Speed Read: O.J. Simpson Chase, 15 Years Later

Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase, perhaps the most riveting low-speed pursuit of all time until James Harrison’s fumble return in this year’s Super Bowl. I wonder if someone baked O.J. a cake in jail? (I point this out basically so I can remind everyone that’s where he is right now - in jail. No matter how down or depressed I might get in life, I can now always remind myself of this and smile.)

OJ Simpson Bronco low speed chase

Of course, someone reminded me that O.J. Simpson spent more time in jail over the double murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman than Donte Stallworth will for his DUI manslaughter conviction - and O.J. was found not guilty. Which, of course, is another reminder of just how screwed up the criminal justice system is, causing me to start grinding my teeth again. But then I think: “O.J.’s in jail, trying to fend off the advances of Stickpin Bubba,” and I start to feel better again.

OJ Simpson

It’s amazing to me that, in a pre-9/11 world, the question of “where were you when O.J. ran?” was basically my generation’s version of the JFK assassination. How gloriously naive we were back then. I was home on summer break from college, having just returned from playing some basketball with my friends and sitting slack-jawed with my Mom as the whole thing unfolded. Now the whole thing seems like some dated bit of pop trivia - except for when Fred Goldman pops up to remind you that real people died, and he’d really like to see O.J.’s stuff get sold so he can get some of his money.

Matt Millen’s reputation isn’t as far in the gutter as O.J.’s, but after destroying any shred of hope that the Detroit Lions might have had for winning in the next 20 years, it isn’t good. Which makes you wonder how much credibility he’ll have working as an analyst for the NFL Network this season. But don’t worry, Matt: Don Banks from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is here to help, with what I assume was meant to be a puff piece on Millen but turns out to be a master class in unintentional comedy.

Matt Millen back on TV

First off, Banks’ main premise is that the stage is set for Millen to have a huge comeback - like Richard Nixon. Yeah, Nixon. Not Frank Sinatra or John Travolta or even Anvil, but Richard Nixon. A good rule of thumb: if you are comparing your interview subject to Richard Nixon in any way, you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors. At least he didn’t compare him to Hitler (that only happens in Detroit).

But it turns out that Matt Millen “admits to being something of a Nixon buff.” Of course he is. And much like Tricky Dick, Millen seems to see himself as the perpetual victim:

“I don’t go backwards,” Millen said. “I just don’t think like that. There’s nothing I can do about [Detroit]. All I can do is from here on out. I understand. In Detroit, they need a bad guy. I was a bad guy. I was to blame for the fall of the auto industry and the housing market. Somehow, I had something to do with [Detroit mayor] Kwame Kilpatrick [resigning], although I’m not sure what. But that’s what happens when you lose in this game. You give everyone a cheap and easy story to jump on.”

Right, because your gross incompetence in leading the Lions to the worst eight-year record in modern NFL history was “cheap and easy” and not at all deserved. Come on. I liked Millen a lot as an analyst, but to try and whitewash his awful tenure in Detroit is simply insane. But Banks seems to think that Millen’s career as an executive might not be over:

I’m intrigued with the idea that Millen, in this era of ultra-short attention spans and a 24/7 news cycle, can put his head down, go back to work at the TV and radio gigs he once excelled at, and re-emerge some day soon with a different reputation and image than he engenders today. I not only think it could happen, I’m convinced it will happen.

Don Banks is clearly off of his meds. Just hang tight there, Don: the men with the white jackets will be there soon to take you back to the funny farm. The idea that a team would be stupid enough to let Matt Millen anywhere near their personnel department is nuts. But then again, as long as Cincinnati is still in the league, anything is possible.

Finally, the Day of the Lakers wrapped up in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant appearing on the “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” to discuss winning his fourth NBA title. Nothing earth-shattering happened (no Triumph the Insult Comic Dog coming on to ask about Colorado), but there were a few decent moments. And seriously, Kobe couldn’t be bothered to get out of his tracksuit for the interview?:

More sports news to consider whether it’s OK to laugh at this window washer’s Wile E. Coyote-like tumble as he fell six stories before bouncing off a lower roof since somehow he lived to tell the tale:

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Speed Read: LeBron’s Heroics Keep Cavs Alive

I guess it just wouldn’t be a Magic-Cavs game in Cleveland if the home team didn’t blow a 20-point first half lead. And not only did their early 34-12 lead vanish, it went away nearly as quickly as it came about. By the time the Magic had finished scoring the first nine points of the second half, they had a 64-56 lead and it looked like Nike was going to have to commission a Hedo Turkoglu puppet.

LeBron and Wally

(The most impressive part is that LeBron literally carried Wally for the entire second half)

But then, LeBron James came alive and put the team on his back like a superstar should in a win-or-go-home game. And (for once this series) he actually got some help from his teammates, who had the courtesy to make the shots he set them up for. When all was said and done, LBJ had a triple-double (37, 14, & 12) and the Cavs had beaten Orlando 112-102, sending things back to Disney World for Game 6.  The odds are still stacked against Cleveland, but this Magic team isn’t exactly full of guys who have been here before.

