Tag Archives: basketball

How Do You Say That?

In honor of tonight’s NCAA Men’s basketball final between Louisville and Michigan, don’t you think it’s about time to revisit Southwestern Oklahoma – home to some of the best small school basketball teams – and make sure we know how to pronounce those town names?  Just in case you’re wondering how to pronounce the capital of Kentucky, it is pronounced, “FRANK-fort”.

Red Dirt Kelly gave birth to the Red Dirt Chronicles just a few short years ago. Since that time she has posted Red Dirt trivia questions on Facebook about all things related to Oklahoma. My favorite trivia questions are the ones that focus on Oklahoma places. When it comes to Oklahoma place names, the trivia can include more than just location, it might even pull out the old “how do you pronounce . . .” routine. As Jeff Foxworthy might say: “You might be from Oklahoma if you know how to say ‘Gotebo’, ‘Hobart’, ‘Eufaula’, Oologah, or Skiatook.”

Southwestern Oklahoma has its fair share of names that make you either grin or raise an eyebrow before attempting to say them. Go pack a snack now, and a tall glass of sweet iced tea, and we’ll take us a little road trip around Southwestern Oklahoma and discover some of these places. Leave your GPS devices at home for this trip – just pick up a copy of the free map of Oklahoma that the tourism department provides. It’ll save you a hundred bucks or so, and give you a better idea of where you are going.

Driving along US 62, halfway between Altus and Lawton, there is that sign that says “Gotebo –>”. Gotebo is one of those place names that exposes the non-Oklahoma roots of weather reporters. Very few know that it sounds just the way it is spelled, “go-tee-bo” with all long vowels. Gotebo is located in Kiowa County, at the junction of State Highways 9 and 54. It was founded around 1901 and has a current population of 226.

Northwest of Gotebo is Retrop. Some may wonder where this strange name came from, but it is quite simple, really. Spell it backwards and you have the surname of the first family to settle in Retrop. When the town applied for a post office, they discovered there was a town in Indian Territory named “Porter”. When word came back to Retrop about Porter, the forefathers said, “Let’s just spell it backwards.” Retrop is located on the Washita/Beckham county line, along State Highway 6, not too far down the road from Sentinel.

Up the road a ways from Retrop are two towns located a few miles apart on either side of State Highway 54, and nearly always paired together on the highway signs. Corn and Colony are their names. I’m not sure if they grow corn in Corn, or if any colonists remain in Colony, but I do know that one has family ties to John Denver. Continue reading How Do You Say That?

Call Me Commish

Acting as Commissioner of a professional sports league cannot be an easy job.  It requires business savvy, knowledge of the law, negotiating skills, and the ability to wade through piles of criticism while maintaining a tough, confident appearance.  Most of the job responsibilities aren’t glamorous, and the hours are long.  Commissioners are rarely praised and often vilified.  For the most part, I think the four Commissioners, David Stern (NBA), Roger Goodell (NFL), Bud Selig (MLB), and Gary Bettman (NHL), do a pretty decent job.  But every fan wonders what it would be like to be in charge.  We’d all love to take the ownership reigns of our favorite team for a week, but how does one attempt to change an entire league?  Well, like this for starters.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Is anyone else tired of talking about the same players and the same teams over and over? (courtesy bumpshack.com)

The first thing I’d address as NBA Commissioner is what I like to call the “redundancy factor.”  The league’s biggest problem is that 75 percent of its teams are almost irrelevant.  This is a league that revolves around seven or eight franchises at the most.  The conversation, the media, and the telecasts, focus on these so-called elite teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Mavericks, Heat, and Magic.  The rest of the league is barely worth talking about and that has to change.  The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has to close for the NBA to become an all-around better product, because when only a few teams have an actual shot to win a title before the season even starts, then why is the regular season interesting?  Where’s the drama?  Right now, we’re all just biding our time until the playoffs start.  In my mind, the best way to solve this problem is contraction.  I know it’s a dirty word, but it’s time.  Too many small market teams (Milwaukee, Utah, Sacramento) acquire star players only to see them bolt in a couple years for one of the big cities.  The teams that can hold onto stars are eventually forced to trade them away because the players have too much power (i.e. Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams).  Getting rid of six teams would help bring the league back into a better competitive balance.  Talent wouldn’t be spread so thin, and increased parity is the result.  In other words, a more interesting, compelling NBA than what we have right now.  It gives me no pleasure to do it, but I’m taking the ax to these teams:

Continue reading Call Me Commish

A Fan’s Manifesto – Winning Cures All

Al Davis' motto is all this fan is asking of his teams (courtesy footballnewsnow.com)

Just win baby.

