The NBA Finals started off with a bang Thursday night as the Spurs defeated the Heat 110-95. The game itself became secondary to LeBron James having to leave the game in the 4th quarter with leg cramping. The Spurs went on a huge run to finish the game and won going away. Doggie reacts like only Doggie can…
Kobe Bryant destroyed his Achilles tendon, but stayed in the game, hit both his free throws before going to the locker room. We all know about the Michael Jordan “flu game.” Jack Youngblood played in the Super Bowl with a broken leg. Isiah Thomas with a severely sprained ankle scored 25 points in one quarter of game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals. Curt Schilling had the bloody sock. Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open on a mangled knee that needed reconstructive surgery. Kirk Gibson homered off Dennis Eckersley in game 1 of the World Series when he could barely walk. We all know the story of Willis Reed in game 7 of the NBA Finals. Even Kerri Strug stuck her landing on the vault in the 1996 Summer Olympics. I will never question the amount of pain that LeBron James was in, but the great athlete finds a way.
It’s a great week on Mad Dog Unleashed when you get to have The Great One on your show. Wayne Gretzky joined Mad Dog before the start of the Stanley Cup Final and they previewed the series at length. Wayne of course refused to give a pick, but they also talked about his great career as well.
Wayne Gretzky is genuinely the nicest athlete I have ever dealt with in my years in sports media. There is no exaggeration in that statement. I am not sure how someone who reached the level he did, dealing with constant media attention and criticism, is still as cordial and genuinely kind as Wayne. His career statistics are silly. There is no other way to put it: There is not an athlete more statistically dominant than Wayne Gretzky. Of the top 11 most points scored in a single season, Gretzky owns nine. He’s the only player in NHL history to score 200 points or more in a season, something he did four times. He’s the only player in NHL history to score over 90 goals in a season. Without question, my favorite Gretzky stat is that he has more assists (1963) than any other player in NHL history has points (Mark Messier, 1887). In other words, if you took away every one of Gretzky’s career goals (894, most of all time), he will still be the most prolific offensive player in NHL history. Truly mind boggling.
With all the major stories this week, we would be remiss not to discuss the Belmont Stakes. California Chrome is one win away from becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Tom Hammond will be hosting NBC’s coverage on Saturday and he previewed the race with Chris.
I can already tell based on the coverage that if California Chrome does indeed become the first Triple Crown winner in 26 years, it’s going to be because of the competition. I have heard a lot of talk that Chrome isn’t gifted enough to win all three races, but if he does, the only reason is because this is a bad batch 3 year-olds. I will be in attendance and I’m looking forward to the excitement of the race, but it is definitely too bad that the groundwork has already been laid to discredit the horse.
Tim Duncan: The Subtle Trash Talker
Tim Duncan is a hard guy not to like. He is the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA, he’s smart, plays the game the right way, and in a consummate winner. The one knock on Tim Duncan has always been that he’s boring. His style of play is boring – his press conferences are boring – but I am starting to think that it may not be the case.
A lot was made out of Tim Duncan’s comment after the Western Conference Finals when in a postgame interview he said, “We’ll do it this time.” I didn’t think anything of it, and thought people were reaching trying to turn that into bulletin board material. However, after listening to Duncan after game 1 of the NBA Finals, I’m starting to think that Duncan may actually be willing to take a shot here or there.
In an interview with Doris Burke, Duncan was talking about the heat in the building and stated, “I don’t know what happened to LeBron, but I think we all were feeling the heat.” In the post game press conference, Tim Duncan continued talking about his own team that “cramps starting setting in” and also said “he asked out of the game once or twice before that, so we knew he was getting tired, we all were getting tired out there.” He didn’t make the comments with a lot of emotion behind them and made them very nonchalantly, but to me this is someone who clearly took a couple shots at LeBron James.
