BY Art Thiel 02:01AM 12/16/2010

Water Cooler Cool, Dec. 16

Sportspress Northwest columnist Art Thiel weighs in on the weekend sports scene in order to provide you with plenty of ammunition to start a conversational conflagration.

Bill Russell, delivering a tongue lashing to Tom Burleson, coached the Sonics from 1973 through 1977. Under his direction, the Sonics acquired many of the players who would win the NBA title two years later / DR Collection

Each Thursday, Art Thiel checks out the weekend sports scene and offers more casual sports fans some observations that can get them in and out of conversations without anyone catching on to your, ahem, casualness.

Whether at the water cooler, bus, lunchroom,  frat kegger or cocktail party, you can drop in a riposte, bon mot or bit o’ wit to start a conversational conflagration, or put one out.  Then walk away.


UW basketball — San Francisco at Huskies 7 p.m., Hec Ed Pavilion  (FSN): The Huskies, at 6-3 after fluffing a winnable game at Texas A&M, should have their way with the 4-5 Dons of the West Coast Conference. But worth knowing is that USF has one of the greatest, saddest histories in big-time college sports — with  Seattle connections.

The Dons won national championships in 1955 and 1956, and 25 years later shut down the program because cheating and player misbehavior were out of control. A year earlier, for some of the same reasons, another Jesuit school, Seattle University, did the same thing.

USF’s titles were won primarily because of center Bill Russell, who went on to become one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, where he won 11 titles in his 13 years with the Boston Celtics. He also coached the Seattle Sonics from 1973-77, and is retired and living on Mercer Island.

But another ex-Sonic, Quintin Dailey (1989-91), was the final straw in the USF program collapse. In December, 1981, he was charged with assaulting a female student. He was later found to have taken a no-show job as well as booster money.  In a rare burst of conscience for a major Division I university, the president said the hell with it, put the program in cement shoes and hurled into the Bay, believed to be near Alcatraz. Dailey, 49, died last month in Las Vegas.

But the USF program was resurrected in 1985, won a WCC title in 1998, and is now back to floundering, more or less.

But because Russell is also a very smart, successful man, he transcended the game and, frankly, the USF program.  So Water Cooler Cool will follow his lead, by sharing a favorite bit of his wisdom as he responded to a long-ago question, before major league baseball had a black manager.

Drop this one on your crew, then glide: “What’s more important than who’s going to be the first black manager is who’s going to be the first black sports editor of the New York Times.”

Seahawks football –Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field, 1p.m. (Fox, ch. 13):

The 11-2 Falcons have, at seven games, the longest winning streak in the NFL. The Seahawks have nothing. Zip. Nada. Nolo contendre. Losers of five of the last seven, the Seahawks might be the weakest six-win division leader in NFL history, a regular Olive Oyl challenged by Bluto (kids, go ask your grandfathers).

Nearly everyone important for the Seahawks is hurt, and those that aren’t, are mostly afraid. Get this: In the first quarter this season, the Seahawks have been outscored 86-34.

So if you happen to be married to a Seahawks fan who claims that his sacred hours are from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays, you can now offer him critical, accurate direction:

“You got 15 minutes, tops, butter-butt, before this game is over and you’re on top of our ladder cleaning the gutters.”


  • Anonymous

    Now about the $700k Holt is earning. Sounds like he was a REAL good coach when he was at 5 star-loaded USC, but so far I’d say he merits a “C” at best.

    He may need to meet with Sark about getting his pay in line with his skill set.

  • 3 Lions

    the dawgs are young & inexperienced & apparently can’t get up for the last opener in Husky staduim after not playing a game for 9 months. They will lose Saturday unless they execute & play w an edge!