Friday, June 29, 2007

A Summer Movie Guide To The NBA Lottery Picks

It’s summertime - the season for blockbusters to rule the box office. Putting up big numbers is just as crucial in the NBA, which held its draft Thursday night in New York. Among the 14 lottery selections, some will become A-list stars, while others will flop miserably. Here’s how they relate to this summer’s crop of movies.

1. Portland Trail Blazers, Greg Oden: Transformers. Highlighted by Oden, Portland’s roster has been completely transformed over the past two drafts.

2. Seattle Sonics, Kevin Durant: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Durant could be a Rookie of the Year forward, like Chuck Person and Larry Johnson.

3. Atlanta Hawks, Al Horford: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. As a Dominican, Horford is of the Caribbean. But he’s more shot blocker than swashbuckler.

4. Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Conley, Jr.: Mr. Brooks. Conley goes to the worst team in the league, so like Mr. Garth Brooks he’ll have friends in low places.

5. Seattle Sonics (from Boston), Jeff Green: 1408. Actually, new Sonics Durant and Green combined for 1431 points last year.

6. Milwaukee Bucks, Yi Jianlian: Shrek the Third. Like Shrek, Yi is a big man seen in footage from Far Far Away.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves, Corey Brewer: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The Most Outstanding Player was fantastic at the Final Four.

8. Golden State Warriors (from Charlotte), Brandan Wright: Spider-Man 3. As often happens to Peter Parker, Wright was unable to stay together with MJ.

9. Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah: Evan Almighty. An ark-building movie just has to be linked to Noah.

10. Sacramento Kings, Spencer Hawes: Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce Willis was partners in Planet Hollywood with a guy who works in Sacramento these days. Hopefully Hawes won’t be such a flop.

11. Atlanta Hawks, Acie Law: A Mighty Heart. Ask anyone who was victimized by his clutch shots.

12. Philadelphia 76ers, Thaddeus Young: Knocked Up. Most forecasts had him going later, but he got knocked up the draft board.

13. New Orleans Hornets, Julian Wright: Ocean’s 13. One number 13 goes with another. Also, both Wright and the Ocean series have been wildly inconsistent.

14. Los Angeles Clippers, Al Thornton: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The Seminole is headed to the Pacific Division, where Phoenix maintains order.

These players especially want to identify with The Simpsons Movie. Someday, they hope to end up in Springfield.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Sports Week in Oregon: A State of Euphoria

Next Wednesday is the Fourth of July, so celebrations are on the way in all 50 states. However, sports fans in one of those states will be setting off fireworks a week early. This week, Oregon is the sports capital of the USA.

Sunday night in Omaha, Oregon State won its second consecutive College World Series championship with a 9-3 victory over North Carolina. UNC also fell in last year’s championship series, so the Tar Heels once again settled for the honor of “best team outside of Corvallis.” The Beavers were superior in all facets of the game during the two-game sweep at Rosenblatt Stadium. Their advantage even extended to the dugout reporters, as Carolina settled for Kyle Peterson, while OSU hung out with Erin Andrews. ESPN invited an endless stream of inappropriate remarks by assigning its hottest female reporter to Beaver commentary.

OSU closed the postseason with ten consecutive victories. The run was particularly surprising given the club’s struggles in the regular season. The Beavers tied for sixth in the Pac-10 with a 10-14 conference record. They finished nine games behind league leader Arizona State, whom OSU beat 12-6 in Omaha. Last month, the Beavers endured a three-game sweep by the Sun Devils as part of a 4-8 May. However, a miserable May gave way to a championship in June. Dirk Nowitzki can only wish he had the same opportunity.

While the Portland Trail Blazers are not currently championship material, they will also have reason to celebrate this Thursday. The Blazers will take a step up in class after making the #1 selection in the NBA draft. Portland has not won a playoff series since its crushing Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the 2000 Western Conference finals. For a while, the Blazers still enjoyed relevance as the go-to team for cracks about criminal activity. However, even that honor has been stolen (as well as assaulted and driven drunk) by the Cincinnati Bengals.

