No Dunking…

So months after MJ was inducted into the hall of fame, here are a couple of videos that might have been drowned out of the best moments avalanche of Jordan staples that time.

The first is this classic McDonald’s advertisement with Larry Bird in the 90’s:

One of those one on ones MJ does for fun this time. Here’s WSJ CEO John Rogers:

Nothing greatest moments material really. Just some of those which characterized the guy as the endorser and personality during his time.

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Last Straws

I’ve been meaning to write about SA’s demise or triumph against NO by now but who would have known? I guess the fact that there still are two final straws to be drawn in the NBA magnifies the level of competition out there right now. While the last slot for the east will be determined a few hours from now, the game out west will have to wait for a day.

All I can say right now is that should SA end its quest for a repeat, (and thereby hold on to its even-numbered year jinx,) I would concede NO to be worthy of dropping them off from the running. While the games of that series have all ended in blowouts, it’s pretty much of a surprise that the young athletes have made it that far in such a fashion.

It’s in the playoffs where SA bucks in to win-it-all throughout the years. Before the second round started, it was such a sound assumption to write off NO as another would-be victim of the tested veterans but things have changed so much in the course of 6 games. Despite owning the playoffs, it’s the defending champs who were in the win-or-lose situation prior to game 6.

So much as I’m looking forward to have everything rely on just one last game, I’m praying for at least a close game befitting the manner of exit for the matchup’s loser.

Who’s Got the Ticket for the Last Trip?

As I’m writing this, game 1 of the Detroit-Orlando NBA seminals pairing have already been played and I’m still looking forward to the SA-NO matchup. The other western semifinal matchup between LA and Utah is already scheduled for tomorrow following Houston’s ouster yesterday.

Strangely it’s the Celtics who are still stuck in the first round. That is, they still have to grind out with the underdogs from Atlanta in a do-or-die matchup that has the top dog from the regular season facing the reality of elimination.

What is it with top teams from the regular season and eighth seeds that the latter seems to give the former the scare these days? Sure we’ve seen the Warriors do the feat last year at the expense of the Warriors and it still remains to be seen whether the same can be done for the serious title contenders from Boston this year. I guess that goes to show the level of competition out there on the league. The only thing surprising being that it appeared on the generally perceived weaker east when the regular season had 9 western teams racing for 8 slots for the playoff.

So just when everyone thought that it would be a piece of cake for Boston to find a place in the semifinals, the Hawks just turned the showdown into a winner-takes-all affair. While the home-team has gone to win each game of that series, recent history doesn’t leave the underdog without an ace either. That and the fact that Atlanta doesn’t have anything left to lose at all isn’t exactly something quantifiable from the stat sheets.

After all wasn’t it the Spurs who defied the odds of age and a wobbly regular season finish to turn the anticipated blockbuster against Phoenix into a mostly one-sided series?

When Everything’s Said and Done

Yesterday’s NBA result had the Spurs earning the right to move into the semifinals of the western conference. I have been wanting to write about what seemed to be imminent when the team held the lead at 3-0. I know better though as stranger things have happened in that league. Who would have forgotten last year’s first round upset which had the Mavs booted courtesy of the Warriors?

How much more for a year when the overly competitive western conference had to drop off that same Warriors team despite having close to 50 wins? The playoffs haven’t been exactly bland either with the top two teams in the league during the regular season surprisingly still slugging it out in a supposedly easy series. Not only does that makes this year’s playoffs exciting to say the least, these also goes to show how much the level of competition throws the odds against fearless predictions of even the most seasoned sports analysts.

While I have already written my piece on how mainstream sports media tended to overhype the MVP race, I won’t loathe any of them who picked the Spurs to go home early this year. I have been rooting for the Spurs since the start of the millennium and have seen how much more difficult it was for them to go all the way this year than before. Sure they have experience but their struggles towards the latter half of the regular season in a very competitive 9-horse-race conference seemed to suggest that age caught up with them. I’m not even including their even-year jinx here. 😀

Suffice it to say that there were serious obstacles in the Spur’s bid to repeat this year. I’ve seen it myself and I’ll give it to the experts who had to consider them pragmatically when weighing the odds.

How they managed to reduce the anticipated first-round blockbuster where they were popularly perceived to be the underdogs, I won’t delve in here. Even though I would have placed my money on them this year anyway, I’ve never had more doubts in them this year than I had in the previous ones. Who would have thought nearly two weeks later then, that they’re moving on to the semis, let alone advance in that fashion?

