ESPN.com's Chris Sprow put the right sports-themed coda on last night's Oscars: "Moneyball is the Moneyball of films."
"Moneyball" didn't win any Oscars -- that was predictable enough -- but in this case, it truly was a feat just to be nominated at such a high level across the board (Best Pic, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay), and it goes down as one of the most acclaimed sports movies (and arguably the most Oscar-acclaimed baseball movie) of all time. Not a bad legacy.
Meanwhile, down in Orlando, the NBA All-Stars were turning a rout into a close finish -- fascinating if only for the way LeBron (who had shot the East back into the game from a gazillion down) deferred on the final possessions, with no less than Kobe taunting him to take the final shot.
It's not a bad proxy for LeBron's career: Brilliant numbers and stretches of sheer domination, but ultimately falling short after some form of shying from the very biggest moment. I have always bought the notion that for all his personal bluster, LeBron was a "beta," not an "alpha" -- the greatest second-fiddle in NBA history: Scottie Pippen 2.0, rather than Michael Jordan 2.0.
Or maybe he is an alpha, still figuring out how to be an alpha. You get the sense that he made a mental calculation that it would have been worse for him had he taken the final shot and missed (particularly if he was hounded into a miss by Kobe, the ultimate competitor) rather than deferred on the final shot entirely. And, as usual, his personal intuition was wrong.
It seems odd to compare LeBron James to George Costanza, but you get the sense that LeBron would do well to pattern himself after "Opposite George," who flipped every instinct "Regular George" would have, to tremendous effect. If "Regular LeBron" is worried about public perception if he misses, "Opposite LeBron" says "Who cares what people think?"
There is a hesitation to read too much into last night's finish -- it was, after all, an exhibition game. But it is of a pattern, and I think it is symbolically consistent with LeBron's career. Aside from America's aversion to "beta" personalities, would it be so bad if he embraced being a running mate? (Dwyane Wade sure has no problem being the Alpha.)
*NFL Draft: RG3 Mania! I'm not a Redskins fan, but I would mortgage this draft and the top of next year's draft to get Robert Griffin III, who seems every bit the superstar franchise pro QB he seemed to be in college. I find it baffling that the Browns might be waffling about trading up for him (given their pole position of assets to make a deal happen). Selfishly, living in DC, I'd like to see the Redskins get him not because I'm a Skins fan, but because as a fan of football and athletic brilliance, I'd love to watch him up close.
*Daytona postponed until today... or tomorrow? Probably for the best they didn't run Daytona opposite the Oscars and NBA All-Star Game. And who doesn't love a workday, midday huge sports event? Reminds me of the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament.
*MLB: Nats lock up Ryan Zimmerman. He is the face of the franchise, Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper notwithstanding. The Nationals have thrown open their window of contention to begin this year, and it won't close until the end of the decade -- not coincidentally when the Zimmerman extension is set to close. He will be the rock of the roster -- the veteran who brings the young talent along and the future Hall of Famer who links the franchise's bright future to its mediocre start. (Again, I'm biased now living in DC, but it's a great time to be here and climbing fully on board the Nats bandwagon. I'll say it now: Anything less than a World Series title by 2020 will be a failure.)
*CBB: Wisconsin edges Ohio State, and it's possible the Buckeyes have fallen from a 1-seed lock through a 2-seed lock and into 3-seed territory. It will depend how they finish the Big Ten Tournament -- if they win the tourney, they're no worse than a 2 (maybe even climbing back to be the fourth 1-seed -- frankly, I'd rather be geographically closer to home playing as a 2-seed than shunted out West to play as a 1.) Wisconsin reminds you that you pick them to pull up short of the Sweet 16 (at least) in the NCAA Tournament at your peril.
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