It's only June, but CBS's Dick Stockton has all but locked up one of SI TV writer William Taaffe's coveted Heidi Awards for worst TV commentary of 1986.
Stockton launched his misguided missile last Thursday when the Houston Rockets' Ralph Sampson was ejected from Game 5 of the NBA finals for fighting. Not only did Stockton object to Sampson's being thrown out, arguing that the importance of a big series should somehow bestow immunity on major players, but he also blamed Sampson's ejection on the Celtics' Jerry Sichting. It was Sichting who was elbowed and punched twice by Sampson.
Here's a sampling of Stockton's remarks: "A player can bait a player, can nudge a player, can make him lose his temper.... The question is, what is it all about when, whatever the skirmish is, a 6'1" backup guard gets one of the stars of the other club thrown out of the ball game?... I don't think you throw out a guy in a championship series after that kind of an incident."
Stockton has since recanted, saying that he was "premature in judging the situation" and that there was "no defense for not throwing Sampson out." Indeed, referee Jack Madden, who ejected Sampson, should be lauded for sending a clear message to NBA players that fighting will not be tolerated.
ARC + TOUCH = TWO POINTS
When we last visited Brooklyn College physics professor Peter J. Brancazio (SCORECARD, April 25, 1983), he had determined that baseball players chase down fly balls by ear as much as by eye. But Brancazio has also devoted much of his scientific attention to the shooting of a basketball. With the eight-month NBA season finally over, we pass on his shooting tips for those who might want to sharpen their game over the summer.
According to Brancazio, who studied thousands of shots and originally published his theories in the American Journal of Physics, a shot is more likely to go in if propelled softly (so it won't carom too far off the backboard or rim) and in a high arc (to take full advantage of the 18-inch diameter of the hoop). A 20-foot jumper, he says, launched at a 49-degree angle toward the basket is seven times more likely to go in than the same shot put up in a flatter, 43-degree trajectory. Backspin helps too, Brancazio contends, by slowing the ball down when it hits the rim or backboard.
So head for that playground, lace up the sneaks and don't forget your physics.
HOW NOT TO MAKE THE PUTOUT
Blue Jay second baseman Damaso Garcia responded to a tough loss recently by taking off his uniform top and cap, dousing them with alcohol and setting them on fire in the clubhouse bathroom. At the time of the incident, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, as part of a joint fire-safety campaign with the Blue Jays, had just released a Garcia baseball card with fire-prevention tips on the back.
IN THIS CORNER, GEORGE FOREMAN?