The Worst Basketball Column of the Year

Listen, I always thought Scoop Jackson was an idiot, but recently I heard him on tv, and was sure of it. Now he has published the most bizarre piece of the year in which he claims that Larry Bird has screwed up the Pacers as bad as Isiah has messed up the Knicks, and the only reason no one talks about it is racism.

Listen, I’m not saying that Larry Legend has had a bang-up tenure as team president, but there are some very real differences that Scoop seems to be missing. Larry helped move this team to the brink of a title in 2004. Were it not for some bum legs in the playoffs and a crazy block by Tayshawn Prince, the Pacers might have been dancing that June. Then came the brawl (instigated by Ben Wallace, inflamed by the Pistons fans, turned into a zoo by the utter failure of court security, and scape-goated by David Stern in which Jermaine O’Neal was actually suspended for punching a member of Ben Wallace’s posse who was ON THE COURT OF PLAY ATTACKING HIS TEAMMATES). Injuries and more off the court nonsense since then have left the Pacers desperately trying to remake their roster on the fly.
Scoop blames Larry for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, utterly failing to realize that that trade had ZERO to do with winning and everything to do with trying clean up the aftermath of Stephen Jackson’s presence. At one point, he actually cites BILL SIMMONS as his source about the Pacers’ cap woes. Seriously, Scoop? This is journalism?

Scoop says that Isiah’s sexual harassment verdict is the same as random Pacers getting into scrapes with the law. I’m not sure that I buy that. The point of this isn’t even to say that Larry’s made all the right moves. Obviously, the team shouldn’t have committed to Tinsley and Artest. Clearly signing the utterly insane Stephen Jackson was a mistake (although note how no one bags on Golden State for having him around).

Ultimately, if you ignore the fact that:

  • the Pacers are STILL markedly better than the Knicks despite all the problems
  • and actually have had real success under Larry
  • that much of the franchise’s trouble can be traced to David Stern throwing the Pacers under the bus instead of burying the Pistons franchise for their role in the ugliness
  • and Larry didn’t ill advisedly hire a coach that ran out with 18 million dollars,
  • AND the fact that Larry didn’t sexually harass another employee, resulting in a multi-million dollar law suit and national humiliation for the owner and franchise

then yeah, Scoop, I guess I can see your point. The problem is that those things did happen. It’s not racism, man.
People are easier on Larry because 1. it’s not nearly as bad a situation and 2. it clearly wasn’t all his fault.
People kill Isiah because he’s an idiot, not because he’s black.

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