Tag Archives: Mike Bianchi

Thoughts on Cobain’s widow. An idea I wish I’d had. And what really not to say to an NFL prospect

I never think about Courtney Love.

I don’t imagine many people do anymore. But completely randomly, I caught her on Letterman for a few minutes last night. She seemed calm, mature and pretty well-spoken. Apparently she’s all cleaned up, no more drugs or booze, just a regular old rock and roll woman.

Which shocked the heck out of me. She’s had quite the interesting life in the public eye the last 20 years or so, playing so many different roles. First she was the crazy woman married to Kurt Cobain. Then he killed himself, and my whole generation saw her as the grieving widow, and some looked to her to, I don’t know, carry on Kurt’s legacy. (Of course, now Nirvana fans hate her because she’s blocked the release of some of the band’s unreleased music. But that’s a whole ‘nother story).

Then Courtney became a star in her own right with her band Hole. Then she became an actress for a while, and actually was really good in “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” (I love that movie. I was just talking about censorship on here yesterday, and man, if that movie isn’t a freaking Valentine to the First Amendment). Then, the downward spiral really got bad, as she became a drunk, strung out on drugs, and had years of really odd and embarrassing behavior.

I figured that was the end of her, not realizing that rehab is the last great hope of a celeb’s public life. Maybe she’s cleaned up for good now. She seemed really lucid and analytical talking to Dave last night.

It’s funny how we root for celebrities to stay clean, isn’t it? It’s not like we know them. I never even liked her or her music, but for some reason I hope Courtney Love makes it this time, and stays clean and sober.

It would, at the very least, give us something happy to think about when remembering what a great band Nirvana was.

**OK, so here’s a dirty little secret about sportswriters: We get really mad and jealous when someone else writes a column off a brilliant idea they had. Sometimes you sit there and think, man, I SO wish I had thought of that first!

That’s what happened when I saw Orlando Sentinel scribe Mike Bianchi’s column the other day. In Charlotte to cover the Magic-Bobcats series, he drove to Chapel Hill and went to the Dean Dome, the University of North Carolina’s home arena.

And then he walked around for hours wearing a J.J. Redick jersey. J.J., of course, played for Duke. Bianchi was actually asked to leave the arena, and he was heckled for hours.

The photo may be the best part. Click the link if only to see the photo. Fabulous.

**Finally, NFL general managers are supposed to ask all kinds of probing, insight-seeking questions of the kids they’re about to draft. It’s smart business; you’re going to play these 20-something athletes millions, you want to know everything about them.

But, um, yeah, Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland might’ve gone a little far while interrogating former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant. Yeah, Ireland asked Bryant if his Mom was a prostitute.

I can’t imagine why that might bother a kid.

Pat Robertson is bat-shit crazy, Lane Kiffin’s just a fool, and a wonderful Bree McMahon story

I’m not going to hit you with pictures of the devastation in Haiti on my blog today. God knows, if you’re alive in this country you’ve seen the unspeakable horror, and I’m sure you feel as helpless as I do. Giving money to a cause never felt so hollow as when Julie and I donated tonight; when there is such incredible devastation and loss of life, everything you do feels like a pebble in the ocean.

No, I’m not going to hit you with pictures of Haiti. Instead, a brief moment of rage about Pat Robertson. If you haven’t heard by now, this is what Robertson, the 1,000-year-old televangelist, had to say about this week’s horrific earthquake:

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French … and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. And the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another.

Forget, for a minute, the absolute cruelty and insensitivity of that statement. Forget just how unbelievably stupid and senseless this makes Robertson sound.

My question is this: This was a major headline on all the news sites I looked at Wednesday and Thursday. What I want to know is: Why? Why do the media still treat Pat Robertson like he’s someone important? Are there millions who still look up to him and worship him? Why does he continue to get a platform to spew such hatred and venom?

I mean seriously, if the cameras and notebooks went away, he’d just be the bat-shit crazy guy yelling at people on a street-corner.

**Speaking of men I love, how ’bout that Lane Kiffin, eh? The University of Tenness … oops, sorry, I mean the University of Southern California coach has done what I thought was impossible: Despise him even more. The man who put the smug in “smugness” and the ass in … well, you know, spent the last 14 months spewing all kinds of fire and brimstone bout how wonderful Tennessee is, making all kinds of accusations about rivals that of course were untrue, getting caught by the NCAA for all kinds of minor violations, well, he up and left after just one season.

Contract, schmontract. Loyalty, schmoyalty. This guy was a schmuck before all this happened; (just check out this SI story from last year) now, he stands out as a scumbag among the vast legions of similar-behaving scumbags who came before him (see Saban, Nick, and Petrino, Bobby for example).

Let’s see how this USC thing works out: A guy who already has a track record for playing fast and loose with the rules, going to a place that’s about to get heavily sanctioned by the NCAA for Reggie Bush-related crimes.

Sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

***And now, a wonderfully positive story:

So if you read this blog regularly you might remember my telling the inspirational story of Freedom High School (Orlando, Fla.) girls soccer player Bree McMahon. (The original posts are here, here, and here.) In September the teenager was crushed by a car in a freak accident while helping her team raise money at a car wash. McMahon had to have one leg amputated, and suffered numerous other injuries.

Well, McMahon’s Freedom High team had its Senior night game Wednesday night, and even though it was quite painful for her to do so, Bree got out of her wheelchair and walked across the field, to the cheers of the crowd.

