Who would've thought that nearly 20 years to the date of the last time the Celtics and Lakers squared off in the NBA Finals, both teams would be the laughing stock of the league? Two teams famous for their strong front offices now have arguably the two worst. Long gone are the days of Jerry West and Red Auerbach. Now it's Mitch Kupchak and Danny Ainge. Before that, dare I say, it was Rick Pitino and his Lets Sign Travis Knight To a Three Year $18 Million Dollar Deal or his Lets Sign Every Player Who Ever Played for Me at Kentucky era of basketball. Now, the Celtics have heinous fluorescent yellow advertisements on their floor (the parquet has never been so disgraced) and the Lakers are about to lose their second Top 15 Player of All-Time in less than five years with Kobe now wanting out of Los Angeles. Losing Superman (Shaq) was bad enough. But now, because the Lakers were hell-bent on retaining superstars (dripping with sarcasm) like Odom, Kwame and Bynum instead of trading them for a proven winner like Kidd, the Lakers will most likely end up with a team that doesn't even remotely resemble a playoff contender if Kobe departs.
The NBA Playoffs this year have hardly rivaled last year's amazing postseason campaign. Still, we've seen the emergence of Lebron James as a truly elite player worthy of any accolades thrown his way. His fourth quarter performances in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals – against the defensive-minded Pistons nonetheless – has propelled him to a Climb On My Back level that greats like Jordan, Bird and Magic are famous for. King James hasn't won anything so let's not name a street after him in Cleveland just yet, but he will and when he does the parade route will run right down Lebron James Way.
I consider the three pillars of evil walking the earth today to be clowns, mimes and magicians. That said I love the NBA's "Unbelievable" marketing campaign featuring David Blaine using magical themes to describe the talents of guys like Nowitzki, Nash and Ming. I've only seen four of the nine featured ads. I can't wait to see the one where Blaine shows how Nowitzki made himself disappear in the first round against the Nuggets. Should be a good one.
Breaking News: Kobe Bryant now wants to stay in Los Angeles.
The big Liddell/Jackson UFC title fight last weekend amounted to a little more than nothing. Call me hard headed but I'm just not buying the notion that UFC is the wave of the future. I'll take a good boxing bout any day of the week over anything the UFC can throw my way. I'll admit there's an anxiety in the room during these fights that's hard to explain, but that same anxiety/intensity exists in boxing. Plus, I'm sorry, but put any boxer into the ring with one of these guys and it'll be lights out. No fighter of any kind packs more of a punch than a professional boxer and no one is harder to hit in the face than a professional boxer. Granted, the grappling stuff might be tough for an artisan of the sweet science to handle but Rocky had no problems in body slamming Thunderlips in a wrestling match or beating up Tommy Gunn in a street fight so I think my argument holds some water.
Who saw the feature story about dog fighting and Michael Vick on ESPN Sunday night? I don't know about you but I find it eerie when witnesses get the Hal on a Sedative Voice Over with the silhouette profile. Anytime I hear that computer voice I associate it with something bad and by the looks of that story, some bad things might come about for Mr. Vick. There's been so much talk about this on the radio lately and it amazes me how cavalier the general public is to dog fighting. This is not one of those situations in life where a questionable deed can be dismissed as simply being an individual's personal preference (I don't agree with it, but it's his life, is not a viable excuse). First off, such behavior with dogs is a felony in 48 states and a misdemeanor in the other two. Second, if these dogs ever make it out of one of these prisons alive they're in no way ready to interact with others in civil society. People who raise their pets to be aggressive and are then shocked when Rufus gets lose and goes for the jugular on the neighbor's five year old should not be allowed to procreate – ever.
Breaking News: Kobe is not sure whether or not he wants to stay in Los Angeles. He is pretty sure though that he never said he "actually" wanted out of L.A.
Congratulations to UA fan favorite and legend Steve Kerr who is set to be named President and General Manager of the Phoenix Suns. The official announcement is expected to come sometime next week once Kerr fulfills his contractual agreement with TNT. This is great news for several reasons. One, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Two, Kerr's longtime friendship with Lute Olson will hopefully give Arizona's basketball program further access to the Suns' brain trust in terms of offensive schemes and such.
