A Change ofHeart
WHEN BILLY DONOVANwas introduced as the new head coach of the Orlando Magic last Friday, he saidthat his decision to leave Florida was not an easy one. He described a seesawinternal monologue. "What did I want?" he said. "What was really inmy heart? Did I really want another challenge, or did I just want to say, Youknow what, just stay at Florida—it's easy." The questions apparently neverwent away. Two days later word spread that Donovan, who had agreed to afive-year, $27.5 million contract, was having second thoughts and had askedOrlando to let him back out of the deal. (As of Monday his status had not beenresolved, but the Orlando Sentinel reported that he would return toFlorida.)
The flip-flop wassurprising in part because the Magic had seemed like a relatively good fit forDonovan. While Orlando hasn't been past the first round of the playoffs in 11years and college coaches have a terrible track record when making the jump tothe pros—see Donovan's mentor, Rick Pitino, Mike Montgomery, John Calipari andTim Floyd—Pitino advised Donovan that Orlando was an ideal situation becausethe Magic already had a franchise player, Dwight Howard, in place.
But at Florida the42-year-old Donovan, who is coming off back-to-back national championships, hasa chance to become one of those rare coaches, like Dean Smith and MikeKrzyzewski—larger-than-life figures who become synonymous with their dominantprograms. Donovan, discussing that possibility last Friday, said, "I reallythought about that ... but the other thing that could happen is it could justlevel itself out."
June 10, 2007
The irony may bethat Donovan's NBA dalliance will make such a leveling out more likely if hereturns to Gainesville. The episode makes clear that Donovan is at least opento leaving. In the coming recruiting battles, though, Donovan has given hisrivals a powerful talking point: How do you know that Donovan won't bolt if,say, the Knicks or the Celtics come calling? Staying at Florida—a little lesseasy than it used to be.
By the NCAA, Duke's request that its men's lacrosse players be given an extrayear of eligibility. The Blue Devils' 2006 season was cut short after eightgames amid allegations that an exotic dancer was raped at a team party. Thethree players who were charged by Durham County district attorney Mike Nifongwere later exonerated by the state attorney general, who called them victims ofa "tragic rush to accuse." Blue Devils coach John Danowski did notimmediately know how many players would take advantage of the ruling. Duke wasbeaten by Johns Hopkins in the NCAA title game on May 28.
To NiShea Gilbert, the estranged wife of Elijah Dukes, a protective order thatprohibits the Devil Rays outfielder from contacting her for one year. Last weekGilbert alleged that she received a message on her cellphone from Dukes thatthreatened to kill her and their children. Dukes (above), 22, also allegedlysent her a text message that included a picture of a gun. Dukes, who wasbenched for two games by the Devil Rays, apologized to his family and the teamfor the "distraction." He will be required to undergo a psychologicalevaluation before he is allowed to see his two children.
At age 68 of multiple sclerosis, Dave Balon, who won two Stanley Cups with theCanadiens. A rugged forward, Balon assisted on Henri Richard's overtime goal inGame 6 of the 1966 finals, which clinched the Cup for the Habs. Balon (below)also twice led the Rangers in goals. "Davey was one of the most versatileplayers I ever coached," said former Rangers coach Emile Francis. "Hewas one of the best defensive forwards in the league, great in the corners andexcellent on the power play."
At age 84, Mark Harris, whose love of baseball led him to produce a quartet offine baseball novels. His most popular, Bang the Drum Slowly, is about apitcher and his catcher, who is dying of Hodgkin's disease. The novel, madeinto a 1956 TV special starring Paul Newman and a better-known 1973 movie withRobert De Niro and Michael Moriarty, was No. 14 on SI's list of the best sportsbooks, in 2002. Harris, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, will becremated, and some of his ashes will be scattered on the field in Mt. Vernon,N.Y., where he played sandlot baseball.
Of complications from cancer at age 72, former Navy basketball coach DaveSmalley. Smalley, who lettered in baseball and basketball as a midshipman,coached the men's team from 1966 through '76. He then oversaw the formation ofthe women's program and coached it for its first 12 seasons, finishing with awinning record in 10 of them. Navy's basketball court was named for Smalley in2006.
The benches at Fenway Park—during a baseball game between New York and Bostonmedia. The two squads faced off before Sunday night's Red Sox--Yankees game.The trouble started when Bergen County (N.J.) Record columnist Bob Klapischbeaned Red Sox Spanish-language broadcaster Uri Berenguer. Red Sox P.A.announcer Carl Beane, who was managing in full Sox uniform, had to berestrained after the benches cleared.
By Joey Chestnut, 59 1/2 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, which broke therecord of 53 3/4 held by Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut (right), a 23-year-oldproject manager for a construction company and a part-time engineering studentat San Jose State, set the mark at a regional competition at a mall in Tempe,Ariz. "He's unbelievable," said Ryan Nerz of the competitive eatingorganization Major League Eating. "I always thought there was a limit—alimit to the human stomach and a limit to human willpower—but I guess not."Chestnut, who is nicknamed Jaws, is expected to face Kobayashi at the Nathan'sFamous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.
By Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, an interest in forming a new professionalfootball league. "It's a pretty simple concept," he told the AP."We think there is more demand for pro football than supply." Theproposed league would play on Friday nights and would not get into a biddingwar with the NFL for the top college players; rather, the focus would be onluring players picked after the second round.
By the NFL, the practice of serving alcohol at team functions, including busrides and plane trips. The ban—which comes in the wake of the drunken drivingdeath of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock last month—applies toplayers, coaches and guests. "I believe that no constructive purpose isserved by clubs continuing to make alcoholic beverages available and that doingso imposes significant and unnecessary risks to the league, its players andothers," Goodell wrote in a letter to all 32 teams. Alcohol has been bannedin NFL locker rooms since the 1960s.
They Said It
Manager of the Double A Mississippi Braves, on his much-replayed meltdown inwhich he uprooted bases, crawled on the ground and lobbed a rosin bag as if itwere a hand grenade:
"Once again, my mother is very proud of me, and my wife and kids arecreeping around in disguise."
6 Victories for Indians righthander Paul Byrd.
3 Bases on balls issued by Byrd in 58 innings thisseason.
3 Starting pitchers who have finished a season withmore wins than walks: Christy Matthewson of the Giants (1913 and '14), SlimSallee of the Reds (1919) and Bret Saberhagen of the Mets (1994).
19, 297 Age, in years and days, of Penguins centerSidney Crosby when he became the youngest team captain in NHL history; TampaBay's Vincent Lecavalier was 27 days older when the Lightning named him captainin 2000.
16 Holes Michelle Wie completed in the first round ofthe Ginn Tribute before withdrawing with what she called a "tweaked"wrist.
+14 Wie's score when she withdrew; had she shot an 88(+16), she would have been banned, by LPGA rules, from playing in another eventthis year.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
A bill is being introduced in the Spanish parliament toadd words to the country's centuries-old national anthem so athletes will havesomething to sing along to.