Welcome to The Open Man in The Morning, your A.M. primer on whatever the hell piques The Open Man’s interest in sports and entertainment.
A New Creed 2 Trailer Drops Today
Per Screen Rant, the second trailer for the upcoming sequel to Creed drops today. I’m not sure if a trailer can assuage my doubts, which are abundant, but I look forward to watching it.
The critical and commercial success of the first guaranteed a follow-up, but therein is some of my greatest frustration with present-day Hollywood. Successful titles are milked dry in an exploitative cash-grab that runs contrary to the artistic ethos.
Like a copy-of-a-copy, each ensuing sequel in a franchise tends to diminish in quality. The Rocky saga might be the quintessential example, with a follow-up to the transcendent Academy Award winner that fell flat.
Rocky III is a rollicking popcorn film, with an aura Rocky IV attempts to emulate. It only works insomuch as it’s a goofy reflection of its time, rife with 1980s tropes. Rocky V is just depressing.
Compounding my trepidation inherent with sequels, Creed 2 takes its story from Rocky IV. Creed brilliantly recaptured the full range of emotions that still resonate from the original Rocky: Anger, doubt, sorrow, romance, and triumph.
Seriously, watch the training montage and try not to get goosebumps.
Creed managed to reconstruct the Rocky story in a way that was an homage without sacrificing its authenticity. Adonis’ training sequence best crystallizes this, as it rivals the quality of the montage from its predecessor.
This is my favorite scene from a film I’d posit deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016 … had it not been released the same year as Fury Road. And in that thought, I do hold out hope for Creed 2. Studios have produced quality sequels in recent years, including the aforementioned two from outstanding properties with high bars to meet.
Fury Road succeeded in telling an entirely new story in the universe George Miller established almost 40 years earlier. Rather than retelling the narrative of Rocky, Creed 2 needs to take the series in its own, definitive direction.
Kelly Bryant Misses Clemson Practice for A Second Day
Clemson’s two-quarterback system may well have pared down to a one-man show. Trevor Lawrence’s four-touchdown performance Week 4 preceded what Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told reporters was “an emotional day” for Kelly Bryant and him, prompting the coach to give Bryant Monday off from practice.
Reports out of Clemson Tuesday say Bryant missed practice again on Tuesday.
A person with knowledge of the situation confirms to @TheAthleticCFB Clemson QB Kelly Bryant didn’t practice today. (He was given Monday off after losing the starting job.)
FWIW, Bryant, a graduate, could transfer and play elsewhere next year if he doesn’t play again this year.
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) September 26, 2018
The former understudy to two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, Bryant was solid, if not unspectacular, helping Clemson back to the College Football Playoff for a third consecutive season. Bryant completed 66 percent of his passes this season splitting reps with Lawrence, and improved his per-attempt average from 7.0 to 8.6 yards. However, with just two touchdowns and one interception through four games, Bryant’s mobility was not enough to separate him from Lawrence.
That two of the four participants in last season’s Playoff opened 2018 embroiled in quarterback controversies, despite returning the previous year’s starters, might seem ironic. However, it’s more reflective of the current state of college football.
Throughout much of the sport, the game’s never experienced greater parity. At the top, however, a clear monopoly of power exists. The national championship-contending programs — Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State — begin their dominance on the recruiting trail, luring one blue-chip prospect after another.
That includes at the quarterback position. And while a quarterback one year might be good enough to lead the team to a conference championship, and would be a star at a variety of other programs, Alabama and Clemson have grown so strong on the recruiting that they can reasonably sign a player at the same position who’s potentially better.
Jack McKinney and the Paul Westhead Saga
Former NBA coach Jack McKinney died Tuesday at the age of 83. News of passing prompted a tidbit from Friend of The Open Man Matt Zemek (@MattZemek), who noted the bicycling accident that ultimately ended McKinney’s tenure as Los Angeles Lakers coach just as it was beginning.
McKinney’s injuries in the 1979-80 season began a chain of events, leading to the illustrious head coaching tenure of Pat Riley, as Matt details.
Pat Riley was doing TV work for the Lakers when McKinney was head coach at the start of the 1979-1980 season.
After the accident, Paul Westhead brought Riley on staff.
Early in the 1981-82 season, Westhead was fired and Riley was promoted to HC.https://t.co/YXP1koLpv4
— Matt Zemek (@MattZemek) September 26, 2018
The saga involving Paul Westhead fascinates me in its own right. Riley will always be synonymous with Showtime Lakers, and deservedly so, but it’s not unrealistic to think Showtime would not have evolved into the same revolutionary force without Westhead’s abbreviated tenure.
Like McKinney, Westhead was a product of Saint Joseph’s. He parlayed his playing experience in the Philadelphia area into a lengthy coaching stint at Big 5 university La Salle, where the Explorers twice reached the NCAA Tournament in his stay.
The second of his two Tournament teams, in 1978, averaged 86 points per game. La Salle adopted an uptempo offense — the same Fast Break/Transition Offense for which Westhead became synonymous later in his career at his most successful coaching stop.
Westhead joined McKinney’s staff at a time when the NBA was mired in a stylistic rut not unlike the 2000s. Defense and physical play ruled the Association for much of the ’70s. The atmosphere was rife for a shake-up, and the Lakers employing and flourishing with a fast-breaking style provided it.
The NBA of the 1980s was a much more free-flowing, entertaining brand of basketball than in the decade prior. Certainly the arrival of a transcendent player like Magic Johnson provided the catalyst; and it was an inevitability that Magic would force the game to evolve.
However, Westhead initially brought the same fast break approach from La Salle that the Lakers perfected under Riley — whom Westhead added to his staff as an assistant.
Less than a decade after his firing from the Lakers, Westhead returned in Los Angeles at the position for which he’s most famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective). His time with Loyola Marymount was brief, but produced three NCAA Tournament appearances, culminating in one of the most remarkable runs in March history.
Bo Kimble, who led that Lions team after the death of star forward Hank Gathers, told USA Today in 2015 that a team like Virginia of the modern NCAA would have to try to score 124 points to keep up with the 1990 LMU team.
Rules changes after the 2015 season, which was cumulative something of the nadir in recent college basketball quality, have improved offenses. Still, the contemporary game could use a shake-up not unlike the introduction of Showtime to the NBA almost 40 years ago.