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The People's Voice talks about practice

We've got some Detroit Lions, some NBA on television and a bit of crap to take courtesy of Raja Bell and Kobe Bryant. Another great week of feedback and the letters came in well over one thousand strong. As always, keep it to the point, have a point and include name and town.

Now onto The People's Voice …

DETROIT LIONS ("Unneccessary roughness?," May 7, 2006)

I read your article on the Lions or I will call them the Detroit Kittens, bitching about how rough practices are. At least they have trainers to treat them, or whirlpools to soak their kitty paws in.

We travel through and through Baghdad, with no practice. And our practices are bad guys who wake up to blow us up, or shoot us into Swiss cheese. And at times they succeed. Do we complain about it? Hell no, we pick up our sore bones and headaches and weapons and we go right back on that field and run gauntlets right back on these boys' asses over here.

I am a very big fan of Detroit, but I would like to remind these wannabe Lions that after practice they go to the trainer's room. And after practice we go to the morgue. Stop bitching, and let's both do what's necessary to have a winning season.

SSG. Shelly Sims
Camp Adder, Iraq

You missed the point by a country mile as it relates to the Detroit Lions practice sessions: The players are absolutely right to have complained. While I don't know if the players were warned about the impeding nature of these practices, I do know you don't "spring" that sort of thing on anyone let alone guys who make a living with their bodies. That's the equivalent of buying a new car and then "airing it out" on the nearest highway to the tune of 90 miles an hour followed by a hard breaking session!

There's no sense in that and there certainly isn't any sense to breaking down those bodies in April! That is just typical "new coach marking his territory" nonsense and speaks more about the quality of that guy than the quality of his players. You took the obvious easy (cheap?) shot with that article and owe those guys an apology.

Bixby Carruthers

I would sweat my body weight three times over to be able to get paid the salaries they do. Especially since their "regular" work year is 16 weeks!

Rex Kleckner
Garland, Texas

You know what's worse than millionaire athletes who don't want to practice hard? Cash-envious sports writers who encourage teams to break bargained-for union rules.

You lambasted Barry Bonds for breaking the rules, and now you're beefing about players who played whistleblower. Could you be more of an owner's hack? It must be pretty comfortable in your ivory tower, Dan.

Mike Irwin
Amsterdam, N.Y.

I can remember when I played pee-wee football and our coach would yell and scream at us, He even grabbed my helmet and crapped down my throat because I couldn't get the option down (I was eight years old), and these guys are complaining about practicing in pads and having contact. It's a wonder they ever win a game! I played many years of football, and I have never ever heard such nonsense in my life. I'd take those tough little rug-rat teammates of mine that never complained about anything over any of these so called professionals today. Whiners.

Gary Simms
Columbus, Ohio

I have been a Lions fan my entire life, and I very clearly remember what my father told me and my twin brother when we were 10 years old. He said, "Don't ever root for the Lions, they'll never be any good." Well, 28 years later and his words still ring true. Four years ago, I finally accepted what he had said and passed his wisdom on to my own son.

While I still watch and root for the Lions (all hope is gone now), the players' actions last Friday should at least allow my dad's prophecy to ring true for a few more years.

Paul Zatyko
Westland, Mich.

Maybe Matt Millen should sign or trade for the Detroit Pistons. Those boys love contact.

Curtis Hobbs
Glencoe, Ark.

Maybe Rod Marinelli should bring them down to Junction, Texas, where Bear Bryant trained the Aggies.

Tim Capps
Kilgore, Texas

The Sterling Heights Stamping Plant belongs to Daimler Chrysler. The Lions are the problem of Ford. Other than that, you pretty much nailed it.

Paul Thompson
Armada, Mich.

Rod Marinelli was never coordinator of the Tampa defense. He was the defensive line coach under Monte Kiffin. I've seen him given the defensive coordinator title in several articles, and it surprises me that everyone forgets about Kiffin considering he's probably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Rick Danielowski
York, Pa.

A few others caught this mistake. My bad.

The reporting on the Detroit Loins minicamp was the best news I have heard from the Lions in many a year! Things are beginning to change. I would ferret out the complainer(s) and cut them loose.

Dr. David Olree
Hillman, Mich.

I believe that would be against the law. But yes, the mentality is changing.

Your column on the Detroit Lions was offensive. One can see this macho bias throughout the column, plus not a bit of attempting to understand the other side. The NFL has to regulate these things, or coaches would literally kill their players trying to outdo each other.

But the clincher was to insult women with the comment about manicure. You should apologize for this sexist putdown.

Dan Graybill
Bloomington, Ill.

I agree and hereby apologize for comparing women who receive manicures to the Detroit Lions. The women didn't deserve that insult.

THE NBA ON ABC ("Easy as ABC?," May 7, 2006)

You are completely correct regarding the "prime time" Cavaliers/Pistons debacle. I watched some of the game and I actually laughed out loud near the end of the third quarter when the network took a commercial break.

All basketball fans watched a Detroit team completely dominate every aspect of the Cavs, rendering LeBron impotent and a non-factor that no amount of stardom could change. So what commercial did we see: Ben Wallace defending, rebounding, and blocking shots, or Rip Hamilton faking some poor Cav defender out of his "necessities," or Chauncey Billips spotting up for a three? Naw, just some lame LeBron promotion from Nike – about as irrelevant as possible as the Cavs were about 30 points behind.

Jerry Wonnacott
Corvallis, Ore.

