Friday, May 03, 2013

5/3 (Derby) Quickie

I spoke to a class of Georgetown seniors earlier this week -- great group, studying Sports Marketing.

I asked how many used Twitter - probably 25%.
I asked how many used Instagram - probably two-thirds?
I asked how many used Snapchat - felt like every hand in the room went up.

I asked what the appeal of Snapchat was. "No consequences, no commitment."

As we all focus on the Kentucky Derby for the one day a year it matters, it clicked for me that the Derby is the Snapchat of sports: It's interesting, but entirely fleeting. It matters, then it evaporates. We care, then we forget about it.

That is the lead of today's Morning Win at USA TODAY Sports' new For The Win site, and that about sums up my interest in the Derby: The Friday before, the day-of, the two minutes it runs, then... OK, what's next?

*So glad the Warriors are advancing - what a fun team.

*Last night was the first time I found myself resenting Derrick Rose sitting on the bench while his teammates tried to grit out a home win over the Nets (which they couldn't). You're telling me that Derrick Rose couldn't help his team even a LITTLE bit? He would be so ineffective he couldn't relieve for a few minutes Nate Robinson who spent his time-outs puking on the bench? Come on.

*Tonight is as interesting as the first round of the NBA Playoffs can get -- two Game 6s where the teams down 3-2 are at home, having both come back from 3-0 deficits and seemingly having all the momentum to force who-knows-what-can-happen Game 7s on Sunday.

*This week's big lesson: Tim Tebow is never not interesting. (Yesterday, I pulled together a quick thing about Tebow's fit with the Saints -- off of a fairly innocuous tweet from Yahoo's Jason Cole -- and fans went bonkers for it. For what it's worth, if Tebow's criteria is "great QB"/"great coach," then the Saints certainly qualify (not as much as my top "best fit" for him, New England, but up there.)

*Doesn't it feel like Jason Collins announcing he is gay was months ago, not days ago?

Enjoy your weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

5/2 (Not Very OKC) Quickie

Have a point to make about the post-Westbrook Thunder in light of last night's loss, but first a quick point:

I've been doing this daily morning column for USA TODAY Sports for five or six weeks now, and yesterday's edition -- leading with a full 32-team ranking of fits for Tim Tebow as an NFL free agent -- was so massively popular (the most widely read thing on, not just that it just underscores the huge interest in all things Tebow.

My challenge is the same one since I started writing about Tebow obsessively at four years ago -- there are plenty of ways to simply take advantage of the situation by creating Tebow click-bait. I hate that. If I'm writing about Tebow, I'm doing it because (a) it is legitimately a big story that particular day, and (b) I'm doing it entirely uncynically. Yesterday's column was actually something I had been looking to do ever since it was clear Tebow was leaving the Jets. It is of a piece of what I did before the 2010 draft, when I meticulously covered which teams might want to draft him.

The point is that people really really really like to read about Tim Tebow -- folks in the media can serve that interest either for good or for evil. I'm going for "good."

It would have been really easy to go back to the Tebow well today -- actually, not easy at all, because there isn't much/anything to say today. I found the situation in Oklahoma City WAY more interesting:

Basically, the Thunder are done. It might happen this round (which, because they were up 3-0, would be astonishing) but it will certainly happen before they have a chance to get back to the NBA Finals, which was nothing short of a presumption heading into the playoffs. At this point, based on losing last night at home to the Rockets -- along with a general problem ever since Westbrook went down -- I can't see them beating the Spurs, and I'm not sure they can beat the battle-tested survivor of Grizzlies-Clippers. And, again, staggeringly, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they lose Game 6 in Houston, then -- reeling -- lose a toss-up Game 7 back in Oklahoma City.

But the takeaway is that the presumption of inevitability that the Thunder would advance to the NBA Finals has been replaced by a presumption of inevitability that they are going to fall short of that.

It's a really interesting dynamic (even more interesting than the passion play between the Celtics and Knicks, where the C's are one Game 6 win in Boston away from teeing up their own unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in the NBA Playoffs.) Give today's column a read -- thanks!

-- D.S.

Monday, April 29, 2013

04/29 (Tebow) Quickie

If you thought any other storylines -- NFL Draft hangover or the Lakers being swept out of the NBA Playoffs -- would get any oxygen today, the Jets changed that plan by cutting Tim Tebow.

I filed today's USA TODAY Sports "Morning Win" column at 7 a.m. -- leading with what the Lakers should do next -- then went to get my kids off to school, then wham.

So it's a good thing that in anticipation of this moment, I had already put together a "Where will Tebow end up?" piece, leading with the Patriots. Check it out here.

It's not trolling -- go back to my pre-draft coverage in 2010 on, and you'll see that despite my personal aversion to the Patriots, I argued that they were the best fit. They still are.

The offensive coordinator was the guy who originally drafted Tebow as a first-rounder.

The head coach is best buddies with Tebow's mentor, doesn't care what anyone thinks and has made a living doing the smart (if countercultural) thing.

If Tebow was going to step back from QB for any coach, it would be Belichick.

I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Belichick could get Tebow in a position to score 10 TDs, if Tebow would let him use him anywhere on the field that Belichick wanted. For cripes sake, Belichick got Mike Vrabel 10 TDs as a linebacker-turned-tight-end.

There are a handful of other coaches -- Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll come to mind -- with the job security, the innovative thinking and the confidence to take on Tebow and reap the benefits.

But nothing seems as much of a slam-dunk as Tebow to the Pats. He hits the waiver wire at 4. We'll see.

-- D.S.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

4/28 (Sunday) Quickie

Continuing the theme of the NFL Draft second and third rounds, the most high-profile snubbees ended up in pretty good situations:

Matt Barkley is with the Eagles, where Chip Kelly wouldn't take him if he didn't think he could do something interesting with him.

Ryan Nassib is with the Giants, for whom he will be given every opportunity to prove why he should be the logical heir to Eli Manning. That is even more analogous to the Aaron Rodgers draft story than Geno Smith.

Marcus Lattimore is with the 49ers, who have the organizational confidence -- and competence -- to give him time to fully recover, then unleash him on the league as the greatest draft "value" pick of 2013 -- not saying he'll be Alfred Morris, the unknown 6th-round pick, but he will be hugely effective.

Even Denard Robinson -- drafted as a "running back" -- landed in a pretty good spot, with the Jaguars, whose new coach will be open to deploying him in innovative ways.

Kevin Durant: Ties playoff career-high with 41 in first game of Post-Westbrook Era. The game wasn't necessarily a must-win, but it sure helped underscore the idea that the Thunder aren't going away, even without Durant's co-star.

Nate Robinson: That is all.

-- D.S.