Yes, that WAS Joakim Noah with the signature play of last night's epic Bulls win over the Celtics. (Take that, Joakim-haters!)
It was virtually impossible to think that the series could produce a better game than 4 of the previous 5. But it was so much better. How could it NOT lead today's SN column?
It's not unreasonable to throw out the superlative: Best. 1st Round NBA Playoff Series. Ever.
Here's why: Can you remember any, ever? Maybe Nuggets over Sonics in '94, but wasn't that simply for the novelty of the 8-over-1 upset factor, not the quality of the games themselves?
This series is amazing for the actual gameplay. And you don't even have to be a fan of either team to appreciate. Or a loyal fan of the NBA. This is the series for the Everyfan.
The one problem for the NBA: Where can things go up from here? They can't. No matter how Game 7 goes, no series can possibly compare -- not even Kobe vs. LeBron in the Finals.
So let's all appreciate that we have one last game left in this epic Celtics-Bulls series. We'll all be able to say "Man, remember Celtics-Bulls '09? How amazing was THAT?"
Meanwhile: Which is the more remarkable advancement to the 2nd round -- Nuggets or Rockets? The Nuggets added Billups: They SHOULD have advanced. The Rockets added Artest, but didn't have T-Mac: Hmm, maybe they SHOULD have advanced, too. The Rockets had a much tougher opponent and no HCA -- this was a breakthrough for them.
MLB: Is it possible that the Rays' turnaround from a slow start to 2009 started last night with their 13-0 obliteration of the Red Sox? Absolutely.
Complete column here. More later. Stop back at 11:30. By then, it might be everywhere, but it's the most clever sports conceit I have seen in 2009. (Not done by me, obviously -- it's a link.)