Friday, June 03, 2011

06/03 (Mavs!) Quickie

Never been more happy to be wrong. Writing off the Mavs after Game 1 was a mistake -- but, let's be honest: It took a collapse of epic proportions by the Heat last night to keep it from being 2-0.

That's what makes it so delightful: The complete and utter collapse, particularly after that little celebration after Wade's 3 put Miami up 15 (Wade leaving his hand up, like Sidney shooting against Billy Hoyle in "White Men Can't Jump" then LeBron giving Wade that "boxing-punch" move.)

Let's start with this: The celebration was not even close to out of line, based on other celebration comps. If there hadn't been a time-out, it wouldn't have even happened (well, maybe the Wade hand thing).

But if the celebrating made the Mavs mad enough to come back -- or, equally, made the Heat satisfied enough to let Dallas do it -- then that's the reality.

I'm not sure I would attribute the comeback to "I'm so mad that I'll play better!" -- mainly because the corollary (that you weren't playing your hardest to begin with) is so depressing to consider -- as much as Dallas executing at an extraordinarily high level and Miami imploding in a similar extraordinary way; with no margin for error, it took both.

And so we have the proverbial "It's a series." Everyone is better for it, mostly fans.


Federer knocks off Djokovic: Greatest win in Fed's career? Certainly his greatest non-title-match win.

Knicks split with Donnie Walsh: This can't end well for the Knicks, whether or not Isiah Thomas is involved.

Shaq's retirement press conference: He is so savvy -- and authentic. Killer combo. And "The Big AARP" is genius.

Giants GM Brian Sabean appears to want Scott Cousins hurt and his MLB career ended: Sabean is presumably defending his biggest star -- and certainly offering red meat to his fans -- and while I'm sure Buster Posey appreciates the sentiment as a projection of his own pure frustration, he can't possibly want to see Cousins drummed out of MLB, right?

As for Sabean basically announcing the retaliatory measures, it touches on one of my least favorite things in MLB -- "the unwritten rules." I hope Joe Torre tells Sabean that if anything happens to Cousins, Sabean will get personally fined $500,000 dollars and the offending player(s) suspended for 50 games. Baseball's unwritten rules are stupid.

Looks to be an amazing weekend ahead -- both in sports and just out and around. Enjoy it, and please stop by Quickish all weekend long for the best takes on the latest news, plus recommendations to some fantastic reads, both off the news and kind of serendipitous.

-- D.S.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

06/02 (Shaqadelic) Quickie

Shaq retires: Shaq and I are almost the same age, and I vividly remember him at LSU (worth a trip to YouTube), then -- of course -- when he took over the NBA.

My favorite part about all the tributes from the past day (you've got to see the Quickish "Shaq" stream for the best of the best) is this:

Shaq intuitively understood the intersection between sports and entertainment. From the Pepsi ads to his rapping to his early adoption of Twitter, he was a populist at heart.

Yes, he didn't necessarily maximize his talents by working out maniacally -- then again, he was so good, he didn't have to; he won multiple rings and individual awards anyway.

He had work-life balance in a way we don't see or appreciate in the NBA anymore -- now it's all "Rise and Grind," with Kevin Durant's work ethic as the standard.

And that's all fine and good -- I certainly find a lot to admire about Durant's approach. But there is something to be said for Shaq's way, even if he was uniquely talented to pull it off.

More on the radar today:

*Stanley Cup: Oh my god, I can't believe this happened.

*NBA Finals Game 2: Must-win for the Mavs? Pretty much, yes. (All eyes on that injured left finger of Dirk's.)

*Ricky Rubio coming to the NBA: Can't shoot. Can't play D. But a showman! (And, frankly, that's what the T'wolves need. If you're not going to contend, you might as well be entertaining. And between Rubio, Kevin Love and -- presumably -- Derrick Williams, Minnesota will be.)

