Don Nelson taught Steve Nash it’s selfish to pass
Steve Nash, discussing his retirement in The Players’ Tribune, said he came out of Santa Clara University (by way of South Africa and Canada) as a point guard who wanted to pass. But his coach with the Dallas Mavericks, Don Nelson, told him: “It’s goddamned selfish when you don’t shoot.’ . . . He insisted I be aggressive. That growth was a turning point in my career.” Nash, 41, had a 19-year pro career and finished with the NBA record for free-throw accuracy at 90.5%. He was twice MVP, and despite his transformation into a scorer, he ranks third all-time (behind John Stockton and Jason Kidd, with 10,335 assists. His frequent pocket passes and his commitment to ball movement made him unique.
Carlisle questions if Mavs have enough ‘soul’
With their record 8-8 since the All-Star break and seven of the losses by double digits, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called his team “a no-show” and “an embarrassment, flat out.” He added, “In terms of the soul of the team, you’ve got to ask those guys.” One Maverick under fire is veteran Monta Ellis, in a 7-for-31 shooting slump and quarreling with teammates. Also suspected of lacking soul is Rajon Rondo. Dallas was 19-8 before trading for Boston’s point guard, 25-19 after the trade.
Love likes Westbrook as MVP, isn’t best buds with LeBron
When asked on the Dan Patrick Show if he would vote for his UCLA teammate, Russell Westbrook, or his current teammate, LeBron James, for MVP, Cleveland’s Kevin Love said that because James missed a couple of weeks of action, “I’m going with Russell Westbrook because every single night you’re looking at his stat sheet . . . I think Russ is arguably having the better season.” On ESPN’s Mike and Mike, Love said that he and James “are not best friends, we’re not hanging out every day.” But he said he was not complaining, that their relationship “is evolving.”
Haslam to swap Browns for Titans?
Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, is reportedly considering selling the team and buying the Tennessee Titans. Haslam, who is from Tennessee, where his brother Bill Haslam is governor, has long desired to own the Titans. But at the time the Browns became available, the Titans were owned by Bud Adams, who was not interested in selling. Adams since has died, and his estate wants to sell the team. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, there is “a bizarre, remote possibility” of Haslam swapping the Browns for the Titans. A Browns spokesman insisted the report is “100 percent false.”
Ex-Pro Bowl safety Sharper to serve 9 years for rapes
Darren Sharper, who won a Super Bowl ring, played in Pro Bowls and retired to the television booth, expects to spend about nine years in prison for a series of nine rapes he committed in California, Arizona, Louisiana and Nevada. Under a global plea agreement his attorneys negotiated, he pled no contest in Los Angeles on Monday to six counts, including drugging and raping two women in October 2013 and January 2014. His attorney, Blair Berk, said Sharper will serve “a little less than nine years of actual custody time.”
Borland’s early retirement ‘an outlier’ – or maybe not
The retirement at age 24 by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland may be an awakening in the NFL of the danger of brain injury. ESPN’s Sports Reporters debated its significance, some thinking it could be the beginning of a trend. But Boston’s Jackie MacMullen saw Borland as “an outlier. The culture of the NFL will take forever to change.” It surprised most fans that Borland, being one of the top-performing rookies last season, would value his health above the millions of dollars he could make as a professional athlete. Cynics accused Borland of a money grab, but he said he was returning ¾ of his signing bonus, keeping only what applied to the first year. Thus he will be returning more than $400,000. Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Borland insisted: “This to me is just about health and nothing else.”
Rivers on his way out of San Diego?
Philip Rivers is entering the final year of his contract with the San Diego Chargers, and there’s speculation in local media that he may not be extended. Some of that speculation is due to the Chargers scheduling a workout in April with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota at the team’s practice facility. Rivers, who will earn $15.75 million in base salary for 2015, was slowed by back and rib injuries last season after a fast start. He said he does not expect a contract extension before training camp begins, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco insisted he wants Rivers, 33, to retire as a Charger. As for the interest in Mariota, he said, “I tell our scouts we have to scout like it’s an empty roster. That’s what we do every year.”
Baseball’s problem is not pace, it’s no face
Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe said on Sports Reporters, “I’s not the face of baseball that’s the problem but a lack of a LeBron James face.” He has a point. In the 1950s, with Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, in the ‘60s with Mickey Mantle, ‘70s with Pete Rose, baseball had its icons, faces most Americans could recognize even if they didn’t watch baseball. During those decades it was often said the NFL would never match baseball in popularity because “fans don’t know the players’ faces. They never see them behind the face mask.” That has changed because of improved technology but also because advertisers – beginning in the ‘80s with the Super Bowl-shuffling Chicago Bears – made the faces known. We see more of Peyton Manning’s face as he hawks pizza than we see calling plays. With the retirement of Derek Jeter, does any baseball player have a face as recognizable as Peyton Manning’s? Where is the star-power in baseball?