Friday, May 23, 2014

5/23 Memorial Day Weekend Quickie

*Landon Donovan left off USMNT World Cup squad: Jurgen Klinsmann knew exactly what he was doing -- leaving off Donovan was deliberate, tactical, remorseless. The message is "'18, not '14."

Bill Barnwell had an immediate reaction that felt right: If the US falls short (and they will), the entire discussion will be "What if Landon was playing?"

*NBA Playoffs: By the time we get to Tuesday, it'll be Heat 3-1 and Spurs 3-0. (Hate the lull with no games last night and tonight -- after the nightly pace, it was a sudden withdrawal.)

*Prince Fielder: Bad contract or the worst contract? (Can't be worse than Ryan Howard, but up there.) Fielder had been durable throughout his career; reminder about the dominant role of chance.

*Phrase to know: "Let the games began" (V. Stiviano, via the LA Times)

*Weekend read: "Bedtime Stories for Catherine," from ESPN's Wright Thompson

*Congrats to my pals at FTW for winning "Best Mobile Site" from Digiday at their awards show last night.

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

5/22 Spurs Dynasty Quickie

This feels like the moment when everyone finally gets on board with how amazing these Spurs are -- and have been since the dawn of Duncan.

It is Tim Duncan -- not Shaq or Kobe or LeBron -- who deserves to have an entire era named after him. The NBA from 1999-2014... "The Duncan Dynasty."

It's not just the titles, although that is typically how we ultimately measure success. The Spurs should have had another last year and seem hell-bent on rolling to one this year.

They are dispatching the Thunder in this series like OKC was a nuisance; what's going to happen in two weeks when they play a team they actually feel viscerally angry about?

It feels like only now that the vast majority of fans are finally recognizing that the Spurs are iconic. This "Big Three" trumps Miami's version, and it's not even close.

Gregg Popovich trumps Phil Jackson -- and possibly/probably any other coach in NBA history (although as with Phil, it's hard to know how much is the coach and how much is the all-time talent).

Sure, the roster is anchored by one of the Top 10 players of all time and bolstered by two of the greatest draft steals ever (three, if you count Kawhi Leonard).

But it's hard to think of a team in NBA history as well-oiled as these Spurs are -- and have been, for a generation. Maybe since Showtime -- the Spurs are on track to match those 5 titles.

The Spurs don't clamor for your attention, recognition or respect -- that has simply become a byproduct of staggering success.

-- D.S.

PS: Thanks to Tony Reali, Aaron Solomon, Erik Rydholm and the folks at the Around the Horn/PTI/Highly Questionable HQ for hosting me yesterday on the 10th anniversary of my ATH debut.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5/21 Lottery Hangover Quickie

*Ten years ago today, I made my debut on "Around the Horn." That's surreal on several levels.

*The Cavs winning the NBA Lottery is the lamest outcome. I'm sure they will take Wiggins, but they should take Embiid, even with the injury risk; let him sit out all next year to get better.

*After last night, any lingering doubts about whether the Heat will roll over the Pacers?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5/20 Lottery Quickie

*I have become so conditioned -- institutionalized -- to get excited for the NBA Draft Lottery (aka "our playoffs" for Wizards fans) that it's weird to not be involved tonight.

This year's edition has at least three (but I'd argue five) potential franchise-changers: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid (plus Dante Exum and Noah Vonleh), and a slew of players with potential to be playoff rotation contributors down the line, if not starters on playoff teams.

(Thought experiment: Five years from now, how many games would a team whose starting five was Exum, Wiggins, Parker, Vonleh and Embiid win? I'll say at least 50.)

Anyway, it's a big night for bottom-feeders -- but, for once, not for Wizards fans.

*After watching the Spurs hammer the Thunder last night, "Spurs in 5" still sounds right.

*California Chrome/Triple Crown Watch: The nasal strip was approved, for obvious (commercial) reasons. Now the Belmont resumes being a must-see event.

*Name to Know: Lucy Li, the 11-year-old who qualified for the LPGA's US Women's Open. Lucy rules! (And maybe I'm just saying that because my own daughter is named Lucy!)

*Prediction: Kevin Ollie will be in the NBA before his 5-year extension at UConn runs out.

*NFL Draft moved from NYC to another city, rotating annually? Yes, please.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 19, 2014

5/19 Monday Quickie

*For my money, Twitch is the most fascinating sports-media deal of the year. It's the closest thing we've seen to a "next ESPN" by a start-up since... ESPN.

(Stat to know: In March, Consumption of Twitch represented 1.35% of all -- ALL -- downstream bandwidth. That's more than HBO Go. Background on the rumored YouTube acquisition here; required background reading on Twitch here.)

*Pacers beat Heat in Game 1: Is it wrong that my entire lens for this series is a combination of "Well, at least the Wizards played Indy tougher than Miami did" and "At this rate, the Wizards could have beaten the Heat, too."

*California Chrome nasal-strip controversy: This shouldn't be a controversy! The New York Racing Association would be insane not to give the horse an exemption to wear the breathing aid.

*Spurs over Thunder in 5.

-- D.S.