*Steve Spurrier wants to pay college football players: They already get massive extra benefits, so a little bit more cash will hardly tilt the balance. (But again: Where does it stop? If your standard is "The school makes millions off of them," then a few thousand bucks extra will never cut it.)

*Spelling Bee: One of my favorite events of the year, a sports event far more pressure-packed than an NBA Finals game or NHL Stanley Cup final game. As is my penchant, I tend to favor the competitors with previous experience -- I'll take Laura Newcombe.

Much more all day. Please pop by Quickish for the best takes on the biggest topics (moments of "breaking news" like Shaq's retirement are always a lot of fun).

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

06/01 (Heat FTW) Quickie

It's over.

Is it too early to say it's over? Because it's over. Oh, the Mavs might win a few games in Dallas, but after last night's spectacle, it is hard to think they can win 4 over these Heat.

Maybe those 3s don't go down for LeBron and Wade in future games -- maybe Dallas (particularly its bench) figures out how to shoot (or stop shooting... Jason Terry.)

But the Heat's defense appears relentless. And the stars -- yes, Bosh too -- are clicking, as they have been for the past month. By the end, the Heat were clowning the Mavs.

This is the new reality: Heat as champs. More that that, Heat as champs for a while. So settle in. Last night is the first of another dozen or so wins just like it over the next 3-4 years.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA Finals Preview/Picks: Heat in 7

The narrative for the NBA for the next half-decade was set last July when LeBron (and, to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh) went to Miami to join Dwyane Wade.

Everything would be framed around that decision/Decision -- if the Heat fell short of an NBA title, it would be schadenfreude of the highest order. It would be about the Heat losing, not [Champion X] winning. The narrative would look ahead to next year, or the year after, or the year after. They would win eventually.

And if the Heat won an NBA title -- most specifically, if they won an NBA title immediately, in their first year together, right now -- it would be an affirmation of the strategy that brought them together: The "super-team."

I will never begrudge LeBron for leaving Cleveland to join Miami to try to win a championship. I have been looking for mega-stars to do that for 20 years -- to put winning a ring ahead of everything else.

Like everyone else, I loathe the way he did it. I can also root against LeBron and the Heat's ultimate success -- I find the "schadendfreude" narrative much more interesting than the "dynasty" one.

And so I will root against the Heat, but I can also recognize that they should win this series. It shouldn't be done as handily as the first three series -- let's hope it goes 7 games, if only for the drama -- but it will be done, a combination of the Heat's stars and the Heat's D.

For those hoping the Mavs defy the experts and the pundits and the sheer gravitational pull of the inevitability of a Heat title, I think back -- as I always do the day before the NBA Finals start -- to 2004, when I went on Around the Horn and said the Lakers would beat the Pistons in 4.

That year, the Lakers were assumed to be vastly superior to the Pistons, who -- as we all remember -- clobbered the Lakers so severely that it shifted the NBA globe a bit, permanently.

It is a good lesson that when everyone (or "everyone") says something is going to happen, it rarely turns out precisely the way they/we think it will.

And so I'll stick with Heat in 7, but root like hell for Mavs in any way possible. I'm not alone.

-- D.S.

05/31 (Tressel Quits) Quickie

Be sure to check out all the Jim Tressel coverage on Quickish -- it is a fast way to catch up on all the best columns, Tweets and more.

The Sports Illustrated article is all well and good -- the new info was the expanded scope of the tchotchkes-for-tatts thing -- but the Jim Tressel story remains incredibly simple:

He lied.

He lied to his school. He lied to the NCAA. He could get away with the former, mostly because the AD and president are so derelict. But the latter did him in.

It is a Quickie essential: It is always the cover-up and rarely the crime, never more on display than here. Jim Tressel lied -- repeatedly -- and when the truth was revealed, it cost him his job.

Tressel was finished as soon as it turned out he misled the NCAA about the proverbial "what did he know and when did he know it." (Answers: "Everything" and "very early.")

