It&aposs happened to all of us. Someone sends you a mean tweet, or stuffs a cruel note in your locker or writes a lengthy email calling into question the way you&aposve run a major sports franchise for the better part of 16 years. Most of us are smart/sane/sentient enough to let these petty indignities roll off our backs. But most of us aren&apost James Dolan.
Yes, the oft-criticized CEO of Cablevision, the New York Knicks and (presumably) blues-rock band JD & the Straight Shot is once again in the news, this time for ripping into a fan that had the temerity to question Dolan&aposs leadership of the team.
Seems Dolan was on the receiving end of a harsh (though not entirely unfair) email from a longtime Knicks supporter who took particular umbrage with his failure to hire Steve Kerr as head coach this offseason. Instead, Kerr ended up with the Golden State
Warriors, leading them to a league-best 40-9 record, while the Knicks have sunk to a 10-41 mark under the guidance of Derek Fisher (Sidenote: GOOD CHOICE, STEVE). The email&aposs author identified only as filmmaker Aaron Bierman&aposs father went on to say, “As a Knicks fan for in excess of 60 years, I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks. Sell them so their fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction.”
Given that he runs two despised institutions in New York City Cablevision is definitely the Knicks of cable providers you&aposd think Dolan would have developed a thick skin by now. After all, no matter what Taylor Swift tells you, the official motto of NYC is “You Suck.” Turns out, his hide is thinner than Amar&apose Stoudemire&aposs knee cartilage. Here&aposs Dolan&aposs reply, in full:
You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am.just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting.for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.
Now, even if you choose to ignore his colossal miscalculations on everyone from Jerome James and Eddy Curry to Isiah Thomas and Mike D&aposAntoni, or overlook that one time he wrote a song called “Under That Hood” about Trayvon Martin, then booked his band to open for the Eagles at Madison Square Garden, you can&apost deny this email is proof that judgment isn&apost exactly Dolan&aposs strong suit. In that regard, it&aposs a lapse on par with Cavs&apos owner Dan Gilbert&aposs infamous “Open Letter” to fans following LeBron James&apos departure in 2010 the byproduct of a bruised ego turning blue with rage. Though, as is the case with most things Dolan does, there&aposs also a vindictive, cartoonish level of villainy to the whole thing. He wants his detractor to know he&aposs not only better off without him, but he&aposs better than him, too.
Maybe it&aposs the way he accuses a lifelong Knicks fan of being an alcoholic, then signs the email “Respectfully.” Or how he transfers his own weakness a reported addiction to drugs onto someone else, then holds his triumph over that weakness above their head. Perhaps it&aposs when Dolan dismisses a complete stranger with the old “What have you ever done with your life?” refrain, when his greatest accomplishment is being the son of the guy who founded Cablevision.
Is Dolan merely projecting his own insecurities? Or is he actually an awful person? Probably both. The irony of this entire situation is, had he just chosen to ignore the email a tack he (or one of his assistants) presumably takes on the hundreds of similar messages he no doubt receives on a daily basis we wouldn&apost be having this discussion at all. But now, Dolan&aposs latest mistake is out there for the world to see, and like the Carmelo Anthony contract, it&aposs not going away any time soon.
Here&aposs definitive proof he&aposs not only the worst owner in the NBA, he&aposs the league&aposs worst person the petty, petulant, mean-spirited son of a billionaire who possesses paper-thin skin, a tenuous grasp on reality and an outsize ego. Oh, and he writes like a five year old.
I say that respectfully, of course.
Local Patriots fans may not be jumping on Super Bowl LII tickets the way Philly fans are, but they are certainly eager to see top-notch concerts heading their way. Upcoming Boston area concerts from Billy Joel and Elton John trailed the Super Bowl to claim the No. 2 and 3 spots on yesterdays Top 20 best-seller list.
