All ball sports: Not so fast, Tiger; not so fast Irving; not so fast Rams

by Paul Teetor

It wasn’t his fault.

He was victimized by a ridiculously steep, slinky street that has caused accident after accident in recent years – 13 in the last 13 months, with four of them resulting in injuries, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has jurisdiction over that stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard, in Palos Verdes 

The poor guy was blind-sided by a tricky S-curve, combined with a steeper-than-it-seems downhill incline.

That was the sympathetic, first-wave narrative following the news last Tuesday morning that all-time golf great Tiger Woods had crashed his $80,000 SUV driving down from “The Hill.”             

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva quickly announced there won’t be any charges filed against Woods. It was just an accident, said the sheriff, and that’s not a crime.          

Not so fast, says prominent Rolling Hills Estates defense attorney  Tony Capozzola, who has driven over the exact same stretch of road almost every day for more than 30 years and has never come close to an accident.

“If he had been driving at or under the speed limit of 45 on that stretch this never would have happened,  Capozzola said. 

In addition to waiting for the blood analysis to determine if Woods was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, officials should wait for the data from the SUV’s black box to determine how fast he was going at the time of the crash, he says, before making a final decision on charges.

There’s another over-looked factor in the now world-famous crash: Woods’ 5,000-pound Genesis SUV was being driven so fast that when it hit the median it flew across the south-bound lane before coming to rest on some roadside dirt.

“If there was traffic on that south-bound lane,” Capozzola said. “he would have plowed right through them.”

Capozzola’s outspoken views reflected the second, not-so-sympathetic wave of public reaction once the word spread that Woods had survived the crash and might be able to play professional golf again someday.

Consider some of the letters published Saturday morning in the LA Times’ sports section: “We can be thankful Woods did not kill or injure anyone else due to his apparent speeding and reckless driving,” wrote Bob Lentz of Sylmar. Or this letter from Ray Uhler of Laguna Niguel: “If any of us had three car accidents with injuries, one with a reckless driving guilty plea, do you think we would still have a driver’s license and still not be prosecuted? Well, Tiger Woods just keeps getting away with misconduct and his limited driving skills. How does Tiger avoid being punished by the law?”

The answer to that last question is simple: celebrity worship. And it appears, based on the Sheriff’s comments, he is going to get away with it again.

Speeding with a crash resulting is a crime for you and me.

It should be for Tiger Woods too.

Let’s wait and see what the SUV’s black box and the rest of the sheriff’s “investigation” reveals before making final judgement.


Kobe: The Story goes on and on 

It’s been little more than a year since Lakers great Kobe Bryant perished in a helicopter crash, along with his daughter GiGi and seven others.  But already it’s becoming clear that the always controversial star has reached mythical status in pop culture and his story will be providing grist for the media mill for years and probably decades to come.

Three very different Kobe stories commanded headlines this week. Taken together, they illuminate the good, the bad and the truly ugly parts of his wonderful, horrible life and death and fueled emotions for both his fans and his critics.

First to break was Nets star Kyrie Irving’s declaration that the ubiquitous NBA logo, a silhouette taken from an iconic photo of Lakers great Jerry West dribbling the ball, should be replaced by one of Kobe shooting the ball.

“As a native black man, as a native Black King, I think it’s part of my responsibility to continue to push our generation, our culture forward,” Irving modestly told the press after leading the Brooklyn Nets to yet another blowout, a 129-102 demolition of the Orlando Magic. “Kobe was the standard for our generation, and he will continue on, and I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was part of that change. I know that some people will love the idea, and some people won’t like it, but I don’t care what anybody thinks.”

Kyrie Irving is a great, great baller, one of the top 15 players in the NBA and possessor of the flashiest handle in the league. If he wants to get to the hoop, he will go over, around or through you and you’ll be left grabbing air as you try to stop him. He also is the best finisher around the hoop for any player six-foot-three and under. His array of short bank shots, flying floaters and impossible drives is unmatched. So he’s certainly qualified to issue opinions about basketball related matters.           

But he’s also known as the guy who spent years insisting the earth is flat. And earlier this season he stunned his coach, Steve Nash, and his teammates when he left the team for seven games, saying he needed “a pause.” After publicly promising Boston fans he was going to re-sign with the Celtics two years ago, he walked away without explanation or apology to sign with Brooklyn. 

In other words, he’s always been a bit of a head-case who just says whatever pops into his mouth, without filtering it through, you know, his brain.
So you have to wonder just how serious he is with this idea about changing the logo, which has been the league’s symbol worldwide for the last 52 years.

Bryant is considered one of the sport’s greatest players after spending all 20 of his seasons with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships. Replacing West with Kobe in the league’s logo is a topic sure to come up when the league holds its All-Star game Sunday, March 7. 

But it’s a bad idea. There are plenty of other ways to honor Kobe without canceling West, who was not only a great player but one of the greatest executives and talent evaluators ever. In fact, to recent generations he’s most famous as the Lakers general manager who brought Kobe in for a private workout when he was a lightly regarded 17-year-old high school senior. West quickly realized he was watching an extraordinary talent, and without a high draft choice himself arranged a pre-draft trade with the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers gave up a very good player in center Vlade Divac and in return Charlotte agreed to draft Kobe with their number 13 overall pick and immediately trade him to the Lakers.

