The Washington Wizards would never wish misfortune upon their football counterparts. But the D.C. hoopsters certainly don’t mind reaping benefits in a market that’s weary of gridiron futility – and weary of dissecting it, digesting it and discussing it.
While Dan Snyder’s team continues to resemble a steaming pile of mess, the Wizards are off to their best start since President Nixon resigned. Even the specter of a prolonged absence from injury-plagued Nene can’t dampen spirits at Verizon Center, where the Atlanta Hawks visit for a road game Tuesday night.
The place was electric Friday night during the Wizards’ last contest there, when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were thumped in convincing fashion. A capacity crowd delighted in the 91-78 blowout as the Cavs trailed for the final 38 minutes. The victory was a nice bounce back following Washington’s first home loss two days earlier.
Knocking off the league’s most-hyped team was sweet.
But beating Milwaukee in Milwaukee on Saturday night was like eating vegetables: not as enjoyable but more important.
The Bucks represented a classic trap for the Wizards, who were at risk of being emotionally hung over after Friday’s nationally televised statement game. When Milwaukee opened a 15-point lead in the second quarter, it appeared Washington might waste an opportunity to secure back-to-back wins that real contenders devour.
Before the team flew to Milwaukee, Paul Pierce warned his mates about the pitfall that awaited. He also did something about it once the Wizards teetered on the edge, pulling them away by scoring 14 of his team-high (and season-high) 25 points in the second half.
“He’s ‘The Truth’ for a reason,” guard John Wall told reporters afterward. “It’s great to have a guy like that to take the pressure off you at times. He’s been in that situation multiple times, making big shots and big plays. He made big shots for us and that’s what we needed.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says it’s time to end the modern-day equivalent of prohibition and allow widespread, legalized gambling on pro sports.
By sheer coincidence (not), NBA owners recently purchased an equity stake in the daily fantasy sports contest FanDuel. Technically, fantasy isn’t gambling. But it’s a game of chance nonetheless, attracting an estimated 41 million participants who invest a total of $4.55 billion, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
It’s impossible to determine how much money is spent on illegal, real-life sports wagers. But the National Gambling Impact Study Commission estimates the amount is somewhere between $80 billion and $380 billion annually.
The NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB have long supported the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, passed in 1992, which prohibits authorized sports wagering outside of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. But in a New York Times op-ed column last week, Silver executed a reverse pivot that would make Hakeem Olajuwon proud.
He said “sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.
“Times have changed since PASPA was enacted,” Silver wrote. “Gambling has increasingly become a popular and accepted form of entertainment in the United States. Most states offer lotteries. Over half of them have legal casinos. Three have approved some form of Internet gambling, with others poised to follow.
“There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events.”
He’s right about folks’ hunger. But not all cravings should be fed automatically.
Large segments of the population fuel demand in the sex and drug trades, too.
On the record, and for the record, NFL players and coaches insist that they never consider the upcoming opponent’s ledger as game day approaches. They know that any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday.
Yet, human nature being what is, players and coaches can’t help feeling at least slightly better about their chances when they’re facing, say, an 1-8 team versus an 8-1 team.
But enough about Washington’s football team.
Tampa Bay had to be licking its chops, too, flying to D.C. with thoughts of discarding a five-game losing streak like empty cups and used tape in the locker room before boarding a return flight. Misson accomplished.
Washington and Tampa Bay have little in common as cities and their football teams are fairly dissimilar as well – except when it comes to winning percentage. While Oakland has the inside track in the NFL’s Race to Wretchedness (and the No.1 draft pick), the squads that battled Sunday at FedEx Field aren’t far behind.
But instead of Washington picking up its fourth victory of the season, Tampa Bay flew home with its second, in a 27-7 game that felt worse than the final score.
Beating the Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Dallas was great. That was winning a game you’re supposed to lose. Alas, it doesn’t matter when you lose games you’re expected to win.
No one told Tampa Bay that Washington was supposed to win. The Bucs figured it was their turn after blowing fourth-quarter leads in three consecutive games and five times overall this season.
“We feel like we’re better than a 1-8 football team,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said afterward, probably while counterpart Jay Gruden espoused the same thoughts about his 3-7 outfit. “We haven’t been able to finish games, but at times I have seen progress and at times we have looked like a really good football team.
“Coming in, we saw an opportunity and for us, we needed to finish the game and play 60 minutes. They did that.”
Tackle Demar Dotson spat out a politically correct comment at first, talking about how it doesn’t matter if an opponent is 9-2 or 3-8. Whatever.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Growing up in First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Pastor John K. Jenkins had dreams of being its pastor, although he can’t remember exactly when they began.
But he knows the extent of his dream in 1989, when he was called to be FBCG’s seventh pastor.
“We were at 3311 Brightseat Road and there was a small parking lot behind the church,” Pastor Jenkins says. “Next to that parking lot was a house owned by Mrs. Adams. My dream was to buy Mrs. Adams’ house, knock out the back wall of the church and add 200-300 seats.
