Tonight I am very proud that Peter Migliaccio and his wife Susan hosted a bash at Casa Antica restaurant in Sarasota to benefit the V Foundation. It was an incredible Italian fest as they provided all the food and wine free of charge. The food was outstanding and everyone seemed to enjoy the wine tasting as well. The proceeds from the night went to raise dollars to battle cancer. A big thank you to Peter and Susan and all the people that came out to make it a big time success.
The 2013 NBA draft was absolutely wacky, right from the number one pick. Come on, how many mock drafts had Anthony Bennett to Cleveland? With all of the trades, it was absolutely insane. It was impossible to analyze who graded the best. I really had a hard time keeping up with this stuff. I was stunned when the Cavaliers took Bennett of UNLV number one. I believe Cleveland will regret passing on Victor Oladipo, who I feel is the best instant impact player in this draft. Orlando was smart to grab him second and his work ethic and play on both ends of the floor will be a plus for the Magic. Orlando struck gold with that choice. The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) says Oladipo will be the star of this draft and the Rookie of the Year next season. I liked Otto Porter going to Washington. He will be close to his Georgetown roots and will help John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Nets made a huge splash in the short term, getting vets like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. They also added a quality big man in Mason Plumlee. The NBA is all about today and Brooklyn has an impatient owner who wants to win now. It will be rebuild city in Beantown and I wonder what Red Auerbach would say to Danny Ainge now. I love Cody Zeller to Charlotte. You cannot teach size and he is very skilled. He just needs to get stronger. Now he is united with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; remember the IU vs. Kentucky games in college when these two met up? Sacramento had to be happy to see Ben McLemore slip down into its lap. I feel he will grow into a solid, 10 year pro. I liked New Orleans’ move to get Jrue Holliday from the Sixers in the Nerlens Noel trade. I believe the former UCLA guard will be a star down there for many years to come. Utah made a good decision in acquiring Trey Burke of Michigan. He will be a leader at the next level and his skills will translate well at the next level. The current NBA rules clearly hurt Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA. He would have been among the top picks if he was allowed to enter the draft right out of high school. Instead, how many Ben Franklins did playing one season cost Muhammad? I was surprsied Indiana took Solomon Hill of Arizona. Then again, Paul George was an incredible pick a few years back. Doc Rivers and the Clippers hit a home run baby, getting North Carolina’s Reggis Bullock at 25. He will help with his range and the NBA is all about shooting, so I really dig this pick that late in round one. If you have seen these college kids play on a regular basis, as I have all of last season, it is safe to say that many of the second round picks are as good as those in the first round. The big difference is in their bank accounts! I loved the Houston Rockets’ pick of Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan early in round two. I believe he will prove he should have been a first round selection. I was surprsied he lasted as long as he did. Finally, congrats to Commissioner David Stern for dedicating himself to market the NBA globally. This was the last time the Commish called out the names of the stars of tomorrow! It was a wild night and really tough to keep track of all the moves.
Thursday’s NBA draft is a crapshoot. It is never easy projecting the first round. There are a lot of players in this year’s selection process that have similar skills. A number of teams will play poker with the media, holding their cards close to the vest until the announcement of their pick is made.
There are also plenty of trade possibilities. Will teams trade down to get extra picks? Will we see some veterans moved?
With that in mind, it is time to give it a shot. here is my mock draft:
1. Cleveland Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
2. Orlando Victor Oladipo, Indiana
3. Washington Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
4. Charlotte Anthony Bennett, UNLV
5. Phoenix Ben McLemore, Kansas
6. New Orleans Trey Burke, Michigan
7. Sacramento Cody Zeller, Indiana
8 Detroit Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
9. Minnesota Alex Len, Maryland
10. Portland C. J. McCollum, Lehigh
11. Philadelphia Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
12. Oklahoma City Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
13. Dallas Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
14. Utah Dennis Schroeder, Germany
15. Milwaukee Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
16. Boston Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
17. Atlanta Mason Plumlee, Duke
18. Atlanta Allen Crabbe, California
19. Cleveland Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
20. Chicago Shane Larkin, Miami-Florida
21. Utah Jeff Withey, Kansas
22. Brooklyn Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
23. Indiana Glen Rice Jr., D-League
24. New York Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
25. LA Clippers Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
26. Minnesota Pierre Jackson, Baylor
27. Denver Tony Mitchell, North Texas
28. San Antonio Rudy Gobert, France
29. Oklahoma City Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
30. Phoenix C.J. Leslie, NC State
I can’t thank Craig and Joellen Mettille enough for helping us raise dollars for the V Foundation for cancer research. They held a big event in Riverside, Iowa at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. Joining me is the Iowa head basketball coach, Fran McCaffrey, who is creating excitement for Iowa basketball. But tonight is all about rasing money for pediatric cancer. Craig and Joellen have a heart of gold and do so much to help us throughout the year with the Dick Vitale Gala. Also making the trip to Iowa from Sarasota is Bob and Pam Kirschner , owners of the Broken Egg Restaurants. It is a first class event, and it is put on by Craig Mettile’s company, 380 Companies. A terrific night for a terrific cause – thanks for all you do Criag and Joellen!
