While I don't agree with every move David Stern makes, I have to give him credit: He has made the NBA the world's league. This week The People's Voice received mail from six continents.
Mixed in with all the NBA talk was some Bob Knight and Bob Huggins. Please note: All emails came in before the Pistons clinched on Tuesday night. As always, my responses are in italics.
Now on to The People's Voice …
COMPTON DOMINGUEZ ("An off-day assist" June 8, 2004)
Thank you for your piece on Russell Otis and, secondarily, Tayshaun Prince.
From 1990 to 1992, I was an English teacher at Dominguez High School in Compton. As you alluded to, Dominguez is rife with physical disrepair and emotional decay. The campus lives for its athletics, especially its basketball program. I expected that the head basketball coach would be a ruthless, driven taskmaster with little regard for his athletes beyond whether they could rebound or score. I pictured Bobby Knight, without the charm.
Nothing was further from the truth.
I spoke to Coach Otis on only a handful of occasions, once to apprise him that one of his players – the 11th kid on the bench, if I recall correctly – had been slacking off in my class (going from a B to a D). Coach Otis took the time to speak with the young man, reinforcing the importance of ALL aspects of life. I even got an apology from the kid. I was so impressed with Coach Otis – a veritable diamond among the rough.
Long Beach, Calif.
NBA FINALS GAME TWO ("Problem solver" June 9, 2004)
After seeing the first two games, don't you think Robert Horry would have made a more positive contribution to the Lakers' defense considering the Pistons got some very important offensive rebounds and second shots late in the game? Karl Malone looks like a spent force on the court. Neither is Gary Payton playing like a star let alone a "superstar." The Lakers are totally dependent on Shaq and Kobe, and the rest of the supporting cast is not consistent enough.
Horry, at the very least, would have found a way to score in double figures at least once this series.
Didn't it ever occur to you or to anyone how Kobe plays? If you watched Games 1 and 2 you saw how Kobe forces the ball to shoot and [makes] a lot of unforced errors. All year he's being doing that.
I have to admit that he's a great player [who] makes incredible shots, but his selfishness also causes mistakes. He takes the ball on his own and shoots it while a teammate on the wings waits for a pass for a better shot. He has to learn to pass the ball. Please, someone should tell him that for this team to win more.
OHIO STATE/BOB KNIGHT ("Beyond O'Brien" June 8, 2004)
I last commented when you talked about the Bob Knight salad bar incident. Now I will tell you the key to him going to Ohio State: If they promise him he is totally in charge, your idea can fly. The problem is that he currently is in a good conference and his AD, Gerald Myers, tells him he trusts him to do a good job on and off the floor. That is the absolute key to Bob Knight.
If you say, "I trust you to not embarrass the school" and let him do it his way, he will honor your trust in him. If, on the other hand, you tell him, "I have my eye on you" he will rebel and screw up. He is really not that complex.
You have to be out of your mind to even suggest Bob Knight at Ohio State. Ohio State is about class acts, and that definitely rules out Bob Knight.
I have always been an avid Knight fan and supporter. Yes, he has made some bad decisions and mistakes. But you are so on the mark in recognizing that the media is far too quick to jump on these when they ignore so many of his good attributes and traits.
The idea of The General at Ohio State is interesting, but I would rather see him push Tech a little further. To me, getting Tech into the Sweet 16 or better would really be a testament to his coaching genius.
I already appreciate his coaching genius. To me, a rejuvenated and rededicated Knight back in the Big Ten, returning to play at Indiana or maybe even winning a fourth national title in Myles Brand's home state, would be great entertainment.
Do you think the largest obstacle stopping [Knight from going to Ohio State] from happening … is that Ohio State would never want to bring in a basketball coach to overshadow the football program?
Absolutely. Which is why Ohio State hoops has underperformed since Fred Taylor retired. I am not optimistic this time either because the school has put together one of those dreaded "search committees" that all but guarantee a drawn-out process and safe choice. What the heck do schools pay athletic directors hundreds of thousands a year for if they can't hire someone themselves?
