WVU Volleyball's Blog

Retired Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller

As this is my last blog for the semester, I am dedicating it to my home state of Indiana and one of my favorite athletes of all time. Reggie Miller was the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers for 18 seasons and has some of the greatest sports memories in all of the NBA. He epitomized what it meant to have drive and dedication and how even if there is only 19 seconds left, that doesn’t mean the game is over. His great demeanor in game mode was something to look up to, but that is now long gone. Since his retirement, the Pacers have lost that hope and luster that made them so intriguing.

Pacer's president and Hoosier great Larry Bird

The Pacers used to be the team of Indianapolis and the city took pride in its games,  but since the Brawl at Auburn Hills and the retirement of Reggie Miller, the Pacers have slowly fallen to the bottom of the NBA. They have realized that rebuilding was going to happen, but the city thought that it would not have taken this long. Losing season after losing season makes the city not look at famous Hoosier Larry Bird in a strong light anymore. After being the coach of the Pacers in the late 1990s and leading the team to its first NBA championship series, there were high hopes for Bird in a management position for the team. He has not made the smartest choices with draft picks and trades and now the city is wondering where they are headed next. Only time will tell.

Reggie Miller shooting a game winner versus the New York Knicks

But, back to Reggie Miller. One of my favorite parts about watching Pacers games was to hear the words “Boom Baby!” come over the radio when Reggie Miller made a 3 pointer. There were so many games where everyone knew the ball was going to Reggie, but he always found a way to get open and he always found a way to make that crucial shot to win that game. His pure shooting was a rare find in the game and could never be replaced by any future Pacer.

Reggie Miller making the choking sign at devoted New York Knicks fan Spike Lee

One of the many things that Reggie will most be remembered for around the league is his ever living rivalry with director Spike Lee. Lee is one of the most dedicated New York Knicks fans and when the Pacers and the Knicks squared off, especially in the playoffs, the two were always at each others throats. Their classic bickering back and forth during the games and their heated gestures at one another can not compare to another athlete/fan rivalry. Sometimes, it was hard to tell if Reggie was trying to win for the team or just to see the look on Spike’s face when the Knicks lost. Either way, the games were always that much more entertaining thanks to Reggie and Spike.

It is depressing to say, but Reggie is retired and done with basketball. It was a sad day in 2005 when Reggie said goodbye to the Pacers, but he will never be forgotten. I will always hold tight to the memories of those last second shot and the announcement of “Boom Baby!” Growing up a fan of Reggie Miller was the way to go.

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Dolphins running back Ricky Williams

As an athlete, one of the very first things you learn when you start getting serious about sports is to stay away from the drugs. They can give you an advantage over other athletes and that is completely unfair to the others who are competing. While most athletes respect this unwritten rule, their was a period of time where Ricky Williams just decided that this rule didn’t exist. He defied all the rules that were taught to him from an early age and he even decided to leave football for a short period of time. How did this great athlete fall off the wagon?

Recently, I watched ESPN’s 30 on 30 documentary called “Run Ricky Run” where the directors searched to find some answers in Ricky’s past that could explain his bizarre behavior and see how he is holding up today. In his younger days, Williams was a promising young athlete and as the Heisman Trophy winner, he had a bright future in the NFL. After being selected 5th overall in the 1999 NFL draft by New Orleans and spending three years there, Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins. His career was at a stand still and not living up to all the hype. Then in 2004, Williams failed a drug test and instead of paying the $650,000 league fine, Williams retired. He was one of the most hated men in Miami. He just put his team out to dry without anything for them to fall back on. His love of marijuana caused a rift between he and the fans and things did not get any better when Williams up and disappeared to Australia. It seemed as though his life in the NFL was over.

A cartoon put out by Miami fans disgusted with Williams behavior with marijuana

Williams claimed that after taking a hiatus in Australia and smoking as much weed as possible, he went to California and received his Medicinal Marijuana card. He claimed in an interview that the main reason that he did this was to avoid the public humiliation that was associated with all of his failed drug tests. After discovering holistic medicine while in California, Williams gave up marijuana for good and sought to be reinstated to the NFL. After failing a fourth drug test and being suspended for the entire 2006 season, Williams made his debut in November of 2007. He has been the second string running back the past three seasons, but that is not what is important to Williams anymore. He is playing football which is what he loves but he also loves teaching free yoga and studying and practicing holistic medicine. His life turn around is what all athletes need to look up to. Williams may not be the greatest role model when it comes to his past mistakes, but his ability to overcome his adversities is something that we should all look up to.

Bravo Rick Williams! Way to say “Nope to Dope!”

Ricky Williams studies his holistic medicine

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant

If you follow the NBA, then you know who Kevin Durant is. He is the new hot young thing in the NBA and people are now projecting him to be the next Michael Jordan. No more Kobe or even Lebron. Its all about Keven Durant now.

