Dreaming of a Lakers-Celtics NBA finals
Friday - April 25, 2008
Watching the opening round of the NBA playoffs, I wouldn’t blame David Stern and league management if they were privately rooting for a Laker-Celtics championship series. Television executives have no need to be neutral, and they have been quoted to the effect that it would be in the best interest of ratings. It just might be the best basketball for spectators as well. Seeing the Lakers work the onetwo punch of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol brought to mind the amazing Laker teams of the late ‘80s. Bryant has never looked like more of a leader than he does now. How good was the trade that brought Gasol over for the hapless Kwame Brown?
The Celtics overhaul has been more dramatic and equally effective. Kevin Garnett is absolutely at the top of his game, Ray Allen is playing like a younger man, and those two have had a galvanizing effect on Paul Pierce. All three demonstrate an every-game intensity that is the hallmark of outstanding teams. It’s been a long time since I’ve craved a finals matchup, but this one would be great theatre.
I find it ironic that there seem so many in the media opposed to Kobe Bryant winning an MVP award. For many years, I agreed with the criticism that Bryant seemed more focused on himself than on team. I though his decision-making, particularly shot selection, was suspect - yet this season he seems to evince a maturity in his game that has elevated his surrounding cast. Finally, he seems deserving of his first MVP trophy, but the pundits seem convinced that it will go elsewhere. Bryant may have to be content with the dubious distinction of being the best player never to have won the game’s top individual award.
It has been fun to watch the way the Rainbow baseball team has turned it around the last few weeks. I took my family to the series finale against Nevada last Sunday, and Matt Daly was spectacular to watch. He’s always been the Rainbows’ hardest thrower, but Sunday he showed poise and command of the strike zone, giving up only two hits in seven-and-two-thirds innings, while striking out seven and walking five. While he still issues more free passes than you’d like to see, Daly had control of the game throughout. Definitely his best outing of the season. It would be huge for this team if the junior right-hander could bring that consistently. With some of the older guys beginning to hit, Hawaii looks like it’s starting to peak at the right time.
Trying to figure out the upcoming NFL draft is enough to bring on a migraine. The number of mock drafts is mind-boggling. Most of them don’t include all four Hawaii players who expect to be drafted. But that doesn’t bother Leo Goeas, player agent and former Warrior who represents Jason Rivers, Hercules Satele, Michael Lafaele and others. “The thing about mock drafts,” says Goeas,“is these guys mostly haven’t played and just gather information online. For the most part, they’re computer geeks.” Goeas believes Jason Rivers will be taken by the fifth round. Ryan Tullner, agent for Colt Brennan and Ryan GriceMullen, is optimistic that his clients will not last past the fifth round either.
This Saturday will be Hawaii’s version of the spring game at Aloha Stadium. Head football coach Greg McMackin is hopeful that the free-parking, free-admission event will draw a big crowd. “I’m hoping that we’ll get 20,000 to 30,000 people,” says McMackin. “We’re going to put on the best show we can and we’ve got the best fans in the world, so we’d love them to check us out on Saturday.” The game begins at 8 p.m., and gates open at 5 p.m.
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