Saturday, May 03, 2014

5/3 Lillard Quickie

*Shot of the Year in the NBA? Shot of the Year in the NBA.

*Kentucky Derby: My pal Joe Drape picks Wicked Strong. California Chrome is the popular pick. I'm going to go with Commanding Curve, as usual without much good reason.

*Weekend reads: This behind-the-scenes reporting of how things went down inside the Clippers last weekend and Spencer Hall on the Istanbul Derby - the world's fiercest soccer rivalry.

*It's May 3 and my Wizards are still playing basketball -- waiting around, even! So many Game 7s today and the rest of the weekend.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4/30 Silver Reigns Supreme Quickie

*As I said yesterday, that was the most impressive display of leadership by a sports commissioner -- NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, FIFA, Olympics, whatever -- in modern sports history.

*There is a parallel universe where Silver possibly stumbles and the players go through with that reported boycott of last night's games, which would have been seismic.

*But, of course, Silver avoided that, while establishing his leadership bonafides -- his statement and press conference were an instant-classic example of how to communicate in a crisis.

*It helps that this issue is one that virtually everyone agrees on -- there was zero contention (beyond the inevitable Sterling lawsuit against the NBA, which vastly fewer people will care about).

*Even if he hasn't sold the team yet, the NBA is in its "post-Sterling era" -- we can return to a fascinating, thrilling playoffs season.

*Speaking of which: My Wiz! First of all, no fan in the NBA appreciates a trip to the 2nd round of the playoffs like a Wizards fan. I'm giddy.

*I can now finally allow myself to think about the options between having home-court advantage against the 8-seed Hawks or playing an exhausted Pacers team that needed 7 games to beat them.

*I actually think that Hawks are the tougher match-up for the Wizards -- that seems unfathomable, but it's true. That said: I have never seen the Wiz play this well, certainly not at this level of pressure.

*Speaking of which (again): I cannot imagine an NBA Playoffs season where a full-strength Thunder doesn't make it out of the first round. But that's where we are. It's stunning.

*I still think OKC wins the next two games, but I feel no certainty about that -- doubting the Grizzlies is exactly where they want you.

*Last point, reiterated: As quickly as the Sterling story emerged (was it really only 5 days ago?), Adam Silver has basically put it behind the league. Sterling is purged. Everyone is agreed it was the right thing.

Unlike most two-sided sports debates, there's really nothing left to talk about -- that alone makes it one of the most unique stories we have seen in sports in a long time.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4/29 Sterling Versus Silver Quickie

*What will Adam Silver do today? More to the point, what CAN he do?

Will it be enough -- today? For the long-term?

What does "enough" even mean, in a world where there is a consensus that the result has to include Donald Sterling no longer owning an NBA team -- and an equal consensus that they'll have to pry it from his cold, extraordinarily litigious hands.

What happens tonight when the Clippers play at home? What happens when their season is over and Doc Rivers decides if he wants to be a part of the team -- let alone stars like CP3 or Blake Griffin.

The certainty is that the story doesn't end today at 2.

*The Sterling story has eclipsed basically everything else. That doesn't mean I don't still have my eye nervously on the Wizards-Bulls Game 5 in Chicago. Those of us Wiz fans who know better (or are scarred by the past 30 years) recognize that a loss tonight puts us in the most precarious "up 3-2" situation ever. But a win -- oh, a win -- would be beyond jubilation.

*What the heck happened to the Pacers?

*My fantasy baseball season is ruined more by my regret passing on Jose Abreu than the actuality of losing Bryce Harper for the next two months.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 28, 2014

04/28 Sterling Revolt Quickie

*That the Donald Sterling Era in the NBA has reached a tipping point is obvious; that it is an end-game is not as clear. A few thoughts:

- I thought the players did as much as they could, given the timing -- I wouldn't discount the symbolic power of the shooting shirts left in a pile at midcourt, nor the inside-out tops. The name is shamed.

- It will be very interesting to see what happens back in L.A. for Game 5. Given that the players hold virtually all of the power on game night, there are a breadth of options available to them.

- I also think that as early as tonight, you will see every player in the league wearing black socks in solidarity.

- The power of the voices speaking out here is immensely important: LeBron. Magic. Jordan. That last one is very important: A fellow owner. Other owners will need to condemn Sterling, too.

- It's unclear what the league can do -- can they force Sterling to sell? The best new commissioner Adam Silver might be able to do (in what immediately became the only referendum on his leadership) is to suspend Sterling indefinitely, then work behind the scenes to pressure him to sell.

- In the absence of that, the outcome here for the Clippers is entirely unclear: Did Doc Rivers really imply that he could walk away from coaching the team over this?

- Would Chris Paul or Blake Griffin (or both... or every player on the roster) demand a trade? How on earth would any free agent choose the Clippers, given the existing ownership?

- Last point: Agree with many smart folks out there reminding us all that it's not on the players to force a change -- it's on the NBA owners.

*That was a hell of a win by my Wiz yesterday, in the absence of Nene and in a de facto "must-win" position. Not discounting chances of them losing 3 straight, but the Bulls also have to win 3 straight.

-- D.S.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

4/27 Sunday Quickie

*"There is no room for Donald Sterling in the NBA." -- LeBron James, with not the first nor the last word on the Clippers' owner, but by far the galvanizing statement of the entire story.

*No Nene for my Wiz in Game 4 today. Ugh.

*If Memphis can't beat OKC the night Kevin Durant has arguably his worst shooting game ever (or ever will), this series gets "o-v-e-r" designation, even if it's "only" 2-2

*Last word: Vinsanity!