At last! The NBA’s secret winning formula is revealed!

Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors!  On Monday night, the NBA’s version of Godzilla rose up and devoured the Cleveland Cavaliers again to win this year’s crown by a four games to one margin.  The same two teams have now faced-off for the NBA Championship for three consecutive years with Golden State now owning a 2-1 advantage.  Will these two teams meet yet again in 2018?

Predictably, the sports media is in overdrive trying to figure out how the other 29 teams in the NBA can defeat this Golden State juggernaut next season and beyond.  The whiners believe that the winners must have cheated their way to the top.  Can’t the NBA add new rules to prevent these so-called super-teams like Golden State and Cleveland from beating-up on the other teams every season?

Let’s take a closer look at how these obviously sneaky and evil Golden State Warriors moved their way to the top of the NBA.

Of the Warrior’s starting five, two players were selected in the first round (Stephen Curry – 7th overall pick in 2009 and Klay Thompson – 11th overall in 2011) while Draymond Green was drafted in the second round (35th pick overall in 2012).   The other two starters were drafted by other teams and came via free agency.  The center, Zaza Pachulia, was a second round pick in 2003 and had already played for five other NBA teams.  The final starter, Kevin Durant, was a first round pick (2nd overall selection by Seattle/OKC in 2007) and came to Golden State last year via free agency in search of a championship ring (gasp – how selfish of him!).

In summary – three draft picks by Golden State, a 14-year NBA journeyman center, and a high-profile (and high scoring) free agent signee.  That’s it.

By tragic comparison, this year’s worst team, the Brooklyn Nets, has drafted 30 players in the first and second rounds since the year 2000.  Only one player (Brook Lopez – 10th overall pick in 2008) remains on the roster.  Most of the other 29 picks?  Gone.  Like, out-of-the-league gone.

Get your pencil ready for one of the secrets!  Draft good players, develop those good players, and keep those good players.

But wait!  Who drafted these players?  Yes, the team’s ownership, general manager, and coaches all help to make those draft/hiring decisions.

From 1994 through 2011, the Golden State Warriors epitomized losing.  Only one playoff team in 17 years.

Fortunately for Warriors fans, an infusion of new ownership (Joe Lacob) bought the franchise in 2010.  Lacob, who made his fortune working with a venture capital investing firm, also learned the NBA ropes as a part-owner of the Boston Celtics from 2006-2010.  The new owner hired a new general manager, Bob Myers, in 2011 and the current head coach, Steve Kerr, was brought in to lead the team in 2014.   Kerr was a former NBA player with seven championship rings (five in Chicago and two with San Antonio) and had most recently been the general manager with the Phoenix Suns.  No NBA head coaching experience!

In summary, the Golden State Warriors now have a motivated owner with a history of business success who wants to build and maintain a winner.  He hired a general manager who drafted talented and unselfish players.  Then, a bright head coach with seven championship rings was added to help guide a talented group of players on how to play unselfishly and to win championships.

All of this was done within the current rules of the NBA’s salary constraints.

OK, these aren’t really secrets.  San Antonio has known this for twenty years (with five championships).  And Boston is learning quickly.

Pick a business – any business.  A company/organization/team with great management which empowers its employees to succeed usually rises to the top year after year.  Warren Buffett has been buying companies with those same qualities for decades.  Buffett wisely leaves the management team alone to keep doing the same thing and continue to build more profits and value.

So, sports fans.  Watch your favorite team’s ownership, the GM and coaches, and the annual player drafts very carefully.  The consistently good teams will select the type of players (skills and character) which best fit their system.  And, like a good business, they usually keep winning.  Year after year after year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s officials! Zebra season is now underway

It wasn’t the best of weekends for those crucial decision makers in sporting events.  The officials.  The refs.  The umps.  You know – those people who make all the critical decisions in your favorite ball games.  These evil people sporting the stylish striped shirts or chest protectors who ruin the game for one team and obviously help the other guys win.  From your first grader’s youth soccer game at the local YMCA through the major leagues, one or more of these officials is needed to make sure that the game is played within the rules and is, hopefully, fair for both competing teams.

It should be noted here that I officiated (for pay) junior high-level baseball games along with youth and men’s basketball games years ago.  Why would anyone do this?  Money (of course), and the deep down egotistical feeling that “I know I can do this better than…”.   These noble extra-income earners generally do a really solid job.  Officials love nothing better than to leave the game (quickly) knowing that they enforced the rules and gave both teams a professional and fair effort.

