LeBron James, the rightful recipient of Sports Illustrated’s prestigious Sportsman of the Year award, is in town for the next two days.
The defending-champion Cavaliers will visit the Garden for the first time this season to face the Knicks on Wednesday night, but LeBron is making headlines again this week for more than simply his wondrous basketball talents — deciding with a few teammates to not stay at a Donald Trump-branded (albeit not Trump-owned) hotel while in Manhattan.
News colleague Ebenezer Samuel made the case for Colin Kaepernick as Sportsman of the Year in a column last week, and his points were understandable.
I, too, fully supported and defended Kaepernick’s right to take a knee in protest back in September and still believe that to be true, although the San Fran quarterback has done and said some things along the way with which I personally disagreed: such as wearing those pig socks and that Castro shirt, and not voting in the election.
But LeBron, who carried his hometown Cavs to a comeback from 3-1 down in defeating the record-setting Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, also has continued to put himself out there on social and political platforms throughout 2016. And it’s gone beyond joining Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul on stage at the ESPYs in July to call out his fellow athletes and to declare “we all have to do better” in terms of embracing social activism.
LeBron James has continued to be a leader on and off the court.
(Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)
James publicly endorsed and campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the weeks leading up to her election loss to President-elect Trump. He now is the most prominent of a group of Cavaliers excused from staying at the team’s prearranged hotel — the Trump SoHo in lower Manhattan — upon their arrival in New York following Monday’s win in Toronto.
Cleveland GM David Griffin told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that perhaps half of the team’s 14 traveling players aren’t staying there.
My question is why not the whole team?
ESPN reported in November that three teams — the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies — would no longer stay at Trump hotels.
The Cavs were guests of President Obama at the White House on Nov. 10, notably the same day Trump was there to be briefed by his predecessor for his transition to the Oval Office.
James and other Cleveland players — including former Knicks Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith — have since expressed their dismay over the election results, with Shumpert saying he would not return to the White House with Trump in office should Cleveland defend its championship. Ex-Net Richard Jefferson also predicted on social media that the Cavs would be the “last team to visit the White House.”
The Cavs are not practicing Tuesday in New York, so we will have to wait another day for quotes from LeBron and others on all of this, as well as the potential revisiting of Knicks president Phil Jackson’s recent “posse” quotes.
The four-time NBA MVP did offer a terse “no” on Monday night when asked if he’d be open to a discussion with the Zen Master if approached while in town.
James, of course, took offense to Jackson referring to his friends and business associates as his posse in an interview last month, saying “we just know how much further we still have to go and how far we still have to go as African-Americans, even in the light of today.”
The 2016 Sportsman of the Year continues to speak his mind and make an impact on and off the court.
— Jorge Posada was perhaps my favorite Yankee to cover in my two decades writing about baseball in New York. He was always passionate, honest, accommodating and available with the media, a stalwart catcher on championship-winning teams, with a heart-tugging personal tale to boot.
Jorge Posada was a fine catcher — and a great Yankee to cover — but he’s not a Hall of Famer.
That said, it certainly is not intended as a slap to “Hip-Hip-Jorge” or his fans, to believe that he falls just short for Hall of Fame induction as the first member of the Core Four to appear on the ballot this year.
It’s supposed to be extremely hard to make it to Cooperstown, and the overcrowded ballots of past years — albeit mostly due to PED implications, of which Posada has not been so tarnished — certainly bears that out.
Only four catchers whose primary position was catcher over the past 50 years — Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and, most recently, Mike Piazza — have been voted into the Hall by the BBWAA.
Here’s guessing that Ivan Rodriguez, despite the steroids whispers, becomes the fifth ahead of Posada, who should at least garner enough support elsewhere to remain on the ballot for a while.
Anyway, here’s my go-to Posada anecdote:
Before spring training officially starts, the Daily News and other outlets generally send reporters to Tampa ahead of time to get a jump on that season’s stories. The Yankees don’t allow media inside their minor-league complex during this period, leaving reporters to camp out alongside autograph-seeking fans on the sidewalk with the hope of getting players to stop in their cars on their way out for interviews.
A few years back, I caught Posada’s eye as he was walking out of the building following a workout and he indicated he’d stop to talk. As he pulled out in his sparkly sports car and stopped at the gate, dozens fans predictably bum-rushed his car.
“Get in,” he yelled at me, so I did.
We peeled away and drove around Tampa for a bit, talking about the upcoming season and more, and then he drove me back to my sidewalk post.
Hall of Famer or not, a truly good guy and a personal favorite.
— As for the Jets, holy hell, what more is there even to say?
I feel like I used up most of my A-material on Twitter on Monday night — couldn’t resist — but these quick-hit posts definitely got some RT traction:
“I’m beginning to think this isn’t the Jets’ half-century.”
“The people who paid $2 on StubHub for this game got ripped off.”
“It’s Bryce Petty and the Heartbreakers!”
“No worries, Garth Snow just gave Bowles a vote of confidence.”
— Speaking of which, it’s the division-leading Rangers on Tuesday night against the division-bottomed Islanders at Barclays Center. Throw out the records, as they say, and all that jazz.
— Speaking of Jets/Isles links, big deal that Todd Bowles said “ass” 12 times on Monday night. Mike Milbury once dropped 26 f-bombs in one infamous rant during the playoffs.
Klay Thompson can still fill it up.
— Pretty sure Klay Thompson just scored again.
— Finally, we are all crushed yet again at the departure of a few more dear friends and amazing teammates this week and last. They know who they are and what they mean to me. Love them like family.
Today’s Top-5: My favorite sports-related, scripted TV shows of all-time:
5. Sports Night
2. Friday Night Lights
1. The White Shadow
(Please find this groundbreaking show and binge watch it)
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News