Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger went in search of someone – anyone – who could or would say something nice about Andrew Bynum, and what better place to go than St. Joseph of Metuchen, where Bynum played two years of high school basketball before being drafted into the NBA.
Unfortunately for Dave (and perhaps more-so, Bynum), not even Bynum’s former athletic director and coach could muster up kind words about the worst acquisition in the history of Philadelphia sports: [NJ.com]
"Everyone here at school says the same thing: What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like that?" says St. Joe’s athletic director Jerry Smith. "He went from someone we’re proud of to someone whose name we don’t even mention anymore."
Bynum’s coach during his Falcons years — that would be 2003-05, his junior and senior seasons — sounds as though he is under no urgent obligation to defend him, because he’s gone seven years without even being asked to give an assessment of any kind about his former center.
"Yeah, I never respond to that kind of request, because Andrew has chosen not to stay in touch for whatever reason, so I just don’t get involved with it," says Mark Taylor, who now coaches the St. Benedict's Prep powerhouse. "I don’t dislike him, and he’ll continue to do well if he can stay healthy, but I’m sure he’s got people who will guide him in times like this."
Rarely – if ever – will you read those types of comments from coaches and teachers who watched a star being born. And not that Bynum is under any obligation to do so, but he hasn’t exactly given back to his school or its students:
Smith said he once took a busload of kids to a Nets-Lakers game in East Rutherford, and Bynum — reluctantly, he thought — did come out to say hello to the students.
"But he hasn’t exactly been a warm presence," Smith says. "We thought he’d be a lot different, that’s all. We all understand sports figures — wary of people asking for money and all that — but we don’t need money, we raise our own. It would just be nice if he came by now that he’s so close. It would be great for our kids to see him. But I’m not holding my breath."
Full story here.
Sports Betting Updates
One thing we’re not complaining about (thankfully) from Sunday’s game is the replacement officials. Sure, there may have been quite a few holding calls and eyebrow raises, but for the most, the newbies did a fine job. Presumably, head linesman Kevin Akin did an equally fine job when he officiated a game in Oklahoma last night between Bethany and Casady… middle schools.
A reader in attendance for a seventh-grade football matchup between Bethany Middle School and Casady in Bethany, Oklahoma reports the referee for tonight's middle school game is none other than Kevin Akin, who served Sunday as head linesman for the Browns-Eagles game and will be working the Broncos-Falcons Monday night game this coming week.
So, this weekend when one of your friends after a few-too-many beers drunkenly exclaims, “What are these, Pop Warner officials?!” you can assure him that they are just that.
Roger Goodell’s NFL, ladies and gentlemen.
As first reported here a few months ago, Malvern Prep will play La Salle College High School at Citizens Bank Park as part of the first ever “High School Holiday Classic.”
Here are the details from Malvern:
The Malvern Prep Varsity Ice Hockey Team will face off against La Salle College High School at Citizens Bank Park in January as part of the NHL's Annual Winter Classic festivities.
The Malvern-La Salle game will take place on Wednesday, January 4, at 5:00 p.m. at the ballpark, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. The game, being dubbed the first annual High School Holiday Classic, will be followed by a college contest between Neumann University and Penn State. The Malvern-La Salle game will be a rematch of last season's Flyers Cup Championship in which La Salle defeated Malvern 3-2 in sudden death overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tickets to the Malvern-LaSalle game will be $10 in advance and $15 at the game. Details will go on sale on the Malvern website in December.
There you have it– more outdoor hockey. Seems like a good spot for my Friars to get revenge on La Salle for the Patrick Kane-like overtime winner in last year’s Flyers Cup final.
Classes start around 11 PM at the Flyers' practice facility in Dry Island Voorhees, N.J.
There’s a tremendous article on Yahoo! (!!!) Sports today about Jaromir Jagr, his work ethic, and influence on teammates. The most interesting part? The Flyers organization has given Jagr a key to the SkateZone so he can work out on his own… late in the evenings:
If they want, his teammates can come, too. Flyers winger Jody Shelley said they have a standing invitation.
“He calls it the ‘Jagr Hockey School,’ ” said Shelley, who has attended some night classes and makes them sound like a graduate course taught by a famous professor. “It’s just extra work, just extra stuff. He just has input on anyone’s game if they’re open for any ideas. He’s just got a lot of things to tell me and talk about. It would have been nice to meet him 20 years ago.”
Jeez, why do I get the sense that Mike Richards wasn't holding late-night self-betterment sessions?
Shelley (of all people) went on to say that Jagr’s presence is beneficial for "every… single… one… of us," indicating that 68 offers his advice to anyone willing to listen.
Enrollment is free and there is a standing invitation to all members of the team to show up for the Jagr Hockey School, presumably so they can learn to have Moves Like Jagr. Claude Giroux hasn’t attended yet, but he will, even though he said Jagr goes “pretty late.”
Chris Pronger told Nicholas Cotsonika of Yahoo! (!!!) that Jagr called him before signing with the Flyers to ask about the Richards and Carter trades, along with the state of the team. Jagr, who was playing in Russia, hadn’t been paying too much attention to the NHL.
So far, Jagr has impressed teammates. Max Talbot:
“He’s the strongest guy in the league on the puck – by far,” said Flyers center Max Talbot, who used to face Jagr as an opponent and doesn’t like to face him in practice now. “I don’t want to hurt myself. He’s that strong.”
Apparently, Jagr also held his late-night workouts while with the Penguins, Rangers, and Capitals, but he always tried to keep them low-key. When asked why a future Hall of Famer would work out on his own late at night, Jagr replied: “Because the ice is free.”
We’re usually pretty snarky here, but occasionally we’ll give credit where it’s due. This morning, Cole and Heidi Hamels were on a bit of a media tour before announcing $200,000 in grants handed out by their foundation to Philadelphia public schools.
Swenson High School received the largest grant, $50,000, which will go towards building a gym that essentially doesn’t exist. The school also hosted a ceremony to announce the other recipients.
Pretty much everyone on the team is involved with some sort of charity, but $200,000 is a substantial sum of money, and, after talking to Cole and Heidi, it’s obvious they spent a lot of time touring the schools to understand their problems.
I know most of you are wondering if doing a bunch of interviews on a game day is a distraction… so I asked him about it. There wasn't really a lot of room for baseball discussion – we were in a high school library surrounded by about 20 people – but here’s a few minutes of Cole and Heidi talking about their charity, Cole’s game-day routine, and even an awkward outtake when Heidi showed up.
I really need something better than an iPhone for this sort of thing- the audio is awful.