To maintain control of the game and provide a fair outcome, a good official must (a) know and enforce the rules and (b) be consistent!  For example, nothing is more maddening for players, coaches and fans than to see a baseball umpire call a pitch at the knees a strike one time and a ball the next.

This weekend featured critical calls in a college baseball game, the NBA Finals, and the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.  Let’s roll the tapes!

  1.  In Saturday’s Game 2 of the Texas A&M-Davidson NCAA college baseball series, Davidson was leading 6-2 in the 8th inning, but the the bases were loaded with Aggies when an infield pop-fly happened.  On the field (and in front of several thousand screaming Aggie fans), the umpire ruled that this was not a catch.  The result?  The momentum changed as A&M rallied and eventually bounced Davidson out of the tournament.
  2. In Friday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals, it appeared that Golden State forward, Draymond Green, had picked-up his second technical foul of the night (earning an automatic ejection).  Then, the referees caucused and decided that the apparent first technical was actually on coach Steve Kerr.  This was one of several unfortunate moments for this officiating crew as the game became quite out of control afterwards.
  3. In Sunday’s Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, it appeared that the Nashville Predators had scored a hometown goal in the second period.  But no! The official whistled the play dead as he believed that the goalie was in control of the puck. The apparent goal was negated, and Nashville lost the game.

The howls are still coming from fans of Davidson, Cleveland, and Nashville claiming,  “The officials blew it”!   They certainly have a good point.  My questions are (1) Did the officials strive to get the call right? and (2) Were they fair and consistent in applying the rules?  In the meantime, it looks like open season on the Zebras has now begun!

 

 

 

Swing your swing! Arnie’s great lesson on golf and life

A few years ago, there was an entertaining television commercial which featured Arnold Palmer advising young and old golfers to simply, “Swing your swing”!  What did he mean?  Why shouldn’t all golfers try to emulate the swing of a professional golfer in hopes that they can improve their own golf game?

Of all the golf swings to emulate, most golfers from my generation did not have enough athletic ability to copy the great Arnold Palmer’s golf swing.  I have been reading a recently-released book on Arnold Palmer’s life and laughed at how Palmer himself called his own swing “herky-jerky” with that high finish and a bit of a windmill action at the top.  He said that he proudly “owned” that swing.  He compared the vast differences between his swing and Jack Nicklaus, whose power came from the waist down and tree-trunk (Arnie’s words) legs versus Palmer’s power originating from his shoulders, arms, and hands.

Just how unique was Arnold Palmer’s golf swing?  In the book, Arnie mentions that, in his rookie year on the PGA tour, he was hitting balls on the practice range at a tournament when a couple of golfers were observing him.  When one player inquired who was that young man hitting practice balls, the other replied, “That’s Arnold Palmer”.  The first golfer smugly stated, “Tell him to get a job.  With that swing of his, he’ll never make it out here”!

Nobody has the same fingerprints, DNA, or golf swing.  We are all unique.  Though my own golf swing may look and feel more like a composite of Palmer, speedy-swinging Nick Price, and “Happy Gilmore“, I have often attempted to learn a slower tempo by watching a smooth-swinging golfer like Ernie Els.  I often tried to s-l-o-w-ly take the club back and say, on a two-count, “Er-nie” and then start my downswing to the word “Els” on the third count.  Needless to say, it didn’t work very well.  Reason?  I’m not Ernie Els!

Arnie was right.  You cannot and should not attempt to change your own unique golf swing.  Own it.  Take whatever talents God gave you and just give it a good rip.  Then, move forward and do it again!

You know, those words also work pretty well in business and in your personal life, too.  With enough personal determination along with hard work and practice applied, you can strive to become the best “you” in the entire world!  That is one terrific lesson in golf and life from my golf hero, Arnold Palmer.

GOAT talk? I’ve herd enough!

While in Boston this spring, my wife and I saw several people proudly sporting a New England Patriots #12 football jersey with the word “GOAT” written across the back of it where a player’s name usually appears..  My wife asked, “Who is GOAT”?   Being the polite sports-guy husband that I am, I explained that #12 is Tom Brady’s number, and many football fans are saying he is the Greatest Of All Time.  GOAT, get it?  Wink, wink!

Fast forward to the beginning of the NBA Finals and another vigorous GOAT discussion is now underway on various sports radio and television outlets.  Is LeBron James basketball’s GOAT?  Wait a minute, how can someone be the greatest player ever if that person is still playing the sport?  How is this measured – by MVP awards or championship rings or what?

