We're doing the Sunday Sports page a day early, with the sad news of the death of the Pope playing on every media outlet. This Sunday will be reserved for More Important Stuff... and rightly so.
The Pope was a powerful and famous man, and he's gonna be the big news for a few days now. The deaths of much beloved people- like the Pope, Lady Di, or Bon Scott- hit across borders both political and cultural. I'm pretty sure that the first Pope couldn't have imagined how huge Christianity would become, or what kind of worlds his successors would exert their office in.
In fact, I'm actually sitting here with a few friends, talking about the Pope's life.....in a positive tone....while Big Ol' Butt by LL Cool J is playing in the background. The world's a different place now than when kings stood barefoot in the snow outside the Pope's place, begging for absolution.
Still, you gotta like the Pope. You don't become the Pope for the wardrobe, or the fancy digs in the Vatican. The opportunity for an Urban II-style Asian Invasion simply doesn't come up that often. You don't really get a lot of chicks. Your theme song is 1000 years old. For all the fame, it's a low-glamour job.
You become the Pope because you dedicate your life to God. You do this with full knowledge that you will spend life serving, helping and doing good. The papacy isn't the Super Bowl- few kids in Church are looking at the stained glass and thinking "Some day, this will be my house." While some Tammany Hall-style politcal wrangling will occur before the smoke that signals a decision on a new Pope wafts over St. Peter's Square, the priesthood is a profession where the good do truly advance.
While I haven't read his history, I'd bet my bottom dollar that John Paul II spent a lot more of his 86 years living in poverty/serving poor than he spent lording over Vatican City and bossing those Swiss Army guys around.
I can remember not agreeing with things that came out of the Vatican, but the first thing that pops into my head when I think of this guy was a simple act of goodwill. In 1981, some freak named Mehmet Ali Agca took a shot at gunning down His Holy See. The Pope, who could have easily distanced himself from the scene, sought Agca out and forgave him.
That's how you gotta be when you're the Pope. The world would be a far better place if we all could learn to emulate that. So we cede Sunday to the Man of Men, and check in 6 hours earlier than usual for more secular developments.
Time to shift gears. Let's delve into trash-talking, steroid-powered, bone-breaking discussions of our second religion.
Punk Dunk Debunk
Jerry Sloan had to dole out some tough love this week. Rookie protege Kirk Snyder had come down the lane and sh***ed so hard on the Houston's interior defense that he had to flush twice. He then stared down the Rocket bench, reportedly uttering a racial slur that I would imagine may have been addressed to Mr. Ming...or perhaps he ridiculed Tracey McGrady's Scottish heritage.
Either way, there was about to be a fight. Coach Van Gundy was off the bench so fast, he got a technical. He's been stomped on- literally- by Alonzo Mourning. He wasn't going to take any crap from some punk rookie on a Lottery team. But someone else had already begun to take care of business.
Jerry Sloan gave the kid the hook, and fed him a good old fashioned drill sergeant ass-chewing right in front of the crowd. He basically told him that he until he has a Jordan-style ring collection, he really can't be staring down benches....except that he used the term, "f****ng punk" a bit more than I'm letting on here. He then gave the Rocket bench a look that basically said that they could be assured that the situation was well in hand.
Mr. Snyder has quite a bit of talent, and it wouldn't at all surprise me to see him last in this league until he is in his thirties. Coach Sloan may be long-retired when old Kirk pulls some rookie aside and passes on a few hard-learned lessons on respect.
L'enfant est le père de l'homme.
Brown's Town Wasn't Browns Town
Cleveland lost defensive end Courtney Brown to Denver. They had previously sent tackle Gerald Warren to the Rockies. They also scrooged Ebenezer Ekuban and some other dude out there. This is notable because:
- If the Browns had a terrifyng DE named Brown....he's the poster boy- by surname alone- for any rear-angle Cleveland publicity photo. So much for that.
- Denvahhh has the defensive line from a pretty rotten team.
- Cleveland has ditched 2 number one overalls and a number three overall for nothiing.
Ol' Romeo has his work cut out for him.
We Got us a North Carolina/Illinois NCAA Title Game
Illinois and North Carolina troops tangled several times during the Civil War, often in North Carolina (or off her shores) itself. Illinois ended up winning, but the Carolinans fought really well.
It's Chicago vs. Mayberry, R.F.D. Monday night. Illinois has Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the Great Chicago Fire. North Carolina gets hurricaned like Florida. AIr Jordan worked in both states. UNC is more of a power, but Chicago actually has all of the 4 major sports that don't involve Dale. Jr. 87% of US citizenspolled were unaware that there was once a Carolina Hurricanes hockey team.
A good lumberjack beard would probably improve Andrew Bogut's draft status by 1-3 picks, and he's already close to the top