How can you NOT root for the Warriors? The NBA regular season was a dud. The NBA playoffs have been a dud...
...With the exception of the Warriors, who have single-handedly become a rare captivating storyline this year in pro basketball, as they attempt to make history and close out the Mavs at home in Oakland tonight.
Why have the Warriors thrived as an instant fan favorite?
By all accounts, the team is what the NBA has built to avoid (and I'm oversimplifying here): Disorganized gunners from an obscure market -- castoffs, rejects and freaks melded together unconventionally (the only way they could be)... and thumping the so-called "best" team in the league.
It's not just that it's an 8-seed beating a 1-seed in a 7-game series for the first time in NBA history, which would be awesome enough. (In fact, the NBA is insane not to put the game in primetime on the East Coast. Enough of the tyranny of 10:30 p.m. tip times!)
It's not just that the Warriors eked into the playoffs or that Baron Davis has emerged as this spring's Dwyane Wade – the player everyone seems to have "always" liked, even though they never talked about the guy before this run.
It's that this Warriors team defies everything most fans thought they knew about the NBA -- even in this intriguing "Sunsified" era, the up-and-down strategic style that will do more to save the league than any individual talent or marketing campaign.
Unless you are from
(After writing up this post, I noticed that the inimitable MJD had a similarly themed post on NBA Fanhouse. Here's the link.)
Suns bounce Lakers:
The Lakers have two choices: Either trade uber-prospect Andrew Bynum for players who can help
Spurs oust Nuggets: AI and Melo never turned into what everyone thought/hoped they would be, but maybe with a full season together next year, they will fulfill that insane promise.
The two close-outs set up a Suns-Spurs Western semifinal that, for many (including me, now that my "Re-Heat" pick imploded), is the de facto NBA Finals: The winner of that series will win the NBA title. (Before the playoffs began, I picked the Spurs, but I'm absolutely rooting for the Suns. How can you root against progress?)
MLB Stud: Josh Beckett, who racheted his record to 6-0.
MLB Dud: Marty Miller. Is there a more ill-advised name in today's era of sports than "Director of Player Enhancement?" In its most benign terms, it means "strength coach," and Miller filled that role for the Yankees. Until a rash of injuries derailed the club's season after only one month and he was canned.
(More: King Felix will be held out of the rotation one more turn. Caution or foreshadowing?)
Vick Scandal: It's amazing that the guy – perhaps the most elusive QB in NFL history -- is going to be sacked by dogs.
College Sports: 112 D-1 sports programs were nicked by the NCAA for failing to meet benchmarks from the new Academic Progress Rate. (APR... like you're buying a car!)
Only 63 out of more than 6,000 programs will be immediately affected. There's apparently a reprieve this year adjusted for smaller team sizes.
But that loophole goes out the window next year, so the 44 percent of men's hoops and 40 percent of football programs who fell below the required threshold this year better get their acts together.
The hot chant from the student section? "Cook! Those! Books!"
(The only BCS-league football to get hit was
Brandon Roy wins NBA Rookie of the Year: He earned all but one first-place vote, which went to Andrea Bargnani, who got the vote from... the Raptors play-by-play broadcaster.
To his credit, Chuck Swirsky openly defends his vote, but if he was the play-by-play guy for the Blazers (or any other team but the Raptors), I wonder if he would have maintained such strong convictions?
(Related: Media people are biased enough as it is. Why are team play-by-play guys -- effectively team employees -- allowed to vote on these awards? As with all awards, they should be voted on by the fans, where the large vote totals would largely mitigate voter bias.)
NFL: Roger Goodell wants to hold a summit on concussions next month, and it's mandatory for all teams. Say this for The Commish: He's been incredibly assertive during his reign, but in a good way.
NBA refs racial bias, cont'd: At least one prominent player, Kobe Bryant, says he doesn't see it. Meanwhile, the one detail I found most fascinating was that the researchers picked out 12 NBA players who could be classified as either black or white. I was trying to figure out which dozen players they were talking about.
Meanwhile, the study is getting hammered by mainstream media. I think they are misreading the findings, which didn't say simplistically that NBA refs are racist. It merely said that the evidence supports the idea that NBA refs aren't immune to at least some form of measurable subconscious race-based decision-making while doing their job.
Mayweather vs. De La Hoya: I find it quaint that the mainstream sports media is making such a big deal out of what is effectively a non-event. Consider that this is the single biggest boxing event of the year, perhaps the ONLY boxing event with any traction whatsoever. What does that say about the sport? Compare that, say, to mixed martial arts.
The only intriguing part of the fight is whether it will beat the old record of 1.99 million pay-per-view purchases. But, again, that doesn't speak to the viability of the entire sport -- just two fighters' marketing value, which is hardly limitless.