Johns October 6 gig at Bostons TD Garden was just one of 13 shows of his Farewell tour to appear on the list. Other shows to make the cut include Ed Sheeran in Atlanta and The Misfits.
Concerts from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bon Jovi and Luke Bryan also appeared within the Top 10.
Click on any of the links below to find tickets to the best-selling events, orvisit ticketclub.com to search for any other upcoming events and find tickets with no service fees for members.
Ticket Club Top 20 Best-Selling Events January 31, 2018
Super Bowl LII: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, February 04, 2018 at US Bank Stadium Minneapolis, MN)
Billy Joel (Friday, August 10, 2018 at Fenway Park Boston, MA)
Elton John (Saturday, October 06, 2018 at TD Garden Boston, MA)
Elton John (Friday, October 19, 2018 at Madison Square Garden New York, NY)
Elton John (Monday, October 15, 2018 at Van Andel Arena Grand Rapids, MI)
Lynyrd Skynyrd (Saturday, May 05, 2018 at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre At The Florida State Fairgrounds Tampa, FL)
Bon Jovi (Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center Saint Paul, MN)
Luke Bryan & Sam Hunt (Thursday, May 31, 2018 at Rogers Centre Toronto, ON)
Elton John (Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at Amalie Arena Tampa, FL)
Elton John (Friday, November 02, 2018 at Schottenstein Center Columbus, OH)
The Misfits (Saturday, May 19, 2018 at Prudential Center Newark, NJ)
Elton John (Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at Golden 1 Center Sacramento, CA)
Elton John (Saturday, September 22, 2018 at Capital One Arena Washington, DC)
Elton John (Thursday, February 07, 2019 at Pepsi Center Denver Denver, CO)
Elton John (Saturday, October 13, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena Detroit, MI)
Elton John (Saturday, December 08, 2018 at Toyota Center TX Houston, TX)
Ed Sheeran (Saturday, November 10, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, GA)
Elton John (Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at AT&T Center San Antonio, TX)
Elton John (Saturday, December 01, 2018 at Philips Arena Atlanta, GA)
Elton John (Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at XL Center Hartford, CT)
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is already better at this Final Four thing than he was 22 years ago, when he made his first trip to the national semifinals as coach of the Florida Gators.
When Florida beat Boston College in the Elite Eight in 1994, no one with the school was especially prepared. Not administrators, not Kruger and his staff, not the players who had just delivered the first Final Four trip in school history.
“We didn&apost know what we were doing. I saw the Oklahoma players had T-shirts and hats right there on the court. We didn&apost have a T-shirt or a hat,” says former Florida guard Craig Brown, MVP of the East Region in 1994 and now director of operations at the NBA office in Hong Kong. “Nobody had anything prepared for us! We missed out big time. I&aposm pretty sure
Oklahoma cut down both nets [they did], and we only cut down one. I remember sitting in the locker room and thinking, &aposHey, Coach, we&aposre new at this. I think we left one of the nets up.&apos”
The evolution of Kruger into a two net-cutting, repeat Final Four coach is a study in consistency, competitiveness and character.
The bespectacled, 63-year-old Kansas native has been at this for 30 years. He is just 10 victories away from joining the 600-win club, and among active coaches he&aposs 10th in victories and 14th in NCAA Tournament victories. He&aposs tied with John
Calipari and Mark Few with 17 NCAA appearances but now has two more Final Fours than Few.
In fact, for the sake of perspective, here&aposs a list of legendary coaches who only made one Final Four:Lou Carnesecca, Everett Case, Bobby Cremins, Don Haskins, Jud Heathcote, Rick Majerus, Rollie Massimino, Digger Phelps, Norm Sloan and Billy Tubbs.
Kruger, though, isn&apost interested in career validation. In a profession where a lot of men call attention to themselves and their accomplishments, that&aposs simply not the Kruger way. He enjoys the limelight like 8-year-olds enjoy broccoli.
