2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Karl’s brave admission

    Fri, May 29, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    George Karl showed great bravery before Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    He admitted he’s a fan of the rock bands Foreigner and Styx.

    “They’re not too-loud rock, a little bit  more than  Seals and Croft,” Karl said.

    Why is this a brave admission?

    Because Foreigner and Styx are two of the worst bands in world history.

  • Lakers fans

    Thu, May 28, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    During the Nuggets-Lakers series, I’ve sat courtside and I’ve sat midway up and I’m sat in the rafters. Everywhere, I’ve been surrounded by mellow, classy fans.

    I might also describe them as spoiled.

    Crowds at Pepsi Center have been frenzied. That’s not the scene at Staples Center. This is a city that expects journeys to the NBA Finals.

    It can get ugly, of course. A few minutes after Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets, I witnessed the end of some kind of dispute between a male and female fan. The dispute ended with angry words shouted and middle fingers extended.

    “Hey,” shouted a man with one of those ultra-smooth voices, “knock it off. We’re all part of the Lakers family.”

  • Avs in free fall

    Thu, May 28, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Colorado Avalanche offer the keys to the franchise to a man who has never coached an NHL game.

    And that man turns them down.

    Listen, I know  Patrick Roy is a hockey legend. He led the Avs to two Stanley Cups.

    But it still has to be devastating to the Avs that he turned down their coaching offer. He said he said no because of family, and I’m sure that’s partially true, but Roy is no dummy.

    The worst coaching jobs are at destinations where winning is expected, but the tools aren’t there to deliver on those expectations.

    That’s exactly where the Avs have arrived. They have an impressive tradition and a depleted roster.

    They’ve fallen so far that only a clueless optimist would expect them to arise anytime soon.

    Roy is not a clueless optimist.

  • J.R. and George

    Tue, May 26, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Someone asked Nuggets coach George Karl how he was able to “keep J.R. Smith’s confidence up?” This was after Denver’s 120-101 victory over the Lakers.

    “Keep his confidence up?” Karl said, his voice rising. “What about my confidence?  He’s driving me crazy.”

    Smith had an active night. He made Karl happy. He made Karl mad.

    Smith launched 17 shots in 29 minutes, including nine 3s, but also collected three turnovers and his second technical in two games.

  • Kobe mania is getting out of hand

    Mon, May 25, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Jeff Van Gundy recently announced that Kobe Bryant is the greatest Laker of all  time.

    Really, Jeff?

    Better than Magic Johnson?

    (Magic  five titles as a Laker. Kobe has won three.)

    No.

    Better than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem won six titles, five with the Lakers.

    No.

    Better than Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and George Mikan?

    Probably.

    Van Gundy’s statement is typical of the today is better than yesterday view. Magic is only the second or third best player ever. Abdul-Jabbar remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. To place Bryant ahead of them is silly.

    Bryant could pass Magic and Kareem. He hasn’t yet.

    But give Van Gundy credit.

    At least he’s not as befuddled as Mark Jackson, his sometime broadcasting partner.

    Jackson recently said Kobe is the equal of …

    Michael Jordan?

    Yes, Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind,” Jackson said.

    Mark, you need some help for that mind of yours.

  • Bad times at Pepsi Center

    Sun, May 24, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    My sons, who are 18 and 19, went to Saturday’s Nuggets-Lakers game. They were thrilled to get tickets. I was thrilled they were able to see an NBA playoff game.

    They sat near a woman wearing a Lakers Magic Johnson jersey. She was an enthusiastic, vocal Lakers fan.

    That should be no big deal.

    That was a big deal.

    A  Nuggets fan sitting near my sons did not appreciate the woman’s support for the Lakers.  

    So he began to hassle her.

    First, he said the woman had been  raped by Kobe Bryant.

    Bryant, as you may recall, was accused of rape in a hotel incident in Colorado.

    Next, the man told the woman she had been given HIV by Magic Johnson.

    Johnson, of course, is an HIV survivor.

    It will come as no surprise that the man had been gulping beers.

