2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Forsberg blues

    Tue, April 29, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    We wanted it to work. Anyone with a beating heart hoped Peter Forsberg could defy age and his creaky body and travel back in time to the days when he ranked as one of the world’s greatest hockey players.

    But it’s not working. Forsberg is still trying to recover from a groin injury so he can aid his lagging Colorado Avalanche teammates. The Avs trail the mighty Detroit Red Wings two games to none in the NHL playoffs.

    Comebacks by the greats follow a script. When Michael Jordan busted out of retirement, basketball fans in Washington, D.C. rejoiced as they hoped for the full return of His Airness. Instead, fans saw a broken-down, creaky version of one of the game’s all-time greats.

    No one should question Forsberg’s desire. He badly wants to play.

    But even Forsberg can’t defy the clicking clock. He looks aged, beaten-down and virtually done.

  • NBA’s image: Up in Smoke?

    Sat, April 26, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Poor David Stern. The NBA’s commissioner-for-life keeps trying to polish his league’s image, to return to the days when Michael Jordan grabbed the world’s attention and propeled the NBA to fantastic TV ratings. Jordan was the rare basketball star whom virtually everyone admired and embraced.

    Dallas Mavericks star Josh Howard said Friday that “most of the players in the league use marijuana” before adding, “I have and do partake in smoking weed in the offseason.”

    Whew. The NBA has installed dress codes and talked endlessly about how much players care for their communities and then along comes Howard to trash much of the good will.

    Howard’s words play into the simplistic – and inaccurate – view many sports fans take of the NBA. The league is inhabited by the best players in the world who play the most exciting, most jazzy version of the game.

    Yet many fans prefer the more clean-cut, more disciplined and, yes, more boring version of the game played at the college level. These fans see the tatoos and the sometimes unbridled shooting patterns exhibited by NBA players and turn off the set.

    The NBA is not, contrary to Howard’s words, dominated by players who just want the game to end so they can rush back to their hotel rooms and light up.

  • Air Force football schedule

    Fri, April 25, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Troy Calhoun doesn’t want to face heavyweights during the regular season. That’s his plan for future Air Force Academy seasons. He sees Florida State on the horizon and he flinches. He believes the Falcons decision to play Tennessee in 2006 was a mistake that drained the team and helped doom them to a losing season.

    I don’t agree.

    Falcon Stadium is not exactly packed on game days. Thousands of empty seats surround the Air Force team. The program badly needs the electricity of a powerful – and I mean truly powerful, not Mountain West powerful – opponent. The program needs to continue to announce to its fans that the team is brave enough to face the best.

    The loss to Tennessee was the highlight of the 2006 season. It was one of Fisher DeBerry’s finest moments.

    Calhoun would be making cowardly mistake if he tried to escape future commitments to play powerhouses.

  • Nuggets done?

    Wed, April 23, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    On an afternoon when Kobe Bryant missed 17 of 26 shots, the Los Angeles Lakers still shot 50 percent from the field, scored 128 points and beat the Denver Nuggets by 14 points.

    Trouble? That’s trouble.

    All season, the Nuggets roared along as an entertaining mess. On offense, they are a beautiful sight. On defense, they are downright gruesome.

    Sunday’s loss to the Lakers offered a one-game summary of the season. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson couldn’t be stopped, and couldn’t stop anyone.

  • Theodore’s comeback

    Mon, April 21, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I’m wrong, and I’m glad I’m wrong.

    Last season, I was one of the legion of writers who dismissed Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore. It seemed obvious he was finished as an elite player. It even seemed obvious he was finished as a starter.

    When I asked Wayne Gretzky – the Great One – about Theodore’s future last season, he surprised me and a pack of reporters by bolding predicting Theodore would return. Gretzky had followed Theodore’s career for years. He considers him a friend.

    Jose, Gretzky said, just needed to find his confidence.

    Turns out, Gretzky was right. Theodore just finished leading the Avs into the second round of the NHL playoffs. He again serves as a human wall in front of the net.

    His comeback offers a sweet story, full of lessons. Theodore declined to sulk last season and instead became an advisor and supporter to Peter Budaj, the man who had swiped his job. He kept working. He impressed his teammates with his maturity, his dedication to team.

    Theodore in person is different than his image. He arrived in Colorado with a high-glam reputation. He was the party king of Quebec. He was photographed dancing with Paris Hilton.

