Talented 2020 Team Switches Team Affiliation!!

 

New Team Penny 8th Grade Team

 

A big time move was made by a very talented 8th grade team featuring some of the best players in the city earlier in the week. They were  Team Thad but now they are  Team Penny according to team sources and bringing over a nice early spring resume. They won the Coach T Classic in St.Louis and the Southern Spring Invitational most recently but now are on to new beginnings with a different organization. They have pretty good size and their guard play is outstanding with Tayson Parker, Kennedy Chandler and Reggie Neely and good length with Marcellus Brigham Jr, Issac Smith and Rodney Mason Jr, all 6’3-6’4. Inside they are strong as well with Rodney Newsome Jr and Omari “Big O” Thomas and 6’5 Markeston Douglas (Haywood County0 forming a strong tandem which can compete with anyone in the country. The are headed up by Head  Coach Zach Davis who said, “I’m glad to be apart of the program, we felt this was the best opportunity and position for everyone”  He will be assisted by Coach Rod Davis (Arlington Middle) and Coach Joe Washington (Bellevue)

This move also gives some flexibility with Kennedy Chandler being a 7th grader possibly teaming up Memphis Wildcats duo and top 5 players in 2021 in the city , Johnathan Lawson (#1) and Jaylen Brown (#3). Or the possibility of Lawson and Brown playing some with the older group along with a few other possibilities at some point in time during the summer which could affect at least 1 age group . All in all, it’s a nice move as Team Penny loads up for the future as you could see some of these players on the Nike EYBL circuit in a few years.

 

What Happens Now Memphis?

 

coachlawson

 

The University of Memphis finds itself in a bit of an awkward premise and it’s making national noise through social media and websites around the country. Here is what most know who have followed the story,  Memphis has a new coach in Tubby Smith, formerly of Texas Tech who was brought in after Josh Pastner left for the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.  Questions started to fly around town, who’s going to be on staff and will Coach Smith keep assistant coach Keelon Lawson on staff.  You know Keelon, he’s the father of players Dedric and KJ Lawson, 2019 top 10 player in the country, Chandler Lawson and 2021 Johnathan Lawson who will be a top 10-20 player in the country, already in the top 10 by one national site. The table started to be set by Tubby who hired Pooh Williamson, who’s been with him for years and Joe Esposito who worked under him as well at Texas Tech.  With those two being added, one spot remained, who would be the third assistant? Well according to several media sources, it wouldn’t be Coach Lawson and this is where we stand now.

Coach Lawson, who’s been at the University of Memphis for 2 years met with Coach Smith and it was apparent that Coach Smith wasn’t to fond of the idea of him as the third assistant. Which is what I thought would happen honestly when I first heard Tubby coming to Memphis , old school, 60 plus year old coach, ” You guys will not tell me who I can hire type of guy. He didn’t know Coach Lawson, probably honestly never heard of him or the 4 Lawson offspring so why would I keep him but just wait, this is where it heats up. Dedric Lawson is your best player, he will be your best player next season, he averaged 16 and 9 as a supposed to be senior in high school. He averaged 20 and 10 in the AAC tournament before losing to UCONN in the championship game and he took his name out of the draft immediately after Coach Smith committed to the program. Well just a few days ago, he put his name back in to test the waters and it started, why would Dedric do this? It’s apparent, that something has happened right?

I think there was a little bit of behind the back kind of done in secret meetings, hey guys, I’m gonna do things my way, you guys hired me, I’m not keeping Keelon, okay how about this Tubby, let’s see if we can get Coach Lawson off the bench and into another role like player development.  Well, that won’t work because the NCAA rules say that you can’t hire a guy who has ties to a player just to get him and it’s a 2 year time frame and KJ and Dedric are just in that first year so that wouldn’t work. So, how about this, maybe we can get a waiver, yeah that’s the ticket but talk to Keelon and see if he will go for it. Problem is, Keelon didn’t go for it, he’s smarter than what they thought and he felt played to an extent. So much for that plan and besides that, that waiver thing, not happening because it would go against what the rule was put into place for.  Now you have a Coach in Lawson who was told to kind of keep the guys together when the administration was looking for the new guy and  was also told that he would be okay as an assistant irregardless of who comes in. Maybe that was contingent upon a younger guy coming in who kind of knows how things are done and not a 65 year old who lives by my way or the high way mentality but it was the kind that he University hired.