Ask him what it means to return to the biggest spectacle in the college game after two-plus decades (the second-longest gap between trips, behind Hall of Famer Ray Meyer&aposs 36-year drought) and the word “I” never comes out of his mouth.
“The best part is seeing the satisfaction on the players&apos faces,” Kruger says. “Knowing they&aposve done something pretty special, done it together, in support of one another. How excited they are for the days ahead.
“As big as it was in 1994, it&aposs a lot bigger now. It&aposs crazier. There&aposs so much media, so many demands. You don&apost even have time to watch all of the tape you want to watch,” he continues. “But I&aposm so happy for them. They&aposve worked hard and have gratification for a job well done.”
Sooners star Buddy Hield was less than 4 months old when his coach made his first Final Four appearance. Kruger&aposs 1994 team didn&apost have a Hield. It was a more post-oriented team than the perimeter-shooting Sooners of today. Florida had only two players who made more than 30 3-pointers; OU has four, including Hield with a nation-leading 146. The Gators attempted 545 3s; the Sooners have taken 879.
One of the things that has made Kruger successful is his ability to adapt. There&aposs a reason he has taken five schools to the NCAA tournament, one of only two coaches to do so (Tubby Smith is the other). If he has excellent guards, he&aposll spread the floor and create opportunities to drive and kick (Buddy Ball). If he wants to funnel the ball into the post (who remembers
Florida&aposs Dametri Hill and his “Da Meat Hook?”), he has a deep playbook of half-court sets to get the ball to the block.
“The way they playwe slowed it down. Each possession counted,” remembers Brian Thompson, another member of Kruger&aposs Final Four team at Florida. “If I went down and jacked up a 3 I would have been on the bench. This Oklahoma team, they put it up. But in a structured way.”
Thompson, who works in marketing and sales for American Property Restoration in Atlanta, was a high-energy defensive stopper for the Gators, who featured point guard and leading scorer Dan Cross, senior captain and 3-point marksman Brown, Hill and lanky forward Andrew DeClercq. That they&aposre all still in touch is a tribute to Kruger and the comfortable atmosphere he builds everywhere he goes as well as the powerful camaraderie that springs from a run to the Final Four.
“Coach Kruger believes in a family-structured, team atmosphere. Nobody over the team,” Thompson says. “We took that to heart. Everybody had a role, and everybody agreed to it. That&aposs why we were so successful. He was so good at making everybody buy in. We had some hotheads, and he got them all to buy in.”
Thompson, who playfully will neither confirm nor deny that he was one of those hotheads, has also seen a more patient side of his former coach emerge with the Sooners.
“I was watching an Oklahoma game this year, and I think it was [Isaiah] Cousins who kicked a ball or threw a ball into the stands and got a technical, and Coach Kruger left him in the game,” Thompson says. “If I&aposd have done that you wouldn&apost have seen me for the next three games.”
Kruger has a hearty laugh when told what Thompson had said.
“There&aposs probably some truth to that,” he says. “We&aposre a little more patient today than we were in 1994.
“I think that&aposs the primary thing we&aposve learned over the years is it&aposs a process. When we started at Pan Am [University in Edinburg, Texas, where Kruger was the coach from 1982 to 1986] we just kind of expected everyone to be enthusiastic every day,” he continues. “But not everyone starts at the same point. Each guy is unique and has to be addressed as such. You&aposre staying positive and upbeat, reinforcing confidence. You work with each guy and help him get to the highest level he can reach.”
He has done that with Hield who raised his scoring average more than 8 points per game this season and was the two-time Big 12 Player of the Year and he did the same for Brown 22 years ago. Brown was an underappreciated shooting guard out of Steelton, Pennsylvania, who probably would have played at St. Bonaventure had it not been for a late offer to be part of Kruger&aposs first recruiting class in Gainesville.
Brown remembers Kruger as knowing which buttons to push and when. He recalled a home game from midway through the 1994 season against Mississippi State, which entered 13-4 and was just two years away from a surprising Final Four run of its own. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 12-0 lead. The Gators were clearly out of sorts. Kruger, not one to use timeouts hastily, called a halt to the action.
