Tag Archives: Charles Barkley

A beautiful story of unlikely friendship between Charles Barkley and an Asian chemist. “SNL” with a terrific “It’s a Wonderful Life” spoof. And as always, nobody knows anything about the NFL

https://player.wbur.org/onlyagame/2018/12/14/lin-wang-charles-barkl

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I’ve been extolling the virtues of the outstanding NPR program “Only A Game” for as long as I’ve had a blog in these here parts, so it was so heartwarming to me Saturday to see a story featured on it go totally viral Saturday.

Give yourself 10 minutes on this Monday morning and listen to this remarkable, wonderful story about NBA superstar Charles Barkley, and the crazy friendship he struck up with a man he met in a bar in Sacramento four years ago, a cat litter scientist from Iowa named Lin Wang.

It’s as heartwarming and simple a story as you’ll find, and I loved it. It’s narrated by Lin’s daughter, Shirley, and no matter what you think of Barkley before you hear this, I guarantee your opinion of him will go up a few notches here.

“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” the NBA Hall of Famer says about Wang.

What wonderful radio storytelling this is.

**Next up today, “SNL” had a pretty fantastic and star-studded episode Saturday night, highlighted by the cold open featuring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Matt Damon and others, as Donald Trump got to play the Jimmy Stewart part in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” (And man, don’t Trump and Jimmy Stewart have SO much in common?)

I thought this was really well done, especially the Sarah Sanders and Mike Pence stuff.

**Finally today, it was another crazy weekend in the NFL, where I once again I feel the need to remind you that nobody knows anything, there’s no such thing as an expert on this league, and the playoffs should be particularly crazy this year.

Some thoughts on Week 14…
— The Cleveland Browns, ladies and gentlemen! How can you not be rooting for this team to somehow make the playoffs? Their rookie QB Baker Mayfield is exciting, they’ve got a young, aggressive defense, and they’ve been down for so long everything looks like up. The Brownies won again Saturday, are now 6-7-1, and yeah the postseason is still a longshot but hey, they’ve got a shot!

— Explain how the Cowboys, with so much to play for and having won so often the last few weeks, can go to Indy and get shut out. Explain how the Seahawks can go play a putrid 49ers team, on their 3rd QB of the year, and lose in overtime? You can’t. The NFL has SO many mediocre teams, and the line between winning and losing is so tiny.

— And the Eagles! Looked dead last week in losing to Dallas, then go play maybe the best team in the league, on the road in L.A., and beat the Rams. Crazy league.

— Very encouraged by the play of Sam Darnold, aka, the reason I’ll watch the Jets for the next 10 years (also I’m addicted to the misery but that’s another story). Kid almost led the Jets to a big upset over Houston. Me likey very much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what Darnold is showing.

— Move of the day comes on a play after the game, when Chicago Bears player Charles Leno Jr. decided to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer Roth, on the field. She said yes, and I’ll let you  make your own “moving the goalposts” or “gotta love a man in uniform” jokes here. But very cool to see a player do this.

Still smiling after that incredible Villanova-UNC title game. Bernie with a big win in Wisconsin. And did the Associated Press coordinate with the Nazis in the 1930s?

As I write this, it’s been exactly 24 hours since the greatest ending to an NCAA Tournament ever.

And I’m still smiling, thinking about it, and not because the team I hate most, the University of North Carolina, lost in the most excruciating manner possible. (not proud of my feelings, just admitting them).

What happened Monday night in Houston, between Villanova and UNC, was extraordinary. The game was well-played throughout, neither team got too far ahead, it was exciting, it was thrilling, and then the last 10 seconds happened.

Before we get into the awesomeness of Kris Jenkins’ shot, I have to throw a little love at Marcus Paige and the miraculous play he made to tie the game.  A double-pump wild-looking 3-pointer that went in, it was the perfect capper to a great career.

And produced this incredible photo…

Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) shoots and scores a three point basket against the Villanova Wildcats in the second half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Only, there were still 4.7 seconds left on the clock. And Villanova is an experienced team that knows exactly what to do in those situations. And the Tar Heels played way too loose on defense at the end, and Jenkins is a great shooter, and as soon as he let it go, I thought it was in.

And it was, setting off an incredible celebration. Only once before has an NCAA Tournament title game ended on a last-second game-winning shot, and that was 1983 N.C. State over Houston. But let’s be honest: That Lorenzo Charles dunk was a fluky play; he snatched Derreck Whittenberg’s long desperation jumper that was going to fall short, and he put it back in.

This, Monday night, was perfect, flawless execution. The reaction videos were all over social media; this one of Charles Barkley was great, I thought:

Whew. What a great game. I say this all the time but there are SO many things wrong with college basketball, from the academic fraud cases to the exploitation of players, to the inconsistent officiating, yada yada yada.

But for two hours Monday night, it was sports at its best. Such a wonderful, wonderful contest. Thrilled the Villanova kids won. The NCAA Tournament remains the most wonderful sporting event of the year.

And I can’t wait till next college basketball season starts.

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**Next up today, Tuesday night was another huge night for my man Bernie Sanders. In a very important state in the general election, everyone’s favorite 74-year-old Vermont Jew came up big, beating Hillary Clinton 56-43 as of this writing, with 86 percent in.