Keelon is leveraging his kids, Keelon is a pimp, Keelon doesn’t the deserve the job, he’s under qualified for it and Dedric and KJ aren’t that good any way, let them leave. Those are the things I’ve heard the most.  Well, let me tackle a few of those and this is something that I’ve pondered doing a few days because some may think, hey man, you to close to this and maybe I am but I have to give my opinion on it. I remember last year around this time, it was all good, people were really excited about Keelon and the boys and now you are calling Keelon a pimp? Now, let’s get rid of Keelon, screw em, don’t need em? Same fan base begged Josh to get it done and he did, Keelon did what he promised and delivered both sons as the third assistant, a McDonald’s All American and a top 50 in the country.  If he’s not hired on by Coach Smith, why would the sons stay? What did you really think would happen? Ah, don’t worry about it, you guys go ahead and stay but that’s fantasy land and that ain’t how it works. If you say your going to do something and then go back on, there will be some backlash and this is it. Keelon doesn’t deserve the job? What are his qualifications? There have been 2 high school basketball coaches to go undefeated in Tennessee High School Basketball history, one is the legendary Verties Sails, the other, I will let you take a stab at it, I’m sure you can figure it out. In his household, there are a total of 5 High School state titles, 9 AAU/Travel ball national championships and over 20 years of coaching experience on his resume. Who do you think is at the head of all that? His name, Keelon Lawson.

He’s not just a guy, basketball has been his whole life and he has college degree for those who might be wondering.  This is what bothers me about people, most don’t know any of what I said in the previous paragraph, most probably think, he just a big dumb guy with good kids but there is a reason they are good and it all points at him.  If you just could see the  the hours of work put in by him over the years and for those who know him, you wouldn’t be so eager to put him in the “daddy needs the money” category . That’s insulting to him and his sons and part of the reason why I sometimes wished that all 3 were not apart of the Memphis program from the start.

I understand the culture that surrounds the city when it comes to basketball. I understand the under tones of you not supposed to get or have that type of position which most will say I’m tripping about but well, it’s true.  I understand that everyone wasn’t happy for him when the job was given to him 2 years ago. I know how people can be concerning the Tigers, if they are good, everyone is Tiger blue, if you lose, them dudes suck and that’s pretty must the gist of it or am I wrong?  Don’t take this from Coach Lawson, he holding the program hostage, stand your ground right Tubby? This is another thing that’s coming from this, KJ Lawson is some what of an after thought and people think that he can’t play because of what they last season which was 50 percent version of himself. He didn’t have any lift on his foot which had been giving him some problems for awhile but he tried to play through it and it resulted in, KJ is a serviceable player, he wasn’t good when he played tweets and post on social media. He’s since had surgery on his foot, that’s kind of what happens when you try to give it a go but you really not 100 percent but you playing anyway. People don’t see you at full potential and think your just mediocre  player even though you were  a top 30 guy all the way up until you committed to the University of Memphis.

Now that it’s all come out, the University of Memphis is trying to sort of save face by saying well, we thought he would be okay with just a job but if that was the case, why did you already have a  waiver from the NCAA in mind before you asked him about another position on staff?  Coach Lawson was pretty straight up years ago and has always been that however the same was not done to him. Maybe it put Tubby in a weird spot and he’s still on the I’m doing it my way tip but one thing Coach Smith, this is Memphis, your grace period won’t be long. You would lose your 2 top scorers from the previous year and have to fill 5-7 roster spots instead of 4-5.  So what’s happens now? Does Tubby give in and say, Coach Lawson your my 3rd guy for this year or does he say, Coach it’s been real? Does he go ahead and make the hire of Saul, his son who played under him at Kentucky? What’s kind of funny, he’s trying to replace the father of kids with his son who played for him, kind of ironic. What guys are the new assistants going to bring in that are better than the two that you will lose? Based on track record and Tubby not having a NBA guy on his rosters in 8 years, I would say that the odds of them bringing in a stud this late are slim to none. People here like 4 stars and up players and the 2 stars that Tubby new staff is accustomed to getting, that won’t fly in Memphis. There are some on both sides of this, saying he would be making a mistake by not doing the deal and some saying, let him leave, question is, who you listening to because while they are praising your moral stand now, they will screaming for your head if you don’t win. With all that’s happened,  how do you know that Coach Lawson,  Dedric and KJ stay regardless of whether they offer the job or not because of everything that occurred in the last few days? Their father and family name as been ran into the ground and the patriarch has been vilified as Pimp of The Year locally. Don’t think that they haven’t heard and seen what’s been written about their father and them as well so it makes it bad on bot sides. The weight of the scrutiny is a lot especially with a personal issue that’s been affecting the family since last week. With all of this being said, the ball is in Tubby’s hands and it’s up to him and as the old saying going, let your next move be your best move.

Who’s Coming Out Of The East And West?

