Humble Scribes Wrap Up Last Weekend's NFL Draft PicksBy Mike Duffy and Andrew Heitner
Greetings to our legion of loyal followers. Your humble scribes were in the Big Apple last weekend to cover the meat market known as the NFL draft. Perhaps someone should have informed San Diego Padres "players" Scott Sanders and Derek Bell (arrested for patronizing a prostitute) that the draft is the only legal meat market in town....
What's all the fuss about college juniors leaving early to try their hand at the NBA draft? Do people forget about the new NCAA rule that allows college players the opportunity to test the NBA's waters once in their career? As long as an athlete declares he his going back to college within 30 days after the completion of the draft, he can go back and play for his school.
Therefore, it would be foolish for the likes of Howard, Rozier, and Marshall not to enter the draft. If they don't like the team or the money they are being offered, they can simply re-enter the draft next year. Of course this means that the Lords of the Hardwood are going to have to change their rules to give teams the rights to a player for a period of time equal to one year after his graduating class leaves college, or else no one will go to Sacramento....
Final NFL draft notes: Those disadvantaged readers without ESPN missed some draft day fireworks between Colts GM Bill Tobin and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper. After the Dolts traded up from slot 7 to slot 5, only to select LB Trev Alberts over QB Trent Dilfer, Kiper blasted Indy, saying this move was one reason that the Colts always have a pick in the Top 5. Tobin responded by claiming that his postman who doesn't even have season tickets knows more about the draft than Kiper. Funny, our postman doesn't even know that the family who lived in the penthouse next to ours six months ago does not live in our apartment, as we still get their mail.
Amidst all the controversy between Tobin and Kiper, one important fact was ignored: Tobin loves Jim Harbaugh. Tobin was in charge of the football operations for the Bears when Harbaugh was drafted years ago, and has stood by him ever since. Bill's first move upon arriving in Indy was to trade Jeff George to Atlanta, thereby relieving the Colts of a guy with a strong arm but little quarterback savvy and opening the door for him to sign the recently released Harbaugh, a guy with good leadership but a weaker arm.
But that does not excuse Tobin for not drafting Fresno State's Trent Dilfer, since Harbaugh was the "leader" of the worst rated passing offense in the league last year and Colts coach Ted Marchibroda has a knack for developing star quarterbacks (see Jim Kelly). The worst part of the Dolts' draft day tactics, however, was trading up to get Trev Alberts, when it is clear that he would have been available at the number seven slot as well.
Teams that helped themselves immensely: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Colts, and Cleveland. The Bucs pulled somewhat of a coup as they grabbed both Dilfer and running back Errict Rhett (Florida). Dilfer will take over the starting Q spot from Craig Erickson somewhere in the middle of the year, while Rhett will fill in very nicely for the departing Reggie Cobb (signed with the Pack).
The Vikes, with first round picks for the first time in recent memory, grabbed defensive back Dewayne Washington (NC State), offensive tackle Todd Steussie (Cal), and speed merchant David Palmer ('Bama). Washington has great size and speed for a DB, while Steussie can put up 500 on the rack. Palmer will combine with the Carters (Anthony and Chris), The Missile (Qadry Ismail), Warren Moon, Chris Hinton (from Atlanta), and Adrian Cooper (free agent TE from Pittsburgh) to give 'Sota the best offense in the NFC Norris division.
Despite being criticized for not picking Dilfer, Tobin did have a good draft, but then how can you not when you have two picks in the top five. Marshall Faulk (San Diego State) is a franchise player and should gain 1,000 yards this fall. Trev Alberts (Nebraska), a fearless linebacker, will also be an immediate impact player. If the Colts can get Steve Emtman healthy, they are playoff material.
The Browns came in with three noticeable holes (WR, LB, and CB) and filled two of them with first- round picks. Antonio Langham ('Bama) will bring his excellent cover skills to the Pound form a stellar secondary with CB Don Griffin (from San Fran) to form a stellar secondary, while WR Derrick Alexander (Michigan) will use his speed to get under some of Vinny's deep throws....
It is sad to see that Evander Holyfield has been forced to retire from boxing due to a heart condition, but it was even sadder to see the way the ailment showed up during Holyfield's loss to Michael Moorer, causing Holyfield to give up his title.
For the first time ever, The Surreal Deal, possibly the best conditioned athlete in the world, looked winded while fighting Moorer, and did not have the stamina to put together multi-punch combinations or put the challenger away after he floored Moorer in the second.