For example, the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player awards will be doled-out soon after the seemingly-never-ending NBA playoffs conclude (to squeeze a few more bucks from a willing cadre of advertisers).  If those who say LeBron James is the GOAT, then why are James Harden (Houston), Russell Westbrook (OKC), and Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio) the finalists for this year’s MVP?  Where is LeBron James?

On the flip side, LeBron James has already won four NBA MVP awards during his stellar hoops career.  Not bad!  The career MVP record is shared by Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (Milwaukee Bucks/Los Angeles Lakers) with six each.

What about championship rings?  No one is catching Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics anytime soon as Captain Russ has “one for the toe” by amassing 11 championships over just 13 NBA seasons.  For bonus points, did you know that Bill Russell averaged 24.9 rebounds per game over his entire career?  Wow!

Here’s a line-up of players with the most MVP’s along with the number of NBA championship rings they won during their career:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 6 MVP and 6 rings

Michael Jordan – 5 MVP and 6 rings

Bill Russell – 5 MVP and 11 rings

LeBron James – 4 MVP and 3 rings

Wilt Chamberlain – 4 MVP and 2 rings

Magic Johnson – 3 MVP and 5 rings

Larry Bird – 3 MVP and 3 rings

Moses Malone – 3 MVP and 1 ring

If your list is led by championship rings, you would need to add numerous Boston Celtics players with 7, 8, or 10 during their incredible championship seasons beginning in the late 1950’s and through the 1960’s.  But you would eventually want to discuss players like Tim Duncan (2 MVP and 5 rings) and Kobe Bryant (1 MVP with 5 rings) along with Shaquille O’Neal (1 MVP with 4 championships).

Suffice it to say that LeBron James has a chance to add to both his MVP and championship ring totals for another few years.

Personally, I prefer to relish the great play during each different era and simply savor those memories.  It makes for terrific discussions when trying to compare players from different eras, doesn’t it?

As for these fruitless GOAT discussions, it’s too baaaah-d that never-ending media-driven drivel detracts from simply enjoying these players’ abilities while they are still able to participate on the big stage!

 

 

 

 

WCWS delivers quite a show!

If Monday night was just Game 1 of the best-of-three Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, then the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators softball players will have a tough time topping the first game!  In a record-setting 17-inning epic, the OU women prevailed over Florida by a score of 7-5.  The opening game of the WCWS lasted 5 hours and 28 minutes and was the longest softball game played in the 35-year history of this annual event.

The game was well underway when I found it on ESPN last night.  I knew that SEC champion Florida came into the game ranked #1 as the Gators have two pitchers who are as stingy at giving up runs as Jack Benny was notoriously tight with his money.  Both primary Florida pitchers sported earned run averages well under one run per game.  The Gators had given-up less than 10 home runs in 66 games thus far this season – until last night.  Defending champion Oklahoma patiently withstood an amazing 26-strikeout performance by Florida’s pitching and eventually capitalized by blasting three pitches out of OGE Energy Field, accounting for six runs.  The final 3-run blast in the 17th inning ultimately won the game for Oklahoma.

Florida, though, never gave-up hope.  Down by a run with two outs and two strikes on the batter in the bottom of the 7th (and, usually, final) inning, Florida rallied to tie the game at 2-2.  After a few scoreless extra innings, OU belted their second home run of the game in the top of the 12th to take a two-run lead.  Not to be outdone,  the Gators rallied again to knot the game with two runs in the bottom of the 12th.  Just like the 7th inning, the game-tying runs dramatically came with two outs and two strikes in the count on Florida’s batter.

It was a spellbinding game.  Last night’s 17-inning marathon equated to nearly 2 1/2 traditional softball games!  Incredibly, each of the four pitchers used (two by each team) threw over one hundred pitches on Monday night.  Somebody pass the Sportscreme, please!  Unlike baseball pitchers who utilize a different throwing motion and require more arm rest, women’s softball pitchers, by comparison, are like bionic machines.  It is quite likely that you will see two of these four pitching warriors take the mound again on Tuesday night – less than 18 hours after Monday’s monumental Game 1.

Statistically speaking, ESPN reported that the Game 1’s winning team has ultimately won this best two-of-three championship round 75% of the time.  Regardless of who wins this year’s softball national championship, these two teams delivered an instant classic for their opening game!

 

 

 

 

NBA Finals Game 2 – All Hail the ABA!

