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SI:AM | The Fallout From Juwan Howard vs. Wisconsin

And, these players spent just one minute in the NBA.

Good morning. I’m Dan Gartland, here with the latest on the slap heard ’round the world. 

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What happened between Juwan Howard and Wisconsin?

Juwan Howard coaching the Wolverines.

It was obvious from the moment he took a swing at a Wisconsin assistant Sunday that Juwan Howard would face stiff punishment from Michigan and/or the Big Ten. That discipline was announced yesterday afternoon.

  • Howard was suspended for the rest of the regular season (five games) and fined $40,000.
  • Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard was fined $10,000.
  • Michigan players Moussa Diabaté and Terrance Williams II were suspended for one game.
  • Wisconsin player Jahcobi Neath was also suspended for one game.

To recap, Howard’s beef with Wisconsin stems from Gard’s decision to call a timeout late in the Badgers’ 77–63 win. Gard said he was trying to help out his backups, who were running out of time to get the ball across the half-court line. Howard said he thought the T.O. was “not necessary in that moment, especially being in a large lead.”

Things popped off after Howard confronted Gard in the handshake line. The teams and staffs began to crowd around the head coaches when Howard swiped at Badgers assistant Joe Krabbenhoft, sparking a larger scuffle. Diabaté, Williams and Neath were involved in the scrap, leading to their suspensions.

Howard issued an apology yesterday, saying he will “learn from my mistake and this mistake will never happen again.”

Howard’s suspension may have an impact on the rest of this Michigan season. The Wolverines are an underwhelming 14–11 (8–7 in the Big Ten, tied for seventh in the conference), so they still have some work to do to secure an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. But, as Pat Forde writes, Howard’s actions going forward will be important to watch.

“[W]ith status comes responsibility. Millionaires who like to bill themselves as molders of young athletes can’t act like Howard has acted. He shouldn’t be above acting with some class during and immediately after games, no matter how they turn out.”

Sunday’s incident was the third time in the past year that Howard has drawn criticism for getting heated on the court. He’s had some success early in his head-coaching career (including leading Michigan to the Elite Eight last year), but incidents like these are an unfortunate distraction from on-court results.

The best of Sports Illustrated

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For today’s Daily Cover, Ben Pickman spoke with some of the NBA’s Moonlight Grahams—guys who only played a single minute in the league.

“Those in the club have been left to wrestle with their careers being the shortest in the league’s 75-year history. Some stuck with basketball while others moved on to other professions. But all of them can forever note the same thing: They appeared in an NBA game.”

Stephanie Apstein, Alex Prewitt and Michael Rosenberg have some closing thoughts on the Beijing Olympics. … In yesterday’s Daily Cover, Emma Baccellieri tried to answer a simple question about a baseball game in the background of a TV show and ended up learning more than she bargained for. … Conor Orr argues that most NFL prospects shouldn’t ever attend the scouting combine. … Orr also has a guide to story lines that will dominate the NFL offseason

Around the Sports World

U.S. women’s national team players have settled their class-action equal pay lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. … Tom Brady found certain things about the Buccaneers’ process difficult, SI’s Albert Breer reports. … Here’s the latest on the negotiations between MLB and the players’ union. … The rebooted XFL will partner with the NFL as a testing ground for rule changes. … UConn’s Paige Bueckers is out for at least the remainder of the regular season. … Van Jefferson’s son, who was born hours after the Rams’ Super Bowl win, was named Champ. … TV ratings for the Winter Olympics were the lowest ever.

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Today is the anniversary of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game in which the United States beat the Soviet Union, 4–3. Everyone knows that Mike Eruzione scored the winning goal, but who scored the two preceding game-tying goals for the Americans?

  • Dave Silk
  • Mark Johnson
  • Dave Christian
  • Mark Pavelich

Check tomorrow's newsletter for the answer.

Friday’s SIQ: Larry Bird is one of two men to win three NBA three-point contests. Who is the other guy?

Answer: Craig Hodges. Like Bird, Hodges won three in a row, from 1990 to ’92 while he was playing for the Bulls. Those were his final three seasons in the NBA. Chicago let him go after the ’92 season, but he was still allowed to defend his three-point title at All-Star weekend in ’93 despite not being signed by another team.

Hodges became the only player to compete in each of the league’s first eight three-point contests, shooting in a generic “NBA” jersey in the 1993 edition against seven actual NBA players. He was eliminated in the second round. Mark Price, who had been critical of Hodges being allowed to compete, won the contest.

From the Vault: Feb. 22, 1988

It’s funny, on the heels of the NBA All-Star Game, to look back at a cover from 34 years ago bemoaning the death of the center position. Sure, the two leading MVP candidates—Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić—are nominally centers, but show footage of them to a basketball writer from 1988 and their heads would explode. They’re two guys who are at the forefront of redefining what a big man can be. Hell, Karl-Anthony Towns just won the three-point contest!

Jack McCallum’s story accompanying the cover above challenges the reader to “name the topflight NBA centers age 30 or under.” There were some venerable legends still active in the league at that time, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (40 years old), Robert Parish (34) and Moses Malone (32). But McCallum’s list of quality centers in their prime was a short one: Hakeem Olajuwon (25), Patrick Ewing (25), Ralph Sampson (27), Brad Daugherty (22) and Bill Laimbeer (30). The first three are Hall of Famers; the last two were multiple-time All-Stars.

But players like those were few and far between. And now, they’re even more rare. There were only two “old-school” centers in Sunday’s All-Star Game: Rudy Gobert (who played just 13 minutes) and Jarrett Allen (who played 24 minutes, probably because the game was held in Cleveland). The days of guys like Ewing and Olajuwon dominating the block are over, but it’s interesting to see that we’ve been having similar conversations about the state of the No. 5 position for decades.

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