SPORTS w/The Jock

by Tom Weppel

Since the Dallas Mavericks swept the Los Angeles Lakers out of the NBA Playoffs, it seems there has been more discussion and questioning about the Lakers and their future, then there was about the Mavericks and their prowess!

Look…I know the Lakers were the stars of this show! Everyone was hanging their hat on Phil Jackson’s last stand as HC, and a chance for the team to repeat as Champions one more time! Obviously, though, Dallas wasn’t ready to accept this fairy tale! They gathered their forces, and showed the NBA community they have one helluva roster, ready to go and do battle for the rest of these playoffs. At the very least, they have a great chance to get into the NBA Finals, then see what gives.

Give credit where it is due. Dirk Nowitski has done a great job this season. He is proving to be tough to guard, scoring as needed. Jason Terry has also been a key ingredient for the Mavericks offense, coming off the bench and knocking down threes. Jason Kidd, JJ Barea, Tyson Chandler, and Shawn Marion have all contributed as well. Dallas is proving to be formidable…

In the meantime, the Lakers certainly will not be the same squad they were this year when they take the court for the 2011-12 season. Look for adjustments in their roster to some extent. It will be imperative to find the right person to come in and replace Jackson, who has done a masterful job running Kobe and the boys the last number of years. While Los Angeles certainly has good parts to keep it going as a formidable team, they may have to do some shopping to find a couple more pieces to fit into their puzzle. It should indeed be quite interesting to see how Dr. Jerry Buss steers his Laker ship…

Seems the Miami Heat are coming around nicely in winning games. Lebron James and Dwyane Wade have proven their superstar status is justified. Chris Bosh is playing well to the point where he has produced good numbers. The rest of their roster is doing enough to make them a tough team to deal with. Their wins over the Celtics showed us they have jelled as a unit to the point where they would be very, very tough to defeat in a seven-game series. Look for the Heat to make it to the Finals, without question.

The Chicago Bulls are also showing their skills, led by MVP Derrick Rose. Rose has emerged the last few months to a nationwide audience that is now realizing what he and his mates are up to! We are certainly seeing a different personality coming out of the Bulls, versus a decade ago with MJ and Co. While they may not have everything necessary to run the gamut, Chicago certainly has given us a healthy taste of their potential in the coming years, if they can keep it all together.


I’ve always thought that shingles, other than being the things people put on the roofs of their homes, was a human disease relegated to the lower leg.

That is, until I got a recent look at St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa!

La Russa, who has never taken time off from managing in the three decades he has done so with the Cardinals and Oakland A’s, was put on IR after being diagnosed with a case of the shingles. If you saw any photos or video of the guy, you saw a man with a mangled face, primarily on one side, mainly in his right eye! He looked like he had been in a nasty boxing match with Manny Pacquiao. It was one of the ugliest sights I think I’ve seen, and I’m damn glad I didn’t have to look at him on an everyday basis.

At first, LaRussa simply thought he had a case of Pink Eye. But after more tests, and growth of the condition, it was quite obvious he had something pretty ugly to deal with. In fact, its gotten to where LaRussa’s eye has swollen shut! He has gone down to a specialist in Arizona for more work, and his return at this point is uncertain.

In the meantime, Bench Coach Joe Pettini will be the interim Manager while LaRussa is on leave. St. Louis has played decent ball so far this season, hanging at the top of the NL Central ahead of the Reds. They lead the National League in batting, led by Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, with the highest averages in the NL.

I’m sure Tony LaRussa will eventually recover from his case of the Shingles. In the meantime, it might make sense to stay away from the guy…and make sure he stays away from YOU!