LeBron James accepted his award as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year on Wednesday and made a pretty cool revelation. According to SI’s Richard Deitsch, James said that the wallpaper on his cell phone is a Photoshopped picture of him holding the ball while Michael Jordan (in his prime) guards him.
He explained the choice.
“Jordan was my superhero growing up,” James said, per Deitsch. “He was the guy I feel helped me get to where I am today. As a competitor, who would not want to go against the best? That’s like asking [Tom] Brady would he want to go against Montana in the fourth quarter.”
The Basketball Jones speculates that the image at the top of this post is the one LBJ has as his background. If so, I think it’s pretty cool. If MJ is LeBron’s source of motivation, that means he is aiming high. And by having the photo on his phone, it’s a daily reminder of what he’s trying to achieve in the game.
Another cool aspect of James winning SI’s Sportsman of the Year Award for 2012 is that it comes 10 years after he first appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the Chosen One. Here was the February 18 2002 cover:
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Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) seems to be one of the few politicians who does a decent job of keeping up with the world of professional sports. That’s not to say politicians need to follow sports closely, but many of them attempt to reference sports issues to connect with the people and wind up embarrassing themselves. For the most part, Reid seems to know his stuff.
When speaking to the Senate floor recently, Reid compared the Republican budget proposal to the New York Jets quarterback situation.
“Coach (Rex) Ryan — he’s got a problem,” Reid said. “He’s got three quarterbacks. (Mark) Sanchez, he’s got Tim Tebow, and he’s got a guy by the name of (Greg) McElroy. He can’t decide who their quarterback is going to be. That’s the same problem the Republicans are having. Romney’s gone, but he’s still in the background. Who is the quarterback, Mr. President? My friend talks about the trillions of dollars of debt. Mr. President, we just had an election. The people overwhelmingly know why we have this deficit.”
New England Patriots fans who watched Mike Vrabel play during the prime years of his career know that his intensity is what made him such an effective defender. Vrabel was one of the leaders of some Super Bowl-caliber defenses under Bill Belichick. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet in those days.
- Mike Vrabel
Conference realignment is shaking up the entire blueprint of college athletics across the nation, and there’s no telling when it will come to an end. Teams have been bolting from the Big East for years, but the conference has taken a major hit over the last two years with powerhouses like Syracuse, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame (basketball) all leaving. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski does not like it one bit.
In particular, Coach K upset over Maryland moving from the ACC to the Big Ten.
“I hate the fact that we get rid of, in our own conference with Maryland leaving, 60 years of tradition based on a decision right now because you think you’re going to make more money in a certain situation,” Krzyzewski told CBS News. “You give up what really makes college athletics, which is the traditions.”
The driving force behind realignment is obviously money, as conferences like the ACC are seemingly gaining strength and becoming more appealing to major television markets while the Big East wonders how it is going to sell its product.
“I think it’s a long way from ending,” Coach K said. “(Traditions) are priceless and I hate that we’re not looking at those things close enough as we look into future of college athletics.”
Eventually, the dust will settle. But until it does it’s hard not to agree with Coach K. The thought of Maryland and Duke in an out-of-conference match-up with less on the line is not nearly as enticing as the annual ACC showdowns we’re used to seeing between the two powerhouses. New rivalries will certainly crop up before long, but it’s disappointing to see ones that are more than 50 years old disappear.
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- College Basketball
- Coach K
As you may have expected, it seems like there is an explanation for the awkward handshake that took place between Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin last weekend. Darren Sharper, who played college ball with Tomlin at William and Mary, appeared on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” on Wednesday night and explained the history between his former teammate and Harbaugh.
“There’s bad blood between these two coaches,” Sharper said, via USA TODAY. “You think about the fact that the teams do not like each other, so that carries over to the coaches because they’re the ones preaching to the team before the games. And before this game there was a little bit of an incident in which Coach Harbaugh had some comments after they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers which he knew the camera was on, too.”
After the Ravens beat the Steelers 13-10 at Heinz Field a few weeks ago, television cameras captured Harbaugh telling his players that they were the more physically tough team, the more mentally tough team, the better team and the team that knows how to win football games.
“Coach Tomlin, like all coaches do, they watch everything,” Sharper continued. “They read the papers — they try to say they don’t — they read the papers, they look at television, and he thought that was a message towards his team.
“I know this for sure. I talked to Mike, and after the game I asked him about the handshake, and he said that there is some bad blood there. And he did not appreciate what Coach Harbaugh said postgame after the first victory.”
Based on Sharper first-hand knowledge, it sounds like the excuse Tomlin gave about wanting to get to the locker room before his players so he could welcome them is bogus. Harbaugh’s comments after the first game were the same ones we hear from coaches after victories all the time. There’s no love lost between Steelers and Ravens. Perhaps Tomlin is simply falling into line.
Like many of us who watched the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, it sounds like Justin Bieber got wrapped up in the athletic ability and fantastic personality of US swimming star Missy Franklin. The 17-year-old Franklin is an admittedly huge Bieber fan, as evidenced by the time she went nuts after he sent her a congratulatory tweet.