“I&aposm expecting him to blast us,” Brown sys. “I&aposm expecting him to really get into us. He grabs the dry-erase board and draws a big smiley face. He was just trying to take the edge off. He said, &aposCount to 10, take a deep breath, we&aposll be OK.&apos He trusted that it would all come together.”
It did. The Gators won 84-75 and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed after losing to Kentucky in the SEC tournament championship game.
Florida struggled with No. 14 seed James Madison in the first round, but that struggle really made things click. They disposed of Penn in the second round then had the good fortune to go to Miami for the regional semis and final. With a throng of Gators fans in South Florida, Kruger&aposs bunch upset No. 2 seed Connecticut in overtime in the Sweet 16, then zipped past Boston College thanks largely to three consecutive 3-pointers by Brown in a key stretch late in the second half.
The last of the trio of triples came off a wrinkle suggested in a timeout by assistant coach R.C. Buford, now the general manager of the San Antonio Spurs. Kruger liked the idea, and Brown and his teammates executed it to perfection.
Buford spent only the one season at Florida, but it left an indelible mark on a man who has been part of five NBA world championship teams since, four as GM, and was the NBA Executive of the Year in 2014.
“I enjoyed my time working for Lon as much as any time in my basketball career,” Buford says. “He&aposs so consistent and his message is always clear. They&aposve done an outstanding job building the program at Oklahoma, and their players have clearly grown.
“Lon is one of the most respected coaches in college basketball.”
Brown says he&aposs forever indebted to Kruger.
“It&aposs awesome to see him going back to the Final Four,” he says. “It&aposs just a credit to him and his ability to coach and to adjust to today&aposs players.
“What people don&apost understand about him, what the media gets completely wrong [is] they see the image of this quiet guy who doesn&apost yell or stomp around, but they don&apost understand how competitive he is. He&aposll twist up his lip, get this little scowl when you&aposre not executing. Certain playersthat works for them. It worked for me. I could have gone a few other places coming out of high school. Choosing Florida and coach Kruger is still the best decision I have ever have made in my life. I&aposm blessed to have had that experience with him and my teammates.”
Now Kruger will lead another group into what surely will be the time of their lives. He will ensure they are well prepared to take on Villanova, but he also will make time for them to soak up all of the opportunities that this week provides
“In 1994, we probably thought this might happen occasionally, not knowing how difficult this was,” Kruger says. “We&aposll make sure they share it with family and friends. The really great part is the memories they&aposre going to have for a lifetime.
“You don&apost stop to think [that you might not return to the Final Four]. But gosh, it&aposs so difficult. There are so many good teams. Things have to go well, bounce your way on occasion,” he continues. “Our team this timewe didn&apost play any upset winners. We played the teams we expected to have to play all the way through. That makes it even more gratifying. There weren&apost any shortcuts.”
Kruger isn&apost growing wistful or waxing nostalgic. He&aposs in his element, but there are no coaching slouches making the trek to Houston. North Carolina&aposs Roy Williams has won two national titles, and Syracuse&aposs Jim Boeheim has one.
Kruger has a team that can win it all, but it will take playing just as well for two games as it has in its previous four. It&aposs potentially a career-defining moment for the coach, but that&aposs not something he&aposs buying into.
“My life is not going to change a lot in terms of happiness and things I enjoy and people we surround ourselves with if we cut the nets down on Monday night,” Kruger says. “It would be nice to be a part of that group that&aposs recognized and actually would be the only team ever to do it in Oklahoma basketball history. From that standpoint I&aposd be proud to be associated with this group because it has been special.”
Kruger expects a large contingent of fans clad in Crimson and Cream to be in Houston to root on the Sooners. He can rest assured some guys who used to wear Orange and Blue will be pulling for him, too.
