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NBA Playoff Action

May 9, 2013

Round One of the NBA Playoffs are in the books and we are now down to eight teams. There were some surprises in the first round. The biggest one was Golden State upending the Denver Nuggets. Everything else when pretty much as expected. I spoke a while back on how a major injury could shake up the playoffs. It has happened as Oklahoma City took a hit when all-star point guard Russell Westbrook went down with a season-ending knee injury.

The Westbrook injury seems to have paved the way for the Miami Heat to repeat. Even though Miami had little trouble with the Thunder in last year’s Finals, I just do not see anyone else out there who can beat LeBron and Miami.

Let me spend a little time with the Round Two matchups.

San Antonio will be taking on the upstart Warriors of Golden State. As talented at the Warriors are, it will be hard for them to overcome the experience of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. It will be fun to watch and it will be interesting to see if Stephon Curry can continue to carry Golden State. I read where Golden State has not won a game in San Antonio since Tim Duncan was a senior in high school. Since the Spurs have the homecourt advantage, I will go with them.

The New York Knicks will matchup up with Indiana. This will be fun to watch. Will it be New York’s shooting or Indiana’s smothering defense that winds up swinging this series? While waiting for the answer to that question, you will see a variety of hard fouls, intimidating staredowns and trash-talking. I will go with defense here which means I like the Pacers.

Miami should not have any trouble with the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls. I see this series going five games. What I am interested in is the health of Dwayne Wade. If Wade is struggling, I still think LeBron will find a way for Miami to win this series and the next two series en-route to a second title. The Bulls, without Derrick Rose and Luo Deng, just cannot keep up with the Heat in a playoff series.

The reeling Thunder will tangle with the Memphis Grizzlies. With Westbrook gone, Kevin Durant will have to average close to 40 points a game if the Thunder are to advance. He might just do it but I think he will wear down while doing do. I think Memphis will win this one and I actually think the Grizzlies may have the best roster to give Miami a battle.

The playoffs are already giving us some great games and storylines. It will only get better.

The Couples and Montgomerie Vote

Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie entered the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday surrounded by some controversy.

The selections gained attention due to the fact that the inductees have only won one major between them. Couples won the 1992 Masters and even he questions his selection. He was quoted as saying that he ‘fooled’ the voters.

Personally, I agree with what Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd had to say. He was quoted as saying he feels all potential inductees need to win at least two majors to be considered. In my eyes, not having more than a single major takes away some of the integrity within the Hall.

Montgomerie is only the third golfer to reach the Hall of Fame through the international ballot without a major. The other two were both Japanese, Jumbo Ozaki and Isao Aoki.

What may need to be looked at here is the process. The election of these golfers to the Hall of Fame on both the PGA Tour ballot and the international ballot is done by golf journalists, historians and golf dignitaries. You have to receive 65 percent of the vote, but if nobody gets at least 65 percent the person who got the most (as long as it’s above 50 percent) gets in. Couples and Montgomerie both got 51 percent.

The LeBron Vote

Who would have thought there would be any controversy in LeBron James capturing his fourth MVP award? After all, it was a forgone conclusion that he was going to win it. And he did win it. The controversy is in the voting process.

There was an immediate uproar within the sports media community when James did not become the first player to win the vote in unanimous fashion. And it became national news when it was discovered that Gary Washburn, an NBA writer for the Boston Globe, voted for Carmelo Anthony.

Washburn took a beating from his peers. Though I do not agree with Washburn, I think the charges thrown at him are embarrassing. All Washburn did was have an opinion. Again, he didn’t have an opinion that I agree with, but he had an opinion I can understand.

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe

In Washburn’s eyes, Carmelo did more for the New York Knicks than LeBron did for Miami. He was quoted as saying that Carmelo took the Knicks to their first division title in over a decade. He must think that the Heat could accomplish the same without James. And he may be right.

LeBron is clearly the best player in the world, but the MVP doesn’t necessarily go to the best player in the world. If it did, how do you explain that Michael Jordan garnered only five MVP’s during his 11 years with the Chicago Bulls. So were there six seasons in which he wasn’t the best player in the world? In other words, value is different from greatness.

So I can see the guy looking away from LeBron. I do not agree with him. LeBron had more greatness, and more value, than anyone in the league. That’s my opinion and we all have the right to our opinion. Attacking this writer is a joke. Those who did lost credibility with me.

Umpires Need To Walk Away

In the span of two weeks, we’ve seen three colorful, and unnecessary, dustups between umpires and players.

The first one was Tom Hallion looking foolish when picking a fight with the Tampa Bay Rays. Then there was New York Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia using a four letter word to end a shouting match that was started by a young umpire. And last Sunday, John Hirschbeck went way overboard in ejecting Bryce Harper.

Unfortunately, these incidents are on the upswing. It is very evident that a growing number of the umpires have an attitude problem. The attitude problems showcased by so many of these umpires detract from the great job most of them do. I just wish these select few would ask themselves what possible good could ever come from instigating a verbal conflict with a player, coach or manager? What possible good could ever come from even meeting a player, coach or manager at his anger level? All it does is elevate the anger. And that leads to an ejection which leads fans to not seeing the players they paid good money to see. I just don’t see the upside in umpires instigating further conflict. I do see the downside.

Umpires should diffuse the situation, not intensify it.


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