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Thread: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

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    Default Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Scoop Jackson article from espn.com

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...2&sportCat=nba

    If you checked the calendar (and if you were paying extremely close attention, as maybe millions of New York Knicks fans are), you'd realize the first anniversary of Isiah Thomas' four-year contract extension is upon us.


    Now, some of you will ask how in the @#$% he gets to go into the second year of that extension. Some of you will scream for his head to be Ginsued (many will want owner James Dolan's dome to meet the same fate and share the same plate). Some will go the Jerry Krause route and wonder what kind of blackmail Thomas has to have as leverage against the Knicks in order to maintain his position as coach and president of the organization.



    Thomas and the Knicks have become the laughing stock of professional sports. Everything said and written about them has been both fair and fair game. "The biggest problem at Madison Square Garden is Isiah Thomas," March 5's Daily News headline read. ("The Mets of the '60s lost year after year this way and became as much a punch line of sports as a punching bag. At least they had Casey Stengel and were lovable losers. The Knicks are just losers. It happens on the watch of Isiah Thomas," Mike Lupica wrote under that headline.) Johnnie Cochran, on his best day, in his best suit, with his best rhymes, couldn't defend them from ridicule. In the world of sports, Thomas and the Knicks have found their own island and decided to drown on it. Alone. And the world of sports has been more than happy over the past three years to isolate this incident of professional suicide. It's become the perfect sports tragedy.


    The problem with this -- and this tends to happen a lot in sports -- is that Thomas and the Knicks actually are not alone on this island of hopeless sports dysfunction. But you'd never know it. For the past three years, we've acted as if he and the Knicks are the only team that has embarrassed the league and as if he is the only basketball Hall of Famer that has run a franchise that once was relevant and respected within walking distance of hell.


    And if I said Larry Bird has done more collateral damage to the Indiana Pacers than Thomas has done to the Knicks, you'd probably stop reading.


    Well, before you do …


    It was only four years ago that the Pacers were 61-21 and the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Only eight years removed from playing in the NBA Finals, the Pacers have become the best-kept tragedy in sports. From 44 wins in 2004-05 to 41 in 2005-06 to 35 in 2006-07 to the 25 they have so far this season. From incomparable to irrelevant. The whole time, Bird has been there, watching the tragedy unfold.


    Now, it would be unfair to Bird to blame him for everything that has gone wrong with the Pacers. He had no control over The Brawl, no control over injuries that have taken games away from Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley. But if bad things -- such as shootings at nightclubs (Stephen Jackson), charges stemming from a bar fight (Tinsley and Marquis Daniels), incidents involving handguns (Tinsley and Shawne Williams), failed drug tests (David Harrison), arrests at players' homes of a suspected rapist (an associate of Daniels) and a suspected murderer (an associate of Williams) -- continuously happen under your watch, when is it time to give misery (Thomas and the Knicks) some company?



    Yes, there's an $11.6 million sexual harassment lawsuit that found Thomas responsible and Madison Square Garden liable and unbelievable infighting that has reached "All My Children" levels, but that's not off par with the off-the-court incidents and activities that have plagued the Pacers. Which makes it only fair to at some point ask whether we place some responsibility on Bird the same way we do on Thomas for harboring and manifesting a climate that has been counter-conducive to the well-being of a franchise that is in the business of winning.


    Thomas made questionable moves in taking risks on Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis and is blamed for the lack of production by Zach Randolph, among other things. What is the difference between that and the decisions that have been made with respect to Ron Artest, Jackson and Tinsley and the lack of production by Daniels (who, like Randolph, was supposed to be the prize catch that would begin a franchise turnaround)?


    What's the difference between Jamal Crawford and Mike Dunleavy? Is there a Thomas signee who is draining the Knicks' payroll the way Troy Murphy is draining the Pacers' payroll?


    The only difference, the only real difference, between these two teams that truly stands out is that during this period, the Pacers lost one of the greatest players in NBA history when Reggie Miller retired. That would affect any team. It was something neither Bird nor CEO Donnie Walsh had control over. But it was something for which they could have been better prepared.


    (Now, keep in mind, the other difference in this twisted analogy is Larry Brown's effect on the Knicks, but it could be equated to The Brawl's effect on the Pacers. Thomas inherited his role as the coach of the Knicks after Brown departed New York with $18.5 million of the team's money. At the time, this could not have been avoided  not that Thomas should have been the one to replace Brown, but can you imagine the heat he would have taken had he not hired Brown to help save the Knicks when Brown was available and originally willing?)