Billy Joel will receive the Library of Congress&apos Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which, each year, honors the career of one musician and their dedication to “promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations.”
9 Things We Learned About Billy Joel at Howard Stern&aposs Town Hall
“The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career,” Joel said in a statement. “And the Librarys decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.” Joel will receive the award in Washington D.C. this November, and will be honored with a number of events, including a luncheon and musical performance.
Over his 50-year career, Joel has penned countless hits and racked up plenty of Grammy awards, honing his piano-playing skills and knack for melody and poignant storytelling along the way. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.”
Previous recipients of the Gershwin Prize include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David. Last year, Carole King became the first woman to receive the honor.
While the Gershwin Prize marks yet another huge achievement for Joel, the piano man himself has no intention of slowing down any time soon. Earlier this year, he launched a one-of-a-kind residency at Madison Square Garden, promising to play the arena once a month for the indefinite future; and back in May, he released his famous 1987 performance in the Soviet Union as a CD/DVD set, A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia.
During a recent chat with Rolling Stone, Joel discussed ideas for upcoming live shows including concerts that mixed performances of entire albums with various rarities and promised he had no plans to retire anytime soon.”I did an interview, I think with an Australian newspaper,” Joel recalled. “I said I&aposd consider retiring if I didn&apost think I could do it well anymore. I never said I intended to retire. I never said, &aposI&aposm gonna hang it up.&apos I was just kind of wondering, &aposGee, I wonder what happens when a musician gets to a point where he realizes he&aposs not as good as he used to be?&apos That turned into &aposBilly Joel May Retire After His Next Gigs.&apos I just want to put those rumors to rest because people keep asking me if I&aposm going to retire. . . I just love the game too much to not play it well.”
Jake Gyllenhaal is on a roll. Onscreen in Nightcrawler, Enemy and Prisoners, and onstage in Constellations, Little Shop of Horrors and If There Is I Haven&apost Found It Yet, he shows the kind of versatility and commitment that should have won him prizes. The awards didn&apost materialize, but it&aposs just a matter of time. Maybe it&aposll be for Southpaw, a retro, in-your-face fight drama that dribbles into sappiness. Much, though far from all, is redeemed by Gyllenhaal&aposs virtuoso performance.
The actor, 34, trained for four months and gained 15 pounds of muscle to play light-heavyweight champ Billy Hope. But the externals scars, tattoos and slurred voice don&apost begin to suggest the emotional depths Gyllenhaal brings to the part of a bruiser on the ropes.
Billy is at the top of his game, but constant jabs have left him punchy. His wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), wants him to slow down and enjoy their 11-year-old daughter, Leila (a feisty Oona Laurence). Maureen is way more than lacquered hair, nails and spray tan. She and Billy were raised in Hell&aposs Kitchen orphanages. McAdams, strong and smoldering, is explosively good.
Spoiler alert: Her role is shortened when Maureen is involved in a shooting accident sparked by Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez), a fighter who thinks he can goad Billy into taking him on for high stakes.
Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), working from an overcooked screenplay by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), knows he&aposs not in the same ring with Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby and The Fighter, though the script unblushingly mooches from each of them. Still, Fuqua shuffles the tools of the genre with genuine flair. As tragedy lands Billy in the pits of desperation, poverty and child-custody battles, Fuqua shifts focus from Billy&aposs crooked agent (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) to a trainer-savior, Tick Wills (the expert Forest Whitaker), who teaches Billy a new fighting style that doesn&apost involve stopping punches with his head.
The powerful boxing scenes, vividly shot from Madison Square Garden to Vegas by Mauro Fiore and edited by John Refoua, help distract from the father-daughter scenes that outdo The Champ (the Wallace Beery original and the Jon Voight remake) for gooey sentiment. Amazingly, Gyllenhaal never cheats on his character&aposs sense of dignity. Against the odds, he keeps you in Billy&aposs corner. That&aposs a champ.