Moorer had a heart problem of his own, as in he had little of it. He actually lost the middle rounds to Evander, and would have lost the fight had Holyfield had enough to win the 12th. Next up for the heavys: Riddick Bowe is left as the best fighter in the division, and will hopefully get a crack at Lennox "Emmanual" Lewis before unifying the title against Moorer....
Before heading to our NBA playoff preview, we serve up our second annual Sunshine Awards for this past season:
1. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston (27.3 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 3.7 blocks)
2. Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando (29.3, 13.2, 2.9)
3. David Robinson, San Antonio (29.8, 10.7, 3.3)
4. Scottie Pippen, Chicago (22.0, 8.7, 2.93 steals)
5. Patrick Ewing, New York (24.5, 11.2, 2.8 blocks)
Sorry, but your humble scribes did not fall into the shameless John Lucas/Nike trap most media did. Lucas played Robinson whenever he could (re: garbage time) for the Admiral to put up big numbers (see the Clippers game last Sunday in which Lucas instructed his players to foul the Clips intentionally so that Robinson could get the ball back), while Nike ran an ad touting their shoe model for the award.
Fact is, Olajuwon deserves it (better record with worst supporting cast) and would have scored 35 a game if he had Rodman getting offensive rebounds then handing them over for an easy two (ala The Admiral), with O'Neal (second in points and in boards) coming in, coincidentally, second. Pippen did a nice job of bringing the Bulls within two wins of last year's total, while Ewing was, well, Ewing: steady and, at times, dominating.
Rookie of the Year
1. Chris Webber, Golden State (17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.2 blocks)
2. Penny Hardaway, Orlando (16.0, 6.6 assists, 2.3 steals)
3. Jamal Mashburn, Dallas (19.2, 4.5 rpg, 3.4 apg)
4. Isaiah Rider, Minnesota (16.6, 4.0, 2.6)
5. Vinny Baker, Milwaukee (13.5, 7.6, 2.0)
Webber and Hardaway are a toss up, but Webber was better for the entire year. Despite playing out of position, Webber still put up some impressive numbers. Penny is an equally good choice, but fell some after the All-Star break when he was first switched to the point. Mashburn needs to learn the phrase "shot selection," yet played well for the hapless Mavs. Rider is a diamond in the rough and will only get better, while Baker has the skills to play all the positions on the floor.
Coach of the Year
1. Lenny Wilkins, Atlanta (57-25)
2. Phil Jackson, Chicago (55-27)
3. George Karl, Seattle (63-19)
4. Larry Brown, Indy (47-35)
5. Pat Riley, NY Knicks (57-25)
Another tight one here. Jackson has rightfully been lauded the whole season for keeping the Bulls near the top of the East despite the loss of His Airness. However, Wilkins has magically transformed a perpetually mediocre Hawks team (only 43 wins last season) into the top team in the East and one of top defensive team s in the NBA.
Many people have been lobbying for Larry Brown, but his team is only six games over .500 in the weak Eastern Conference, while the Sonics have dominated a Western Conference that has five teams with a legitimate s hot at the crown. Sure, the men in green have great players who go at least eight deep, but finding minutes for all those horses puts Karl in the three-hole.
Riley has guided the Knicks to a tie for the top record in the East, despite the loss of his starting 1, 2, and 3 men (Rivers, Starks, Smith) to injury. Toughest omission: Golden State's Don Nelson. Think if Nellie had Hardaway, Mullin, and Marculonius healthy for the entire year....
And now to Simson's preview. We will not preview every series, only the Conference and NBA finals, but will say that the other first round winners will be: Chicago, Orlando, Houston, and Utah.
Atlanta versus New York: The acquisition of Danny Manning has put Coach Wilkins' team over the top, as they now have a legitimate scorer (when needed) who is more concerned about winning than scoring 30 a game (sorry 'Nique). The pickup of Danny, combined with the play of Kevin Willis, Craig Ehlo, Stacey and Mookie, found the Hawks surprisingly in the number one spot in the East (could this be another rendition of Danny and the Miracles?). They play a tough brand of D, rebound well, and are unselfish on O.
For the Knicks, the key to their post season success is John Starks. Reports from Charleston (aka Camp Riley) are that John is playing very well and may even start tonight. He is vital as, without him, the Knicks can't score (Charles "Layup" Smith is not the answer). With no outside game, Knicks opponents are able to double down on Patrick and take away his patented fadeaway jumper. Teams that give the Knicks problems are ones with explosive point guards (see the Nets).
