Fourth and Long

Published 10:42 am Friday, December 14, 2012

The happiest man in America is Phil Jackson.

At 6′-8″ tall he is literally head and shoulders above everyone in most rooms. The exception of course being rooms associated with his pre-retirement profession as an NBA coach.

In NBA rooms it is not his stature that draws your attention; it is his permanent smile/smirk, his soul patch, his white hair, his aura of Zen and, of course, the bling of his 13 NBA Championship rings. When it comes to collecting bling he stands head and shoulders above everyone else as well.

If that wasn’t enough to make a guy smile, the grandfather of seven is rich, retired, influential and wakes up beside Jeanie Buss. Buss is the very attractive daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

The Lakers recently declined the services of 11 time NBA Champion coach Phil Jackson for the more recently run out of New York Mike D’Antoni.

Since D’Antoni’s arrival in Los Angeles the Lakers are 4-9 and that is never acceptable in the land of Showtime. This is a year when Kobe is feeling his age and is surrounded by Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. The Lakers are supposed to win now and D’Antoni thinks Nash’s return from injury will fix all that ails Los Angeles.

The happiest man in America is wearing flip flops, sipping a mimosa, laying next to Jeanie, shining his rings and smiling… because he knows better.

Speaking of the NBA, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to not only have two New York teams but both doing well. It has been a long time since the Big Apple has had any kind of impact on the NBA landscape and for both the Knicks and the recently moved Brooklyn Nets (hottest hat to own right now) to be playing well is great for the NBA and very nostalgic for this longtime Bulls fan.

If Derrick Rose comes back the Chicago anywhere close to 100 percent the Eastern Conference playoffs are going to be insane.

Occasionally the sports world, which normally acts as a temporary escape from reality, provides us with a segue into something meaningful to all of us. The NFL has suffered two tragedies over the last few weeks and both serve as reminders that life is temporary for all of us and should not be taken for granted.

The death of Jerry Brown was totally avoidable and, while I feel sorrow for both Brown’s family and Josh Brent, the teammate and driver of the car I also can’t help but shake my head over the recklessness and irresponsibility displayed by these men.

If the reported blood alcohol of 0.18 is in fact accurate then Brent would have had to consume approximately 20 shots of 90 proof liqueur in the matter of a few hours.

I myself have never been known to drink, however, a man fitting my exact description once helped two friends empty a half gallon of Jeigermeister. This obviously attractive man probably was clearly dumb and drunk, but he still knew he didn’t belong behind the wheel.

NFL players have money, friends and a league provided and confidential toll free number they can call so as to avoid driving under the influence. This of course begs the question. How dumb, drunk or both does an NFL player or anyone in fact have to be to drive drunk nowadays? Someone should ask Josh Brent that.

The News that Jovan Belcher had killed his girlfriend and then himself rocked the sports world and brought light to what was clearly a mental issue. He may have been enraged after being informed that his daughter may not actually be his, however it requires a breakdown in cognitive reasoning to parlay that into reason to murder someone.

It is all very sad and I hope the NFL looks into connections between the mental health of their players and the impact the violent nature of football and the kind of personality required to excel at it. Common sense tells me the average rate of mental health issues in the NFL is higher than at your employer.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at