Only Immortality Is On The Line
Friday - May 25, 2011
Reputations in sports are built on the rhythms of long seasons, but legacies are created in the post-season. Reggie Jackson was a very good player, but he was so good in World Series competition he became known as Mr. October. Why is Joe Montana remembered as one of the great clutch performers of all time? Great play in huge games. “The Catch” didn’t happen in the regular season.
And that is why these NBA playoffs are Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki’s chance at sports immortality. He is the star performer for his team in the brightest light. He’s been there once before in the NBA Finals in 2006 against the Miami Heat. He played well, but was overshadowed as his team lost after being up 2-0. Nobody talked about him being surrounded by an inferior cast, rather about the Mavs collapse.
But this time it could be different. The cast is better and Nowitzki is playing aggressively. He’s averaging 29 points in the playoffs and game one against Oklahoma City was an offensive masterpiece. He had 48 points on 12 of 15 shooting, and made all 24 free throws.
He is the best shooting big man in the history of the game, better by far than Patrick Ewing. To climb into the pantheon though, he needs to bring the title to Dallas.
Will he or won’t he? * That’s also the question being asked of Tiger Woods. But now it’s will he be able to tee it up at the U.S. Open at Congressional after withdrawing from The Players Championship after just nine holes? His knee and Achilles made it impossible for him to continue: The Achilles will heal, but the knee has already been operated on four times. This is a chronic problem.
Two years ago, almost everyone believed Tiger would catch Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors. Now few do.
NBC golf analyst and Maui resident Mark Rolfing has an interesting take on Woods: “Tiger needs to reset his goals. Instead of trying to catch Jack, he’s got to think about winning just one more major and go from there.”
Almost everyone who knows Woods believes that will be very difficult for him to do as he has had Nicklaus in his sights for so long.
“As difficult as Tiger’s health issues are, it may be his brain that needs a rest the most,” says Rolfing.
With Woods falling out of the world’s top 10, the self-imposed pressures will be mounting. You can only wonder if a day will come when Woods will decide that he can’t handle mediocrity, and put his clubs away.
Keep in mind that the five majors Woods needs to pass Jack are more than any active player in the world has right now.
* Here’s hoping the Rainbow baseball team will be able to carry some of the magic from their regular season home finale against San Jose state into this week’s WAC tournament. This is a team that has a number of flaws, but seems incapable of giving an inch until the 27th out is recorded.
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