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A Grip on Sports: This is the only correct day of the year to mash up ‘Star Wars’ and sports

Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977). (Courtesy)
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977). (Courtesy)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • You know how every day on the calendar has some sort of special meaning? National Pie Day or Wear Your Cougar Sweatshirt Day or some sort of thing. But today, May 4th, is extra special for a lot of us. And has been since 1977.

•••••••

• Yes, it is May 4th. Or, as Star Wars’ fans say it, “May the 4th be with you.”

Puns. Got to love them. And go with them. After all, what would life be without a little silliness from time to time?

We contribute our share. Even more today. It is the time of year to increase such contributions, what with taxes due just around the corner. Got to have deductions, right?

Our latest endeavor? A Star Wars based basketball lineup. In other words, if the Star Wars characters were an NBA team, who would play where? Some choices were easy. Some were not.

Honestly, who would be in the middle other than Chewbacca. A 7-foot-plus rim protector with a bad attitude is hard to find. Besides, there are only so many shots to go around and Chewie, as his teammates call him, wouldn’t need many. He’s happy to just be part of a winning team, collect the big paycheck. And he will play hurt.

The head coach? Our team has had a linage of great ones, from Hall of Famer Yoda to Ob-Wan Kenobi to the ill-begotten years when Admiral Ackbar was at the helm. (Those were the seasons when our squad struggled big time against trapping defenses.) Now, we’ve gone in another direction, with Princess Leia calling the shots. She’s been a surprise in a lot of ways.

It’s not that she doesn’t face challenges. Anyone would when you have an all-galaxy guard like Luke Skywalker running the point. He’s Magic Johnson, Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook rolled into one. Especially that last guy. Skywalker’s attitude is pretty surly these days but his skill slicing apart a defense is undeniable.

The shooting guard is a relative newcomer, but he’s shown a lot of promise in the past couple years. Not only is Din Djarin, known to his teammates as “The Mandalorian,” a deadeye shooter, but he loves to lock down on the defensive end as well. Sort of like Klay Thompson in his prime. By the way, his off-the-court work with orphans has not only earned him a Kennedy Award, it’s also endeared him with his teammates.

Up front, Lando Calrissian has been holding down the small forward spot for years but is finally on his way out. Waiting in the wings is Rey, an undersized slasher who has forced her way into the lineup by sheer will and tenacity. She does anything she has to help her team succeed.

There is one veteran, however, who won’t give up his spot in the starting lineup no matter what. Been hanging on so long he’s entering Kareem territory. Hans Solo is a rock. The stable force in our lineup. The guy who plays through pain, is always there when needed and keeps his teammates loose with his sense of humor. Of course, he struggles at times with set plays and the like, but when you need someone to force a turnover or run down a rebound, he’s your guy. And his one-on-one skills befit someone with his last name.

That’s it. That’s our group. A mix of spunky newcomers and wily veterans. The top seed heading into this year’s playoffs. On May the Fourth, no one even comes close.

•••

WSU: Longtime Pacific Northwest basketball fans can remember a time when Jim Shaw wore purple. And black and orange. A whole bunch of other colors as well. He’s a lifer, as they say. A college basketball assistant who has sat on the bench next to many of the great names in West Coast hoops. Now he’s Kyle Smith’s Associate Head Coach. Washington State elevated him to that spot yesterday. Theo Lawson has all the details in this story. … Oregon’s baseball team dropped in the polls after losing a weekend series to Washington State. The Cougars are still outside looking in with the rankings, however. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, did you know this is the last month Larry Scott will be running conference meetings? There is no new commissioner locked in yet, but Scott begins singing his swan song starting this week. … The conference should be a force in next year’s NFL draft. … Utah and Wisconsin playing? Yes please. Talk about two programs with lots of similarities. … Summer is on the way in Colorado. … USC has added to its roster with a couple of recent transfers from the University of Texas. … UCLA is fine-tuning its roster. … Arizona State is set at quarterback for this fall. After that, who knows? … The Arizona quarterback situation was not resolved in the spring. … In basketball news, another player is leaving Arizona. … Washington has hired Quincy Pondexter as an assistant. … Utah’s roster has also undergone a deep reshaping. … Evan Battey is ready to lead at Colorado. … The Oregon State women have changed mightily since the season ended. So has Oregon. Both have lost and gained players and have lost and gained assistant coaches. … A former Oregon men’s player is headed to Hofstra.

Gonzaga: We could have linked John Blanchette’s column this morning in a bunch of different spots. Preps? For sure, as Wyatt Mills, the subject, played at Gonzaga Prep. The Mariners? Certainly, as Mills made his debut with the club just last week. But we have it here, mainly because Gonzaga is where Mills made his first huge leap into our consciousness, developed his different pitching style and laying the groundwork for his current success. … Jim Meehan was Larry Weir’s usual Monday guest on the Press Box podcast. … Around the WCC, the conference has locked in commissioner Gloria Nevarez with a contract extension.

EWU: The Groves brothers made it official yesterday, signing with Oklahoma.

Preps: The Spokane schools should make a stadium decision this week. Jim Allen examines the agreement the district and the Public Facilities District are working on. … Dave Nichols also has his usual roundup of Monday’s action.

Indians: Dave also has a summation of his recent interview with Spokane senior vice president Otto Klein. The season begins tonight at Avista Stadium.

Shock: It’s about time. The re-born Spokane indoor football team is back at it, preparing for its May 15 opener in the Arena. Ryan Collingwood has this story from the first day of practice while Jesse Tinsley has a photo report. … Around the IFL, the Arizona Rattlers are ramping up for the season.

Auto racing: Bobby Unser was not only a big part of the Indianapolis 500 as we were growing up – he won in 1968, 1975 and 1981 – he was also part of the broadcasting team for years as our life slowly went by. He died Sunday at age 87.

Mariners: The two young M’s starting pitchers are beginning to show their mettle. … The bullpen couldn’t hold a lead last night as the M’s fell to Baltimore 5-3. … The M’s will not only entertain you at T-Mobile, they will give you a shot.

Seahawks: DK Metcalf is going to test himself against sprinters in an upcoming meet Sunday. He should run the relay. No way he’s dropping the baton. … The draft is over but questions remain. … Malik McDowell is getting a second chance in Cleveland. … The Hawks aren’t picking up Rashaad Penny’s contract option.

•••       

• The top competition for our Star Wars team in the upcoming playoffs? The Star Trek security guys. Since they’ve changed their uniform color from red to some sort of weird light brown, they’ve been a tougher out. Until later …

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