A Few Thoughts 03/10/17

 Jim Boeheim got a lot of publicity with his polemic about where the ACC Tournament should and/or should not be. Probably the best part of the rant was his simple declaration that since he won’t be around much longer (he is supposed to exit after the 2017-18 season) in the end it really doesn’t matter because, “I don’t give a (naughty word).”
    In case you missed it, he took an innocuous question during the post-game presser following his team’s first round loss to Miami and turned it into a dissertation on tournament locale. He applauded the decision to bring the ACC Tourney to Greater New York, in this case Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, and said there was never any good reason to have it in Greensboro, not ever, ever ever, so there! He framed it in terms of business and recruiting. It was classic Boheim, and i say that as someone who has enjoyed his presence on the college basketball scene for all these years.
    I just happen to think he’s wrong. I once covered an NCAA Frozen Four in Anaheim, and that was stupid, too. I guess there is something to be said for spreading a sports gospel, but sometimes you just have to do what’s right for its own sake. The heart and soul of the ACC was, and always will be, North Carolina. The ACC was founded in the 50s as a basketball league, and just because it was hijacked by football interests along the way that will never change. And the ACC Tourney should never be held farther north than Washington, D.C., just as the Big 10 Tourney should never be farther East than Ohio, and Penn State me no Penn State. I still can’t accept them as a Big 10 school.
     And I’ve got news for Coach Boeheim. It’s been a long time since New York and its environs has been a major source of high-level collegiate basketball talent. If it were true, then perhaps St. John’s would be a lot better than it’s been the past two decades. I’d put up Carolina and mid-South recruits against what’s been coming out of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the rest of the land mass known as Long Island any time.
     I just think what the coach is really saying is that when the game is over in New York there are plenty of places to go, whereas in Greensboro it may be, “Hello, Applebees.”  I’ll give him that one.Doesn’t matter.  But the idea of ACC and Big 10 Tourneys (yes, they’re coming, too) coming to New York is just plain W-R-O-N-G.
     Leave New York to the Big East and Atlantic 10.
Getty Images

Getty Images

I have never made it a secret about my love for the Olympics, warts and all. I covered 11 of them, starting with Barcelona in 1992 and concluding with London in 2012. I loved the atmosphere, the competition and the buzz of every Olympics I attended. Now you know there’s a “but” coming.

     But the Olympics have managed to collapse on themselves. What was once fierce competition among great cities for what was perceived to be the “honor” of hosting an Olympics has become a race to see how many cities can run away from the very idea of providing a home for the games. They are too expensive to stage and they leave a host with a complete mess to clean up, financially and otherwise. The candidates to host the 2024 Summer Games are down to just Paris and Los Angeles, and there is even talk of giving them each one, thereby naming not just the 2024 city but the 2028 one, as well. This would be a desperate move by the IOC  to cover its butt. But after what we’ve seen of late with the next Winter Games having come down to a choice between Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, and 2008 Summer host Beijing before being awarded to the latter, we saw how few people were interested in taking part.
      You keep asking yourself, “How did it come to this?” In the not-too-distant past we had glorious and successful Olympics in places such as the aforementioned Barcelona and the postcard-pretty village of Lillehammer. How did we let the Olympics become such a bloated monstrosity? This Olympic fiasco does once again illustrate the Bob Ryan Rule; namely, “There is nothing good in life that won’t get screwed up.” Although I usually substitute another verb.
RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES

RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES

Dirk Nowitzki joined Kareem Abdul-jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chanberlain, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in the 30,000 point club this past week. Can there be any doubt he is the greatest European-born basketball player of all-time? As to whether or not he is the greatest player born anywhere outside the United States, the argument would include Hakeen Olajuwon (Nigeria). Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Yao Ming (China) and Manu Ginobili (Argentina), among others. Just for the fun of it, I would also submit the name of the wondrous Oscar Schmidt, the 5-time Brazilian Olympian who has scored more points than anyone in total international competition, a whopping 49,737. This does not include his record Olympic total of 1093 points. Oscar was drafted by the Nets in the way back but never received satisfactory contract offers. Well-remembered is the 46 the 6-8 marksman dropped on the USA squad in the 1987 Indianapolis Pan-Am Games. He is in the Naismith Hall of Fame and he stole the show the year of his induction with his witty and charming speech.

     Nowitzki was the 9th pick of the 1998 draft and Paul Pierce was the 10th. As of March 9 they had combined for 56,369 regular season points. You want to know why we love to say that drafts have always been inexact sciences? The first pick of that draft was Michael Olokowandi. out of the league since 2007. By the way, guess who else still remains from that draft? Vince Carter, that’s who. He went 4th to Golden State and was immediately shipped out of the country (Toronto) for fellow  Tarheel Antawn Jamison.

Bob Ryan

Award-winning writer for the Boston Globe and contributor to ESPN Sports Reporters.

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