NBA FINALS GAME 3 ("A series turned upside down" June 10, 2004)
Just wanted to say thanks for giving my home team some props. People don't realize that the Pistons have so many weapons with their defense. I've been telling people that the Pistons are going to win, but everyone tells me that L.A. is just playing nice or some excuse. L.A. doesn't just get in the heads of other teams; I think they get in the heads of the fans, too.
Robert L. Cox, USCG
(Originally From Lansing, Mich.)
The Lakers remind me of this year's Detroit Red Wings: old, tired, proud, not very hungry and hoping their reputation precedes them. We here in Detroit have seen this movie before, and it ends badly for the Red Wings/Lakers. The Lakers won't get out of Detroit alive.
I agree that Lakers' ineffectiveness in the series against the Pistons so far was one of the key factors that caused two losses for them. Another key factor [are the] officials … look at Game 3. Why did the referees frequently ignore contact by the Pistons that even an amateur would call fouls? I like both of the great teams, but I want to watch a fair game that is NOT tainted by referees' prejudice.
NBA FINALS GAME 4 ("Rasheed keeps his head" June 13, 2004)
No wonder Rasheed Wallace gets frustrated: He is maligned by bandwagon wannabe journalists like you. Rasheed's propensity for conflict on the court is always aimed at the refs. He has never gotten into a fight with another player during a game.
In fact, if you've been paying attention like you're paid to do, you'd notice Rasheed helping opponents up off the floor or catching them before they fall out of bounds. Rasheed always exhibits sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game. Even his tiff with Medvedenko started because Rasheed patted him on the tush. But you copy-hungry hacks spin entire articles out of reputation, using fact sparingly. Rasheed Wallace is a loving husband and father. So quit talking smack about a good man.
New York, N.Y.
And to think I actually wrote a positive article about him.
BOB HUGGINS ("Standing at a crossroads" June 12, 2004)
I am saddened by the terrible mistake that Coach Huggins made this week. He was my idol coach; I followed him from high school [to] coaching at Walsh University, Ohio State, Florida and the wonderful Bearcats. I cannot believe that he would jeopardize his career over drinking and driving. I thought this guy would never do anything to hurt himself and his family.
His dad was the greatest coach in Tuscarawas County and had the best basketball player: his son Bob. I have a picture of myself with Bob in my place of business when he signed his book. I am a happy little town woman who was proud of his accomplishments and success – never jealous! Still love you Coach and support you!
Nancy L. Martinelli
A disappointed fan from the Gnadenhutten Indian Valley class of 1967
Always enjoy your writing. Concerning your article on Bobby Huggins I would just say this: I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in downstate Illinois, but most of the people I know from there then or now did not act like Huggins.
Just watching him on TV over the years and seeing his team play I've developed a negative attitude about Cincinnati basketball. Eventually, one has to face reality and go past the chip on his shoulder. He may be a rallying point for some down-and-outers, but the real test is how they all do in real life after basketball … would I want my son playing for him? My answer is NO WAY!
Not sure I would either. But while I have not done a comprehensive study of Huggins' former players, I know a number of them have gone on to great success outside of basketball and do credit their coach.
Doesn't it strike you as a little ridiculous that Bob Huggins is to take a paid vacation now as a punishment? Oh poor Bob! The media has now fallen right into Cincy's plan to make Bob the victim and inspire the public to feel sorry for him.
I understand he needs help but I think the victims are the people who were on the road that night [whom] he could have killed. We know that with his lawyers he will get a plea or get off somehow legally. Call out Cincy and tell them to actually get some guts and dole out a punishment! Right now it looks like so long as he wins nothing else matters.
San Diego, Calif.
I would find it a telling gesture if Huggins donated some, if not all, of his salary during his suspension to anti-drunk driving programs or victims of DUI accidents.
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.