College basketball season is almost upon us. That means it's time for the University of Kentucky to make another one-and-done run at the men's national title. And ESPNU was allllllll over it with a national cable broadcast of ... practice. Let us repeat that, just so we're clear: ESPNU carried live coverage of the University of Kentucky's men's basketball practice over the weekend. And a Louisville newspaper wrote an analysis of said broadcast/practice: Takeaways from UK's Live-TV Practice. If it was not apparent before, it is certainly beyond official now: The ESPN family of networks has WAY too much time on its hands. Because, seriously. We're talking about practice. University of Kentucky men's basketball practice, sure. But it was practice. Not a game. PRACTICE. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d29VsG35DQM]
It's preseason still in the NBA, man. Why would Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler even bother trying to stop a dude from sailing coast-to-coast after a silly steal? But bother Butler did, and now he's part of Bucks' forward Khris Middleton's Dunk-a-Rama Poster Set, soon to be available in fine retail outlets throughout the greater Milwaukee area. Or just in Butler's future nightmares. Enjoy a little preseason posterization, ballers. It's almost time for the association to resume business. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2_ZFILRc94]
[caption id="attachment_1263" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Smack Apparel illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] We're not going to take sides, here. Stephen A. Smith really did nothing wrong when it came to reporting the "news" that Kevin Durant might -- or might not -- go to the Lakers if he can't work out a deal with Oklahoma City. But ... um. Then it got weird. And Stephen A. did what Stephen A. does ... he let his mouth run off and do its own thing. Which, in this case, was captured perfectly in a Deadspin piece from yesterday: Stephen A. Smith Delivers Movie Villain Monologue on First Take.
[caption id="attachment_1181" align="aligncenter" width="474"] You, too, can win one of those, Mr. Rose. BUT YOU HAVE TO STAY HEALTHY.[/caption] It’s almost October and that means the NBA season is close to tipping off. Steph Curry and the Warriors will look to defend their title this year. With a new season comes a new Derrick Rose injury (yes, again). This time it happened during practice, when he was elbowed in the face and broke an orbital bone. It could cost him the first couple weeks of the season. Since his breakout MVP season in 2010-2011, the man cannot catch a break. In the team’s last 312 games, he has missed 212 of them! This got us thinking of other athletes whose careers were cut short or derailed because of injury. Our list contains players that were destined for greatness if not for unforeseen circumstances.
- Gale Sayers – when debating about who the best running back of all time is, most people say Walter Payton, Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith. Had Sayers not torn up his knee, he would absolutely be in that conversation. In his rookie year, he scored a then NFL record 22 TD and had over 2,200 all-purpose yards. He led the league in rushing his second season. In his fourth season, he tore his knee, and had that not happened he would have been on his way to being one of the best RB of all time.
- Jay Williams – Williams was an absolute stud at Duke. He won a National Championship in 2001, and was Player of the Year in 2002. He was selected 2nd overall by the Bulls in the 2002 draft. He was supposed to be a top 5 Point Guard in the league, and help lead the Bulls back to the glory days of Jordan. He was involved in a motorcycle accident after his rookie year and was never the same. There is no telling how good he could have been, but we think he was destined for a great career had it not been for that accident.
- Greg Oden – he was a national treasure in high school. Most people knew about him because he was on the cover of so many sports magazines, and had some of his games televised on ESPN. He had a pretty good freshmen year at Ohio State, but once he entered the NBA, everything went wrong. He injured his knee his rookie year and was forced to miss the whole season. The next year, he injured his foot and knee again. He is still in the NBA, but is a shell of his former self. “Experts” pinned him the next greatest big man. That never came to fruition.
- Rocco Baldelli – the Devil Rays drafted Baldelli #6 overall in the 2000 draft. His career got off to a very promising start as he won Rookie of the Year in 2003, and was top 10 in every offensive category. He followed that up with a very similar 2004 campaign, and was regarded as one of the best defensive outfielders in the league. He was injured to start the 2005 season and badly injured his elbow while rehabbing forcing him to get Tommy John surgery. He was never the same after that. It’s a shame because it looked like Tampa had a legit franchise player for a decade or more on their hands.
- Sam Bowie – everybody knows Portland drafted Bowie ahead of some guy named Michael Jordan. Bowie just never lived up to being taken second overall. He had a promising start to his career averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds as a rookie, and being named to the NBA All-Rookie team. After that, the injuries just piled up on him. He could never stay healthy for an entire season, and wound up getting traded after his 4th year in the league. He finished his career with a modest 10 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.