A GRIP ON SPORTS
Say you are a Boston Celtic fan living in, I don't know, Dorchester, Mass. You don't watch much college basketball because, after all, the Celtics are everything (though the Bruins and Pats are OK too). So Sunday you wander down to the end of the block to Jimmy's pub on Bowdoin St., where they have NBA TV. You want to see the Celtics' summer league team in Orlando. And this Kelly Olynyk kid. You like his first name OK, but his hair, jeez. Why doesn't Danny Ainge make him cut it? Red would have. Anyhow, this is your first chance to watch the 7-footer from Gonzawga (is that how you pronounce it?) play. An hour later, you stagger from the establishment, headed home with a smile on your lips and dreams of the future even though that (bad word excised here) Tommy Bush – an Episcopalian, so what does he know? – kept pointing out Olynyk's defensive shortcomings. Who cares? Larry had trouble guarding guys at times too, and that worked out OK. One summer game in and you've decided. Ainge is a freakin' genius. We'll win another title by 2016. Book it. Read on.
• Sports fans always are too quick to make judgments. Players are oftentimes either the greatest or worst ever, based on the latest performance. But even given that, Olynyk's summer league debut for the Celtics yesterday was pretty darn special. How special? How about 25 points in 27 minutes, hitting 9 of 12 shots, including half his four 3-point attempts. About the only criticism anyone had of Olynyk was he was too unselfish. He passed up too many shots. That's not a bad criticism considering Olynyk was playing with a few of his future teammates, including Fab Melo, who is expected to play a lot now that the Celtics have dismantled their veteran corps. Probably the most interesting line I read this morning concerning Olynyk's performance was this one from Baxter Holmes in the Boston Globe. "Above all, Olynyk looked smooth," wrote Holmes, who as recently as last year covered USC basketball for the Los Angeles Times. Judgments in the NBA are often made based upon how you look doing something, not always on the ensuing results. If Olynyk looked good on the court, looked as if he belonged, that is, in many folks' perception, as important as actually being good. Some so-called experts will give the guy who looks good the benefit of the doubt, expecting results before actually seeing them and signing on for future success. In Olynyk's case, Sunday at least, there seems to have been both. He looked good while playing well. And, more than likely, served to raise expectations of Celtic fans everywhere. Even at Jimmy's.
• WSU: Washington State will have two senior kickers on the roster this fall. So the Cougars did something about it, recruiting and receiving a commitment from a California high school kicker. Christian Caple has more in this blog post.
• Indians: Spokane showed a little temper in its 8-4 comeback win over Eugene on Sunday, with two players being ejected. Chris Derrick has the game story and more in this blog post. ... There was a really long game in Hillsboro yesterday. Long enough to be two games.
• Mariners: As road trips go for the M's, they haven't had many better ones this season. The took two of three each from two good teams, Texas and Cincinnati, the final win coming Sunday with Roadshow Joe on the mound. The Mariners' 3-1 victory was built with a combination of Joe Saunders tough pitching and home runs from Nick Franklin, who returned to the lineup after one game off to rest a sore leg, and Justin Smoak. ... Afterward, Smoak was honest about his offensive shortcomings this season, including his inability to come through in the clutch.
• Sounders: For the first time in, well, ever, the Sounders are looking up at their two Northwest rivals in the MLS standings.
• Yes, another summer week is beginning. Though this is a summer week like none other in Britain for at least the last 77 years. See, Andy Murray came through with a straight-set win in the men's Wimbledon final, giving the Brits their first homegrown champion since the 1930s. Think there were a few pints hoisted in celebration yesterday? Until later ...