Thinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Sam Bowie.
— Kris Dunn’s night in the NBA draft spotlight very nearly had a local lean to it, except for Danny Ainge’s crazy idea that Jaylen Brown might actually be a serviceable player right away. More on that in a sec — but for Dunn, it was the culmination of what could best be described as a beautiful struggle.
— If you know Dunn’s story (and if you don’t, Google it), you know this is a fairy tale ending. Or beginning. Minnesota has a piece now that could turn a 29-53 Timberwolves team into a playoff contender. From the PC point of view, Dunn is the first first-rounder selected since Marshon Brooks in 2011 (25th to Boston), and the highest pick (at No. 5 overall) since Marvin Barnes was taken at No. 2 in 1974. He’s also the fourth Friar all-time to be selected in the top five of the draft (Barnes, Jimmy Walker, Ernie DiGregorio), and also the 11th all-time to be taken in the first round.
— The last NBA draft top-10 pick for Providence? Otis Thorpe at No. 9 (by Kansas City, now Sacramento) in 1984. Forty-three Friars have been NBA draft picks, all-time.
— Andrew Wiggins. Karl Anthony Townes. The last two NBA Rookies of the Year reside in T-wolves Land. Good company for Dunn. Ricky Rubio. Zach LaVine. Highlight reel alley-oops are on the revamped dinner menu.
— One other note worth mentioning here — Dunn may be the first person in recorded history to put J.C. Penney and Gucci in the same sentence. Dunn already has a sponsorship deal with J.C. Penney for clothing, as his draft night suit was created by the clothing store giant. His Gucci shoes were glittering to the point he was asked about them by ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
— Tallying the draft score college conference-wise, the Big East had four players drafted in the two rounds (Marquette’s Henry Ellenson No. 18 to Detroit, Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead No. 42 to Utah, then traded to Brooklyn), including PC’s Dunn and Ben Bentil.
— If you’re keeping score at home, the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 each had six picks, while the ACC led the way with nine players selected. Only one other league had multiple picks (the WCC, with two) and 12 conferences were represented overall, including the Atlantic-10 (St. Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry, 21st to Atlanta) and the American (UConn’s Daniel Hamilton 56th to Oklahoma City).
— Bentil’s wait until the second round and the 51st pick overall was not a surprise in these eyes. Great that Boston selected him, and he’ll get the chance to compete for a Celtics roster spot. Dunn and Bentil now make it 10 times PC has had multiple NBA draft picks in the same year.
— But anyone who really believes Bentil made the right “basketball” move by leaving Providence early is wrong.
— Personally, it may have been a move he wanted to make, or had to make, for other reasons. And that’s fine. But professionally speaking, Bentil follows in some ominous footsteps once tread by former Friars God Shammgod and, more recently, Ricky Ledo. They weren’t ready, and paid the price, and neither is he.
— Remember this the next time we arrive at this point with the next potential draftee — no matter how someone works out, no matter what people say, or where they’re listed in mock drafts, flaws are flaws. The eyeball test rarely fails. And another year in college could have helped correct Bentil’s basketball flaws.
— Bentil’s pick by the Celtics at nearly the stroke of midnight Thursday, however, was a bright spot for Boston’s effort. Isn’t it universally known the Celtics need shooters, or did Danny Ainge not get that message? Jaylen Brown isn’t a good shooter despite his good workouts for the C’s, and was a reach at No. 3 overall. Maybe he’ll develop? The second first-rounder, Guerschon Yabusele, hit 40 percent from 3 (in France) — but at 16th overall may be stashed back in France or in another far-off foreign land.
— Sorry, but isn’t the idea behind first-round draft picks to try to find guys who can contribute now? Did I miss the memo?
— Was it just my imagination, or was the second round of the draft one long, continuous commercial? I actually feel sorry for whatever companies advertised and had their spots run on TV during that awful, boring, fact-less, tedious, terrible second-round coverage on ESPN. Advertisers should ask for a rebate, because no one paid attention. Brain cells died a horrible death during that two-hour (bleep) show. The entire production was five hours long. If I don’t have a horse in that race, click.
— Not for nuthin’, but the Celtics have the sixth-best odds to win it all (that’s the NBA championship) next year. Brooklyn has the longest odds, and the Celtics can swap picks with the Nets in 2017. Something to look forward to, if you need it.
— Do you remember where you were when you heard Len Bias died? That was 30 years ago. It was two days after the 1986 NBA draft, on June 19, after Boston picked him at No. 2. I was in Houston, getting ready for a move back into TV in San Antonio, after spending four seasons with the Spurs. And when I heard the news, I simply didn’t believe it — thought it was a hoax, that’s how shocking his death was.
— Some might say Cleveland winning the NBA title is shocking, but all I’ll say is Cleveland rocks. Good for the city, after 52 years. Tom Petty said it best: “Even the losers get lucky sometimes.”
