• Here’s one reason why CSU QB Pete Thomas did not enroll at Air Force

    Thu, June 30, 2011 by David Ramsey with no comments

    You might someday see Colorado State quarterback Pete Thomas throwing passes in the NFL. He’s 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He’s blessed with superb poise. He started last season as a true freshman for the Rams.

    At one point, it seemed you might see Thomas throwing footballs for Air Force Academy. His brother, Chris, wrestled at the academy. Pete is familiar with the rewards and the rigors of cadet life.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun offered this theory to explain why Thomas ended up in Fort Collins. Calhoun spoke during Wednesday’s annual Kickoff Luncheon.

    “He saw our offensive line and said, ‘I’m bigger than all of them,’ ” Calhoun said.

    An exaggeration?

    Yes.

    But not much of one.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Reggie Jackson’s departure from state is part of Bzdelik’s CU legacy

    Thu, June 23, 2011 by David Ramsey with no comments

    When you’re looking at Jeff Bzdelik’s coaching career at the University of Colorado, make sure to look at the departure of Reggie Jackson.

    Bzdelik had known about Jackson from the start. He was coaching at the Air Force Academy, and Jackson was playing at Palmer High School. Jackson  briefly considered AFA before deciding he did not want to attend a millitary school.

    Jackson soon decided he did not want to play for Bzdelik, who moved to Boulder and the CU job. Bzdelik mounted an uninspired campaign to keep  Jackson in Colorado.

    Jackson instead chose Boston College. He’s expected to be drafted in the first round of tonight’s NBA Draft.

    Imagine CU’s team last season with Jackson in the backcourt.

    But this story does not end sadly.

    Remember, Bzdelik is at Wake Forest.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Tim DeRuyter in the Springs to drop off son at Academy

    Wed, June 22, 2011 by David Ramsey with 3 comments

    Ran into former Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and his wife Kara Tuesday night at Pinkberry yogurt on North Academy. DeRuyter, now the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, is in town to drop off his son, Jake, for his freshman year at the Air Force Academy.

    We talked for 30 minutes. Tim and Kara are extremely happy to escape East Texas heat – which has been soaring above 100 degrees – and humidity.

    DeRuyter is a 1985 AFA graduate and  a survivor, of course, of the academy’s basic training.

    He knows what awaits his son.

  • Athlon picks Air Force 29th in nation, 3rd in Mountain West

    Tue, June 21, 2011 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    The Athlon College Football magazine will soon hit the newstand.

    The editors at Athlon have picked Air Force to finish third in the Mountain West, behind Boise State and TCU and ahead of  San Diego State. The Falcons were picked to finish 29th in the nation, far ahead of No. 56 Navy and No. 90 Army.  (My favorite team, BYU, is picked No. 34.)

    Athlon predicts Air Force will finish 9-3. The magazine does not specify the losses, but I’m guessing the projected defeats will be to Boise, TCU and Notre Dame, which is ranked No. 6 in the nation by Athlon.

    Offensive lineman A.J. Wallerstein and Jon Davis were named to the first-team all-MWC  team.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Jay Cutler is … a gracious guy and a big tipper?

    Mon, June 20, 2011 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    Was eating breakfast last week at Pete’s Kitchen, an old-school diner on East Colfax near the Capital Building in Denver. Pete’s has been serving straight-forward food in massive portions since 1942.  I’m a Denver guy, class of 1977 at Denver South, and this is a Denver place.  Pete’s is worth checking out if you’re looking to gain weight and catch up on cholesterol.

    Noticed photos on the wall of Jay Cutler and after finishing my meal I asked a long-time waitress what she thought of Cutler.

    What she said surprised me. The Cutler I encountered during his Broncos days was surly, anti-social, sarcastic, unimaginative, babyish, abusive, distracted, arrogant, simplistic and irritating. And that was on his good days.

    The waitress encountered a different Cutler, who was a frequent visitor to the diner during his playing days with the Broncos.

    She said he was a fantastic tipper. He tipped his waitress $100 and then made sure everyone working in the diner received a $100 tip, too.

    She said he was friendly and gracious to all the other customers.

    “He loved being around people,” she said. “He loved being noticed, loved being a celebrity.”

    So there’s another side to Cutler, who is now off throwing footballs for the Chicago Bears.

    When he departed, he ranked as the state’s least-popular resident.  Well, maybe the  The Shoe Bomber, who is incarcerated near Florence, was more unpopular, but that’s about it.

    But he’s extremely popular at a cozy diner on Colfax.

    And that’s encouraging to hear.

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Former Gazetteer Jake Schaller invades the blog today to defend Larry Bird

    Fri, June 17, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Today, it’s all Jake Schaller, the Gazette’s esteemed Air Force beat writer who is now studying law at the University of Maryland.

