Last night during the Lakers-Blazers game in Portland, longtime PDX media personality Dwight Jaynesnoted on Twitter that Oregon running back Kenjon Barner was at the game and seated courtside.
A photo of Barner, who is a junior at the University of Oregon and reportedly mulling entering the NFL draft, was included as part of a brilliant photo essay of Thursday’s Blazers-Lakers game by OregonLive.com photographer Bruce Ely.
From images taken from the KCAL 9 broadcast feed, one can see that Barner’s courtside seat at the Rose Garden was located next to Lakers head coach Mike Brown - and just feet away from Kobe Bryant & Co.
If you listed the most desirous seat of all Portland NBA home games this season, sitting next to the Lakers bench is at the top of the list. Barner’s seat last night was the kind of ticket normally bought by someone to whom money is no object. And, as Jaynes also noted during the game last night, having deep pockets doesn’t always guarantee the right to acquire such a prized seat location.
That’s why the right to buy such a high profile seat location is usually extended only to those who posess certain status that money cannot buy - with last night confirmation that such extra benefits indeed extend to current members of the University of Oregon football team.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we haven’t exactly heard from Bill Walton very much recently. The normally gregarious, verbose NBA fixture has been out of the public spotlight recently, and it’s owing to rehab from spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that’s every bit as agonizing as it sounds.
(Still no apology to Lakers fans for the Luke Walton era?)
Walton’s first appearance came in Portland, of all places; while one without any prior knowledge might think he’d be one of the city’s favorite sons, there’s actually qute a bit of animosity there, as injuries marred the former #1 pick’s career with the Blazers before an ugly dispute with the Portland front office led to Walton sitting the 1978-79 season out while awaiting a trade.
That’s not a healthy way to leave a situation, of course, and after 30 years, Walton apparently felt the time was right to make amends.
Shaquille O’Neal, the Big General Manager, couldn’t resist letting everyone know that he is still master of his destiny and in control of all that he surveys after his trade to Cleveland left him without comment on his own vociferous Twitter account this week for nearly 24 hours.
(The Big Envoy)
Therefore, Shaq let slip that Phoenix Suns president/GM Steve Kerr received interest from Portland for the Big Center of Attention during last season’s trade deadline, but he put his huge foot down on those discussions. Except, of course, no one else seems to think it happened like that.
You had your fun, Red Sox haters, when Boston was 2-6 and looking like a mediocre mess. Now, the Sox have won 10 straight and look like the team to beat in the AL East (can Toronto really keep this up?). The Yankees found three different ways to lose to the Sox over the weekend, and were further embarrassed when Jacoby Ellsburystole home off of Andy Pettite:
Ellsbury’s theft highlighted a three-run fifth inning that led the Red Sox to a 4-1 win on Sunday Night Baseball. It was the weekend in a nutshell for the Yankees, who are now facing mounting questions about their pitching staff, which is ruining things for an offense that’s scoring more than five runs per game (and will get better when A-Rod returns).
So, you’re the Orlando Magic, you’re down 2-1 in the series to heavy underdog Philly, and you just dumped a nine-point lead late in the fourth quarter and find yourself tied in the final seconds. You don’t want this going to OT because the Sixers have all the momentum. So now what? Clearly, it’s time for Hedo Turkoglu to just dribble around for a while and then drain a 26-footer to win it 84-81:
Just how you drew it up, right Stan?
In Houston, the Portland Trail Blazers once again had a chance to steal a game from the Rockets…and once again, gave it away late. The Rockets killed the Blazers on the offensive boards, getting two huge second chances that led to three-point daggers from Shane Battier in the final minutes. Portland still had a chance to tie it with 20 seconds remaining, but Brandon Roy was called for an offensive foul, then Travis Outlaw missed a deep three. The Rockets held on, 89-88, to take a 3-1 series lead. Houston needs just one more game to advance to the second round for the first time since 1997. And, unfortunately for Blazer fans, Tracy McGrady isn’t around to blow this one.
(How does his hair stay behind his ears all the time like that?)
In the NHL’s late game, the Hurricanes blanked the Devils 4-0 to push their series to a deciding game in Newark on Tuesday night. In related news, NHL.COM has told Kevin Smith he can’t blog about the series on their site anymore. Apparently, the NHL wants to be “family friendly” and didn’t realize they had commissioned one of the filthiest mouths anywhere to write about the series. So now, Smith has moved his playoff blog to his own site.
