Sports page: There is no "D" in "Dame"

I was amused yesterday to hear several TV sports pundits nattering on and on about how suddenly, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team isn't playing defense. As if you couldn't see that coming a mile away. The Bucks just swapped out a premier defender, Jrue Holiday, for Portland sharpshooter Damian Lillard, who is known for his lack of effectiveness, as they say, on the defensive end of the floor. A drastic drop in your defensive rating is what you get when you make a move like that.

But as my Milwaukee friends explain it, they expect Lillard and his superstar teammate Giannis Antetokoumpo to put up so many points every night that they'll make up for the inevitable defensive lapses. It reminds me a bit of what's happening with USC football. Those guys give up 42 points and hope their Superman quarterback can put up 43. He does, but only sometimes. (The over-under for today's game between USC and Washington is an obscene 77½ points.)

Anyway, back on the pro hardwood, the Bucks are 3–2 so far, as the league commences its clunky "in-season tournament." So far, the tourney looks just like the regular season, except that the floors have all been repainted to resemble psychedelic backgammon boards. Let's hope that's temporary. Those floors are almost as bad as what the Ducks play on. Almost.

Meanwhile, Lillard's old team, the Trail Blazers, are 3–3, after last night's overtime win over the absolutely terrible Memphis Grizzlies (0–6). The Portland crowd got a big thrill at the end of regulation time when Shaedon Sharpe, the second year man out of Kentucky, ferociously blocked a corner shot that would have won the game for the visitors. The Rip City squad is living up to its "fun to watch" moniker.

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Meanwhile, you wonder what's happening in the smoke-filled room in which the Blazers and the city are negotiating a new lease on the land under the team's arena. The current lease is up in less than a couple of years. Apparently, planned renovations of the building were cited as one of the reasons why the women's pro basketball league suddenly rejected Portland as the site of an expansion team the other day.  The propsective owner of the new team, Kirk Brown, got spooked, or frustrated, and his talks with the WNBA broke down. 

The failed deal should be an embarrassment for Senator Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.), who insisted on sticking his wizened mug into the middle of the scene right from the early going. But this will just roll off him, like everything else does. He can do no wrong, although rarely does he get any right done, either. You wish he would wise up and join Earl the Pearl in the nursing home, or on the Portland State faculty, or wherever E the P is going next. But they'll probably have to wheel Wyden out of the Capitol in a hearse.

In any event, there will be no women's pro basketball in Portland, at least not for a few years. Given the city's many existential problems, that's not the end of the world, but a new team might have been a nice diversion for at least a small segment of the population.

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I was saddened several months ago when the New York Times announced that it was laying off or reassigning all its sports reporters and editors, and turning the reins over to its recently acquired branch called The Athletic. Now that the dust has settled on that transition, I'm even sadder. 

The new writers just aren't as good as the old ones were. Not only do they have less to say, but they don't express it nearly as well. I can't quite put my finger on it, but with a lot of the articles, I get about halfway through when it feels like I'm working too hard as a reader.

I'm sure the Times suits saved a bunch of dough with their Athletic maneuver. But you know what? You get what you pay for.


  1. The “highlight reel” sold tickets in Portland and that was enough for the business side of the Blazers.

  2. The finger-pointing on the WNBA deal is amusing. Occam's razor says Brown doesn't have the money nor does he have any hope of coming up with it. Turns out he's merely rich and not wealthy. Rich people can't write checks with two commas in them.

    In all the goofiness (Rose City Royalty!?), the Brown guy comes off as someone I wouldn't want around a WNBA franchise in Portland.

  3. I remember going to a concert soon after the Rose Garden opened. Even new it looked cheap, with paper thin walls that were already looking worn.

    I was one of a few people who were ‘not’ veterans that was responsible for the campaign to keep the Coliseum from being demolished. Considering how little was invested in upgrading the old building, it still held up pretty darn well considering how much use it got.

    The Moda Center is just ugly, and also borderline utilitarian.


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