The famous motto of Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis is somewhat ironic considering the Raiders do everything but win.  However, those three little words perfectly describe how almost every American sports fan feels about his or her team.

I am a fan just like you and frankly, I’m sick and tired of the expectations that are placed on me.  I don’t need to hear another coach, player, owner, executive, or media member call me out for not being supportive.  Here’s how this works: You (the team) create a successful product, and then I show up.  I’m not going to show up if there’s nothing in it for me.  Selfish?  You betcha.  Wrong?  Nope.

There’s no way athletic directors Joe Castiglione and Mike Holder enjoy seeing thousands of empty seats at Lloyd Noble and Gallagher-Iba, but the fan is the last person I’m going to blame for those arenas looking no better than junior high gyms.  Nobody is expecting Oklahoma to turn into a basketball crazed state anytime soon.  That being said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Sooners and Cowboys to make the NCAA tournament four out of every five seasons.  These are schools with a decent amount of basketball tradition.  They are big-time universities with big bucks coming from big boosters trying to get into a tournament that’s anything but exclusive.  If Jeff Capel and Travis Ford can’t give me something to look forward to, then why should I pay through the nose to watch a team hoping to sneak into the NIT?

Good economy or down economy, fan dollars are stretched thin.  If I have to pick and choose carefully, why am I going to pick a loser?  Some claim the Thunder is taking dollars away from the college basketball teams in this state.  I think that’s right, but it’s not because of over saturation in the market.  One team is on the rise and sells out; the other teams flounder around .500 and hear crickets during home games.  Fans will go see a winning product, period.

Continue reading A Fan’s Manifesto – Winning Cures All

Griffin Is Good, But Is He A Superstar?

We all knew this was coming.  We could see it when he was at that small, Christian high school in Edmond winning four straight state championships.  We witnessed him match up against the best collegiate talent in the country as he left us breathless and led the Sooners to the Elite Eight.  Those of us in Oklahoma have known for years what the entire world is beginning to understand…Blake Griffin is pretty good.

No team has found a way to stop Griffin from getting to the rim (courtesy sportsjury.com)

Kobe and Lebron are the faces of the NBA, but this season, no player is hogging more highlight time than Griffin.  The Clippers power forward is good for at least one jaw-dropping dunk per night and as a rookie, he’s already being mentioned among names like Karl Malone and Tim Duncan.  Griffin may not be a superstar yet, but that day is coming soon.  To those that say Griffin is overrated (you know who you are Skip Bayless), stop for a second to consider the evidence.

Through 41 games, Griffin is putting up 22.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.  Wednesday night against Minnesota, he finally snapped a streak of 27 straight games with a double-double.  If you want to put Griffin’s numbers in perspective, he’s the only rookie in 25 years to record a double-double streak of 20 or more games.  Shaq never achieved those numbers.  Neither did Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan.  Only eight players in NBA history have averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds in their rookie seasons.  If Griffin keeps up his pace, he’ll be in a select club with household names like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, and David Robinson.

Continue reading Griffin Is Good, But Is He A Superstar?

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not too late.  There’s still time to pick up a few things for your kids.  And no, I’m not talking about the Wii controller, the latest Xbox game, the flatscreen TV, or the new laptop.  I’m talking about the gifts that will make memories for years; the gifts your kids will really appreciate when they get older.

Memory Makers

My best presents weren’t the Legos or the Gameboy or the sweatshirt.  As I look back on my childhood Christmases, my favorite gifts were the ones that forced me outside.  I remember the Nerf football, spongy and shining out of the box, that survived hundreds of sessions of pick-up football in the cul-de-sac until finally it was nothing more than a bare block of foam.  It’s paint gone from all those incompletions scraping off the asphalt, it’s shape altered by the times the neighbor’s dog got a hold of it.

I remember the hockey sticks for my brother and the goalie pads for me.  Gifts that turned our driveway into an imaginary rink.  Gifts that transformed my brother into the overtime goal scorer, and me into the netminder who preserved a shutout with his spectacular glove save.  Believe it or not, that hockey gear is still in my parents’ garage, and still gets use from time to time.  Simple gifts that gave me my favorite times with my brother and inspired in me a love of hockey that I still possess today.

Continue reading The Gifts That Keep On Giving