Mavs’ Rondo suspended after shouting at coach
Rajon Rondo, the point guard the Dallas Mavericks thought they desperately needed, was benched for the final 20 minutes of the team’s 99-92 win over Toronto on Tuesday night after a shouting match with coach Rick Carlisle. The dispute occurred when Rondo ignored a play call from the bench as he dribbled up court at the American Airlines Center. Carlisle stormed out to the floor and called a timeout, during which coach and player exchanged heated and profane words. Assistant coach Jamahl Mosley stepped in front of Rondo to prevent possible physical contact with Carlisle. “It’s an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion,” Carlisle said, while Rondo declined comment. The coach and player had another argument in the locker room, after which Rondo was suspended for Wednesday’s game in Atlanta. Animosity had been building because Carlisle insists on calling the plays and doesn’t want the point guard to audible. Former Dallas point guard Jason Kidd had similar issues with Carlisle, but they never resulted in public outburst.
Between the Lines: Rondo finds Carlisle is old-school — Bill Fitch, Hubie Brown — dictating everything from the bench. Not that Rondo, who soon becomes a free agent, is easy to coach, as Doc Rivers can attest. Bottom line is Mavs were 19-8 without Rodo, 20-13 with him.
Hockey fever in Vegas: Season-ticket deposits near 7,000
Prospective owners of an NHL team in Las Vegas have collected $150 deposits (and higher) on 7,000 season tickets – at a rate of 50-200 sales per day. According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Hockey Vision Las Vegas” is led by Bill Foley, chairman of a company based in Jacksonville, Fla., Fidelity National Financial. Foley, who plans to close on a house in Vegas on March 31, is lead investor in a group that includes the Maloof Brothers, who live in Las Vegas and formerly owned the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has not promised a franchise, but Foley believes if he can present 10,000 season-ticket holders, an NHL team will come. Foley told the Review-Journal: “We’re not going to the casinos or the Strip, we’re asking local people that they put their hard-earned money down for a deposit.”
Between the Lines: Regardless of where the owners live, an NHL team in Vegas seems plausible, given how Canadians – most of them hockey fans — flock to the sunny winter. But Bettman might check some NBA and Sacramento references before partnering with the Maloofs.
FSU freshman scores 30 in final 4:38—and loses
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, freshman guard for Florida State, scored 30 points in the final 4:38 of Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Hurricanes, but his team still lost. Miami, which led by 18 when Rathan-Mayes began his barrage, prevailed at Coral Gables, 81-77.
Reggie Bush cut by Detroit Lions
When Lions general manager Martin Mayhew recently discussed the team’s running backs, he praised Joique Bell’s inside power (what, you hadn’t noticed?) and Theo Riddick’s ability to “make a difference in the passing game. Bush, who turns 30 next month, rushed for 297 yards in 2014, scored two TDs and missed five games with an ankle injury. His compensation for next season would represent a $1.5 million “salary cap hit” that can be applied to re-signing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Olbermann suspended for insulting Penn State students
Keith Olbermann sent out some angry, insulting tweets to students at Penn State University, and there was such a storm of protest against him that ESPN suspended him from his show for a week. Olbermann first alienated Nittany Nation earlier in the year when he designated the school and NCAA “Worst People in Sports” after sanctions were reduced in the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. When a Penn State supporter tweeted him Sunday about the university’s $13 million fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. Olbermann was not willing to let bed enough alone. He tweeted back: “Pitiful.” And follow-ups: “Get your $ back – you didn’t learn how to read. PSU students are pitiful. . . .” Debate ensued over who was more “pitiful,” the university for minimizing its role in child molestation or the sports commentator for coming too close to an endorsement of pediatric cancer. The network suspended Olbermann from his eponymous show until Monday. Olbermann’s last (we hope) tweet on the subject: “I was stupid and childish and way less mature than the students there who did such a great fund-raising job.”
Power 5 unites against SEC on frosh ineligibility
The proposal to make freshmen ineligible to play NCAA basketball and football is gaining momentum. The Big Ten became the fourth of the Power 5 conferences to endorse a rule change that would make freshmen ineligible for basketball. Only one Power 5 conference has not joined in this movement: the Southeastern Conference. No surprise that Kentucky opposes, with its No. 1-ranked basketball team playing four freshmen in the rotation. Commissioners of the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC have expressed support for the change. University of Maryland president Wallace Loh told the student newspaper, Diamondback: “If they do well because they spend more time, get more academic advising . . . their freshman year, they’re going to graduate. And I think it’s worth spending an extra year of financial support to ensure that they graduate.” The newspaper reported that the Big Ten is circulating a document titled “A Year of Readiness.”
Click here for TSR’s Mark Roberson’s article on Freshman ineligibility.
Bill Maher wonders if Daytona 500 is TOO white
Comedian Bill Maher (HBO’s Real Time) took his satirical punches at his favorite target: Southern Man. He noted that for the first time ever, the Daytona 500 was held the same day as Oscars Night: “More white people giving awards to white people.” But he also contrasted the two events, comparing the swag received by Oscars presenters with the NASCAR counterpart: Hollywood gives 20 free rental-car trips, while “Daytona gives free tires for your home.”
