Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
But for awhile I firmly believed that an anti-Laker cabal operated NBA TV's programming. This is a small conspiracy group - our numbers are, well, one. And it's not the type of conspiracy that attracts the attention of Art Bell, Alex Jones or Jesse Ventura. But it affected me. For years - but even more so since the lockout started and NBA TV's programming has consisted of old NBA games, 87 screenings of Teen Wolf, 76 of One on One and 64 of The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh - I watched as the network seemed to only play Lakers losses or Celtics victories. Seemed like every time I turned it on, NBA TV showed Game 4 of the 1984 Finals, or Game 7 from that series or Game 5 of the 1987 ECF or Game 2 of the 1991 Western semis. They showed Lakers collapses and Celtic triumphs.
I wasn't sure who was in charge but I figured they wore green to the office and spoke with an annoying accent.
But a few weeks ago, I flipped to NBA TV and settled in for a long night that celebrated Laker players and victories. Specifically, the network aired Game 7 of the 1988 Western Conference Finals and Game 6 of the NBA Finals, both dramatic LA victories. Plus, a biography of James Worthy's career played before those two games. Hmm, how would this affect my conspiracy theory? Surely it punched holes in my beliefs, and if I actually analyzed the programming I'd realize that I had often seen games from the 1985 NBA Finals or even '87. We'll see. Perhaps I'll accept that there's not anti-Laker bias at the network. Or, like other conspiracy theorists, I'll simply ignore the evidence and bend small pieces of unrelated evidence into a grand theory that re-affirms my warped outlook.
Regardless, that night gave me a chance to watch five hours of James Worthy at his finest. And James Worthy at his finest was strong in the post, fast on the break, quick on the block, efficient on the perimeter, powerful at the rim and practically technically perfect in the paint.
He was the third most-important member of the 1980s Lakers, but while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar towered over the league and Magic Johnson created Showtime, Worthy proved the perfect complement to both and an often-dominant force in his own right. Along with Kareem's sky hook, Worthy's low-post game gave the Lakers an unstoppable inside combination, two options the Lakers always went to whenever someone did slow down the fast break.
Ah, the fast break. Showtime would have existed without Worthy - in fact, it did before the Lakers drafted him with the first pick in 1982 - but it wouldn't have been as effective. And it certainly wouldn't have been as breath-taking.
Worthy came to the Lakers after starring at North Carolina, where he led the Tar Heels to the 1982 national championship. Here's a great video on Worthy's Tar Heels days.
Watching this, you see many of the moves that he later perfected with the Lakers, minus the goggles. And hearing one of the coaches talk, it sounds like Worthy had many of the same moves going all the way back to 8th grade. Probably had the same beard. Strangely, Worthy's freshman year ended when he broke his leg, the same way his rookie year ended with the Lakers in 1983. In the 1982 title game - which ended with Worthy accepting a misguided pass from Georgetown's Fred Brown in the closing seconds - Worthy dominated, hitting 13-for-17 from the floor for 28 points, though he was overshadowed by the winning shot by a freshman named Jordan.
The Lakers drafted Worthy a few weeks after winning the 1982 NBA title, taking advantage of the No. 1 pick through moves that seemed to define the early 1980s, when great teams got even better thanks to bizarre trades with bad teams that always got worse.
For his career, Worthy averaged 17.6 points and shot 52 percent from the floor. That shooting percentage actually dropped quite a bit at the end of his career, when Magic went away, followed by Worthy's knees and quickness. His first eight seasons in the league, Worthy never shot below 54 percent. But Worthy made his reputation in the playoffs - Big Game James did not earn the moniker because of December games against the Kings. In the postseason, Worthy increased his career scoring mark to 21.1 points per game.
