Billy Donovan spurns Magic and returns to
I am only surprised because you rarely see a coaching move of this magnitude (national champ college coach jumps to the NBA) get reversed the day AFTER the deal is signed. If Billy was going to turn down the job, I figured it would have happened before the contract was signed, press conferences held, etc.
But that's not how it happened.
To the Magic's credit, it sounds like they're going to let Billy go. What would be the point in making someone stay who didn't want to be there? Because his deal was signed, they have every right to financial penalties. Steep ones, frankly. They have been jilted like Granny Weatherall. (Shout out: Katherine Anne Porter and my 10th grade English teacher, brutally demanding to the point where I remember the "Jilting" story enough to cite it in a sports blog post nearly 20 years later. Who's with me? Anyone? No one?)
And to the Gators' credit, they're going to get their two-time-reigning national-champ coach back. Players will be happy. Boosters will be happy. Fans will be happy. Recruits will be happy. (Future recruits will have to decide whether they think this means Billy is REALLY committed to staying or whether rival coaches' claims that the Magic gig showcased Billy's wandering eye.)
Here's the thing about that: Billy has now turned down (a)
Especially when those jobs would have to compete with "legacy." Perhaps he read the many arguments last Friday (including mine) that reminded him that he has the rare chance to join the
Besides the Magic being humiliated, the news has two downsides worth noting:
(1) Billy comes across like a huge flake, even if it can be spun as "his heart was in college hoops," which is wonderful, but still. When you change your mind AFTER you sign the $27.5 million contract and hold all the press conferences, that's not just a simple mulligan to forget about. Unless he stays at
(2) Presumptive successor Anthony Grant would have been an amazing coach at
Finally: Biggest coaching flip-flop ever? Since you know I love a good superlative, I would say that this is the biggest coaching-move flip-flop in basketball history (college or NBA).
I can't quite say it's the biggest coaching flip-flop of ANY sport, because nearly a decade later, Bill Belichick's decision to go from the Jets to the Patriots (after just one day) turned out to be staggeringly monumental for NFL history. THAT is the biggest coaching flip-flop ever, though at the time, no one would have guessed it. (Note: Billy D. created his dynasty BEFORE his flip-flop; Bill B. had has AFTER his flip-flop.)
What next for the Magic? Stan Van Gundy, apparently. Doesn't have quite the same cachet as Billy D, but at this point, the Magic are probably right to stick with a coach who is sure he wants to be in the NBA. And nothing says "wants to be in the NBA" like picking from the NBA Coaching Recycling Bin.
Piniella suspended indefinitely: MLB takes a "get-tough" lesson from the NFL and NBA – and does the right thing. We all find Piniella entertaining. Some find him insufferable. But his "I'm going to go freaking nutjob insane on you" routine is so tired, he needed the same kind of time-out you'd give an infant. (Update: The Chicago Trib says he'll get 5 games.)
Yankees-Red Sox, Cont'd:
MLB Stud: AL Central Awesomeness: The Tigers got a split with the division-leading Indians behind the still-unbeaten Jeremy Bonderman (5-0). Remember when the AL East was supposed to be dominant? This is why MLB is smart to not listen to knee-jerk instant-historians who call for division realignment after any single given year (cough).MLB Dud: Ron Zook. Adding insult to injury these days at Wrigley, the Illinois football coach completely butchered "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on Saturday. (via Sports by Brooks)
Clemens Watch: Season debut expected on Saturday vs. Pirates. Strikes me as a much more favorable matchup than the White Sox tonight.
NBA Weekend: Cavs rule! As you'll see below, I see the Cavs' Eastern title as an exception to the "Ring or Bust" philosophy I normally apply to playoff success. For the same reason the Mavs' season was a complete waste with anything but a title (let alone a first-round exit), the Cavs' season is a success for exceeding expectations and breaking through to the Finals for the first time in the LeBron Era. Or any era.
NBA Stats: If you care about "plus-minus" (and you should), you should read Fanhouse's Tom Ziller on the New York Times' disastrous attempt to explain it provocatively. What a brick.
NHL: Chris Pronger out for Game 4 after Game 3 forearm. In any other sport, would a player previously suspended for an illegal and vicious hit IN THE PREVIOUS SERIES be punished as if this was a first-time offense? Where's the sense of punishment scaled for a "repeat offender?" I don't care that it's the Stanley Cup. What's the incentive for goons to lay off the (particularly) dangerous hits if they know they'll be treated, each and every time, like one-time things? (You NHL experts can school me on this.)
NASCAR: I don't know any sport that is as obliterated by bad weather as NASCAR. (Even golf.) What an Achilles' heel of the sport.
Women's College World Series (Softball): Sad to see the end of a great season by Northwestern.
Mixed Martial Arts: Johnnie Morton made his MMA debut and got absolutely obliterated, KO'ed in 38 seconds and taken off the mat in a neck brace, then refusing to submit to drug tests afterward. When insult and injury are so intermingled that you can't even hope to untangle them, that's a bad night.
Pop Culture Watch: Sopranos. Did you catch the normally straighter-than-straight-laced Eric Mangini make a cameo appearance on The Sopranos? Nice to see him get in just under the wire. Funny: I would have figured Tony Soprano to be a Giants guy.
As the Sopranos heads into its final week of existence (new episodes, at least), it's worth asking if it's the greatest dramatic series in TV history (it's unfair to compare it to the greatest TV sit-coms ever, like Seinfeld or The Simpsons... apples and oranges).
I know a lot of people think it's the greatest TV drama of all time. I'm not going to try to disagree with you. There's only one show I'd rank ahead of it: "The Wire." (Trying to rank-order "The Sopranos" vs. "The Wire" could be one freaking hell of an awesome PhD dissertation.)