NEW CASTLE —
Now that the NBA Finals matchup is set between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, it’s time for the annual event of picking a side on whether you love or hate polarizing superstar LeBron James.
Obviously, even the biggest haters can admit that he is the best basketball player on the planet, but there is something about him that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. As I’ve wrote before, his personality does nothing to help him because he seems to struggle to find the public persona that works for him. He almost seems to be alternating between Superman and Lex Luthor, never really sure if he’s the good guy or bad.
Beating the Spurs in this year’s Finals would leave him with nothing left to prove in Miami, and with his contract expiring, he could do a lot for his own image by returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers after the season to help rebuild a franchise that has been spiraling since he bolted four years ago.
I personally am not a fan of the guy, but I know I’d like him a lot more if he proved the adage wrong by going home again.
•That being said, no one will be rooting for the Spurs more than I will be over the next couple of weeks. No franchise in basketball has been as boringly good over the past 15 years, winning four titles and losing another, but they do it in such odd ways that it’s hard not to like them.
The roster is filled with foreign guys, from fan-favorite wild man Manu Ginobli, to awkward big man Tiago Splitter, and all contribute in their own unique way. Along with coach Gregg Popovich, point guard Tony Parker and power forward Tim Duncan are the rocks of the franchise, but they are all so diverse and dynamic that no two seasons ever seem remotely the same.
Even though it has seemed like the last chance for the Spurs to win a title each of the last three seasons, this year seems to have a sense of finality unlike previous years, at least when it comes to the aging Duncan. Here’s hoping that they don’t let it slip away like last year’s devastating loss, after a 3-2 series lead don’t forget, to LeBron and the Heat.
•The Pirates made their second appearance of the season on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball yesterday, beating the Dodgers 5-3 and taking a series in Los Angeles for the first time since 2006.
That’s all great, but for those who watched the game, what in the heck was ESPN thinking? Along side the normal commentators Karl Ravech and Barry Larkin, ESPN had three other former players and a former coach calling the game, for a total of six guys. The former players were Doug Glanville out in the right field stands, Mark Mulder on the third base line, Aaron Boone on the first base line and former manager Eric Wedge behind the plate. With six people all vying for air time, it was difficult to tell who was talking and what they were talking about.
It was actually a little overwhelming as each tried to make their own points over top one another for the whole game.
It reminded me of the classic scene in the first “Naked Gun” movie when they announce a wide-ranging array of commentators for the fictional playoff game between the Angels and Mariners, coincidentally filmed at Dodgers Stadium. The list is introduced by the venerable Mel Allen, who is alongside Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Dick Enberg, Tim McCarver and Dick Vitale. The joke is that many of those “analysts” announced other sports or were in other fields altogether, but the game was so important it required all those commentators.
Unfortunately for ESPN, the only joke was that their six-headed broadcasting monster created nothing but chaos, which actually parodied the parody movie quite well.
•I think Jason Worilds will have a solid season this year at outside linebacker for the Steelers, but with his injury history and Jarvis Jones’ lack of production last season, it’d be nice if the Steelers would bite the bullet and just bring James Harrison back for another season, especially since there are no other proven back-ups behind those two guys. He’s going to be needed sooner or later, so they might as well make sure he is here and ready to go when that happens.
(Questions, comments or ideas? Email Greg at: email@example.com)