Friday, May 5, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: May 4, 2006
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
With news that Raja Bell was suspended for tonight's Game 6 in L.A. after his takedown of Kobe on Tuesday night, you have to ask if the Suns are done.
Or is that "Donne"?
From "Meditation 17" in 1624:
"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Who knew the famous 17th century poet John Donne was an NBA analyst?
(With that kind of schtick, all he needs is a bald head, chunky waistline and a $10 million gambling debt, and he could be on TV.)
What does the line mean? Basically, that any single death is a loss to all. Donne was a big "metaphor" guy, so he'd appreciate Bell's one-game ban as a loss to fans everywhere, in that we won't see Bell and Kobe locked up tonight on the court. Especially after their trash-talk rally yesterday:
Bell: "I have no respect for him. I think he's a pompous, arrogant individual."
Bryant: "Maybe he wasn't hugged enough as a kid. I look at him a little bit, he gets a little insecure or something. I don't know."
Bell: "I think a lot of people let him get away with things and he feels like he's supposed to get away with them and I don't agree with that."
Bryant: "There's no need to whine about it. Just go out there and play."
Without Bell to harass him (or perhaps simply to stick it to the Suns), Kobe might consider going off for the monster game everyone has been waiting for. Home game. Series clincher. It must be tempting.
That would be a trap. The Suns know how to stop the Lakers when Kobe is a gunner; they are down 3-2 because they haven't been able to stop him when he's a leader.
To that point, there's another famous John Donne quote from that famous "Bell Tolls" passage that Kobe should keep in mind tonight. If he does, the bell will be tolling for the Suns' playoff run:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
When I compared the duel between LeBron James and Gilbert Arenas to the one between Bird and 'Nique in the '88 NBA playoffs, I may have been understating.
After all, in '88, that was just a single epic 4th quarter (albeit of a Game 7). LeBron and Arenas are engaged in an entire series of "Can You Top This?"
Yesterday, I pegged an over/under on their combined point total for last night at 75. I was only off by, oh, 14 points.
An already amazing series was taken to another level Wednesday night. Neither LeBron (45 points) nor Arenas (44) can be stopped.
Who has the ball last? That has become the standard. Arenas puts the Wiz ahead with fearless free throws with seconds to play?
LeBron comes back down with a drive to win. (So much for the Wizards' "LeBron Rules." The Wiz picked the worst time to turn into matadors.)
This is one of those series in which two stars are playing at such a high level that you don't want to see it end.
Fortunately, there's another game in D.C. for the Wiz to tie it up and send it to a we-must-have-it Game 7.
(Anyone willing to bid for a LeBron-Arenas scoring over/under at 90?)
Wade Will Play
Dwyane Wade has made his rep on being the player who gets up off the floor, no matter what. (And if you admire that, he's got a sneaker to sell you.)
So it's no wonder that he indicated he'll play in tonight's Game 6 in Chicago, where the Heat will have the chance to win their first road game of the series and advance to the next round.
Flash back to last year's East Finals: Wade sat Game 6 (with Miami basically conceding the game) to rest for Game 7. The Heat lost all their mojo in a blowout loss -- and lost Game 7 at home, even with Wade back in the lineup.
Maybe that's in the back of Wade's mind (and Pat Riley's, too): Even if the Heat lose, they can stay sharp enough to win the series back in Miami on Saturday. (Just hope Wade doesn't exacerbate his hip problem.)
Here's what to watch for: How many minutes does Wade play if the Heat fall too far behind? At what point will the Heat concede the Game 6 result to save Wade for Game 7?
Earl Woods, 74
What kind of posthumous honor is reserved for the father who raises the greatest golfer of our time?
As I followed the tributes Wednesday, what struck me as most powerful (particularly, as a pending father myself) was that Earl Woods didn't set out to turn Tiger into a great player as much as he wanted him to be a great person.
Why will Tiger go down as the greatest athlete of his generation? For his skills, of course, but also for his determination, passion and reverence for the game -- and life -- that can be directly attributed to great parenting.
You can only imagine that Earl Woods must have been so satisfied in watching the way his son turned out as a person, not just as a golfer.
Nats Get Owner
The history of the Nats will be seen as B.O. (Before Owner) and A.O. (After Owner): The difference between a winning and losing team will be an ownership invested in making the team a contender.
But there will be no free-spending binge to try to buy the team into instant contention. New owner Ted Lerner made it clear that he had two priorities:
Scouting and farm system.
That means the Nats almost certainly will get worse before they get better, as they dump big league talent for prospects to boost a weak farm system ranked 24th by Baseball America.
But fans can be optimistic: Having any plan beats having no plan at all.
MLB Wednesday Wrap
Bonds conked in BP: For those of you who thought that Bonds' oversized head acted as a type of organic helmet, think again. He was smacked in the forehead by a BP ball, then went 0-4.
(Meanwhile, MLB continues the Bonds-dissing, saying it won't authenticate the ball Bonds hits for HR No. 715, as Darren Rovell is reporting.)
Papelbon is human: Jon Papelbon's perfect start as Red Sox closer was intriguing, but not nearly as much as what happens going forward now that he took a loss last night, giving up his first run since Sept. 19.
D-Backs own Maddux: Greg Maddux has a winning record against every NL team except Arizona. After giving up 5R and 10H in 5IP yesterday, Maddux went to 1-9 lifetime against the D-Backs.
Astros offer Clemens $12 mil: What price is the PR coup to bring back the Rocket? How high would the Astros go? After all, the Yankees and Red Sox presumably haven't even entered the bidding yet.
Charles Barkley's self-admitted gambling problem might not match John "Hit on 21" Daly, who claims he lost $50 million to $60 million.
But Barkley said he has lost $10 million from gambling, though curiously, he said he doesn't consider it a problem he'd actually like to solve:
"I like to gamble and I'm not going to quit," he said. "I've just got to get it under control."
Unfortunately, it's not that easy, and it's precisely the kind of attitude that foreshadows a John Daly-style ending a decade from now.
I don't care if it's a publicity stunt to promote "MI: 3":
X Games superstar motorcyclist Mike Metzger trying to set the world record for longest back flip is seriously superlative.
(And seriously dangerous! How many fans are going to tune in to see if he wipes out, Knievel-style?)
Matt Leinart could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. Instead? Well, let's review:
• Lost national title to Texas
• Behind Young in Heisman vote
• Slipped to 10th in '06 draft
• Swallowed new jersey number
The latest: There are rumors he is involved with Paris Hilton. Insult? Injury? At this point, I've lost count of where we're at.
Of course, the Paris rumors were really before he was a draft-day dud.
Paris dating the star QB of USC? OK, I can see it.
But Hilton dating the backup QB for the Arizona Cardinals? Can you imagine her hanging out with Brenda Warner?
(Ha-ha: Brenda Warner as the new Nicole Richie. Now there's an image.)
Tribeca Film Festival
Continuing Quickie coverage of the "sports" films being screened in my hometown:
Today: "Air Guitar." Is a documentary about an Air Guitar competition technically a "sports" movie?
Perhaps not to a purist, but then again, I'm from the school where poker and spelling bees are sports, so this more than qualifies. Rock on!