However, on the heels of Brandon Roy’s Rookie of the Year campaign, the franchise will become relevant once again Thursday night. Unless Kevin Durant is the surprise choice, Ohio State’s Greg Oden will be Portland’s most anticipated draftee since Bill Walton in 1974. The Blazers certainly hope that Oden has better luck than Walton in avoiding injuries. However, they would be happy for Oden to follow the big readhead’s example in leading the Blazers to an NBA championship. Portland will even take the risk that 30 years from now, Oden will be an egotistical broadcaster bantering with Snapper Jones.

With sports in the Beaver State on the rise this week, perhaps it is time for Oregon to improve its state motto as well. The current one is “Alis volat propriis” - Latin for “She flies with her own wings.” First of all, no state should have a motto that sounds like a Patrick Swayze ballad from Dirty Dancing. Also, whoever “she” is, why would she be flying with someone else’s wings? The state animal is a beaver, so why would wings even enter the picture at all? Is the phrase a sly reference to the fact that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in Oregon? As you can see, the current motto raises more questions than answers.

In the meantime, the state will enjoy its sports karma while it lasts. The Atlanta Braves could use some of that good fortune these days. The Braves have lost five straight games by a combined score of 27-1. If things continue to go poorly tonight against the Washington Nationals, expect manager Bobby Cox to get tossed early and break the major league record for ejections. Cox won’t stay around for the post-game press conference. He’ll be on his way to Oregon, looking for answers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

AFI's Top 100 & The BCS

On Wednesday, the American Film Institute unveiled its 2007 list of the top 100 American movies of all time. The current list was an update to one released by AFI in 1998. As is the case with college football, the honor of being #1 was decided by voters, and the films won’t be participating in a playoff anytime soon.

However, perhaps the AFI rankings could be used to set up BCS-style matchups between the top movies. Here were the BCS showdowns last year, with the BCS ranking of each participant:

Rose Bowl: #3 (Michigan) vs. #5 (USC)
Fiesta Bowl: #8 (Boise State) vs. #10 (Oklahoma)
Orange Bowl: #6 (Louisville) vs. #14 (Wake Forest)
Sugar Bowl: #4 (LSU) vs. #11 (Notre Dame)
BCS Championship Game: #1 (Ohio State) vs. #2 (Florida)

For the AFI matchups, we’ll simply substitute the equivalently ranked films in place of the above teams. Here’s a forecast of how these showdowns would turn out:

Rose Bowl: #3 (Casablanca) vs. #5 (Singin’ in the Rain). Casablanca was ranked #2 in the 1998 poll, so it has to be furious over being excluded from the matchup of #1 vs. #2. So like Michigan last January 1, it won’t have the necessary focus against a formidable opponent. Like USC, Singin’ in the Rain takes place in LA and features stars with amazing footwork. Rick and Ilsa may always have Paris, but they’ll want to forget Pasadena. The Pick: Singin’ in the Rain

Fiesta Bowl: #8 (Schindler’s List) vs. #10 (The Wizard of Oz).
Both these opponents defy the conventional wisdom: the color movie is from 1939, while the 1993 film is in black and white. But you have to favor Schindler’s List here. “Powerful” is the word most often used for it. As for The Wizard of Oz, not only is the Fiesta Bowl not in Kansas, but the playing surface at the University of Phoenix Stadium contains no yellow bricks. Plus, a bowl game is no place for munchkins – or for Lions. The Pick: Schindler’s List

Orange Bowl: #6 (Gone With the Wind) vs. #14 (Psycho).
It’s Vivian Leigh vs. Janet Leigh! As a southeastern powerhouse, Gone With the Wind should thrive in a bowl environment. And with this showdown taking place in Florida, it surely will have plenty of fan support. Psycho is lucky to be here, since it’s not even the highest-rated Hitchcock film on the list (Vertigo is #9). So Gone With the Wind will cruise, although afterwards it might get stabbed in the shower. The Pick: Gone With the Wind