Durant just became the youngest person in NBA history to capture the coveted scoring title that was a close race with greats like Kobe, Lebron and Dwayne Wade constantly nipping at his heels. He also led a team who only won 23 games last season to a 50+ winning season that included the franchises first playoff berth. Although the Thunder were bounced in the first round by the Los Angelos Lakers, they still had a strong showing against the defending champions by taking two games from them. What Durant did this season is only the start of his great career that is filled with tons of potential. He is stepping out as a leader in the league that has the ability to build a team for many NBA championships. Here is a highlight reel put together by NBA.com about the young and great Kevin Durant.

One award that Durant did not get this season was NBA MVP. Although he was the most deserving, Lebron received it for the the second year in a row and I am going to be honest, I don’t think Lebron did anything that special this year. Lebron is expected to have triple-doubles every night and always be at that high level, but does that mean he deserves the MVP award every year? The answer is “No.” Lebron is a great player, but Durant did so much for the team and the franchise this year, that he was really the MVP of the league. The lack of respect for him because he has to follow Kobe and Lebron is a shame, but I have faith that he will pass both of them eventually.

One thing that is sorely looked upon when it comes to Durant is the way he speaks and the lack of grammar he uses in interviews. He is not the most articulate in interviews which just makes him seem that much more younger and more inexperienced than stars like Kobe and Lebron. If he wants to be seen as a leader in the league and as someone with a lasting career, he will have to step up.

Besides the one downside to Durant, his future seems bright. I have hope that the young and skinny and unrecognized Durant will develop into his potential. Michael Jordan set a hard path to follow, but I see Durant taking on the challenge and conquering it.

It wouldn’t be normal in the sports world if we went a week without discussing the ever disastrous Tiger Woods. After taking a hiatus from golf because of some extra curricular activities away from the golf course, Tiger made his triumphant return a couple of weeks ago at the Masters. The Masters made a young Tiger famous back in 1997 and this was supposed to be the return that would trump all the other golfers. Lets be honest. Golf really is not that popular without Tiger Woods. No one really cares about it and there is not really another huge superstar out there besides Phil Mickelson, but everyone loves Lefty.

So, its should come as no shock to you that Tiger did create some controversy while he was competing. After hitting a bad shot, Tiger usually proclaimed some obscene words of choice that were all caught on camera without hesitation. Now, as someone who is very conscious of his public image, this is very surprising. He knew everyone was going to be watching his public behavior at the event, yet he still let certain words slip while the cameras were running. But, at the same time, I understand where he is coming from. As an athlete, it is very hard to hold in your frustrations when you are playing bad or things are just not going your way. I understand where Tiger is coming from, but I am also not an athlete who is scrutinized in the public eye every second of every day.

Tiger Woods at Quail Hollow

In more recent Tiger Woods news, after his big return at the Masters, Tiger didn’t make the cut at Quail Hollow for only the sixth time in his career. What sports fans must realize is that this is only Tigers second tournament back and his excellent showing at the Masters was really a surprise. He was in good shape, but he had not competed since November when his scandal went down. They way that he played at Quail Hollow is what we should have been expecting from him at the Masters, but Tiger just decided to shock us all with his comeback performance.

As he slowly integrates himself back into golf, we as sports fans should be thankful that he has decided to come back. Golf is more popular than ever and is creating tons of revenue to keep it in the public eye longer. Tiger is also an amazing athlete to watch perform. You may not agree with his personal life choices, but his dedication to the sport and athleticism is incomparable. Bravo to Tiger for returning, but now its time to step it up.

Tiki Barber and his wife Ginny

Well, we have all had enough with Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Their names have dominated the press for at least the past couple of months and now, we have to hear about another cheating celebrity. Now who would have thought that retired football star and Today show reporter Tiki Barber would be at the center of another cheating scandal. What makes matters even worse is that Tiki’s wife is pregnant. With twins. Welcome to the bad guy list and don’t worry Tiki, you will not be leaving it anytime soon. His mistress is 13 years younger than he is and she ultimately cost his high profile job at NBC. Lets meet the woman who caused this drama and who will be equally hated by America.

Traci Lynn Johnson

Meet Traci Lynn Johnson. She is a former intern at NBC and a graduate of a small college off of the Hudson River. It is believed that her and Tiki got together in late 2008 and have been secretly flying all over the world to hide their affair. It has been reported that Johnson flew with Tiki to Washington and Arizona last month for some of Barber’s speaking engagements and it is also known that she was with him in Vancouver when he was covering the Winter Olympics for NBC. As you can see from the picture posted as her facebook profile picture, her and Tiki were well acquainted. To hide the affair from her family members, Johnson told her family that she was the family’s babysitter and nothing more.

