Archive for June, 2009

Would you know an NBA draft pick without a name tag?

Notwithstanding the broadcast, the webcast, the radio feeds, the Twitters and the overblown but expected wall-to-wall, they-took-the-point-guard-from-Slovenia! coverage by all of the ESPN networks, I have a question for the masses:

Blake Griffin is a beast. Unfortunately, there just aren't a lot of household names beyond him in the draft.

Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is a beast. Unfortunately, there just aren't many other household names in this NBA draft.

How much do you care about this NBA draft?

I hate to sound like the old guy on the porch. But it seems to me that the draft has lost some of its allure.

I love the sport — basketball players in general remain the greatest all-around athletes in pro sports — and I suppose there’s still some lingering drama before each selection.

The problem is the draft has become relatively faceless. Once you get past the first few names — and this season, once you get past Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin – there isn’t much to identify with. Most need name tags.

This season’s projected No. 2 pick: Ricky Rubio, a point guard from Spain. Would you know Ricky …

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Counting down in Hades: Fehr, Petrino, but not Saban (yet)

How many schools haven't called Bob? Dunno. I can't count that high.

My doorman in Sports Hell.

The first thing I thought when I heard Donald Fehr announced his retirement Monday was: Does he have to leave behind the usual items when he cleans out his office?

You know: desk lamp, stapler, the box of bartered souls in the corner.

Excuse me, Count: Is there room for Fehr in your underworld?

The Tuesday Countdown continues …

10. Do dollar signs convey integrity?

So, let’s get this out of the way first because I know so many of you are ready to spew the he-was-just-doing-his-job speech. A lot of players got very rich while Fehr was head of the Players Association. There, I’m covered. But since when did leading hundreds of increasing wealthy athletes speak to the contribution to the sport or the strength of it? Does a rich plumber make you feel compelled to use that plumbing company? What if the rich plumber is a liar and a thief and charges you $1,500 when all you really needed was a bottle of Drano? Does a wealthy used car salesman make you want …

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Sund allowing Woodson considerable input

this is a caption

Even Mike Woodson must be wondering what his lineup will look like next season.

If it’s past 4 p.m., it must be time for the 3 p.m. blog . . .

Spoke to Hawks general manager Rick Sund today. Wanted to ask him about a variety things leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft but one in particular: The input he will afford coach Mike Woodson on the team’s decisions before the draft and potential trades and signings thereafter.

That might seem like an automatic, given the Hawks are coming off of good season. But coaches and GMs often are not on the same page in pro sports. It also became clear that Woodson and Sund’s predecessor, Billy Knight, were in a completely different library two years ago — particularly after Knight went to ownership more than once and tried to get approval to fire the coach.

“Philosophically, I believe the head coach should be involved in the process,” Sund said. “I don’t know what they’ve done here in the past. But certainly Woody’s involved here now. He has …

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News and Views: Waddell, Dudley and Braves’ holy gloves

Don Waddell once was a promising prospect, as well as a promising GM. But 10 years later...

Don Waddell's final days as a player. Note the focus.

Welcome back to News and Views, the exciting new craze in the blogosphere that asks the question: Is there anything we can post at about 11 a.m. because there seem to be lot of people goofing around at work on the Internet who clearly have nothing else to do? Or something like that.

♦ NEWS: The Thrashers hire Rick Dudley as some kind of assistant under Don Waddell. (An official announcement will come later today.)

♦ WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because it’s all clear now to Thrashers’ ownership. After nine mostly crummy seasons, the biggest problem was Don Waddell just needed a better assistant!

♦ VIEWS: I think I just articulated my view. But OK, a few more thoughts.

This should be an improvement. How much remains to be seen.

This is what I know about Dudley. He did some nice things in his three stops as an NHL general manager (Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida). His work with the Lightning planted the seeds for their Stanley Cup team. …

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Just saw the UFL draft list: Mike, stay away

Sorry. But the "U" just stands for unacceptable.

The "U" is for unacceptable.

According to the United Football League’s website, the proposed new league’s mission statement is: “To fulfill the unmet needs of football fans in major markets currently underserved by professional football by providing a high quality traditional football league comprised of world class professional football players.”

I’m still trying to figure out how there are “unmet needs” in New York and San Francisco. But let’s put that aside for a minute.

After looking at the league’s first “draft” list, I’ve decided: If Michael Vick plays in this thing, he’s crazy.

The UFL’s four teams — New York, San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas — had their first draft. You can tell a lot about a football league by the quarterbacks. Here are the six who were drafted: Brooks Bollinger (Orlando), C.J. Bacher (New York), Brian Johnson (New York), Shane Boyd (San Francisco), Brett Dietz (San Francisco) and Liam O’Hagan (San Francisco).

