Sports Nut

The Sports Pages: The Bucs Start Here

A weekly look at the sports commentariat.

After a final skirmish with general manager Jerry Krause, Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd resigned Monday. Floyd, 49-190, leaves with the worst record in NBA coaching history. “This was official confirmation that Krause’s grand plan—implode a dynasty, chase away the greatest player ever, hire a college coach in completely over his head—was one of the most idiotic ideas in professional sports history,” the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti writes. “Why would any sane human being, much less a quality coach with a fine NBA track record, want this job as long as Krause is the boss?” The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith finds a single nominee: Bulls assistant coach and former center Bill Cartwright, who actually wants the job. “He’s not the best choice to coach the team. He’s the only choice,” Smith writes.

The Bucs start here: Tampa Bay’s 48-21 win over New Orleans—in which the usually sputtering Bucs offense led 30-0 at halftime—confounds the sports pundit class. The Tampa Tribune’s Mick Elliott urges denial: “Pay no mind to eyewitnesses who swear the Bucs were a shake-rattle-and-rollin’ offensive juggernaut because everybody knows they have spent all season struggling to get out of their own way.”’s Len Pasquarelli issues this torrent: “The Bucs are again proving to be the NFL poinsettia, reaching full flower only when the calendar turns to December and weeks in the season dwindle to a precious few. … [They] charge through December like a thief with a purloined credit card turned loose in a pricey department store.” The Bucs are 12-4 in December games since 1998.

What about the NFL MVP? Let’s start with the quarterbacks, who have won 10 out of the last 14 awards. The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin nominates Kordell Stewart, who ranks no higher than 11th in any major passing category, but has the fewest interceptions and won two big games when Jerome Bettis was injured. St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz calls’sPeter King to lobby for his QB, Kurt Warner, who leads the league in every major passing category. But King points out that Warner has thrown 18 interceptions and played poorly in the Rams’ losses. (King says he’ll vote for Warner or the Raiders’ Rich Gannon.) Click here for’s breakdown of the candidates.

Will Terrell Davis join Drew Bledsoe in the Houston Texans’ backfield? At the end of the season, the Denver Broncos might unload Terrell Davis, the greatest running back in the franchise’s history. The 29-year-old Davis is owed a base salary of $4.7 million next year, and he hasn’t scored a touchdown all season. “History will forever show: Davis rushed for 2,008 yards in 1998 alone,” the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla writes. “But the sad truth is: There might not be another 2,008 yards left in his NFL career.”

Ali is no Ali:’s Bill Simmons says Michael Mann’s film Ali is a superfluous exercise: “Let’s face it … we didn’t really need a full-fledged Hollywood treatment of Ali. We can watch his memorable fights on ESPN Classic, sift through copious features and books (written by many of the finest journalists and writers of his generation, no less), soak in an infinite number of documentaries, and treasure his electric performance in the wondrous ‘When We Were Kings’ (which I will definitely show my grandchildren some day).”

Simmons also ranks the 15 greatest sports DVDs of all time. The list—which includes Rocky IV (“maybe the best-sounding DVD out there”), Rocky III (“Here’s a film that was created for DVD—you can fast-forward through all the dead spots [the awkward beach hug, any close-ups of Apollo’s groin as he’s jogging, Mickey’s funeral, etc.]”), and Days of Thunder (“always a kick to see Nicole Kidman cast as a brain surgeon”)—will make you question his judgment.

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir takes issue with Ali’s portrayal of Howard Cosell. In the upcoming TNT movie Monday Night Mayhem, John Turturro approximates Cosell’s uniqueness, but Ali’s Jon Voight renders Cosell into an unrecognizable character: “Dull, somber, humorless, modest, temperate, lacking in bombast.”

Will the writers flip for Ozzie? Cooperstown ballots are due in the mail by Jan. 12, and this year’s Hall of Fame election is one of the most fascinating ever, the Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin writes. The ballot is filled with players “who were excellent during their careers, but not in the first-ballot tier. Most of them will get in before the clock runs out on their 15 years,” Conlin says. Among them: Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Jack Morris, and Bruce Sutter. Also in that group is Andre Dawson, on the ballot for the first time this year. But Conlin says Ozzie Smith, a lifetime .262 hitter, deserves to be a first-ballot HoFer. Will the Wizard’s career batting average of .262 be held against him? Or will he be rewarded as “the greatest infield glove man in history” and “the most acrobatic, far-ranging and run-saving” shortstop in the history of the game?