The second Kobe story broke late in the week when his widow, Vanessa Bryant, launched a Twitter attack on actress Evan Rachel Wood, saying she had only recently become aware of a Tweet Wood issued an hour after Kobe’s crash. The Tweet: “What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”

She was referring, of course, to the criminal charge filed against Kobe in the summer of 2003, after a Colorado hotel worker alleged Kobe had raped her. The charge was dismissed when the accuser declined to testify and accepted a very large financial settlement from Kobe.

Vanessa,38, posted on Saturday to her Instagram Story: “Your false, insensitive, defamatory and slanderous tweet on 1/26/20 is vile and disturbing to say the least. Behavior like this is part of the reason why innocent black men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. An accusation doesn’t make someone guilty.”

The use of legal buzz words like “false, defamatory and slanderous” suggests the threat of a lawsuit. The threat should be taken seriously: Vanessa is currently suing her own mother over a financial dispute; Island Express, the company that chartered the helicopter Kobe and GiGi crashed in; and the LA County Sheriff’s office over photos its officers took at the crash site. The officers allegedly used the photos to impress women they were trying to pick up at a local bar. 

On Sunday morning the LA Times reported that Vanessa’s lawyers had petitioned the court to release the names of the four officers named as individual defendants in the lawsuit. They are currently under seal, but Vanessa wants them out in the public. It would certainly increase the pressure on the LASD to come across with a large financial package to settle the case.

The Kobe crash story, unfortunately, goes on and on.

It could last longer than his entire career.              


Are the Rams an Honorable Team?        

You’ve made your mind up. You’re going to dump your quarterback and find a new one.

Do you make a deal with the first team that approaches you with a possible trade, or do you shop around to find the best deal out there?

The smart money says you should shop around. 

But not the Rams. Once they decided to find a new quarterback, they weren’t smart enough to wait and see who might become available in the 6-months long off-season.

This week we learned that they should have waited on the Jared-Goff-for-Matt Stafford trade, made a little more than a month ago. There was no one else bidding for Stafford, who after all is only a slight up-grade over Goff, is six years older and has a far more extensive injury history.  There was no good reason to dump Goff so quickly except that Rams coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead made it clear they couldn’t stand the sight of him in a Rams uniform anymore.

So less than a week after the season ended with a second-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Hermosa Beach resident was shipped to Detroit, along with 2 first round draft picks, for Stafford.

Then the Rams began their spin cycle: Stafford was the best they could do given the circumstances, he will become a better, more mobile quarterback under Coach McVay’s tutelage, there was really no one else on the market who they could have made a play for, yada yada yada.

Most of the mainstream media bought it, and closed the initial Goff-for-Stafford chapter with a spate of let’s-see-how-he-does-next-fall-with-a-new-team-around-him stories.                                                         

If you inhaled deeply you could smell the strong stench of angst and regret coming from So-Fi Stadium this week when Seattle’s star QB Russell Wilson made it known that he wanted to be traded out of the Northwest. He even provided a list of four teams he would happily go to: New Orleans, Dallas, Las Vegas and Chicago. Not one of them has a defense to rival the Rams, or a head coach as innovative and creative as McVay.

Indeed, there is no doubt LA would have been on the top of Wilson’s list if the Rams hadn’t, you know, just made their big “blockbuster” trade that really wasn’t much of a blockbuster at all – other than being able to dump Goff’s bloated $134 million contract on the Lions.

If you were to sit down and draw up the perfect QB for McVay’s razzle-dazzle offense built around run/pass/option plays, mis-direction plays and play/action fakes he would look a lot like Wilson. Not only is Wilson one of the best running QB’s in the 32-team league, but he has an uncanny knack for evading pass rushers and extending plays until one of his receivers can get open. And even though he’s only 5-foot-11, he has plenty of arm strength to connect on the kind of long passes that can keep a pass rush from committing entirely to burying the QB. And he’s the third most accurate passer in the entire league, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.                       

And what about his wife Ciara, the single-name pop-star, actress and model? You think she would have liked to move to LA where she could super-charge her show-biz career while her husband was leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory at their home stadium next year?

One more intriguing factor: the Rams-Lions trade does not become official until the start of the NFL’s new calendar year, which is March 17. Traditionally, once teams announce the terms of a post-season trade they are honor-bound to follow through and complete the trade after the new league year starts.

But technically, there is nothing to prevent the Rams from saying, essentially, sorry, dude, but circumstances have changed and we therefore have changed our minds and are calling off the trade. 

The Lions would no doubt appeal to Commissioner Roger Goodell, but it isn’t likely he would be able to force the Rams to complete a trade they no longer want to make.

If the Rams were to somehow acquire Wilson – say, Goff plus three first-round picks for Wilson – they would immediately become favorites behind only the Kansas City Chiefs to make it all the way to the So-Fi Super Bowl.

Is that a strong enough lure to tempt them into making a dishonorable move before March 17?                



Follow: @paulteetor  ER



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Written by: Paul Teetor

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