by John Walters
1. NBA Twilight Zone
What was in the NBA water last night? The Cavs, Spurs and Clippers, who entered the night with three of the league’s four best records, each lost to a team that entered the evening with a sub-.500 mark. The Clips lost to Brooklyn by five in OT, the Spurs fell at home to Orlando (no, really) and the Cavs lost by 17 at Milwaukee.
At least we were treated to the signature play of J.R. Smith‘s career, as while he was supposed to be guarding Tony Snell, he recognized Jason Terry (whom he once elbowed flagrantly in a playoff game) seated on the Bucks bench, was probably shocked to learn he was still in the league, and then went over to greet him (so they’ve made up). Ball gets inbounded to J.R.’s open man, who dunks uncontested. How can you not laugh, even if you’re LeBron?
2. “Working on Building/Working on Building/STARS HOLLOW!”
Olay, sure, Taylor Doose teases Stars Hollow: The Musical early in Episode 3 of the Gilmore Girls revival, but did you really think they were gonna go for it for TEN MINUTES? And then the Palladinos go ahead and hire Christian Borle (currently playing Shakespeare as a rock star in Something Rotten on Broadway) and Sutton Foster to play the leads (“She was Kinky Boots!”). And what about your director, Nat?
Anyway, it’s nowhere on YouTube, so you’ll just have to go to Netflix and see it for yourself. Note: Borle and Foster used to be married and were HUGE Gilmore Girls fans. They’d watch it together. They were married about eight years but remained friends after. Then Foster got the lead in Bunheads, a show that the Paladins produce, so she was a natural for the role of Violet here. She actually suggested Borle, a two-time Tony Award winner, to play Carl. And now you know the rest of the story.”
The Ducks fired coach Mark Helfrich after four seasons. In his first two years in Eugene, the Coos Bay native went 24-4 and led Oregon to the national championship game. In the last two years the Ducks were 9-4 and 4-8 and this season were particularly awful on defense, finishing 125th nationally (out of 128 teams) in Scoring Defense, surrendering 41.4 points per game.
Still, isn’t it anathema at Oregon to fire someone from Coos Bay? Steve Prefontaine is from Coos Bay. Where would Phil Knight and Nike be without Pre (I mean, sure, he’d still be a monster success, but Pre is sort of Knight’s Moses), and where would Oregon be without Knight? I get it: the talent level had declined and Oregon couldn’t stop anyone.
So who’s next in Eugene? Memo to Chip Kelly, currently coaching the San Francisco 1-9’ers (UPDATED: 1-10’ers; I just wanted you to see the joke): Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged.
4. Blue Bloods
You checked out the early men’s hoops rankings? Of the eight schools that have won at least three national championships, seven are ranked int the top 14. Kentucky (8) is No. 1, North Carolina (5) is No. 3, Kansas (3) is No. 4, Duke (5) is No. 5, UCLA (11) is No. 11, Indiana (5) is No. 14 and Louisville (3) is No. 14.
The only slacker among the eight schools with three or more cut-down-nets is UConn. The Huskies are struggling at 2-4.
The only school in the Top 5 without three national titles is No. 2 Villanova, which is both the defending national champ and the only school from a non-Power 5 conference to cut down the nets (twice, in fact: 2016 and 1985) since 1985 (UPDATE: I forgot UNLV, 1990; apologies to the Runnin’ Rebels and my old friend Paul Gutierrez).
Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention that the school that has ended the longest winning streak in men’s college hoops history, Notre Dame, is 7-0 after taking Iowa down by 14 last night (and its women’s team is No. 1 with a date against UConn, winners of 79 in a row, a week from tonight).
I guess the lesson here is that in sports, as in America, it’s a lot more of an oligarchy than people would like to believe.
5. “We’re Going To Dine at Jean Georges—and Mexico’s Going To Pay For It!”
That’s president-elect Donald Trump and potential Secretary of State Mitt Romney dining in New York City last night. They went to Jean Georges, a three-star Michelin Guid joint located above Columbus Circle. Official reports have the three men (they were joined by Reince Priebus as the designated “Why-don’t-we-change-the-subject?” guy) ordering “a young garlic soup with thyme and sautéed frog legs, and diver scallops with caramelized cauliflower and caper-raisin emulsion as appetizers.
“Priebus and Trump ordered a prime sirloin with citrus glazed carrots for their main course and Romney ordered lamb chops with a mushroom bolognese sauce. All three of the men had a chocolate cake for dessert.
Remember when conservative pundits killed Obama for ordering mustard with his cheeseburger (Laura Ingraham: “Do these men not have anything better to do?”)? Where are they this morning?
For once, I’m with Mike Pence. Spend about one-tenth the money and enjoy an appetizer sampler and then the burger at TGI Friday’s next time, guys.
So Quiet In Here
What the Beach Boys are to summer, Van Morrison is to autumn. He just fits this time of year. As you look outside at 4:50 p.m. and see darkness, your best bet is some mulled wine (I had some this weekend. Who knew!?! So good!) and Van the Man. This is from his 1990 album Enlightenment, which is highly under appreciated.
No. 15 Purdue at No. 14 Louisville
No. 3 North Carolina at No. 13 Indiana
ESPN 7 p.m.
Honestly can’t name a single player on any of these squads. Does Grayson Allen play for one of these schools? No? Okay. Well, I guess this is roll call. Maybe I’ll know a name or two after tonight (Who am I kidding? I’m going to re-watch Gilmore Girls; you do what you like).