LIKE MOST of you, I'm not exactly mourning the NBA lockout. The last time I watched a game from tip-off to buzzer before Christmas was in person, at a Grizzlies-Rockets game in November 2005.
Even then, there was a large interruption, thanks to the worst concession operation in all of major-league sports.
But I feel for the victims in all of this silliness, including ground-level workers and cities who were held up for tax money to build arenas to keep their teams. Those buildings are losing event dates every time David Stern opens his mouth.
There are a number of players for whom I sympathize, and I'm not talking about Kobe, LeBron and Dwyane. I speak of Hassan Whiteside, one of the most entertaining but enigmatic Marshall basketball players I've seen.
The 7-foot shot-blocking whiz needs this season, and needs it badly. He needs to prove that the Sacramento Kings didn't blunder in picking him with the 33rd overall pick. He surely didn't prove it last season.
His problems were (a) a balky knee, (b) his immaturity or © more likely, a combination of the two. Whatever the case, he played two minutes in the Kings' 2010-11 opener and hasn't played an NBA minute since.
Even worse, he apparently failed to make use of a stint with the NBA Development League's Reno Bighorns, averaging just 101/2 minutes in 14 games before getting sent back to the Kings (to the inactive list, not as a promotion).
He's got something to prove now, and can't do it. Several reports indicate 2010-11 draftees or anybody playing that season cannot play in the D-League, either.
Forced to work out on his own, the best Whiteside can do is maneuver himself in NBA 2K12. I just hope he is handling his finances well.
In all likelihood, we will have a 2012 season, instead of a 2011-12 season. The NBA players' union will cave, just like it did in 1998-99, probably when New Year's Eve parties are affected. But Whiteside will lose roughly half a season, which will lengthen his considerable odds against his success.
Which you could have predicted nearly two years ago, when the rumblings of Whiteside turning pro first surfaced. Shoot, I don't consider myself knowledgeable about "the association" in the least, and I smelled this day coming.
Obviously, Whiteside should have stayed put, and be playing his junior year now (if he could survive whatever Tom Herrion threw his way). Amazingly, there was an idea that he should leave after his freshman year because the lockout was coming in 2011.
With that and other really bad advice from any number of people, he didn't return to class after his team's season ended. Big men take longer to develop, I am repeatedly told, and he wasn't ready for the NBA.
When this extended offseason ends, he probably won't be much more ready. Future NBA shot-blockers are toughening up in the college ranks, and he'll be challenged further down the line.
I'm sorry to see it come to this, but I'm not the least surprised.
The "Game of the Century" has come and gone, with Louisiana State victorious over Alabama. (I steadfastly refuse to use "LSU" on first reference. Is it the University of LSU, or LSU University?)
And now, the moping begins: Does the Crimson Tide have a chance to sneak into the BCS national championship? No, if the season ended Saturday, which it didn't. But if you remember 2006, you know crazy things can happen in the final three weeks. Oh, yeah, I'd watch these two teams again.
Isn't it a shame the perceived top two teams in the nation reside in the SEC West? Well, no, it's not.