UCLA Coach Ben Howland talks with freshman Shabazz Muhammad during a game… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
"One and done," the growing trend of young basketball players to spend only the obligatory year in college before moving on to the NBA, is a manifestation of a much broader societal phenomenon.
Loyalty to teams, cities, employers and constituencies has become passe, a corny vestige of a time when individuals did not think and act as if they were one-person franchises. Today, amateurs and professionals of every stripe are presumptively transient, bags never unpacked, offers entertained before names have been sewn to uniforms or name plates attached to doors.
If we are honest with ourselves, we no longer root for teams; we don't really join or hire institutions whose reputations are one and the same with the people who work for them. What we do is root for and join and hire branded umbrellas beneath which flow an endless line of individuals moving on to the NBT — Next Better Thing.
Ben Howland's "solution" to the one-and-done problem [March 18] couldn't be worse: "It has got to become a congressional issue where we make a law." Just the mentality we need: If you can't convince others voluntarily to do what you want, then get the government to point a gun at their heads.
Howland should stick to basketball, where he's having enough problems.
2012-13 UCLA men's basketball season in a nutshell: Can't beat Cal Poly at home, but can beat Arizona in three different states.
NCAA basketball tournament tip: I guarantee that the USC men's basketball team will get through March Madness undefeated — sad but true.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Not buying it
Phil Anschutz claims that he wants to be more involved in AEG's sports businesses now that Tim Leiweke, his personal mouthpiece and uber-salesman, has moved on. I saw Anschutz only one time at a Kings game in the almost 20 years he has owned the team, and that was last June, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup. In all that time, I don't recall hearing him comment about his team, or much of anything else.
How can he not desire to be more engaged, considering there is nowhere for his public level of commitment to go but up? I'd like to believe you, Phil, but based on your track record, Venus de Milo is more hands-on.
Thin is in
Now I understand Jim Buss' strategy in hiring Mike D'Antoni to coach the Lakers this season. He is going to be in great shape next year when the new salary cap comes into play, as they will need only eight players on the roster. This short rotation of only ever playing eight is working so well ... until this veteran roster gets to back-to-back games, and their legs give out.
D'Antoni is so stubborn, not only will he refuse to change it up when it's not working, but he has completely insulted the rest of his bench. He does not appear to care about that either; just look how easily he found it to completely insult Pau early in the season. It breaks my heart to say this but the Lakers are doomed as long as this guy is coaching.
The question this week was asked if the ball moves more when Kobe is not playing. That's a ridiculous question! He's one of the top three offensive players in the league. His style is to dribble around and find a weakness, then attack the defense. Or draw the defense in so he can pass to his teammates. It's like asking if the Broncos pass more when Peyton Manning is playing.
Ask yourself this: Where would the Lakers be right now without Kobe? Movement is good when people are hitting shots. If you aren't hitting shots it doesn't matter how much ball movement there is. It's all about style and what the other team gives you.
What Baseball Classic?
Commenting on the success of the World Baseball Classic, Commissioner Bud Selig said, "Focusing on the U.S. team is, frankly, almost irrelevant."
I'd go a step further and say the U.S. team and the tournament became irrelevant with the U.S. team's dismal performance. Growing the popularity of the sport worldwide might be good for baseball (read: baseball ownership), as the commissioner claims, but would someone please explain what that does for the U.S. fans who support the game? As far as relevance goes, the last thing the game needs is two weeks of irrelevant exhibition games, many of which were about as exciting as watching the grass grow.
The Dominican Republic's undefeated run through the World Baseball Classic was impressive. It would, however, require sending out a search party to find someone who cares.
So the NFL had a field day at its annual meeting in Phoenix by banning top-of-the-helmet blows and peel-back blocks, banning defensive lines from overloading on field goals and extra points, and doing away with the so-called "tuck rule." What's next: Assault weapons?