Can’t help but notice the irony of what is going on this week in basketball – both college in pro.
This weekend will be dominated by Final Four talk and taking center stage is Syracuse and North Carolina. Iconic basketball schools to be sure but you wonder how much reporting will be on Syracuse’s NCAA infractions that led them to a self-imposed post-season ban last year or on North Carolina’s much bigger problem of academic fraud that has spread to the entire campus.
Both coaches (Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Roy Williams of North Carolina) are media darlings, easy to listen to, self-effacing, humorous, and incredibly smart – not just basketball smart, but media smart. Both wear an ‘aw-shucks’ persona like teflon. So while nothing sticks on them, you like them anyway. They are the anti-Rick Pitino and John Calipari.
As likable as they are, there is no getting around the seriousness of the infractions that has happened on their watch. While neither man may be directly responsible for it, coaches have lost their job and legacy for less. And neither would still be coaches at their institutions if they weren’t Hall of Fame coaches who consistently put their teams in positions to win a national championship. And at the end of the day, that’s why coaches at this level get hired.
It all kinda makes you feel slimy.
On the professional side, who isn’t enjoying the real-life soap opera of the dumpster fire that is called the Los Angeles Lakers? D’Angelo Russell took video of Nick Young confessing to cheating on Iggy Azalea who he is engaged with. Russell is getting the business from everyone. His teammates isolate him. The home crowd booed him every time he touched the ball last night. The media has crushed him. And in the background, the cheating Nick Young is getting off relatively unscathed.
Make no mistake, what Russell did was indefensible. All the talk of his immaturity and being a rookie – it’s ridiculous. Any middle schooler in any country would know not to do what Russell in fact did. Young’s actions are equally indefensible.
In the middle of all of this is a coach, GM, and owner that appear to be in over their heads. Can you imagine any of this happening with Magic Johnson? Shaq? Russell would have been found mutilated in an alley somewhere with his cell phone in a place that would have needed a surgeon.
In another turn of irony – Blake Griffin and the Clipper drama is playing out in the same building they share with the Lakers. If you are a LA basketball beat writer, this is the stuff dreams are made of.