Middle Village native Mike Repole is most likely St. John’s University’s most financially successful alumnus as he is a billionaire from founding VitaminWater (which for years was based in Whitestone), his current beverage company, Bodyarmor SuperDrink, and his involvement in thoroughbred racing.
Repole is also a passionate sports fan as I can attest from having met him and he proved that again last Wednesday when he spoke with fellow SJU alum Mike Francesa on his WFAN afternoon drive-time show and tore into the top administrators of his alma mater. Repole accused St. John’s president Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and his veep, Joe Oliva, of not offering proper compensation packages to top-tier college head coaches such as Danny Hurley and Tim Cluess to replace the departed Chris Mullin.
Repole’s comments may have triggered St. John’s to act fast as the school announced on Good Friday that former University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Missouri, and most recently, University of Arkansas men’s basketball head coach Mike Anderson would be the Red Storm’s next head coach.
Anderson has a solid coaching resume as his teams made nine appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and when they didn’t qualify for the “Big Dance” they were in the National Invitational Tournament.
The fact that Mike Anderson is not the household name to college hoops fans that Danny Hurley and Tim Cluess are must have put the SJU Athletics Department a bit on the defensive because they issued a press release lauding their hire from such luminaries as Duke coach Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski and college basketball broadcasting legends Bill Raftery and Dick Vitale.
Chris Flexen made yet another spot start for the Mets this past Saturday in St. Louis as he took Jacob deGrom’s spot in the rotation after he was placed on the injured list because of both feeling rundown and a sore elbow. The end result was a typical Flexen outing as he gave up five earned runs in four innings with the Mets losing to the Cardinals 10-2.
In the past you could excuse Flexen for being young and simply not ready for the big stage but now he is just a couple of months shy of his 25th birthday. In baseball terms that is not exactly embryotic. Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has to be wondering Chris Flexen is more of a suspect than he is a prospect at this point.
Former Forest Hills High School and St. John’s University basketball star Mo Harkless was fined $15,000 by the NBA for tossing his headband into the Oklahoma City crowd in the final seconds of a playoff game between the OKC Thunder and Harkless’s Portland Trailblazers this past Friday night in which the Blazers lost 120-108, That seems a bit excessive for harmlessly providing a souvenir for someone even if it’s chump change for a veteran NBA player.
The revived spring pro football league which will begin play in February 2020, the XFL, held a press conference last week in which it announced that former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will be the yet unnamed New York franchise’s head coach.
Debonair XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told me that the XFL kept an eye on fellow sporing pro football league, the Alliance of American Football, which folded a couple of weeks ago because of a failure to secure sufficient revenue from its televison partners and to properly analyze costs before starting operations.
I asked Luck about some of the successes of the AAF such as the fact that both the San Antonio Commodores and the San Diego Fleet both drew more than 20,000 fans to their games and if that would influence expansion plans for the XFL. “Let’s just say that it didn’t go unnoticed,” he replied.
I asked Commissioner Luck about the fact the XFL will not have teams in such major television markets as well as football-crazy ones as Chicago and Philadelphia. “Our league starts in February and Chicago is too cold and snowy that time of year. Philadelphia civic officials just did not seem very interested,” he stated candidly.
XFL president and chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack is a Forest Hills native. “I spent my early years in Parker Towers before my family decided to move to Dix Hills, Long Island” he told me.
NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum conceded that the New York Liberty need to leave the tiny and thoroughly minor league Westchester County Center in White Plains if both the team and the WNBA are to survive when I spoke with him at the WNBA Draft a couple of weeks ago. Tatum is hopeful that the Liberty will be playing their home games at Barclays Center now that Brooklyn Nets minority owner Joe Tsai has purchased them from Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation.
The Liberty drafted University of Louisville guard Asia Durr with their first-round pick which was the second overall in the draft.
Last week I mentioned that the Tribeca Film Festival which runs through May 5 will be showing documentaries on both former St. John’s University hoops star Felipe Lopez (“The Dominican Dream”) and the Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest (“The Good, The Bad, The Hungry”).
Other sports films that will be showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival are documentaries on former Knicks and Nets point guard as well as sports clothing entrepreneur Stephon Marbury (“A Kid From Coney Island”) and Muhammad Ali (“What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali”). One of the executive producers of “What’s My Name” is LeBron James. It will debut on HBO on May 14.
The 2019 New York International Auto Show which ends this Sunday at the Javits Center has more electric vehicles than ever on display. Maserati apparently is trying to change its image from that of making expensive sports cars to one of being a favorite of wealthy and older one-percenters the way Rolls-Royce and Bentley are. Maserati hired NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen to be its spokesman for its Auto Show press briefing.
Monday was the 49th commemoration of Earth Day and it’s safe to say that the topic of the environment as a political issue is getting its greatest scrutiny since the 1970s when President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency a cabinet-level agency. Its first secretary was former Republican governor Walter Hickel who was a conservationist in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. Things have certainly changed in Washington.
One of the changes that has become apparent over the years as people have become more environmentally conscious is the growth of sources of paper from other than from trees. A Canadian company, Caboo, was the first to use bamboo leaves as a substitute for tree-less paper products. A pair of American companies have joined them. True Green Paper, out of Delray Beach, Florida, makes various tissue, towel, and napkin products from bamboo while the humorously-named No.2 paper company (gono2.com) makes decorative bathroom tissue from bamboo.
The German Tourist Bureau held a press event last week in Manhattan to discuss how the country will be commemorating the centennial of the start of the Bauhaus architecture and design movement this summer. Bauhaus can be considered the German equivalent of the Art Deco movement here. It lasted from 1919 until 1932 when the Nazis eradicated it because they thought it celebrated freedom and democracy. Bauhaus museums will be opening in the cities of Desau and Weimar this year.
I have to admit that I am a fan of those Liberty Mutual Insurance television ads that feature Limu the Emu and his good-natured and somewhat obtuse insurance agent sidekick, Doug. The ad is a brilliant tribute to those fun ‘70s and ‘80s buddy-cop TV shows complete with the brass fade away music that came at the conclusion of nearly all of those shows. Doug is played by comic actor David Hoffman.