June 13th, 2016
What do I always say? People who watch the NBA often become “prisoner of the moment”. That’s exactly what happened to Tyronn Lue, who convinced himself that starting a 35 year old Richard Jefferson over all-star Kevin Love, would yield a victory for the Cavs in game 4. This was ultimately nothing more than shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic, because the Cavs were going to lose this series with or without Love. The Warriors decided they just didn’t care in game 3, and ended up getting blown out, which had nothing to do with Love not being in the lineup. In game 4, the Splash Brothers showed up and the Cavs were no match, just like we knew was going to happen at some point. As great as Lebron is, he has a real Peyton Manning look to his legacy. One of the great talents of all time, but doesn’t always assert his dominance in the biggest moments. He did for a while in Miami, but now he’s reverted back to being passive in the 4th quarter. The Cavs needed the Lebron of last years finals to have a chance in this series. Draymond had this one game suspension coming. There’s only so many times you can dish out shots to the balls. Speaking of Draymond, he looks like that dude that takes a bite out of every piece of chocolate in the box, until he finds one he likes, then puts the rest back in the box. I don’t think the suspension will matter anyway, because the Warriors have too much depth and create too many matchup problems. It’s really good to finally see some back and forth trash talking between Lebron and the Warriors. There’s just not enough hate in the NBA these days. Despite Steph’s horrible first three games, he should still get the MVP if he has a good game tonight, and the Warriors should close it out. The internet is amazing isn’t it?……
Everyone is going to make a huge deal out of Magic Johnson no longer being an honorary Vice President of the Lakers. However, it needed to be done. Magic’s tweets and public comments might have eventually put the Lakers at risk for tampering with free agents, and even got them fined, despite the fact he isn’t really on the payroll anymore. Magic’s tweets are ridiculous anyway, and can usually be found under #captainobvious. I look forward to his next tweet which will probably tell us that the sky is blue, the grass is green, and the weekend consists of Saturday and Sunday.
I’m a huge fan of the Olympic games, but what the IOC is doing is totally wrong. None of these athletes should be forced to make a decision between their own personal health and competing in an event they’ve been waiting their whole life for. The decision is a little bit easier for the NBA players who are dropping out left and right, who don’t want to risk catching the Zika virus. Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, and James Harden have already won Olympic gold medals. Steph Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge, John Wall, and Blake Griffin probably wouldn’t play anyway, even if they were healthy. The decision is much more difficult for Olympic athletes in other sports, who often only get this one opportunity to compete. Many will compete and take the risk, but damn the IOC for putting the athletes in this situation. There should be 5-10 countries in the world that host the Olympics, and Brazil is definitely not one of them.
UCLA has given head coach Jim Mora Jr. a two year extension. This one is up for all kinds of mixed reviews. In four years, Mora has guided the Bruins to 2 ten win seasons, four bowl games, and a 3-1 record against cross-town rival USC. Although the talent level has gone up immensely under Mora, the final results have left you with a feeling that the program has underachieved. Since a Holiday Bowl appearance in 2012, it’s felt like a slow and steady decline. The Bruins still haven’t won a conference title since the 1998 season, and have only won the Pac 12 South once in Mora’s four years. He’s become a poor man’s Bob Toledo. At least the Bruins didn’t give him a 10 year extension. I suppose you can give him a pass for the injuries last year, however, Mora should have the best quarterback in the Pac 12 South this year. He also has 9 returning starters on defense, and the biggest conference games of the year at home: Stanford, Arizona, and USC. Anything short of an appearance in the Pac 12 Championship game, and Mora will officially cement this program in underachieving mediocrity.
On to baseball where it looked like the Dodgers were going to make up some serious ground on the Giants this weekend, and then Kenley Jansen blew up on Saturday. Blown saves are going to happen from time to time for anybody, but they can’t happen against your division rivals. The Boys in Blue already have a lot to overcome like their inept offense, lack of pitching depth, an inconsistent offense and bullpen, as well as a front office executive that’s in way over his head. Not finishing that game on top of all that is what’s going to seal their fate come the fall when they are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Joc Pederson’s bone head play in the 7th inning on Saturday, when he attempted to steal third base, was also a major blunder as well. Corey Seager and Trayce Thompson are very promising young players, but I’m still not sold on Pederson. Andrew Friedman doesn’t want to hear it though, as he has forced his managers to play Joc everyday, regardless of their feelings for him. Although Julio Urias keeps looking better, yesterday was not enough either. Dodger baseball has never been more aggravating.
