The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2004

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...

So are the Days of our Lives

by Jerry Keys

It takes one day to build a superteam and a week to tear it down.  Last summer after signing Karl Malone and Gary Payton, there was talk of a 70-win season and a cakewalk to coach Phil Jackson's 10th NBA title.  On paper, they were one of the best-assembled team in NBA history.

Kobe Bryant's rape conviction, Payton's whining about the triangle offense, Malone's mid-season injury, the Kobe vs. Shaq feud, and Jackson's on-going romance with the boss' daughter.... more suitable for People magazine than

Jerry Keys

Sports Illustrated.  Their games should have been aired at 2:00 p.m. to rival Another World.

Chemistry is vital to a team's success and that is exactly what the Lakers did not have.  On paper, they should have swept the Detroit Pistons in the Finals.  Instead the Pistons manhandled them in five games.  No 4th NBA title in five years for Laker Nation.

The plot thickens.  Jackson was the first to go.  Malone soon followed.  Payton will also.  And a few days later, after hearing that the Lakers

will do everything in their power to keep Bryant, Shaq wants a trade.  Bryant will be offered the maximum salary allowed but he wants to test the free agent market nonetheless.  The plot thickens.

Quick review.  Four future Hall of Fame players and possibly the best coach in NBA history, west of Boston, may all be gone.  Laker brass want to

side with Bryant because he is six years younger than Shaq and has not been hampered by injuries the last couple of years as the "Big Aristotle" has.  I don't know about you but I'm expecting Alfred Hitchcock to start a spil in the background anytime.

In short, Jerry Buss is betting the house that Kobe can slide more rings on his finger than Shaq (assuming Kobe will not be breaking big rocks into little ones).  Over a five-year span that would go from the 2004-05 to 2008-09, the Bryant Lakers have a better chance of having a few rings than Shaq's Lakers.  But Shaq's team would have a better chance at winning the first sooner than Kobe's.  It's either win now and pay later or pay now and maybe win later.  One thing is certain, unless the chemistry is soothed, the Lakers will not come close to another NBA Finals.

As the 2004 Olympics near, the U.S.'s basketball team has had more moves than Courtney Love.  12 years earlier it was an honor to be selected.  Well that was then.

It has become somewhat amusing to hear the excuses that are now being made by elected NBA players for not wanting to compete… I forgot, I'm getting married (oooooo-k, happens all the time I guess)…. nagging injuries…. trial date (ok, now that IS legit)…. wanting to concentrate on my impending free agency…. my wife won't let me go (ok, just a rumor but you never know).  Guess dog ate my passport will be a last-minute excuse.

The much ballyhooed talk of American pride over the last 30+ months and now they become war room generals.  Bomb threats…. kidnapping… bio-terrorism…. best I recall every American citizen

has these same worries.  You want to talk patriotism?  Give the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters oversees something to cheer about by bringing home the gold and reclaiming the aura lost two summers ago in the embarrassing 6th place finish.  With more security anticipated for U.S. athletes at the '04 Games than ever before, stand up and claim your fourth Olympic gold.

Note to NBA selection committee:  if Carmelo Anthony desires to be a member while everyone else is opting out, bring him aboard.  In fact, bring aboard the NBA's All-Rookie team.  Select a few top college players (think UConn's Emeka Okafor).  At least they want to be there.

Keep an eye on Kenny Rogers who has made a return trip to Texas for a second time.  He had sported a Rangers uniform in 1989-95 and 2000-02.  He will turn 40 this November and his best overall season was in 1998 (16-8, 238.2 IP, 3.17 ERA-3rd best behind only Clemens and Pedro Martinez).  His single season high for wins was 17 in 1995.

This year Rogers has a 9-2 mark and a 3.54 ERA and is anchoring a young pitching staff who were supposed to already be 10-15 games out of first place.  Instead the Rangers are putting the heat on the heavily favored Oakland A's and Anaheim Angels for the AL West flag.  After finishing last in the division the past four seasons and being rid of the Alex Rodriguez $252 million debt, Rangers fans finally have something to cheer about.

Any Brave fans remember adding Denny Neagle to the already star studded rotation of Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz-Avery in late 1996?  Atlanta sent Ron Wright and a player to be named later for Neagle.  Neagle lasted two more seasons with Atlanta (including a monster 1997 with a 20-5 mark) and departed after the 1998 season.  Wright's career lasted all of one game in 2002.  Dynamite trade for Atlanta?  But who was the player to be named later?

After toiling with the cash-strapped Pittsburgh Pirates from 1996-01, Jason Schmidt was refining his talents and his break came when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants right before the trading deadline ended in '01.  Schmidt posted a 7-1 mark in 11 starts.

Schmidt posted a modest 13-8 record in '02 and made four starts in the Giants bid to win their first World Series since 1954 (think Say Hey Kid, greatest catch of all-time, Polo Grounds). 

The 2003 season was his breakout year (17-5, 208 K's in 207.2 IP, finishing 2nd in Cy Young voting, and claiming the ERA title at 2.34) and he has started this year where he left off last October.  Along with Clemens, Schmidt is the early season favorite to win the Cy in '04 with a 9-2 mark, 103 K's in 91.2 IP's, and a 2.26 ERA.

Stay tuned for the next update on Laker Nation.  Like the DJIA, it will change daily.