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25-years ago, Len Bias did this.

Get me this out-of-bounds play!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kids in "Scared Straight" Program Visit Horrifying Cleveland Cavaliers Practice

Another classic from The Onion.

CLEVELAND—As part of an effort to help at-risk youths turn their lives around before it's too late, organizers of a local "scared-straight" program exposed a group of at-risk teens to the horrors of a Cleveland Cavaliers practice Wednesday.

The 13- to 18-year-old juveniles—who were enrolled in the program by concerned family members or teachers hoping to show them the possible consequences of delinquent behavior—endured a long and painful day at the Cavaliers' training facility. While there, they were subjected to the same environment of hopelessness and despair the Cavaliers face every day and were forced to watch the NBA's worst team attempt layup drills, run the most basic offensive plays, and play a full-court scrimmage.

"I don't want to ruin my life and end up someplace like this," a visibly shaken 13-year-old Calvin Roberts said after witnessing three straight hours of poor ball-handling skills and terrible shooting. "It was the worst thing I've ever seen. I can't imagine going through day after day of that. All I could think about was apologizing to my parents for being such a jerk all the time."

Cleveland Scared Straight organizer Doug Whitney touted the program's ability to instill fear in teenagers by subjecting them to the sight of dejected Cavaliers who repeatedly miss free throws, turn the ball over during fast break drills, and look completely lost while working on their full-court press. Whitney believes that exposure to the 12 broken men responsible for the most atrocious losing-streak in NBA history has deterred countless teens from choosing the wrong path.

"Watching the Cavaliers practice—actually being right there up close, where you can see the anger and the desperation firsthand—is a really harsh experience for these kids," Whitney said. "But it makes a huge impact. All of them are ready to straighten up and fly right after they see the consequences of not even knowing which player is responsible for taking the ball out of bounds."

Whitney said that early on, some critics questioned whether the shock tactics were truly effective. Visiting teens often cried when the reality of their situation struck them, sometimes from the moment they were instructed to put on their mandatory Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirts. Many were nearly struck by the endless barrage of mishandled basketballs, and there were questions as to whether attending the Cavaliers practices put the youths at even greater risk than they had been before. But the vast majority of participants displayed improved behavior after seeing the fundamentally unsound losing path their lives could take them down.

"And in those rare cases where seeing a practice doesn't work, we take them to an actual Cavaliers game," said Whitney, explaining that it is a last resort used only with teens who are hardest to reach. "By the end of the first quarter, even the toughest kids are begging to leave and promising they'll never get into trouble again."

During Wednesday's practice, several players interacted with the teenagers, intimidating them with the bald truth of pitiful statistics and telling them horror stories about the team's dreadful season, including the time the Cavaliers were embarrassed on their home court by the Miami Heat.

"You want to end up like me?" said forward J.J. Hickson, screaming at the teens. "Broken down, hopeless, and barely able to complete a bounce pass without turning it over? Then you just keep living your life they way you have been. Look at this. This is you in 10 years."

"What are you laughing at?" added Hickson, staring directly at a snickering 14-year-old. "You think getting blown out by the fucking Toronto Raptors is funny? That's what I thought once. But this is some serious shit right here. I wish this life on no man."

While the teenagers attempted to present a tough exterior as they listened to the Cavaliers talk about how they turned the ball over 17 times against the Detroit Pistons or how they were pathetically optimistic after almost beating the 22-28 Indiana Pacers, a majority of the troubled juveniles became so frightened that they ultimately burst into tears.

"When we first showed up, I told everybody I wasn't scared," said Eric Carter, 17, rubbing at his red eyes. "But after five minutes, all I could think about was going home and trying to improve my life. I'm definitely better than something awful like this. Hell, my brothers and I run a better three-man weave than that."

"One time I visited a prison with Scared Straight," 15-year-old Clayton Jackson said. "But this is way worse. I'd rather be serving a life sentence in jail."

Tony Manuel, 16, said the intervention made him realize he needed to improve his attitude, avoid making poor decisions, and spend more time practicing his dribbling.

