This week in epic epic-ness:
1. The Thunder even up the Western Conference Finals
The Thunder of Oklahoma City knotted up the Western Conference Finals to even it at two games apiece with the San Antonio Spurs. This is no guarantee of where the series is going, as I have constantly said, the series ain’t over until the series is over. However, there is something to be said for the Spurs, who run off of their big three (Duncan, Manu, Parker), and shutting them down essentially shuts down the Spurs. The Thunder are playing well when the Spurs are playing badly.
The Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, is well aware of the problems plaguing his team; he foresaw the problem in game 1, when, in a now famous comment, he told his team they needed more “nasty.” The Spurs, indeed, need more of it.
2. The Celtics knot up the Heat to even the Battle for the East
The Celtics are resurrecting old comments about the Miami Heat; primarily that they cannot close out games, cannot hit clutch shots, and for me personally, that perhaps they are not fully prepared for the twenty tons of pressure on them. Falling into a 0-2 hole is not easy to crawl out of, but if anyone can motivate his team to break their fingernails to do it, it’s Doc Rivers. The Celtics are a veteran team, who are well aware of what it takes to win a championship, and that experience is starting to shine through. Now, again, there’s no guarantees.
However, it doesn’t take much to wonder how much the Heat are missing Chris Bosh right now. Yes, he’s on the mend, and yes, he may be coming back soon, but the problem with a player who’s out is that (a) it takes time for him to fully recover to game shape, and (b) the team needs to readjust to his presence. I have no doubt the Heat will handle this magnificently, but I’m sure they are wishing that this was the end of the regular season, and not the Eastern Conference Finals.
3. Tiger Woods ties Jack Nicklaus
At Jack’s tournament, Tiger Woods emerged from his slump, came back, and won the tournament to tie Jack Nicklaus’s PGA wins record. The two of them had a nice moment together, near the side of the course, where Jack doubtless congratulated Tiger and wished him the best of luck; Jack’s a class act after all.
However, the potential resurgence of Tiger Woods is not to be taken too lightly; it is far bigger than one tournament, one win, and even one record. Tiger Woods made golf big; think about it, a sport traditionally dominated only by whites, coupled with a Jim Crow policy reinforced by rules for several decades, got a shot in the arm with Tiger Woods won The Masters, at Augusta, a former hot spot of racism in golf. Tiger Woods is good for the sport of golf; he draws crowds, and attention; we can only hope that this is just the beginning of his comeback.
4. Floyd “Money” Mayweather is in jail
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is serving his prison term for domestic violence, something that was well-known six months ago when he arranged his last fight. Unfortunately for him, winning that fight didn’t change the fact that he would have to go to jail, so yes, he probably felt the exhilaration of victory, but that doesn’t change the fact that he still beat up his girlfriend.
Well, we can hope that his time in prison (90 days) will give him the wisdom to see that his time at the top won’t last forever, and this may prompt him to accept a deal slightly less favorable to him that will result in him fighting Manny Pacquiao. We can hope that he may emerge from it slightly more humble. We can hope that he will become a better human being. However, that is all we can do right now, because he is in jail.
5. The UFC: at the top of its game?
The recent history of UFC shows a sports league that is rising in popularity and fiscal strength; the recent heavyweight championship battles, as well as some of the new faces, are making things very interesting in the UFC, at nearly all levels. The dominance of Jon Bones and Anderson Silva is providing tons of great matches, and incredible opposition to emerge in response.
6. The College World Series
The College World Series is having one hell of a year. It is- Sorry, just thinking about it is making me sleepy. NEXT!!
7. The Kings overtake the Devils in overtime… twice.
The Los Angeles Kings are two Stanley Cup Final victories away from hoisting the Cup, and both victories emerged out of overtime. The worst part for New Jersey is that the Devils were not playing horrible; if anything they were playing quite well, they just lost two close games.
This showcases just how vicious the nature of sudden death is in sports. However, as opposed to the NFL, where sudden death was a serious problem because of different scoring methods, the NHL has only one, which doesn’t entirely make it better, but it’s still better. The Kings are rolling, and the Devils cannot allow two bad, heartbreaking losses to bring them down.
The NBA Conference Finals: How awesome is this
The NBA conference finals are everything the NBA needs them to be: exciting, dramatic, pulse-pounding, and most importantly, worth watching. The symmetry of what is happening in both the Eastern and Western conference finals (home teams yet to lose, series even after four) only makes it more compelling.
The list of reasons why the NBA Playoffs couldn’t be any better is not lacking. Both series have common themes of young guns trying to get their first championship, with veteran, championship teams trying to get one more ring before their legends retire from the game. The Celtics, in particular, are fighting the image that they are over the hill, and every time some analyst says so, they fight back and prove that they are still in the hunt. The Spurs seem intent on sending out Tim Duncan in style, with their team on top of the NBA.
The Heat are young, as are the Thunder. However, the level of animosity that still exists towards the Heat makes them must-see TV in a dimension unlike most great teams that have emerged in the last several decades. The Thunder seem intent on loudly proclaiming their own greatness, since it seems like they have great players that emerge every game that no one saw coming.
The NBA couldn’t have hoped for anything better at this juncture, and it is rare that both conference finals are worth watching, and rarer still that both series are up in the air. Let’s hope this continues on.