 

Tim Duncan (Last Time Around?)
Tim Duncan (Last Time Around?)

 

East and West- Who’s Coming Out?

The 2016 NBA post season is finally here after a year in where the NBA regular season seemed like it took forever to end.  Golden State broke the league record for wins with 73 surpassing the 95-96 Bulls and putting themselves in the history books. How do you feel honestly about that? Lots of questions were asked in the last few weeks, some to former players, coaches and each said great things about this year’s Warriors. Charles Barkley said that the Bulls of that year would kill the little Warriors, Scottie Pippen said that they would have swept the Warriors in 4 in a series. Some slick shade but today’s game is different than in the mid and early 90’s. The game has evolved a lot, some good some bad but I think the league is definitely softer but that’s another article in itself.  One question for you to think about though, Who’s your favorite out of the East? Who’s your favorite out of the West?

I think Golden State’s road is tougher than in the East because of 2 teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder are led by the best duo in the league in my opinion, regardless of what you may feel about Russell Westbrook, he’s a savage, averaging 23 ppg and 10 assist and has a league high 16 triple doubles on the season. That’s second to only Michael Jordan for Triple Doubles in a season who had 17 of them in the 88-89 season. The knock on him used to be that he didn’t pass enough to Kevin Durant, well, what say you now? If it wasn’t for Curry’s year in Golden State, he would probably be right there as a league’s MVP. His teammate I mentioned, arguably the best scorer in the league, the 6’9, even though we know he’s taller than that Durant, oh, he’s just putting in 28 a night. They are going to cause a lot of problems for teams as evidenced by their thrashing of Dallas yesterday by 30 plus. The Spurs are well, the Spurs, model of consistency for years and this year is no different. It’s the same cast with a splash of youthfulness and one of the best young players in the league in Kawhi Leonard.

67-15 on the year but yet people have kinda of forgotten about them because of the year that the Warriors have had. I think they give the Warriors the toughest out of anyone in the West in a 7 game series because they are veterans, PDG (Parker, Duncan Ginobli) have been there, done that, 5 titles with Popovich as the head and maybe the best coach as a strategist guy in the league. I just have a feeling that they haven’t showed it all to Golden State and Pop might pull out a trick or two when both teams meet up. I do have the Spurs meeting them eventually though, what did you think I would take the Grizzlies over them? I think Aldridge will be more involved if both teams play because there is a clear advantage there for them because the Warriors like to play small ball and it works for them but it can hinder them defensively. I think this is Duncan’s last go around but  he’s not going to make it all about himself like someone I know, I think he will be huge in that series when they play. Sorry Clippers, Chris Paul is great but nothing they have done in recent memory makes me think they will do anything this year. Memphis, too many injuries, not enough scoring, my dad had a 10 day with them this year, sad but that’s how the Grizzlies year has been. Portland, no deals, Houston has James Harden but outside of him, who else, Dwight Howard, who hasn’t been good since he left Orlando?

I know Steph Curry is that dude right now, averaged 30 on the year, Klay Thompon is the second best shooter in the league behind his teammate averaging 22 ppg on 42 percent shooting from 3 which is absurd but Curry was 46 percent, that’s even more absurd. Most guys don’t even shoot over 42 percent from 2 but you two guys on your team shooting the cover off it nightly. Curry is of another planet, something we haven’t seen before, on the break 2 on 1, he shooting the 3, in half court, guys hanging on him, he’s still taking and making. Sometimes, it looks like he’s playing against high school kids, making guys fall with his handle, dabbing doing whatever he wants,  that’s how good he’s looked this season and this off last year where they won a title.  They have other guys who can hurt you as well with Draymond Green who led them in rebounding, Andrew Bogut and player who doesn’t get a lot of credit, Shawn Livington who kills with his post-up game from the guard position. Andre Iguodala is another versatile guy who defends multiple spots and can make shots. I just have this feeling about San Antonio, it’s like they turn it on every other year and I love Popovich and the games that he plays within the game The Spurs will need a big time playoff series from Danny Green another veteran and David West who always seems to play big in the playoffs. This is what he was brought to the Spurs for, now it’s time to see it. If they can’t get key contributions, the Warriors will handle them but I like the Spurs chances and I pick them to come out of the West.

