Archive for June, 2012

Still hating LeBron?

June 21st, 2012
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For those who have cast him in the role of anti-hero, does LeBron James leading the Miami Heat to the NBA championship make him more or less loathsome?

I never really understood why people — other than Cleveland Cavaliers fans — held James in such disdain. From everything I’ve heard and read he’s a decent young man who just put his foot in his mouth a few times. Maybe a little too much swagger at times, but now he’s backed it up (well, six more championships to go to totally back it up, I guess).

Hawaii’s greatest Olympian?

June 20th, 2012
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If today’s column subject, Bryan Clay, earns a third Olympic medal in the decathlon in London this summer does that push him past Duke Kahanamoku as Hawaii’s greatest Olympian? Interesting question I discussed briefly on the radio this morning with Scott Robbs and Steve Murray, who are subbing for Bobby Curran this week on 1420 AM’s morning show.

Kahanamoku will have finished with more medals than Clay … but top swimmers have many more opportunities for medals than decathletes.

Clay will never be the same mythic and transcendent figure to Hawaii and Hawaiians as Kahanamoku, but even if he doesn’t make it out of the trials for the U.S. team this week he will still be one of the greatest decathletes of all-time, with a silver in 2004 and a gold in 2008.

Where does Tommy Kono (born and raised in California, but longtime Hawaii resident) fit into the conversation? Kono won two golds and a silver in weightlifting in three Olympiads.

Miano instantly elevates Kaiser-Kalani rivalry

June 15th, 2012
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The stakes have been raised in high school football on the eastside of Honolulu. The Kaiser-Kalani football game just became very interesting with Rich Miano taking over the head coaching reins at his alma mater.

These are two small schools that haven’t had much football success, at least recently. But that figures to change soon at Kaiser with Miano’s hiring today and Kalani is already on the upswing.

“We’ve got the mighty Falcons right down the street,” said Miano, the former Kaiser star who went on to the University of Hawaii as a player, a long NFL career and than back to UH as an assistant coach. “The Lee brothers have done a great job there in the short time they’ve been there.”

Miano’s referring to his coaches from Kaiser back in the early 1980s, Ron and Cal Lee, who were also his colleagues on the UH staff. The Lee brothers led the Cougars to the Prep Bowl, with Miano as a star safety.

“I’m going to have to do what Ron and Cal did and go recruit players from the diving team,” said Miano, alluding to how he was spotted by the Lees at the Cougars diving pool and brought over to play football at Kaiser more than 30 years ago.

Ron Lee joined the Kalani staff two years ago after leaving UH, where he was offensive coordinator. Cal Lee, who starred as a Falcons linebacker in the 1960s, returned to his alma mater as defensive coordinator earlier this year; Cal Lee had also been on the UH staff before Norm Chow replaced Greg McMackin as head coach.

Miano said he is very excited about returning to his alma mater, where he replaces Will Lobendahn.

“I really didn’t want to leave Hawaii, and this is a great opportunity,” he said.

Miano also said he was hesitant when first approached about the job, because he didn’t want to step over Kaiser grads and long-time local coaching stalwarts Bryan Almadova and Tim Seaman.

“But they endorsed me and said they’ll be on the staff,” Miano said.

Locals at Belmont, Sakata, Hawaii QB recruit, Heat-Thunder

June 10th, 2012
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Carina Tagupa of Ewa Beach was only slightly disappointed that she and her mother, Lottie, of Kamuela, lost out on their chance to be eye witnesses to horse-racing history when I’ll Have Another was pulled out of the Belmont Stakes. I’ll Have Another had a shot at the Triple Crown after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but didn’t race Saturday as a medical precaution.

“I commend the trainers and owners. It could’ve been catastrophic,” Carina said, in a phone interview from New York where the Belmont Stakes was a highlight of their vacation. “And even without that aspect it was still an amazing and unique experience for us, being from Hawaii, where there is no horse racing.”

Carina said she’d been to the track at Del Mar in California for some races, but Belmont Park was a completely different environment. She said it was just a bonus that Lottie placed a winning wager on Union Rags, which edged Paynter by a neck. “It’s like a Super Bowl or World Series game, 85,000 people.”

They had seats near the start of the home stretch. “When they hit that final gear, the roar is incredible, like Ferraris,” she said.

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Wondering what Lenn Sakata is up to these days? Brian Vanderbeek of the Modesto Bee fills us in.

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Brian also tells me that the Modesto area quarterback Hawaii has offered, Aaron Zwahlen, is “a quality kid.”

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I say Miami beats Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals in six games — assuming Chris Bosh remains healthy. What say you?

A’s and Ka’aihue: Heartless move or just business?

June 9th, 2012
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We got a reminder this week of how professional sports management often makes cold, hard business decisions that seem heartless.

This time it directly affected a Hawaii guy, A’s first baseman Kila Ka’aihue. The ‘Iolani product from Kailua was designated for minor league assignment just a few days before his wife is expected to deliver twins. Right now he’s in limbo, waiting to see if another team will pick him up before he’s sent to the minors.

Ka’aihue left without commenting, but teammates have spoken up on his behalf, anonymously criticizing the move. The move was a surprise, since Ka’aihue had become Oakland’s starting first baseman.

His production hasn’t been great (.234, 4 HRs, 14 RBI in 128 ABs this season). It’s not like he’s being replaced by Albert Pujols; Brandon Moss is 1 for 10 for the A’s this year, although he had been swinging a hot bat in Triple A.