1. Samba! Samba! Samba!
Last night in Stockholm the Portuguese striker scored a hat trick, the 26th of his magnificent career, to advance Portugal into the 2014 World Cup with a victory against Sweden. All three of Ronaldo’s goals came via his feet, which is somewhat unusual since he is renowned for his headers. All three of the goals were also marvelous feats, the type that the ordinary pro is incapable of scoring, at least with any consistency.
In the two-match series, the Real Madrid superstar scored all four of his country’s goals (by contrast, his superstar Real Madrid teammate, Gareth Bale, will not play in the WC since he is a native of Wales, which did not advance.)
Watch the video here and tell me that you don’t want to listen next summer’s World Cup broadcast entirely in Portuguese.
2. Time To Retire?
Laker point guard Steve Nash, who has battled lower back problems for at least a half-decade, is contemplating a mid-season retirement, according to Peter Vecsey. Here’s hoping he does.
The Santa Clara alum, who turns 40 in February, is the NBA’s oldest active player. The two-time NBA MVP’s skills have markedly diminished since he headed west on Interstate 10 from the Valley of the Sun to the Valley of the Dolls. Last season Nash averaged just 6.7 assist per game, far below his career average of 8.8 He’s currently No. 4 on the all-time list and needs just 56 assists to tie Mark Jackson at No. 3 (John Stockton and Nash’s former teammate, Jason Kidd, if you were wondering).
How many two-time NBA MVPs have fallen short of capturing an NBA championship? Only two, Nash and Karl Malone. Which, of course, makes Nash the only two-time league MVP to never appear in the NBA Finals.
For those who consider the Canadian native (who was born in South Africa) unworthy of two MVP trophies, consider that in league history, only 10 times has a player achieved a season-long 50-40-90. That is, shooting 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the three-point line, and 90% from the free throw line. It has only been done 10 times.
Kevin Durant did it last season.
Larry Bird did it twice.
Steve Nash has done if FOUR times. Four.
Besides, Nash dreamt up and directed this video.
3. On Grinnell
Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com wrote this “takedown”, as the kids call it, of Grinnell coach David Arsenault (and David Arsenault, Sr., I presume). Gregg was unaware that he was speaking to Arsenault’s son –same name, and now he basically coaches the team –and not the architect of the system, as well as the author of “The System”, while he was conducting the interview (hence the Editor’s Note in this later edition).
I’m somewhat amused by the reaction this article has received on Twitter (almost universally in favor of Doyel, and by media members I greatly respect, one of whom is Gregg). Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that having met and spent 24 hours with both Arsenault men that I came away a huge admirer. Perhaps I am biased. As someone who has coached girls high school hoops, I love that he found an innovative way to legally manipulate the game.
Here’s the thing. Go Mad Libs on that story. For every place you see “Grinnell” replace the name with either “Florida State” or “Alabama”. Everywhere you see Arsenault, replace it with “Fisher” or “Saban.” Everywhere you see “Crossroads”, replace that with either “Idaho” or “Chattanooga.”
Same story, no?
Oh, but Grinnell blasphemed the game of basketball by intentionally trying to get one of its players as many points as possible. There are 406 teams in Division III. Most schools outside of Grinnell’s conference refuse to play Grinnell, schools that are competitive with the Pioneers (and even better) because to play Grinnell means that you must prepare your team for an entirely different type of game and who wants that headache? It’s the same reason that most FBS schools are loathe to schedule Navy (and why Notre Dame would probably end the series if it wouldn’t bring so much negative attention; I imagine Gregg would have something to say about that, too).
Grinnell is kind of like a Boise State of D-3 hoops. Definitely not as successful, but take a look at how well Arsenault’s predecessors did at the tiny Iowa school. I’m sure the administration isn’t complaining.
As for the insinuation that Arsenault is using the hype to sell his book…I’m sure that, like any author, Arsenault, Sr., would love for as many people to buy his book as possible. But I’m also sure –and as Gregg NEVER actually talked to the man whom he attacked in print (speaking to his son, instead) — that Arsenault believes in the style of play that he has created and wants to be an evangelist for it. If Gregg were to look more closely he’d see that Grinnell targets different types of records in a game pretty much every year. One year a player (the one Gregg actually spoke to, David Arsneault, Jr.) set a record for most assists in a game. Another year every single player on the roster, somewhere north of 15, hit at least one three-pointer in a game.