    The Pacers' attendance is the worst in the NBA, according to The Indianapolis Star -- down from being one of the league's most consistent hometown draws. Their salary-cap situation, according to Bill Simmons, is the worst in the NBA and won't change until 2010. Yet, we make Zeke out to be the "Why Does This Man Still Have A Job?" (John Hollinger, New York Sun) president and Bird "a man trying to understand what has happened in his game" (Mike Lopresti, USA Today). Same situation, parallel results, identical effects … opposite coverage.


    The Pacers have become the Cincinnati Bengals of the NBA. But again, you'd never know if you depended on the sports media tell you. Is racism or regionalism the reason one is vilified and the other isn't? Is it the franchises they run, or the personalities and executive track records of the two that make it easy to attack one and not the other? Is the richness of one franchise's history that much greater than the other's that it eclipses the significance of the other's downfall?


    Choose all of the above, and you still will come up without an answer. Know, though, on this anniversary of Isiah Thomas' continued destruction of the Knicks, he will remain singled out as what not to look for in a president of basketball operations, while Larry Bird's plight will gather sympathy, and no one will notice the mirror images of the two.


    Those who decided to continue reading will ask whether I would have written this column had the roles been reversed -- if Bird was in New York ruining the Knicks and Thomas was in Indiana, silently and unnoticeably watching the Pacers disintegrate during his reign.


    My answer to that is simple: I wouldn't have to. My friends in the media -- unlike this time -- would already have done it for me.


    Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2.

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    How are you here? Kegboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Not a well written article, and his similarities are forced at best, but he still makes an excellent point.

    Still, cue everyone trashing the guy.
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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Yeah he's right, were all a bunch of racists. Isn't if funny that every time a black coach or GM or whatever fails, we find someone willing to play the race card. This article is file 13 material and so is the writer.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    The Pacers have become the Cincinnati Bengals of the NBA. But again, you'd never know if you depended on the sports media tell you. Is racism or regionalism the reason one is vilified and the other isn't? Is it the franchises they run, or the personalities and executive track records of the two that make it easy to attack one and not the other? Is the richness of one franchise's history that much greater than the other's that it eclipses the significance of the other's downfall?
    This is the only time he brings it up! He doesn't even say that that's the reason. I think Scoop is actually leaning more heavily toward it being regionalism why Bird doesn't get as much flak as Isiah.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Yeah, he had me only questioning the soundness of his proclaimed parallels. And then he went THERE. Saying "the media" maybe racist because it picks on one and not the other. He didn't have to go there at all.

    Try this one on for size: One is in New York, a media center. The other is not.

    Look at the way the media treated the Giants all year.
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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    I think we're missing his point a bit. I don't think he's giving a reason necessarily. He leaves that for our imagination...though he does give suggestions, including LA's bigger market theory. I think his main point is that Larry Bird is doing the same **** to the Pacers that Isiah is doing to the Knicks and that people should notice because it's tragic.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Isiah made willfully stupid decisions. He traded for Francis when he had Starbury. He traded for Randolph when he had Curry. He drafted Renaldo Balkman way too high. He threw a ridiculous amount of cash towards Jerome James and Jared Jefferies. None of these moves made sense at the time, and they still don't now.

    Bird has been forced into many of his bad decisions. Now, they are still bad decisions. But he isn't even in the same ballpark as Isiah.


    Scoop is right about one thing: the national media hasn't been treating Bird harshly enough.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by FlavaDave View Post
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    Scoop is right about one thing: the national media hasn't been treating Bird harshly enough.
    If Isiah managed to turn the Knicks around and get them into the middle of the playoffs he'd be the darling of the East Coast media. If Bird managed to turn the Pacers around he'd be pretty much ignored unless the Pacers actually won the championship.

    During the 2000 Finals I seem to remember seeing more discussion about why the Knicks weren't in the Finals than there was discussion about the Pacers being there.

    It works both ways. If you get the front page for just showing up, sometimes that will be bad stuff.

    The reason Bird isn't villified on SportsCenter or whatever is that the Pacers simply don't get national TV because no one cares about them.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    LOL, that is a funny article.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Bird's not close to Isiah's ballpark in the "idiot who is completely clueless about managing or coaching basketball" category.

