Pandemic Potpourri

By  Brian Hoffman

Sports editor Brian Hoffman

It’s day 42 AG. That’s 42 days “After Gobert,” marking the day the Utah Jazz center came down with the virus and ended sports as we know it.

I’m struggling to find sports to watch. I was disappointed in the “Horse” contest that aired in recent weeks. The picture wasn’t good and the competition was boring. Mike Conley beat Zach LaVine in the final but it wasn’t as entertaining as I had hoped.

One interesting thing was that the participants played on their home courts, and you could see the difference in lifestyle between the NBA and WNBA. Paul Pierce was playing on a beautiful outdoor court with a glass backboard and a large, full color Celtics logo painted on the surface at the top of the key. Meanwhile, Allie Quigley of the WNBA had one of those portable goals with a plastic base you fill with sand to it doesn’t tip over. It was in her driveway with a chalk foul line and a flowerbed in the corner where you would be shooting threes.

This week we actually have some good stuff for sports fans. First of all, if you’re a basketball fan and you missed the first two episodes of “The Last Dance” last Sunday night you have to go back and watch it. My wife is only a sports fan because I am, and she even liked it.

The 10 part series, with two one hour episodes per week, chronicles the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls run to their sixth NBA championship. The first two episodes explored memories and footage from the lives of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as they rose to NBA fame, from childhood to the 1997-98 season. It all revolves around that season and it was riveting.

This should be must-viewing for any fans under 25 years old that didn’t have the privilege of watching Jordan in his prime. I’m always surprised at how many of those kids still idolize Jordan and wear his shoes, even though it’s been almost 20 years since he played.

I’d almost forgotten how good he was. To again watch him float through the air, shredding defenses geared to stop him, was almost as fun to watch now as it was when it happened. If kids watch this they’ll understand why fans of that era will never accept anyone as “the greatest” other than Jordan.

It’s on Sunday nights on ESPN and ESPN 2. The regular ESPN version doesn’t cut out the swear words.

“The Last Dance” is one thing to look forward to, and the other is this weekend’s National Football League draft, which begins Thursday with the first round of picks.  I always look forward to the draft anyway, but this year I’m thirsting for it.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the draft has had a lot more “hype” than normal? I suspect that’s the case since the NBA and NHL playoffs would normally be going on at this time as well as Major League Baseball, the NASCAR and PGA tours, and the live college and high school sports we enjoy. With that all cancelled or postponed there’s plenty of time to fill on both national and local TV sports shows.

I always enjoy the NFL draft, but for the aforementioned reasons I’m studying it more than usual this spring. I check out mock drafts from various “experts”, trying to figure out who my favorite team is going to take. So far I’ve seen pundits predict the Eagles, who pick 21st, will take one of the following from a list that includes wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins and Denzel Mims, linebackers Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, safeties Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney, edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson and cornerback CJ Henderson. They’ve been predicted to trade up to grab some (Jeudy, Lamb) and trade back to take others(Murray, Mims). One of those predictors is bound to be right, but it really doesn’t narrow it down much.

A good friend of mine who I talk to often is a big Redskins fan, and we discuss their options like we’re actually going to make the pick. The consensus is the Skins will take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with their first pick, which is second overall. Everyone has LSU quarterback Joe Burrow going to Cincinnati first.

While a majority of the mocks have the Skins taking Young, and former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann loves him, there are others who predict the Skins will “trade down” with a team that needs a quarterback. My friend is hoping they do that and I think it would be a good idea as well.

While Young is the consensus best player in the draft the Skins have more than one hole to fill, which is why they have the second pick. If they can work a trade with the Dolphins, who need a quarterback and have four first round picks, I’d do it. One mock I saw had Washington trading the pick to the Dolphins and then filling needs at cornerback and the offensive line with two first round picks they obtained from Miami.

If I’m Ron Rivera, the new coach of the Redskins, I’d listen to every offer from quarterback needy teams, as they tend to overvalue the position in the draft(see Mitch Trubisky, Bears). If I can get a bounty of picks that will shore up the whole team, I’d take it. And if not, then just settle for the best player in the draft in Young. Of course, I’m sure that’s what he’ll do.

The great thing is, it will be live sports stuff we can watch and not know what’s going to happen until it does. I have a feeling I’m going to watch every pick, and if the Eagles screw it up at least it won’t be boring.

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