Sugar Bowl: #4 (Raging Bull) vs. #11 (City Lights).
City Lights faces many of the same issues as Notre Dame in last year’s Sugar Bowl. The 1931 Charlie Chaplin film was #76 in the 1998 poll, so there are serious questions about whether it truly belongs here. Also, as a silent film made in the age of sound, it’s desperately holding onto the past. On the other hand, Raging Bull is the top-rated sports movie of all-time, so it should relish the competitive environment. Also, its themes of violence and massive weight gain will be right at home in New Orleans. The Pick: Raging Bull

AFI Championship Game: #1 (Citizen Kane) vs. #2 (The Godfather).
Citizen Kane is the clear favorite here. However, #2 usually takes down #1 in the BCS, and the same will happen here. The USC-Texas classic, in particular, provides a guide. Citizen Kane is a defending champion, having also been #1 in the 1998 survey. It ends with Rosebud going up in flames, just as USC’s dynasty went up in flames at the Rose Bowl. Whether it’s Vince Young or the Corleones, the winners will be masters of the shotgun. The Pick: The Godfather

Chances are, these matchups will never take place. But if they do, the AFI winners will be just like their BCS counterparts. They’ll look great in the film room.

Monday, June 18, 2007

U.S. Open's Ties To Other Sports

Sunday at Oakmont, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera withstood a brutal course and challenges from Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to win the U.S. Open. Golf’s second major of the year was Sunday’s top sports story, but it also mirrored storylines from the current or most recent seasons of the other major sports. Here’s a rundown.

U.S. Open: Angel Cabrera had a triumphant Sunday.
MLB: Angels’ Cabrera had a triumphant Sunday.

U.S. Open: Champion is from Argentina.
NBA: Champions Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto are from Argentina.

U.S. Open: Golfers did a lot of cursing at the tee.
NFL: Fans did a lot of cursing at T.O.

U.S. Open: Champion is called “Pato,” Spanish for Duck.
NHL: Champions are called the Anaheim Ducks

U.S. Open: Low scores were rare in western Pennsylvania.
College Football: For Pitt defense, low scores were rare in western Pennsylvania.

U.S. Open: Nike icon Tiger Woods settled for runner-up status.
NBA: Nike icon LeBron James settled for runner-up status.

U.S. Open: Cabrera passed 3rd round leader Aaron Baddeley.
MLB: Barry Bonds wants to pass Aaron badly.

U.S. Open: Players had trouble with their drivers.
NASCAR: Teresa Earnhardt had trouble with her driver.

U.S. Open: Pennsylvania’s Jim Furyk finished one stroke short of a playoff.
NFL: Pennsylvania’s Steelers finished one win short of the playoffs.

U.S. Open (golf): No American has won since 2003.
U.S. Open (tennis): No American man has won since 2003.

U.S. Open: If you handled one green, the next green would get you.
College Basketball: Ohio State handled Jeff Green, but not Taurean Green.

U.S. Open: The leader was subject to change at any moment.
NBA: The Orlando Magic’s leader was subject to change at any moment.

U.S. Open: Tiger finished the weekend in second, one stroke behind.
MLB: Tigers finished the weekend in second, one game behind.

U.S. Open: Frustration was the norm at Oakmont.
NFL: Frustration was the norm in Oakland.

U.S. Open: Opening with a six was bad news.
College Football: For Ted Ginn Jr., opening with a six was bad news.

U.S. Open: Crowd-pleasing Phil Mickelson exited after the second round, hampered by a sore wrist.
NBA: Crowd-pleasing Phoenix Suns exited after the second round, hampered by a Spur’s forearm.

U.S. Open: Dejection was common on the course.
Tour De France: Injection was common on the course.

U.S. Open (golf): Set the stage for the next major, played on grass in Britain.
French Open: Set the stage for the next major, played on grass in Britain.

U.S. Open: No clubs seemed to have the answer.
MLB: In the NL Central, no clubs seem to have the answer.

