1. If you find yourself on a blind date, never lead with a Holocaust joke. In fact, it’s best not to lead with a joke at all (Question: “How many Vietnam veterans does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Answer: “YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN!”) until your date has a better appreciation of who you are and your sense of humor. And that, dear reader, is where Doug Gottlieb went wrong last night.

It wasn’t that Gottlieb’s joke was partiuclarly offensive. To refresh, it was just after 7 p.m. and CBS’ NCAA studio show, with host Greg Gumbel and analysts Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley –all of whom are black — as well as Gottlieb, who is Jewish white, appeared onscreen. Gumbel introduced Gottlieb second, after Anthony, and his very first remarks were, “I’m just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man’s perspective.”

Watch as both Gumbel and Smith look behind themselves as if to say, “Where did that come from?” Anthony stares intently at the desk and mumbles, “Okay.” Barkley chuckles.

You can’t spell “Gottlieb” without G-L-I-B. Anthony’s reacting as if Doug just swiped his credit card (oh, too soon?)

It was not THAT offensive. Not at all. It’s just that Gottlieb is not only the token white guy, he’s the token never-played-in-the-NBA guy. He’s the guy on that set with the least big network experience. It’s kind of like being the weakest member of the gang at a rumble and calling out the other gang. Know your place.

Also, Gottlieb noted just before the joke that this was a time of “the cream rising to the crop.” So, he was already distracted by the joke he was about to unleash.

A few moments later, as Kenny Smith attempted to pull a Denzel Washington and safely land this upside-down aircraft (he is “The Jet”, after all) before it completely crashed and burned, Gottlieb interrupted to ask why everyone was so uptight. Smith handled this expertly: “You jumped right in,” said Smith, then waited a beat. “I’m free, I might add.”

Finally, let’s note that the entire show began with a thinly disguised ad-parading-as-an-inspirational intro for the film “42”, which is being released by Warner Bros., a sister company of CBS. The film, of course, traces the route of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier back when baseball was America’s No. 1 sport. I don’t know if Gottlieb was attempting to leapfrog on that moment or not, but either way it just made his quip more ironic and awkward.

2. Syracuse topples No. 1 seed Indiana with its 2-3 zone. When Jim Boeheim has long, athletic defenders like these and they’re really motivated, the Orange look unbeatable. The Hoosiers commited a season-high 18 turnovers, Cody Zeller texted his agent midway through the second half to inform him that he’d be remaining in Bloomington one more year (!), and Tom Crean did an awful job of preparing his team. Next time, Hoosiers, let Norman Dale lead you to the Sweet 16.

Block-a-Zeller Center? Stay in school, Cody. Stay in school.

By the way, thanks to The Big Lead for this video of the Crean-Boeheim postgame handshake. Is this the part where the NCAA and conference commissioners remind us that coaches are molders of young men?

3. The fortnight in billionaire hedge-fund trader Steve Cohen. Last week, agrees to pay $600 million fine to SEC to make insider-trader allegations disappear (if you haven’t been paying attention lately, Lady Justice’s new slogan is “What’s in YOUR wallet?”). Tuesday: purchases a Picasso painting for $155 million. Purchases a $60 million home in East Hampton without even seeing it in person first. Mr. Cohen’s shopping spree should be all the proof you need that a reliable penis-enhancement surgical procedure remains a decade or two away.

“More is better” — It’s not complicated

As this story argues, both HSBC and now Mr. Cohen have figured out a way to avoid prosecution/incarceration. Make the US government a financial offer it can’t refuse. America: Where freedom is now for sale.

4. A Forbes survey proclaims Austin, Tex., as the second-fastest growing city in the United States. And, who knows, the Lone Star State’s capital might be No. 1 if all those Longhorn basketball players were not fleeing. Yesterday Sheldon McLellan, who led Texas in scoring most of the season, announced that he would transfer. Backup guard Jaylen Bond announced he would transfer earlier this month while sophomore poing guard Myck Kabongo, who led the ‘horns in scoring but sat out 23 games due to an NCAA suspension, likely will turn pro.

Austin powers up the rankings of fastest-growing cities

5. In this piece on the Today show travails, Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times gets it exactly right: Ann Curry should never have been promoted to No. 1 anchor in the first place, Matt Lauer is very good at his job but he won’t recover soon from how Curry was excised from the show, and Savannah Guthrie is good enough and pretty enough but she just fails to stand out.

Earlier today Lauer tried to have some fun with the controversy by tweeting, “@savannahguthrie Me storming out of the office after your middle finger salute”. Maybe he was just trying to offer the white man’s perspective to this controversy.

Meanwhile, CNN just announced a morning news team of Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan (me neither). Right now, if I had a network, Anderson Cooper would be the face of my morning show. And I’d actually ask Julia Boorstin of CNBC to be the co-host. Either her or Kate Upton.


Two friends in the business, Jerry Palm and Doug Tammaro, were responsible for the best laugh Twitter has provided me in quite some time last night. Tweeting during the second half of last night’s Indiana-Syracuse contest, Palm, a guru and Purdue alum, tweeted, “When was the last time Syracuse got a shit off?” Tammaro, a Sports Info Director at Arizona State, instantly fired back, “Damn, where is autocorrect when you need it?”

I’d show you Jerry’s tweet, but he has since deleted it. I’ve got to admit, my friends disappoint me. It was a Twitter misfire (like yours, Josh Elliott), but you NEED TO OWN IT. Your jobs are to inform people. When you erase the news you make, how do you hold others any more accountable for doing the same? It’s a little thing, but never erase the record. The record is what it is.

Richard Deitsch is correct. This is a solid read.

If you want to make money in the next two weeks, bet against the Phoenix Suns. Every night. And bet on the Sacramento Kings.



Sweet 16 Hoopage

CBS  and TBS, 7 p.m.

Watch as Doug Gottlieb opens with a Crucifixion joke! Michigan-Duke is the game I’m most looking forward to (The Fab Five vs. Hurley/Laettner contest from 1992 will be referenced) (UPDATE: My bad: As you know, Duke faces Michigan State while Kansas plays Michigan), but we’ll all be watching to see how close FGCU can make it against the Gators. Will Amanda Marcum get more screen time than Julie Boeheim did last night? And if their husbands’ teams meet later in the tourney, can someone arrange a walk-off?

Dunk City may be the fastest-growing metropolis in America




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