Saturday, May 30, 2009

So what was I supposed to be Witnessing, again?

Oh, that's right: The NBA's best player -- leading the team with the NBA's best regular-season record -- getting bounced out of the playoffs, decisively.

I wonder if we'll look back and realize that this team was LeBron's best shot at a title for the next half-decade or longer. Or maybe it will be framed as the "setback" portion of his myth, before the titles come.

What we know is that they won't be coming in 2009.

-- D.S.

Saturday 05/30 (Very) Quickie

Lakers advance to Finals: Wow, remember when the Nuggets actually looked like they had a chance against the Lakers? The Lakers are SO much better when Kobe focuses on distributing (10 assists, to go with his 35 pts).

Stephen Strasburg: Umm, so what's the big deal again? He can't even beat UVA; how's he going to beat the NL Central?

Speaking of phenoms, Matt Wieters made his MLB debut -- and was 0/4 with a K and 3 LOB. But Luke Scott had 2 HR, at least...

Rockies fire Clint Hurdle, then promptly win without him: He shouldn't take that personally.

Sixers hire Eddie Jordan: How will Princeton philosophy mesh with Iguodala, Young, Speights, etc?

Getting ready for Cavs-Magic Game 6 in Orlando. Should be a wild game. Win or bust for LeBron.

-- D.S.

Friday, May 29, 2009

NBA Age Limit Sucks, Cont'd: Case of Rose

TNR's Jason Zengerle connects the dots between the Derrick Rose fiasco at Memphis and the NBA's ridiculous age-limit rules.

As you are sitting there oohing and ahhing about LeBron's 4th quarter last night, let's remember that the NBA now thinks LeBron would be unacceptable for the NBA as an 18-year-old. Right.

LeBron. Kobe. Dwight Howard. Rashard Lewis. These are not exceptions that prove the rule. These are the reasons why the age-limit rule is absurd.

-- D.S.

Friday 05/29 A.M. Quickie:
Kavya, LeBron, Kobe, Calipari, More

For all of his amazing exploits on the court, let's all remember that LeBron is no champion. (Sure, the judges will allow: "Not yet.")

And there's a good chance that despite his who-didn't-see-it-coming triple-double last night, the Cavs will lose Game 6 in Orlando and get humiliatingly bounced from the playoffs.

Maybe we need a puppet of Kavya Shivashankar, the 2009 Bee champ. She has more championship bonafides than LeBron (and, until Kobe wins one without Shaq, more than Kobe, too).

Kavya was everything we want LeBron to be: Confident, dominating, unstoppable. LeBron is everything but the last one: Sure, he is individually unstoppable, but his team? Very stoppable.

Kavya leads today's SN column, tied into LeBron and Kobe -- who both head into weekends that will define their careers more than any previous moment.

Dive into the rest of the column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday 05/28 A.M. Quickie:
Kobe, Calipari, Cavs, Barca, Bee, More

I led today's SN column with Kobe's transformation into...Chauncey Billups and how that correlates to the Lakers playing much much better. Considering my allergy to John Calipari, perhaps I should have led with this scandal brewing at Memphis that Cal left behind:

This is why college basketball is, at its essence, a cesspool:

John Calipari allegedly uses fraudulent SAT scores to land the most valuable player in college basketball for the 2007-2008 season. They go to the national-title game.

Said player -- and that the alleged scandal involves this player is only an educated guess at this point -- goes very very very high in the subsequent NBA draft.

Coach leverages the Final Four run into a brand spanking new gig at the most historically prestigious program in the country, in turn generating a recruiting class that is so good that his new team is immediately installed as the team to beat next season.

Meanwhile, his OLD school is about to get destroyed by the NCAA.

But John Calipari? Will get off scot-free, along with his new program.

In an ideal world, if Calipari indeed was involved in this eligibility fraud, the punishment would follow him to Kentucky -- Cal punished individually, UK punished for hiring him.

And wouldn't that be something, if his brand-new team -- with basically a one-and-done shot at a national title -- was ineligible for the postseason next season?

But that's not going to happen, and that's why college basketball is so effed up.

"Kobe doin' work" was not getting it done for the Lakers. So instead, they went with "Kobe doin' his best Chauncey Billups impression." And because of that, the Lakers finally looked like the better team, at least for one quarter -- the 4th, the one that mattered last night.

Vote For Manny deserves to be THE sensation of baseball for the next month, and all pranksters out there -- Howard Stern, TJ Simers, Tony Kornheiser -- who enjoy, say, "Vote for the Worst" on Idol should be pushing fans to vote Manny into the starting lineup of the NL All-Star team.