"Until you actually see these guys, you don't see what a waste it is," Manuel said. "And really, the only difference between them and me is that they can't move the ball up the court, get takeaways, rebound, or drive into the paint without dribbling the ball off their foot."

Cavaliers point guard Daniel Gibson told the gathered teenagers that they were lucky, saying that if he had participated in a scared-straight program as a youth, he would have stayed in school and might have actually made something of his life.

"You may think you have it bad," Gibson told the kids. "But come talk to me after you've been completely abandoned by your best player and left to fend for yourself. Come talk to me when you have no hope."

"No fucking hope at all," Gibson added, almost to himself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Top 10 College Football Teams for Next Year

UCLA is not mentioned in this article. I don't care.
 This is from one of our favorite websites, The Big Lead.

It’s still a bit early. Recruits haven’t signed yet. Some schools don’t even have coaches lined up. We already looked at teams that could slip in 2011. For fun, here is a preliminary Top Ten for 2011.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are loaded on both sides of the ball. Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles are coming back. The have a veteran defense. Should they decide to show up outside of Norman, they can compete for a national title.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are losing McElroy, Ingram and Jones, but returning Trent Richardson and nine starters on defense. I put them at a slight disadvantage with an inexperienced quarterback.

Ohio State: They have a veteran team coming back. They will miss their memorabilia salesman for the first five games, but should scrape by without them. They play four of those five at home. Miami away is the only “tough” game.

Florida State: The Seminoles lose Ponder, but his importance was overrated. Their young defense will have another year under Mark Stoops. They keep bringing in top-calier recruiting classes. They should be the preeminent ACC team.

Oregon: They are losing a number of key contributors on defense and the offensive line. But Darron Thomas and LaMichael James will return and it’s hard to doubt Chip Kelly’s system.

Boise State: Boise lose their two best receivers, but they are bringing back Kellen Moore and the bulk of their defense.

Stanford: Jim Harbaugh is gone, but Andrew Luck, many of his recruits and the bulk of his coaching staff should remain. Enjoy Luck while he’s still fresh. You are going to here WAY too much about him next season.

LSU: Les Miles and a lot of talent returning. The trouble is they are losing a lot of experience and ability on defense and they are coached by Les Miles.

South Carolina: Garcia, Lattimore and all their wide receivers are returning. If they can stay healthy and save Steve Spurrier from himself, they should compete.

Texas A&M: The Aggies return virtually their entire offense and eight starters on defense. They will have Ryan Tannehill in place from day one.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saddest. Story. Ever.


Mark Sanchez went to work Tuesday, preparing for a big football game. Some 40 miles away, a little boy from Queens, N.Y., was buried -- a friend of the New York Jets quarterback.

Sanchez and Aiden Binkley, 11, met each other only a few weeks ago, but they became fast friends. Binkley was suffering from a rare form of cancer, and he had only two wishes -- he wanted his two brothers to stay healthy and he wanted to meet Sanchez.

And so he did.

Aiden Binkley's dream was to meet Mark Sanchez and the Jets. He got his wish.

Aiden visited the Jets' training facility Dec. 15, and he received the VIP treatment, as if he were a big-name player making a free-agent visit. He watched practice and was escorted to owner Woody Johnson's second-floor office, where he met Antonio Cromartie, Dustin Keller, Mike Devito and others.

And, finally, Sanchez. The people who were there say Aiden's face lit up like Broadway at night.

"He sat there, beaming and smiling," said Aiden's mother, Lisa Binkley, who initially wasn't sure if it was a good idea to make the trip because Aiden was in such pain.

"Nothing meant more to him than coming here and meeting Mark and meeting the Jets," Keller said quietly Wednesday in the Jets' locker room. "Great kid ... a tough situation."

The 24-year-old quarterback was immediately taken by Aiden and his upbeat personality and his love of the Jets. A few days later, Sanchez & Co. beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh -- the biggest win of the season -- and Sanchez sent his new friend a game ball.

Sanchez was deeply touched by Aiden, who battled rhabdomyosarcoma, according to a 2008 New York Daily News article. There was a lemon-sized tumor that spread from his pelvis to his lungs, and he required 60 weeks of chemotherapy.