    Yet he’s a quiet, contemplative type. He answers questions politely. Last season, he always made sure to compliment Budaj. Even when his career seemed doomed, he declined to sink into a me-first depression.

    And slowly, his confidence returned, just as Gretzky said it would. He again reigns as one of the princes of hockey. Sure, this comeback comes just in time for a new contract, but I don’t believe Theodore’s rise-and-fall has anything to do with greed.

    He’s back, proving me and dozens of others wrong.

    And I’m glad.

  • GOAT?

    Fri, April 18, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Four years ago, sprinter Maurice Greene was proclaiming to anyone who would listen that he ranked as the greatest sprinter of all time. He was GOAT, he said. Greatest Of All Time. Greater than Jesse Owens or Bobby Morrow or Carl Lewis. Greene had a goofy charm about him. He bragged constantly, but you could tell he might have been kidding, just a little.

    He also talked with disdain for Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. Four years ago, Montgomery and Jones were suspected of doping, and Greene enjoyed a clean image.

    Not anymore. Now Greene has joined Montgomery and Jones on the suspect list. The New York Times reported Greene is under suspicion for doping, which might explain why he ran faster in 2004 than he did in 2003.

    Greatest of all time?

    I don’t think so.

  • Allen Iverson

    Thu, April 17, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    It’s time for Allen Iverson to prove he’s worth his salary, which flirts with the $20 million-per-season mark. It’s time for him to lead the Denver Nuggets to a victory in a playoff series.

    Iverson arrived in Colorado amid great expectation. Many expected him to lead this team to the NBA Finals. Others expected him to trash the Nuggets.

    The results haven’t been nearly as exciting as expected. Iverson has been a good citizen. He’s played solid, if not quite spectacularly.

    But the Nuggets remain stuck near the bottom of playoff teams in the West. Last season, Iverson ranked as the prime villain as the Spurs casually dismissed the Nuggets in the playoffs.

    It’s time for Iverson to shine. Sure, the Los Angeles Lakers offer an imposing challenge. They’re led by Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. They have their eyes on the title.

    Iverson must engineer an upset.

  • Mistakes hand title to Kansas

    Tue, April 8, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Yes, Monday night’s Kansas-Memphis State NCAA title game delivered great basketball theater. Mario Chalmers’ game-tying, last-second 3-pointer will go down as one of the great shots in basketball history.

    Yet the game exposed the shortcomings of the college game. The game was decided by mistakes, by nervous young men who couldn’t handle the draining, devastating weight of pressure. Memphis State missed free throws, over and over, and Kansas walked through the open door to the title.

    The NBA has plenty of faults, but games are almost always decided by positives instead of negatives. Turnovers and missed free throws aren’t the norm in the final minutes of close games. NBA teams win because they do all the right things in the tense minutes, not because their opponents crumble.

  • Dick Vitale in Hall of Fame

    Mon, April 7, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Dick Vitale soon will be inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame. His greatest contribution to the game is the term, “Awesome, baby.” His greatest passion during his long broadcasting career has been the promotion of himself.

    Vitale is great at shouting. He’s great at demanding everyone – even the extremely reluctant – pay attention to his noise and his hand waving and his whole lame act.

    I don’t think there’s any way to remove Vitale from the Hall. I don’t think we can impeach him.

    That doesn’t change this underlying truth:

    He doesn’t belong in the hall.

  • Lou Brock’s challenge

    Thu, April 3, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    On Monday night, I was standing in an elevator at Busch Stadium on my way to the Colorado Rockies clubhouse. It was crowded as we descended fron the fourth floor. It grew much more crowded when a man in a bright red sports coat and several of his friends climbed aboard on the second floor.

    The man in bright red was Lou Brock, a Cardinals Hall of Famer and one of the game’s all-time, all-around talents.

    I was standing next to a 20-something radio journalist. Brock immediately approached the young man and said with a grim face, “Do you think you can take me?”

    Brock is no longer a young man, but he remains imposing. The young man glanced at Brock and quickly said, “No.” He looked startled, maybe even a little scared.

    After we stepped out of the elevator, I introduced myself to Brock. We talked for a couple minutes and then I asked what he would have done if the young man had accepted his mock challenge.

    Brock’s face grew serious.

    “I don’t know,” he said. He explained that he often offers his comical challenge to strangers and everyone always says no.

    Except, he said, an 8-year-old who did want to fight one of baseball’s grand old men.