U.S. Open: Wearing red on Sunday didn’t lead Tiger to victory.
NFL: Wearing red on Sunday didn’t lead Tampa Bay to victory.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tony & Other Parkers

Thursday in Cleveland, the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up their fourth NBA championship since 1999 with an 83-82 victory over the Cavaliers. Tony Parker was not on hand for the first title, but the Frenchman was the driving force this time. Parker became the first Spur other than Tim Duncan to be named Finals MVP. Fox once had a sitcom called Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, but this time another Parker went undefeated as San Antonio completed a four-game sweep. Tony shares similarities with numerous other Parkers as well. Here’s a rundown.

Charlie Parker: Played jazz and was known as “Bird”
Tony Parker: Played the Jazz and won like Bird

Sarah Jessica Parker: Fundamentally linked to Mr. Big
Tony Parker: Linked to the Big Fundamental

Parker Brothers: Set the standard in board games
Tony Parker: As Finals MVP, set the standard in boring games

Trey Parker: South Park co-creator likes to be dirty
Tony Parker: Teammate Bruce Bowen likes to be dirty

Tony Parker: Brought heartbreak to Cleveland Cavs fans
Willie Parker: Brings heartbreak to Cleveland Browns fans

Tony Parker: Won his third title this year
Peter Parker: Won his third box office title this year

Colonel Tom Parker: Couldn’t stop premature death of The King
Tony Parker: Caused premature demise of The King

Bonnie Parker: With Clyde Barrow, was in a gang that shot and robbed
Tony Parker: Is in a gang with Big Shot Rob

Tony Parker: Helped eliminate the Lakers in 2003
Smush Parker: Helped eliminate the Lakers in 2007

Tony Parker: Piling up points in the paint, he’s at home around wide-bodies
Parker Stevenson: When married to Kirstie Alley, he was at home around a wide-body

Dave Parker: Won a championship on a team led by Pops
Tony Parker: Won three championships on teams led by Pop

Tony Parker: Embraces odd-numbered years
Parker Posey: As a Christopher Guest regular, embraces odd characters

Camilla Parker Bowles: Married a prince in 2005
Tony Parker: Defeated Tayshaun Prince in 2005

Dorothy Parker: Known for her mocking wittiness
Tony Parker: Made a mockery of “We are all witnesses”

Tony Parker: FiancĂ©e plays a smokin’ suburbanite on TV
Mary-Louise Parker: Plays a tokin’ suburbanite on TV

Candace Parker: Won this year’s title in Cleveland
Tony Parker: Won this year’s title in Cleveland. Hopefully, Imus won’t comment on the runner-up.

Ray Parker Jr.: Known for asking “Who you gonna call?”
Tony Parker: Plays at the AT&T Center

Jennifer Parker: Marty’s girlfriend in Back To The Future
Tony Parker: Hopes to go back-to-back in the future

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Manning To Replace Barker On "The Price Is Right"

This Friday represents the end of an era on CBS, as Bob Barker departs after 35 years of hosting The Price Is Right. Since Barker announced his retirement intentions last fall, television insiders have speculated about his replacement. Today came the surprising answer. The next host of The Price Is Right will be Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Manning was considered a natural to host, given his enthusiastic interaction with everyday people in his MasterCard commercials. CBS executives were apparently undaunted by claims that the “Priceless” ads were part of a conspiracy to take down the long-running game show. Manning’s hiring provides natural cross-promotion opportunities for CBS, which televises AFC games. In a similar vein, the show airing after The Price Is Right is expected to be renamed The Vince Young and the Restless.

Beginning on Monday, Manning will film as many shows as possible before Colts training camp begins on July 29. Other tapings will take place during Indy’s bye week in October. To accommodate the preferences of Peyton, the studio will not allow entrance to anyone from New England. However, Steve Spurrier is eager to become a contestant, since Manning has never been able to stop him from winning.