Not that Worthy was infallible in the biggest moments. Lakers fans can still picture his pass in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals. The Lakers were up 1-0 in the series against the Celtics and by two in the game. But Worthy's lazy pass - which hung in the air like a Ray Guy punt - never found its target. Gerald Henderson stole it, went in for a layup while Johnny Most's black heart burst with joy, and the Celtics stole the game and eventually the series, also helped along by big missed free throws by Worthy in Game 4. Five years later, in another Game 2, this one against the Pistons, Worthy missed a free throw in the final seconds that could have forced OT, though without Magic and Byron Scott, the free throw likely would have only delayed the inevitable.
But usually Worthy more than lived up to his nickname, and his last name. His greatest moment came in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals, when he scored 36 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out 10 assists as the Lakers survived against the Pistons and became the first repeat champion in 19 years. That performance came against one of the great defensive teams of all time, the Bad Boys. Mahorn, Rodman, Salley, Laimbeer, the Pistons threw everything at Worthy, and he kept throwing everything down.
A year later the Pistons got their revenge as the gods took out Magic and Scott's hamstrings. The undermanned Lakers - Kareem was on his last legs, in his last games, and David Rivers and Tony Campbell had prominent roles - lost in four, even though they led in the fourth quarter of the final three games. The final game, however, saw Worthy again at the top of his game. He finished with 40 points. It's one of his most underrated performances, lost in the defeat and in his own Game 7 effort from two years earlier. But everything in the Worthy arsenal was on display.
Here's the first quarter from that game. It's a long video. Worth it.
At one point Worthy hits eight straight shots, again against one of the best defenses in league history. It's a unique mixture of power and finesse, aggressiveness and patience. If you want to fast-forward a bit, go to the six-minute mark - that's when Worthy hits his first shot and then a brawl nearly breaks out after Mahorn flattens Michael Cooper.
Worthy's real explosion begins at the 14-minute mark: Jumper from just inside the 3-point line; up-and-under fake, back with the left hand; fearless drive to hoop for finger roll; turnaround jumper on post; 15-foot jumper; monster dunk off the break (great no-call on a possible charge on Coop); 17-foot jumper.
Worthy put on those types of displays throughout his career. Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale were generally regarded as the two post players with the best moves down low during that era, but Worthy wasn't far behind. He possessed the full array, moves he perfected and practically patented. When he faced the basket and a defender, he was equally comfortable going left or right. A drive to the right often brought a finger-roll. To the left he could explode to the basket for a dunk. He'd hold the ball for a few seconds, staring into the defender's eyes. He'd do a bit of an Ali shuffle and then make his move, when he wasn't simply pulling up for a better-than-you-think jumper.
When he pump-faked inside, Worthy used both arms, his head and nearly his entire upper body to sell the move. Defenders might not bite on the first or even the second, but he'd do it until they did and finish it off with a finger-roll. He could spin off a defender the second he caught a pass with his back to the basket and roll in for a dunk. Or he could simply nail a turnaround jumper, spinning to the baseline or the paint.
But the reason Worthy's low-post brilliance doesn't resonate quite as much is because the enduring image of the 6-9 forward is of him swooping from the lane for a dunk on a Lakers fast break. He might have been the best finisher in NBA history, able to glide in for a layup or power in for a dunk. When Magic grabbed the ball Worthy ran down the court like a 100-meter sprinter, looking up once he crossed halfcourt, just waiting for the moment when Magic would deliver a no-look pass.
Worthy's dunks almost always looked the same. Right arm fully extended, it seemed like all he had to do was flick his wrist at the rim.
People occasionally debate just how good Worthy would have been if he hadn't played with the Lakers, specifically with Magic. It seems people have that discussion about Worthy more than they do about any other Hall of Famer. Worthy's numbers - especially his shooting percentage - did drop when Magic retired. But the years he spent running full speed while Magic played contributed to his decline once Magic left. His knees finally gave out. Physically he was nowhere near the same player, meaning the easy baskets didn't come like they once did. He still could dominate down low. And he showed in those '89 Finals - when Magic played about a game and a half - that he would have been able to score no matter who was at point.
