Friday, March 5, 2010

Feinstein-Wilbon feud of 2010 is over, will meet with Kornheiser as referee; Maryland fan behavior

I’m not exactly sure where to begin today or where to go once I get started.

So, let’s start with something easy that—for some reason—people seem to be interested in. The Feinstein-Wilbon feud of 2010 is over. Mike called me on Wednesday and we talked and agreed to get together—with Kornheiser serving as the referee—next week. We still disagree on Tiger Woods and no doubt will continue to do so. But we agree that disagreeing on any subject isn’t a reason to start publicly calling each other names.

Mike said one thing that’s absolutely true: This isn’t a lot different than the arguments we used to get into—with Kornheiser and Sally Jenkins usually joining in—in The Washington Post newsroom 25 years ago. We’d often scream at one another and, frequently, the subject was a coach or an athlete we disagreed on. Tony used to joke that Mike only killed people he didn’t have to deal with regularly. We always gave Tony a hard time because he liked attention (all attention) but particularly that which he got from the very wealthy. That may explain why he’s the one person in Washington who doesn’t hammer Dan Snyder on a regular basis. Sally got teased because she liked tennis players and NO one liked tennis players. She once declared the young Andre Agassi to be, “charming.” We declared her to be insane.

I got nailed for not dressing well (that certainly hasn’t changed); for always getting into fights with security people and for liking basketball coaches too much. The one area I’ve actually improved in is security people. I’m not perfect but I’m a lot better.

One of Kornheiser’s favorite stories that is, unfortunately, absolutely true took place at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. I had been stricken with gout, a really terrible case that made walking just about impossible. Any of you who’ve had the misfortune to have gout know how painful it can be. Thank God for modern medicine.

Tony and I were in transit from, I think, the swimming venue to the boxing venue and the bus system had broken down so we jumped into a cab. The cab couldn’t get around to the front of the LA Sports Arena where the media entrance was so it dropped us off in the back. I was really hurting by then.

So, I convinced Tony that we should try to talk our way into the back door, especially since the media workroom was literally 10 yards from there. We walked up to the guard and explained the situation, showing our badges—which had photo ID on them—to the guard.

He kept shaking his head and saying no he couldn’t do it. This was way pre-9-11 but because of the boycott by Eastern Bloc countries, security was very tight. I kept saying, ‘come on, the media room is RIGHT there. Don’t make me walk all the way around this building.”

The guy finally relented. “Okay,” he said. “Just this one time.”

We walked into the media room at which point I turned to Tony and said, “guy’s not even doing his job.”

YES, I was a jerk—or worse. The only good thing about it was that it gave Tony a story he could tell about me—without exaggerating—for years.

What happened with Wilbon and I the last couple of weeks really wasn’t different than what used to happen except it took place in public. Twenty-five years ago Tony and Mike didn’t have a TV show and Tony didn’t have a radio show and I wasn’t on radio all the time and there was no internet. Now, all of that is in play and that’s how this became a “story,” if you want to call it that.

I’m not trying to say Mike and I weren’t pissed at each other; I’m not pulling some jock, “our comments were taken out of context,” move. We were both pissed. We’ve been mad at each other before, we’ll no doubt be mad at each other again. We’ll continue to disagree about Tiger. But that’s all there is to it.


I’m almost hesitant to even bring this up because I know a lot of Maryland people will drag out the tired, “he’s a Duke grad,” argument but when is something going to be done about the behavior of the Maryland fans—particularly when Duke is in town?

Look, I was really happy for Gary Williams on Wednesday because he’s been a friend for more than 30 years and I think he’s done a remarkable coaching job this season. He’s going to be ACC Coach of the Year and Maryland will almost certainly do no worse than tie for the regular season title after being picked fifth in preseason. As he almost always does, Gary has squeezed every last drop out of his team.

Good for him and for his players.