Barca wins! How did you ever doubt them?

Bee finals tonight! One of the great sporting spectacles of the year.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brian Grey: Comparing Baseball Talent Scouting With Business Talent Scouting

Brian Grey is one of the most influential folks in online sports media. Among other things, he ran Yahoo! Sports, then jumped over to Fox Interactive to run

At both stops, success followed his arrival. Now he's an Executive-in-Residence at Polaris Venture Partners, a top-tier VC firm (I actually have a buddy from business school who is a General Partner there, an association which is about as close as I personally could get to actually working there.) E-i-R has to be one of the coolest jobs you can have -- evaluating and working with young companies and helping them position themselves for growth.

Anyway, PaidContent published a post by Grey today where he compares baseball talent evaluation to business talent evaluation. If you're in the market for a new job -- or, say, any job -- it is a great read. (And if you're in the market to hire? Well, obviously you should ping me first.)

-- D.S.

Obama As NBA Draft Guru: Tyreke Evans?

Apparently, Barack Obama loves Tyreke Evans, even as high as No. 4 to the Kings. I love that the President loves hoops so much he can have an opinion about who the Kings should draft.

-- D.S.

Sports and Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Cont'd

Tommy Craggs with another must-read: Evaluating new SCOTU nominee Sonia Sotomayor's sports-related rulings. Craggs' own ruling: MLB strike? Good. NFL draft age-limit rules? Bad.

(In my enthusiasm to throw out the talking point that she "saved baseball," I neglected to discuss her part in the Clarett reversal. You all know how I feel about the NFL age restrictions. Terrible...)

-- D.S.

Wednesday 05/27 A.M. Quickie:
Magic, LeBron, Barca, Greinke, Bee

You are more than within your rights to want to see a Kobe-LeBron NBA Finals. But you would be considered more of a fan of entertainment than the NBA.

Because Kobe-LeBron wouldn't be a match-up of the two best teams in the NBA.

I don't know who will survive the Nuggets-Lakers series, but it is pretty clear at this point that the Cavs are NOT the best team in the East -- that would be the Magic.

Sure, the Cavs are two missed buzzer-beaters from being up 3-1, but then again, they are one made buzzer-beater from being swept 4-0. The point is that they are being out-played... and exposed.

Those much-lauded offseason moves? Mo Williams is hardly emerging as 1B to LeBron's 1A. It has been Bron-Bron-Bron for Cleveland -- enjoy the upside (44 pts)... lament the down (8 TO).

Meanwhile, as you'll see in today's SN column lead, the Magic have it all: Superior post presence, superior depth, superior coaching.

Orlando is not up 3-1 by some kind of fluke -- they are up 3-1 because they are the better team, the best team in the East.

More you'll find in today's column:

*If you only follow soccer one day a year, make it today: Champions League final. If you can, get to a soccer-crazy sports bar in the mid-afternoon to take in the scene.

*But, wait! What about the Bee! Longtime readers know that I am a HUGE fan of the Spelling Bee. No athletes perform under more pressure than these middle-school kids.

(So my big question is: How do I find a sports bar that will let me watch both the Champions League final AND the Bee on different screens?)

*It MUST be a good day in sports when a sick Zack Greinke start is bounced below the fold. He only pitched a complete-game 5-hitter with 8 Ks and zero BBs. Absurd.

*You all know how I feel about the coaches' college football poll -- corrupt to the core, with the lead evidence generated every season with the release of the coaches' final (BCS) ballots.

Well, now the coaches don't want to reveal their votes anymore, so they won't. And I say: Fine -- remove yourselves from the BCS equation. (Of course, they won't.)

The BCS is screwed up enough without stripping what little transparency there is out of the process.

*PED bust in Central Florida: So apparently the dealer supplied the Capitals and Nationals. Wouldn't it be insane if Ovie -- the NHL's best player -- turned out to be a PED user? Let's assume he isn't. More insane: The Nats use PEDs, yet still suck so badly.

Complete SN column here. Go Barca. Go Kavya.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday 05/26 A.M. Quickie:
LeBron Is Staying In Cleveland in 2010

LeBron James is going to lose the battle but win the war.

It's a fair question: What will come first -- LeBron winning a title or becoming the first billion-dollar athlete in history, which is his main goal?

There's no question: It's a lot easier to fulfill the latter if he completes the former.

So the bigger news out of Cleveland is not that LeBron and the Cavs losing the East finals -- which they will, because the Magic are the superior team (and that's without Jameer Nelson).