    When he defends Larry Bird, he’s making reference to my all-time NBA top 20 that ran yesterday on the blog and can be read if you scroll down. Thanks for stopping by.

    And, now, here’s Jake:

    One of the best parts of being a sports writer for The Gazette for five years was being able to talk and joke and laugh and debate with David Ramsey. In the press box after a game, at dinner or at the bar, we’d discuss sports, politics, the world’s best cities, beers, fatherhood, theater – whatever. It was a blast teeing off on just about anything.

    But the best was talking hoops. Ramsey’s a hoops junkie, and we agreed about pretty much everything that had to do with the game: That Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time. That there’s not even an argument that MJ’s the greatest.That the NBA is far better than college ball. That LeBron walks just about every time he goes to the hoop. That Jeff Bzdelik ran the 2006-07 Air Force men’s basketball team into the ground, sabotaging the season. And that it’s amazing – nay, miraculous – that the Falcons can win even one game without being able to take transfers. You name it, we were on the same page.

    So you can imagine my surprise when, walking the Vegas strip after a Mountain West Conference Tournament game, Ramsey dropped this one on me:

    “Larry Bird was overrated,” he said.

    Wait. What?

    “Larry Bird was overrated,” he repeated.

    I was hoping Ramsey was spoofing the Bad Boy Pistons’ idiotic claims. But he insisted.

    Which brings me to Ramsey’s Top 20 players of all time that appeared on his blog. It’s a great list. But he has Bird far too low.

    Bird won three straight NBA MVPs from 1984-86. He won three NBA titles (and was a Magic baby sky hook away from another). He was arguably the best passing forward ever to play the game (just watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhnRtgBGMl4. I mean, seriously, watch that). He was one of the game’s best performers in the clutch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_RJ5XN8TK8). And he was an all-world trash talker who consistently backed up his boasts. One of my favorite Bird stories is when he (allegedly) walked into the locker room before the 3-points shooting contest at an NBA All-Star Game and asked the other competitors, “Which one of you (expletives) is playing for second?” Then he went out and won it, starting his celebration before the final ball went in (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvzIPnfSaDI).

    (Let’s put it this way, if Bird and two teammates were lowered into Boston Garden on a hydraulic lift, while dancing, amid smoke machines and cheerleaders and an over-the-top announcer months before the season started and then he predicted multiple championships, you damn well better believe the Celts would have won the title that year.)

    There are two reasons why people tend to underrate Bird:

    One, they think he wasn’t a good enough athlete. Now, he wasn’t Jordan or LeBron, but he wasn’t nearly the stiff people make him out to be. And whatever he lacked in athleticism he made up for in savvy – he had a Gretzky-esque ability to be in the right place at the right time.

    Two, Bird gets docked because he played on a team loaded with all-stars. But while Bird had McHale, the Chief, DJ and Ainge, Magic had Kareem, Worthy and Scott. If you’re going to penalize Bird, you’ve got to penalize Magic, Kareem and Russell too.

    I can’t make the argument that Bird is in the top five – his back and feet betrayed him, so he wasn’t nearly the same player in his twilight years.

    But 10? Come on, Ramsey.

  • Here are the top 21 players in NBA history; is LeBron on the list?

    Thu, June 16, 2011 by David Ramsey with 7 comments

    WILT CHAMBERLAIN, No. 5 on our list

    Of course he isn’t.

    A couple years ago, I compiled my first top-21 list and heard from a  dozen  enraged readers.

    How, they asked, could I be so blind? Didn’t I know LeBron was headed for unfathomable greatness?

    How could I leave LeBron off the list?

    Answer:

    Quite easily.

    LeBron was the third best player on the court during the NBA Finals, and he was a distant third. LeBron faded when it mattered most when he was the undisputed everything for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he showed his versatility by fading when it mattered most as Dwyane Wade’s sidekick with the Miami Heat.

    Will he ever crack the top 21?

    Probably but not certainly. He’s astoundingly talented. He’s also shown an astounding inability to harness all that talent.

    But let’s forget LeBron for a moment.

    Basketball is the best sport for the best-ever discussion. The game has only been on the national stage since the early 1950s, which simplifies arguments.

    In baseball, you can make a strong case for Babe Ruth as the best-ever, and he began his career in 1914.

    That was a long time ago. That leads to all kinds of comparing of eras, which can get messy.

    In basketball, the first greatest-ever candidate is George Mikan, who led the Lakers (then based in Minneapolis) to seven titles in nine seasons. He retired in 1955.

    That makes picking a top 21 more simple. And more fun.

