Bryant Gumbel: Self-absorbed Gasbag

Bryant Gumbel strikes me as the type of self-righteous, smug jackass that drove you crazy in grade school. You know, the one who went out of his way to cause an uproar just so he could plop himself right in the middle of the firestorm? The kind that will do anything to be the center of attention. Hey, look at me!

Gumbel’s program, HBO’s “Real Sports,” is exceptional. The monthly sports news magazine delves into the issues away from the playing fields, out of the glare of the stadium lights. Gumbel is an articulate, thorough journalist whose pieces have always provided excellent insight.

Which makes his comments about NBA commissioner David Stern and his alleged strong-arm tactics during the current lockout that much more puzzling:

“Stern’s version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s [modus operandi], like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.”

Woah, Bryant. Now granted, Stern reportedly has a pretty solid reputation for being patronizing, for not letting people forget that he calls the shots at the top of the NBA food chain. The Captain Queeg of Fifth Avenue.

But to compare Stern’s hard-line stand against the players’ union and slavery? C’mon, man. What the hell were you thinking?

As a journalists, when trying to draw a parallel, there are certain words, phrases, and subject matter you avoid at all costs. Gumbel simply hiked up his pants and trampled through that verbal minefield.

Gumbel has long since lost his sports-journalism fastball. I would hope he didn’t feel his little diatribe was the perfect tool to kick himself back into the mainstream. If he did, shame on him.

*****

The Bruins’ 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Thursday night showed lots of promise. The team has been spinning its wheels through the first two weeks of the NHL season, stuck in the muck of a interminable Stanley Cup hangover. Milan Lucic admitted as much the other day, saying he wasn’t mentally prepared for the start of the season after a summer spent celebrating the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup since 1972.

But it’s time to move on. Every team in the NHL has their matchup against Boston circled on the calendar. It’s a tired cliché, but every team guns for the champs. It’s as true in hockey as it is in any other sport. The time has come to shake off the rust and get back to the point of playing the type of hockey that helped put them in position to raise the Cup in the first place.

Thursday’s win was a step in the right direction.

*****

In a recent radio interview on Boston’s 98.5 FM The Sports Hub, Red Sox owner John Henry and said he has never been “in bed” with LeBron James, who is represented by Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. That’s good to know. LBJ’s mother, however, was unavailable for comment.

*****

I don’t care if you promised it would be the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever tasted. There’s not a chance in hell that I’ll be sticking a spoon into a pint of Schweddy Balls, the new flavor by Ben & Jerry’s. Yeah, I know it’s named after a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin. What’s next, Toe Jam Toffee and Ring Worm Raspberry Swirl?

*****

In the hours after his death, Moammar Khadafy’s body was being stored in a commercial freezer in a strip mall as Libyan authorities figured out where he could be buried. Probably not the triumphant ending he envisioned.

*****

You tell me, what’s more appalling: That ticket prices to see David Cassidy in Boston next weekend have been slashed from $75 to $37.50, or that David Cassidy is still deriving an income by strumming a guitar before a collection of starstruck 50-somethings.

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