The Silver Lining comes to you each Monday shining a spotlight on some of the biggest stories in sports and entertainment.
Luck has not been on the side of some of your favorite Florida Gators men's basketball players as all four who had an opportunity to compete in the 2012 London Olympics found those dreams crushed this week. Let's start with Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who had already qualified for the games as a member of the French National Team. Still nursing a severe sprained ankle he injured two months ago, Noah once thought he would be fully healthy for the Olympics but instead officially removed his name from France's roster this week as his injury is not improving quickly enough.
Then there's Atlanta Hawks C Al Horford (Dominican Republic), soon-to-be Lokomotiv Kuban point guard Nick Calathes (Greece) and current redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario (Puerto Rico), all of whom saw their hopes dashed in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament over the weekend. Greece was shocked by Nigeria and eliminated from the event in the quarterfinals, Puerto Rico lost to Lithuania in the same round, and the Dominican Republic blew two chances to qualify with consecutive losses to Lithuania on Saturday and Nigeria on Sunday.
While the news was not positive for any of the three players this weekend, Horford's actions at the conclusion of Sunday's game were termed as a lack of "class and composure" by the FIBA announcers calling the contest - he left the court with the clock running and 15 seconds left and immediately headed to the locker room. Horford is better than that - I've never heard anyone question his character or maturity. He's usually a team leader and someone that players can look to when wondering how to handle situations the right way. He was the opposite on Sunday and while one might be able to chock it all up to supreme disappointment, Horford has to know that he needs to carry himself better no matter the situation.
Gators junior catcher Mike Zunino received his fourth major national honor in as many weeks on Friday after being named the winner of the 2012 Golden Spikes Award, handed out annually to the nation's premier amateur baseball player. Zunino, who was the first player in school history to win the award and held that same distinction when he captured the Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award in June, was also the highest-drafted player in school history (No. 3 overall to the Seattle Mariners) and has picked numerous Player of the Year and All-American honors. All of this begs the question: Is he the greatest baseball player in Florida history as well?
Honestly, I don't know. He's certainly the most accomplished player on the collegiate level - there is no questioning that. Brad Wilkerson is the only Gators player in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and he did it both ways with his bat and glove. Then there's Matt LaPorta, who may be the most feared hitter in team history and may not have won all the awards Zunino did but also brought his team to the brink of a national title and was picked No. 7 overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. "Best" and "greatest" are pretty subjective terms, and I could probably put together a cognitive argument for all three. Just know that if you watched Zunino play baseball especially these last two years, you saw one of the best to ever do it in the Orange & Blue.
Two quick movie reviews for you: "Ted" - exceeded my expectations; "Savages" - disappointed me immensely. From "Ted" I expected some crude humor and big smiles, but I honestly did not anticipate laughing as much or as hard as I did. Seth MacFarlane should get some legitimate props for his writing and direction as should Mark Wahlberg (he may not be an actor's actor but he certainly did a great job considering his co-lead was a tennis ball on a stick during filming). As for "Savages," the trailer had me expecting to see a movie that could potentially be up at the top of my all-time list. Instead it was a nice story that kept me engaged until it ended with a whimper. Simply put, this was more "U Turn" than it was "Natural Born Killers" when it comes to Oliver Stone's directing. Salma Hayek was awesome, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta killed it, and Blake Lively and Aaron Johnson were pretty good...but Taylor Kitsch needs to find a new job because he simply cannot act.
Spoke with former Florida forward Chris Richard on Sunday. Though he is no longer playing basketball (his post-collegiate highlights came as a midseason replacement for Noah with Chicago and playing a full season in China), Richard is happily back home in Lakeland, FL and has taken a job as a research and development coordinator for New Beginnings High School while still working on his foundation. Richard not wanting to play overseas is the primary reason he has given up the game, but one could also surmise that not being invited to play in the Orlando Summer League hurt a bit as well.
Speaking of summer league action, PG Taurean Green will be playing for the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando, FL while PG Erving Walker will suit up for the Phoenix Suns in Las Vegas, NV.
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(Deal ends July 20, 2012)