Watching Sunday night’s Game 2 of the 2017 NBA finals between Golden State and Cleveland, I was temporarily transported back to a time when basketball became fun for me.  With a final score of 132-113, these talented players were involved in a speedy brand of hoops filled with lightning-quick fast breaks, three-point shots raining from everywhere, blocked shots coming out of nowhere, some occasional hot-dogging and showmanship, and not very much defense.

Wait a minute! Sunday’s entertaining game looked more like the classic 1975 finals match-up of the Kentucky Colonels versus the Indiana Pacers in the now-defunct American Basketball Association.  The only thing missing last night was a red, white, and blue ABA basketball!

My still-favorite sports league was born 50 years ago in 1967 when the fledgling ABA audaciously announced its intent to become a rival of the stodgy National Basketball Association.  At the time, the NBA was thoroughly dominated by the Boston Celtics (10 championship banners in a row) and their wily cigar-smoking GM and coaching guru, Red Auerbach.  Though the Celtics’ dominance made for great times for fans of the Kelly green and white, league interest in other cities was less enthusiastic.

Timing is everything.  In the summer of 1966, the NFL had finally relented to a merger with their brash and pesky rivals in the American Football League.  With the upcoming football merger, the Super Bowl era began, and the money began to flow (just in time to rescue some AFL franchises).  Right on cue, several opportunistic promoters began to court wealthy benefactors with a pitch that probably went, “If this idea worked in football, why can’t we do this in professional basketball, too?”  With little more than a good salesman’s assurances of owners reaping huge financial payoffs down the line with an eventual merger with the NBA, the American Basketball Association was born.

One of the NBA’s all-time great centers, George Mikan, was hired by this brash group of franchise owners to become the new league’s commissioner.  Mikan is generally credited with the idea of the 3-point line and the red, white, and blue basketball.  The ABA also brought us the All-Star game’s slam dunk and  3-point shooting competitions along with team dance squads and unique promotional events designed to lure paying fans.

With nine teams and two divisions, the upstart ABA East was comprised of the Pittsburgh Pipers (champions), Minnesota Muskies, New Jersey Americans, Kentucky Colonels, and Indiana Pacers while the West featured the New Orleans Buccaneers, Dallas Chaparrals, Houston Mavericks, Denver Rockets, Anaheim Amigos, and the Oakland Oaks.  After nine years of team relocations with many teams annually teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the ABA ended with just four franchises finally granted admission into the NBA.  In August, 1976, the Indiana Pacers, New York Nets (formerly New Jersey Americans), Denver Nuggets (changed nickname from Rockets after 7 seasons), and the San Antonio Spurs (relocated from Dallas after first six seasons) were brought into the NBA, while the majority of remaining ABA players were gobbled-up by NBA teams in a dispersal draft.

The ABA was definitely entertaining.  The league featured pinball-like high-scoring games led by soaring, slam-dunking players with cool nicknames like “Dr. J” (Julius Erving) and “The Ice Man” (George Gervin), gifted shot-blocking big men such as Artis Gilmore and Mel Daniels, virtual scoring machines in Rick Barry, Spencer Haywood, and Connie Hawkins, and bombardier-like sharpshooting guards such as “Downtown” Roger Brown and Louie Dampier.  All of these talented ABA players are now honored in the Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Fame.

PS – Hey, NBA…why don’t you bring back the red, white, and blue basketball for a fun week of “50-year ABA anniversary” tribute games during the preseason this October?!!

 

 

My European vacation…Bork, Bork, Bork!

One of my sons and his wife recently went to Europe and spent about 10 days visiting locations in England, Germany, and Italy.  By all accounts, they had a wonderful trip!

This week, I read on Facebook that a friend and his wife have been celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in France.  Ah, yes – Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the rolling countryside!

Not trying to brag, but, this morning, I am spending a few hours in Europe, too!  Last weekend, it was just outside of London. And, a few weeks earlier, it was a resort along the coast of Sicily which featured spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea!  All while I have been doing the laundry and sipping a cup of tea or hot chocolate.

Thanks to Golf Channel, I have been enjoying some fabulous scenery every Saturday morning from the weekly stops along European PGA Tour.  This week’s stop is at the Nordea Masters.  Where is it being played?

It is fun to stay away from the computer for a few minutes to attempt to determine where they are playing each week – by the scenery.

Aha!  This week’s location features a seaside finishing hole, but there goes an oil tanker in the distance.  Hmm – perhaps a Nordic country?

Advertisements on some of the golf holes are shown for “Ramirent” and “LaVazza”.   Wait – there must be a new car coming out from Volkswagen as the sign says “Volkswagen Syd”.  Never heard of that one!

