trial deserve to have a competent attorney representing them.

    Q2. If no, have her look at the 6th Amendment; whereas if/when yes, proceed to Q3.

    Q3. What if a person is on trial for their life and their attorney falls asleep more than once during the trial? Is that grounds for appeal? Should the person be given a new attorney and a new trial?

    Q4. Suppose an attorney has fallen asleep more than once during a trial in a capital case, has a judge ever appointed that attorney to represent someone else in court?

    Q5. Is the death penalty sane or insane in a system where the answer to Q3 is no (or maybe) and the answer to Q4 is yes?

    Leading questions, I know, but that’s the point.

    One could go on — this is just one approach out of many you could take — what do you think?

  35. 35
    billB says:

    Are you insane, Phil has taken every ego-driven fragile guy in his path and cajoled them into titles. Carmelo is a bone-head that Phil knows he can build with. All he really needs is to suck the stupid Brooklyn franchise into the fold. Really do we need two nba teams half a mile apart.

  36. 36
    Belafon says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Yes. I did enjoy this weeks part about why we can’t focus on something close up. I also liked the sequence: Show a vivid case of human caused selection, and then work out to natural selection.

  37. 37
    carolannie1949 says:

    @cathyx: You have a 15 year who isn’t cynical and world weary? hmmm…where did I go wrong?

  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    @schrodinger’s cat

    And misapplication of bling as well. Too many CGI-generated stills which the camera pans over. And what was the point of that bit with Titan? Swing by for a half a minute to have a CGI shot of the craft splashing into a methane ocean, then cut short by saying “Have to come back some other time, there’s something back on Earth I want to see.”

    Sagan’s version was not the greatest thing since the sliced wheel, but he had the capability of narrating as if sharing something he found wondrous or exciting or interesting.

    Tyson’s narration comes across as lecturing.

  39. 39
    Violet says:


    She rolled her naive 15 year old eyes and said that governments wouldn’t do it unfairly.

    Ask her how she knows that. Is she sure? If she is, see if she can back it up by researching some of the folks others have mentioned above. If not, ask her to look into it.

    Another tactic is to ask her if she thinks rich people can buy better lawyers to defend them than poor people. Follow up question, could those financial issues affect the outcome of a trial? Could having a top notch lawyer get you a better result than someone using a public defender?

  40. 40
    MomSense says:

    @Comrade Dread:


  41. 41
    KG says:

    @cmorenc: in fairness, LeBron did take an otherwise bad Cavs team to the finals. That’s pretty close to winning a title. A lot closer than several teams in the league have been in the last decade

  42. 42
    Tommy says:

    @cathyx: I don’t have any kids. I just have this niece I spent a ton of time with. She is five. I am the cool uncle. I assume at a time I won’t be the cool uncle anymore. That I will get to tell Katie that isn’t right. Or she should not think this or that.

  43. 43
    Schlemizel says:


    I was thinking exactly the same thing. In a way it is good to believe like that at 15 as long as reality scrapes that naivete off before much longer. I felt bad that my kids were all cynics by 15. It may have made them politically mature but I feel it took some of their youth.

  44. 44
    efgoldman says:


    Phil has taken every ego-driven fragile guy in his path and cajoled them into titles.

    True. A shorter version of what I said about great coaches.

    Carmelo is a bone-head that Phil knows he can build with.

    The bonehead part is true, and it never applied to e.g. Russell, Magic, Bird, Michael, LeBron…
    He can’t build with Carmelo. He’s a supreme talent, but not in the one-of-the-greatest-of-all-time level. He just isn’t. He needs to be McHale or Pippen to somebody else’s Bird or Jordan.

    Really do we need two nba teams half a mile apart.

    Why not? They had three baseball teams that far apart, and still have two; two football teams play in the same stadium; three hockey teams (with the Islanders moving to Brooklyn) in a few mil circle. Two baseball teams played a 15 minute walk apart in Boston until 1954. There were also two teams in Phily and St. Louis,still are in Chicago, too.

