Sports Beat “Knicks Are Off The Mark”

       Steve Kerr may turn out to be a terrific NBA head coach but I am wondering why he became the flavor of the month just because Knicks president Phil Jackson wanted him to be the next Knicks head coach. Although he enjoyed a good career as a player in the NBA he was never a head coach in the league although he was in charge of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns from 2007 through 2010 in which the Suns made the playoffs twice and had a winning record for his entire tenure.

Kerr spurned the Knicks last week as he decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Jackson must have known that Kerr would have ambivalent feelings about working in New York for reasons that had nothing to do with Madison Square Garden CEO James L. Dolan.

Even when he was working for the Suns Kerr would commute to Phoenix from his home in San Diego. If you have spent any time in this beautiful Southern California city then you would find it hard to fault him. Of course Knicks fans still don’t know how if Phil Jackson, who also enjoys the SoCal lifestyle, will be a regular on coast to coast red eye flights.

I was surprised that the Warriors dismissed former Knicks and St. John’s University star Mark Jackson as their head coach. Mark did a fine job leading the Warriors to playoff appearances in consecutive years for the first time since 1992. This year they won over 50 games for the first time in 20 years.

After Steve Kerr decided against the Knicks I figured that Mark Jackson would be a no-brainer choice for the Knicks. He grew up in Cambria Heights; was a local hoops hero; and certainly would have no problems communicating with the New York media in light of the fact that he was an outstanding broadcaster on both the YES Network and ESPN.

Mark must have picked up a cold vibe from Phil Jackson because he quickly signed a new broadcasting deal with ESPN.

Knicks fans who are looking for a kernel of good news may take comfort in a quick conversation that I had with free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony at last month’s ESPN Upfront (the Worldwide Leader in Sports’ annual presentation of upcoming programming to advertisers and media). Melo told me that he has been spending the off-season working on promoting his line of coconut water, Power Coco. I told him that I hope to see him around the Garden next fall and he replied “We’re working on it!” with a huge grin.

It’s hard to classify the Brooklyn Nets’ season as either a success or a failure. If you want to be optimistic you can cite that they were in worse shape than the Knicks were at the end of 2013 and yet they made it to the second round of the NBA playoffs. You can even add that they finally beat the Miami Heat in the regular season after losing thirteen straight times to them. And let’s face it; no sane person actually thought they were going to defeat LeBron, Dwyane & Company in the playoffs.

A pessimist would point out that team owner Mikhail Prokhorov did not exactly get his money’s worth for a payroll that hovered not too far away from the $200 million mark. In addition, this aging squad had a very small window of time to win a title and it’s now being slammed shut.

One thing is indisputable–Nets point guard Deron Williams is not an elite player and his maximum contract is a complete waste of financial resources. Nets general manager Billy King will have to be a magician to find an NBA desperate enough to want his services.

If politics makes strange bedfellows then so does the business of sports. Don’t be surprised if the biggest cheers for the Rangers in their playoff series against the Canadiens are coming from Philadelphia where Comcast, the parent corporation of NBC, makes their corporate headquarters. A Stanley Cup Final involving the Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks or LA Kings would be ratings gold for NBC. The Canadiens would be a ratings disaster. Keep in mind hockey geeks who get excited at the term “Original Six” that NBC doesn’t broadcast in Canada.

I wonder if A-Rod is following the success so far of Yangveris Solarte. If he is then he has to be worried about winning back his old third base job next spring.

Derek Jeter will be devoting time to the publishing industry as soon as he retires as he will have his own imprint at Simon & Schuster. Before one of the Subway Series games Derek told me that he isn’t interested in sports titles per se. “I would like to publish books in which successful people talk about how they got from point A to point B in their lives.”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson surprised cynics by calling up pitchers Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero before June which meant that they would be eligible for both salary arbitration and free agency a year sooner than if Alderson had waited just another few weeks. “I am more concerned if players are ready for the big leagues than I am about the Super 2 rule,” he told the press last month.

Veteran relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth wasn’t singing Sandy’s praises as he cut him just hours before $750,000 of his contract would become guaranteed. The 38 year-old Farnsworth was mediocre at best and it’s hard to fault Alderson on this decision.

Give the Mets this much. They brought up young pitchers Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom without worrying about their “Super 2″ status making them eligible for arbitration and free agency a year earlier than the Mets would like.

New York Racing Association officials have to be thrilled that this year a thoroughbred, California Chrome, has a shot at the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes slated for Belmont Park on June 7. It would appear that California Chrome’s biggest competition will come from Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong and the horse that Wicked Strong upset that early April afternoon at Aqueduct, Social Inclusion.

If California Chrome fails to win the Belmont Stakes I don’t want to hear how he stepped on something in his stall just before the race. That excuse has been done to death by previous trainers of failed Triple Crown aspirants.

The horse that won the Ruffian Stakes at Belmont was named Fifty Shades Of Hay. You gotta love that name!

Linebacker Anthony Barr was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The day before the draft Subway Restaurants introduced him as its latest professional athlete endorser by unveiling a gigantic sculpture of him comprised of vegetables used in footlongs at a Manhattan press event. I am not sure if Barr will ever earn a bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton but this bust should be on display at the Museum of Modern Art.

Speaking of food, Pepperidge Farms’ Milano cookies have just added a new flavor, Raspberry-Chocolate. I guess that I will have to diversify from Dulce de Leche!

Pepperidge Farm is a division of Campbell’s Soups which also makes V8 juices. V8 is getting a competitor that is aiming for the younger market called good2grow. While the target demographic is kids there is no reason why adults can’t enjoy it as well. Hey I still love to sip a box of Juicy Juice!

Boxer Canelo Alvarez, who faces a tough summer fight with Erislandy Lara, is one of the 50 most beautiful people as chosen by the editors of People Espanol.

The new film “Million Dollar Arm” stars Jon Hamm as JB Bernstein, a down-on-his-luck sports agent, who comes up with the brainstorm that there is undiscovered pitching talent in India because cricket, which involves throwing, is that country’s national pastime. Two of his discoveries did get a chance to play for a low level minor league Pirates team in 2007 but that has been about it so far.

I wonder if cricket’s version of pitchers, known in that sport as bowlers, have ever needed Tommy John surgery?

The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize the best in both television news and entertainment programming. Think of them as the intellectual answer to the Emmys. Among the shows that were honored were “House Of Cards” (Netflix), “Scandal” (ABC), “Key & Peele” (Comedy Central), and “The Bridge” (FX).

I asked actor Tony Goldwyn who plays President Grant on “Scandal” if he still gets a hard time from fans about playing the villain in the 1990 tearjerker movie, “Ghost.” “Playing a good guy in ‘Scandal’ has finally made them forget that I turned on Patrick Swayze at the end of that film,” he said with a laugh. Tony incidentally is the grandson of film studio pioneer Samuel Goldwyn, the middle “G” of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Legendary NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw was awarded a Peabody lifetime achievement award. Brokaw is also a rabid sports fans who has been a regular at Knicks games but his faith has been shaken. “I’ve given up on them. I don’t like their ownership. I even went to a number of Brooklyn Nets games this year,” he said. I guess that he won’t be going to any parties hosted by Jimmy Dolan this summer.

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