Just one last thing about Gregg Popovich’s 1,000th career win, and it isn’t the fact that his team came back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter for only the third time in Popovichian history, which shows how much his players wanted it for him. Nor is it the fact that Kawhi Leonard passed the ball on the final possession not to either Hall of Famers-to-be Tony Parker or Tim Duncan but to the open man, Marco Belinelli, which shows that they all instinctively understand the proper way to play the game.
It is that he deactivated Manu Ginobili and kept Duncan’s and Parker’s minutes at 30 because the Spurs had played the night before in Toronto. It shows a healthy disrespect for personal records in favor of taking the longer view. In other words, if you don’t like the Spurs for what they have done and represent, you may never watch basketball again, for it is wasted upon the likes of you.
If this seems unduly harsh, well, stop being a jackass and we’ll let you watch again in a little while. You can start with watching the Knicks and work your way up.
X X X
Speaking of which, we were hoping David Stern would have stayed true to his new calling as Napoleon at Elba, but he weighed in on the Jimmy Dolan story Monday night, and predictably he handled it with his usual brand of imperiousness and cowering.
“Would I discipline James Dolan for that email?” Stern asked rhetorically during his part in a lecture series at NYU. “Why would I do that? . . . We have our own brand of due process. In terms of all the things that people should be held accountable for . . . if you are looking for every email that gets sent to a fan who sends a nasty email, I’m sorry. That's almost beneath the commissioner's duties.”
A commissioner’s duties, of course, being the care and ongoing worship of the 30 men who pay him. In that way, Stern is right, except for his use of the pronoun. It’s “above,” not “beneath.” Because when it comes to owners and their behavior, there is nothing that isn’t actually “beneath” a mere commissioner.
X X X
I’m sure there’s a lesson in this for current and aspiring sports owners around the world, though I’m confident none will heed it. Parma, a longtime fixture in the Italian Serie A, the country’s top soccer league, has hit on hard times (the players haven’t been paid since July, if that’s a hint) and has just been sold to an Italian businessman named Giampietro Manenti for one euro, or $1.13.
That’s not the unusual bit, though. The previous owners, Russian and Cypriot conglomerate did not take a loss on the deal because IT BOUGHT THE TEAM FOR ONE EURO TWO MONTHS AGO.
In other words, let’s not go counting Mark Davis’ sale price on the Raiders before it’s been agreed to, shall we?
X X X
And now, positive behavioral developments, from The Guardian. In Brazil, where fan violence has reached even more troubling levels, Sport Club de Recife has taken a novel and so far successful approach. It hired a group of 30 fans’ mothers to act as stadium ushers and security during the team’s match with its archrival Nautico.
They were outfitted in orange vests that read “SEGURANÇA MÃE,” or “SECURITY MOM,” and patrolled the grounds so successfully that no arrests were reported. As the P.R. man of the company that came up with the scheme said, “At the end of the day, no one wants to fight in front of a mother, especially his own.”
That said, gentlemen with truncheons were still around too, just in case.
X X X
And now a recruiting scandal in Little League, where the Las Vegas team that lost the U.S. final is asking that the Chicago team that won be stripped of the title because it used players from other districts to create a kind of “super team.” With the added baggage that the winners, who are the first all-African-American team to win the U.S. title, and the claimants are saying they don’t want the title for themselves, but are challenging the championship as “more of an ethics thing, a matter of doing what's right.” And yes, you’re right. This can only go horrifically bad very quickly.
So as you can see, Little League really does have something for everyone. Mo’Ne Davis gets to give Stephen Curry her autograph while being forced to watch the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Vegas and Chicago teams get to learn what adults do in their free time.
X X X
Now here’s a hot take. The LeBron James/Kevin Love issue is nonsense, something that adults handle in about five minutes rather than five days. This kind of problem solving skill suggests that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t yet ready for the big stage.
And by “big stage,” we mean middle school.
X X X
Wade Phillips, whom you may remember as a six-time head coach and seven-time defensive coordinator in the NFL, says he’s figured his true bliss in his eighth DC job with the Broncos, according to the Denver Post’s Troy Renck.
“I was a lousy head coach, but I am a pretty good defensive coordinator,” Phillips said.
There’s a jumpin’ little headstone for you.
X X X
Alex Rodriguez apologized to the Yankees Tuesday, so all is forgiven, right? You like him again, correct? Your desire to be kind, fair and generous overwhelms your petty anger, no?
No. Again, as we suspected. You hate him no matter what he says because, well, you do. We just bring this up for the next time you say, “We are a forgiving nation.” Because like hell we are.
X X X
And finally, George Karl is expected to begin his latest reclamation project, and since he failed only in his first job in Cleveland, Sacramento fans have legitimate hope. But it’s the Kings and their one title in six and half decades, so that isn’t really the way to bet.