Monday, January 4, 2010

Wizard of 10,000 Lakes?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Now that the Minnesota Vikings are headed to the NFL Playoffs under future Hall of Fame Quarterback Brett Favre, I have some good advice for all politicians & fans in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."

Build the Vikings a new updated stadium or they'll leave. If history repeats itself, a likely destination for the Vikings could be Los Angeles. It isn't a matter of if it will happen, just when it will happen that the NFL will want to place a franchise in the No.2 television market in the country.

The only other two teams that make sense are the San Diego Chargers, who like their former entertainment competitor the NBA's San Diego (Los Angeles) Clippers made the move a couple hours north to play in the same market and now arena as the Lakers.

The Jacksonville Jaguars just completed a 7-9, non playoff season and they faced attendance problems by not selling out their stadium as their games were blacked out. Even if the Jaguars were to draft former Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow to sell tickets, the former Heisman Trophy Winner and two-time national champion won't be able to save the Northern Florida franchise in the long-term.

But back to the Vikings.

There is a history between the cities of Minneapolis and Los Angeles. It's a very deep one.

After John Wooden's final season at Larry Bird's alma mater Indiana State University in 1947-48, The Wizard of Westwood was being pursued for the head coaching job at the University of Minnesota.

It was Wooden's wife Nellie's desire to remain in the Midwest since John was from Hall, Indiana.

Inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking that they lost interest, Wooden accepted the head coaching job with UCLA instead. Officials from the University of Minnesota contacted Wooden immediately after he accepted the Bruins offer, but he declined to take the Golden Gophers job because he had given his word to UCLA.

Wooden would post a 620-147 record with the Bruins, won 10 NCAA titles and had a record 88-game winning streak. The 99-year old was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961 and the inaugural College Basketball Hall of Fame Class in 2006.

If Wooden had coached in Minnesota, can you imagine what the NCAA basketball history books would look like?

Did you know that the history of the Los Angles Lakers didn't begin in Minnesota but in Detroit?

The Detroit Gems were sold in 1946 to Minnesota businessmen Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen for $15,000 and relocated to the Twin Cities in 1947. The Minneapolis Lakers were born and won their lone National Basketball League title in 1948.

The Lakers, led by George Mikan proceeded to win five more NBA championships in Minnesota in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. The Minneapolis Lakers resided in their state from 1947-60 and then followed Wooden to Los Angeles and added 11 more championships. The franchise has 30 conference titles and lots of Hall of Fame players.

I'll bet the folks in Minnesota could only dream of watching Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar play in their city.

It doesn't take a math major to figure out that if you add Wooden's 10 titles and the 11 additional that the Lakers won in Southern California, you're at 21. That's a great hand at Black Jack and would have been a lot of trophies and banners to hang up in two different arenas.

To make matters worse for the good folks in Minnesota, it was the Lakers who defeated the Kevin Garnett led Timberwolves in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Ironically, it was the Detroit Pistons, that defeated the Lakers playing a "Detroit Gems" of a series with the performances of Chauncey Billups, another former Timberwolve, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, etc.

So the bottom line is, with all the history and ironies that exist between Minneapolis and Los Angeles, it would be wise to build the Vikings a new stadium. The Timberwolves have a new building, the Wild has a new arena in St. Paul but the city learned the hard way when the North Stars moved to Dallas and the Twins are moving into their new downtown open air ball park this season. The Gophers just completed their first season in their new on campus open air stadium.

The NFL is less forgiving then the other sports. Just ask the cities of Baltimore, Houston, Cleveland and St. Louis and they'll tell you how much more time and money it took to bring a team back to their city when each place ended up building a new stadium to accommodate another team after the Colts, Oilers, Browns (Ravens) and Cardinals bolted town for greener pastures.

I'd hate to see Minnesota lose anymore titles. If you factor in a Stanley Cup Championship for the Dallas Stars a few years ago, the total would increase to 22.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Detroit Pistons,i have bought tickets from TicketFront.com looking forward to it.

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