Dear NASCAR: Joey Logano wins the 500 and doesn’t fit the stereotype of the Redneck Stock Car Driver. He was born in Connecticut and doesn’t chew tobacco. You’re about to be a mainstream sport, if you can end the restrictor plate nonsense.
Stewart crashes again at Daytona, soothed by pet pig
Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was first driver to crash in the Daytona 500, took out two-time Daytona champion Matt Kenseth with him and said on the way to the garage, “It was 100 percent my fault.” Stewart’s record in the Great American Race fell to 0-17, but he was comforted by his pet pig. He tweeted, with pix: “After a disappointing day for me at the 500, this little boy was happy his dad came home after 2 ½ weeks.”
Reggie Bush unwanted in Detroit?
When Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew recently discussed the team’s running backs, he praised Joique Bell’s inside power (what, you hadn’t noticed?) and Theo Riddick’s ability to “make a difference in the passing game.” But he left out Reggie Bush. When pressed, he said Bush’s status is “up in the air,” even though he’s under contract with the Lions for the next two seasons. Bush, who turns 30 next month, rushed for 297 yards in 2014, scored two TDs and missed five games with an ankle injury. His compensation represented a $4.5 million “salary cap hit.” But his contract was restructured for 2015, providing him a signing bonus at the loss of future security. In the NFL, salaries are rarely fully guaranteed. As Mayhew noted, “A lot of guys that are under contract are in the same situation.”
Between the Lines: Whatever he’s being paid, Bush is no longer worth it. Bell is a better runner, Riddick is a better receiver, and third-string running backs are cheap.
Arians wonders if Mariota is ready for NFL play-calling
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, who’s considered an expert on quarterbacks, isn’t sure Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is ready to call plays in the NFL. “So many times, you are evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play, never used a snap count,” Arians said at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “They hold up a card on the sideline, he kicks his foot and throws the ball. . . . They ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership there.” Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider agreed it’s difficult to evaluate college passers in a quick-tempo spread: “They are looking at cards with turtles and colors and stuff, as compared with watching a guy line up, read a defense and run a play.”
Between the Lines: Cases in point are Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, first-round draft picks who found it difficult to read defenses and drop back from the scrimmage line. Baylor’s Bryce Petty also faces scrutiny on this issue.
Chargers and Raiders propose sharing an LA stadium
Could Los Angeles go from having no NFL teams to having three? The St. Louis Rams make no secret of their interest in returning to LA, which they fled in 1995. And last week the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Padres announced a proposal for building and sharing a privately financed $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, Calif. Last month Rams owner Stan Kroenke revealed plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium on land he owns in Inglewood. There’s also a proposal for an NFL stadium in downtown LA to be known as Farmers Field.
Between the Lines: Here we see elaborate negotiations with city halls of Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis over new stadiums. Would the Chargers really attach themselves to their hated rivals, the despicable Raiders? Nick Canepa of U-T San Diego called it “a bluff of Himalayan proportions.”
Peterson ‘uneasy’ about return to Minnesota
All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson told ESPN he’s “still uneasy” about returning to the Minnesota Vikings after they ran from him last fall. In the aftermath of child-abuse charges filed against Peterson in Montgomery County, Texas, the player believes the Vikings encouraged Roger Goodell to place him on the commissioner’s exempt list. Peterson, 29, is due to be reinstated April 15. He wants to resume playing for the Vikings, but: “I’m still uneasy about a lot of things that took place within the organization. . . . This is how they treat me when I’m down and out? You kick me?”
Between the Lines: He can’t understand why the Vikings did not embrace him after he put bruises and welts on his 4-year-old son. He’d prefer to be in Dallas, in his home state where child-whooping is not looked on with such disfavor.
Baseball takes measures to speed up the game
Major League games last season averaged a record 3 hours, 2 seconds – half an hour longer than they did 40 years ago. The rulebook requires the batter to keep one foot in the box throughout his at bat, but the rule has not been enforced in recent decades. But now it will be. Boston’s David Ortiz is known to take 30 seconds between pitches, as he strolls, taps his bat on his cleats, adjusts his helmet and claps his hands before re-entering the box. Beginning May 1, this type of delaying could bring him a $500 fine. Clocks are being installed at the ballparks, and pitchers and hitters will be required to be ready as soon as a commercial break is over. In another measure to speed up the pace, managers will call for instant replay from the dugout, rather than have to approach the umpire on the field.
Dear MLB: You could also give the relief pitchers a golf-cart ride from the bullpen. And let the batter go to first base on an intentional walk without waiting for four pitches.
C.C. Sabathia feels comfortable at 305 pounds
C.C. Sabathia, 6-7 righthander for the New Yankees, showed up at training camp weighing 305 pounds – 30 more than he carried last season, when he was thinner than he had been in years. “I lost that weight because I had a cousin die of heart disease,” the pitcher said. But he along with some baseball scouts felt the loss of weight brought loss of velocity. “Now I feel good where I’m at,” Sabathia said. “I feel a little stronger. I feel my legs under me.”