Although Mookie is no Kenny, Anthony and Harper are going to have contain him. As the Hawks have the league's best home record, it will be tough for the Knicks to wrestle this one away. Now that Riley has everyone playing on the same page (including Mister Mason), however, Simson sees the experience of New York prevailing in Game Seven.
Seattle versus Phoenix: The marquee matchup. Sir Charles has his Suns playing very well at the most opportune time of the year and is not about to let the Western crown leave Arizona without a fight. Majerle is healthy and on fuego, KJ is running the show like in years past, and even Joe Kleine is putting in some good minutes. With Charles again claiming that he is retiring at the end of the season, you can bet he will want to put on a show.
The addition of the battle tested A.C. Green will prove valuable in the playoffs, more so than during the season. The Sonics (as they would now like to be called) are as deep as any team in the country save Arkansas.
In addition, they own Charlotte's first round pick this upcoming draft. Payton has been mentioned as an MVP candidate (he has come a long way since his "Point guards like me and Magic come around once a decade" rookie year), Gill and Schrempf have been great acquisitions, Kemp is a manchild, and Sam can drain the three when needed. The only thing that could derail the Sonic express is their egos. How well Coach Karl keeps this team cohesive throughout the playoffs (i.e., no bickering about not scoring enough) will be key. Still, Simson like Seattle in seven.
New York versus Seattle: How can Simson go against his preseason prediction, in which he had the Knicks over the Sonics in seven. Although it will be tough for the Knicks to win in Seattle, Riley will some how pull Game 7 out and will fire up the stogies in the Emerald city. The Knicks will have to keep the games at a slow tempo as the Knicks couldn't score 100 versus the MIT team, the Knicks bench can't hold a candle to the Sonics bench, and Starks' knee may not be able to withstand a run and gun seven game set -- especially since he will have to check Gill on D.
Many of our faithful have pointed out that we have been spelling the Lady from the Bottle's name as Genie, rather than Jeanie. I guess we were thinking of the garage door opener, but, hey, who wouldn't want to park their car in her garage? Anyway, back to the competition. Last week's tally was provided to us by Montreal's Larry Walker (see Mondongo), and the final score had Jeanie spanking the Girls from Hee-Haw (yes, we are green with envy at the thought). This week is the culmination of Pooky's Cup and in the championship matchup, send your votes to firstname.lastname@example.org for either the babe from Hazzard County (who has a song written in her tribute) or the Lady from the Bottle: Daisy Duke versus Jeanie.
Sports Paraphernalia For Sale
Considering that all the big-ticket items have been snatched up by the bargain conscious readers, we will have to put on the block a small, but artistic possession: the clippings taped to our refrigerator. Included in this priceless collection are the photos of a reclining Joey Buttafuoco and Hillary Clinton in dominatrix attire, a personal note from John Wayne Bobbitt, and a threatening note from our editors at The Tech. Act now and we'll even throw in the refrigerator.
Race For Futility
AL West: No team above .500 Dallas Maverics: 13-69 T'wolves: 1-4 vs. Mavs
The teams of the AL West are pathetic. It would be very unfortunate if a sub .500 team was to be declared a divisional winner. Dallas is once again petitioning to the league in an attempt to have them play Minnesota 40 times next season, or at least enough times so that the Mavs can get more wins than the 'Boys.
Mondongo's Hueso de la Semana
To Les Expos right fielder, Larry Walker, for his inability to count to three. During Sunday night's game at Chavez Ravine, Walker caught a foul ball off the bat of the Dodger's Mike Piazza.
Thinking there were three outs, Walker handed the ball to a kid in the front row. As he saw Jose Offerman tagging up at first and making his way towards third, Walker realized his gaffe, wrestled the ball away from the kid, and entered Mondongo's shrine.
Trivia Question of the Week
Now that the Lakers and Celtics are out of the playoffs for the first time in 17 and 14 years, respectively, which two teams have made the playoffs the most years in a row (Hint: They both are making their 11th consecutive appearance)? Send answers, comments, and the number of tubs of popcorn you generally eat at the movies to email@example.com.
Answer to last week's question: Florida, Colorado, and San Diego. Kudos to your humble scribes who were the only ones to get the correct answer. We win invites to The Tech`s "Bearded" Clam Bake next Friday, complete with fish, mussels (no, not Sir Vix'), and The Tech celebrities.