A GRIP ON SPORTS
So the Spurs won another NBA title last night. But could they win the intramural title at Maplewood Gardens? Read on.
• The joke is, of course, the Spurs are old. And that's true to a degree. Tim Duncan, ancient by NBA standards. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, old dudes. But though they are the key trio in the Spurs dynasty, it was two young fellas, Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills, who were the difference Sunday night. Leonard, the forward from San Diego State, was the difference every night of the finals, not only on offense but on defense as well. He was the guy tasked with slow down LeBron James, not stop him necessarily, but keep the best player in the game in check. Leonard could do that well enough to win the finals' MVP award. It was those defensive abilities that intrigued Tony Bennett, when he was the WSU coach. Bennett and the Cougars recruited Leonard while he was a senior in high school but the Riverside, Calif., star decided to stay closer to home. It wouldn't have mattered. If Leonard had said yes, he wouldn't have played for Bennett, who left for Virginia that spring. As for Mills, everyone around here knows him and what he can do after watching him lead St. Mary's in those epic battles with Gonzaga. Mills was as quick a point guard as the WCC has produced and that includes John Stockton and Steve Nash. It was his outside shooting, however, that did in the Heat last night as the Spurs won their fifth title under Greg Popovich, a former Division III coach at Pomona-Pitzer. What's the common theme here? The Spurs aren't a team melded through free agency, with stars coming together to kick everyone else's rear ends. They have a former No. 1 pick in Duncan and a bunch of players – including WSU's Aron Baynes – who fit important pieces of a winning puzzle. In other words, they are a team, not a collection of individuals. And that's rare these days – and has been rare over the years.
• The NBA is done, the U.S. Open is over. (Has there ever been a more boring U.S. Open golf tournament? I think not. I hope next year's, the first in the Pacific Northwest, will be better.) Now the United States takes center stage with the World Cup. The U.S. team's chances of getting out of group stage and moving on aren't high but I'm sure they ratings will be good anyway. After all, it may be soccer but it's a chance to cheer for the red, white and blue. That's always important.
• Indians: Thanks goodness for the Indians. Without them, there wouldn't be any truly local items to link. And they won for the third consecutive time to open a season, defeating Eugene 5-2. A 3-0 start hasn't happened here since I was young, if you consider 40 young. Yes, it was that long ago. Chris Derrick has the game story and a blog post.
• Gonzaga: I didn't know where to slot this story but I opened it because I was looking for Gonzaga-related items, so here it is. It's a story of a rivalry bridged by one man's heart. It's worth reading.
• Mariners: Yesterday, the M's were dealing with the pain of a five-game losing streak and erstwhile stopper Hisashi Iwakuma (pictured) was dealing with the pain of a stiff neck. Not good. But Iwakuma worked out the kinks and put an end to the M's streak, defeating the Rangers 5-1. Kyle Seager helped, with a 4-for-4 performance. ... Logan Morrison knocked himself out of the lineup literally.
• Sounders: Sigi Schmid has his thoughts on the World Cup and other things.
• That's it for this morning. I hope the week treats you well. Until later ...