Again, I’m amused. In a week when the two most dominant football teams in the nation are playing de-fanged bunnies in their own backyard (because those leviathan powers invited said bunnies in return for a paycheck), the media is going to get righteously indignant about a school of 1,700 in BFE, Iowa, doing the same thing. Except doing it better.
And as for being mercenary about the book, how many times yesterday did Mr. Doyel tweet about this column (at least twice) or about his radio appearance? Those tweets are designed to generate clicks, which go a long way toward Gregg’s job security.
A few of Grinnell’s other records that Gregg neglected to mention:
Highest Points Per Game Average In One Season:
Steve Diekmann, 37.3 PPG in 1995
Most Three Point Fields Goals in One Season:
Jeff Clement, 186 in 1998
Most Assists in One Game:
David Arsenault, 34 in 2007
Grinnell should be ashamed of itself.
(Oh, and I wrote this commentary pro bono, without anyone lobbying me or paying me to do so, in case any college hoops media out there are wondering. I make my real money on retainer from Dan Snyder, who pays me to convince people that the sky is green)
4. Toughest Mudders
A Canadian, Ryan Atkins, won last weekend’s 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder in Englishtown, N.J. You can read his blog entry about his experience here. On the distaff side, 44 year-old HIV-positive Deanna Blegg of Australia was the top female finisher and placed 5th overall. Here’s an interview with Blegg about the many obstacles that she continues to overcome.
5. Elon Musk is NOT Happy
In the past year Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S electric car has received the HIGHEST safety ratings that both Consumer Reports and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have ever bestowed on a vehicle.
The highest. Ev-ah.
And then two Tesla S cars catch fire (one, curiously, with a camera recording the entire incident). Nobody dies. But the stock plunges from $192 per share to its current price of about $125. (Full disclosure: I do NOT own stock in Tesla. I used to, but no longer do. So, yes, I’m part of the problem, Elon.)
According to the NHTSA, there are 152,000 vehicle fires on average involving internal combustion engines. Tesla, so far? Two. Not two thousand. Two.
Just imagine that you are an investor who notices that TSLA stock has shot up nearly 500% this year. Do you know how much money you could make by purchasing a Tesla ($61,000), then shorting TSLA stock, then starting and filming a vehicle fire involving a Tesla, and then tweeting about it? Did that happen? I don’t know. But it’s an easy way to make a lot of money.
You can read Musk’s irritation in this wonderfully sardonic comment about the safety of his vehicle: “”It is literally impossible for another car to have a better safety track record, as it would have to possess mystical powers of healing.”
Kudos to Rocco Pendola of “The Street”, who took both himself and other financial media to task for their about-face on Musk in recent months. The ol’ prop-em-up, tear-em-down two-step.
Interesting story here by Mike Hlas on the Notre Dame-Iowa game that was canceled on November 23, 1963 for obvious reasons. The Irish did meet Syracuse at Yankee Stadium the following weekend and got their tails kicked, the exclamation mark on a woeful 2-8 season (curiously, their only victories came against USC and UCLA on consecutive Saturdays) that augured the era of Ara.
The NFL did play that weekend. The Dallas Cowboys, for Chrissake, played that weekend. I imagine Twitter might have had a word or two of opinion about that.
I imagine you’ve seen this, but Zombie is the new Black.
Regarding yesterday’s Twitter feud, I recall my old colleague and good friend at the time, Albert Kim, relating a story about how Richard Marx once defended himself in print to Entertainment Weekly by writing the magazine a letter and correcting them by stating, “I have only written TWO over-the-top power ballads.”
(I may not have the quote verbatim, but I think you get the point).
Which is to say, I won’t bother to defend myself. I’ll let the work I do here, that I do without payment but rather because writers write, be my argument.
No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo
ESPN2 8 p.m.
Lights. Camera. MACtion! The Huskies are 10-0, Jordan Lynch is a Heisman Trophy outlier, and every one-loss team in an AQ conference is rooting for the Rockets (don’t bother: Fresno State’s not going to lose). I like Toledo in this one. The Rockets’ three losses were at Florida, Missouri and by a TD at Ball State. They’ve taken down Navy and last week, at home, a fantastic Buffalo team.