In the East, I think it’s the Cavaliers coming out because I can’t see anyone beating them in a 7 game series in their conference. I know the Raptors are good with Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan, Detroit is a tough team with the best rebounder in the league in Andre Drummond a guy who could be an all-star, Reggie Jackson. The Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all had the same record at 48-34 this year but to me, the Miami Heat are their biggest opposition. I think star power this time of the year is where it’s at and Miami has a future first ballot hall of famer in Dwayne Wade. All those teams I mentioned have good players, a few of them all stars in their own right but how many of them are on Wade’s level? Can take a game over, even at his age, through all the miles and bumps on those legs, Wade is still Wade and very capable. He’s stayed injury free for the most part so we know he’s fresher than he has been in the past at this time of the year which is a great for Miami. Joe Johnson was a nice pick up when he chose the Heat over the Cavs, at a time when they needed after Chris Bosh went down. Not having Bosh isn’t what fans envisioned but Johnson has been a welcomed sight and Hassan Whiteside has continued to get better and better. He’s the best shot blocker in the league and improving offensively but he has mentor help in Amare Stoudemire and a good young shooter from the University of Tennessee, Josh Richardson. Goran Dragic was a fringe all-star with the Suns and is kind of underrated among point guards in the world’s best league. I would love to say a Wade Lebron match-up, his old stomping grounds, where he won his first two titles and going at it with his guy in the Eastern Conference finals would be epic.

Remember that star power thing I was telling you about? The takeover type guys, the reason I give Cleveland the nod out East, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. I know most reading, probably don’t like Lebron but to some, still the best player in the game, different from Curry but results nonetheless, you can’t deny. 25 a night, 6 assist and 7 boards a night are great numbers but ho hum numbers for him and his impact is over looked by most because he’s been doing numbers for years. Kyrie Irving is one of the best scoring point guards I’ve seen, off the jumper, step back, the 3, floater game, everything is at his disposal. He had 31 today and Kevin Love, the forgotten amigo had 28 and 13 today as all 3 combined for 81 points and 24 rebounds. Tristan Thompson is great rebounder especially on the offensive glass, JR Smith was third in the league in 3 point makes and they have good role guys who do their jobs in Mozgov who’s been down from last year but solid still, Richard Jefferson and Matthew Delladova. Mo Williams and Iman Shumphert will also contribute to, defensively and offensively at some point if both can stay healthy. The one thing that bothers me about Cleveland though, their outside shooting, it’s not great but good and in the playoffs, that can get you beat. Not saying they are going to win the title but I do think, this is your team out of Eastern Conference.

Don’t ask me whose winning, I haven’t made up my mind yet but I guess I will get into that in the coming days and when I do, I will tell you my reasons why.

 

“MAMBA” OUT

kobecollage

“MAMBA OUT”

Written by Darrell Faulkner

Some things you witness in life leaves you speechless, which is why I am glad that I am writing while watching Kobe Bryant go out in style in the last game of his career. Honestly, I am fighting back the tears, which have won by the way, as I sit here reflecting on what I have just seen. I feel as though I’m sitting there in the HOV’s with Jay Z and the rest of the A-listers, watching in disbelief as this man went out there and put up sixty points. I repeat sixty points, while leading the Lakers to a victory. Talk about over delivering.

As I prepared to watch the game, I did my best to make it as eventful as possible. The television gods were on point doing what they could to make it a night to remember. Another great episode of Empire put me in the mood to see the final “Lakers Show,” starring Kobe Bryant. In the back of my mind I thought to myself, another game in the losing column for the Lakers and one more reminder as to why Kobe should, in fact, hang it up. In retrospect, I’m almost embarrassed to write the truth regarding my pregame thoughts, because what I witnessed tonight almost felt like a dream. The theme song that I heard over and over in my head while I watched Kobe’s performance came in the voice of Tyrese, saying, “Shame on me.”

Though I expected to be a little excited about the game, I got a lot more than what I bargained for, and some. Kobe put the hot sauce in this bag of chips as he stunned all of his critics with a performance that placed his desire and determination in a space visited by only a few. No list required.

It almost seemed as if the crowd was feeling sorry not only for Kobe, but the team in general because of their slow start, taking over five minutes to put points on the board. Kobe set the tone during this time missing his first five shots and my consciousness started to go into validation mode. Then Kobe hit not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight shots to give us believers hope all over again. My face displayed its first smile of the night during that stretch, not knowing what was to come. Ending the first quarter with fifteen points satisfied my thirst and put me in a good place regarding what to expect out of Kobe for the night. At that point, I would have been happy with a twenty or twenty-two points showing for the night, which, in my opinion, would have exceeded his call to duty.

