Rare man gave us a win for the ages
A look back at a week's worth of news:
• Herbie: It was a big loss to the coaching fraternity when Herb Brooks died this week. The man was old school, a coach who accomplished his greatest triumph the Miracle on Ice by uniting his players in a hatred of himself, and, by doing so, pushing them to heights they never thought possible. Later, of course, they all loved him for it.
You may have read a lot of stuff about how that Olympic hockey victory over the Soviet Union in 1980 gave an entire country a needed lift while it endured a lengthy cold war and a hostage crisis. I'm sorry, but I really don't remember it that way.
I think it may have been the most impressive, memorable, unlikely triumph in sports history. But at the time, few people outside of hardcore sports fans even paid attention to it because it wasn't covered well by the network televising the Olympics.
I remember cursing ABC, practically throwing something through my screen, while the network switched to ski jumping, ice skating and a bunch of other soft stuff during the hockey games. ABC didn't buy into the thing until the gold medal game.
As a coach myself once, what impressed me most was how Brooks put an indelible imprint on his team, had it overcome such long odds and then, at the moment of triumph, turn away from the celebration and head to the locker room, out of camera range.
This was a man who truly earned the right to run onto the ice with arms flailing, sort of a Jim Valvano on a banana peel, in victory. Yet he absolutely forced the spotlight away from himself and onto his team a rare man satisfied with the accomplishment, rather than the rewards it brought.
Find that in today's world.
• Play ball: Calm down, baseball supporters. A lot of work remains. Don't get cocky or complacent. Nothing is official yet. But that said, I'd like to reserve two season tickets, near the first-base dugout.
• Mercy: Jerome Kersey is hired as the Trail Blazers' first 'director of player programs.' Good luck, Jerome. I'm not sure you have any idea what kind of a job you just took.
These guys aren't likely to get with the program no matter what you're selling. In fact, I would love to be hiding in the locker room during training camp when the team's new 'code of conduct' is handed out. Def Comedy Jam probably isn't greeted with as much laughter.
We all know that the best thing is to bring in different players with different behavioral patterns. But with the salary cap and long-term contracts, that's going to take a while. Until then, I don't think I'd want Jerome Kersey's job.