    However he IS close to Isiah, if not worse, in the damage done to a franchise. It may not have all been his fault, but the Pacers are far, far worse relative to where they were when Bird started than the Knicks are compared with where we were when Isiah started. Things had been heading downhill but there was still hope right up to the Murphleavy trade. That one was a franchise-killer. Of course Isiah's made 3 or 4 of those.

    The other difference is with Bird there's still hope just because he isn't a completely clueless idiot with his head stuck up his ***.
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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    That's a pretty retarded article IMO. I don't see how anyone would be able to aggree with it. The comparisons and similarities are way forced. Zeke is on a level of his own. Full stop.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Just a pretty poor article all around written by a guy who in general is a pretty poor writer. I wouldn't overanalyze it.
    Last edited by d_c; 03-13-2008 at 03:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Isiah has a whole laundry list and hx of being a tool all the way back to being a player and almost every stop along the way, Bird doesn't.

    New York is a tough sports town, Indy isn't.

    Walsh/Bird just became Bird this year, adds to the extended pass, maybe.

    Indy has never went above the luxury tax, NY was for a long time, I think.

    Knicks have been quite a bit worse in recent history than the Pacers.

    I'm not saying Bird shouldn't be accountable, he should. I'm just saying why they aren't being compared at the same level, which is the whole point of Scoops article besides playing the race card.
    Last edited by Speed; 03-13-2008 at 03:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    I think Tony and Mike on PTI said it best the other day: This (mess with the Pacers) is a team-wide, franchise-wide failure. You can't pin it on one guy. You pin it on ALL of them. Together.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by Scoop View Post
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    The Pacers have become the Cincinnati Bengals of the NBA. But again, you'd never know if you depended on the sports media tell you.

    Choose all of the above, and you still will come up without an answer. Know, though, on this anniversary of Isiah Thomas' continued destruction of the Knicks, he will remain singled out as what not to look for in a president of basketball operations, while Larry Bird's plight will gather sympathy, and no one will notice the mirror images of the two.
    I like Scoop, but clearly he's not been anywhere near Indy or paid the least bit of attention to their national coverage.

    They are WORSE than the Knicks, because as he says, they are IRRELEVENT. No one even cares to watch the train wreck. They are "ho hum". If the Knicks are moved to Vegas it's a major story elsewhere, if the Pacers are moved it's slightly less outrageous than the Sonics. In fact a lot of people would think "sure, makes sense".


    And then you get to the view of Bird. WHO HAS THIS VIEW? He's slaughtered locally and I'm in strong doubt that any other team is looking to hire him. If the Simons fired Bird in a few months would Scoop really expect him to get another GM job?


    Finally we have Isiah. Oh, the whitey writers would have come after Isiah if it was reversed? Really Scoop, because maybe you already forgot that Isiah WAS HERE. He F'bombed the CBA, watched Ron go on his worst tear of behavior as the team went from league best to swept out in a first round upset, and yet still got hired in NY to a general sentiment of "sure, he seems to know talent, he drafted Damon after all."

    Being surprised by the turn in NY with Isiah is equivilent to being surprised if Ron acts up in Sacto. If you couldn't see it coming after his FINANCIAL/LEGAL issues with the CBA paired with how good the team got the next year under Rick (and without Brad Miller) on the COACHING front, then you were blind (or blackmailed apparently).

    It is because Isiah's screwups were not in NYC that he was still maintaining some level of "hey, he might be a good hire". Fans in NY were HAPPY when they got him, despite his problems the previous 3+ years.

    They didn't care what had gone on in BFE Indy, it didn't register with them, just as Bird and the Pacers don't register now...except that often they do make national stories for incidents despite this.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    At least the people who show up to Conseco are cheering for the Pacers (unless Lebron's made an appearance); Knicks fans, from what I've read, are just so apathetic/indifferent that the atmosphere of the franchise has turned too sour for anything except time to heal. There's still some hope for this team. People are still pissed off at Bird; Thomas is just a living contradictory punchline. This is actually one of Jackson's better pieces; usually he's just this pseudo black culture historian relating the trials of sport to whatever he thinks happened a hundred years ago, wishing he could be ESPN's Michael Eric Dyson.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by rexnom View Post
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    This is the only time he brings it up! He doesn't even say that that's the reason. I think Scoop is actually leaning more heavily toward it being regionalism why Bird doesn't get as much flak as Isiah.
    Unfortunately that's not true, it's one of the themes to his whole story. He explicitly wraps it all up with...
    ...ask whether I would have written this column had the roles been reversed.
    My answer to that is simple: I wouldn't have to. My friends in the media -- unlike this time -- would already have done it for me.
    Why would his "friends" have noticed Isiah in Indy but haven't Bird? What other reason is there in this case? It's not a subtle jab at all.