Anytime he brought up James’ issues he stressed that all the players were going through it, he also made sure he mentioned that LeBron asked out of the game, Duncan is never going to flat out say anything, but the way I hear those quotes, he is absolutely trying to say that LeBron couldn’t deal with the struggles that the other 9 players out there were dealing with. Very subtle, Tim, very subtle.
Bad Timing for Baseball
Major League Baseball held its annual draft on Thursday as teams selected tomorrow’s stars. One problem however, they shared it on the same night as the NBA Finals. This is continually baseball’s problem. They really don’t know how to promote their sport.
Young kids are going to be attracted to young players. It’s the nature of the beast. A 12 year old is going to find Bryce Harper infinitely cooler than Paul Konerko. We hear the stories constantly about how children aren’t into baseball anymore, and it’s a problem. Kids are attracted to stars. LeBron James is a star. Dywane Wade is a star. The league NBA promotes their players in a way that they become bigger than the game. Its’ why kids love the NBA. The NFL also promotes its players and turns them into stars. Baseball has a young crop of stars, and they put no promotion behind them.
The baseball draft is the next crop of players coming into the league — why not promote this night as the future stars of the sport and do it when they have the news cycle to themselves? Why share the spotlight with the NBA Finals if you don’t have to? Push the draft back just a couple weeks, once the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals end. The sports news decreases significantly, and the sports media outlets need something to cover. Major League Baseball should position themselves where they become the big story for a couple days, rather than an afterthought. Any news the baseball draft made was buried by 9 pm ET when the game started and forgotten by 11:30 when the LeBron cramp story stole all the headlines. Two weeks from now there won’t be anything major on the horizon, except the NBA draft, Major League Baseball needs to learn to grab the spotlight for themselves.
Stream of Consciousness
I should be careful as I type this post this week, I don’t want my hand to cramp … How is Jurgen Klinsmann not getting called out for his asinine comment? Wofford College doesn’t enter the NCAA tournament thinking they are going to win the National Title but they certainly don’t state that they have zero chance … The fact that the Donald Sterling story is now over is the best news I’ve heard all week … I’ll say it now: fantasy football owners, Marshawn Lynch will be the biggest first round bust this year … Chris Sheridan is a smart NBA writer, but he should have his credentials revoked for leaving LeBron James off of the All- NBA first team … Bud Norris and Mark Mulder need a dose of reality for ripping Jon Singleton for signing a $10 million contract … “How Many More Times” Led Zeppelin. My hand is starting to cramp; I need some fluids … The “Tom Brady is no longer a top 5 QB” conversation this week was silly and useless … The New York Rangers have one game to recover from their blown opportunity in game 1, or the Kings will make quick work of the King … The Dan Marino lawsuit was the biggest non-story that was blown out of proportion in recent memory … RIP Don Zimmer. Even this White Sox fan understands your impact on the game … Anyone who knocks the Colin Kaepernick contract with the 49ers doesn’t understand the importance of the quarterback position in the NFL … I made it through despite the hand cramp, I persevered like all greats do.
Tweet of the Week
Good or bad, positive or negative, we provide you with the best tweet sent to @MadDogUnleashed.
He may, but I can guarantee you he won’t cramp.
Video of the Week
This week we provide a peak behind the door of the Mad Dog Sports Radio Studio to see that our own Doggie should NOT try out for “So You Think You Can Dance.”
I’d pay 50 Cent for this Vine
Well done by @MetsKevin11.
Next week on MDU
It will be another great week of sports talk on Mad Dog Unleashed. Monday will be a huge show, we’ll have the breakdown of California Chrome’s attempt to win the first horse racing Triple Crown since 1978 and we’ll obviously be all over Game 2 of the NBA Finals and see what encore we get after the crazy game and storylines resulting from “The Cramp Game.” We’ll cover the Stanley Cup Final as well and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is also scheduled to join us.
You can follow Bill Zimmerman, Mad Dog Unleashed and Mad Dog Sports Radio on twitter, or follow along on Facebook.