All I’m sure right now is that I’m not in that lot, at least among those who saw the latter.

Basketball and a Busy Day

By now any NBA fan should have known the outcome of the classic game between the Spurs and the Suns. Sure the Spurs won but only after a 2 OT’s featuring a game-tying 3 by Finley to force the first extension and another 3 in the first OT by Duncan. (Yup, no typo’s there alright.) The second OT had Nash and Ginobili taking over for both teams and when the smoke cleared, the Spurs came out with the W.

Now I won’t go out here to try and analyze anything about the game. When the match was forged on the last day of the regular season, basketball fans knew the match-up would be something to watch out for. Judging from how the first game was hard-fought, you get that feeling that the next games were only going to get better. And hard-fought there could easily qualify as an understatement when you see how much emotions and pride were on the line with the way neither choosing to roll over and wait for the next game for a win.

Far more importantly, at least from a fan of the sport who have had to spend more time at work these days, the playoffs comes as a very important source of relief from the stress and craziness my line of work throws at me. Anything for a quality game and a lot of things for a classic game.

It also takes away the attention from the boring MVP debates. Frankly, I don’t even care who wins it because as far as I’m concerned the only thing that matters is which team wins the championship. (I believe that’s more so for the players.) Excellent individual pieces might be there but without the ring, individual awards would seem like consolation prices. Blame it on media hype and the explosion of the internet to bring the cacophony of the sport around the world in real time.

If even the most trivial things get to be published in websites in record time compared to how it reached fans before, then expect sports writers pitch in views regarding the MVP award. It would seem a good topic for a good season that featured several candidates who excel in the sport given their respective situations. It gets boring however when it seemed like it was the only topic worth talking about for what felt like months.

Imagine my surprise then, when Neal Pollack decided to put everything I exactly feel about how sick I was with all the hype that was the MVP race. If you’re anything like me in this respect though, the 2-page read is a lot more than your while.

To cap off this entry anyway, here’s an interestingly sensible and worthwhile entry from basketball great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as he talks about the subtle messages cartoons these days convey to children. As a father of a little girl myself, I have a pretty good understanding of where he’s coming at.

And the World Pool Champion This Year Is…

Daryl Peach.

A lot late an entry here but the tangles I’ve been handling this time of the year left me with little time to squeeze this one through. Anyway there it is. It’s the guy from England who held the trophy in the end by staying in the game long enough to find the final push and opportunity to steal the crown from a Filipino in his turf.

And that must’ve felt bad so sour for Gomez to say the least. He had a very hot streak in the eliminations only to crumble in the last hurdle. Moreover he had his chances. While both of them actually did have errors, the ultimate blunder was the give-away shot at the 9-ball when the scores were tied at 15 a piece. His miss led to Peach coming back to the table and had the latter sealing the crown as he made a ball shot after shot until the next rack.

I felt so frustrated having to spend all those hours in front of the TV because I was rooting for a fellow countryman. I guess it’s pretty much nothing compared to the guy who spent all those weeks taking world class pool players down not to mention all those practices to remain at par with the competition.

That is not to say that Peach didn’t deserve the crown. He did and he certainly deserves respect. He has earned mine when he did that against a hometown favorite in an excitingly close game marred by unforced errors by timely composing himself in the end to end any hopes of another Filipino bagging the title.

Better luck next year fellow pool fans.

It’s Time for the NBA Finals

It’s settled then, the Cleveland Cavaliers will face off with the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA Finals. Winner of the ensuing best of 7 claims the championship and becomes the King of the Hill that is the 2006-07 NBA Season.  I must admit that I was pretty much surprised with the entry of the Cavs considering that their opponents, the Detroit Pistons, were heavily favored to advance. And that lot happens to include me, (as etched somewhere in my previous blog entry.)

What can I say, Lebron James found the help he needed to help his team advance. Good for him, tough luck for the Pistons. Now I’d like to hear from those analyst wannabes who wrote negatively about the kid from not being able to hit clutch shots to not being the great leader MJ was supposed to be, (hell even the comparison makes me cringe about the lack of objectivity in today’s self-proclaimed gurus.)

Moving forward, I’ve vouched for the Spurs in recent years and I have no intention of changing sides this time. Moreover, the entry of the Cavs in the Finals should give the Spurs the advantage. I’d like to see how James plays the series though because I’ve heard him once that he plays hard against the Western heavyweights given the fact that Eastern teams are generally perceived to be weaker compared to those from the other conference.

Should prove to be something to look forward to.