Worthy wasn't a great ball-handler and he was never a shutdown defender, although he did a good job of harassing Larry Bird in both the 1985 and '87 Finals. Plus, one of the most famous plays of his career - the steal in Game 6 of the '87 Finals - came on the defensive end. But he was the perfect offensive weapon for the Showtime Lakers, sleek, dangerous, a cruise missile flying down the Forum's court, launched by order of Pat Riley and controlled by Magic Johnson.
In Worthy's final Finals appearance, he limped along in a way that foreshadowed his final seasons. Worthy suffered a severe ankle sprain in Game 5 of the WCF against Portland. He managed to play as the Lakers clinched in six. But against the Bulls, Worthy staggered along, robbed of all his quickness. Each time he scored, he labored back. There were no fast-break dunks, few classic Worthy finishes in the paint. People said Scottie Pippen got the best of him, but that was only because Worthy was on one leg. Yet he still averaged 19 a game, before finally sitting out the decisive Game 5.
If he'd been healthy...I tell myself the Lakers might have pulled it off. They would have won a sixth title since 1980, would have delayed the Bulls dynasty a year. And 20 years later, NBA TV would have replayed the Lakers' victory in the 1991 NBA Finals.
Or not replayed it.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Last Saturday, Janesville native Keith Wiste died at the age of 39 in Mankato. He took his own life, after battling depression for years. He left behind his devastated parents, older brothers Paul and Rob, younger sister Catherine, nieces, nephews and countless friends. Anyone who knew Keith liked him, and those who knew him well loved him. The thought of Keith being alone in his final moments is unbearable, the mental images something out of a nightmare. It rips at your guts, brings tears to your eyes and an ache to your heart.
Even in a town of 2,000 people, it's not quite true that everybody knows everybody. But everyone knew Keith and his family. Keith's dad, Ron, owned Wiste's grocery store, a renowned meat market that had been a fixture in Janesville seemingly since the time the town first appeared as a dot on a map.
Growing up, I looked up to Keith, who was three years older than me. Like small towns everywhere, sports drove life in Janesville. Keith played football, baseball and basketball. At his parents' house, Keith, his brothers and dad hosted countless basketball games at the hoop in their backyard. Every kid in town knew about the hoop at Wistes and had an open invitation to shoot anytime they wanted.
When I was younger I couldn't beat Keith or the other older kids who would one day go on to star at our local high school. But I tried. Keith graduated in 1990, a member of the first graduating class from the newly formed Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. He graduated from Southwest State University in Marshall. Over the next decade, he coached girls' and boys' basketball teams at numerous schools in southern Minnesota, staying involved in the game he'd loved since childhood. For a few years he coached at his old school, JWP, a tenure filled with difficult losses and even tougher times, but even that did little to dampen Keith's enthusiasm for a life on the sideline. Coaching was in his blood. He also umped and reffed. It wasn't just coaching - sports were in his blood.
He also owned his own successful business, Wiste's Continuous Concrete Edging; of the numerous online tributes to Keith, many include comments from customers, who remember him for his work ethic, craftsmanship and personality.
Those are just a few of the facts of Keith's life.
Keith the man? He was funny, generous, personable, outgoing, helpful, quick-witted, empathetic and owned a smile that lit up his whole face and any room he was in. He loved his nieces and nephews. He had one maneuver - a point and smile - that he executed so often and so well, a friend noted online that it was a "patented" Keith move. He was...alive.
And he suffered from depression. Keith endured a couple of debilitating bouts with the dreaded disease, but had been doing well for more than a decade, committed to taking the medications he knew helped him stay healthy. But his latest, final battle with the disease came after he had stopped taking the medicine. He reached out to his family, who, like always, rallied to his side. By the time he started back on his medication, the darkness must have been too overpowering. Suicide was the cause of death, but depression killed him, as surely as cancer and diabetes kills its victims.
