Robert Kraft. Bill Belisle. Bill Russell. Ed Cooley. David Cox.
It’s the name game today, folks, so here we go!
Police in Jupiter, Fla., have charged the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with soliciting for prostitution. Really? The 77-year-old businessman and philanthropist worth $6.6 billion, according to various reports, offered to pay for sex at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where the hourly rate is $79. Really? Twice. Really? The authorities say they have video surveillance of Kraft receiving sex services. Really? Whew! I can hear the Patriots haters howling. Spygate, Deflategate and now Spagate. Unbelievable.
Warrants have been issued for Kaft and others in the wake of an eight-month investigation into sex trafficking in South Florida. A spokesman for Kraft denied that the Pats owner participated in any illegal activity.
The charge is a misdemeanor and the punishment for a first offense minimal. So, Kraft may never see the inside of a Florida courtroom. However his case turns out, he has already paid dearly, his name and face splashed across television screens and newspaper front pages, his reputation tarnished.
Moving on to other names in the news . . .
Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket threw a party last week for Mr. Mountie himself, Norman “Bill” Belisle, a party that hockey people in Rhode Island will talk about for a long time.
The man who coached the Mounties to 1,000 victories and 32 state championships, 26 in a row; who produced 180 All-State selections and dozens of Division I college players, and who earned induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, stood behind the bench for his last regular-season home game. Beside him stood his son and long-time co-coach, Dave Belisle.
Before the opening faceoff, though, a capacity crowd of former players, alums, fans and school officials packed old Adelard Arena for a rousing sendoff to father and son, a thank you and good-bye to a blue-collar guy who put the school and the state on the national map.
Next season, Mount St. Charles will make the bold move to an independent hockey program for elite players. Mount will still sponsor a team in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League but probably not with its best skaters. A coaching staff for the hockey academy is already in place, and the school announced Thursday that Matt Merten, a volunteer assistant coach now, will assume control of the Interscholastic League team.
The anchor of the great Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1950s and 1960s, Bill Russell turned 85 on Feb. 12. Eighty five? Four score and five? Say it isn’t so! Didn’t I just finish Russell’s autobiography, “Go Up For Glory”? Oh, that was in 1966, when I was a high-school teen trying to figure things out.
Russell, a defensive force at center, and the Celtics won an astounding 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons from 1957 to 1969. He also won two NCAA titles at the University of San Francisco and a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics. Fifty years after his last game, Bill Russell remains the greatest rebounder and shot-blocker in NBA history. His battles with Wilt Chamberlain, possibly the greatest offensive center, were epic.
Russell also was responsible for the greatest broadcast call in NBA annals. His inbounds pass off the guy wire in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals against Philadelphia set up John Havlicek’s game-saving steal and Johnny Most’s screaming call, “Havlicek stole the ball!”
This has been a long season for coach Ed Cooley and his Providence College basketball team. The Friars are young and too often have shown their inexperience. They are 15-12 overall, but only 5-9 and tied for last in the Big East heading into their Saturday matinee with Marquette. They have lost 5 of the 15 home games. Winning the Big East championship next month would appear to be their only ticket to their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament. A more realistic approach is wait until next year.
Taking over for Dan Hurley at the University of Rhode Island after Hurley left for the University of Connecticut was not going to be easy. David Cox, a Hurley assistant, knew that. After two consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament expectations in Kingston are high. But the basketball Rams have been so up-and-down this season that even Cox must be a little surprised. They lost their fifth in a row Friday night, to Davidson, are 12-14 overall and 5-9 in the Atlantic 10. There will be no dancing to March Madness this year. As at PC, wait until next year.