Dan Wetzel

  • In deflate-gate appeal, Tom Brady and Roger Goodell are locked in a battle for reps that likely can't be fully recovered

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Roger Goodell and Tom Brady, the NFL commissioner and the league's four-time Super Bowl quarterback, meet face-to-face in Manhattan on Tuesday morning. They will arrive with lawyers, teams of them.

    Officially, Goodell is the judge and Brady is the convict seeking appellate relief from a four-game suspension and loss of about $1.8 million in salary for what the NFL deemed was his role in the deflation of footballs used in January's AFC championship game.

    The fact the NFL never really proved the balls were actually, you know, deflated is just one reason this is like no other case in sports and why this is far more than trying to sort out the facts in a story with so few of them.

    From the start, this has been built on the twin pillars of suspicion and perception, each side assuming the worst in each other's actions. It's been fueled by spin, speculation and media leaks, including the NFL allowing a story to run wild of trumped up allegations against Brady that was both extremely prejudicial and demonstrably untrue.

    There will still be enough smoke to cry fire, which is what Wells' report always counted on.

    That's just modern society.

  • Browns' Mike Pettine has remedy to overcome 'Johnny Football' drama and team in-fighting

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    BEREA, Ohio – It was probably naïve that Mike Pettine thought he could get away from football, but there he was in the summer of 1988, trying to do just that.

    He'd literally grown up around the game. His father, Mike Sr., was a legendary coach of Central Bucks West, the high school powerhouse in Pennsylvania, where he won 326 games and four state titles. Son played for dad, then eventually at the University of Virginia but the goal was to use a business degree to avoid the family business.

    A job underwriting life insurance for Prudential near the Pettine's hometown of Doylestown came along right after graduation and that's where things were headed – until late summer hit.

    "I was going through withdrawal, like something was missing," Pettine said. "Whether it was the smell of cut grass in August or the warm nights under the lights, all of that stuff just flows back to you. It was just something I was drawn back to."

    Pettine signed up for a flex shift that sprung him from work at 3 p.m. and became a volunteer assistant for his father. There was no avoiding it now; real jobs in the real world were done.

  • LeBron gave it all he had, but in the end it's just another tale of Cleveland sorrow

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago

    CLEVELAND – Stuffed in the corner of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room, LeBron James sat alone, wearing nothing but oversized gym shorts and a white towel draped over his face.

    His hands rested on top of his head. Each knee was wrapped in ice. Each foot sat in a bucket of freezing water.

    He wanted a chance to think. Other than a couple brief hugs from his teammates, everyone obliged.

    It should surprise no one that James was beaten down – physically, mentally, emotionally and, most painfully, on the scoreboard 105-97 in Game 6 of these NBA Finals,losing the series 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors, who were outside, in his house, spraying champagne.

    He’d hauled an undermanned team here, deep into June, six games into the Finals, like few, if any, ever had. It wasn’t enough.

    “If I could have given more, I would have given it,” he said later.

    [More NBA Finals coverage: Stephen Curry leads Warriors to NBA title his way]

  • Stephen Curry leads Warriors to NBA title his way

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    CLEVELAND – Throughout his entire basketball life Stephen Curry has been told what he was and what he couldn’t be: too small, too slight, too one-dimensional, too much a product of small schools to ever make it in the big time, NCAA or NBA.

    And throughout it all, he shrugged his thin shoulders and cut his own path.

    So it should be no surprise that here in the NBA Finals, here staring across from the greatest force of nature in the game, it was all the same … including the response.

    Curry ignored early series cries of not being aggressive enough, physical enough, just, well, not LeBron enough, to stay the course, let his game come to him and eventually deliver in MVP fashion. In the end, he didn't get a single Finals MVP vote, but this doesn't occur without him and everyone in the organization will tell you that.

    Once trailing 2-1 in a street fight of a series, the Warriors won each of the final three games.

    And there was Steph Curry.

    [More NBA Finals coverage: The secret to the Warriors' first championship in 40 years]

    “He’s just been an MVP for us.”

  • Win or lose, LeBron James is the MVP of the NBA Finals: 'I'm the best player in the world'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 19 days ago

    OAKLAND, Calif. – This felt like the last stand of LeBron James, the last stand of these Cleveland Cavaliers or at least that's how LeBron appeared to be approaching it – now or never, even if, technically, it wasn't.

    Two and a half hours before tip of Game 5 of these NBA Finals and there LeBron was, getting up extra jumpers on the Oracle Arena floor, a significant departure from routine. He might not have done that five times all season, a Cleveland source said.

    At the opening tip, there was LeBron, ball in his hands on nearly every possession, everything running through him, passes, rebounds, shots, play calls, everything, the star trying to will this raggedy supporting cast to make it happen. And at the end – 40 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds later – there was LeBron, seated dejectedly on the bench, the scoreboard reading Golden State 104, Cleveland 91, so out of hand he was pulled to rest for future battles.

    "We have enough," LeBron said. "I'm confident."