His wake on Tuesday brought hundreds of people to the Janesville funeral home, situated along the old Highway 14. The people came to remember Keith and to offer comfort and support to his grieving family. Scheduled to run between 4 and 8 p.m., the wake lasted until just before 10 p.m., the line of people stretching out the door practically from the time it began until it finally ended six hours later. The people who stood in line were his friends, or knew his folks, or shopped at Wiste's, or graduated with his sister or worked with his brother or hired him for a job. So often, when a person commits suicide, their life becomes defined by the way it ended, instead of how it was lived. Those people made their way to the funeral home because Keith died, but they were really there because of the way he lived.
It's impossible to fully understand the pain that drives someone to suicide, just as it's equally difficult finding the words to describe what was lost. Anything besides "I'm so sorry for your loss" sounds inadequate. You could search the writings of prophets and poets and still never find the words that adequately explain the pain the victim felt or the hurt that crushes those left behind.
His funeral on a cool, rainy Wednesday packed the Lutheran church in Janesville. Those who crammed into the pews and balcony said goodbye to Keith and listened to the thoughtful, comforting words of pastor Larry Griffin, who attempted to explain the unexplainable. But not even the heavens can ever truly answer the question we'll never stop asking: why?
Death brings small towns together, physically and emotionally. There's comfort in numbers, or at least a bit of support. You see people you grew up with and thought you'd grow old with, before college and relationships and jobs and...life separated you from them and your town. You gather to mourn, while regretting that it took the death of a friend to bring everyone together. At Keith's wake and funeral I talked to people I haven't seen in 15 years, sat next to folks I've barely spoken with since graduating 18 years ago. It was like an all-school reunion. If you took all the old basketball talent that gathered together you would have had an alumni team that could compete against just about anyone. Of course, we would have been missing the guy with a potent outside shot - Keith.
I last saw Keith over Christmas, when I was home from New York and attended a basketball tournament in Mankato. As I walked out of one of the gyms at Bethany, I spotted Keith near the exit, standing, watching hoops and smiling, a scene that had taken place hundreds of times in his life and one I'd seen dozens of times. I stopped to say a quick hello, how are you? Figured I'd slide out of that gym and head to another one for a different game.
Two hours later... I never left that gym and never actually budged from my spot near the doorway, next to Keith. We spoke about our lives and old times, about basketball, the games we played and the ones he coached. We laughed. We talked about our dads. We talked about our jobs and a few of our goals. We said goodbye and promised to stay in touch. Maybe catch a game the next time I was in town. The regrets about never catching that next game will surely linger, but not as long as the memories of that night and of his life.
Keith Wiste died on September 17. He was laid to rest on September 21. He was surrounded by his loving family, his friends, a town that loved him, a town that will miss him and a town that will never be the same.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
But this year, thanks to the lockout, I'll probably do none of that. And with nothing in the present and a bleak future, I'll retreat to the past. There I'll find old NBA tapes tucked away and discover magical YouTube clips. Or, like I did tonight, I'll spend four hours watching NBA-TV and classic games from the league's past.
Tonight the network carried several "playoff gems," games that included a vintage performance from George Gervin, a Randy Breuer sighting in a Bucks-Sixers playoff game and Vinnie Johnson's unbelievable scoring binge against the Celtics in the 1985 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Ah, the NBA in the '80s. There's still nothing quite like it, even though I, unlike many others, still love the league as much today as I did back then. But now, let's roll back the videotape, pull out the history books, and in the voice of that guy who narrates the formerly omnipresent VH1 shows, let's rediscover why we loved the '80s. A potpourri of hoops from the glory days.
* The Vinnie Johnson game was amazing. He scored 22 points in the fourth quarter in Game 4, against the defending champs. This is why he was the Microwave. For the game he hit 16 of 20 from the field, most of them on tough jumpers with that odd form from that oddly shaped body.
