Posted by Andrew Zercie on July 1, 2009
In the last three weeks, I’ve had a lot going on with work, and it has gotten in the way of writing. Thankfully, that is done for a while, so I can give the blog some attention again.
While I wasn’t writing, I did keep an eye on the goings-on in the world of sports and entertainment (to a lesser extent). Here’s my take on a few things:
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers won a championship without Shaquille O’Neal
Kobe Bryant did something recently that Michael Jordan was never able to do: win a championship without a Hall of Famer caliber teammate.
Pau Gasol is a nice player. He was an All-Star this year, and deservedly so. He is one of the best interior players in the league right now, at a time when interior play has fallen off considerably. Gasol certainly is a valuable player. However, from a historical standpoint, he is not Hall of Fame caliber.
Each of Jordan’s six titles with the Chicago Bulls came with Scottie Pippen providing assistance. Pippen, like Jordan, was named one of the NBA’s best 50 players back in 1996. While more great players have joined the league in the 13 years since that list came out, Pippen’s standing hasn’t changed one iota. He will be a Hall of Famer someday soon.
Dennis Rodman won three titles with Jordan and Pippen, and retired as the top rebounder of his generation. It is likely that he, too, will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame someday.
Kobe didn’t win the NBA Finals by himself, but he certainly didn’t have Hall of Fame-worthy help.
Pittsburgh Penguins Win Stanley Cup In Thrilling Game Seven
I gave up on the NHL when the Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh. I did watch some of game seven of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals because it was a game seven, and for no other reason.
If the NHL were smart, they’d find a way to capitalize on this year’s great playoffs. Of course, if they were smart, the Whalers would still be in Hartford, and the NHL would have the promotional power of ESPN behind it, rather than working against it.
Roger Federer Wins French Open
Pete Sampras retired as the “greatest ever” in tennis in 2002. In 2003, Roger Federer began his assault on Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles by winning his first Wimbledon championship. At the time, Sampras’s record seemed safe.
Seven years later, Pete Sampras has company.
Having won his first French Open title last month, Federer accomplished the “career” Grand Slam and tied Sampras’s record. He doesn’t turn 28 until August and still has a few years of prime tennis left in his career.
How Federer plays against his rival, Rafael Nadal, the rest of his career will likely determine his ultimate standing in the game of tennis. For now, let’s say Fed is “one of the greatest,” and see if he can break Sampras’s record this weekend at Wimbledon.
Yankees Can’t Seem to Beat Red Sox
I don’t really want to delve into this. The Sox are 8-0 against the Yankees this year. I’d be more bothered by it if the teams weren’t heading in opposite directions right now.
…and the ratings go through the roof.
…and People magazine goes flying off the shelves.
…and their poor kids have parents who pimped them out for all the world to see.
LeBron Wins MVP, Loses Shot at Ring, Gains Shaq
When the Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was widely recognized that LeBron James was the best player in the league, but that he was willing the Cavs as far as he could carry them.
The Cavs had trouble against the best teams in the league (Orlando, the Lakers, the Celtics) all season long, and their 66-win season was a mirage waiting to be exposed. While they do have some good players who can spread the floor and make jump shots, they lacked someone who could play in the paint and handle All-Stars such as Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol.
The Cavs tried to add Shaquille O’Neal back in February, but the deal with the Phoenix Suns fell apart. Right before the NBA Draft, the Suns dealt Shaq to Cleveland, fortifying the Cavs for a Finals run in 2009-10.
…and laughed ’til it hurt.
…and my wife laughed harder than I did.
…and I can’t remember ever seeing my wife laugh more than me, and we’ve been at this whole husband-wife thing for 9 years now.
…and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Brandon Marshall Following in Jay Cutler’s Footsteps?
As a Denver Broncos fan, it hasn’t been a great 12 months.
Last year at this time, the Broncos were coming off a 6-10 season, but boasted an offense that was improving. The NFL Draft yielded All-Pro caliber left tackle Ryan Clady and rookie standout WR Eddie Royal. The exhibition season didn’t produce any major injuries. Then, once the season started, the team began the year 4-0.
Of course, things didn’t end well. Injuries to running backs left the team scrambling. Injuries to the defense didn’t help matters. Then, with an opportunity to win just 1 game in their last 3 to clinch the AFC West and a playoff berth, the Broncos couldn’t close the deal.
The current offseason has seen a new coach, new QB, a head-scratching draft (that, upon further review, looks pretty good), and now the revelation that Brandon Marshall, the team’s troubled star WR, is seeking a trade.
The other shoe has dropped in Denver at least five times now since the middle of December, 2008.
As for Marshall, if his agent wants to orchestrate a trade then I’m fine with it. The guy is talented, but he doesn’t have as much trade value, or long-term contract value, as he thinks. He’s coming off hip surgery and is a loose cannon who’s already been suspended by the NFL for off-the-field conduct problems (domestic abuse). Other than that, the guy is a legend-in-the-making!
I expect Denver will keep him through training camp at least, unless he holds out. And if Marshall does hold out, it could jeopardize his chance at earning the service time necessary to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Let him shoot himself in the foot (proverbally…don’t want any Plaxico Burress shenanigans happening) if he wants to. The AFC West is weak enough for Denver to steal it with or without Marshall this year.
Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer…
…are tearing the cover off the ball.
…are both steroid-free (until proven otherwise).
…are both going to be in Pinstripes by 2011?
Is There Room on the “Kings of Leon” Bandwagon?
If so, count me in.
Speaking of Music…
…enjoying the new Dave Matthews CD.
…yes, I still buy CDs. Liner notes. It’s all about the liner notes.
…I am waiting patiently for “Backspacer,” the new Pearl Jam disc.
Even Though I Am A Yankees Fan…
…there better be room on the American League All-Star team for Tim Wakefield.
…the Tampa Bay Rays are a lot of fun to watch, and I wish they were on TV more often.
…I can’t help thinking how things would be different if Joe Torre were still managing the Yankees and wasn’t out in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.