“We were also pursuing a piece of property across the street from the church, where I wanted to build an education building. If I had been able to do those two things, I would have felt like I fulfilled my dream.”
The last 25 years have far exceeded Pastor Jenkins’ dreams, not to mention the congregation that voted him in.
FBCG had 500 members when Pastor Jenkins arrived. Weekly attendance now numbers 11,000. Instead of adding 200-300 seats, the church now holds services at the 4,000-seat Worship Center, which sits on 160 acres. “Auxiliaries” used to provide a substantial portion of church revenue; they have been replaced by 118 full-fledged ministries and the church is funded solely through tithes and offering.
One of FBCG’s greatest results under Pastor Jenkins is the ability to “develop dynamic disciples,” which means more to him than anything else.
“One of his big dreams was having classes in Christian education every night of the week,” says Reverend William S. Berkeley Jr., a member since 1991 and one of the church’s first full-time employees. “He wanted something going on every night to minister to our people so that they wouldn’t be biblically illiterate.
“There wouldn’t be any excuse, no matter if you worked at night or worked a 9-to-5. There would be something to meet your spiritual needs.”
Pastor Jenkins expressed concern about people’s spiritual lives early in his life. He was licensed to preach at the age of 15 and developed a successful evangelistic ministry. By 1986, when he accepted the pastorate at Union Bethel Baptist Church in King George, Va., he was travelling around to preach in different churches every weekend.
The storied NBA franchise is well en route to the draft lottery, again. That would give Los Angeles back-to-back lottery picks for the first time since 1993 and 1994. The Lakers are also a threat to break their record for fewest victories in the post-merger era, set last season when they had a measly 27 wins.
There’s even more joy for fans with particular animus against Kobe Bryant. Shooting a career-low percentage from the field (.393 through Tuesday), he’s struggling to carry his talent-challenged team. He leads the league in points per game and shots per game, which is nothing new.
But at his advanced age, on a sorry team, with a $48 million contract that’s viewed as a financial albatross, he makes for an easy target. Even though he’s essentially the same player he’s been for 19 years, critics have assailed his personality (too competitive), his shooting (too much) and his leadership (too self-centered).
Here’s something else they can point to and rejoice: Bryant just became the NBA’s all-time leader in missed field goals. He added 16 to his ledger Tuesday in a 107-102 loss to Memphis, giving him 13,418 for his career.
The headline – “Kobe sets mark for misses” – caused his detractors to smile. But that only proves they’re surface-dwellers, either too shallow to look deeper or too dense to understand layers. That’s the only way to chide Bryant for being the greatest shooting guard not named Michael Jordan.
Yes, the “Black Mamba” can turn into the “Black Hole,” the place teammates pass the ball and never see it again. Bryant took 37 shots in a loss to Phoenix last week while the Lakers’ other starters took 35 shots combined.
On the flip side, Los Angeles wouldn’t have come close without Bryant’s 39 points.
Just seven games in, the Wizards already have survived one of the toughest stretches on their schedule. They’re coming off four games in five nights and have played three sets of back-to-backs.
No matter who you face under those circumstances, coming away with a 5-2 record is nothing to take lightly.
Now the Wizards can concentrate on their deficiencies – an inability to put away teams and a habit of being out-rebounded – from the comforts of home. Beginning with Detroit on Wednesday, Washington will play nine of its next 11 games at Verizon Center.
While the Wizards continue their effort to create a strong home-court advantage, coach Randy Wittman will continue to tinker with his rotation, looking for the right three to four players to deliver consistent production off the bench.
The rotation remains a work in progress aside from Otto Porter Jr.’s entrenchment, but it has taken a different shape over the last couple of game. Reserve forward Drew Gooden III and wing Glen Rice Jr. have been supplanted by Kris Humphries and Rasual Butler, respectively.
With four bigs backing up center Marcin Gortat and power forward Nene, Wittman has more options than he has minutes to dole out. In addition to Humphries, who emerged to average nine points and seven rebounds over the weekend, Kevin Seraphim also asserted himself during that span. In Saturday’s win against Indianapolis, he was 6-for-8 from the floor for 13 points and six rebounds.
“He was a beast,” Wittman told reporters afterward. “He took the play to them, let the play dictate what he need to do. That’s what he needs to do. He can’t pre-determine and make up his mind what he wants to do beforehand.”
The surge from Humphries and Seraphim leaves Gooden and DeJuan Blair on the bench, at least for now. Blair hasn’t played in three of the six games he’s been eligible, while Gooden’s minutes have dwindled steadily. The first big off the bench when the season opened, Gooden’s time has shrunk from 22 minutes to 16 to 11 to zero over the last four games.
The NFL’s three-headed monster of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy never went away, but they faded into the background for several weeks as our attention turned to touchdowns rather than beatdowns.