    Here’s my top 21, and I’d love to hear from you about your top five or 10 or 21 or 50. And, of course, I’d love to hear from LeBron lovers.

    1. Michael Jordan You can argue this one, but it’s silly. He played in six NBA Finals. And won six NBA Finals. He never quit growing as a player. He started his career as the ultimate skywalker. He ended his Bulls career – please, let’s just forget about those days with the Wizards – as the game’s ultimate midrange jump shooter. I will be shocked – happily shocked, but shocked – if I ever see a better player than Michael Jordan.

    2. Magic A revolutionary. A point guard in a center’s body. If Magic had not contracted HIV, he might have tangled with Jordan for the top spot. He’s the greatest team player ever. What I mean is, if you stepped on the court with Magic as a teammate, you instantly became a better basketball player.

    3. Bill Russell Eleven titles in 13 seasons. No one will ever top that. No one will ever come close. He’s the greatest winner in the history of team sports. So why doesn’t he rank at the top? That’s easy. He was always surrounded by overwhelming talent. He was the lead actor in a dynasty jammed with superior chemistry and talent.

    4.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar His hook shot was – and remains – the most effective offensive weapon in basketball history. My list is focused on NBA accomplishments. If you include college accomplishments, Abdul-Jabbar might climb even higher. He won three NCAA titles. (Although, come to think of it, Russell won two NCAA titles.)

    5. Wilt Chamberlain Saw him play in downtown Seattle when I was in grade school. An amazing talent who could have been even better. Many basketball historians, including one of my favorites Terry Pluto, make a strong case Chamberlain was better than Russell. Wilt did compile mind-boggling numbers, and when he was surrounded by talent he won NBA titles. Though he’s remembered as a loser, he won two NBA titles, which is two more than LeBron.

    6. Kobe Bryant I didn’t appreciate Kobe as much as I should have during his long prime, which is now over. Didn’t appreciate him primarily because I always despised him. He’s an astounding talent. He’s not the most charming character, but he’s one of sports history’s most relentless competitors. He’s the rare ball hog who is also a winner.

    7. Oscar Robertson Until Jordan came around, he was the most complete player ever. I’ve talked with a couple dozen players who competed against Robertson. When they talk about The Big O, they are filled with immense respect.

    8. Jerry West Interviewed him about the NBA draft a couple times when I was covering Syracuse University basketball. The most down-to-earth superstar ever.

    9. Elgin Baylor The first skywalker. Another revolutionary and another basketball gentlemen. He should have a much higher profile. I used to live in Syracuse, New York, once home to an NBA franchise. Fans there still talk about Baylor’s first visit in 1958. He soared a foot-and-a-half above the rim for a slam, but had a little trouble with his air traffic control. While trying to avoid one of his opponent’s arms, Baylor miscalculated his dunk and the ball slammed off the back rim. The Syracuse fans swore the ball bounced all the way past the halfcourt line. This Baylor air show ranks among the best missed dunks of all time.

    10. Larry Bird Often overrated by overzealous fans, but a fantastic competitor and offensive player. Not such a great defender, though. I’d place him lower, at  14 or so,  but a multitude of basketball people I respect place him in their top 5.

    11. Rick Barry I used to instigate heated basketball arguments by telling friends and enemies that Barry (who lives in the Springs) was better than Larry Bird. These friends and enemies dismissed all points and acted as if I had just said the moon landing was staged. So I promised to never again state my case. (By the way, I do believe we landed astronauts on the moon.) Still, please, at least consider that the Bird-Barry discussion has merit. Look at Barry’s numbers – he averaged 24 points in his career, same as Bird. Look at the way Barry carried – as no player has ever carried – the Golden State Warriors to the 1975 title. Bird and Barry were remarkably similar players and belong right next to each other on the all-time list. One quick Barry story: I was talking a few years ago with former Sonics superstar Spencer Haywood about Barry. (Haywood and Barry often did battle on the court.) Spencer spent a few minutes raving about Barry’s accomplishments before announcing, “Rick Barry is the greatest white player of all time.” Spencer then took a long pause, all the better for comic effect, before completing his announcement. “And Rick was about the 75th best player of all time.” Thanks, Spencer.

    12. John Havlicek He played in eight NBA finals. And won them all. He also scored nearly 5,000 more points than Bird.

    13. Tim Duncan Mr. Boring is also Mr. Winner.

    14. Hakeem Olajuwon Sure, the Dream Shake was a walk, but who cares.

    15. Bob Pettit One of the great power forwards in NBA history. He retired in 1965. Don’t know anything about him? Do some research. His bio is available at the bottom of this post.

    16. John Stockton The best pure point guard ever. Did I place him too high? Maybe, but he’s one of my all-time favorites. And, like Magic, he made everybody around him better every game.

