The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Let’s turn our problems into solutions….as in can we get Kobe some decent help, please?”

February 20, 2012
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     Regular readers of this column know this column is meant to be a way to view, analyze, and better digest the world we live in by viewing it through the glad prism of Sports.  (That’s why I call it “Sports Philosopher” and not “Sports Reporter”.   I mean a trained monkey can tell you the final score of a game, right?)

     But sometimes, I find, exactly the opposite is true.   Namely, that I find myself using the world around us as a way to view, analyze, and digest what crazy stuff sometimes goes on in Sports.   Works both ways.

     Let’s try that today.   And the question of the day is…..why.

 --Can’t we all just get along?--

--Can’t we all just get along?--


     As in why does KTLA Channel 5 continue to run tickertape news headlines at the bottom of the screen during situation comedies???   You may recall that I wrote about this grotesque phenomenon about a year ago; how I was watching the sit-com “Friends” late one night and I suddenly noticed vulgar, grisly news headlines streaming across the bottom of the TV screen.   And never any good news headlines, rather always the absolute worst slimy discharges of the very dregs of Society.   Well, I hadn’t seen it in months, but just the other day it happened again!

     Here are a few of the news headlines that came across my TV screen one night just last week, while I was trying to lose myself in the youthful, jaunty, madcap misadventures of Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, and the irrepressible Phoebe:

*   Elderly woman says she was strapped to a bomb and ordered to rob a bank….

*   Woman admits faking daughter’s death to get more vacation time….

*   Man trying to sell son on Facebook for $20-million….

*   Drug dog busts Snoop Dogg’s bus….

     I swear, these are the exact news headlines offered me as I tried to lose myself in a sit-com.   I even googled them up later, just to be sure.   They are all true.   (At least the one about a dog drug-busting a human named Dogg for doing drugs is funny….sort of.)

     Anyway, why does KTLA do this to me?   I may be in the minority here, but I really don’t like my comedy to come gift-wrapped with robbery, murder, sodomy, extortion, and graft.   Do you?

     Here’s another big why.   I read an article the other day revealing that it now costs 2.4 cents to make each penny.   That’s right: It costs the U.S. Mint (which means it costs you, the taxpayer) more than twice as much money to produce pennies as they are actually worth.

     Why does the government do this to us?   A measly gumball costs a quarter nowadays, isn’t it about time we gave up the penny altogether and moved crisply into the 21st century?   Might as well give up the nickel too; it costs 11 cents to make one 5-cent piece.   Seriously.

     Every year the U.S. Mint mints over 4 billion pennies and about a billion nickels.   Every year.   And every year the U.S. government thus wastes about 200 million of our dollars in needless production costs that we’ll never get back, in the making of nickels and pennies which have virtually no spending value or utilitarian value whatsoever.

     Which brings us, finally, to Sports.   And similarly, the question of why.

     Let’s focus on just one sport today.   Basketball.   And the why?   Easy.   Why do our own Los Angeles Lakers continue to employ Ron Artest on their basketball team???

Oh, excuse me, I don’t mean Ron Artest, I mean Metta World Peace.   That’s his name.   Ron Artest legally changed his name to Metta World Peace last year.   It actually says WORLD PEACE on the back of his jersey, in place of a real name.   His new first name, Metta, is some sort of Buddhist word that means loving kindness or harmony in all living things or some such thing.   But you already knew all that, right?   What?   You didn’t???   Okay, we’ll pause for a few seconds so you can get your belly laugh out of the way….

     We’re back.

     Please understand, I have nothing against Metta World Peace personally.   Don’t know him, never met him.   He never ran my car off the road or slept with my girlfriend or failed to sign an autograph for my son.  (Come to think of it, I wonder how he signs his name nowadays…)

     But business is business, and basketball is a business.   And Metta has no business taking up a roster spot on the Lakers.

     Forget about Metta’s checkered history of charging into the stands to beat up fans and forget about his admitted drinking during games and his various legal troubles and shooting his mouth off all the time and stuff like that.   Let’s focus on his eroding skills as a basketball player.   Metta was once a fine all-around ballplayer.   As recently as 2010 he was a vital cog in getting the Lakers their last world championship, over the hated evil Celtics no less.   But this year?   It’s ugly.   He’s only playing about 22 minutes per game, a career low.   He scores barely 4 points a game, a career low.   He grabs an average of 2.5 rebounds a game, also a career low.   His shooting percentage is 32%.   Horrible.   His free-throw percentage is 51%.   Which is even more horrible.   But it’s his 3-point-goal shooting percentage which really gets my goat: it’s 19%!   Which means he makes less than one out of every five shots from distance.   I don’t know about you, but if I’m a coach and I have a player on my team that shoots 19% from beyond the arc I tell him, “You are not allowed to shoot a 3-pointer, ever, period, unless the Russians have taken over Staples Center and there is a gun pointed at your head and some crazed Russian colonel is ordering you to do so!”

     Finally, there is Metta’s eroding defensive skills.   He was once one of the better, more annoying one-on-one defenders in the league.   Yet now, Synergy Sports Tech (a respected scouting company whose job it is to rate NBA players’ defensive skills) currently ranks Ron, uh, excuse me, Metta, a mere 192nd in the league in defensive performance.   That’s close to last in the league of all the guys who get any actual serious playing time.   In 2004, he was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year.   He was the best.   Eight long, tiring years later, there are apparently 191 guys who have passed him up.   In other words, his primary value to the Lakers, as a defender, has thus recently been eroded into nothingness by age and/or complacency.

     So he can’t shoot, he can’t defend, and he can’t even get on the court.

     In other words, he’s no good anymore.    

     So then why is he here?   Just for laughs?   I mean the Lakers got rid of Lamar Odom late last year for next to nothing in return, and he’s one of the better, more versatile, more un-guardable, and more valuable role players in this league.   And yet they couldn’t wait to get rid of him.   He’s three times the player Metta is, easily!   So then what makes them want to keep Metta over Lamar—merely the fact that he’s not married to a Kardashian girl and Lamar is?

     It just goes to show ya & shows to go ya, my fellow humans: Inanity in our Human Race is not confined to Sports or entertainment, or even to the federal government.   It’s everywhere.   Mankind’s never-ending epidemic.   Perhaps it has always been so….

     But it has always been the goal of this column to not only identify problems, problems in both the Sports world and in the world at large, but to solve them as well.

     So here are my recommendations for making this world a more sane and sensible place in which to live.    And as the saying goes, it isn’t rocket science:  Channel 5, if you must broadcast gut-churning tickertape news headlines along the bottom of the screen of your TV shows, please do it at the bottom of the screen during gritty depressing dramas, not bouncy, whimsical comedies.   Mr. President, and Mr. Whoever-is-in-charge-of-the-U.S.-mint, please stop wasting 200 million of our tax dollars every year manufacturing obsolete coins we don’t use and can’t spend.   And then take that money and have the 210 Freeway widened for me; you know, as a gesture of good faith.   And finally, to owner Jerry Buss, son Jim Buss, daughter Jeanie, GM Mitch Kupchak, head coach Mike Brown, and any other Lakers executives who might accidentally be reading this, I say to you now I definitely have a solution for the problem of Ron Artest and his new name and loose mouth and lackluster play and divisive disruptive discordant locker-room demeanor clogging up a valuable roster spot….

     Dump him.   And go get us some better players.


meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0022

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered literary giant, and a tireless soldier in the fight against moronic behavior everywhere.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.   His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’.   Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, of triumph, and of utter despair, called WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   And then tell everyone about it.   He thanks you.





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