• The Broncos, along with all of the former AFL teams, are going to wear throwback jerseys for the first two games this season. No, not those orange ones we all remember from our youth. It’s this monstrosity that thankfully was retired after only two seasons (according to the DENVER POST, they were acquired secondhand from a defunct bowl game):
• This may not be sports-related, but lets face it, Bea Arthur was twice the man that A-Rod will ever be. So in honor of her sad demise, here’s some grainy footage of her embarrassing performance in the horrible Star Wars Holiday Special:
You think that baseball umpires have it easy? Talk to Kerwin Danley. Actually, don’t talk to him today - he’s probably nursing one heck of a headache. Unlike me this morning, it was not as the result of a night of heavy drinking, but from a baseball bat to the back of the head. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that Danley was whacked by Hank Blaylock’s broken bat while working the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game, and had to go to the hospital with a possible concussion.
Please ignore the Zapruder film quality (get some video conversion software, people) and prepare to wince at footage of the incident:
Unfortunately for Danley, winding up in the hospital is getting to be a regular occurrence for him. You might remember last year when he took a 96 mph fastball to the jaw courtesy of Brad Penny.
If I were Danley, I’d avoid any home plate assignments for the rest of my career if possible. Or I’d only work from a perch about ten rows in back of home, or wearing more padding than The Michelin Man.
But also: THE KILLER BATS ARE BACK! I thought we stopped the maple bats’ raping and pillaging of the baseball world last season? Actually, I don’t know if that was a maple bat or not, but why not start the overly-heated, panicked reaction now?
Meanwhile, you might have missed this Washington Nationals bit of news because, well, they are the Nationals, but sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman were forced to wear jerseys that said “Natinals” during a game last Friday. Which, as you can imagine, was a bit of an embarrassment … for Majestic Apparel, the company that makes all uniforms for MLB. (I can’t imagine the uniform gaffe caused Dunn or Zimmerman to lose their “Natinals Pride”.)
So MLB.COM says that Majestic has apologized for the mistake. They didn’t give an explanation for the error, but we can assume it’s because it was a Nationals jersey and no one cared. Apparently the Nationals’ clubhouse attendants didn’t care, since they just checked to make sure the names were spelled right on the back of the jerseys and didn’t look at the front when they opened the boxes before Opening Day. Honestly, you don’t wash those once to make it less itchy?
Finally, you have to wonder about La Salle University’s basketball recruiting process. After all, top recruit Karon Burton was supposed to be known for his speed, which led him to be named Delware County, PA’s Player of the Year this past season. But if that’s the case, how in the world did he, as the DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES says, get caught by a police officer when trying to flee on foot as cops were chasing him as part of a massive drug bust? Either someone’s scouting department sucks, or there’s a cop who should be receiving a recruiting visit.
But I’m guessing that Burton won’t be getting that scholarship anyway. He was one of 11 people arrested on Monday as part of a two-hour undercover drug sting. Police say Burton ran from a car that had tried to purchase heroin from a cop posing as a dealer, and he tried to ditch bags of pot before being chased down by the cops. But that’s better than the woman who was also arrested in the sting trying to buy heroin and cocaine - with her young daughter in the car seat in back.
Another day, another case of a South American soccer match turning into a giant brawl. SKY NEWS says this one in Argentina started after the captain of Guarani Antonio Franco (who I think was dictator of Argentina at one time) bumped into the ref. Here’s the wackiness that ensued:
Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powetold police that “he couldn’t read“ when they came over to his place about a noise complaint. The CLARION LEDGER says that Rebels head coach Houston Nutt is not pleased, especially since he’s had a history of eligibility issues with the NCAA.
Manny Pacquiao threw out the first pitch in San Francisco at the Giants’ home game against San Diego. The final verdict: more of a light jab than a knockout punch. Check it out for yourself (but don’t tell me you don’t want one of those T-shirts):
Even NASCAR is getting into the “helping the environment” business, with USA TODAY saying that for the first time, they will be using a hybrid as a pace car during the Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. This is what happens when the pinko leftists take over, people.
Congratulations, Blue Jackets fans: you got to see the first home playoff game in team history last night, as Columbus hosted Detroit. The bad news: THE HOCKEY NEWS reports that the Red Wings scored about one minute in and never looked back, coasting to a 4-1 win and a 3-0 series lead. But hey, you can show up tomorrow and be there to see the Blue Jackets get swept for the first time in franchise playoff history.
Finally, let’s give one last finger wag for Dikeme Mutombo, who the HOUSTON CHRONICLE says suffered a knee injury in the Rockets’ 107-103 loss to the Trail Blazers that Mutombo says is career-ending. And whom was he battling with when his knee exploded? Of course it was Greg Oden - he’s now made knee injuries viral. But let’s honor the defensive beast and great humanitarian by sexing someone tonight.