— TV ratings for the NBA Finals on ABC were the best since NBC’s coverage of the 1998 Finals, when Michael Jordan played his last games. Game 7 was the most-watched NBA game in ABC’s history. Did LeBron James finally achieve similar stratospheric heights to what “His Airness” once had? Or was there nothing else interesting on TV those nights? Just sayin’.
— You know me, I love a good conspiracy. Stephen Curry’s wife, Ayesha, tweeted after Golden State’s Game 6 loss, and her husband’s ejection from that game, that the Finals were “rigged for money. Or ratings.” Honestly, I can’t say she’s completely off her rocker here.
— If, and that’s a big if — if you were looking for the biggest ratings boost in nearly 20 years, with the NBA’s two premier players going at each other, with one of America’s perennial losers (Cleveland) having the chance to get “off the schneid,” you’d at least think about rigging it, wouldn’t you?
— I won’t accuse NBA commissioner Adam Silver of anything untoward. But I will potentially include him as an instructor in the Roger Goodell school of My Way or the Highway.
— Tweet of the Week, from @deadspin: [ESPN’s] Stephen A. Smith is now 0-for-6 picking the NBA Finals. That will do wonders for your loudmouth credibility, won’t it? Stupid is as stupid does.
— Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. And more pitching. It’s what’s needed in the Red Sox dugout. The Chicago White Sox had lost 18 of 26 games before coming to Fenway this week. And Boston pitchers, particularly in the pen, made them look like division leaders all over again.
— Before Thursday, Craig Kimbrel had lost 17 of the last 20 games he’s pitched when entering the game with a tie score. Think about that for just a sec, before you anoint him as a relief savant, or one of the best in the game.
— As this week started, in non-save appearances this season Kimbrel’s ERA was 4.35. When he comes in to close, 1.53. Is this an ego thing? If he can’t get a save, he can’t buckle up and get guys out? Does his contract have a “number of saves” clause?
— Oh, joy. Clay Buchholz is back in the rotation. Only because every other option stinks right now, too.
— David Ortiz is on track to break the single-season record for doubles, 67, set by Earl Webb (who?) in 1931. He’s on pace for 72 two-baggers, but only if his legs hold out. Webb played for five teams in the 1920s and ’30s, including the Red Sox.
— Don’t look now, but the omnipotent offense suddenly has taken a siesta. Can you say “June swoon?” In May the Sox hit .310 with RISP (runners in scoring position). For June, the Sox are a robust .250 in the same department. Jackie Bradley — Player of the Month in May, and hitting .229 in June. Pitching may not be the only thing the Sox find themselves searching for as the trading deadline approaches next month.
— Get all of the looks you can at Yoan Moncada, while you can. He’s been fast-tracked to Double A Portland, and may not get much of a sniff at Pawtucket. Two words — trade bait — come to mind.
— And after the last two years, the thought of a third straight Summer of Bad Baseball is not appealing. At all. You thought the boo-birds singing at Fenway this week were out of place? There will be a northern mass migration of the creatures soon enough, provided there are people in the seats to begin with.
— In the Ripley’s Believe It or Not category this week, former Patriots nemesis (and Baltimore safety) Ed Reed now is an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills. But his 8-year-old son Edward didn’t want Dad to take the job in Buffalo, because young Edward is a Patriots fan. Dad’s reaction? “The kid likes champions, man.”
— The kid just got a boatload of Bills swag from Rex Ryan, too. Wonder if he’ll change his mind?
— Any Pats fans taking the time to compare the 2007 Patriots to 2016 Golden State Warriors? Nah, me neither. But are they in the discussion for Best Teams to Never Win a Title? Probably.
— Vince Wilfork will appear in ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body” issue, on stands next week. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, mock and make fun of, or run and hide.
— Hey, Ben Affleck? Thanks for the Deflategate backup. But could you try to appear a little less inebriated when you go on a profanity-laced tirade on HBO? Affleck’s appearance on Bill Simmons’ new “Any Given Wednesday” program this week called Roger Goodell’s integrity into question, as well as his own sobriety.
— If you know what a red card is, you know that it’s when a soccer player is ejected from the pitch by the referee for a physical violation of some sort, or when picking up two yellow (caution) cards during the same match. Recently, however, a Swedish soccer player apparently was shown a yellow card by the lead official for, um, his excessive flatulence on the pitch. When the player could not cure his alleged stomach problems (so he said) and decided to relieve his stress by letting another one go in the game’s final minute, a second yellow/red card followed. The ref said the red card was for unsportsmanlike conduct. Yep, categorize this as another crappy call.
— The U.S. didn’t have three regulars in the Copa America semifinal match with Argentina, thanks to suspensions. But even if the Americans had those players on the pitch with superstar Lionel Messi on their side, I don’t think the U.S. beats Argentina. U.S. Soccer plays scared when facing the world’s best, like the Americans don’t belong — and the 4-0 loss this week proved just that.