As for the Angels, they are steadily circling the drain. After dropping two of three to Cleveland at the Big A, the Halos are now losers of 8 of their last 11, and are sinking to the bottom of the AL West standings. I wouldn’t exactly say help is on the way either, with Tim Lincecum getting lit up in the minors, although Mike Scioscia claims he’s optimistic and excited about getting him in the rotation. On the bright side, Matt Shoemaker has turned it around, and if he keeps this up, he could probably fetch some decent prospects at next months trade deadline. Other than that things are pretty bleak for the Halos. Even Mike Trout was hitting just .243 in June coming into Sunday’s game. Things haven’t been this bad in Anaheim since they shut down Pirates of the Caribbean last year.
We really lost some amazing legends over the last week: first Muhammad Ali, and then Gordie Howe. Ali’s memorial service on Friday was beautiful. Billy Crystal’s eulogy was brilliantly done, and the passionate speech by Rabbi Michael Lerner was very powerful. Whether you agree or disagree with what he said, his words were so perfect for the Ali service. Ali was constantly fighting against the place American society tried to put him in, and was ultimately respected for it. Lerner was simply echoing how Ali would feel about what’s going on today, if he were still alive, which is so symbolic of his great legacy. Shame on all those people though who tried to profit off his memorial service by selling tickets, or even t-shirts. I do have respect though for all those people that were willing to pay money to go to that service. As for Gordie Howe, he wasn’t the transcendent figure in American society that Ali was, but he was an ambassador for hockey before Wayne Gretzky showed up. Howe was a world class player, and a world class human being. He played until he was 52 years old, and put hockey on the map. I idolized Wayne Gretzky growing up, but Gretzky idolized Howe, who influenced him on and off the ice, which ultimately helped shape Gretzky as the player and human being he became. In case you missed Billy Crystal’s eulogy, here it is. It’s long, but definitely worth it!
I saw Part 1 of ESPN’s 30 for 30 on OJ Simpson: Made in America. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the documentary is definitely worth it, because it’s much more than just the trial. The first part put race into context in the 60’s and 70’s, and how it related to OJ. He did not see himself as a black man, he saw himself as someone who was accepted by white America, and had no interest in helping the black community become more accepted, despite other great athletes attempts to do so. The documentary also explained how police brutality started in the LAPD during that time. I bring this up because nearly fifty years later, despite the progress that has been made, race, religion, and sexual orientation are still major social issues in our country. Although we just had our first black president, in many ways, the nomination of Donald Trump as our next President is somewhat of a response against the acceptance of individuals of certain race, religion, or sexual orientation. Given the events that happened in Orlando on Sunday morning, sometimes it feels like these issues will simply never go away despite the progress. On that note, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and individuals that were affected by that tragedy.
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Stanley Cup yesterday by defeating the Sharks 4-2 in their best of seven series. More importantly, the Penguins helped revitalize all of the jokes we will be able to make about the Sharks, and their inability to win the big one. Yes the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. However, they won the Stanley Cup because after seven years of failure since their last cup, they finally fixed their defense and goaltending. That is something the Kings no longer had this year, and something the Ducks haven’t figured out in a decade. It’s also a reminder that even when you’re struggling in January and February, it doesn’t matter as long as you make the playoffs and are peaking at the right time. So don’t freak out when the Kings don’t re-sign Milan Lucic, or Steve Stamkos, or some other stud who can score goals. They are way better off spending their dough on fortifying the defense. In the meantime, enjoy making fun of the Sharks…..
Finally, another excellent episode of Game of Thrones went down last night on HBO. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it. This episode made you realize how powerful certain relationship were in the show. Jamie’s closest thing to a friend is probably Brienne, but the dynamics of their relationship are interesting in acknowledging that they might have to fight each other if necessary. When the castle is recovered and Brienne floats away, I think they are both thankful it didn’t come to that. I get the feeling that is probably the last time we are going to see those two together. It was somewhat moving, and frankly, reminds you why many of us have grown to like Jamie. As for Varys and Tyrion, they seem to bring out the best in each other, but after all this time, I still don’t entirely trust Varys. Then there’s Tommen, who has essentially sentenced his mother to death by banning trial by combat. The stupidity of Tommen amazes me though, because as Jamie said, Cersei would do whatever it takes to protect her son. Apparently he doesn’t feel the same way and in the long run, this stupidity is going to be his downfall. Something tells me though that Margaery has a plan to save her brother, and Cersei will be a beneficiary of that process. The Hound’s story was interesting for a while, but now that his revenge has happened, his story doesn’t seem that interesting. Arya’s killing of the Waif was somewhat predictable, but it was good to see her reestablish her identity, instead of this no one stupidity. I thought she was actually going to kill Jaqen or a second, but they both seemed very satisfied walking away at that point. Daenerys return to Mereen came just in the nick of time, but I wish we had gotten to see her Dragons destroy the slave masters. Overall, great episode!