Curry’s former coach Jackson picks Harden as MVP
Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is the front runner to be Most Valuable Player of the NBA. But he was surprised that Mark Jackson, who coached him last year, endorsed Houston’s James Harden for the award. Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Jackson said, “If you twisted my arm today, I would probably vote for James Harden. And the reason why is that he singlehandedly put that Houston Rockets team in the position they’re in today.” Jackson pointed out that Harden “has stepped up his game defensively. He’s not a great defender, but he’s competent on the defensive end.” Curry’s reaction: “It surprised me that he said that. . . . Just his opinion and we’ll roll with it.”
Sore losers, Kentucky fans set fires
Following the first loss of the season – and postseason – by the Kentucky Wildcats, 31 of their fans were arrested for setting fires, being intoxicated or engaging in other illegal conduct. Late Friday night, after Kentucky’s 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, some 1,500 fans began assembling in the streets of Lexington, Kentucky to express their anger. With police converging on the scene, the crowd dispersed at around 2 a.m. Many Kentucky fans assumed the team would have an easy run through the tournament, not realizing how difficult it is to win the necessary seven games in a row. Giving Kentucky a 99% probability of winning the tournament opener, a 90% probability of winning the next four leading into the Final Four and an 80% shot of winning the final two, the ‘Cats would have had only a 41.5% chance of finishing a perfect 40-0. But because Kentucky was such a popular choice to run the table, Las Vegas bookmakers set their chance of a perfect season at about 55% going into the tournament.
Sore Losers, Part II: Badger Ryan slams refs and Duke
After his Wisconsin Badgers lost the NCAA Championship Game, coach Bo Ryan went sour grapes, faulting the officiating and making a snide remark about the winner, Duke, recruiting one-and-done players. “There was more body contact in this game than in any we played all year,” Ryan said, pointing out that Duke in the second half had a 16-3 edge in free thows. Then came his swipe at the winner. “We don’t do a rent-a-player. You know what I mean? . . . Try to take a fifth-year guy.”
Between the Lines: Easy to say he wouldn’t recruit Jahlil Okafor, who never indicated the slightest interest in an almost all-white campus in the tundra of Madison, Wis.
NCAA leads in reversing Religious Restoration Act
The NCAA, which is rarely praised for its actions or inactions, was lauded by mainstream media as the impetus to modifying a law that supporters and opponents said would protect florists or caterers from prosecution for not servicing a same-sex wedding if they believe that’s what Jesus wants. Curiously, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence chose his rollout of this law to coincide with the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis. Mark Emmert, the usually slow-moving NCAA president, threatened to shun Indianapolis for future events if this bill was allowed to stand. Within a couple of days Pence was backtracking, offering to amend the law so it wouldn’t offend the people it had targeted. Nancy Armour in USA Today called Emmert “the hero of the hour.” The ESPN Sports Reporters said Pence “would have gotten away with this” if not for the NCAA Tournament being there and providing the platform for a category 5 media fire storm.