    For some reason, it’s  OK in our society to act like a complete fool at  sporting events. It’s OK to drink too much, to speak crudely, to go on the attack mode.

    A few years ago, I was at a Detroit Pistons game at Pepsi Center, sitting with my sons,  enjoying a fun family night. They were watching the game. I was, out of the corner of my eye, watching a couple  dozen fans in front of me consume spectacular amounts of alcohol.

    Eventually – and this is a huge  surprise – a brawl broke out. Men and women were throwing punches and shouting  obscenities and acting like idiots. We were in the cheap seats, on the third deck, and for a couple seconds I worried someone would  be thrown into the second deck.

    It was frightening. It was disgusting.

    The  moral of these stories?

    Still trying to figure that one out.

  • Karl’s beyond happy a few minutes before Game 2

    Thu, May 21, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    LOS ANGELES – George  Karl performed a creditable imitation of a Phil  Collins drum solo. He kept busting out with laughter. I half-expected him to start dancing  on the stage.

    This is not usual behavior for a coach a little  more than an hour before a playoff game. To say Karl was loose is an understatement.

    Tuesday night, Karl looked as if he would burst into tears after the Denver Nuggets found a way to  lose to the Los Angeles Lakers. Karl said Thursday that he was  “in shock” after the defeat. The Nuggets,  he said, were one play away from the biggest win in franchise history.

    But while examining film of the game, Karl embraced hope instead of hurt. Yes, the Nuggets tossed away a win, but Karl was dazzled by Carmelo Anthony’s performance and pleased with his team’s effort.

    And pretty soon he was pounding the table while a couple dozen journalists watched. Turns out Karl is a big Phil Collins fan.

    We’ll soon see if Karl has reason for all his jubilance.

  • J.R. says he will play

    Wed, May 20, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    LOS ANGELES – J.R. Smith walked with a pronounced limp, but he said his sore leg will not keep him from playing in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

    “I don’t know if I’ll be 100 percent,” Smith said, “but I’ll be able to play.”

    Coach George Karl isn’t quite so sure.

    “That’s the rumor,” Karl said, confirming Smith is scheduled to play. “But I didn’t like the way he walked into the building this morning.”

  • One team had been here before, and one hadn’t

    Wed, May 20, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Los Angeles Lakers have traveled to the NBA Finals 12 times in the last 29 seasons. Before Tuesday’s unlikely – and perhaps lucky – 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets, the massive images of George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson were shown to LA fans.

    Of course, none of those players stepped on the court for Tuesday’s game, but the past has power. This is a franchise that expects to travel to the NBA Finals. This is a team that’s disappointed if it doesn’t wear the ultimate crown.

    The Nuggets have the talent required to topple the Lakers. They were often dominant,  even in defeat.

    But the Nuggets might not have the maturity. There’s no way to simulate the oppressive, mind-numbing pressure of late-term playoff basketball. This is all new for the Nuggets.  and it showed.

    The Lakers thrived on pressure.

    That same pressure crushed the Nuggets.

  • Tony Kornheiser says goodbye to Monday Night

    Mon, May 18, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Tony Kornheiser has many gifts. He’s a fantastic feature writer.  He’s often terrific on  PTI, his afternoon show on ESPN.

    But he was lousy on Monday Night Football. He didn’t know enough about the NFL. He didn’t seem terribly interested in the games being played. He talked too  much about himself. It was a disaster.

    Thankfully, the disaster is over. The official report is that Kornheiser wanted to walk  away because he hates to fly. Maybe that’s true. I doubt it. Kornheiser’s bosses aren’t blind. They could see what all of us could see.

    Monday Night Football is an American broadcasting institution. I’ve enjoyed many a great Monday evening listening to Howard Cosell and Don Meredith and,  more recently, Dan Dierdorft and Al Michaels.

    But there’s another side. The show has a history of wildly disastrous announcers,  including Fred Williamson, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath, Alex Karras,  Dennis  Miller and, yes, Kornheiser.

    I look forward to laughing with Kornheiser during PTI. I’m glad he’s gone from MNF.