So, will Pat Riley regain his rank as smartest hair-and-tan in sports? Or will Mark Cuban — a.k.a. “When I Die, I Want To Come Back As Me,” a.k.a. Smarmy Is As Smarmy Does, a.k.a. Greed Is Good — finally get the crowning achievement of his post-pubescent life?
The Heat-Mavericks NBA Finals are here. We are also here to tell you about them:
The games are on ABC, in the capable hands of Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. A generation ago, Dick Enberg, Billy Packer and Al McGuire set the standard for a three-man basketball booth. As much as I miss McGuire — an American original — this grouping is superior. Breen is a solid play-by-play voice, with a playful sensibility. Jackson and Van Gundy each would be good alone, and each makes the other better. I never invite anyone into my home to watch games with me — my sultry wife Toni, in fact, usually leaves to seek safe harbor elsewhere — but any of these gents is welcome anytime.
I should take a moment out here to give a nod to TNT’s Marv Albert. I love Mike Breen, but it seems like a crime against basketball nature that Albert doesn’t call the NBA Finals. Albert, who will turn 70 in June, still delivers as smart and measured a call of any basketball broadcaster ever. Unlike some of his younger, juiced-up peers such as serial screamers Gus Johnson and Kevin Harlan, Albert understands precisely when to raise the level of his voice.
Either the Heat’s LeBron James, in his eighth NBA season, or the Mavericks ’ Dirk Nowitzki , in his 13th NBA season, will win his first title. Talk about a couple of losers, huh? And this Nowitzki fellow played pro ball in Germany with DJK Wurzburg for four years before coming to America and didn’t win any titles there, either. What good is a 7-footer who shots 50 percent from the field, 40 percent on threes and 90 percent from the line if he can’t bring home the bratwurst?
Actually, Dirk Nowitzki probably has been underappreciated by nincompoops like Couch Slouch. How do you overlook and underrate a former league MVP and 10-time all-star? Simple — you live on Stupid Street, my home since 1984. In these playoffs, Nowitzki has been spectacular and sublime.
Who is J.J. Barea and who let him onto the court? The Mavericks’ backup point guard is listed at 6 feet tall. Please. I ran into him a couple of weeks ago at the Santa Monica Pier amusement park, and he wasn’t even tall enough to ride the Frog Hopper. Then again, I saw him run a pick-and-roll at the video arcade to perfection. He’s a dribbling whirling dervish.
If the Heat wins, will it finally shut up the LeBron haters? No. You can never shut up The Haters in Sports Nation. Of late, hating is the engine that drives our culture. People wake up, look around and think, “Who am I gonna hate on today?” Sports radio and the Internet were invented for hating. Heck, if microwave ovens had a setting for “hating,” they’d sell twice as many.
Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Three-on-five cannot win a championship. Yes, the Heat have the Three Tenors – LeBron, Dwyane Wade and the other guy. And who else? And who else? Go ahead, I challenge you to name, say, three other Heat players. (To be honest, some of you don’t even know who “the other guy” is.) The other Heat players don’t even have their names stitched to the back of their uniforms; rather, it just says, “HEAT TEMP.”
Some of you may recall that I have loudly said LeBron’s Heat would not win an NBA title. The key to effective prognostication, I’ve always believed, is to repeat your errant predictions early and often. Before the NBA season began, I stated the Heat would not win the championship, and I reiterated this same notion as the NBA playoffs began. It appears I might end up being incorrect, which raises the question — how many times can I be wrong in a single lifetime?
In for a dime, in for a dollar: I guess I’ve got to take the Mavericks in seven games. Of course, I could be mistaken.
Q. Every Wednesday I participate in a Couch Slouch Club meeting where we ruminate on the current Couch Slouch column and ponder its historical value to society as a whole. At the closing of each meeting, we watch reruns of the PBA Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open on a 12-inch Zenith black-and-white TV. Would you be interested in being the keynote speaker at our next gathering? (Scott Wilson; Moon Township, Pa.)
A. Book me on the next Greyhound into town!
Q. Isn’t NFL owners and players bickering over what to do with too much revenue during a recession similar to you complaining to Pakistani goat herders that you can’t get ESPN2 on your iPhone? (Phil Haugen; Spokane, Wash.)
A. I’ve got an iPhone? Cool.
Q. If golf TV reporters walk the course early morning to check out pin placements, do hockey TV reporters skate the ice to check if all the goalies’ creases are in order? (John Moskal; Aurora, Ohio)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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