Shooting from the lip
The latest from the world of televised sports ...
Advice of the day
So the whole world has turned on LeBron James. Just a year ago, James was one of the most-liked athletes on the planet. He did some amusing commercials. He hosted Saturday Night Live. And he played some pretty good basketball, too.
But then he left blue-collar Cleveland for the glitz of Miami, he hijacked ESPN to make a mockery of his departure "decision'' and then acted as if the NBA championship was in the bag for the Heat. After his Heat was knocked off by the Mavericks in the NBA Finals (to the delight of just about everyone outside of South Florida), James said, "All the people that were rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today.''
James later tried to clarify that comment by saying he wasn't trying to be superior to anyone and he meant that everyone needed to move on with their lives. I believe him. I don't think he meant it as arrogantly as it sounded. Still, if I was in charge of James' public relations, here's the advice I would give him for getting back into the good graces of the sporting world:
1. Lay low for a while. Don't talk to the media, don't go on Twitter, don't show up on SportsCenter or TMZ. Just disappear for a bit.
2. If you go on vacation, don't go to a beach in the south of France or some other ritzy place where the paparazzi might catch you. It sounds silly, but that would only boost the "you think you're superior'' criticism. How about a mission trip? Or head to Joplin, Mo., to lend a hand in tornado recovery. That would be a good way to spend part of the offseason.
3. Just before next season, agree to a one-on-one interview and show humility. Admit The Decision was a mistake. Admit you had a little too much swagger this season. Admit you didn't play well in the Finals, when it counted most. History is full of people getting second chances after admitting they goofed up.
4. Win next season. Nothing replaces winning. Coming close to the title this season might turn out to have been good for James and the Heat. Now Miami doesn't appear as if it bought a championship, but that it is putting in the work required to win it all.
5. From now on, James should ask, "What would Derek Jeter do?'' You can't find a much classier high-profile athlete than Jeter. Do what he would do and James should turn out okay.
Confusion of the day
Last week Dick Vitale’s wife, Lorraine, was doing a Google search on her husband's name and noticed a letter to the editor in the Conway (N.H.) Daily Sun that said something about the Conway School District superintendent. Vitale did not write the letter. Well, the Dick Vitale from ESPN, that is.
Vitale called the paper's offices to let them know he was not the author of the letter, the paper said. A Dick Vitale from North Conway wrote it. That Vitale has lived in North Conway for nine years and occasionally writes letters to the editor.
"I tell people I have more hair and he doesn’t pronounce the 'e' on the end of his name,'' the Vitale of Conway told the newspaper.
As for ESPN's Dick Vitale, the University of Detroit Mercy is naming its basketball court for him. He was a coach and athletic director at the school when it was known as the University of Detroit. The ceremony is Dec. 5, when Detroit Mercy hosts St. John's in a game Vitale will call for ESPN2.
Hire of the day
WTSP-TV has hired a new sports anchor. Nicole Darin, who has worked at several stations (most recently in Charlotte, N.C.), starts next week. She likely won't appear on the air until later in the month. Interestingly, Darin's biography on her Twitter page reads, "Born in The Bronx, betrothed to the Yankees.'' We probably shouldn't give her a hard time until she starts, but pledging allegiance to one of the chief rivals of a local team probably isn't the best idea anyone has ever had.
Anyway, Darin replaces Angela Jacobs, who is moving full time to Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports. Jacobs has done part-time duty in the past on Rays and Lightning telecasts. Look for her to have a more expanded role.
* HBO debuts a new Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel at 10 p.m. Tuesday. The most interesting piece looks to be an update on the comeback attempt of Giants running back Tiki Barber, 36.
* CBS Sports Network has hired former West Virginia and Michigan football coach Rick Rodriguez to be a game and studio analyst. Rodriguez will call games with announcer Dave Ryan and also will be a part of CBS Sports Network's studio programming.
* With plenty of unfamiliar names near the top of the leaderboard after the first round and, most significantly, no Tiger Woods, you have to think NBC is a little anxious about how many people will watch the U.S. Open this weekend.
Lawsuit of the day
One journalist suing another for libel had been unheard of. Until now. Chris Sheridan, a basketball writer for ESPN, is suing New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey and NYP Holdings claiming they "published a maliciously false article'' that impugned "Chris Sheridan's veracity and competence as a journalist.''
In a nutshell, Sheridan wrote a column in December saying the Knicks were going to trade for Carmelo Anthony. Vecsey shot down the column as a "fairy tale'' and said it came from the "same fountains of misinformation that frequently play make-believe with ESPN's Chris Sheridan.'' Sheridan also claims Vecsey has a history of criticizing him.
Ultimately, Sheridan was right. The Knicks traded for Anthony, two months after his column appeared. Still, one journalist suing another? It seems a little childish.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Whether the Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis meant to kick Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman on Tuesday night or not while running out a grounder, it was nice that David Price plunked him in the first inning Thursday night.
2. Say what you want about Tampa Bay sports fans, but no way they would've acted like those Vancouver idiots who rioted after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final on Wednesday.
3. The NHL season has been over about 36 hours and I'm already ready for next season.