LIKE IT IS:

Kleine’s got it correct: LeBron’s the man

By: Wally Hall
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013

It is not quite painful, but almost, to admit Joe Kleine is right.

During a recent discussion about the NBA playoffs, Kleine, a 16-year NBA veteran, listened to several suggestions as to which individual player is the most dangerous.

Finally, after four or five names were mentioned, he cut to the chase: “LeBron James.”

Maybe it is the memory of that news conference when he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach, but it has been hard to like James. The truth is, Kleine is right. James can beat you from inside or out. He plays excellent defense, handles the ball well and is just an all-around great player.

After watching some of the first-round NBA playoff games, there is no doubt Miami is still the team to beat, and yours truly will be pulling for anyone playing Miami.

And all kidding aside, Kleine, a friend for more than 30 years, knows as much about NBA and college basketball as anyone in the country. He’s always a joy to sit with and something is always learned.

Kleine, who is an assistant basketball coach at UALR, recently texted to advise that the chicken salad should be tried at Corky’s. He was right again.

While on the subject of the playoffs, does anyone else think too many teams get into postseason play?

Watching the first-round games is like watching a regular season game - three quarters of street ball and one quarter of trying to win.

Of the 30 teams in the league, 16 make the playoffs. Fortunately for the NBA, only one of those 16 finished the regular season with a losing record - Milwaukee - although Boston was 41-40 and Atlanta 44-38.

The team with the best record at 66-16 was Miami, of course. Could be another Miami-Oklahoma City final, which would give Derek Fisher a shot at owning six championship rings, the same as native Arkansan Scottie Pippen.

Our man Charlie Fiss, formerly of Springdale and longtime vice president with the Cotton Bowl, announced this week that Cowboy Stadium will officially host the first College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 12, 2015.

Fiss and Rick Baker are a perfect pair to run the game. They have a great relationship with Jerry Jones, and they moved their offices into Cowboy Stadium, commonly known as Jerry’s World (but should be the Pigskin Palace), when they moved the Cotton Bowl there.

Their expertise also led to the Cotton Bowl being named as part of a six-bowl rotation for the four-team playoff, placing the Cotton Bowl back on college football’s biggest stage where it belongs.

From personal experience, the Cotton Bowl is the most well-oiled, smooth-running bowl in the country, and this is said after covering games in many of the bowls, including all the major ones.

Baker, Fiss, Michael Konradi and the entire staff of the Cotton Bowl seem to be able to read the minds of most coaches and administrators before, during and after the bowl.

No one from the Cotton Bowl would ever confirm, but apparently the most contentious coach they ever had to deal with is a former Arkansas coach now at Western Kentucky.

Of course, Arkansas’ history with the Cotton Bowl is so deep and so rich it only took a matter of days for it to be forgotten and everyone with the bowl moved on.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will host their annual dinner Saturday night at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.

The festivities start with a reception at 5 p.m. honoring Barry Lunney Jr. and Tim Horton. Both are longtime spokesmen for the FCA.

The activities wrap up Monday with the Frank Broyles golf tournament.

Sports, Pages 17 on 04/26/2013

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