Frankly, I’m tired of all the buzz around the NHL postseason. “There’s nothing better than playoff hockey.” Oh, really? I’ll tell you what’s better than playoff hockey: April in Paris, Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, my wife Toni and the NBA postseason.
Yeah, the NBA postseason.
Besides, who really is watching the NHL postseason? Ratings are way up, yet at any given time, twice as many people are watching “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion show on Bravo than watching the NHL playoffs on NBC Sports Network. Heck, most prison TVs will put “Storage Wars” on before they put on a Predators-Coyotes game.
Anyway, the NBA playoffs are under way – my always-tainted money is on Oklahoma City – and here are some of the fascinating story lines to follow:
For LeBron James, the Heat is on. Again. We all know how this tale ends – no title in Miami. Ultimately, “The Decision” will become “The Disaster,” leaving post-LeBron South Beach with 423 singles bars and zero NBA rings. In King James’ defense, when the Heat had that in-your-face Super Team celebration in July 2010 after LeBron, D-Wade and The Other Guy came together, it appears LeBron was misunderstood; he actually said the Heat would win “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” division titles.
With “All My Children” and “One Life to Love” gone, the Lakers are now America’s No. 1 soap opera. (1) Will Kobe Bryant get his deeply desired sixth NBA title? (2) Will Andrew Bynum keep his shirt on this postseason? (3) Will Mike Brown – a likeable fella – eventually be known as the guy who didn’t coach LeBron James or Kobe Bryant to an NBA championship? (4) Metta World Peace, I believe, is at war with his inner self.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the San Antonio Spurs. Without much fanfare, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan have won four NBA titles since 1999. As Spurs coach, Popovich is 847-399 in the regular season and 108-73 in the postseason. Duncan’s been around so long, he’s played with David Robinson and George Mikan.
(Column Intermission: My good buddy, Mark Kram Jr., has written a sublime book, “Like Any Normal Day,” a heart-wrenching tale of two athletic brothers. As Larry King would say, “Rush to your nearest Barnes & Noble to pick up this page-turner.” Keep the receipt: If you don’t find it riveting, it’s on me.)
Speaking of knuckleheads, the Mavericks will not go back-to-back. Dallas acquired Vince Carter in the offseason, and I once again must cite The Vince Carter Rule: No team he plays on will ever win an NBA title. Fans sometimes forget his nickname, “Half-Man/Half- Amazing/Half-Baked.” The Mavs are Carter’s fifth team in 14 seasons; he could play for all 30 NBA teams over 50 seasons and still not win a league title.
Can anyone in Clipper Nation protect Blake Griffin? Somebody’s got to have his back other than opponents climbing it. I’ve seen most Clippers games this season, and Griffin has been tackled, waylaid, knocked down or horse-collared more than Bodacious the Bull, and, unlike Bodacious, Blake doesn’t kick back. If I were the Clippers, I’d trade for Metta World Peace and just have him run alongside Griffin for 48 minutes.
Here’s a pretty good team you probably never think about during the course of your workweek – the Pacers. They had the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and the fifth-best record overall, yet 99 out of 100 Americans outside of Indianapolis cannot name a single Pacers starter.
Oh, yeah, let’s not forget about the Knicks. First here was Linsanity. Then Woodsonsanity, Melosanity, Novaksanity and soon enough maybe even Zenmastersanity. But now? It’s time for Oneanddoneinthe playoffssanity. And let me say it again: Spike Lee, SIT DOWN.
(Column Postscript: I’d feel bad if I left my readers hanging about the Pacers. Their five starters are George Hill, Paul George, David West, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert. For those of you who guessed Reggie Miller, he retired seven years ago; for those who guessed George McGinnis, he retired 30 years ago. And the Pacers’ coach is Frank Vogel, who is unknown even within much of the Vogel family.)
Ask The Slouch
Q. Sailor Matt Rutherford was sustained on the tail end of his 10-month solo trip around the Americas by an 18-pack of PBR. How long would 18 PBRs sustain you? (Mike Burke; Virginia Beach, Va.)
A. That usually gets me through the last five minutes of any Big East basketball game.
Q. Can you give Andrew Luck some firsthand advice on how to deal with failing to meet expectations? (John Cain; Brookfield, Wis.)
A. You’re sadly mistaken, sir – who exactly had expectations for me?
Q. In its attempt to be the first to identify sleepers in the draft, how long until NFL Network goes to analyzing sonograms? (John Swope; Irwin, Pa.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.