They became texting buddies and, one day, Sanchez surprised Aiden's parents by asking, "Can I come over?" When Sanchez arrived, the boy was sleeping. Sanchez sat at Aiden's feet, waiting until he woke up.

"He opened his eyes and there was Mark, sitting on the couch," Lisa said. "He was so sweet."

They ended up having a long conversation, like a couple of old friends. Aiden took Sanchez to his bedroom and showed him his sports stuff, including his hockey stick. He gave Sanchez a camouflage bracelet with the inscription "Binkley's Battle." Sanchez and Keller were wearing the bracelets Wednesday in the Jets' locker room.

"My man, Aiden ... breaks my heart," Sanchez said Tuesday during his weekly spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on 1050 ESPN Radio. "He's so tough."

Sanchez, choked with emotion, paused several times as he talked about Aiden, whom he met through the Teddy Atlas Foundation. Atlas, the boxing trainer and ESPN analyst, was a Jets special assistant under former coach Eric Mangini.

"He brought me so much inspiration. ... It's hard to talk about him," Sanchez said. "He meant the world to me. I felt like I've known him forever. ... I saw his personality. I saw his competitive spirit. I saw him fighting every day.

"I'm complaining about a shoulder. Are you kidding me? ... I think he was 11 years old, and he has cancer eating away at his body," Sanchez continued. "This kid is fighting every day. He's smiling every time I talk to him. I visited him at his home. I mean, he has to get carried up the stairs because he's so weak and all he wants to talk about is LT [LaDainian Tomlinson] and Darrelle Revis and Rex Ryan and me.

"Oh, man, it kills you, just thinking about it. I love him to death."

Sanchez was sitting at his locker before facing the Steelers, going over the game plan one last time, when he received a text from Aiden. His friend was concerned about the chilly weather.

"He's saying, 'It looks cold out there in Pittsburgh. I'm glad I'm watching from home. Good luck,'" Sanchez said with a chuckle. "Little stuff like that really fires you up."

After the game, Aiden fired off a congratulatory text to Sanchez. Don't expect a return text, his mother warned, explaining that Sanchez would be too busy to answer an 11-year-old boy. So they watched his postgame news conference on TV, never imagining they'd hear from him.

About 20 minutes later, the phone rang. It was Sanchez.

"We were blown away," Lisa said.

In his final days, Aiden's cancer was so unbearable that he couldn't get out of bed. But he kept his phone close by, just in case his friend Mark decided to call or text.

"He'd be lying in bed, in such pain, and the phone would ring -- and he'd smile," Lisa said.

Funny thing about Sanchez's texts: Instead of a simple, inspirational message, he always posed a question, trying to initiate a conversation.

Their friendship was born at a difficult time for Sanchez. The Jets were on a two-game losing streak after being embarrassed by the New England Patriots 45-3 and showing no energy in a 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Even Ryan admitted he thought about pulling his franchise quarterback from the Miami game.

"I'm not a happy camper, I'm upset, I'm frustrated," Sanchez said. "I want to make it right. I want to hurry up and play another game."

Along came Aiden.

"All I hear from someone is, 'There's a youngster who's terminally ill with cancer and all he wants to do is meet you,'" Sanchez said. "It changes your whole world. It stops everything. You get a chance to step back. It's really close to my heart. ... He's the best. I love him."

Keith Sullivan, an Atlas Foundation board member, was struck by Sanchez's sincerity. In that initial meeting, Sanchez and Aiden exchanged cell phone numbers, with Sanchez telling the boy, "I'll shoot you a text later. We'll talk." And Sullivan hoped it wasn't just lip service, a millionaire athlete trying to appease a starstruck kid.

Sanchez called. They talked.

"Aiden had a smile on his face for the last three weeks of his life," Sullivan said.

Aiden lost his courageous battle last Thursday. Before the Jets' game last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets honored him with a moment of silence.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for Follow him on Twitter.

Man, that chick beside me is smokin'.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

3:30 AM, after the Louisville game.

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