Random Rumblings: April 20th

RIP Pearl

We randomly rumble on a sad day as we found out this morning that Dwayne "Pearl" Washington has passed away at the age of 52. The Syracuse basketball legend might be the most important player in program history. It's either him or Carmelo Anthony. That's it. That's the list.

In the early 80's as The Big East began, Pearl was one of the stars. The league's success can be directly tied to TV (and ESPN specifically) and that success can be drawn back to the star players. The bigger than life coaches, such as Jim Boeheim, John Thompson and Rollie Massimino all had major roles, but they had to have players to make the product worth watching.

Washington was not only an outstanding player, but he was a showman. He played with uncommon flair. I was watching "With A Kiss" yesterday, the documentary on CBS analyst Bill Raftery, who coached in the early 80's in the Big East at Seton Hall. Jim Boeheim was featured in talking about the Big East, and he told a story about a trip to the west coast. He landed at LAX and was waiting at baggage claim when someone shouted at him "Hey! You're Pearl's coach!" This was in the early 1980's in Los Angeles about a player in The Big East! That was the power of Pearl. He was the first recruit in Boeheim's best stretch of coaching success until the last six years.
I can't sum it up better than Boeheim. RIP Pearl, a true legend.

Will you shut up about RGIII? No.

The relationship between Robert Griffin III and Redskins fans is endlessly interesting to me. To start to understand the dynamic, you have to understand that there are numerous segments of the Redskins fanbase. There is a segment that is actually more RGIII fans than they are fans of the team. There's another group that despises Griffin. There's another group that just wishes anything about Griffin would go away. There's another group that's more rational and doesn't really care about Griffin, but understands why he's a story. Note: that is the rational group. It is likely larger than you think, but silent so we don't hear from them very often.
To Ricky, the rest of the fanbase and anyone else interested in the story, I'd like to explain media to you as succinctly as I can. First, our job isn't to help the team. It's STUNNING to me how many players and fans think that's our job. "Why aren't you more supportive?" Because that's not my job? I'm not paid (when I'm being paid...#HireMe) to bash the team either. I'm paid to say what I see and talk about what's interesting, without taking into consideration how it may effect the team. It's simply not a concern.

Secondly, just like whatever you do for a living, we are trying to make money. We make money by talking about the things that are interesting to you so that you'll listen. For a website like CSN, an article about Griffin's first mini-camp for the Browns will do well. You can call it "click-bait" but it's also good business, and it's really not that cheap. There is genuine interest in Griffin in DC because he's one of the most significant athletes to come through this market in 25 years. He's gone, but that doesn't mean the interest is. That's okay! In fact, it's completely normal.

Right now in Chicago, there's still an immense amount of talk about Tom Thibodeau. The former Bulls coach has been gone for a year. Where he goes next is one of the biggest topics on talk radio. The feud between him and the team was the number one underlying story of the Bulls' season. There's still an obsession with Phil Jackson in LA. There's still an obsession with Jeff Van Gundy in New York. LeBron is a topic of conversation in Miami constantly, although, much like Griffin, he's a topic of conversation everywhere.

The most interesting thing about Griffin and the DC market is how unique the DC market thinks it is. I've always laughed at this notion that the Redskins are a bigger mess than say the Jets or the Raiders, or that Griffin is getting some special treatment unseen before in the history of earth.

The point is these things happen. A star player, especially one with the star power of Griffin, leaves and people talk about him because he mattered to them significantly. I understand why some fans want to move on. I understand why players really want to move on. However it's the media's job to serve the largest portion of their audience, which does have some interest in that player. If you're not in that group, don't click! That's all. That's how you send your message. When the clicks/listens/views stop rolling in, we'll stop producing the content. Just don't click. Or change the channel. Whining about it actually makes it worse because you keep the name in the news. It proves that there is interest.

In our business the opposite of hate is not love and the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of both is apathy. Voice your concerns accordingly.

Reads of the Day:

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne with a masterclass on how to use access after she spent the day after retirement (and more) with Kobe Bryant: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/undefeated-kobe160419/former-lakers-star-kobe-bryant-left-nba-just-getting-started

"An Unbelievable Story of Rape" will mess up your day, leave you feeling sick and is 100% worth your time. From ProPublica: https://www.propublica.org/article/false-rape-accusations-an-unbelievable-story

Syracuse coach Mike Hopkins tweets his tales about Pearl Washington: https://storify.com/CraigHoffman/mike-hopkins-on-pearl-washington