Monday, May 26, 2008

Holiday Musings

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I was fortunate enough to spend a wonderful weekend at Ocean Isle, North Carolina with some great old friends and their ever expanding families. In addition to getting in a mediocre 18 at a solid little course called The Pearl (somebody needs to introduce the Greens Keeper to the concept of mowing the tee boxes and greens, but other than that, it was solid), I enjoyed a little time on the beach playing boccie ball with the kids (remember the names Carter Dixon and Hunter Conklin, they are a combined five years old and have better hand eye coordination than me. In my defense, I have been a borderline alcohol for over a decade now), and nightly board game battles. Yes, there is no need for you rub it in, I am fully aware that I am the oldest 30 year old on the planet. That notwithstanding, it was a tremendous weekend that lent itself to some great sports discussions that led to the following musings:

  • Over the past two seasons, I have rekindled my childhood love affair with the NBA. In truth, it all really started during the D.Wade show in the '06 Finals. For at least the previous decade, I did just about everything I could to avoid watching any NBA game that didn't involve MJ. Sure, there were isolated moments that caught my interest, such as the great Kings/Lakers battles, the Blazers/Lakers series back in '01, and the hype of LeBron's first few games in the league. But, for the most part, the quality of play in Association had deteriorated to only a notch or two above your average lawyer league game. You can blame a host of things. For example, the Riley Heat, the influx of high schoolers, the lack of marketable superstars, and the league's tolerance of of cross checking the dribbler on the perimeter, among other things led to some really tough basketball. In the past few seasons, however, all this has changed. The league changed the rules to alleviate the hands on perimeter defense, the game loosened up and teams started getting up and down the floor again, those straight from high schoolers reached their fourth and fifth season and started turning the corner, the league benefited from an influx of legit young superstars (i.e. Lebron, Carmello, Wade, CP3, and Dwight Howard), and some of the established stars took their games to another level (i.e. Kobe, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and yes, even KG).

So, why do I bring this all up? Well, through some conversations with some buddies this weekend that are tremendous basketball fans, it became obvious to me that not everybody has noticed the Association's resurgence. I will tell you the same thing I told them: If you haven't been watching, start! We live in an era where college basketball teams can't shoot 35% from three point range and can't consistently score 70 points a game. We live in an era where we roll our eyes every time a guy hits a home run in baseball. We live in an era where less than 1/3 of NFL teams have a starting quarterback that could have sniffed the field in the 80's. And, we live in an era where the Stanley Cup Finals are broadcast on a network I couldn't find on my dish without using the guide if my life depended on it. In short, with the possible exception of college football, the NBA is simply the best sports product around. If you insist on dwelling on the bad old days and don't come back to the NBA now, you are just punishing yourself.

  • As much as I'm sick of the Patriots, I'm even more sick of Spygate. Listen, I know Bellicheck is the most unlikeable guy in sports. I know Tom Brady clearly made a deal with the devil at some point before impregnating a starlet and leaving her for a supermodel. I know Rodney Harrison is the dirtiest player in the NFL. And, I know I would rather see the Yankees win the World Series than see the Pats win another Super Bowl. But, I also know this: If you think the Pats are the only team that engaged in this behavior, you are either naive or ignorant. And, of course, I know none of the WAD Nation is ignorant, so stop being naive. This is a non story. It has always been a non story. And it is a story that needs to die!

  • HD is very unkind to Stuart Scott. That eye is beyond creepy.

  • I know a lot of other people have covered this topic, especially Bill Simmons, but Kevin Garnet is certifiably insane. I'm sitting here watching Game 4 as I type, and a part of me is fearful that I am going to witness a murder live on television. Admittedly, I wouldn't turn the channel, but nobody really wants to see that, right?

  • Speaking of the C's, nobody has given them more flack this season's post-season struggles than me. Truthfully, it's easy to dump on a team that you are so vehemently rooting against. But, when you take a step back and look at the big picture, despite their lack of dominance, you do have to acknowledge two things: 1) The C's have had 5 "must win" games this post season (Games 5 & 7 against the Hawks; Games 5 & 7 against the Cavs; and Game 3 at Detroit), and they have won all five, and four of them were in dominant fashion; 2) The Celtics are still playing and all but three other teams are at home. The point? We better make damn sure they are dead before we start nailing the coffin shut. (this point is further reaffirmed by the fact that they just played horribly for 22 minutes, but managed to pull within 4 at halftime of Game 4 as I just finished this paragraph).

  • Being the most superstitious person I know, and having the ability to single handily change the course of seasons or the outcome of games with my wagers and/or comments, I have really struggled deciding whether I should make this next statement: Chipper Jones is having the signature season in a Hall of Fame career. Whew...there, I said it. Now, as soon as he hits the 45 day DL, I have no choice but to accept full responsibility.

  • I want to take the opportunity to say something I've never had the chance to say before and may never be able to say again: The Rays are 6 games ahead of the Yankees!!!!! I just wet myself a little.

Alright, KG just head butted the basket two times, so that means the second half is starting, so I've got to get back to the business of slurping the NBA.