Barker and the new host have no shortage of similarities. Both have presided over long-running successful enterprises. Manning has won regular season and Super Bowl MVP awards, while Barker has piled up the Emmys. Also, both Bob and the NFL were born in the 1920s. Hopefully, the similarities end at Barker’s infamous pummeling of Happy Gilmore. To be on the safe side, U.S. Open officials will be on the lookout this Sunday in case Manning runs onto the green to deck Tiger Woods.

The show’s announcer, Rich Fields, will be an appropriate partner for a guy who’s gotten rich on the field. Hearing frequent shouts of “A new car!” will remind Manning of his SEC football days. To incorporate the NFL theme, Fields will change his call of “Come on down!” to “First down!” The contestants will run down to The Trenches, formerly known as Contestant Row. Therefore, like all announcers connected with football, Fields can say, “This game is being won in The Trenches!”

Manning will put his personal stamp on the show in many ways. Barker’s Beauties will now be known as Peyton’s Peaches. You might hear the quarterback say something like, “The actual retail price is $879. But you can’t measure what’s in that prize’s heart!” Enthusiasm will still be encouraged, but the hysterical jumping around by contestants will almost certainly be toned down a few notches. Otherwise, Peyton will tell them, “Look, Marvin Harrison doesn’t jump around like an idiot when he wins a dinette set. Act like you’ve been there before!” Manning will also make sure that the contestants who make it to the Showcase Showdown will have a perspective that he understands. Before the Showdown, each contestant will have to listen to sports reporters and talk radio hosts screaming that they can’t win the big one.

While he makes the show his own, Manning is fully aware of the importance of preserving Barker’s legacy. Therefore, he will close every edition of The Price Is Right in traditional fashion, with a football addition: “Have your pet spayed or neutered, and kept off Michael Vick’s property.”

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nadal Turns Roland Garros Into The 21 Club

Located at 21 West 52nd Street, the 21 Club is a venerable restaurant in Manhattan. Like New York City, Paris boasts great plenty of great restaurants and hosts a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Thanks to French Open champion Rafael Nadal, the City of Lights had its own 21 Club on Sunday: Roland Garros Stadium.

In winning his third consecutive title, the 21-year-old Nadal moved to 21-0 lifetime at the French Open. While Nadal is only halfway to Bjorn Borg’s six singles championships at Roland Garros, the Spaniard is clearly the greatest clay court player in the 21st century. He’s even one better than “The Greatest” himself. Nadal is 21-0 on the Paris clay, whereas Muhammad Ali was 20-0 as Cassius Clay. The women’s side also had a three-peat thanks to Justine Henin, whose first of four overall French titles had come at age 21.

Nadal’s triumph provided more frustration for Roger Federer, who 21 days earlier had finally beaten his rival on clay. That victory was in Germany, where this week’s G-8 summit brought numerous 21-gun salutes. Since capturing his first Grand Slam singles title as a 21-year-old, Federer has won at least three championships each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. However, he has yet to break through in Paris. Federer’s buddy Tiger Woods also won his first major as a 21-year-old, but he had no trouble completing the career Grand Slam. Perhaps it’s fortunate for Tiger that none of the golf majors are played on clay.

The smart money was on Nadal in Las Vegas, where 21 is always a good number. Anyone at least the age of 21 could celebrate a winning bet with a glass of champagne. They could also toast the 21st amendment, which repealed prohibition. One group of Americans who did not toast Nadal was the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who resent the extension of undefeated streaks.

As a star who enjoys being in France, Nadal has much in common with Johnny Depp, who broke onto the scene in 21 Jump Street. Depp is also in the limelight these days, thanks to Jack Sparrow. The role brought him a 2003 Oscar nomination, just as 21 Grams did for Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. However, Depp is not the greatest Pirate of all time – that honor goes to #21 Roberto Clemente.

Next year, Nadal will go for his fourth championship at Roland Garros. Tim Duncan is well on his way to his fourth NBA title, excelling as #21 for the San Antonio Spurs. After two wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, few observers expect there to be a game 7 on June 21. Duncan is getting a huge assist from Tony Parker, so like Nadal he’s at his best with French people around him.