A few months later, Vinnie's effort led to one of my favorite narration scenes in NBA history and surely the most awkward. I've written extensively on the Return to Glory video before. My campaign to have it win a retroactive Emmy remains in full effect - I'll send another letter to the committee after this blog goes up. It's all about the Lakers finally defeating the Celtics, the begoggled wonder, Worthy's dunks and Magic's passes, paired with creepy, inspiring music from the 1980s. But early on in the video, while recapping the Celtics-Pistons series, Dick Stockton describes the action by well, talking about a lot of Johnsons. I won't embed the video for fear of violating obscenity laws in 22 states. Here's the link. Go to the 5:20 to 5:52 mark. And here's the transcript:
"For Chuck Daly, Johnson was right on target. Johnson's heroics also baffled the Celtics, for it wasn't Detroit's three All-Stars who evened the series, but an unheralded, happy-shooting man named Johnson. Appropriately, the Celtics had a Johnson of their own. Dennis Johnson, another guard who sparkles in the playoff limelight. DJ's aching wrist made him miss the morning practice. But no injury could slow him down from a 30-point evening. Daly turned to his own version of Johnson."
* That game also featured the work of Kent Benson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 NBA draft. That previous sentence is completely accurate, though perhaps the word featured is a bit much. But the Milwaukee Bucks really did take Benson No. 1. The former Indiana star averaged 9 points and 5 boards in his career. He also famously used his mug to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's hand when the Captain's fist struck the young center's face. Benson's face should have been suspended. That's not the only time the word bust was used in connection with Benson. The next seven players taken after him had higher career scoring averages. Some of the guys taken after him? Otis Birdsong, Marques Johnson, Walter Davis, Jack Sikma, Bernard King, Cedric Maxwell and Norm Nixon. Yes, it's safe to say Benson didn't work out as well as Milwaukee's previous No. 1 overall pick - Kareem. The Bucks had a thing for overachieving Hoosiers who underachieved in the NBA. A year earlier, they took Benson's old teammate, Quinn Buckner. Somehow they avoided Scott May.
* As I mentioned on Twitter, it was odd watching the 1986 Bucks-Sixers game. The Sixers crew handled the broadcast. The analyst had a familiar voice but I couldn't place it. I finally figured it out - Doug Collins.Then I also realized why it took me so long to place him: I'd been watching for 20 minutes and not once had he mentioned he coached Michael Jordan.
* On NBA-TV it was a big night for tall white guys from the Midwest. The Bucks game also gave a glimpse at the giant Minnesotan, Randy Breuer. The Lake City legend battled under the boards against Charles Barkley. At one point, after a collision in the lane, it appeared, just for a second, that Barkley might be capable of snapping the skinny Breuer with just a bump from his ample ass. By the way, big Randy is no longer the all-time leading scorer in Lake City history. That honor now belongs to Lance Meincke. Still, Breuer did lead the school to back-to-back state titles. Unfortunately, there weren't a lot of people videotaping Minnesota prep games back in the late '70s. There were people videotaping NBA games in the 1980s. And here's one of the few online clips of Breuer as Michael Jordan viciously dunks in the tall fellow's stunned face - or, if you prefer, posterizes him.
* What's America's longest-running punchline? Historians can help me out here. What's something that could get a laugh decades ago and still could today? My vote: The San Diego/LA Clippers. If it seems like you've been making fun of the Clippers forever, it's because you have. Fathers pass the jokes down to their sons who pass it on to their sons who pass it on to their sons. At some point, daughters get in on the joke. The Clippers. They've changed cities, but rarely their fortunes. And guess what? In the 1980s? They were really bad.
1987: 12-70 (!!)
1984 (San Diego) 30-52
The most frightening thing about that 1987 season is that the Clips started it 3-3. So they finished a tidy 9-67. They actually dropped from 3-3 to 3-15, lost 12 in a row. And how about this? After they won to snap the losing streak, the Clippers then lost 16 in a row. So a 1-28 stretch. They also finished the season the way you want to finish it if you're really trying to make a mark as being one of the worst teams in NBA history - they lost the final 14 games of the year. Of course, since they are the Clippers, they pulled off the Timberwolvesesque achievement of missing out on the first pick in the lottery, which turned into David Robinson. Instead they took Reggie Williams with the fourth pick. He failed to change the franchise's fortunes.