Often you hear people say that you never realize when you’re making history because you get caught up into the actions of your moments. For some odd reason, the crowd at Staples, who were there to see Kobe’s grand finale seemed to go into a certain mode during the second quarter, realizing how special the night was, not only for Kobe, but everyone who witnessed. Shaq, who showed up at the beginning of the second quarter, received the HOV treatment, getting a comfortable seat on the floor, which enabled him and Kobe to embrace each other in a huge hug in front of Laker Nation and the world. Even Jack Nicholson escaped to a special place during a courtside interview in which he acknowledged Kobe as one of the greatest Lakers ever, stating that when you got nothing else going, you still have Kobe going. The reactions of the star studded crowd intensified the importance of the moment as the Lakers’ fan base cheered Kobe on. For a while they got to forget about having their worst season in the history of the franchise as Kobe slapped Utah Jazz in the face with twenty- two first half points.

Monitoring Kobe’s minutes was a sincere point of interest for Coach Byron Scott, who said Kobe would play thirty-six minutes, twelve in the first and third quarters and six minutes in second and fourth quarter. Funny how competition pushed Kobe to his limits in his quest for brashness beyond baskets, playing the entire second half, except for four seconds. So, when asked by Coach Scott if he had seven and a half minutes left in that body of his, Kobe respectively replied as only Kobe could, saying with exuberating confidence, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

How many times have you sat and watched an over hyped sporting event, only to be disappointed afterwards realizing that you did not get as much bang for your buck as you had wished? Well, this was not the case as Kobe just kept on giving and giving and giving the viewing world one amazing play after another. It’s easy to say that as he blew past forty points for the game, we all would have been ecstatic watching such a performance. Then we all got greedy with our expectations, now not only realizing we were witnessing history in the making, but now wanting a Laker win to boot. As only a true warrior in his last and final battle would leave his all, including his life on the battlefield, Kobe graced us all with such a show.

Coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the game remained close, as Kobe hit the fifty points mark. By now, the attending crowd and the millions and millions of fans viewing around the world were full of every emotion they had in their bodies and souls, looking but still not believing what they were seeing. The jump shots, the free throws and almost dunks added up, coming down to the final count with Kobe delivering shot after amazing shot giving himself a fifty points performance. Who could ask for more? No one, but Kobe demanded more.

When he hit the jumper to give himself fifty eight points for the game and the lead with less than a minute left in the game, I said to myself that’s it. Take him out before he gets hurts. The game was basically sealed, but Kobe had to be sure as he got fouled one last time and ended his point totals as he began them by hitting two free throws, giving himself a modest game high of sixty points with a Lakers win on the side. He did have fifty shots, however, something that hadn’t happened in the NBA since 1967 when Rick Barry put it up a few times.

We all got to witness a first in the history of sports. Father time was defeated by Kobe Bryant for one night. Those who saw this will tell their version of the story as long as they live. A new video needs to be made immediately for those old enough to remember every Saturday watching the Wild World of Sports’ promo with the famous words being emphatically said, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Yea, a Kobe highlight needs to be thrown in there somehow. Please join me as I give the man who is loved by many and hated by probably more, a thank you that will last forever. He gave his all and left it all on the court for all of us to see, making even his haters love to hate him one last time. Thanks Kobe. We Love You. And what a way to add those last finishing touches to an unbelievable moment in time. Drop the mike Kobe and leave us screaming in silence.

MAMBA OUT

© Darrell Faulkner April 14, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

MAMBA OUT

Written by Darrell Faulkner

 

Some things you witness in life leaves you speechless, which is why I am glad that I am writing while watching Kobe Bryant go out in style in the last game of his career. Honestly, I am fighting back the tears, which have won by the way, as I sit here reflecting on what I have just seen. I feel as though I’m sitting there in the HOV’s with Jay Z and the rest of the A-listers, watching in disbelief as this man went out there and put up sixty points. I repeat sixty points, while leading the Lakers to a victory. Talk about over delivering.

As I prepared to watch the game, I did my best to make it as eventful as possible. The television gods were on point doing what they could to make it a night to remember. Another great episode of Empire put me in the mood to see the final “Lakers Show,” starring Kobe Bryant. In the back of my mind I thought to myself, another game in the losing column for the Lakers and one more reminder as to why Kobe should, in fact, hang it up. In retrospect, I’m almost embarrassed to write the truth regarding my pregame thoughts, because what I witnessed tonight almost felt like a dream. The theme song that I heard over and over in my head while I watched Kobe’s performance came in the voice of Tyrese, saying, “Shame on me.”

Though I expected to be a little excited about the game, I got a lot more than what I bargained for, and some. Kobe put the hot sauce in this bag of chips as he stunned all of his critics with a performance that placed his desire and determination in a space visited by only a few. No list required.