Google should become the league’ title …

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Braves return home to a crowd (but whose?)

Boston fans cheered the Braves' Derek Lowe (formerly of the Red Sox) at Fenway Park. But they'll invade Turner Field by the thousands to back their own team this weekend. (AP photo)

Fortunately, they will be checking tickets and not allegiances this week at Turner Field.

Revenue isn’t the worst fallback. You take what you can get if you’re the Braves, particularly when three of the visiting teams on a home stand — the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox – come with overstuffed caravans and the term “meaningful games” locally appears to have a decreasing shelf life.

But if the Braves want to excite somebody other than Bob in accounting, this would be a good time to start. June is melting into July, and a .500 record is starting to resemble some lofty objective. Hammering home the reality of it all, the home team ranks 19th in attendance, creating ample room in the parking lot for incoming convoys from Chicago, New York and Boston.

“We picked up a couple of games on the Phillies in the …

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I’m back, and Happy Father’s Day

I'm back (for a week).

I'm back (until vacation).

Hello all. Open for business again.

Woke up this morning to the sounds of my daughter running out of the house because she overslept and was late for work. She forgot to wish me Happy Father’s Day.

But I’m over that crushing blow — thanks to the sounds of my wife outside with a hedge trimmer.

Thanks for watching over the place for a few days while I was out. Also, thanks to most of you for your kind wishes. (And to the others: Sorry. I came back.)

I’m writing through this week, but then taking some vacation time, which I need to squeeze in before Falcons’ training camp starts.

I’ll post a column later today on the Braves’ upcoming homestand against the Cubs (makeup game), Yankees and Red Sox. I know we’re not even at the midway point of the season but I think everybody knows how important this week is, not just for the standings but also for holding the attention of the Atlanta market before the Falcons open training camp. (That should give you some …

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Taking some time, back in a few days

We're closed for business until Sunday.

Hello, everybody. I’ll make this quick.

I need to leave town for a few days for a family situation, so there won’t be any new blogs posted online Thursday though Saturday. I should be back in time to post one or two things Sunday, including a column pointing to the start of the Braves’ home stand next week.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank you for the way you’ve responded to our new practice of having Mark Bradley and I post at least three blogs per day, Monday through Friday. Record page views indicate you like the change and we appreciate the response. Whether you agree with the opinion or not, it’s all about the passion, and you’ve go it.

Thanks again, Jeff.

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Dimitroff says Falcons will be better (and he can enjoy it)

Given the way things went this off-season, Thomas Dimitroff and Arthur Blank can both enjoy vacation.

Given this off-season, Thomas Dimitroff and Arthur Blank can both enjoy vacation. (AP photo)

It was about a year ago this time when Thomas Dimitroff took his first vacation as a general manager.

Of course, he brought his laptop. Also, a stack of DVDs of players in the next draft. Also a cranium that must have felt like it was about to implode at any minute.

“I worked a lot, and took quite a bit of heat for that,” he said Wednesday. “I’d watch players. I’d study the league rules and the salary cap. I was still getting my feet wet. I was in uncharted territory as a general manager, so there was a little bit of apprehension not knowing what was around the corner. But, yeah, sometimes I’d would be there at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, sitting and watching tape of a player, and thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’”

Dimitroff’s second vacation as the Falcons’ GM begins next week. Two weeks in Colorado and Montana. He’ll bring the laptop. And a stack of DVDs of players in next …

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Face Off: Hawks need to get the point — and it’s Rafer Alston

See this guy? He was the starting point guard for a team in the finals. And he's available.

Rafer Alston is giving the thumbs down to staying in Orlando.

Read Mark Bradley’s view: Say goodbye to Marvin Williams, hello to Caron Butler

There is a point guard who just started for a team that reached the NBA finals — and he’s available. He also comes with a contract considered Atlanta Spirit budget-friendly. Hello?

The Hawks shouldn’t re-sign Mike Bibby. They should trade for Orlando’s Rafer Alston. He requires less of an investment than Bibby and might get them further in the playoffs. Look what he just did for the Magic?

I know. The Hawks finally got good again. The last thing you want to do is blow things up. But this isn’t a razing as much as it’s a needed remodel. (See ajc.com photo gallery.)

There’s a pretty good chance that we’ve seen as far as this Hawks team can go. They survived a seven-game series with Miami in round one. But they were waxed by Cleveland in the second round, and it turned out the Cavaliers weren’t nearly as dominant as everybody believed. …

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