The Front Row with MARK NELKE July 15, 2012 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

The Front Row with MARK NELKE July 15, 2012

A little late with all the P.C. stances

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Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 10:22 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

It's easy to pile on Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, etc., these days in the wake of the Penn State scandal.

That's a no-brainer.

But wasn't anybody's eyebrows raised in 1998? That was when Sandusky was considered the heir apparent when Paterno retired as head coach, and then all of a sudden Paterno told his longtime defensive coordinator that he would NOT be Penn State's next coach. One year later, Sandusky retires.

Nothing seemed a little strange then?

* It's an interesting debate - could the current USA Olympic basketball team beat the Dream Team of 1992?

At first blush - no way. Not with Jordan in his prime. Sure, Bird had a bad back, Stockton broke his leg in the qualifying tournament, and Magic was less than a year from being diagnosed with HIV.

But they still had Charles Barkley and Karl Malone at power forward. Patrick Ewing and David Robinson at center. Scottie Pippen and Chris Mullan as small forwards. Clyde Drexler wasn't a bad backup at shooting guard. And Magic could still run an offense.

Maybe the only advantage the current team would have is younger legs. Only LeBron, Kevin Durant and Kobe could have made the '92 team. And I believe that '92 team had better shooters. This year's team could struggle against zone defenses in London.

Heck, Durant wasn't even 4 years old when the Dream Team did its thing.

The bigger question is - can the current USA Olympic basketball team beat Spain?

As someone with the Twitter handle "Not Bill Walton" tweeted the other day - Dream Team Comparison: 1992 = 12 players, 11 HOFs, 23 titles, 1 Admiral; 2012 = 12 players, 6 titles, 2 headbands, 1 Mamba, 23 eyebrows.

* Do you find it odd that many of us get excited when gas prices drop to ONLY $3.49 per gallon?

* You know TV pickings are awfully slim this time of year when you look forward to tuning in to the Mariners PREGAME show.

• The Clackamas (Ore.) Diamond Classic is the last regular season tournament for the Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen class AA American Legion baseball team, and five of the six have been wood-bat tournaments.

Lums coach Lloyd Duman said that’s because of the move to make aluminum bats less lively, and because some college leagues use wood bats.

That’s been a good and bad thing for the Lums.

“We’re noticing the kids are getting tired, just swinging wood, because they’ve played so many wood-bat games,” Duman said. “Aluminum bats are super light, and with wood, it’s tougher to generate bat speed.”

The bright side?

“Since we play so many (wood-bat games), we don’t swing for the fence as much,” he said. “We hit away and hit to the opposite field, and play more small ball. We move runners really well.”

• The Portland Trail Blazers couldn’t even talk Jerry Sloan into coaching their team.

Sloan, the former longtime Utah Jazz coach, turned down the Blazers’ offer last week, Comcast Sports Northwest reported.

CSN also reported the Blazers also pursued Phil Jackson, who has coached 11 NBA title winners, but he said thanks, but no thanks.

That was understandable — after what he’s accomplished elsewhere, he doesn’t need the aggravation of Portland, which missed the playoffs last year and has lost two of its top draft picks of recent years — Greg Oden and Brandon Roy — due to injuries.

• The good news: The first area high school football game is just 40 days away.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter at CdAPressSports.

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