#3 Orlando Dwight Hasn’t Figured Out a Costume Change to Make Him a Point Guard, Toos vs. #6 Philadelphia So Glad We’re Paying Elton Brand $18 Million in 2012-2013s
#4 Atlanta Name Three Players vs. #5 Miami Name Twos
#1 Los Angeles Kobe Clubs Baby Seals with Portuguese Water Dogs Wrapped in Veals vs. #8 Utah Deron Williams Falls Asleep Every Night Clutching a Copy of His Tear-Stained Contract After Failing to Find an Out Clauses
#2 Denver You’ve Got to Be Kiddings vs. #7 New Orleans Seriously, Aren’t These in the Wrong Orders
#3 San Antonio Flashbacks vs. #6 Dallas Hey, At Least We Haven’t Traded for Shaq Yets (Note: the above series has been moved to CBS and the Hallmark Channel as per FCC regulations around programming for the elderly.)
As always, it’s the gift you didn’t even have to ask for. Or didn’t want to.
Major League Baseball tried yet again yesterday to provide another round of gifts to Jackie Robinson, who has been feted nearly as often as Frank Sinatra since his death. Yesterday, every player in baseball wore number 42 in his honor to avoid the embarrassment of 42 wearer infighting last year.
Ian Kinsler followed up on this attempt with his own success: 6-6 at the plate with a cycle attached. If the opposing team last night (the Orioles) happened to be your sleeper team this year, you may want to check just how deep that sleep is.
Speaking of deep sleep, former Illinois governor (and current Illinois chew toy) Rod Blagojevich apparently didn’t feel it necessary to stop at meddling with the affairs of Tribune Co. when he didn’t get his way. He also sent a note to Cubs manager Lou Piniella to recommend a lineup change in 2007.
S’funny; we don’t remember Blago being so receptive to a lineup change at the state level earlier this year. Perhaps he isn’t a big fan of having his moves micromanaged by impotent whiners who never held the position dictating his actions from afar when they’ve never been in the trenches, y’know?
Kobe Bryantand Elmo beatboxing. Look… to misquote David Mamet, that’s why they call it ‘video’:
Congratulations on playing all 82 games this season, Grant Hill. Also, congratulations on getting your wife, Tamia, a spot at All-Star Weekend and various local charity events in Arizona. Strong season all ’round.
Now that the WALL STREET JOURNAL has a sports section, expect to see sabermetric notions exposed to a larger audience. That might explain why the guy in the cubicle next to you suddenly wants to talk about batting the pitcher eighth.
NBA fans probably remember Cliff Robinson (know later in his career as Clifford), who played 18 years in the league for five teams before retiring after the 2006-07 season. Until Dirk Nowitzki came along, Cliff was the tallest player (at 6′ 10″) in NBA history with 1,000 made three-pointers. He was a fan favorite during his eight seasons in Portland, where he has settled after his playing career. Three such fans like him so much that they decided to rob his house…and take $100,000 worth of his stuff.
Unfortunately for the geniuses that ripped him off, they kept the loot in their houses, and authorities have recovered most of the stolen goods. And, by the looks of the list of things that have been found, it appears that Cliff’s ideal day involves laying down some smooth bass lines while off-roading.
We will not be visiting Michael Ruffin’s house. As a matter of fact, we probably won’t visit 99.9% of any NBAers’ houses, be they past or present athletes. (Our only hope is tripping over Chris Andersen’s cardboard box in an alley, really.) But we’re going to make a specific point not to visit the Ruffin residence. In fact, you should too, because what’s there can probably kill you.
(Among Ruffin’s ani-pals is this guy, who’s either an “African spur-thigh tortoise” or Bill Russell.)
That’s because, according to BEHIND THE BEAT or whatever THE OREGONIAN calls their Blazers blog, Ruffin has animals. Lots of ‘em. Weird ones. And say what you will about the joy of adventure or whatever, but when it comes to sharing a domicile with a tarantula… we’ll just err on the side of “no chance of a giant spider sinking its teeth into our face” and say “no.”
Last night, the Portland Trail Blazers blew out the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-94. Surprisingly, it was the 7th straight loss by the Lake Show at the Rose Garden. However, the real story of the game was when Trevor Ariza tried to remove Rudy Fernandez’s head from the rest of his body:
But Trevor’s attempted decapitation wasn’t the only bruising belt by a basketball player in the past few days.
Ever since the Portland Trail Blazers made Greg Oden the top pick of the NBA draft back in the summer of 2007, not much has seemed to go right for the oldest-looking 21-year old in the world. He missed his entire rookie season thanks to microfracture surgery on his right knee, which isn’t the best way to start off a career. Still, Blazers fans and Oden looked to this season as a new rookie year, and hoped he’d help turn things around.
Then Greg banged knees with Golden State’s Corey Maggette on February 12th, and even though team doctors knew that he’d chipped his left knee cap, the Blazers reported it as a day-to-day injury. That’s most definitely not the case, and in fact, it’s more likely Oden will miss the rest of the season. As you’d expect, he’s catching a lot of grief for it, and Oden wants you to know that he’s tired of it.