But why do the Maryland fans HAVE to chant profanities constantly when their team is playing Duke. That was a great game Wednesday and it was sullied by the fans behavior—not to mention the 27 arrests after the game. To begin with, Maryland fans should have more respect for their team and their program. Maryland beating Duke isn’t exactly George Mason beating Connecticut.

Maryland won the national championship in 2002—that’s more recently than Duke. Maryland was ONE game behind Duke in the ACC standings going into Wednesday’s game. Maryland coach SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame someday soon, especially if the Hall of Fame nominating committee and voting panel stops being so NBA-centric.

So, Maryland beats Duke and the fans storm the court (I know part of that is caused everywhere by TV but it still makes no sense) after beating a team that is, for all intents and purposes, it’s peer? Then they take to the streets and the headline the next day becomes that, not Greivis Vasquez’s shot in the final minute but the arrests?

It’s ridiculous. I have a great deal of affection for Maryland and for a lot of people who have gone to the school and work at the school. In fact, having lived in the Washington area for more than 30 years and—given my relationship with Duke—I probably have closer ties to Maryland at this point in my life than Duke. That’s NOT to say that Mike Krzyzewski isn’t also a friend and he is obviously someone I have nothing but respect for.

All of that said, I wish the Maryland people would clean up their act. Oh, and by the way, don’t throw the, “Duke fans behave badly,” argument out there because it just doesn’t work—especially these days. In fact, I’ve said before that Krzyzewski has gone TOO far in reigning in behavior in Cameron. It’s good that there are no profane chants, but in toning the students down as he’s done, they’ve lost all their spontaneity and cleverness. I can’t remember the last time I heard a truly funny chant from the Duke students. Their whole ying and yang now is to paint their bodies and get on TV.

There’s a happy middle ground out there somewhere. Enjoy the game and be really loud. Be funny if you can be. My all-time favorite chant was years ago at Duke when the students, after being admonished by Duke President Terry Sanford for going too far during a game, decided to come up with a replacement for the tired, “b-----,” cheer. They replaced it with: “We beg to differ.” THAT was funny.


Last thing: For those of you who seem to think I confuse opinion with fact. Here’s a fact: Today is Friday, March 5th. Just about everything else you will ever read in this blog is going to be opinion. My suggestion to those of you who find my opinions somehow offensive or disconcerting is to read another blog. Seriously, why bother with someone who is always so wrong about everything? God knows I wouldn’t read Rush Limbaugh if he had a blog. Life’s too short. Read what you enjoy, not what makes your blood pressure go up.


case said...

wow am i glad the feinstein-wilbon war is over
now we can get to lesser issues such as afghanistan,chile,haiti

Tim said...

I have to agree on the lightheartedness tone of case on this one....but I DO find it amazing how many different places I saw your 'feud' mentioned. Who knew it was so important to the masses?

On fan behavior, there is much that I've never understood. Staying with in-arena chants, behavior, etc, I have never understood when a lower ranked, or bad, team chants down the stretch, while winning, 'Over-Rated!, Over-Rated.' Wouldn't you rather that team not be brough down to the masses in your teams realm, and rather be considered a top 5 team (or whatever it is) yourself?

I'd like someone's 'opinion' on that.

Anonymous said...

Well done on the March 5th fact... Well it's my opinion that it's well done.
Might be a good way to start every new post. Here's a fact. Today is (insert date here). Just about everything else you will read in this blog is going to be opinion. My suggestion to those who find my opinions offensive or disconcerting is to read another blog... since as this one is mine it will be filled with my opinions.
Love the Blog. Thanks for writing it.

Gunnar said...

I have never understood the "over-rated" chant, it discredits the winning team.

John, if you are still at The Honda, have a look at Alex Prugh. He is a rookie, two top fives, a top ten and has made the cut in all five of his events this year. He had a good round yesterday, too.

I thought the John Daly show on the Golf Channel was pretty good.

Dana King said...

I've been a Duke fan for years. I think Mike Krzyzewski runs a model program, as close to the way college athletics should be run as a competitive Division I school can get; so does Gary Williams.