After about 10 minutes, Golf Channel rolls the leaderboard across the TV screen, and I finally learn that we are in Malmo, Sweden today.  Now, let’s Google it!

Malmo is located along the southwestern coast of Sweden.  Who are those sponsors?  Ramirent is an equipment rental company based in nearby Helsinki, Finland.  LaVazza?  Why, that’s an Italian coffee company!   And, embarrassingly, I learned that Volkswagen Syd means “VW South”, and it is a local Swedish dealership in the city of Malmo.  Drat!

This week, the leaderboard features such interesting names as Thorbjorg Oleson, Jaco Van Zyl, and Nacho Elvira.  Sadly, I didn’t see one of my favorite players on the European PGA tour.  It looks like Andrew “Beef” Johnston must not be playing in this week’s golf event.

Then again, can you blame him?  It might be a little risky to ask, “Where’s the Beef?” in the home country of The Swedish ChefBork, bork, bork!

 

 

 

If LeBron James is tired, what about these guys?

After watching the Golden State Godzillas (oops, wrong story – I meant “Warriors”) run roughshod over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA finals, a correspondent for ESPN opined after the game, “LeBron James looked tired”.

Tired?  Each of these teams had a week off after feasting on a two-month smorgasbord of tasty NBA appetizers during the first three rounds of this marathon called the NBA playoffs.  Golden State quickly vanquished the Portland Potato Skins, then conquered the Utah Quesos, and savored some San Antonio Salsa to advance to the Finals table, while Cleveland inhaled the Indiana Poppers, devoured some tasty Toronto Toasted Ravioli, and downed a couple of Boston Bacon sliders before developing some heartburn after getting home for Game 3.  Hey, these teams weren’t tired last night – they were stuffed!

Let’s do a little research on whether this ESPN “LeBron James is tired” theory may have some substance.  According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, LeBron James is currently ranked #87 all-time in number of regular season NBA games played.  That is quite impressive considering that over 3,000 players have suited-up and played in the NBA over the past 50 years.  At age 32, James is ending his 14th NBA season and has already logged 1,061 games (an average of 75.8 games per season).

Michael Jordan?  He’s just ahead of LeBron at #82 on the list of NBA games played in a career covering 15 years and 1,072 games (nearly 71.5 games/year).  However, remember that MJ played three years at the University of North Carolina prior to entering the NBA, took 2 years off during his NBA career to try professional baseball, and, late in his career, un-retired a second time to conclude his NBA action with the Washington Wizards at the age of 40.

By the way, TNT’s Charles Barkley is just ahead of Michael Jordan at #80 and logged 16 NBA seasons, while his television co-host, former LSU great Shaquille O’Neal, is ranked #36 on the all-time list with 19 seasons and 1,207 games played.

Among currently active players, Dirk Nowitski of the Dallas Mavericks has risen to #7 with 19 seasons in the books and 1,394 games played thus far.

No doubt, LeBron James is quickly moving up the career list in number of games played.  But, tired?  He has a long way to go to catch the leaders:

#5.  Kevin Garnett.  KG played 21 seasons and logged 1,462 regular season games.

#4.  Karl “The Mailman” Malone – this Louisiana Tech legend tallied 19 years and 1,476 games.

#3   John Stockton – played all 19 seasons at Utah and laced-up for 1,504 regular season games.

#2  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Kareem (aka Captain SkyHook) dominated the NBA for 20 years and played in 1,560 games.

And now…winner of SwampSwami’s Golden HighTops Award for the most NBA games played in a career is…

#1  Robert Parish!  Yes, the Boston Celtics’ Hall-of-Fame center from Shreveport, Louisiana played for 21 NBA seasons and in a whopping 1,611 games.

LeBron would need to play in 539 more regular season games to get the rocking chair away from Robert Parish.  Even if LeBron should be able to play in all 82 regular season games/year, it would still take him another 6.57 seasons to catch the Celtics’ #00.

In conclusion, is Father Time starting to catch-up with LeBron James?  Sure!  It happens to all of us – even to the greatest players in the game.

Especially when LeBron was spending the night running up and down the floor trying to chase a bunch of basketball-playing roadrunners wearing blue and gold uniforms!  Beep beep! 

 

 

 

 

 

Warriors vs. Cavs Round 3 – I’ll take Godzilla!