Now they have resurfaced, bringing the NFL’s problematic abuse cases back to the forefront, each with different shelf life.
Hardy, the Carolina Panthers defensive end whom a judge found guilty of assault in July, won’t have his jury trial until “early 2015,” according to Tuesday’s press release from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. When the Panthers put Hardy on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list in September, GM Dave Gettleman said Hardy would not play again until his legal issues are resolved.
That could keep the issue brewing until training camp.
Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens halfback who was suspended indefinitely in September after a video showed him knocking out his wife, has begun his appeal. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is getting a taste of life from the other side of the table, an uncomfortable seat that players have grown accustomed to. It’s Goodell’s turn to be grilled, which could bring more heat on the league for initially giving Rice a two-game suspension.
He’s likely done in the NFL, but Rice’s appeal could have a lingering effect.
Which brings us to Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings halfback who – like Hardy – was placed on paid leave in September. At the time, Peterson faced a felony assault charge for whipping his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. But Peterson avoided jail time Tuesday by accepted a plea agreement on a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault.
While Rice and Hardy continue to go through the process, Peterson is done, simply waiting for reinstatement after missing half the season. Critics argue that he hasn’t been punished sufficiently.
On the contrary, this is an instance where eight is enough.
Tuesday is Election Day and Washington’s football team has pletny of candidates on the ballot, collectively and individually, especially after Sunday’s game at Minnesota.
The 29-26 defeat made the team a shoo-in for “Most Disappointing Loss Following a Huge Upset on Monday Night Football.”
So much for visions of a 5-5 record with victories against Minnesota and Tampa Bay bookending the upcoming bye week. That was a perfectly reasonable scenario after Washington shocked the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry World.
Yes, the season was likely to resume its downhill direction for the final six games, in which opponents will be favored in every contest except perhaps one (St. Louis). But reaching .500 at least would have allowed folks to consider playoff possibilities before the inevitable descent.
Instead of steaming into the off week with momentum from three straight wins, Washington limps in with a 3-6 record. This marks the third consecutive season the team has fallen to that mark, which makes it a runaway winner for “Most Unlikely 2012 Playoff Appearance Sandwiched by Terrible Records.”
The previous two campaigns ended in opposite extremes and neither version of a seven-game streak is likely this year.
But there’s no question how we’d bet if we knew another run was certain.
Now that Robert Griffin III has resumed his role as starting quarterback, the remaining games will help determine the outcome in several key races, none of which involve the NFC East.
Griffin gets my vote for “Most Controversial Quarterback Without Even Trying.” Like cameras and commercials, conflict seems to be a constant with him.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md – The Mighty Men of Valor national conference, held just outside of Washington, D.C., at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, drew more than 2,500 men last year. The event returns to FBCG on Nov. 7-8 for the 2014 national conference, entitled “The Sleeper Must Awaken.” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is among the featured speakers.
“The MVM conferences provided me with an opportunity to learn from men who lived through battles and had scars to prove it,” says Steve Gangaram of Canada. “These men went through issues that I was going through and they laid out the battle plan on how to become a champion! The MVM Conference is for men who are in need of relevant advice, who need gas in the tank and who are desperate for God to do a new thing in their lives.”
Other announced speakers for this year’s lineup include Pastor Keith Battle of Zion Church in Landover, Md.; Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr. of Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis, Ind.; Pastor Paul E. Sheppard of Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, Calif.; and Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council.
Last year’s theme was “Battle-Tested” and the conference was headlined by current and future NFL Hall of Famers, Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis, respectively, as well as ESPN/ABC broadcaster Chris Broussard. Along with several other powerful speakers who led the breakout sessions, each man (and one woman) delivered a strong message from the Lord.
First Baptist Church of Glenarden (Md.) member Clarissa Corey-Bey recently was voted the 2014 Bishop McNamara High School Woman of the Year. Clarissa displayed a spirit of excellence at the famed BMHS, in Forestville, Md., graduating with a 3.94 G.P.A., serving as president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and playing bass in the Maryland All-State Orchestra.
She also wrote for the school newspaper, was a Youth Leader and participated in several after-school clubs. Outside of BMHS, Clarissa spoke to local children on behalf of the National Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking. Part of her service with the coalition involved working with undercover police officers to help them catch distributors who sell alcohol to minors.
“I had no idea I was going to win (Woman of the Year),” she says. “There are so many great people in my class doing all these great things and really deserving of the award. I was very surprised.
Clarissa was raised in FBCG and remembers sitting in the Ministry Center parking lot, preparing for the dash to get into the sanctuary opposed to the overflow rooms. She was a member of the Sunbeam Choir, Star Ministry and dabbled in the Aviation Ministry before becoming a faithful volunteer at the SHABACH! Empowerment Center.
“I’ve gone there ever since my freshman year and I love it,” she says. “I still go there all the time, filling orders for clients, organizing shelves and helping Miss Gwen (Pope) with anything she might need. They just do good work there.”