It almost seemed as if the crowd was feeling sorry not only for Kobe, but the team in general because of their slow start, taking over five minutes to put points on the board. Kobe set the tone during this time missing his first five shots and my consciousness started to go into validation mode. Then Kobe hit not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight shots to give us believers hope all over again. My face displayed its first smile of the night during that stretch, not knowing what was to come. Ending the first quarter with fifteen points satisfied my thirst and put me in a good place regarding what to expect out of Kobe for the night. At that point, I would have been happy with a twenty or twenty-two points showing for the night, which, in my opinion, would have exceeded his call to duty.

Often you hear people say that you never realize when you’re making history because you get caught up into the actions of your moments. For some odd reason, the crowd at Staples, who were there to see Kobe’s grand finale seemed to go into a certain mode during the second quarter, realizing how special the night was, not only for Kobe, but everyone who witnessed. Shaq, who showed up at the beginning of the second quarter, received the HOV treatment, getting a comfortable seat on the floor, which enabled him and Kobe to embrace each other in a huge hug in front of Laker Nation and the world. Even Jack Nicholson escaped to a special place during a courtside interview in which he acknowledged Kobe as one of the greatest Lakers ever, stating that when you got nothing else going, you still have Kobe going. The reactions of the star studded crowd intensified the importance of the moment as the Lakers’ fan base cheered Kobe on. For a while they got to forget about having their worst season in the history of the franchise as Kobe slapped Utah Jazz in the face with twenty- two first half points.

Monitoring Kobe’s minutes was a sincere point of interest for Coach Byron Scott, who said Kobe would play thirty-six minutes, twelve in the first and third quarters and six minutes in second and fourth quarter. Funny how competition pushed Kobe to his limits in his quest for brashness beyond baskets, playing the entire second half, except for four seconds. So, when asked by Coach Scott if he had seven and a half minutes left in that body of his, Kobe respectively replied as only Kobe could, saying with exuberating confidence, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

How many times have you sat and watched an over hyped sporting event, only to be disappointed afterwards realizing that you did not get as much bang for your buck as you had wished? Well, this was not the case as Kobe just kept on giving and giving and giving the viewing world one amazing play after another. It’s easy to say that as he blew past forty points for the game, we all would have been ecstatic watching such a performance. Then we all got greedy with our expectations, now not only realizing we were witnessing history in the making, but now wanting a Laker win to boot. As only a true warrior in his last and final battle would leave his all, including his life on the battlefield, Kobe graced us all with such a show.

Coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the game remained close, as Kobe hit the fifty points mark. By now, the attending crowd and the millions and millions of fans viewing around the world were full of every emotion they had in their bodies and souls, looking but still not believing what they were seeing. The jump shots, the free throws and almost dunks added up, coming down to the final count with Kobe delivering shot after amazing shot giving himself a fifty points performance. Who could ask for more? No one, but Kobe demanded more.

When he hit the jumper to give himself fifty eight points for the game and the lead with less than a minute left in the game, I said to myself that’s it. Take him out before he gets hurts. The game was basically sealed, but Kobe had to be sure as he got fouled one last time and ended his point totals as he began them by hitting two free throws, giving himself a modest game high of sixty points with a Lakers win on the side. He did have fifty shots, however, something that hadn’t happened in the NBA since 1967 when Rick Barry put it up a few times.

We all got to witness a first in the history of sports. Father time was defeated by Kobe Bryant for one night. Those who saw this will tell their version of the story as long as they live. A new video needs to be made immediately for those old enough to remember every Saturday watching the Wild World of Sports’ promo with the famous words being emphatically said, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Yea, a Kobe highlight needs to be thrown in there somehow. Please join me as I give the man who is loved by many and hated by probably more, a thank you that will last forever. He gave his all and left it all on the court for all of us to see, making even his haters love to hate him one last time. Thanks Kobe. We Love You. And what a way to add those last finishing touches to an unbelievable moment in time. Drop the mike Kobe and leave us screaming in silence.

MAMBA OUT

© Darrell Faulkner April 14, 2016

Decisions Decisions Decisions……

 

tigers

 

So the University of Memphis is in search of a new head coach after Josh Pastner took over coaching duties at the Georgia Tech on last Friday. Congratulations to all that made this possible, the fans, the media, constant newspaper articles, even more so after it was decided that he would be here for at least another year. A few weeks ago, the University decided that basically the way that they bank account is set up, they simply couldn’t afford to well, just fire him and leave themselves on the hook for 10.6 million dollars. The only way it could get done was for Josh to take another job and there for he would have forgo the money owed to him. For a while, this is what was believed and it was going to happen, Josh would get another year and everyone would be miserable again and the apathy would continue.  I mean why would Josh take another job and give up all the money? I wouldn’t, maybe I’m not in the position to make that statement but if it were me, I wouldn’t  have left Memphis off the hook by just taking another job because I want my chips with dip. So with all that being said, Josh decided to leave the University without his dip or chips which to me is kind of telling of the situation and atmosphere surrounding the program. In actuality, he will save them a lot of money and that money he saved them, can be used to try to get a big hire.