I've lived in College park, live in Laurel now, and my daughter is a freshman at UMD, so I now root against Duke. I was fine with the kids storming the floor. Maryland and Duke are peer programs, as you said, but Maryland definitely suffers from "second city" syndrome. Nationally, experts probably accept the two schools as peers, but casual fans do not. The Washington Post's clearly premature series last year on Maryland's demise probably also sparked some emotion, to see the team rise so far in just one year.

On the other hand, truly offensive behavior, shutting down Route 1, and setting fires is not acceptable behavior. The arrested students should be given a fair hearing; if guilty, they should be expelled. They want to set fires, they can transfer to West Virginia.

Matt Dick said...

I used to have a strange conversation with people when we'd talk about art (literature, painting, music, etc.). It was recurrent, but I remember one specific conversation wherein we were discussing forms of music. I professed a love for opera, saying something like, "Denyce Graves is a *way* better singer than Some Popsinger, you're crazy!"

The other people looked offended and said, "well you need to remember that that's your opinion, not a fact!"

Now seriously, we're talking about the merits of art, do I have to preface with the obvious fact that it's my opinion? Art critique *is* opinion.

HenryFTP said...

I would certainly hope that John continues to disagree with Mike and with Tony -- the fact that all three are highly opinionated, highly articulate and (mostly) well-informed has always made them three of the most thought-provoking and entertaining sportswriters in the country. Having said that, I don't think I'd want to get into an argument with any of you -- all of you seem to be prone to be overcome by the "red mist" in the heat of battle. But that's because you are truly dedicated and passionate about what you do.

As an old Washingtonian, I continue to be mystified as to why Maryland students seem to have an inferiority complex that fuels stupid and classless behavior. Of course Duke, Carolina and Virginia students in particular can be terribly stuck-up about their supposedly more elite academic, and heaven help us, social status, but that equally should make them easy targets for satire and ridicule. Even putting aside the obvious and unnecessarily excessive damage to institutional and individual reputations, this Maryland act is just lame, and it serves only to provide additional fodder to feed the arrogance of their rivals.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't you read a Limbaugh blog?

Shaun E in PC said...

The feinstein-wilbon war is over? The only reason why it was a "story" is folks with too much time on their hands and having to justify a paycheck (in the media). By commenting on it and then doing tv just adds to the "story."

Let's stick to "real" stories and opinions.

Hokiehusband said...

As husband of a rabid Terp wife, we own season tix to MD games. I have a brother who's a WVU grad. My wife laughs at the F*** D*** and other profane chants as my brother laughs at the WVU bottle throwing and riots. they both own companies and are otherwise respectable people. Must be the water.
I thought rushing the floor was spontaneous and a nice gesture after a GREAT, emotional game, hated rival, plus senior night. Once every 4 years gives every student a chance for the thrill.

Anonymous said...

Oh why couldn't there have been reality TV in the 80s & 90s? I mean, a behind the scenes show at the Washington Post starring Feinstein, Kornheiser & Wilbon with special guest Sally Jenkins? Talk about Must See TV!

Paul said...

It's Friday March 5th, and this is my opinion. Feinstein, Wilbon, and Kornheiser are all big 'crybabies'. You guys have not matured in 25 years? What does that say about Sportswriters.

I love reading 'delusional' Columnist. O'Reily, Coulter, Feistein et al. it's great fun to read 'media elites' scare us and pound 'talking points' into us over and over again. Tiger bad..Goydo's good. Rocco good Tiger bad... as son on! Keep up this fantastic work!

Mike said...

Writer's comment: "yin" and yang. But since yin and yang refer to interconnected duality, it's not clear how that relates to body painting and getting on TV.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with storming the court after a win over a rival. The Terp fans didn't interfere with the Duke players or coaches and they were just showing their excitement.

That said, the profane chants and the stupid behavior after the game were real problems, but at least the fans didn't throw batteries at the players' mothers this year.