When you deal with the entertainment industry, you're dealing with people who only understand glitz, not substance. You can only take so much glitz, but quality you can pour on forever. This is one of your best articles ever.

Steve McKie
New Plymouth, Idaho

Ever heard of the expression hindsight is 20/20. I know you are a columnist, so you can make these claims that make you look like a genius and the NBA executives look like idiots, but I actually think you are being short-sighted. If LeBron (the league's most exciting player) had posted a 40-point game against the Pistons (the league's best defensive team), and they had highlighted the Spurs game, you would have blasted the TV execs. Did they get it right? Maybe not, but they made the best decision with the information they had at hand. If your column had come out prior to the game, I might actually have some respect for you. Instead, I think you are just a hack.

Tim Young
Carrolton, Ga.

I100 percent agree with your points here but to play devil's advocate, last year's Finals were an example of the fact that great teams playing great basketball don't necessarily generate great TV ratings. Given what happened there, LeBron was probably a more safe bet for the TV execs than a matchup of two great but not-so-sexy teams.

Steve Linden
New York

Here's the thing. The NBA and ABC spend the entire playoffs hyping the individual player and then by the time the Finals come, they're gone. LeBron is finished in a week. You shouldn't focus the playoffs around him. Or Kobe. Or whomever.

The story line of these playoffs is the possible rematch between two mighty past champions – Detroit and San Antonio – with the possibility of Dallas or someone else contending. But you don't hear anything about Detroit, San Antonio or Dallas. If the NBA and ABC spent the playoffs hyping up the best teams that will reach the Finals, I believe the ratings would be better. Instead, they always go for the quick Neilsen rating, which often doesn't even happen and then wonder why people click off when LeBron and Kobe are gone.

You nailed it calling out ABC and its lousy job of scheduling. All the best teams in the NBA are TEAMS, not one star surrounded by bit players. Try to imagine the Detroit Pistons without immediately thinking of at least four guys who are the heart and soul of the team. Same goes for San Antonio and Dallas. The fact that Steve Nash has just won his second MVP trophy is proof that ABC is behind the times. It is thinking like ABC's that created the era where no one could hit a jump shot and fouls were a more important stat than assists.

Iain Simpson

Although I respect your opinion, ABC didn't make a mistake in televising LeBron James against the Pistons. The NBA has always thrived on superstars. What if James had scored 50, then hit a buzzer-beater to upset Detroit in Game 1? ABC execs would never have forgiven themselves for televising a different game.

While I, like many other hoops fans, have grown tired of "the next Jordan" tag, there is legitimacy in the promotion of NBA superstars like James. In a league that was forever changed by Dr. J, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, individual players will always be the biggest draw.

Jason C. Reeher
Grove City, Pa.

Dr. J entered the league in the prime of his career, already a star from the ABA. Magic and Larry were on top teams as rookies (the Lakers actually won the title in 1980, the Celtics in 1981). It's totally different with LeBron, who is a singular sensation on a complete playoff pretender.

Anyone who thought the probability of James scoring 50 on Detroit and Cleveland winning was even 100 times as likely as San Antonio and Dallas playing a great game knows nothing about basketball. Detroit can toy with Cleveland anytime it wants. ABC made a decision based on hype and hope, not an understanding of the product. No surprise it got burned for it.

Do you live in San Antonio? You pretty much summed up the way this whole city felt before Sunday afternoon. I think we all missed the fact that Cleveland got to play the early game on Friday and the late on Sunday. The defending champs should have gone on late and the Cavs early because of this.

Tony Ortiz
San Antonio, Texas

David Stern admitted this later and said he shouldn't have let ABC dictate the schedule and put the defending champions at a disadvantage because some suit was blinded by a Nike commercial. What a way to run a league.

Trust me, fans in Ohio also realize the stupidity of ABC scheduling the Mavs-Spurs game for noon, local time. The start times should have been reversed. But it gets worse. Believe it or not, there are NO MORE games in the Mavs-Spurs series scheduled for ABC. Also, on Saturday, May 13, the Spurs and Mavs will play at 5 p.m. on ESPN, apparently as the "warmup" for the prime-time Pistons-Cavs game on ABC.

Dennis Snader
Akron, Ohio

Like I said, what a way to run a league. I still like David Stern. But, remember, he did train Gary Bettman.

LAKERS-SUNS ("Played out," May 4, 2006)

I haven't heard back from you in regards to my last reply to your gushing article about Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant pimping Raja Bell … Since you seem to be experiencing writer's block recently, I thought I might help you out on your next article.

I know you have won some awards for your writing, but I just wanted to share a few headlines with you to maybe inspire you.

  • "Bell intimidates Bryant into a one-shot second half"
  • "Bryant and Jackson's Game 7 strategy backfires"
  • "With NBA officiating under scrutiny, refs call last 3 fair and Suns dominate"
  • "Nash is MVP for the better reasons"
  • "D'Antoni out-coaches Jackson"
  • "Many psuedo-analyst eat crow after Suns win, look for new employment"

Do me a favor, can you start gushing about the Clippers now? I am sure in your mind the Suns will be swept in four. That kind of analysis is priceless for the Suns locker room's bulletin board!

Mark Moffatt

My column claiming Raja Bell fell into a trap set by Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson did not specifically say the series was over, but it implied it enough that I deserved every last bit of crap Suns fans threw at me. In my defense, Kobe did hit for 50 and the Suns needed two offensive rebounds and a three from a guy who was out of the league this season to win. But credit the Suns. And mock the Lakers for not even showing up in Game 7.

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