The next challenge for Nadal is to triumph at Wimbledon, owned by Federer the past four years. Like Nadal, #21 LaDainian Tomlinson has yet to win a championship on grass. Tomlinson hopes to change that next February. If he does, he’ll accomplish what another LT did 21 years earlier in Super Bowl XXI.

In the meantime, Nadal can savor Sunday’s victory at the 21 Club. Unlike Federer, he has little chance to come close to 21 Grand Slam singles titles in his career. However, once he retires, perhaps he can join some other entertainers who were on top this weekend. He’d be a great addition to the cast of Ocean’s 21.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why the Stanley Cup Is Like Paris Hilton

Last night in the Honda Center, the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-2 to wrap up the Stanley Cup finals in five games. While the Ducks celebrated their first championship, NBC and the NHL lamented the lack of interest in the event in the United States.

Unlike hockey, Paris Hilton never has to worry about media attention in America. Her headlines continued overnight, as she was released from jail early to serve the remainder of her prison sentence in home confinement. Basically, she switched to a different penalty box. Hockey’s storied trophy does share some similarities with the hotel heiress. Here are numerous ways Lord Stanley’s Cup is like Paris.

It resides in Southern California these days.

It weighs 35 pounds.

It gets passed around by a bunch of men.

In the U.S., it’s the frequent target of jokes.

It travels extensively.

When it’s not traveling, it’s locked up.

Millions have seen it on tape.

It doesn’t do anything on its own.

It’s worth a huge sum of money.

It didn’t get any action in 2005 (whoops, that doesn’t belong).

Last night, it was around a bunch of people in uniforms.

Lots of alcohol has been poured into it.

It’s been on numerous late-night talk shows.

It symbolizes a standard of excellence (that doesn’t belong either).

Every team member gets to have it for a night.

Regular guys don’t get to be around it.

It just doesn’t fit with the word “Senator.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Billy Donovan Guide To TV Characters

From 1978 to 1981, The White Shadow brought coach Ken Reeves into the homes of viewers. Over the past few days, another basketball coach has been the center of a widely viewed drama. While the parties involved are still working out the resolution, it appears certain that Billy Donovan will return to the University of Florida after signing a contract with the Orlando Magic. Donovan may have a link to Ken Howard, but he won’t be connected to Dwight Howard. Besides the Carver High School coach, here are some other TV characters with relevance to Donovan’s career.

George Costanza: George once quit his job, then reconsidered and went back to work like it never happened.

Hayden Fox: The title character in Coach won a national championship before bolting for a pro job in Orlando. His Orlando gig also was soon cancelled.

Eddie Munster: Opposing fans have pointed out the resemblance.

Homer Simpson: If he keeps UF among the elite, Donovan will wind up in Springfield.

Gilligan: Billy’s Orlando experience was the opposite of the Little Buddy’s expedition. After expecting many years, he wound up with a three-hour tour.

Mimi Bobeck: On the Cleveland-set Drew Carey Show, she was Drew’s arch-enemy. Donovan is also a nemesis in Ohio.

Ernie Pantusso: Like Sam Malone’s pal, Donovan decided to stay as Coach “where everybody knows your name.”

Lucy Ricardo: As a Pitino disciple, Billy also looks to Ricky for guidance.

MacGyver: Donovan is using any available resources (i.e. lawyers) to escape from his predicament.

The Fonz: Jerry Tarkanian won one national championship at UNLV. With his second title, Donovan jumped the Shark.

Stella Bonasera: That’s the CSI: New York character played by Melina Kanakaredes. Like Donovan, Kanakaredes was once the star of Providence.

George Jefferson: Billy was also movin’on up, until he decided to break the lease on the deluxe apartment in the sky.

Toonces: As Kentucky fans would attest, Cats are consistently in peril around Donovan.

Laverne De Fazio & Shirley Feeney: They made their dreams come true at the Shotz Brewery. Donovan made his dreams come true thanks to shots from Brewer.

Jim Halpert: Whether it’s Orlando/Gainesville or Pam/Karen, neither guy can make up his mind.