Anonymous said...

Did you and Wilbon also agree to disgree on whether or not he is a "real journalist?"

Vince Spence said...

If it was about Tiger, Michael was right and you were wrong.

You have a habit of cementing yourself into a position and refuse to budge. When you are right, you are usually right. When you are wrong, you are insufferable. Your take on Tiger is 125% wrong.

John, check with your blog people. They'll tell you it is okay to comment on your own posts. Actually, it is somewhat expected. Unless, you don't read them. If that's the case, get your blog people to respond.

Woelper Family Blog said...


any comment on Bill simmons and his comparison of tiger to ali?


Anonymous said...

Hmm - Maryland got a season defining win over their most hated rival. This win was on national television and was senior day for their best and most polarizing player since the title run in 2002.

It also gave the Terps a tie for first in the conference and signaled the return to the top for Gary after a much criticized downturn.

Now - what should I write about??

I know - the tacky behavior of the fanbase.

I love your books John, but there were so many other great storylines you could have chosen.


Kevin said...

Uh...there's nothing wrong with rushing the floor. It was a big game, one that was close throughout and that could have gone either way, for a first place tie, and potentially first place overall, on senior night, the last home game of the year, and they won.

When did celebrating big wins only if you're a major underdog become the rule, and who appointed that person rule maker? was a huge win...if that wasn't an occasion for fans to rush the floor, there never is one. Some of you need to remove the stick from your butt.

Anonymous said...

Rick Reilly had an interesting column on rushing the court, I think his rules might be overly restrictive, but it does seem like it is getting a little overdown in college hoops today.

Gordon said...


I like Mike Wilbon and you know I like you. What I'm afraid you do no realize is that what you dislike about each other is what you have in common.

Those of us who read you daily see that you have the same opinions about certain college basketball coaches as Wilbon does about Woods and Jordan. Neither of you are wiling to be critical of "your guys". But at the same time you both are objective about other people and situations in sports that require commentary. If you are honest with yourself you must admit that you "friendships" color your ability to be objective. It is simple human nature.

You both have been critical of "your guys" at one point or another. I't just that neither of you have the ability to be as hard on people you do like as you are with people whom you do not. The BCS not withstanding in your case.

One last thing on that subject. Some unsolicited advice to both of you. GROW THE HELL UP! Your otherwise intelligent adults. Act like it. And if you can't for god sake leave us innocent bystanders out of it.

As for Maryland. The reason Maryland and many others have an inferiority complex is because Duke Basketball is treated like Notre Dame football. As if the entire universe revolves around them. I of course do not mean you in regards to Duke. In fact you go to far the other direction on Duke.

flynnie said...

Why not have a structure for the student celebration? Welcome it! Other places with spring festivals allow folks on the streets. Mardi Gras; St. Patrick's Day A big win over a bitter rival is the perfect time - the crowd is happy. Let everyone know that there will be a parade to Byrd with the Pep Band leading the way. Organize a bonfire like at A&M. The PG Cops have been allowed to criminalize normal, exuberant, behaviour in springtime. This is when most riots occur in college towns. The solution is to prepare, plan, publicize and welcome a spontaneous celebration.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
The following was reported on a Terp fan message board.

"Feinstein appeared on 620 The Buzz (Raleigh) this morning complaining about SVP's enthusiasm at the game last Wednesday. Then went on to say that if he and Bilas sat behind the Duke bench at CIS and yelled and complained about every call that went against Duke that they would be vilified."

Is this true? If it is then what is your point? Why would you care what a sports anchor does on his free time?

charles pierce said...

My allegiances are obvious -- to everyone in a 12-block radius, as John (among others) knows. But, I'd like to say that, as a fan whose allegiance to the Warriors goes back over 35 years, I am as impressed by this year's Marquette team as any other one I've ever seen, including the '77 champs. No height. Picked to finish 12th in the league. And now a lock for the field.
I am on the Buzz Bandwagon.