Memphis is a great job, people here are crazy about basketball and it shows in a big way. The air waves were lit up Friday all over the city, message boards, social media sports groups and personal pages were jumping with Tiger and Josh Pastner conversations. Most opinions were, thank God, our prayers have been answered, glad that clown is gone, he’s ran out program into the ground, good riddance. A few more opinions were a little rougher so I can’t share that here but just know that people definitely take basketball seriously here and rightfully so. I mean Memphis has been tournament 26 times since 1955, 8 sweet 16 berths and has appeared in the Final Four, 3 times. Worth mentioning though, 1982-1986 were vacated as well as 2008. So it’s apparent that we are a powerhouse when it comes to college basketball. That’s the culture that surrounds college basketball in Memphis, we are on the level of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, we deserve more than what we have had with Josh.  I thought Josh did an admirable job  here and while not maybe up to our expectations, making the tournament 4 out of 7 years is pretty good. I know, I know, it’s not good enough, I mean, Memphis should be in contention for National Championships right? I mean we have been to so many Final 4s and made so many appearances in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 that we should be doing that at least once every 2-3 season’s right?

Could things have been better, sure, one would be naïve not to think that way. The transfers, unpredictable starters/rotations are among the many things that fans say were killing the hoop so to speak. Last season, their best player transferred just a month or 2 prior to players beginning summer workouts. A sometimes starter transferred before that (Nick King) to Alabama for unspecified reasons, I mean something has to be going on right? So many players, Kuran Iverson, Dominic Woodson and so many others, some on their own doing but most, probably just couldn’t take it and they left. Josh only cares about himself I’ve heard, he was all about what you could do for him but once you were used up, that was it. I’ve heard all of that along with other things but that would take forever to write that story.  For the most part, Josh did what I thought he would do here, be okay for a while but ultimately, I thought that the expectations placed on him would be his undoing and while it took a little while longer than expected, it happened. I just never saw him not taking his money and just rolling again, odd but it worked out good for Memphis.  In the end, it must have been tough for him and his family and he like anyone else, got tired and decided, it has to be a better place for me than here and when Georgia Tech came calling, he made the move. I remember sitting in the crowd at Memphis games during the season and hearing the things like your horrible Josh around me and that’s cool, everyone has an opinion but a lot of times, I was sitting near Coach Pastner’s wife and his young daughter. The things I heard, you wouldn’t believe I’m sure it made her uncomfortable because it made me feel weird as a man. The culmination of things I’m sure had to weigh heavy and it was just too much to lift.

You may not like my thoughts, you may not agree and that’s fine but here it is any way. It’s win win for us and for him because he gets to go somewhere that doesn’t have so much pressure come with it or as he said in his press conference Friday, be as “intense” as it is here. The jubilation and excitement on twitter was crazy Friday as  I saw former players taking up for Josh, others leaving post of “well well well”  and I will not say his name but all you have to do is look at twitter. If I’m an agent of a coach that maybe looking at the Memphis job, I’m looking at all of it and I’m taking notes. Do I really want this and the atmosphere? Crazy is actually an understatement and it could be a good thing, a coach may say I like that in a city that’s fanatical about it’s  basketball. You better win win win, no matter what or it’s going to be, I knew he couldn’t coach, we should have got this person. People will stop going to games to prove a point as it was pretty obvious this year that they did and the fans to me, not only turned on the coach but the players as well. It’s not about the coach to me, it’s about the student athletes and that’s who I felt the sorriest for this year, the seniors, Shaq Goodwin, Avery Woodson while not technically a senior but he graduated, I felt like this year could have been better support wise. The narrative of his interview in the Commercial Appeal pretty much fit the narrative of fans about the program but he did say some telling things about the fans as well. He mentioned going to away games and having 5 fans there and 3 of them not wanting to be there. He said he saw it go from Memphis Madness to not having it all and said that it was crazy, just watching it unfold. How many times can the players hear, hey guys I’m know I’m fighting for my job every game but it’s about wins without it effecting the psyche of the players at some point?