Back in August, Justin decided to send her a massive care package loaded with t-shirts, CDs, posters and other stuff. Franklin tweeted a photo of the goods when she received them:
Come to find out, Missy had to send it all back. During a recent interview with ESPN the Magazine, Franklin explained how the gifts from the Biebs nearly jeopardized her amateur status.
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The number of casualties across Major League Baseball that resulted from hunting grew on Wednesday, as the San Diego Padres announced that pitcher Andrew Cashner is likely to miss the start of the season after cutting his hand during a hunting trip. According to Padres general manager Josh Byrnes, Cashner was accidentally stabbed in the hand while he and a friend were cleaning a carcass.
Cashner needed only two stitches to close the wound, but unfortunately he suffered a severed tendon which required surgery.
“It’s a three-month recovery,” Byrnes told U-T San Diego. “The doctors don’t expect any long-term consequences. He’ll be behind. To say he’ll be ready by Opening Day is unrealistic.”
The right-hander was expected to have a legitimate shot at making the Padres starting rotation with pitchers Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, Byrnes did add that Cashner was “not plan A” to join the starting rotation.
Ironically, Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum was shot in the ear by a friend while hunting earlier this week. He avoided any type of serious injury, but it is still strange to see two separate hunting accidents involving an MLB player and coach in the same week.
While slicing a tendon during a hunting trip certainly qualifies as a bizarre injury, it’s more shocking when we see athletes hurt themselves while sleeping or bowling. When guns and knives are involved, there’s always an increased risk of something bad happening.
H/T The Big Lead
The Carolina Panthers may be out of the playoff hunt, but they have plenty to motivate them against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend. The Falcons are a far superior team, but they needed a miraculous comeback to beat the Panthers in Week 4. After leading the improbable come-from-behind victory, Matt Ryan apparently was not friendly to his division rival.
Several Carolina players say they have had Sunday’s game circled on their calendars because of the nasty things Ryan said after their first meeting.
“I can’t repeat it to you. That’s how bad it was,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn told reporters, via the Charlotte Observer. “He totally disrespected us. They won the game. They came all the way back and beat us. But to say what he said, I don’t think it was called for. He could have handled it a different way. But he said it. … He said some harsh words. So it’s going to be a fight out there.”
As Pro Football Talk mentioned, Ryan was caught by television camera’s saying, “Get the f*** off our field!” after his team’s Week 4 win. It’s quite possible it was that statement that rubbed the Panthers the wrong way, and that is likely what has led to defensive end Greg Hardy wanting to embarrass Atlanta.
“I’m really not a fan of the team down the street,” Hardy said. “I’m trying to mess up their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach, mad about life, a couple depression issues, all types of things. It’s going to be a long day from my point of view. I’m coming.”
It sounds like the 3-9 Panthers are not in search of any added motivation this week. The Falcons have already wrapped up the NFC South and are simply playing for playoff seeding, so it may be difficult for them to match Carolina’s intensity. That being said, there’s no question about which team has the edge in talent.
Brian Rice passed up the opportunity to play Division-II basketball 25 years ago when he decided to join the Navy. He was a promising high school player with a passion for hoops, but Rice felt he wasn’t “mature” enough to attend college. Now 43 years old and retired from the military, the Geneva College walk-on has decided it is never too late.
That’s right, Rice plays basketball for the Geneva (Pa.) College Golden Tornadoes, where he averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds during his first five games against opponents that are less than half his age.
“I have to ice my knees now and again and sometimes I’ll go over to the ‘Y’ and get in the Jacuzzi but I’ve been able to handle the physical part of this,” Rice told the Beaver County Times. “I’m 43 but I don’t feel 43. I feel a lot younger than that.”
Rice’s high school coach, New Castle’s Ralph Blundo, spoke with Geneva coach Jeff Santarsiero and insisted that they give Rice a chance even though he is a full 25 years older than the average player Santarsiero is used to evaluating.
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- College Basketball
Most English soccer clubs have a tradition of holding team Christmas parties each year in the month of December. The parties have often been a public relations nightmare for teams, as some players tend to have a bit too much fun and get themselves into trouble. That will not be happening with the Queens Park Rangers this year.
Because they are currently in last place in the English Premier League, the QPR players have decided that it would not be appropriate to hold a Christmas party for the team this year. According to The Telegraph, the teams feels that it would give the wrong impression to its fans by holding a celebration during a disappointing season.
It may have helped the Queens Park Rangers’ decision that a West Ham player, Andy Carroll, was recently involved in a physical confrontation with a photographer during his team’s Christmas party in Ireland. The team says that Carroll, the highest-paid player in West Ham history, broke no team rules and that a photographer continued to take pictures after he was told to stop.
Whether Carroll was at fault or not, the situation itself may have played a role in inspiring the QPR players to keep the partying to a minimum. They’re already making headlines for being terrible. The last thing they need is reporters talking about how they’re useless on the field and drunks off of it.