Congrats to the Miami Heat on winning back to back NBA championships. Once again, King James proved that he is the best in the game today. His 37 points was the key as he earned his second straight Finals MVP award. LeBron can do it all and he is a leader. I was really impressed with the class and respect the Heat and Spurs had for each other at the end of the series. Erik Spoelstra showed why he is an outstanding young coach. The decision to put James on Tony Parker for much of game seven was brilliant. Now the question is, will LeBron’s legacy match up with Michael the Magnificent? James is certainly getting cloer with his clutch performances. He had back to back 30+ point games in games six and seven, when Miami really needed him to come through. Shane Battier hit several big trifectas in game seven. Dwayne Wade showed heart while playing hurt, he looked like the Wade of old in earning his third championship. Will Miami do it agin next season, making it a three peat? Pat Riley will probably make a few tweaks and James will lead his team to the winner’s cicle again, further enhancing his legacy.
My wife and I had a fantastic time in the Big Apple. We were in NYC for two days. We had the opportunity to see three Broadway shows – we are Broadway fanatics. On Friday we saw Motown, it was absolutely Awesome Baby with a capital A. We were joined by our longtime friend, Tom Longo and Michelle Ferguson (both ND grads). We sat right behind Evander Holyfield and David Checketts, former head of NY Knicks and NY Rangers and Madison Square Garden and now president of Legends. We were all dancing in the aisles to all the Motown sounds of Michael Jackson, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and the Four Tops. It was fantastic, we loved it and we guarantee we will see it again. We also saw Bette Midler’s comedy, in which she plays an agent. It was one funny line after the other. On Saturday, we went to see Get it if You Can with my agent Sue Lipton and her husband Larry Rascio. We first ate at Becco’s, one of my favorite Italian restuarants. We met Sarah Jessica Parker, as she was there to see her husband, Matthew Broderick. It was closing night for the play after 500 performances. We were invited backstage after the show, and Matthew and Sarah Jessica were as nice as could be. A terrific two days in the Big Apple. So much to do and see as always!!!!
I am so excited to see the Rays bring up Wil Myers. They gave up a lot to acquire him, including a standout pitcher in James Shields. Myers should provide a spark for the Rays as they battle in the tough AL East. Just look at the boost the Dodgers got when Yasiel Puig was brought up from the minors. My word of advice to Myers is to relax. He has been on a real tear in the minors, and while some will apply pressure on him, he needs to think positively. He has to do what he has done since Little League…hit the baseball. It is great that the Rays decided to bring him up during the season. There have been times where the franchise waited to call up a potential star. I believe the addition of Myers will give the Rays offense some juice. Tuesday night in Boston is just the beginning of his career in the majors.
I am celebrating at Wendy’s in Fort Lee, NJ with Peter Henckel who is the manager of Harmon’s Cosmetics in Totowa, NJ. We are now enjoying lunch at Wendy’s because Peter was the winner of a contest to win lunch with me in Fort Lee, NJ. Peter was also the recipient of a $5,000 check from Wendy’s. I had lots of fun doing the promo for Wendy’s. It was Awesome Baby, with a capital A!
I have been truly blessed in my lifetime. I have a wonderful family, great friends, tremendous colleagues at ESPN that have meant so much to me. That is why Monday night down in North Carolina will be so emotional and so special. I am being honored with the induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, along with esteemed writer and ESPN contributor, Mitch Albom. My friends, I have never looked at myself as a broadcaster as much as I have seen myself as a coach and sports fan lucky enough to have the best seat in the house to call college basketball. I feel I have had passion and emotion in calling those games, and in the final quarter of my life, this is truly an amazing honor. I think of the greats already in the Hall and I am simply amazed to even be mentioned with the likes of many of them. I almost get teary-eyed thinking about how blessed I’ve been in my life and my career. I had a loving mother and father who said to never believe in the word “can’t”. They always provided encouragement, and I know that on Monday they will be looking down from heaven, proud of their son, Richie. I have treasured every minute with my loving wife Lorraine, I have two tremendous daughters. I’ve been lucky to work with a fantastic team at ESPN. I have been fortunate enough to work with so many talented and wonderful people at ESPN. There have been so many great producers, directors, on-air talent and people behind the scenes that have helped me so much. To all of the great people that have helped me over the years, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so special, so wonderful. None of this would be possible without my support system and that support has come from all the kids on the college campuses who have allowed me to work a job where I can still be a kid myself. Thank you to all of them. And a special thank you for all the support in my newest mission and passion – to raise awareness and money to help kids battle cancer through the V Foundation. I will fight against the dreaded disease until I take my last breathe on earth. As I accept this unbelievable honor on Monday, I will be thinking of each and every one of you. You have meant so much to me and my family.
Talk about going a cheap route for a laugh and having it backfire. Go ask Ohio State University president Gordon Gee about his recent comments. How a person running an institution of that stature can make remarks about Notre Dame and Catholics the way that he did is unbelievable. It is hard to fathom how they came out of the mouth of an educator and a leader. According to Gee, the reason that Notre Dame was not invited to the Big Ten was, to paraphrase, that you cannot trust the priests and Catholics. He used the reference holy hell in describing them. Gee has since apologized for his indiscretion, but the damage was already done. Perhaps the president of The Ohio State University should have a conversation with another powerful person in Columbus, his football coach, Urban Meyer. I guarantee you that Meyer was not happy with those comments either. Meyer has had tremendous love for Notre Dame and worked in South Bend under Lou Holtz years ago. I cannot believe it. It is amazing how many Ohio State followers have been in touch with me via twitter, calling Gee’s remarks embarssing and unfortunate. Come on, is this what a leader is about.