Tommy Gaines III was a high school basketball star in Georgia in the 1980’s. He never “made it”, or even came close, because he became addicted to crack. In an SAT analogy, redemption stories are to sportswriting as pratfalls are to comedy. The supply is seemingly endless, and it’s a little cheap, but it will always get the intended reaction. I’ve read (or watched) countless stories about former star athletes who lost it all (usually due to drugs), but have fought back as they’ve aged to provide a lesson to those who are now coming up. This is not one of those stories. Tommy Gaines is now in his late-40’s and is still dealing with his addiction to crack, losing the battle, trying to resurrect, and self-destructing again. Heartbreaking. -TOB
Source: “The Sad Saga of Tommy Gaines”, Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/11/14)
PAL Note: I’m blaming my reaction to this story on VH1’s Behind The Music. I’ve become a bit “numb” to stories in which drugs or alcohol incite the downfall of someone with exceptional talent. Tommy’s correct – it’s a heartbreaking story that stands out for its lack of redemption, but it also stands out as heavy-handed prose on Ritter Conn’s part.
All Is Fair In Love & Twitter: Sports Reporting In The Time of “Now”
Do you care about journalistic standards when it comes to sports writing? Honestly – I don’t mean that in a pithy way. I didn’t really think about it before reading this article about NBA scoop monster Adrian Wojnarowski, but the piece is a really interesting reference point from which to consider the role reporting has in an instant news landscape, especially when it pertains to sports (as opposed to politics, world events…you know, real news). Wojnarowski has become the go-to NBA writer when it comes to breaking news, but his methods and track record are shady at best. Writer Kevin Draper sums it up this way: “[C]ompromising your objectivity to score scoops is not great reporting. Relentlessly attacking a key subject and reporting incorrectly on him is not great journalism. Hating a rival so much it clouds your analysis of events is not great reporting. By Wojnarowski’s own standards, he is failing.” -PAL
Source: “Basketball’s Biggest Reporter Is Waging War on ESPN – And He’ll Do Anything to Win”, Kevin Draper, New Republic (12/16/14)
TOB Note: I follow Wojarnowski on Twitter and he does break a ton of news. But after reading this, I will be following with a sharper eye.
How the NFL Pissed Off a Lot of TV Execs
As you may have seen, someone hacked Sony and released e-mails (and plenty more), which the internet has found quite amusing (note: I wrote this before the controversy arose surrounding the non-release of “The Interview”. Now people don’t find this so funny. I still find it rather amusing). This story, about how the NFL’s deal to air some Thursday Night games this year on CBS really pissed off Sony executives in charge of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, is only tangentially related to sports, but is still quite interesting. -TOB
Source: “How CBS and the NFL Teamed Up to Screw Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!”, Timothy Burke, Deadspin (12/12/14)
PAL Note: I, too, have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Sony hack emails over the past couple of weeks. While that makes me a bad person, I’m infatuated by what a person’s email style says about them. A lot of high-level execs really don’t care about spelling or grammar, and there’s no “I hope this finds you well” opening crap that I’ve leaned on for 10 years. This one is funny because we’ve all been a part of a similar email chain – partial information from the onset leading to mass confusion coming to a head and someone being offended. And if Jamie Morganstern has taught me anything, you don’t f with someone’s Jeopardy! routine. Love this story.
Show That Watt Who’s Boss
Most kids send their heroes a letter asking for an autograph; this duder took a different approach. The only thing better than the kid sending his autographed jersey to J.J. Watt is the letter that came with it. Boss move, pipsqueak. Boss move. – PAL
Source: “Little Badass Sends Autographed Jersey To J.J. Watt”, Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/16/14)
TOB Note: I think three different people sent this to me. I must be the only person in America who didn’t find it that cool. This 7-year old sounds like a real prick.
Jordan (Still) Rules.
You may have heard that Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list over the weekend. Laker fans the world over rejoiced, as they see it as another feather in Kobe’s cap, and another data point in the only-in-their-heads argument about whether Kobe is better than Jordan. No non-Laker fan who saw them both play thinks this argument is close, and fivethirtyeight.com does a great job of viciously, yet succinctly, laying waste to any claim that Kobe is superior. Long live His Airness. -TOB
Source: “Once and For All: Michael Jordan Was Way Better Than Kobe Bryant”, Neil Payne, fivethirtyeight.com (12/12/14)
PAL Note: Here’s my idea/challenge to our readers. Have a friend or family member who’s a Lakers fan read this article, then record the video of his or her reaction/rebuttal. We’ll all get a kick out of it, and for the first 3 people to post the video with a link to 1-2-3 blog I will arrange for a 6-pack of good beer to be in your possession no later than January 15, 2015.
The Gordon Bombay of U.S. Soccer
Chris Wondolowski was a late bloomer. After college, Wondo worked his way up from the lowest rungs of professional soccer all the way to playing for the U.S. this year’s World Cup. It’s a pretty remarkable if it ended there, uneventfully. And then he nearly put the U.S. through to just its third World Cup Quarterfinal ever. In the 92nd minute of the U.S.’ Round of 16 match against Belgium, he found himself free in front of the net, and the ball came to his feet. This is what Wondo had spent his life preparing for – the whole reason he was on the team was because of his knack for finishing goals like this. But then…Wondo missed. A quarter of an inch in the other direction, and he’s a national hero. But he missed. The U.S. went on to lose in extra time, and people were angry. This is a great look at how a down to Earth athlete deals with failure, and the public blowback that results because of that failure. -TOB
Source: “After the Miss“, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (12/17/14)
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