Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
Many NBA observers, understandably, have focused on LeBron James going to the Los Angeles Lakers. Thus, many NBA observers have overlooked Lee Jenkins going to the Los Angeles Clippers.
This might change the balance of power in the Western Conference for years to come.
The Clippers, outbidding nobody, have hired Jenkins — a longtime Sports Illustrated writer covering the NBA — for a newly created post:
Executive director of research and identity.
Uh, what exactly will he be researching and identifying?
Best we can tell, this is sort of a fancy, ambiguous player evaluation position, in which Jenkins will assist the team's player evaluators with additional player evaluation. In essence, it's one more expense account for someone doing next to nothing.
But perhaps Couch Slouch, a next-to-nothing savant, is being a bit too harsh.
Let's hear from the principals!
Clippers executive vice president for basketball operations Lawrence Frank told the New York Times, "Let's all acknowledge the fact of how incredibly talented (Jenkins) is and his ability to tell stories, connect the dots, highlight the personalities of our players, and what it is going to highlight about the Clipper experience."
If this were an academic position, it would be "dean of B.S."
Jenkins told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, "In our line of work, we ask questions from different angles, assemble information in different ways. We try to put it together like puzzles until we've formed a portrait of a person. I'm going to try to bring that same process to the Clippers in hopes it will complement what their incredible group of evaluators already accomplish. This team is interested not just in what players do, but who they are — how they're wired, how they're motivated — and that's an area I love to explore."
If this were a federal government position, it would he "assistant director of optimized data aggregation/maximized sludge & manure output."
Frank also told the Washington Post, "This is about a guy who has relentless curiosity, and we are going to use those skills."
I guess Columbo wasn't available.
Jenkins worked at Sports Illustrated 11 years; as it were, I lasted there 11 months.
Full Disclosure I: It was the worst year of my professional life, and that includes years in which I wasn't working. This was my weekly SI routine — I would turn in a column on Sunday morning, then 10 minutes later an editor would call and say, "This isn't going to work. What else you got?"
Full Disclosure II: I have never read anything that Jenkins has written; the only Jenkins work with which I'm familiar in SI would be by Dan and Sally. Frankly, I haven't read Sports Illustrated since it stopped giving away the sneaker phone with every subscription.
Jenkins is the second SI writer in the past year or so to be hired by an NBA front office; Luke Winn is now director of prospect strategy for the Toronto Raptors.
So, can a sportswriter be of value to a professional franchise? Sportswriters are experts at late check-ins at hotels, finding steakhouses and strip clubs, and making sure someone else picks up the tab. Does all that really translate to winning NBA titles?
Which reminds me — recently I heard Colin Cowherd talking about how he would love to be an NFL general manager, and how he'd be a better GM than half the guys doing it. I guess that's possible. Then again, maybe half the NFL GMs could do a better radio show than Cowherd.
(Just kidding, Colin, I love your show, even when you're spewing pseudo-sociological claptrap. You're a great listen in traffic, but when the 405 clears up, I'm back to hits of the '80s and '90s.)
When Jenkins got the Clippers job, he tweeted, "This doesn't mean I won't write again."
I'm sure he will. And if Sports Illustrated is still in business, it'll probably have an opening for an NBA reporter.
Ask The Slouch
Q. What do you have against MLB commissioner Rob Manfred? He's not Bud Selig. (Russ Mitchell; Charleston, W.Va.)
A. As a collegian, Manfred transferred from Le Moyne to Cornell. Oh, no, no, no, no, NO. You transfer to Le Moyne, not from Le Moyne. Plus, then he went Ivy League. Please.
Q. Should the University of Maryland board of regents undergo a concussion protocol? (Dan Shaughnessy; Purcellville, Va.)
A. Maryland is an excellent research institution; alas, that research is independent of any common sense, moral grounding or decency.
Q. When the NFL plays games in England, which team is responsible for bringing the goalposts? (Don Perkinson; Greenbelt, Md.)
A. That might be a NATO responsibility, and I believe President Trump is correct in insisting the Brits pay for their fair share of the cost.
Q. "Hello, Dolly!" or "Hello, Larry"? (Michael Dobbs; Chicago)
A. Is this a leftover question from 1979?
Q. Why isn't there an MLS Red Zone channel? (Dan Cantwell; Albany, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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