Stan van Gundy

(Don’t worry Orlando, you still have this very calm, collected man running your team)

ABC counter-programmed against the NBA game with the gripping finals of the National Spelling Bee. Fortunately, they had the good sense this year to keep Mike and Mike away from it, instead going to “Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron, who was joined during the proceedings by Brooksfavorite gymnast, Shawn Johnson. The winner was Kayva Shavishankar of Olathe, Kansas, who got bonus points for having a name that was harder to spell than any of the words on the championship list. She spelled “laodicean” right to win the title, taking home the big trophy and $40,000, which will pay for nearly one year of college. This article says she’s a “budding neurosurgeon,” which leads me to believe that she’s actually already done brain surgery. Props to her if that’s the case. The favorite, Sidharth Chand, flubbed “apodyterium” and finished fourth, joining the 292 other spellers who have ultimately just wasted a whole lot of time studying for this. Anyway, this is all just an excuse to post the video of that one girl screaming the last word back in the ’90s again:

The fallout from the Memphis violations scandal continues, with new allegations surfacing about Derrick Rose, who is supposedly the Memphis athlete whose SAT was taken by a stand-in to ensure that he passed. According to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Rose was one of four Simeon High School athletes whose transcripts were fraudulently altered in order to help him get accepted to college. Meanwhile, Kentucky officials continue to maintain that they believe that John Calipari is not a risky hire, even though his two previous schools have come under investigation soon after he left.

John Calipari

• The BOSTON HERALD says that Terry Francona got so upset about getting ejected from yesterday’s Red Sox-Twins game that he received medical attention in the clubhouse afterward for elevated blood pressure. Tito’s only 50 years old, but has been a walking heart attack waiting to happen for several years. Let’s hope he lives to see David Ortiz go deep again.

• For years, baseball stat-types have been looking for a way to quantify Derek Jeter’s bad defense. Well, the HARDBALL TIMES’ Colin Wyers came up with a metric that does just that. According to the new SZR (Simple Zone Rating), Brooks Robinson is the best fielder ever (which sounds about right) and Jeter is the second worst (foiled by Eddie Yost).

• Here’s your Stanley Cup preview from USA TODAY. This is the first rematch since the Islanders and Oilers played back-to-back Cup finals in 1983 and 1984. The Isles won in ‘83 (their fourth title in a row) but the Oilers unseated the champs the next year. That means it’s now been 25 years since Gretzky and Messier won their first cup. And what a scene it was when it happened (fans with goofy signs were on the ice before the game ended. They’d be tasered these days):

• Speaking of the Stanley Cup, the first two games will be played on consecutive nights this weekend, the first time since 1955 that Cup games have been played two days in a row. And why? No, it’s not Yanni’s fault this time. It’s actually Conan O’Brien’s fault. DEADSPIN says that NBC wouldn’t air weeknight games because if they go into overtime, they could’ve pre-empted one of O’Brien’s first shows as host of the “Tonight Show.” The finals weren’t orginially supposed to start for another week, by which time the world would’ve forgotten about hockey altogether.

• The World Series of Poker got underway yesterday with a special 40th-anniversary hold ‘em tournament. The buy-in: $40,000. About half of the field of 201 has hit the rail, and this special tourney (a who’s who of pro players) will conclude on Sunday. The $10,000 main event doesn’t start until early July. For now, here’s a picture of Phil Ivey getting an arm massage as he casually leaves a giant wad of $100s just sitting on the floor:

Phil Ivey

• Could Joe Torre have a bigger horseshoe up his butt? Manny gets suspended for 50 games, and somehow Juan Pierre turns into Ty Cobb (uh, except for the racist part). Pierre, who is widely known to be one of the worst offensive players this decade (stealing bases doesn’t make you good), is hitting .440 since becoming the starting left fielder for the Dodgers. L.A. won again last night, 2-1 over the Cubs in Chicago.

• I have to admit that I never thought I’d see the day when John Salley and Patti Blagojevich would be interviewed together, but GOOD DAY L.A. had them yesterday morning as they promoted their new TV show about getting stranded in the jungle. And YOU BEEN BLINDED has the video, which includes Steve Edwards asking the married Salley about his “girlfriends,” which didn’t amuse John at all. Salley also defends Patti by calling our country “communist.” Good times all around.

John Salley and Patti Blagojevich

• Is Twitter over yet? Now the LPGA is saying they would “love” to have players tweeting mid-round. Yeah, let’s slow golf down even more.

• BLOOMBERG has a good look at Sonia Sotomayor’s influence in ending the baseball strike nearly 15 years ago. Sotomayor grew up just a couple of miles from Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx, which also happens to be the country’s poorest congressional district. But hey, at least they have a shiny new stadium with $2,500 tickets!

• Now that Shea Stadium has been blow’d up, Tom Glavine has decided it’s safe to pitch again. He threw five scoreless innings in a AAA rehab start last night, and may pitch for the Braves next week. Still, expect something to “flare up” if Glavine’s turn in the rotation comes up when the Braves are in New York.

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Blog-O-Rama: Stephen Curry Chats It Up w/Conan

GAME ON via COLLEGE HOOPS JOURNAL lays up a clip of Davidson star Stephen Curry chatting it up with Conan O’Brien.

At least Stephen should feel better knowing he lost to the national champs.

• Although he has yet to hit the court for the Blazers, the OREGONIAN learns that Portland fans are already singing Greg Oden’s praises - literally.

• THE WORLD OF ISAAC offers up a load of diaper dandies, as they present their top 10 ridiculous Dick Vitale moments.

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Blog-A-Roni: Buck Says “Jub-Jub” In WS For Conan

Joe Buck turns out to be a man of his word. HOME RUN DERBY has video proof of the Fox Sports broadcaster uttering the words “Jub-Jub” during the World Series, as a promised favor to Conan O’Brien:

Joe Buck Conan O'Brien

• The LONDON TIMES ONLINE keeps a stiff upper lip, as they run down Britain’s 50 greatest sports losers.• The PIG PEN gets ready for the NBA season by looking back on the life & times of Dirk Nowitzki.

• THE WIZARD OF ODDS does a double-take, as they examine some college football separated-at-births:

Granny Beverly Hillbillies Lou Holtz

• MR. IRRELEVANT takes some belts around the Beltway, as they review recent DC-area sports media feuds.• PART MULE brags about a study that says the popular kids at school also think of themselves as the most athletic.