  45. 45
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @cmorenc: If you want see a downfall of a franchise look no further than the Dallas Cowboys, thanks to that idiot owner Jerry Jones, he flushing one of the NFL’s premier franchises down the commode(just like Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders), a shame that Cowboy Nation has to sit and take it.

  46. 46
    efgoldman says:


    I won’t be the cool uncle anymore.

    Uncles and aunts by definition stay way cooler than parents in adolescence.

  47. 47
    Schlemizel says:


    My guess is that teams per capita in NY is still a smaller number than moat ‘major league ‘ cities.
    I am not a fan of any NY team but I think the population can support it.

  48. 48
    Tommy says:

    Oh I can take this chance to post this:

    I love Pat Reily says “he was showtime before there was showtime.”

    I recall as a grad student at LSU, waiting outside of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Yeah they named where they play basketball after the guy. He averaged 44.2 points per game without a three pointer. Ponder that for a few.

  49. 49
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Tommy: Yeah, and Wilt averaged 50 ppg in 61-62.

  50. 50
    some guy says:

    big dude and I filled out out first bracket tonight. 1st ever for him.

    we have Florida, Villanova, Wisconsin and Wichita State as our 4.

    kid has an amazing 3 point shot for a 1st grader

  51. 51
    Tommy says:

    @efgoldman: I hope! I am known as the uncle that gives “strange” gifts. Last time I was told to give her these gifts I didn’t like so much. Princesses stuff. I gave her a book on elephants. A DVD from the BBC on elephants. A well, large stuff elephant.

    I don’t have any children myself but figured it was hard to go wrong with elephants. She wants to be read to from the child’s book on elephants every night. Her parents are like how did you know. I am like I didn’t, just figured who doesn’t like elephants.

  52. 52
    catclub says:

    Jackson as coach might affect Carmelo and this team. Jackson as team president is a 3-5 year redevelopment project.

  53. 53
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Tommy: The one memorable quote about Maravich and I forgot who said but it went along this line.

    Pete Maravich was the only White player to make Walt Frazier look bad

    Pistol Pete was one my favorites when I was young.

  54. 54
    danielx says:


    Poor kid…she has yet to lose her faith, and has so far to fall. Tell her to look up the Innocence Project, while she’s doing her research.

  55. 55
    danielx says:

    Another paragraph from Roth’s piece:

    You keep thinking it’s the end, that some shame-ceiling exists and has been reached, or is at least in sight. And yet this sort of thing keeps happening. Some swell senses that someone might be looking askance at the champagne bidets on his yacht, considers his plight — and there is no other word for the agony of being so alone in one’s penthouse triplex — and compares himself to Anne Frank.

    Today’s Intertubes Win….

  56. 56
    Tommy says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: There are a ton of Maravich YouTube videos. I watch them and I am stunned this or this is possible. He did things with a basketball that I can’t put to words. I swear if you are a sports fan do a search for “Pete Maravich” on YouTube and you will be stunned beyond words.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:


    Really do we need two nba teams half a mile apart.

    Lakers and Clippers fans say yes.

  58. 58
    Cervantes says:


    Uncles and aunts by definition stay way cooler than parents in adolescence.

    Especially if they are single and have no kids; maybe not especially otherwise.

  59. 59
    Cervantes says:

    @danielx: That is good, I agree.

  60. 60
    MikeJ says:

    @Roger Moore: The Clippers have fans?

  61. 61
    Roger Moore says:


    The Clippers have fans?

    Apparently so. They even had fans when they weren’t the best team in LA.

  62. 62
    LT says:

    A similar hire worked out just fine for George Steinbrenner after he wised up and hired Joe Torre. Jackson should make a point of wearing all his championship rings when he introduces himself around The Garden.

  63. 63
    chrome agnomen says:

    i’ve always been against it for the same reason. when i see a banker, politician, or other white-collar criminal go to the chair, i start to support it full-throatedly.

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