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VOL. 129 | NO. 86 | Friday, May 2, 2014
Don Wade

Don Wade

Memorable Sports Week Here, Everywhere

By Don Wade

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In the NBA, extra time is always available. Well, at least if it’s a playoff series between the Grizzlies and Oklahoma City.

But the newspaper business does not work like that. Even in 2014, we still have deadlines. And deadline for this column was several hours before Game 6 of the Thunder and Grizzlies tipped off at FedExForum Thursday night.

So that’s why I’m not writing about that thrilling, series-clinching, Game 6 victory. Or that agonizing Game 6 defeat that sends the Grizzlies back to Oklahoma.

But because I’m writing this before knowing the result of Game 6, it provides a unique, almost unbiased, opportunity to stop and judge the season while it’s still in progress.

We live in a pass-fail sports society and no matter how the series turns out (or turned out, hopefully) this season has been successful because, regardless of the ultimate outcome, it has been undeniably memorable.

From 10-15 in December to 50 wins and a fourth consecutive playoff berth? At least four straight overtime playoff games with the Grizzlies winning three of them?

It really has been a season and a series befitting that trademark line from late Grizzlies broadcaster Don Poier: “Only in the movies and in Memphis.”

Donald Sterling, to young NBA fans, may seem like this despicable old man who just now crawled out from under a rock, speaking outrageous, racist things, and like everything outrageous now, going viral in a heartbeat.

But Sterling has been the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for decades and he has a long and sordid history, one that previous NBA commissioner David Stern never was willing to take on. At Grantland.com, Bill Simmons wrote: “Stern looked the other way for decades, waiting for a smoking gun that never came.

“He knew Sterling, who started out as an attorney … loved courtrooms more than he loved anything else. Fearing the very real possibility of Sterling becoming the NBA’s Al Davis, Stern never messed with him – not even in 2003, 2006 and 2009 when Sterling kept settling those housing discrimination lawsuits and being tied to offensive quotes.”

So, while new NBA commissioner Adam Silver did the only logical thing by banning Sterling for life, it’s worth noting that his predecessor pretty much assured this day would come under Silver’s watch by doing absolutely nothing about The Sterling Problem.

Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback at Florida State, received a civil citation from the Leon County Sheriff’s Department for leaving a Tallahassee-area Publix grocery store in possession of $32 worth of crab legs for which he did not pay.

If the NCAA does not now understand what these poor student-athletes go through, how deprived they are, they never will.

What’s a kid supposed to do, go four years without crustaceans?

Free Oscar Taveras, so says St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz. Wrote Miklasz: “Taveras is the one who can make the most impact right now. He’s the one who will make the most impact going forward. And the longer that the Cardinals keep Taveras in Memphis, the more they’ll be wasting his offense.”

Hard to argue, but as Miklasz conceded in the column the Cardinals may have concerns about Taveras playing center field. Randal Grichuk was playing center for the Redbirds when he was called up a few days ago. Matt Holliday owns left, obviously, and right fielder Allen Craig finally has started to hit.

But if Taveras isn’t going to get at least two starts a week in St. Louis then it may still be too soon to make the move. But you can debate that it is time to try that, given that neither Peter Bourjos nor Jon Jay has secured the position. If Taveras hits enough, you could live with him in center for seven innings a night.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.

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