Doogie Howser: Donovan was much younger than his peers (28) when he became a college head coach.

Cliff Huxtable: He was played by another Bill who was #1 on multiple occasions.

Marcia Brady: Orlando was jilted after “something suddenly came up.”

John Carter: The ER doctor, played by Noah Wyle, was an associate of Mark Green. Donovan was also connected to Noah and Green.

Kevin Arnold: In Gainesville, 2006 and 2007 have been The Wonder Years.

Mary Richards: Billy’s saga brought stress to Anthony Grant, just as Mary did to Lou Grant.

Sonny Crockett: Donovan is at home with the Florida Gators, whereas Crockett kept a gator in his Florida home.

Frasier Crane: Like Billy, he was wealthy and tended to over-analyze his decisions.

Rerun: That’s what UCLA fans thought they were watching at the Final Four.

Bobby Ewing: Maybe the contract signing was all just a dream.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cleveland vs. San Antonio: An NBA Finals Breakdown

Saturday night in Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers downed the Detroit Pistons 98-82 in Game 6 to advance to their first-ever NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs are next for LeBron James and company, with Game 1 at the AT&T Center on Thursday night. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the two finalists.

First Round Victims: The Cavs swept the depleted Washington Wizards, while the Spurs beat the Nuggets in five. Cleveland sports fans can only wish for a playoff victory over a team from Denver. Advantage: San Antonio

Top Tourist Attractions: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors the best of all time, but the Alamo pays homage to an outmanned group who got slaughtered on their home court. Advantage: Cleveland

Matt Bonner:
The Spurs reserve played college ball at Florida, so he has to feel confident facing an Ohio team in the finals. Advantage: San Antonio

Famous Game 5 Heartbreakers:
No offense to Derek Fisher, but if you’re going to have your heart ripped out at the buzzer, it might as well be by Michael Jordan. Advantage: Cleveland

Reading High School:
Donyell Marshall is the first player from my high school to appear in the NBA Finals. So why not give some dap to the Red Knights? Advantage: Cleveland

The San Antonio Zoo has one of the world’s largest bird collections, while the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has the largest collection of primates of any zoo in the United States. Larry Bird won three NBA titles, but the Phoenix Gorilla has none. Advantage: San Antonio

Super Bowl:
This year’s champ was a Midwestern team led by a guy who does tons of commercials. Advantage: Cleveland

1995 & 1996 ACC Tournaments:
Wake Forest defeated Virginia both years. So in the postseason, Tim Duncan is 2-0 vs. the Cavaliers. Advantage: San Antonio

Unless the Spurs get seriously lucky with triple-word squares, they can’t compete with Anderson Varejao, Aleksandar Pavlovic, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Advantage: Cleveland

The San Antonio Silver Stars have had a losing history, but the Cleveland Rockers folded. In Bruce Pearl fashion, Gregg Popovich sometimes shows up to Silver Stars games in body paint. Advantage: San Antonio

College Hoops:
Texas-San Antonio went 7-22 this season, so Cleveland State’s 10-21 campaign totally put them to shame. Advantage: Cleveland

Coach Brown:
The Spurs are ready for the Cavs’ Mike Brown, since they defeated a coach Brown in their last finals appearance. Coincidentally, Larry Brown accepted a new job and resigned from it while I was typing that sentence. Advantage: San Antonio

Sub-Freezing Temperatures:
Cleveland’s Eric Snow provides defense and veteran leadership. But San Antonio had a Hall of Fame Iceman. Advantage: San Antonio

Signature 2007 Playoff Moments:
What was more thrilling? LeBron’s unbelievable game 5 against Detroit, or Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw leaving the bench area? Advantage: Cleveland

The word on the shirts of many Cavaliers fans. It’s nice to honor a 1985 Best Picture nominee, but Witness lost the Oscar to Out of Africa. Advantage: San Antonio

Tallying up the results, it’s San Antonio 8, Cleveland 7. Looks like a fourth title in nine years for the Spurs.