* The 1984 season ended in heartbreaking fashion - at least for Magic Johnson and 9-year-old Shawn Fury. In Game 2 of the Finals, Magic forgot how much time remained in regulation and the Lakers failed to get a shot off, while Kareem stood on the block, arm raised, waiting for a pass that never came as the Lakers waited for a title that never came. But before that, the Lakers benefited from someone forgetting about the scoreboard. In this case that player was young Dallas guard Derek Harper, who, in Game 4 of the Western semis, thought his team led the Lakers even though it was tied. The tough-to-watch footage - even for a Lakers fan it's hard to watch someone publicly shamed like this, perhaps because we now know what was down the line for Magic - is here, starting about the 3:40 mark. Yes, the Lakers won in OT. Just like the damn Celtics did a few weeks later.
And since I can't end on a downer about the Lakers and Magic, there's this:
Friday, August 19, 2011
Certainly September 11 changed that view. But even in the aftermath of the horror of the worst day in the country's history, I didn't ever feel - and I don't think the majority of people did either - that the entire country was in danger of total destruction. In so many ways the danger was more terrifying than the Cold War, because it was random, unpredictable, and could seemingly happen anyplace, and at anytime. Even with that, there wasn't the fear that the entire country - the whole world, for that matter - could be brought down in the matter of hours, with just a push of a button.
That was what I imagined life was like in the early '60s, as the United States and Soviet Union escalated their arms battle and it all came to a (war)head in Cuba. But still I only knew the children's book version.
Dobbs' book puts the reader in the moment. Now I feel like I do know what it was like and why it was so terrifying, even though the most frightening aspect of the book isn't necessarily the fact the world came so close to the brink, but how it came so close to destruction.
One of the primary strengths of the book is it tells the story from all perspectives - American, Soviet, Cuban. Dobbs gets into the heads of Soviet soldiers in Cuba and leaders back in Moscow. He takes you inside the cockpit of a U-2 and into the White House. He explains Fidel Castro's motivations and the obsessions of the politicians who were determined to eliminate him, seemingly at any cost.
The book opens with some amazing anecdotes, which any conspiracy theorist would read and exclaim, "Told ya so!" On the first pages, Robert Kennedy meets with a group focused on eliminating Castro. These were the folks who brainstormed the idea of using "chemical agents to destroy Castro's beard, so that he would become a laughingstock among the Cuban people." It's not known if a night of heavy pot use prompted that idea. But Dobbs reports on how far the U.S. was willing to go to rid itself of the former baseball player turned ruler:
"The State Department drafted plans for the sabotage of the Cuban economy; the Pentagon came up with a scheme for a wave of bombings in Miami and Washington that could be blamed on Castro." Fake bombings blamed on a stooge? Okay.
RFK was meeting with that group when the missile crisis started. From there, Dobbs meticulously documents why events escalated, culminating in "Black Saturday," when nuclear war seemed possible.
The American generals were eager for some action. General Thomas Power told an aide to defense secretary Robert McNamara, "The whole idea is to kill the bastards." If there were "Two Americans and one Russian" left alive at the end of the war, "we win." Dobbs writes that McNamara's aide replied, "You had better make sure the two Americans are a man and a woman." And, preferably, attractive ones.
At the time, the United States did possess an advantage in sheer number of nukes. We could have blasted the Soviets and "won" a war, while losing tens of millions of Americans. And, terrifyingly, some in the military seemed all right with that proposition.
Looking back, it's frightening to see how a little thing could have led to a big war, whether it was the Soviets shooting down a plane in Cuba or an American spy plane accidentally venturing into Russian airspace. Imagine WW3 starting because of a befuddled pilot. It's absurd. And was completely possible. Fortunately, John Kennedy also spent time looking back during those crucial days. He reflected on how World War I started because of "mistakes, misunderstandings and miscommunication" and how that unleashed "an unpredictable chain of events, causing governments to go to war with little understanding of the consequences."
