June is nearly here. Here we go:
1. Greg Popovich wants “some nasty”
Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich generated a sensation when, miked up during a time out, he told his team he wanted some “nasty”, following that up with the statement that “each round gets harder.” The Spurs rallied and slammed the door on the Thunder.
I love this type of story, especially because Greg Popovich is a great coach. He doesn’t like individual awards, and the only reason he accepted his coach of the year award this year was because Tim Duncan insisted he do so. So, when he tells his team to play tough, to get tough, and to rally, he says it less like a coach and more like a member of the team; with players, we talk about team leaders; for the Spurs, their number one team leader is their coach.
2. The Heat beat the Celtics
Amidst several technical fouls, the Heat beat the Celtics. However, unlike previous series, there isn’t the feeling of finality that comes after game one. I’ve said before that a series ain’t over until it’s over, and this series ain’t over, especially since the Celtics really know what they are doing.
3. The Miami Dolphins on Hard Knocks
Reportedly, the Miami Dolphins will be the team documented on HBO’s Hard Knocks this season. Other teams in consideration were the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets, both of whom (again, reportedly) declined the offer. The question has been raised about whether or not the Dolphins’ season will be intriguing and exciting enough, especially in comparison with the 2010 Jets’ season.
One reason that the Dolphins were picked has to be that it is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Dolphins perfect season, but part of it has to also be that Hard Knocks likes to pick teams that are under the radar from time to time; the season with the Kansas City Chiefs is reflective of that. That said, they should have gone with a team that would have generated more buzz; unless, of course, all those teams declined the offer.
4. Pau Gasol: Running with the Bulls? (HINT: probably not)
Pau Gasol, currently with the Los Angeles Lakers, reportedly wants to play with the Chicago Bulls. While this sounds good, the devil’s in the details; should this trade work out, one of the two teams will clearly come out ahead (on paper anyway). There isn’t a way to make this work, in any serious way, unless a third team becomes involved.
I don’t know what prompted Pau to say this, by the way. I also don’t know if he would stay with the Lakers, or if he has mentally severed ties there. It is something to keep an eye on, but until I hear that both teams are interested, I don’t consider it anything more than a pipe dream.
5. Serena Williams gets bounced out of the French Open in the first round
For the first time in her Grand Slam career, Serena Williams lost in the first round. It was in the French Open to an unseeded challenger whose name I don’t know. The state of woman’s tennis is looking bleak, for the American audience in particular. The Williams sisters seem to be on the brink of retiring, with the sentiment that both of them may retire at the 2012 Olympics, although it is doubtful we will be hearing anything solid on the topic for a while.
Everytime I root against the Williams sisters, I was always wrong, one reason why I became indifferent to women’s tennis. Serena, who has had, shall we say, anger management issues on the court, is not playing well, and also for the first time, it can be said that she is clearly sliding out of her prime.
In coaching news….
The Los Angeles Clippers (also known as the other LA basketball guys) have decided to retain Vinny Del Negro as head coach for next season, a decision made public today.
Good. For all the faults the Clippers have, many of the issues surrounding their play cannot be attributed to coaching. Blake Griffin is a beast, but he needs to toughen up and take better shots. Chris Paul is an exceptional player, but he can’t fill every void his teammates create. Del Negro had limited time with the players who were on the roster coming into the season, and that didn’t include Chris Paul. Imagine what he will accomplish with his power duo, a full training camp, and a season not forcibly shortened in the name of money-grabbing.
Furthermore, it is nice to see the Clippers recognize Vinny Del Negro’s accomplishments in the proper context. The Clippers’ overwhelming lack of playoff success for the duration of its franchise history is not a secret, and it’s nice to see the ownership there recognize that Del Negro did the Clippers and their fanbase a huge service by winning a playoff series. Rather than saying, “you were given championship material and failed to make anything of it,” they are saying “you did good; give us better,” and it rallies the fanbase, the team, the coaches, and unites them to do that much better.
Well, that’s all folks. Thanks for reading. See you next week.