It was a beautiful moment. I wish I could’ve been there. The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi was, and he wrote a great column about it.

Way to go Bree!

Pillow-throwing criminals, a Bree McMahon update, and another great ESPN movie

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All right, let’s start with an uplifting story on this Wednesday, shall we? (You don’t have to speak, just nod your head. I can recognize that through the computer.)

If you read this blog last week you might remember I told you about the tragedy that befell 17-year-old Orlando high school soccer player Bree McMahon, who suffered severe injuries, including having her leg amputated, after a freak car wash accident a few weeks ago. McMahon was helping her team with a fundraiser when a car, driven by one of her good friends, accidentally lurched forward when the driver’s foot slipped. Bree was pinned against a wall and crushed.

Well, I never fail to be amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit. Bree is on the road to recovery and is amazingly upbeat about her ordeal. There are a ton of great anecdotes and quotes in this Mike Bianchi column; Mike is a star columnist at the Orlando Sentinel; he’s a great guy and is also vertically challenged like myself (I think I can even post him up in basketball).

This may sound sappy, but hey, that’s me: Reading about the incredible outpouring of support from the Central Florida community and people all over the country reminds you how many good people there are in this world.

The cynics and criminals will always be out there, but they’ll always be outnumbered.

**OK, so I don’t plan on writing about these ESPN “30 for 30″ documentaries every week, but so far they’ve both been awesome and I feel compelled. Tuesday night’s 1-hour film, Barry Levinson’s “The Band That Wouldn’t Die,” was outstanding. It’s the story of the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, which continued to play for 12 years after the Colts football team left for Indianapolis.

It’s a story I had no idea about, and it even made me feel a little gratitude toward Art Modell, which I didn’t think was possible, and it makes ex-Colts owner Bob Irsay into even more of a villain, which hardly seems possible given that he moved an NFL team in the middle of the night).

The Colts band eventually became the Ravens band, and the beautiful story of how they kept the memory of football alive in Baltimore is truly a terrific one. ESPN is replaying it throughout the week.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to the movie’s trailer, and I embedded a little clip of them rehearsing below. These guys are awesome.

**Finally, a little piece of weirdness from my very own newspaper. A man was arrested for throwing a pillow at a police officer. Well, his last name was Batty. Seriously. Details are here.

What a country.

A Nobel winner’s motivation, baseball’s Nostradamus, and an unspeakable tragedy

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So I’m one of those people fascinated by what motivates others. Maybe I’m just curious that way, but I always love to ask athletes that I interview, whether they’re famous like basketball star Jerry Stackhouse or not-so-famous like Larry Burney (former quarterback for Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C.; what, you never heard of him?), what drives them, and makes them want to do better.

Sometimes it’s a tragedy from their past, sometimes it’s a parent who always told them they’d never amount to anything, or sometimes it’s a reason I never in a million years could’ve guessed.

I was thinking about all this today after hearing the news that three American scientists won the Nobel Prize for medicine Monday. Apparently they made key discoveries about how our living cells age; I don’t quite understand it but it appears to be a huge deal.

And here’s my question for Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco; Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; and Jack Szostak of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston: What now?

When you’ve reached just about as high as you can go in your profession, what motivates you after that? Elizabeth, Carol and Jack have worked their whole lives in their field, praying for the kind of breakthrough they made last year, and probably also wondering how cool it would be to win a Nobel.

Do you want to keep working harder now, and discover something else awesome? Or are you just content for the rest of your life that anytime you’re ever introduced, anywhere, someone will mention that “you know, they won a Nobel Prize.”

I know if I ever won a Pulitzer, I think I’d sit on the couch for the rest of my life eating Chee-tos and watching old Duke basketball and New York Rangers games, along with an occasional episode of “The 25,000 Pyramid.” (Best game show ever! I may one day soon have to do a long blog post about why it’s the best game show ever, just in case it’s not self-evident. Two words: Nipsey. Russell. But I digress).

But hey, that’s me. Some people are wired differently. That’s what makes life so interesting. I’m amazed at people who win TWO Nobel Prizes, like Marie Curie or Linus Pauling, or two Pulitzers, like Thornton Wilder or Robert Penn Warren.

They reach the top, and then keep going. I admire that so much.

**OK, so this is just all kinds of amazing. This has been circulating on the Net for a few days so you may have seen it. A baseball announcer, in a pre-game prediction, gets the exact at-bat circumstances right for a Seattle Mariners player’s first-ever home run. Scary.

**This is probably not a national story, but a terrible tragedy happened in Orlando recently. A 17-year-old girl named Bree McMahon, a girls soccer player at Freedom High School, was working at a car wash to raise money for her school. A person who had pulled up to the car wash had their foot accidentally slip off the brake and onto the gas pedal, and it slammed into Bree, pinning her against a wall. She’s had to have one leg amputated and is fighting for her life right now.

What an unbelievably horrible thing. In one second, this girl’s life changed forever.

Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi beautifully tells the story; I link it here because A, we all should remember how precious life is, and B, at the end it tells you how you can help this poor girl’s family. Donations to Breanna’s recovery fund can be made through any local Orlando branch of the Old Southern Bank. (http://www.oldsouthernbank.com/

***And since I don’t like to end on a down note, here’s another home run of an essay by my favorite sportswriter Joe Posnanski, who perfectly sums up what it means to be a kid, and have a sports hero.

Sometimes, they don’t let you down when you grow up.