The lying was enough to take down any coach, no matter how celebrated. The fact that Tressel held himself up as some sort of moral vanguard among college coaches compounds his problems.

The swag-for-tattoos story isn't even that big of a deal -- have to imagine this is pretty prevalent across college football and basketball.

What IS a big deal is that Tressel lied, misled and deceived -- intentionally and repeatedly.

That is why he resigned in disgrace. That is why the NCAA will hammer Ohio State and the coach himself.

Terrelle Pryor and the players didn't do this to Tressel. The tattoo parlor workers didn't do this to Tressel. The NCAA didn't do this to Tressel. The media didn't do this to Tressel.

He did it to himself when he tried to cover all this up -- not just repeatedly to the school and NCAA, but when he did everything possible to ensure he would take the field with would-be ineligible players, denying other teams' players and fans a fair game.

He sanctimoniously portrayed himself as better than that. He wasn't.


*NBA Finals Game 1 tonight: Heat in 7.
*Who's next for Ohio State? Urban Meyer.
*MLB Storyline of the Day: Jo-Jo Reyes wins!
*NCAA LAX: Congrats to UVA.
*FIFA: Even more corrupt than Ohio State.
*Weekend recap: The Indy 500 finish was the best possible scenario for open-wheel in the US.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Shocker: Jim Tressel Resigns

Jim Tressel has resigned as head football coach at Ohio State.

The timing is a surprise -- or not, if they wanted to mitigate the fall-out by announcing it on a national holiday -- but the outcome is not. This was inevitable and obvious from the minute Tressel was caught lying and covering up NCAA violations.

His legacy at Ohio State is now primarily that of a disgrace, who happened to win a national championship and umpteen Big Ten titles -- rather than as a champion who had to resign.

But what is next at Ohio State? It is impossible to think that they don't spend the next year with this interim guy, but hire Ohio native Urban Meyer, who grew up rooting for Ohio State and is one of few coaches with the stature to rehab the program -- it doesn't hurt that Ohio State is one of the few mega-programs worth Meyer's time and energy. (As a huge Meyer fan and Ohio State hater, this entire thing is a disappointment, because he'll crush everyone there.)

The smartest thing for Ohio State and Meyer to do would be to cut a deal ASAP that names Meyer "head coach in waiting" for 2012, so he can begin to help the program recruit; if they wait too long, they will get pummeled for the entire recruiting cycle and set the program back even more than it will be with the inevitable NCAA sanctions.

Anyway, the headline remains: Jim Tressel is out. And no one is really surprised.

-- D.S.

05/30 (Memorial Day) Quickie

Special thoughts for everyone who served the country and sacrificed their lives -- either in combat or in the years afterward -- and their families.

Day 4 of "No NBA still?" and Day 3 of "No NHL yet?" -- everyone been catching up on their sleep... or their life?

With the stage all to itself, the Indy 500 had its most exciting finish ever, with rookie JR Hildebrand losing a sure win on the final turn. Watch the insanity here.

That's tough luck for Hildebrand but amazing luck for the sport itself -- nothing is more accessible for the non-fan than an epic choke. The four best words for a struggling league are "DID YOU SEE THAT?"

NASCAR had a similar finish last night, with Dale Jr. in the lead in the last lap, then running out of gas and watching the field pass him by in the last quarter of the track. Watch that here.

Luke Donald is the best golfer in the world.

Tom Watson is the oldest ever to win a senior major -- fair question: Can you imagine Tiger playing (and winning senior major tournaments) in his early 60s? I can't.

Huge congratulations to Northwestern women's lacrosse, which beat Maryland in the NCAA title game to win its 6th national title in the last 7 years (after losing to Maryland in last year's title game). There is no better dynasty in sports right now than NU's women's LAX team.

Pop by Quickish today
for a really good selection of recommendations, including the best of Peter King's MMQB, Joe Posnanski on Tom Watson, some Heat-Mavs pre-series analysis and more.

-- D.S.