The Weekend That Was

Posted by: Cliff Saunders
As always, it was a busy weekend. In case you missed it, here are the hilites.
 
Celts Win; Lakers Lose: Let’s start with Boston. He’s not Kevin Garnett. Glenn Davis (aka Big Baby) makes fun of the comparisons with The Big Ticket, calling himself The Ticket Stub. But he was a PTP’er (sorry Dick Vitale) yesterday when his buzzer beater gave the Celtics a 95-94 win over Orlando to tie their series at two games apiece.
 
If you believed the so-called experts, the Celtics had no chance against the Magic and Dwight Howard. They were old. The Bulls had just pushed them to the seven game limit. But what the experts didn’t take into account is the heart that the Celtics obviously have.
 
I’m still nervous about their chances against Orlando. But I’m not going to flip flop and pick against them now. They were my pick to win The Eastern Conference when the playoffs started. They remain my pick right now. They are undermanned, but they have heart. Something that has been helping them out so far. Something that could help them as we continue down the road to the finals (and yes, even against Cleveland).
 
As far as the Lakers go, the Rockets - minus Yao Ming - gave The Lake Show a beatdown yesterday afternoon. That series is tied at two games apiece as well.
 
Give it up to Aaron Brooks. Give it up to Rick Adelman, who figured out a way to keep this team motivated despite them not having Yao and Tracy McGrady.
 
That being said, Houston hasn’t done anything yet. They beat the Lakers twice, and that is an accomplishment. However, you don’t move on by winning two games. You move on by winning four games.
 
The Rockets were running on adrenaline. I doubt they’ll be able to keep it going for much longer given the injuries they have suffered. it’s a nice story right now, but I don’t see it having a good ending.
 
The NBA Comes Clean: There are a lot of people who believe in the NBA Conspiracy Theory. You know what that theory is. That the league wants certain teams from certain markets with certain superstars to do well. To win, in fact. Those people are having a field day following Saturday night’s game between Dallas and Denver.
 
In case you missed it, Antoine Wright of the Mavericks (who were holding the lead at the time), thought he had a foul to give and basically tried to assault Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets. I mean you could have seen that as a foul from anywhere. The only problem is, the refs didn’t see it (or didn’t want to). Anthony wriggled free, hit the trifecta to give Denver a one point win and a 3-0 lead in the series.
 
The story doesn’t end there, though. Sure, you had the expected complaining from the Dallas locker room (though Mark Cuban managed to keep his cool). But, the NBA also weighed in, saying the refs screwed up - that Wright should have been whistled for the foul.
 
It’s nice that the NBA is admitting its mistake. However, it doesn’t do anything for the Mavs or their fans. They don’t get those last few seconds back. They still lost the game. They are still in a 3-0 hole.
 
If the NBA was truly in the business of trying to convince a suspicious public that things are on the up and up, then my remedy is simple. Declare the game suspended with Dallas up (as they were before the Anthony three). Then play the last few seconds (before the start of game four). That’s the only way (in my mind) to write the wrong.
 
It’s not a practical solution, and I know it will never happen. But if the NBA wants everyone to believe in and support their product (especially in this economy), then, as Oscar Rodgers said on SNL - “FIX IT!”
 
Tiger Struggles Again: After the third round at the TPC Saturday, many of the ‘experts’ were singing a familiar song. “Here Comes Tiger” was all you read and heard on Saturday night and Sunday, before the final round at Sawgrass got underway. But, as has been the case the last few weeks, Tiger’s swing betrayed him, and he failed to make the charge up the leaderboard that many thought he would.
 
This has led to the critics having a field day. it’s also led to some honest criticism about what’s gone wrong (if top ten finishes and a win are ‘wrong’) with Tiger’s game.
 
Is there something wrong with Woods’ game? Look, I’m not a golf savant, but it stands to reason that after eight months of inactivity, there is going to be some things that aren’t perfect. It stands to reason that Tiger’s swing probably isn’t what it was when he gutted out a win over Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open last June. I’m not sure how it could be, considering the fact he was sidelined after having major reconstructive knee surgery.
 
The fact that Woods has had top ten finishes this year is a bonus. The fact that he even won a tournament has to be considered amazing. He will get the swing fixed (remember, the bulk of his rehab work - when it game to golf - was on his short game). It’s going to take time. The man is 33 years old. despite how he’s portrayed by the media (i.e. The Worldwide Leader), he is human.
 
He might struggle for the rest of the season. He also might win a major. And if he does, while he’s still not nearly at the top of his game, then I hope the critics give him the credit he’ll deserve.
 
I admit I’m a Tiger fan. I also admit I get emotional when it comes to sports. I can be quick to take someone to task. But I’m not stupid either. The best golfer in the world blew out his knee last year. He wasn’t going to come back and pick up where he left off. If you expected him to, you were going to be wrong.
 
A Legend Leaves: Chuck Daly, the former coach of the Detroit Pistons, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 78 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Even though he coached the Bad Boy teams in Detroit, there might not have been a nicer guy around the league. Daly never big timed anyone. He knew who he was and what he had done. He just didn’t make himself out to be bigger than anyone else. As a member of the media, he was a refreshing guy to cover. He was genuine, which is a quality a lot of people in the sports world lack.
 
I’ve been thinking about what Daly did in his career. I’ve been trying to figure out (in my mind) what his biggest accomplishment was. Some people say it was coaching The Dream Team to gold in 1992. I say it was leading the Pistons to titles in 1989 and 1990.
 
No offense, but a lot of people could have coached The Dream Team to a gold medal. But, it took someone special to coach those Pistons teams to championships. First of all, they had to get by Larry Bird’s Celtics and Michael Jordan’s Bulls just to get to the Finals. Then they had to get by a Magic Johnson led Lakers squad.  They had to beat an underrated Portland team, too.
 
Daly also has to manage some pretty diverse personalities. Bill Laimbeer was never Mr. Warm and Fuzzy. Dennis Rodman spent a lot of time on his own planet. Then there was Isiah Thomas, John Salley, Joe Dumars, and Vinny Johnson. Daly got them all to work together, which wasn’t an easy thing to do.

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