I've never liked Kobe, but you can't argue with his incredible talents. Up until about 11:50 ET last night, you could make an argument that if you had to build an entire team around one player that one player would be Kobe. Well guess what. LeBron James officially arrived last night with an unbelievable 48-point Game 5 performance for the ages. In a word, he was unstoppable. In a second word, he was electrifying. He dished out assists like Magic, hit follow away threes like Bird and had two Jordan-like poster dunks at the end of regulation that left heads turning.
Breaking News: Kobe Bryant has spoken with Jerry Buss and the two are working it out. A possible trade is in the works that will bring the Pacers' Jermaine O'Neal to the Lakers for Jordan Farmar and the second pick in this year's draft. Oops, my mistake, that was Juan from Pico Rivera's genius suggestion on LA sports radio last night. LA radio – gotta love it. O'Neal might be on his way but it'll cost the Lakers much, much more.
There's only one week to go until the Desert Disaster festivities begin. Bought a new putter the other day just for the event. Stack and Tilt, Stack and Tilt, Stack and Tilt swing thoughts have been swarming in my head for a while now. I need to get out to the range this weekend to hit some balls. Actually, if I really wanted to adequately prepare myself for the Disaster what I should do this weekend is stay up all night tonight playing cards and drinking. I should then wake up at about 7 a.m. and sneak in 18 holes under a blazing 100 degree sun. I should then take in a quick lunch and begin drinking myself into a stupor poolside while ogling twenty somethings in string bikinis while sporting my boiler. After grabbing a dinner that I can barely taste, I should hit the showers and then toss on shorts and a really bad Bermuda shirt so I can hang out with the boys, argue about Kobe and LeBron, do shots of whiskey and eat stale pizza until about midnight. Then, and only then, will I be ready to actually wake up the next morning and play in the Desert Disaster Scramble Tournament that requires a 6:45 a.m. check in.
Am I the only one who's shocked that the Yankees and Red Sox are again playing one another this weekend? How is this possible? The Dodgers and Giants are also in the same division but it's like they play each other once every blue moon. The Yanks/Sox are a weekly event and I don't get it.
Arizona's softball and baseball teams are both doing well thus far in postseason play. The men won this afternoon, beating Oral Roberts 4-3. They will most likely face Wichita State tomorrow at 8 ET. Our woman won a 9-inning thriller yesterday over Baylor, beating the Bears 2-1. They face Tennessee this evening at 6 ET.
For those who've been following, Tennessee's Monica Abbott pitched the first no-hitter in over four years at the Women's College World Series yesterday. The funny thing about it is Texas A&M had the bases jacked in the first inning with one out, forcing the Vols coach to stir up his bullpen. Can you imagine if he had gone to the righty?
My clever friend Brent has invented a new expression and it's one worth sharing – getting Shanghai'd. Used in a conversation:
Brent: "Now my partner and I need to fly to Shanghai to do an assembly line demo that we would typically do right here in Long Beach."
Me: "Wow. That blows."
Brent: "Yeah. We got Shanghai'd."
Billy Donovan was finally lured away from Florida for greener pastures in the NBA. I can't blame him. $28 million is $28 million. I can't question him either. I think he's an outstanding coach who might actually be able to pull this off and actually do well in the NBA. What I am is thankful. I'm thankful for Coach Olson committing 100 percent of himself to the University of Arizona and never wavering. Let's not forget that the Los Angeles Lakers job was his if he wanted it at one point in his career. For a man who once coached at Long Beach City College and has a ton of roots in Southern California, sticking with the UA all these years is a remarkable testament to the love and passion Coach O has for Tucson, the school, and our program.
Thanks Coach and good luck.
Breaking News: I actually agree with Kobe Bryant in that he had to speak up and force the hand of the Lakers.
Bear Down, everyone, and try not to get Shanghai'd this weekend.