    17. Karl Malone Not a big fan, but former Bucks coach and 76ers star Larry Costello was an extremely big fan of The Mailman. Costello, who became a good friend during my days in Syracuse, picked Malone as his No. 1 power forward of all time. Costello, a great man, is no longer with us. This one’s for you, Larry. (And thanks to another good friend, Matt Wiley, for noticing that I had accidentally left out Malone.)

    18. Moses Malone If Moses had been blessed with bigger hands, he would have been illegal. His little hands limited his shooting. He handled himself like a boxer in the lane. A dangerous, dangerous man.

    19. Dirk Nowitzki I’d seen Dirk play in person a dozen times and seen him play on TV dozens of times, but never truly appreciated him until this season’s NBA Finals. He has – through dogged, exhaustive effort – constructed one of the greatest offensive machines in basketball history. He’s one of the greatest jump shooters ever, but he’s not soft. He dropped his biggest baskets against the Heat on courageous drives to the basket.

    20. Shaq Another dangerous man; the least-skilled player on this list. And the least-skilled great player in basketball history.

    21. George Mikan I’ve talked to a dozen players – NBA pioneers – who battled against Mikan. Many of these players later battled against Russell and Chamberlain. These players speak with respect for Mikan, one of the game’s all-time winners. If you’re doubtful about this selection, please consider a few facts: Mikan finished his career with seven – seven! – straight titles, and in his best three seasons averaged 28 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.

    Again, I’d love to read your list.

    Here’s Bill Simmons top 96 (you don’t have to get this ambitious.)

    http://www.bareknucks.com/bill-simmons96-greatest-nba-players-ever

    Here’s a brief bio of George Mikan:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mikan

    Here’s footage of Mikan:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gBd-hiiSfo

    Here’s a brief bio of Pettit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Pettit

    Here’s footage of Pettit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTIrG1Xn1Jk

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Rick Barry (of the Springs) rips the Miami Heat, questions LeBron

    Wed, June 15, 2011 by David Ramsey with no comments

    One thing you can always count on:

    Rick Barry will speak his mind. The Basketball Hall of Famer, who has lived in the Springs since the 1980s, recently spoke to a Sacramento radio station about his views of the NBA Finals.

    He believes the Heat handed the series to the Mavericks. He’s not pleased with LeBron James’ manners.

    Here’s more highlights of the Barry interview:

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20110615-nba-hall-of-famer-mavs-should_ve-been-swept-had-title-given-to-them_.ece

  • What do you think of Martin-DeBerry Stadium?

    Tue, June 14, 2011 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    FISHER DEBERRY

    Heard from several readers who believe they’ve discovered the solution to the  challenge of keeping everyone – or at least almost everyone – happy when it comes to the future name of Falcon Stadium.

    Martin-DeBerry Stadium.

    That way, Ben Martin loyalists would be happy, and Fisher DeBerry loyalists would be happy. (The majority of Air Force followers are  fans of both coaches.) Martin won 96 games, including an unbeaten season in 1958, in his 20 seasons as AFA football coach. DeBerry won 169 games in 23 seasons.

    I’m not a fan of hyphens. I used to live in a campus residence at Abilene Christian University that is named Smith-Adams Dorm. I thought each man deserved his own building. In my eyes, dividing an honor drains the weight of the honor.

    But maybe that’s just me. Maybe you have no problem with a hyphenated stadium name.

    Martin-DeBerry Stadium.

    It is an interesting solution.

    What are your thoughts?

    Here’s my column on the idea of naming Falcon Stadium after Fisher:

    http://www.gazette.com/sports/falcon-119674-ramsey-stadium.html

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz

  • Jeff Reynolds talks about Bohannon’s departure from Air Force

    Fri, June 10, 2011 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds talked this week about Zach Bohannon’s departure from the basketball team. Bohannon, a 6-foot-7 junior-to-be, averaged 4.3 points and 2 rebounds for the Falcons this season. He walked away from a probable starting job next season.

    He transferred to Wisconsin, where he will start his career as a walk-on.

    “We really hated to lose Zach,” Reynolds said. “He was a strong player for us, and down the road he would have been even better.

    “There are no hard feelings there. I wish him well. I didn’t think he would have to end up going somewhere and walking on. I do worry about that at Wisconsin and him getting caught in the shuffle. They have a ton of guys just like him, just bigger.

    “Zach told me that it boiled down to he did not want to be in the Air Force; he didn’t want the five-year commitment.  He wanted to get closer to home with no military commitment.

    “I hope Zach has a lot of success there.”

    I’m on Twitter. Hope you’ll join me: @davidramz