— U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson is the fourth majors winner to also have won the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett (taking place this week) in Rumford, Rhode Island. Ben Crenshaw (2x Masters champ), Hal Sutton (PGA) and David Duval (British Open) are the others to have won a major pro golf tournament plus the Northeast Am — one of amateur golf’s premier events.
— Heard someone this week say they were disappointed in Brown lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany leaving the Bears after their Final Four season for Virginia, questioning his loyalty to his alma mater. Loyalty is one thing, sure. But reality is another thing entirely. And the reality is Tiffany can win more often at a state university in the ACC than he can at a private (non-athletic scholarship) school in the Ivy League.
— Oh, and there’s more money too, undoubtedly. But also more pressure. All Tiffany has to do is ask his former coach at Brown, Dom Starsia, who just happens to be the guy he’s replacing in Charlottesville. Thirteen final fours and four national titles in 24 years, more wins than any other coach in NCAA Division 1 history, but just 1-15 in the ACC over the last three seasons? Starsia was out. “What have you done lately?” is the question asked every day in the big time.
— Speaking of big time, ICYMI, Brown athletics announced it’s receiving a multi-million dollar gift from alumnus John Berylson, which will be put toward the construction of the Berylson Football Complex on the Brown campus. The $12 million football-centric facility is expected to start taking shape before the end of this year.
— Kudos to Providence sophomore hockey forward Erik Foley, who has been chosen to take part in the USA National Junior Evaluation Camp for a second straight year. Foley was a third-round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2015, and led all Friars freshmen with seven goals and 12 assists this past season for the nationally ranked PC team. Assistant coach Kris Mayotte will be on the camp evaluation staff.
— Back to the basketball Friars, and former forward Bilal Dixon apparently is climbing the professional ladder with zeal. Dixon reported this week via social media he is to be named the next head men’s hoop coach at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey, where he spent the past season as an assistant, and where he’ll be the youngest head coach in the NJCAA (age 26) next season. The team finished 16-16 last year in the NJCAA Division 3, Region XIX.
— I confided in my buddy “Big E” that after almost 40 years of wearing headphones for work, I was hard-of-hearing. He told me he works with a senior partner in his company who also has the same problem, apparently. His doctor had told him he had a heart murmur, then was very surprised to see him out on the town with a younger woman. “E” said, “Don’t you remember what the doctor told you?” And his business partner replied, “Absolutely. Best advice he ever gave me. I got me a hot mama and I’ve never felt better.”
— The NHL in Vegas? Ice hockey in the Nevada desert? That’s a big bet for pro hockey, which needs an infusion of interest from the sports landscape in America. Please, oh, please let them be the Las Vegas Gamblers. Or High Rollers. Or Black Jacks. Or Crap Shooters (my personal favorite). Or $5 Buffets.
— Don’t think for a minute, however, that other pro sports teams and leagues won’t be watching. They will. The NHL’s first expansion since 2000 is professional sports’ first foray into our national gambling capital, which could have far-reaching repercussions. And if Vegas can sell hockey in the desert, can beach volleyball in Boston be far behind?
— Sam Bowie wasn’t the first high NBA draft pick to be considered a “bust.” But perhaps he’s the most notorious, if only because Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton were selected after he was taken No. 2 by Portland in 1984, with Hakeem Olajuwon taken first. The 7-foot-1 Bowie played 10 years in the league for three teams (including New Jersey and LA), averaging 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for his career after coming out of Kentucky. Where he came from (UK) probably had as much to do with the over-expectations in his career as anything — or anyone — else did. Add to that the careers of Jordan, Barkley and Stockton? Superman would be considered a bust, too, if he averaged “only” 11 and 7.
— Leg injuries were a factor in Bowie’s perceived underachievement, with the constant pounding on his legs and feet taking a toll on his frame. In 2012, Bowie told the media he had lied to the Trail Blazers about pain in his left leg at draft time, so they might still take him. Bowie returned to Kentucky after he retired from the NBA in the mid-’90s and got involved in harness racing, as an owner and trainer. The “bust” tag applied to his career, although somewhat undeserved, reappears every year right around draft time — as does the broadcast clip of the David Stern at-the-podium-quote, “With the third pick of the 1984 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select guard Michael Jordan, North Carolina.”
— Jeremy from North Kingstown, Rhode Island posted on Facebook this week: It was a culture shock seeing 30 people watching TV with a soccer game on and only five of us watching the TV with the NBA Finals on when I was in Aruba. Still, the only guy I care about kicking balls at Gillette is named Gostkowski. Jeremy: Spoken like a true, ugly American and Patriots fan. Love ya, brotha.
— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to email@example.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
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