Sports Shots 7/08: Hoops? Of course it’s Mostly Hoops

b-ballYeah, I’m back. Miss me?

You think I’m really going to try and talk European soccer with you, France vs. Portugal for the title, or Tour de France,  or Wimbledon?

Of course not. Though I’ll reiterate, NBC bike race announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen remain my favorite announcing duo in any sport.

What you care about is who’s hot at the Peach Jam? You know, basketball recruiting. Well, I’m not going to talk about that either.

Golden State with Kevin Durant. Of course, the buzz is, how many titles are the Dubs going to win with their New Death Lineup?

And all I’m thinking is, how come you guys never listen? Have you not learned yet that the best conglomeration of players does not necessarily the best team make.

Let me remind you once again, as if I haven’t already ad nauseum every time talk of a super team comes up.

Lesson #1. Los Angeles Lakers, three seasons from 1968-71.

Three players on that team were among the very best in the NBA at the time. In fact, those three players remain among the Top Ten guys who balled in the 20th C.

Wilt Chamberlain.

Jerry West.

Elgin Baylor.

They never won a title. Continue reading Sports Shots 7/08: Hoops? Of course it’s Mostly Hoops

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Live by the 3, Die by the 3

b-ballWith 4:39 to play last night, Klay Thompson answered a LeBron James trey with a driving layup.

It knotted the game at 89.

It knotted the points for the Series at 699-699.

As the Louisville Cardinal radio announcer of my youth Ed Kallay would say, “That’s about as close as you can get it.”

At which juncture, the compelling Best of 7 that had gained in intensity, by the day, on the court and off, redlined the Stress Meter past 11.

James missed a 22 footer.

Steph Curry missed a trey.

LeBron misfired on a deuce.

Thompson couldn’t net a two from 15 feet.

Andre Igoudala blocked a James shot at the rim. Then couldn’t find the hole from beyond the arc.

With each possession, the tension became more smothering, sucking the breath out of those who paid $50 large for their courtside seats, those in the bleachers, those in the Square in Cleveland, and folks gathered to watch together on big screens everywhere.

The shut down D continued. So too, the resulting offensive woes. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Live by the 3, Die by the 3

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs/Cavs’ Game 7 is The Deal

b-ballIn case you were wondering, the answer is Yes.

Yes, Golden State vs. Cleveland in the Best of One capper to this ’15-’16 NBA season is The Real Deal. The Big Deal.

Arguably the Biggest Basketball Deal of the 21st C.

Game 7s are always special. Compelling. Especially when they’re the last game of a long, long season.

But, tonight’s is mo’ betta’. Actually better than that lame overused pop cultural reference.

What we have here is nothing short of a clashing of legends. A one game Texas Chainsaw Loser Leaves Town After Getting Tongues Cut Out Death Match to decide the premier professional hoops legacy of the millennium.

You know, uh, other than that, it’s just another ballgame, the last fix for hoopaholics until autumn. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs/Cavs’ Game 7 is The Deal

Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

baseballHad baseball’s philosopher laureate Lawrence Peter Berra been sitting with the other dignitaries in U of L AD Tom Jurich’s box, he would have simply nodded knowingly at the decimating conclusion to the Cardinals’ baseball season.

“It ain’t over til it’s over.”

The visiting UCSB Gaucho’s, with a game in hand in the 2 of 3 series, could get nothing going against Card starter Drew Harrington. Scattered hits here and there, but no real threats until the bottom of the 8th, at which juncture they’d been shut out with the Cards’ line showing 3 runs. But they showed life and had men on 1st and 2d with no outs, after a lead off single and HBP.

Exit gritty Harrington, after striking out 12 and surrendering only one BB, but his shutout in jeopardy. Walking in from the bullpen came Louisville’s ace fireballing closer, Zack Burdi with his  triple digit heat, 11 saves, 2.20 ERA, and 7 to 1 strikeout ratio. Foes had hit but .155 against him this season.

Standing tall, Burdi quickly got the Cardinals out of the bottom of the 8th jam, inducing a double play and pop up on just a few pitches.

Then, after the Cards meekly failed to add insurance in the top of the last, he got the lead off hitter out in the bottom of the 9th. Continue reading Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: LeBron’s Last Stand???

b-ballOne with a propensity to hyperbolize, might inquire of tonight’s Game Three of the NBA Finals, whether it is the most important of LeBron James’ career, one that could define his legacy?

He might suggest that James, on into his thirties and facing the cusp of declining abilities, might not have many if any more opportunities to hoist his teammate on his broad Midwestern shoulders, and fireman’s carry them to certify a reclamation for his beloved home, the City by the Lake that Caught Fire.

He would wonder if James, Chosen as he was in early age like some hoopster Siddartha, can transcend the middling talents of his current teammates against a foe with more spare parts than Team Penske on Memorial Day at Indy?

He would consider if James’ legendary run of Finals’ appearances will be enough to feed the grandiosity of the star’s desires, as well as the vision of those who anointed him when he was a relative babe?

He would again assess the wonder of James’ physicality, basketball acumen and hardwood intuitivity, but concede that, in a conversation James’ longs to be a part of — Who is the best baller ever? — his name might early on fall out of the discussion.

He might wonder, that hyperbolizer, about his own conjecture here presented, whether he could be over-analyzing the long term ramifications of tonight’s contest, whether his internal queries are but mental hula hoopery?

Then again . . . Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: LeBron’s Last Stand???

Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

baseballAn afterthought on the local sports scene a decade ago, the Louisville Cardinal baseball squad is now the most consistently successful contingent around.

In the NCAA tourney once again, hosting a Regional once again, heading for a Super Regional again, where it will be hosting again, looking to advance to the College World Series for the third year in the last four, and fourth time in the decade.

More important, with Coach Dan McDonnell here for awhile under a new contract, the whole scene remains fresh and exciting.

The future’s so bright, etc, etc.

And it’s all far from ho hum, as yesterday’s 3-1 W over Wright State proved, completing completing an undefeated Regional weekend. Continue reading Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs’ Subs Conk Cavs

b-ballOf the abundant collection of accomplishments that the Golden State Warriors have gathered in the last year, what transpired last evening in Game One of the ’16 Finals may be the most bestest.

Last year’s title. This regular season’s record setting 73 Ws. Besting OKC for the West title, after being down 1-3. Consecutive MVPs. All significant. All boffo.

But, besting rough and ready Cleveland, led by a seriously voracious LeBron James, when the Splash Brothers couldn’t even find the pool let alone cannonball off the high dive . . . by 15 points no less . . . now that’s a statement.

The Cavs were ready to thwart Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, with an effective game plan, and equally impressive execution. Thompson was 4/12, picked up three fouls early on, and was hardly a factor. Curry was 4/15, threw it away 5 times and was a -1 for the tilt.

No real contributions from the stars.

No problem. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs’ Subs Conk Cavs

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs Laugh Last in the West

b-ballNow that the Warriors have done what champions do, i.e. rising from the ashes as if domiciled in Phoenix not Golden State and overcoming a 1-3 deficit to win the Western Conference title, now that order has been restored in that half of the NBA, what are we to make of the vanquished?

Specifically, of Russell Westbrook?

When the Great Scorer comes to call shall he remember the OKC sparkplug for his on court actions as a hell bent for leather, point guard of fury?

Or, shall it be for that thinly veiled press conference snicker? The one Westbrook took no pains to hide, when his running partner Kevin Durant was giving a diplomatic if dismissive response to a question about arch foe Steph Curry’s D.

At that juncture the Thunder were riding high, on the brink of the seemingly insurmountable, beating San Antonio and Golden State in consecutive series to make their first championship round as Sooners. The Spurs had been defeated. Three chances remained to close out the Warriors.

So, Westbrook, overconfident, full of himself after leading his charges to consecutive beatdowns at home, couldn’t contain his premature glee.

Forgetting it ain’t over til the Valkyrie Brünnhilde lets loose with her Götterdämmurungian aria, Westbrook giggled at the prospect of charging past the vulnerable checking of his two time MVP counterpart.

Tsk, tsk, my man. He who laughs last laughs best. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Dubs Laugh Last in the West

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Chaos Reigns in Conference Finals

b-ballYeah, I’ll be talkin’ about all the cockamamie developments in both the East and West of the NBA. As I’m wont to do. But don’t be looking to me for an explanation of what’s playing out.

I’m the guy who went all Moses Malone, and anointed the Cavs a lock for a fo’ fo’ fo’ trip to the Championship Round.

I’m the guy, just another of many many guys and gals, who has fallen in love with cute little Steph and his ability to nail 30 footers whenever it mattered. Or, so it seemed.

I’m the guy, who forgot that DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are bona fide All-Stars, and that Lowry might just be ridin’ out a 2016 Villanova hum. And that Dwane Casey might know more about coaching hoops than how to stuff an envelope with moolah to bag a recruit. And that Tyronn Lue might not be as savvy as David Blatt. And that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, despite their props, have never been here before, and might not understand how you gotta play D to win a title.

I’m the guy who watched Steven Adams play a year for Pitt, and didn’t realize how gritty (and big guy talented) he is. And how Russell Westbrook’s hell bent for leather game could unnerve even kickballin’ Draymond Green. And that Billy the Kid has two more titles on his resumé than the Kerr/Walton pas de deux combined.

I’m the guy who has never understood why people who pay triple figures for tickets to a basketball game feel compelled to wear color coordinated t-shirts on their seats, just because The World Wide Leader likes how photogenic it looks. Nor how the energy in an arena in Tornado Alley can be so tornadic, propelling the resident team to greater heights.

So, yeah, OKC is on the brink of eliminating the defending champs.

The Raptors have discovered several niches in the LeBrons’ armor.

And I’m Seedy K, a hoopaholic, watching it all play out, fascinated, but gobsmacked.

Who saw this coming?

Not me. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Chaos Reigns in Conference Finals

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Thunder Plunder Dubs, Cavs Cruise

b-ballThe handwritten sign over the bin at Paul’s Market reads, “Best Apples in Store.”

“**Crisp”

“**Tasty”

Since my morning ritual consists of natural crunchy peanut butter and an apple, always crisp, never tart (Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, the occasional Pacific Rose), I grabbed a couple to test eat.

The little sticky labels that are a pain in the ass to pull off read, “Smitten.”

Smitten Apples. Clever designation, that.

Crisp and tasty, they are, and I’m off to the market this afternoon to replenish my supply.

Smitten, indeed.

 * * * * *

And smitten is what we hoopaholics have been, as we were with the Spurs in ’14, with the Golden State Warriors since their beautiful ever in motion panache won them last year’s NBA title, and a record 73 regular season tilts this season. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Thunder Plunder Dubs, Cavs Cruise