Crit­i­cal his­tory lessons and other key is­sues

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - Sporting Green - SCOTT OSTLER

Swat­ting down some of the more an­noy­ing ideas buzzing around like malar­ial mos­qui­toes:

LeBron James is the most crit­i­cized player in the his­tory of bas­ket­ball.

The buzz: Nobody — nobody! — gives LeBron his due. No re­spect!

The re­al­ity: It’s sports. It’s 2020. Ev­ery critic has a soap box. No ath­lete gets the 1,000% love he or she de­serves.

James is “pissed” that he re­ceived only 16 of 101 votes for MVP. He should be miffed at the sports­writers for cheat­ing

Mil­wau­kee’s Giannis An­te­tok­oun­mpo out of those 16 votes. An­te­tok­oun­mpo was better on of­fense and de­fense, and his team won more games than LeBron’s.

James’ team­mate on the Lak­ers, An­thony Davis, says

James is the most crit­i­cized player in bas­ket­ball his­tory. Give Davis an F in his­tory.

Most crit­i­cized player ever? That’s an­other vote LeBron will lose.

How about Ka­reem Ab­dulJab­bar, Carmelo An­thony, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iver­son, Pete Mar­avich? Holy smokes, what about James Harden? Dray­mond Green? Stephen Curry?

No. 1 all time? Wilt Cham­ber­lain.

LeBron can’t carry Wilt’s dis­re­spected jock. Had Twit­ter ex­isted when Cham­ber­lain played, 95% of all Tweets would have been trolls tak­ing shots at the Big Dip­per.

Foot­ball coaches don’t need masks.

The buzz: Ev­ery­one on the field is tested and cleared, so it’s es­sen­tially a bub­ble. Be­sides, coaches are talk­ing mostly into a head­set. The play­ers aren’t masked and they are slob­ber­ing in each other’s faces, so what’s the big deal about the coach? The re­al­ity: A lot of peo­ple watch foot­ball. A coach wear­ing a mask is a re­minder to view­ers that the best way to com­bat the pan­demic is to wear a mask.

Jon Gru­den ap­par­ently doesn’t need a mask, be­cause he al­ready had the crud, but he still can help spread the word about masks, thereby sav­ing lives.

The anti­maskers will say that your em­ployer le­gally doesn’t have the power to de­prive you of your God­given right to in­fect your fel­low man.

Funny, be­cause many of those same anti­maskers ar­gue that your boss does have the right to tell you ex­actly how to dis­play your pa­tri­o­tism.

As for the coaches who have been fined for not wear­ing masks, in­clud­ing Kyle Shana­han: No prob­lem. I hear Trump plans to par­don them all.

The rea­son so many NFL play­ers are get­ting hurt is be­cause there were no pre­sea­son games.

The buzz: You can’t go from 0 to 60 in one day, you have to ease your body and mind into the sea­son grad­u­ally, in those four pre­sea­son games.

The re­al­ity: There is a test­ing lab that shoots down this the­ory. The test­ing lab is called col­lege foot­ball.

It is fic­tion that many NFL play­ers go half­speed in prac­tice games, prep­ping to go full­tilt when the real games start.

Yeah, no. About 75% of play­ers in any given prac­tice game are des­per­ately fight­ing for a spot on the team, or for a start­ing job, or for a ca­reer. They go all­out on ev­ery snap. So do the smart play­ers, who know that go­ing half­speed can get you hurt.

Guys got hurt last week­end be­cause it’s foot­ball. Also be­cause the Jets and Gi­ants need to save a few thou­sand bucks on lawn main­te­nance.

The 49ers are on a “road trip from Hell.”

The buzz: The team flight was

de­layed when an air­port ser­vice ve­hi­cle dented the plane, some key 49ers were in­jured Sun­day, and an MRI truck sent to as­sess 49ers’ in­juries got into a col­li­sion.

The re­al­ity: In­juries aside, the 49ers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what most of us call “travel.”

A road trip from Hell, I’m pretty sure, would go some­thing like this:

You lose the foot­ball game. Like, 5,000­0.

Postgame show­ers: Molten lava.

In­flight meal: Hot Pock­ets, hot as Hell.

The MRI truck rush­ing to meet your plane runs over your quar­ter­back.

Only one heat set­ting on the ho­tel­room ther­mostats: “Eter­nal flames of damna­tion.”

Robo umps call­ing balls and strikes would take the hu­man el­e­ment and the per­son­al­ity out of base­ball.

The buzz: Robo umps would be too much tech.

The re­al­ity: That’s like say­ing traf­fic lights take the ad­ven­ture out of city mo­tor­ing.

The truth, as just about any mar­ried per­son will tell you, is that you can’t be charm­ing and wrong.

Min­nesota third base­man Josh Don­ald­son got run re­cently for beef­ing about calls, and he pointed out, “There is no rep­ri­mand, no ac­count­abil­ity” for umps who do a horse­bleep job on balls and strikes. Don­ald­son is wrong. There are eval­u­a­tions, and grades, and prob­a­bly rep­ri­mands. But they are se­cret, giv­ing the im­pres­sion that bad calls sim­ply dis­ap­pear.

Shows us the grades! Ev­ery­one else in the game gets eval­u­ated con­stantly and pub­licly, why not the umps? You want us to en­joy the hu­man side of the umps, let us see it.

And how about an um­pire bullpen? The ump blows four ball­strike calls? Hit the show­ers, Meat.

The Chronicle

Wilt Cham­ber­lain, shown in a San Fran­cisco War­riors pa­rade in the 1960s, faced way more crit­i­cism than LeBron James.

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