There was a lot here that favored Bernie: Wisconsin is a big union state, independents could vote in the Democratic primary, and there are some big college towns in the state, like Madison.

But this is more than that: He’s now won 7 of the last 8 contests. He’s winning big states and small states, and now he’s got yuuuge momentum heading into New York.

And let me tell you, as someone who lives here and is a big political junkie, the next two weeks leading up to the April 19 primary are going to be all kinds of fun.

Bernie slicing into Hillary’s lead, the whole Wall Street argument against HRC, the Jewish vote being up for grabs, the Clintons likely going super-negative to blunt Bernie’s momentum… it’s all on. Believe me, I don’t have blinders on, I know it’s still a longshot for Bernie to get the nomination.

But that he’s still this viable heading into New York, I never would’ve believed it. He’s got a real, real shot to win my state. And then, boy, the shit would really hit the fan in Hillary-land.

And don’t forget! We’ve got Satan in a Cowboy Hat, Ted Cruz, and the man Charlie Pierce calls the vulgar, talking yam, suddenly in a competitive race again. Cruz whupped Trump in Wisconsin by 20-plus points, and now Trump is saying all kinds of nasty things again, and the Orange man is coming back to his home turf here in N.Y., where nobody likes Cruz, and the mud will be flying from Brooklyn to Binghamton.

Get your popcorn ready.

**Finally today, I thought this story was truly fascinating. The Guardian newspaper of London came out with a story citing a German researcher’s recently unearthed archive material from the 1930s, and alleging that the Associated Press willingly cooperated in helping spread Nazi propaganda.

As the only foreign news source in Germany for several years back then, the story alleges that the AP was allowed to stay in the country only after agreeing to not publish anything negative about the Hitler government.

This is an explosive, explosive charge against a legendary news operation, and the AP has of course denied the charge.

But this is really interesting stuff. Here’s the AP’s response to the article.

 

Harvard’s shocking upset caps a great day of hoops. A kid asks Kate Upton to the prom, and she says maybe. And a man proposes to his anchorwoman girlfriend on live TV

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We begin Good News Friday with the glorious news of a huge upset in the NCAA Tournament Thursday.
In case you didn’t stay up late and missed it, after a day of near-titanic upsets that didn’t happen, the scrappy kids from Harvard, a No.14 seed, beat powerful New Mexico, a No. 3 seed, Thursday night just before midnight.

They didn’t do it with anything fancy, no tricks or incredibly unusual plays. Just a solid, well-coached team beating a powerhouse who thought they could just walk in and roll over the “smart kids.”

It was a wonderful topper to a pretty good first day of Madness, of which I imbibed about 9 hours of.
Some quickie thoughts on a fun Day 1 of the Tournament:
— As great as I feel for Harvard, you have to bleed a little for the kids from Davidson and from Southern. Davidson, a 14 seed that’s a mid-major fixture at the NCAAs, was up six points against No.3 Marquette with a minute to go, and lost by a point, 59-58. The Wildcats made only one mistake and it killed them.

And Southern, a tiny school in Louisiana, came thisclose to being the first No. 16 seed to beat a No.1 seed, taking Gonzaga to the wire before falling by six. Southern tied the game at 56 with three minutes to go and upset-lovers like me were going nuts. But the Jaguars just couldn’t quite get it done, and were understandably devastated afterwards.(Here’s a great story from the NYT about what life as a No. 16 seed is like)

— It’s only the first day of the tournament, and I’m already sick of the Charles Barkley/Alec Baldwin Capital One commercials. Good Lord CBS and TNT run those things every timeout, it seemed.
— Thursday night near the end of Louisville’s beatdown of N.C. A&T these guys a few stools away from me started whooping and hollering and screaming “yes” and “no!” in the final minute of a 30-point blowout. Of course, they had money on the game, and only cared about covering the point spread or the over/under or some idiotic thing like that.

Call me a prude or a purist or whatever, but I hate, hate, hate people who watch sports games just because they bet on them. Totally ruins the fan experience to me, if that’s the ONLY reason you care.

— Watching the Tournament at a bar has lots of advantages, but one definite disadvantage is I don’t get to hear the announcers, so I didn’t get to hear Bill Raftery yell “Onions!” all day. I love me some Raftery. Just found out he’s doing the best game of the day on Saturday, VCU vs. Michigan, at 12:15 p.m. Both those teams looked very impressive Thursday.

**This was just the cutest thing. A local television news anchorwoman in Huntsville, Ala. named Jillian Pavlica was reading the news when her teleprompter told her there was some “Breaking News” to report.

Little did she know as she started reading that “she” was about to become the subject of the breaking news, as her boyfriend had planned to propose live on the air.

Pretty awesome.

**Finally, young Jake Davidson needed a date to the prom. So he made this video asking gorgeous supermodel Kate Upton if she’d go with him. It’s hilarious and self-effacing and was just cute enough to work; Upton saw it after it went viral and she said she’d check her schedule but would definitely like to go.
Even better, after watching Jake’s video above, check out this clip from the “Today” show Thursday where Kate Upton called in and talked to Jake while he was being interviewed; so sweet.