It is that the Cavs are doing this deal with Chinese business interests to give them a stake in the team. Because there isn't anything the Knicks can throw at LeBron -- fortune, fame, the country's biggest media market -- that can compete with the power of China.

I'm calling it now: With the team's new partnership in China, LeBron stays in Cleveland in 2010. I don't even think it will be a debate.

And with the special backing of these Chinese interests, is there any question that LeBron has an advantaged entry into the market -- even with the NBA, even with Nike helping him? -- that will get him a lot closer to that billion-dollar valuation, a lot faster?

Now, whether he can win titles is another story. I think that right now, the Magic look like the better team -- in fact, they look like the best team in the playoffs. (Undoubtedly, they will choke tonight, as a result of that, but no matter...)

Weren't the Cavs supposed to be so much better thanks to the moves by "Executive of the Year," Danny Ferry? All Mo Williams looks like right now is a punching bag with a flapping yap, not the Robin to LeBron's Batman.

Besides: Two stars -- even when one of the stars is LeBron -- can't top the Magic's 3 stars (Howard, Lewis, Turkoglu), plus superior role players.

The same situation is happening in the Lakers-Nuggets series: As I lead in today's SN column, imagine Kobe having a night like Carmelo had last night. Think the Lakers would win? The Lakers would be a Lottery team.

The Nuggets absorbed a terrible night for Melo -- and won by 20. Gasol vs. K-Mart/Nene/Birdman is a rout. JR Smith looked unguardable. Billups was Billups.

All this talk about "Kobe vs. LeBron" in the NBA Finals proves the point: If you're going to rely on individual stars, you're going to lose when faced with a more top-to-bottom talented team.

More you'll find in today's column:
*This Mike Tyson daughter story is horrific.
*Syracuse pulls off one of the greatest comebacks in LAX history.
*Of yesterday's MLB performances, I'll take the 10-run comeback (but if I have to limit myself to a single player, I'll take Carpenter).

Complete SN column here. More later and all day on Twitter, as usual.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday 05/25 Quickie: New SN Column

Happy Memorial Day -- a moment to offer thanks and deep appreciation to everyone who died in service to the country, as well as their families.

I also filed a new SN column this morning, and it was a perfect opportunity to step away from the seemingly daily NBA lead items and tackle this question:

Who is the best team in American sports today?

The answer is: Northwestern women's lacrosse, which just won its 5th straight national title (capping an undefeated year, no less).

Not bad for a Midwestern team whose varsity wasn't around a decade ago, consistently routing well-established programs in the East.

Meanwhile, let's be clear: LeShot means LeZilch if LeCavs don't win LeSeries. And, right now, they're not going to; the Magic are the better team -- even if LeBron is the best player on the court.

And in your MLB must-track today: David Price was called up by the Rays and will start today. (He's already claimed in your fantasy league, don't bother looking.)

Complete column here.

-- D.S.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday 05/24 (Very) Quickie

Eh: Suddenly, Nuggets in 6 doesn't look very good. Last night felt like the old Nuggets, the ones who were consistently owned by the Lakers in years "B.C." (Before Chauncey) Another game, another botched inbounds pass.

Kobe's 41 felt like a "Remember me?" to all the LeBron fans out there still freaking out over his Game 3 finisher, whose value will really be determined tonight. If the Cavs win, reclaiming HCA and momentum in the series, it was huge; if the Cavs lose, they are still series 'dogs.

(Speaking of LeBron, do not underestimate the strategic importance of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert selling a big stake in the Cavs to Chinese business interests, as it relates to LeBron staying with the team. If the Cavs become China's adopted favorite team, that trumps New York's appeal.)

NBA Draft: Nick Calathes is staying Greece(?!) He signed a 3-year deal with the Euro champs, committed to at least next year, with an option to go to the NBA in 2010.

(Actually, this might make him a 1st-round lock in the 2009 NBA Draft: The team that signs him wouldn't have to have him on the roster this season, would not have to pay a buy-out to get him back from Europe, and get a player with a year of extra seasoning at Europe's top level. UPDATE: Apparently, he wouldn't be eligible for the 2009 NBA Draft, which makes no sense to me.)

Walk-off walk for Dodgers over Angels.
Yet another walk-off win for the Yankees.
Milestones: Jason Giambi joins 400 HR Club.
Stud: Kyle Lohse. Cards pitching continues to impress.

NCAA LAX: Wow, go Cornell! Crashes title game with shocking upset of UVA. Will lose to Cuse, which throttled Duke.

-- D.S.