Last week, Tiki’s wife Ginny filed for divorce while she is 8 months pregnant with twins on bed rest in a New York City hospital. Sources are claiming that the only reason she filed the action against the ex-running back is because he chose to low ball her in financial settlements. Refusing to not have enough money to support her family, Ginny filed on claims of adultery and it seems she will be seeking as much money as she can.

Now, most of you may be asking, where is Tiki during this whole ordeal? His current wife is on bed rest with his future children and she just filed for divorce. Where is he hiding? Well the answer came late last week when it was learned that Tiki was hiding out in a Manhattan bungalow with Johnson trying to lay low until this blows over. First of all, this will not blow over anytime soon. After your wife gives birth, the press will be all over you. Although they were attempting to stay low, they were still spotted around town being affectionate to one another.

Tiki Barber and Traci Johnson hide out at an airport back in 2008

Well Tiki, you have a lot of work cut out for you. It is going to take a lot of time and image rebuilding techniques for you to recover from this type of scandal. I am rooting for your wife. I would try and not be a bad guy in the public anymore because that could hurt you in court and I see your wife taking a lot of your money. At least it is less money that will be going towards your new girlfriend.

NBA Commissioner David Stern

“Make my day.” Those were the exact words that David Stern made to NBA coaches and players who have been the grumpiest and whinest players the past couple of weeks. Complaints about referees and other players have been a sore subject for the commissioner and he is sick of it all. He finally came out against all of their accusations and stately said that if they don’t shut up and keep their opinions to themselves, he will not just fine them, he will suspend them for a day or two. Not only is he not taking any more crap from the players or coaches, but he is making them all regret ever opening their mouths.

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

First up on the commissioner’s hit list is the ever present and successful Phil Jackson. Known as the “Zen Master” it is actually surprising to hear that he is speaking out and causing controversy. Before the first round of the playoffs, Phil Jackson started going off on rants about how Kevin Durant, the star of the Oklahoma City Thunder who just happened to be the opponent of the Lakers in the first round, was favored by most referees and was sent to the line to shoot more foul shots than any other player in the NBA. Stern was not very happy and fined Jackson twice in the month of April. Stern also made the comments that if he had taken action earlier in his career, he would have fined Jackson and Pat Riley more money and maybe prevented some of this behavior. Jackson responded with comments that suggested that certain people’s gamemanship taints the game. Although Stern is ultimately the winner in this situation, Jackson will always be taking cheap shots.

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard

Next up on Stern’s hit list is the next NBA superman, Dwight Howard. The Magic center was fined back in November for criticizing officials, but the $15,000 that Stern fined him was chump change now that the commissioner means serious business. Last week, Stern filed a $35,000 fine against Howard again for making comments on his blog again about recent officiating during a Magic playoff game. Howard should have taken the commissioner’s fine and warning a little more seriously in November because Stern was not messing around when he implemented a much heftier fine this time around. Howard needs to leave his comments about the referees to himself and off of the blogs.

As much as I can’t stand rich players who are privileged in every form of life complaining to no end, I do not blame them this time.  After the Tim Donaghy scandal, I can see why players may complain about the officiating and always have that lingering thought in the back of their minds about whether or not they are being set up so that someone else can benefit from winning a bet. But, since the scandal, the NBA has worked hard to establish trustworthy referees who the players and coaches can depend on. Really, blaming the referees is the last thing these extremely rich athletes need to be doing. Let the game keep going and play with the talent you were born to produce. Once you stop worrying about the referees, I am sure the game will be the exact same.

University of New Hampshire Scott Sicko

Meet Scott Sicko. The man who dissed the NFL and said “No” to numerous teams and millions of dollars. Now, you may be wondering, what is this guy thinking? Who says “no” to an NFL dream and millions of dollars? Well, here he is and he is not backing down on his decision.

Before the NFL draft was conducted last Thursday, Sicko told numerous sources that if he was not drafted, he would opt out of the NFL and go back to college and get a post-graduate degree in history. Now, I am not one to put down an athlete for choosing to finish his education in favor of millions of dollars, but I have to disagree with Sicko’s choice. He is done with college and has the degree that most professional athletes do not achieve, all he is looking to do is go onto a graduate program. There is no need to be offended by the NFL if you do not get drafted and just turn your back on them just to spite them.

Getting to play in the NFL does not get to happen to every college football player. Many are chosen to come participate but only a few are selected to stay around. Sicko has all of the right characteristics of a Hall of Fame NFL tide end and he still has time to get into the picture. The Dallas Cowboys basically offered Sicko a spot on their roster as a free agent, but he said no. He is holding tight to his pride and just basically throwing a fit because he will not be known as a player who was drafted.

If I was a boy and had a chance of living out my dream of playing in the NFL, I would jump on the chance until my body told me “no more football.” I guess it is just baffling to my mind that he is willing to throw away almost everything just to go to graduate school. As an athlete who is not going to go past playing in college, it is almost an insult to all of us out there who don’t get that chance to move on. My final words are this issue is what a waste of talent.


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