    Other than that …

     

  • Weight of carrying Cavs taking its toll on LeBron James

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    CLEVELAND – The King had been hit across the arm, causing him to stumble and fumble into a row of courtside cameramen, where head eventually met metal. Now there was a hushed crowd and cops pushing folks and a white towel collecting LeBron James’ red blood.

    It wasn’t a dirty play by any stretch of the imagination. It was a purposeful one though.

    Andrew Bogut had noted that Cleveland was playing an East Coast style in this series, and that, he promised, was fine by him; LeBron wasn’t going to get to the rim so easy. For all the flash and flare of Golden State, it has some Warriors too, guys not happy about being not just outplayed, but out-toughed by the Cavs.

    So here was LeBron, trying to stop the bleeding off his own dome and up on the scoreboard where Golden State had already collected a lead it would never relinquish.

    Here was LeBron, watching everything he and the Cavs had clawed and fought for, everything they had willed and won in this series, disappear all at once.

    “We don’t have many options,” he noted of an injury-riddled team that is barely seven deep.

    “I mean, I came out of the game as well early,” he said. “So we were on the same page.”

    They couldn’t.

    “Horses---,” he said.

  • LeBron James cooking up something special in these NBA Finals

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 23 days ago

    CLEVELAND – After racking up 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead his Cleveland Cavaliers to a 96-91 victoryand a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals, LeBron James went home, turned on the television and flipped over to the Food Network.

    “I watched ‘Chopped,’” LeBron said Wednesday.

    For the uninitiated, “Chopped” is a cooking game show in which professional chefs – and sometimes amateurs or celebrities – are handed a basket of disparate and often obscure ingredients and told to cook, in a brief segment of time, an appetizer, main course and dessert. It tests creativity, on-the-fly game planning and sheer will to win. Intimidation is sometimes used. Facing pressure is a critical skill.

    The goal isn’t really to cook anything great, just something better than the other guy.

    Chef Garrett Eagleton of Brooklyn won it – his “pickled cod salad with charred tomato vinaigrette” appetizer was apparently quite good (“One appetizing appetizer,” judge Alex Guarnaschelli declared).

    James gets some of that.

    The 2-1 lead in the Finals is not.

  • Stephen Curry needs to resemble the league MVP before it's too late

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 23 days ago

    CLEVELAND – The scratch was noticeable, a long red mark running right across Stephen Curry’s neck, from his left side to under his chin. It looked like it might have been multiple scratches, actually, swipe after swipe at him.

    As far as wounds were concerned, it wasn’t much, especially inside the Golden State locker room. Ice packs and wraps were everywhere after Cleveland’s 96-91 Game 3 victory here Tuesday, giving the Cavs a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. It was no different across the way with the Cavs.

    The markings were symbolic, not significant.

    This here is a battle, though, a battle for the Finals, a battle for how an MVP should play, a battle for Stephen Curry and his Warriors against a LeBron James team that is proudly clawing and scraping and finding a way.

    “It’s East-style basketball right now, lot of grabbing and holding,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. “It’s physical. We’re trying to get adjusted to that in a way. It’s tough.”

    Ah, advanced metrics.

    And no apologies.

    And so there you go. So here we go.

  • Standing tall after The Decision, a familiar gut punch staggers Cleveland faithful again

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    CLEVELAND – Four years ago, fans of karma and the Cavaliers alike descended on Flannery's Pub downtown here. It has a big wooden bar, a deep whiskey shelf and a view of Quicken Loans Arena out the front windows. They came that June night to root for a team not based in Cleveland win the NBA championship, allowing them to witness a player playing for a team not based in Cleveland, lose.

    It was a slice of quintessential local fandom.

    So, too, unfortunately, was Thursday night: same bar, same view of the Q, everything else different.

    LeBron James, who they once mocked, once laughed at, once celebrated his comeuppance when his first year with the Miami Heat ended with a Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, was the prodigal son hero.

    "For6given," read the T-shirts. "The Kingdom Restored."

    The Cavs were back in the Finals. The city's famed championship drought, stretching back to the 1964 Browns, was being threatened. Cleveland led Golden State for much of the game. Across the bars and viewing parties here, it was electric.

    She probably wouldn't be alone.

  • John Calipari could be coaching LeBron James in the NBA Finals; does he have any regrets?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Last spring, John Calipari had a chance to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Speculation on NBA jobs is an annual occurrence for the Kentucky coach but this was different.

    "The only thing that was ever serious was the Cleveland thing," Calipari said Monday here outside Detroit at the "Coaches Beat Cancer" event, run by Oakland University coach Greg Kampe.

    While there was no guarantee, there was, at the time, a possibility that LeBron James would return to the franchise, offering the chance to coach one of the greatest players of all time for an instant title contender. Opportunities like that just don't present themselves very often.

    Cal, of course, said no to Cleveland. LeBron said yes. The Cavs open the NBA Finals on Thursday at Golden State.

    So any regrets? Any pangs of wistfulness? After all, wishing you could do two things at once, run in dual tracts, doesn't denigrate the path chosen. Every coach would like to win an NBA title.

    It was a good story. It would have been a great one except 38-0 Kentucky wound up losing in the Final Four to Wisconsin. The season, by any reasonable standard, was still a wild success.