BENSONHURST-At the beginning of 6th grade, my teacher Mr. Catania, asked us to write a review of whichever new TV show was our favorite that Fall. Mr. Catania was one of the few male teachers at P.S.186Q. He was fastidious, prone to temper tantrums, hyperbole, and at age 45 a “confirmed bachelor.” So this assignment was a bit out of character for him to give. I anxiously wrote my review that evening at home.
If it had been a year earlier, I would undoubtedly have written about Steve Austin–the $6M man. This was nearly 40 years before guys like Ruben Tejada became $6M men. But that Fall, my favorite new show was called “Welcome Back Kotter!” The characters on the show were hysterical, and included Mr. Catania’s one-time companion John Travolta. The entire cast was crazy-with one exception. Mr. Kotter’s (Gabe Kaplan) wife was played by Marcia Strasman, and I loved her. She was pretty, easy going and laughed at all of Kotter’s jokes. She brought normalcy to the Sweathogs and the closing scenes every week with her and Kaplan were classic. Strasman passed away this weekend, and I wanted to give her the honor she always sought-an appearance in an FSA column.
Speaking of the 4th largest city in America, I’d like to present a few of my opening thoughts about tomorrow’s start of the 2014-15 NBA season for our locals and a few others, beginning in the County of Kings.
The Nets will be better coached this year by virtue of relieving Jason Kidd of his duties. Kidd was probably the best true point guard I ever saw in 40 years of watching college and pro hoops. But he’s no coach; and is a pretty rotten guy too. Who treats his beautiful wife Jumanji that way? Nets will be below .500 and will fail to make the watered-down playoffs in the East.
The Knicks, led by Big Chief triangle and first time Coach Derek Fisher will experience big time growing pains. The team will be better than last year’s based on losing fat boy (apologies to Antoine Joubert) with a 9 Raymond Felton. Also gone is perhaps the single most overrated player in team sports history-Tyson Chandler. Chandler has this Defense rep that never seems to die in spite of the fact that he shows up and plays hard about 5 times a year. Out of 82 games. Carmelo Anthony will start resisting the structure of the Triangle in January when he realizes his shot volume is down and other guys get to shoot also. Mike Woodson is no longer here. Carmelo will realize this during the Christmas Day matinee. In spite of the Triangle growing pains I have the ‘Bockers going 43-39 with a late season push. I expect Iman Shumpert to thrive with the Triangle better than anyone since Tracy Partridge.
LeBron James is the only Big Game James around, and I expect a similar season to his first with Miami back in 2010-11. With Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and LBJ forming the “new Big 3,” the Cavs will win 57 games or so, and get close, but no championship for the mistake on the western side of the lake-yet.
The Heat will be ordinary-as will the overrated Chicago Bulls.
The Indiana Pacers-losers of Lance Stephenson (free agency) Paul George (injury) and Roy Hibbard (disappeared in postseason last year) might be scrappy enough to win 40 games. No more. Consider their “window” shut.
The Spurs will bore the crap out of us with their hideous uniforms, Pop‘s ugly face, and Kawhi Leonard‘s MVP season and win the NBA title. Again. This time vs. Eastern Conference champion Cleveland. The Spurs are the San Francisco Giants of the NBA.
And what would an FSA column be without a rip job of the New York Mets? Joe Maddon, one of baseball’s best managers is currently free to negotiate with any team in Baseball. (Real) Sandy Alderson and Sy Sperling, Fred’s son (whom I chased out of the Scobee Diner one Winter night in 1981) both have stated the Mets have their manager. The Mentally challenged puppet Terry Collins. He’s their manager because he’s the lowest paid Manager in the Big leagues. In “Moneyball,” the fake organizational philosophy to which Sandy and his minions owe their lives, marginalizes the role and utility of the field manager. The General Manager sets the organizational philosophy and direction and the field manager is to simply parrot what the GM says and does. Ergo…Terry Collins.
We’ll resume our NBA discussions in February-when Football is safely over and there’s nothing else to watch.