Friday, May 20, 2011

05/20 (Thunder Mania) Quickie

That the NBA conference finals -- both of them -- found a road team winning by the end of Game 2 only underscores that we are in the middle of the best NBA Playoffs in recent memory.

The story of the Thunder's win over the Mavericks in Dallas to tie the series (to MAKE it a series, really) is that starting/star PG Russell Westbrook spent the prime minutes of the 4th quarter on the bench, while Kevin Durant led a team of OKC reserves to the win. Just one more thing to add to the Thunder's mystique -- that their bench is so loaded that it can topple the Dallas' starters.

The reactions to the Westbrook thing range from "This is SO going to be a thing!" to "This is SO not a thing." Let's see what happens in Game 3. I can't believe that coach Scott Brooks is going to keep Westbrook on the bench late in a second straight game, even if it is not unreasonable after last night to wonder if -- in fact -- the Thunder are better with a less spectacular (if more steady) hand running things late against the Mavs.

BTW: You have GOT to watch this dunk by Kevin Durant, an instant poster.

*It is totally lame that there isn't another Heat-Bulls game tonight. Wouldn't it be ideal for the NBA to alternate between conference-title games on a nightly basis?

*NHL: Thrashers to Winnipeg? I feel bad for Atlanta hockey fans, but NHL hockey in Winnipeg just feels so right.

*CFB: Paying players? Fascinating to see conferences like the Big Ten routing around a potential NCAA nationwide rule about "paying players" by offering "stipends." Two observations:

(1) If one league does it, everyone else will do it (the Pac-10 and SEC have already indicated they are interested), because it is a recruiting advantage, however small the extra payment might be.

(2) I have always felt that the biggest issue with paying college athletes extra was the slippery slope. I guarantee a lot of people will quickly say "Why only $3000?" Let's call it progress.

*MLB: Jason Giambi with 3 HR last night, in one of the most unlikely single-game power bursts of the past half-decade in baseball.

*NBA: Jerry West joining the Warriors? Even if it's just as an "advisor," it is still a huge get for a franchise trying to re-invent itself under new owner Joe Lacob. (The league's young star power is amazing, but don't discount how valuable it is to have owners like Lacob and Ted Leonsis trying to turn around historically mediocre franchises.)

*Lance Armstrong: Yikes. No athlete has built up more goodwill with fans and media than Lance. Which is the only way he has withstood the barrage of claims against him like no other athlete of this era. I suspect most fans think Lance used PEDs -- and are totally fine with it, in a way that they simply aren't with Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.

*CFB: Condolences to family, friends, teammates and fans of Oklahoma LB Austin Box, who died yesterday of an apparent drug overdose, which makes it all the more tragic.

Please be sure to check out Quickish all day today (and throughout the weekend) for the best takes on the biggest stories (plus other recommendations of things you might find interesting).

Going strong all weekend -- then again, if things break wrong tomorrow, I'll only be seeing some of you on Sunday and next week. To the rest of you, enjoy!

-- D.S.

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