The NBA’s faux drama is over.  The casual basketball fan can gleefully chirp that the entire 82-game regular season really didn’t matter again this year.  They can say, “I don’t know why you bothered watching the NBA all year long, because everyone KNEW that Golden State was going to play Cleveland in the NBA Finals for the third straight season (a modern-era NBA record).

Yes, but….

I really enjoyed watching the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets become relevant again.  Both teams were vastly improved this season, and they should be in the mix over the next few seasons (assuming their respective GM’s don’t become “deal junkies”, that is).

Maybe those always-tough San Antonio Spurs, led by coaching super-genius Gregg Popovich, would create the perfect game plan to bring down the Golden State juggernaut and claim the Western Division crown!  But, that dream ended once Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker went down with injuries.

As an NBA fan, yeah, this really bugs me.  Two so-called “Super” teams yucking it up during the regular season to make it look fair (wink, wink) only to magically show-up and run roughshod over the rest of the league during the playoffs?  Heck, Cleveland star LeBron James “rested” during the last week of the regular season as the gritty Boston Celtics claimed the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and sending Cleveland to the #2 seed.  Gasp!

Competitive balance?  Golden State has beaten their 3 playoff foes this year by 4-0 margins, while Cleveland did the same during their first 2 playoff series and only an improbable win by Boston in Game 3 kept the Cavs from a 12-0 “warm-up” for this annual rematch.  The Cavs played so well in Boston Garden that I half-expected the team might request permission from the NBA to move one or more of their home games to Boston for the NBA finals!

So, here we are.  Ho-hum.  Yawn.  Sure, I’ll watch the games, but I have no rooting interests.

Haven’t we seen something like this before?  Two unstoppable forces of nature that rise-up and square-off against each other for a titanic clash seemingly every year?

I know!  King Kong vs. Godzilla!  They keep swatting away those pesky airplanes (and NBA wannabe’s) almost every year – as long as the fans keep watching it, that is.

“Ladies and Gentlemen – introducing your combatants for the 2017 NBA finals!  Let’s get ready to rumblllllllle!”

That gigantic powerhouse and the true Beast of the East…here are your Cleveland Cavaliers!

And, rising-up out of the Pacific and destroying anyone who dares to get in the way…it’s the Golden State Warriors!

If I have to choose, I’ll take Godzilla (I mean, Golden State), because he has a few more weapons!

 

 

Why Tiger should listen to Jack

Tiger Woods made the news again this weekend but not for his golf game.  This time, the local police in Florida noticed a car stopped along the side of the road at 3AM, and Tiger appeared to be asleep and was unable to pass the local DUI protocol.  He was arrested and stayed in jail for a few hours before being released.

Woods has been recovering from another back surgery recently.  It was fusion surgery on his lower back.  Definitely not good if you ever plan on returning to play a game which causes so much torque to your back in the first place.  Especially if you swing a golf club at the high rate of speed that Tiger has done for most of his golf career.

Most of us know that Tiger Woods’ primary remaining quest (admitted or not) was to reach the record of 18 major championships that Jack Nicklaus obtained over a 25-year span of his illustrious PGA career.

Tiger had reached 14 majors by the age of 33 when he won the US Open in 2008.   By comparison, Jack Nicklaus had won 11 majors before the age of 33 and then added six more before turning 41 and a final major at age 46 with a thrilling come-from-behind rally on the back nine of Augusta in the 1986 Masters.

From all appearances, Tiger Woods’ life seemed to be defined by the quest to become the best golfer of all time. However, his physical issues surfaced during his 14th major as Woods literally hobbled on one leg through an excruciating 18-hole playoff win over Rocco Mediate in 2008.  First, it was his knee and, later, serious back problems.  And, of course, Tiger’s personal fall from grace.

There was one person that Tiger seemed to listen to over the years – his father, Earl Woods.  Tiger always respected his Dad – a tough guy who served in the US Army Special Forces during a 20-year military career.  Earl Woods died in 2006 – some two years before Tiger’s last major championship, the injuries, and the saga of personal tragedies.

Tiger’s Dad is gone, but there is one man whose accomplishments Tiger certainly respects.  Jack Nicklaus spoke out this week and offered some fatherly advice (again) to Tiger.  Nicklaus knows what it takes to win at golf, but Jack is also a father of five children and has many grandchildren.  Based on his words, Jack Nicklaus seems to really care about Tiger Woods – as a person and a professional.

And, right now, I think Tiger Woods could really use a father figure he respects like his Dad.  This time, I am hopeful that Tiger is listening and will take Jack up on the offer soon.