Kenny Rice – “OF BOWLS, LEBRON, JIM HARBAUGH, DAVE BAUTISTA, PREMATURE PROJECTIONS AND OTHER HOLIDAY THOUGHTS”

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Tis the season of hanging with friends and relatives and spending an inordinate amount of time catching up on movies, reading month old magazines, and watching (and listening to) a desensitizing amount of sports.

To wit:

When LeBron James’ teams (from the Cavs to Heat to Cavs) stink up the court in a game, or are not winning at a seventy percent clip in general, it will never be LeBron’s fault. Whether he contributed, or in these cases, didn’t, the coach is always to blame. He’s easier to fire than the superstar player. Think Dave Blatt didn’t know what he was getting into? Take a look not so far into the NBA history books under Kobe Bryant, when the Lakers were relevant. Or a few decades back when Magic Johnson had Paul Westhead dismissed when they were winning! Of course, it did open the door for a future Hall of Famer Pat Riley to take over the LA “Showtime” run of titles.

No sport is controlled more by their superstars than the NBA. Can’t your hear UFC boss Dana White laughing.

Why did Jim Harbaugh take the Michigan job? The most overanalyzed move of the week. Eight million dollars a year would seem to be a good reason. That, combined with the off the field issues of the 49ers and the often out of synch offense. Well, the magical run of three years had ended. It tends to do that with all things. Painful it is to listen to great, even legendary musicians trying to recycle themselves decades later, Harbaugh will find the right notes and have the Big House rocking again.

The Rock has set a high bar. John Cena could if he gets a decent script. But WWE star Dave Bautista ratcheted his film career this year with the most fun, entertaining movie that came out in 2014, The Guardians of the Galaxy. His character Drax allowed Bautista to show off his acting range from distraught to wry.

No knock on any announcing team, but almost all are doing it in the bowl season. By the second quarter, the NFL draft comes into the conversation, and whether the college star will succeed on Sundays. Some are obvious, but to dissect an outstanding college career, as if it would be failure to not be a great NFL talent is ludicrous. Appreciate the level one is excelling on, for not all get that far. Realizing every star college player feels they will play in the NFL and for the exceptional ones there should be legitimate talk. Otherwise, don’t tell us about the future talk during the game at the present.

It should be noted, we have a tendency in our MMA world to do the same. Regional fighters who become champions are almost always asked if they can fight in the UFC. Every fighter wants that shot if it happens, but it should not diminish the achievement of being a title-holder on that level, for to be the best in the state or the region is something to savor. Again, embrace the present, then think about the future. And if that’s as far as a fighter goes, it is still something special.

Back to the bowls and this semi-final championship set-up. It is hard to argue about the final four of Alabama-Ohio State and Oregon-Florida State. But there is this feeling the “playoff” system as it is in the inaugural year will be short lived. TCU and Baylor, in spite of the Big 12 and their lack of a league championship game being a penalty in the selection process, should have had a say somewhere. So, that would have been six, so why not add two more and go with eight teams and three wins for the national championship? With even more money to bring in to the schools and conferences, it is doubtful the university presidents would be that concerned with a few more missed classes. Business trumps “student-athletes.”

Days from now Jon Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champ, will take on his most intriguing challenge yet in Olympian Daniel Cormier. Another reason for the growth of the organization over the last decade—their champs have to fight deserving challengers (well, throw out a rare case or two of mismatched talk-their-way into it challenges). That is what fans want of any sport they follow.

Which leads to entering 2015 will this be the year–and it may be the last where interest still exists–that in the squared circle Floyd Mayweather, Jr. finally meets Manny Pacquiao?

Will Tom Brady pick up a fourth Super Bowl ring; a second one for Peyton Manning? Can any challenger take away Ronda Rousey’s belt? Will the San Antonio Spurs repeat adding to an absolutely amazing coaching career from Gregg Popovich? Will a horse win the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been accomplished since 1978? Will all the wheeling and dealing in the baseball off-season pay off for anyone?

It’s what keeps us coming back. So the hope is all had a Merry Christmas and now it’s onto 2015 and all the possibilities.

-Kenny

Got something you’re burning on? Tell the man himself on Twitter. Watch Kennyalong with Bas Rutten, LIVE on “Inside MMA” Fridays on AXS TV! Check out Kenny’s book “Not Hit Yet,” an insider look at the MMA world.


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