After two wonderful weeks of vacation, The Back Nine comes at you with a deep tan and a new appreciation for the generosity of others. And not just the owner of the Miami Heat.
10. All of this talk about millions here and millions there kind of leaves you mind-boggled. I have no problem with LeBron James making the decision he did. Was the one-hour special way over the top? Of course it was. It was ESPN, peeps. Everything is over the top at ESPN. Was the celebration of Miami Thrice over the top? Of course it was. But it’s Miami, peeps. Everything is over the top in Miami. Is James a narcissistic, self-absorbed person? Of course he is. He’s an ELITE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE! Almost all of them are full of themselves. The only real problem I have with the whole deal is that James should have had the guts to call Dan Gilbert, the Cleveland owner, and tell him personally. But that doesn’t mean Gilbert should have fired off that letter to Cavs fans calling James a coward and guaranteeing a title before the Heat wins one. That’s not happening. You know, I think if I was a big sports fan and lived in Cleveland and had been through all of the tough losses and near-misses I would, well, I would move.
11. I want to root against the Heat. I really do. I want to negative root against them. I really do. But now it looks like they could end up with three former Florida players including two of my favorite guys to cover in Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller along with Jason Williams. How can I root against that? Meanwhile, another former UF player cashed in when David Lee went to Golden State for a mere $80 million. Again, mind-boggled. The only bad thing is we won’t hear much from Lee playing for the Warriors. And is there any doubt that when the NBA schedule comes out the Christmas Day game will be Miami at Cleveland?
12. Really, on the scale of bad guys in this whole thing I might put Jesse Jackson at the top. In a bid to become relevant again, he shot off his mouth saying Gilbert’s comments showed the owner was treating James like a runaway slave. Come again? I’m going out on a limb here but I’m guessing there were no millionaire slaves in their day. And their images weren’t plastered on billboards. That’s just dummy. Gilbert was wrong, but Jackson is more wrong. What is really mind-boggling is that almost 10 million of you watched “The Decision.” Really?
13. Of course, the Back Nine has no room to talk because I sat in front of the TV for more than two hours and watched a World Cup final when I didn’t care which team won. Raise your hand if you nodded off during the game. Me too. Every four years soccer is a big deal in America and then it goes away. The bottom line to soccer-mania — if you liked soccer before the World Cup, you still like it. If you didn’t like it before the World Cup, you still don’t like it. Nothing has changed. Personally, I would have rather watched Kentucky-Vanderbilt football than that soccer match. Actually, I’d have rather watched a good foosball game.
14. Saturday was the 16th Bob Dooley Invitational and the Back Nine wants to thank everyone who helped make it the best one yet. We were so happy to raise money again for STOP! Children’s Cancer. The item that raised the most money in the silent auction, and here’s a shocker, was a framed and signed poster-sized Sports Illustrated cover from Florida’s most recent national title. Thanks to No. 15 for signing it. We also had a pair of Erin Andrews’ shoes she wore on “Dancing With the Stars.” This is where it gets special. My little girl really wanted them but her cheap dad wasn’t going to pay $100 for worn shoes even if they were signed. She hovered around them hoping her bid would hold up but it didn’t. And then Scott Pifer and Paulette Hahn stepped in with a huge bid. They won the shoes … then gave them to Kelsey. As we told her, that’s a pay-it-forward moment. Thanks again to every sponsor, golfer and volunteer. You all rock.
15. As do my Atlanta Braves. I can’t believe we are at the All-Star break and they have a four-game lead and the best record in the National League. This is the same team that lost nine straight early in the season. I still don’t know how they are doing it (although it helps to be in the NL where one team has a winning road record) but maybe it’s just that they are playing that much harder in Bobby Cox’s final season. Now we find out if the Braves are serious about winning this thing. Because they need another bat. If they try to get by with what they have, I’m afraid the postseason drought will continue. Step up, ownership. Cox deserves that.
16. SEC Media Days is next week and there will be one change. Instead of bringing two players, each team will bring three. This was decided by the coaches in Destin, which is a little surprising because you don’t think of them as wanting to do more for the media as a rule. But the coaches felt it would make their decisions about who to bring easier if they had three choices instead of two. Good. Good for us. We’re only eight days away from the start of football season because to me it starts when we go to Hoover, Ala. By the way, Florida’s threesome will be Justin Trattou, Mike Pouncey and Ahmad Black.
17. By the way, unlike Michael Vick, my dad made his own tournament.
18. The iPod got a workout on vacation and it’s ready for some new downloads. Try “To The Sea” by Jack Johnson, “King of the Beach” by Wavves and for old-schoolers “Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays.