So LeBron James will tell the world which team he's going to allow to give him the max dollars as a free agent during an ESPN special at 9 PM Thursday night. Gosh golly, I know I'm sure excited about it. The guy's a terrific player, but I've lost a lot of respect for him in the past year. First there was his poorly handled exit from the playoffs last season, then this year's total failure to show up against the Celtics in the postseason. We've seen James and his high school buddies act out an entire season worth of Entourage this week with their drawn out meeting process being conducted in gym shorts. There's been the LeBron website relaunch, the Twitter feed launch, and now this crap. LeBron's fun to watch on the court, but this "pay attention to me" routine is the kind of lame shtick I expect from a high school kid who's going to put four hats on the table and then fake putting two on before throwing them away and putting on the real one. James has tried to give the impression he's a serious pro, but this is amateur hour all the way.
Andy Staples of SI.com posted a terrific piece yesterday chronicling the trip by a group of Miami area kids to a 7 on 7 football challenge, with informal recruiting drop ins at several schools as well. These are largely kids who are considered big time talents, yet some of them are already finding ways to blow their opportunity at playing college football. While visiting LSU's locker room, one player steals current Tiger Patrick Peterson's watch and another rips off a set of football cleats. Not only are they thieves, but they're stupid enough to not realize locker rooms have security cameras. Knowing the NCAA has spent the past decade making it more difficult for coaches to really get to know the kids they're recruiting (no text messages, limited phone calls, no spring evaluation by head coaches, etc) how can anyone be surprised when it turns out they landed a guy who's a complete turd? Not everyone does the schools the favor of letting them in on that before they ever sign.
Over the weekend the St. Paul Pioneer-Press had an interesting claim in a writer's notes column. It said that star recruit Seantrel Henderson, the big offensive lineman who chose USC on signing day but waited a number of weeks to sign while hoping for more info on the Trojans potential NCAA probation, had evidence he had been given assurances by Lane Kiffin and his staff that USC would not be severely punished. Since they had, Henderson was prepared to present that as part of his case to get out of the Letter of Intent he signed with the school. Yesterday, USC announced it was releasing Henderson free and clear to go to any school he wanted to. What a remarkable coincidence. It appears Miami or Ohio State will benefit from Henderson's change of heart. I could care less where he goes, and we'll see once he gets there whether the kid can back up the hype or not. I do think it's hilarious that as soon as the word was out Henderson was about to expose Lane as a lying weasel the school suddenly was able to find a way to release him. Surely the word is starting to get around about Kiffin's tactics by now after Bryce Brown and now this - better get it in writing, kids.
JaMarcus Russell seemed to be a lock for the most embarrassing weekend moment for any sports figure after he was arrested for possession of codeine syrup. The whole thing's pretty pathetic, but in a weird way this may wind up helping Russell eventually get another shot at the NFL. If his horrid, disinterested performance with the Raiders in his three years there can be attributed to something other than sheer laziness, it makes easier for a team to convince itself and its fans that a "clean" Russell deserves another chance. On the other hand, former Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez is about as toxic as it's possible to be thanks to his arrest for shoplifting a leather messenger bag from the Polo store at a mall. Keep in mind this is a guy who in the past three and a half months alone has been fired for cause from his job as head coach of the Pirates while also having multiple players arrested, other recruits fail to qualify, and suing his former employer. There wasn't much more he could do to damage his reputation short of accumulating a Dave Bliss style body count, yet he found a way. While I share the sentiment this bag is not worth 1400 dollars, there's no way to shrug an accusation like this off if you're that rare AD who would even consider hiring this jerk. Short of provable total innocence on his part, Gonzalez is done for good.
An English study makes the claim that listening to sports radio is just as risky as driving drunk. While I'm sure Damon Evans would love to say his problems were caused by listening to a Braves game or my friends Chuck and Chernoff on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, I'm afraid I'm not buying. Can sports discussion or an actual game be a distraction in the car? Sure, just like air drumming to your favorite song, a conversation with your buddy in the passenger seat, or Christie Brinkley racing you on the freeway. The difference is that should you have an issue concentrating while driving for whatever reason, you can always stop talking/turn the CD off/hang up the phone and resolve the problem. It's hard to turn off being hammered.