If nothing else, Dobbs' book is a great reminder about the benefits of civilian control over the military. Support the troops? Sure. But make sure you oversee their leaders. Their job is to win wars, but it's the politicians who have to be trusted with knowing when they should begin.
And that goes for the Soviets too. Nikita Krushchev, like Kennedy, fought to control a situation that had first spiraled out of control because of his own actions. For eventually pulling the missiles out of Cuba, Krushchev was basically labeled the loser in the event, by people on both sides. What a wimp! Didn't have the guts to go through with a war! Actually, he helped save the world, after almost helping destroy it. Just like Kennedy.
"The question the world confronted during what came to be known as the Cuban missile crisis was who controlled history: the men in suits, the men with beards, the men in uniform, or nobody at all. In this drama, Kennedy ended up on the same side as his ideological nemesis, Nikita Krushchev. Neither man wanted war. They both felt an obligation to future generations to rein in the dark, destructive demons they themselves had helped to unleash. ...Something more than dumb luck was involved in sidestepping a nuclear apocalypse. The real good fortune is that men as sane and level-headed as John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Nikita Sergeyevich Krushchev occupied the White House and the Kremlin in October 1962."
We should all be thankful for Krushchev? I think we missed that part in school.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The Fury Files: An Interview with Tom Linnemann.
Later Thursday night I should have a new post up here on shawnfury.blogspot. Nothing too long - probably not 4,000 words on basketball movies from the '70s - but a little book review about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It'll be just like history class!
And Friday on TVFury, we'll have our links post up - The Tapes - and perhaps my podcast with Terry Vandrovec.
Monday, August 15, 2011
To his credit, Robby refuses to back down. He's Henry Steele, damn it, and that means he's strong. Sure, he looks like a 98-pound weakling out on the court with the men - and probably weighed 108 pounds in real life - but he will not allow coach Smith to break him, even as he's occasionally breaking down.
Another classic scene. Weirdly, this is the same speech my junior college coach, Mike Augustine, gave to me. Making it even stranger? We didn't even have scholarships.
In the end, of course, Robby/Steele wins the girl and the big game.
Young Henry feels pretty cocky after those three minutes of stardom. Three minutes. To that point he'd shown next-to-nothing, other than an inability to hold his uppers. His jumper still looks shaky, he needs a year in the weight room or a week with BALCO, and he falls for any girl who looks him in the eye and says hello. But like he was back in his Colorado hometown, he's now the man. And he tells coach Smith what he can do with that scholarship, in probably the best part of the movie.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
There's now yet another place to read me online. The world needed this.
I've teamed up with my old friend and former colleague Terry Vandrovec for a site called TVFury.
Check it out here.
My first post is up here.
We were going to wait until August 1 to launch the thing and I suppose that's still the official start date. But, well, it's basically launched, so please check it out when you get the chance. We're still not sure exactly what will all be on the site but basically it'll be us writing about whatever. Primarily sports, but other things too. Sort of like my blog here.
I'll still be posting here on my own blog so don't abandon this one.
But TVFury should be pretty fun. We had heated negotiations about the name. I fought for Fury to be first. Lawsuits were mentioned, but things settled down. For now.
We're going to update the site throughout the week. Once August 1 hits we've talked about each of us having a post a day three or four times a week so we'll see how that works out. We're also going to have podcasts so you'll get to listen to our radio-ready voices.
Terry is a kick-ass sports reporter at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, where he covers South Dakota State University and writes about 95,000 words a week with stories, blogs, live chats and tweets. I've known him since 2000, when I started working at The Forum in Fargo. He was attending Concordia at the time and was something of a wunderkind. He's had the same work ethic since he was in school - extraordinary - and is an extremely talented and passionate writer. He's all right for a Cobber.
He's so passionate he just couldn't wait until August 1 to start writing on TVFury. And I couldn't let him have all the glory, could I? So there we are and there we'll be. Hope you enjoy it.
For those on Facebook - I know, pretty much everyone but me - there's a Facebook page: Facebook.com/tvfury
And we're on Twitter.