    If you say "Isiah doing EXACTLY what Bird has done, in Bird's manner with Bird's situation" and then say "yeah, people would be writing about that if it was Isiah", well WTF other difference is there if you remove sexual harassment and the pure volume of money spent in bad deals?


    Isiah was a problem but it was overlooked because expectations were way below what they should have been. No one realized JO's talent vs Dale, no one appreciated the talent bump from Brad/Ron over Best/Rose (even with the issues, come on man). No one realized they'd get a great passing PG (especially those first few years) late in the first round.

    I did, and that's why I was always PO'd about Isiah. But not a single person nationally said "Isiah is wasting great talent". They said "he's kept them in the playoffs despite having no talent to work with". Disgusting.
    Last edited by Naptown_Seth; 03-13-2008 at 03:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Another reason Indiana doesn't get as much as attention is because New York has stunk for a while. 19 wins to 25 is still a improvement.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    How, in the name of all that's holy, do you equate Larry Brown's tenure with the Knicks to the Brawl? Quite frankly, the only thing I can think of in my lifetime that may approach the devastating effects the Brawl had on the Pacers might possibly be the death of Len Bias. Even that didn't have the immediate, drastic consequences.

    Is Bird a great GM? No. Will he even be a mediocre GM? Jury's still out. However, no deserves to be equated to Isiah Thomas, let alone claimed to be worse.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    That's a CYA article for the New York faithful if ever there was one. Go ahead, Knick fans. Read it and obsorb the BS if you think it will make you feel better, but the truth is Bird didn't have as much control of the situation w/the Pacers as Zeke has had over the knicks.

    Over 90% of the messes that have taken place w/the Knicks' PR nightmare can be attributed directly to their coach, Isiah Thomas! He, himself, has contributed to the larger negative headlines. Can't say the same thing for Bird. About the worse he's done as far as the Pacers PR problems are concerned is not suspend players longer. (The CBA prohibits kicking players off teams...darn those guaranteed contracts!)

    The Brawl...not Bird's fault.

    SJax, Tinsley, Daniels and others who were involved in bar fights...not Bird's doing.

    Murderers and rapist...I don't think Bird killed anyone, and I'll leave his sex life alone.

    Injured players...blame that on the physical conditioning staff or the players themselves.

    High pricetag contracts? Yeah, Bird has taken on a few of those (Murphy, Dunleavy, Tinsley, JO), but I don't think he inked any of them. I think that was Walsh's doing...but the debate goes on as to who's really holding onto the purse strings in PacerLand.

    Look, both franchises have more than their share of troubles, but if I had to choose which GM has been the worse PR disaster for his franchise, that honor would go to Zeke hands down.

    So, go ahead, Knick fans and buy into that bull if it'll make you feel better and you don't want to be alone on that island. The article's author threw you a lifeline, but this Pacers fan is pulling it back in from shore.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by DisplacedKnick View Post
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    Bird's not close to Isiah's ballpark in the "idiot who is completely clueless about managing or coaching basketball" category.

    Oh I don't know about that. If Isiah had Donnie holding his hand I'm sure the Knicks wouldn't be as bad as they are now. And before someone tries to compare their coaching records with the Pacers Larry had a lot more to work with.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Scoop Jackson has completely sold out. Sorry Scoop, we ain't buying the race crap no more.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Quote Originally Posted by grace View Post
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    Oh I don't know about that. If Isiah had Donnie holding his hand I'm sure the Knicks wouldn't be as bad as they are now. And before someone tries to compare their coaching records with the Pacers Larry had a lot more to work with.

    That just may be the problem with the Pacers not the solution. How is that hand holding now working for the Pacers? Time for Donnie to go and let Bird have his shot at making all of the calls without someone looking over his shoulder.

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

    Welcome to Bizarro World - the media has been coddling the Pacers?

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    Default Re: Interesting ESPN article by Scoop Jackson on Bird/Isiah

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