The coaching hire now begins as the administration said, a national search will be conducted and begin immediately but I will say this, I think Memphis is in a tight spot, who do you hire? You don’t want to get it wrong because well, you can’t afford to.  I suggest they get started because the guy as most indicate seems to be Greg Marshall at Wichita State and all they are doing is giving Wichita’s people a chance to talk to him and maybe possibly try to add more money to his contract. If he’s the guy, try and get your first choice and not your 3rd, 4th or 5th choice like well, Josh. The risk you run taking a little while to search is that you end up with and up and coming coach or an assistant type or maybe a guy who’s trying to repair an image like well,  John Calipari. Marshall would probably kill it here but fans, don’t get your hopes up and don’t get your hopes about Bruce Pearl either. I’ve always thought he was kind of overrated as a coach, Tennessee had a nice team when he was there back a few years ago, I don’t think it was a coincidence that he won with that group. Rah rah, sis boom ba only works for so long and this year he was 11-20 at Auburn so he really doesn’t excite me but hey, whatever floats the boat of those hoping and wishing but who knows, he might take it.I think Memphis ends up with a guy who maybe looking for a fresh start somewhere, maybe a guy like Andy Kennedy. Kennedy, I know has probably exhausted his stay in Oxford and might want to be somewhere else especially in the AAC, a nice conference but not that of the SEC which can be brutal. I could be wrong but we will see but besides Penny and Marshall, who else excites you?

I don’t know how far this goes, I’m just a guy who loves basketball here in the city  but coaching candidates, you better know what you getting into at Memphis and I don’t say it negatively, I say it honestly and without any hesitation. Memphis isn’t for the meek and it’s definitely not for anyone in the Josh mold. Recruiting, you better be able to get it done and you better win and do it fast. They may give you a year since it’s so late in the game for recruiting and all but believe me, that following year, you better be in the tournament. That’s another thing, the new coach, doesn’t have much of a recruiting class as their best recruit (Charlie Moore) decided this wasn’t the place for him once Coach Pastner left on Friday.  The new coach will have the team’s best player back from last year, Dedric and his brother KJ Lawson who will be a freshman again likely after only appearing in 9 games due to injury. He just had surgery and should be back to 100 percent by start of summer workouts. Alongside those two should be sophomore Jeremiah Martin, Markell Crawford who’s been rumored to be possibly on the outs but his status isn’t determined yet and Nick Marshall, who showed flashes of potential. What does Josh leaving now do to Avery Woodson who decided 2 weeks ago to leave? I heard he’s gone irregardless so maybe not much but hey, it’s thought.  Could he come back depending on the coaching hire? What about Penny Hardaway, would he take it?

I’ve been around Penny some, don’t know his thoughts on it but have heard somethings. Bruce Pearl? Hey maybe Penny can be under Pearl on the bench as an assistant, yeah that will work right? I say this to that, for anyone thinking that Penny will be an assistant, I have some beach front property I want to sell you in West Memphis. Do I think he would take the job as the head coach of the program? Yeah maybe so, I mean when you think of Penny, you of think of Memphis basketball. He’s a legend here, he’s revered more than maybe even Elvis Presley and that’s the thing that I don’t ever want to see tarnished. As the Memphis coach, that can happen here especially because the fans are so fickle. Lose a game that you’re not to lose and the nay sayers to Penny will come out on sports talk shows and message boards. The told you so types, see he can’t coach, he just Penny Hardaway and that’s the thing that bothers me about Memphis fans. One minute they love, the next, they hoping you get fired.  Not every Memphis fan is like that so I won’t label all however, a large part would be of that feeling. Larry Finch to me was like Penny back in the day. No, I don’t mean talent wise even though he was a big time player but as fixture of Memphis basketball. He played here, played college ball here, turned down the Lakers to stay in Memphis and play semi pro, and coached the Tigers  and was very successful before being fired a year after making the tournament. The year before that, he made it to the Sweet Sixteen but none of that mattered to fans. He gave his heart and soul to Memphis, had an opportunity to leave Memphis for a job and he stayed. He was Memphis basketball and what were his results? Well, we know how that story ended and I wouldn’t want that for Penny because he’s too good of a guy for that to happen to. Do I think it would be great for the University, yes yes and once again, yes. Penny can coach and he loves Memphis, it would rejuvenate the program, make people want to come back and support the product and give Memphis a big time hire that it surely needs.

Things are going to be interesting for sure though in these next few days, the rumors, the talks and finally the deal but will it be enough?  What if it’s not Marshall, Hardaway, Steve Forbes or Buzz Williams? Will you be upset by it? What if it’s Andy Kennedy or someone like that? What if they have to get an assistant? What if it’s person right up under their nose?  Memphis simply can’t get this wrong,  or it could set the program back even further. Lots of questions will be answered but I’m sure Tiger fans will be watching when the decision is made on the next Tigers basketball coach. To the future head coach of the program, may the force be with you.