by John Walters

Starting Five

Pop Star

Admit it: The Spurs, without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, defeat the Houston Rockets in Houston in a close-out game by THIRTY-NINE points, and you are not even surprised. I know I’m not. That’s Pop, baby.

LaMarcus Aldridge did score 34 points and pull down 12 rebounds, but hell, there are a few players in the Western Conference who can do that. There’s only one Gregg Popovich, though. And to think he’s been making Mike D’Antoni’s life miserable since D was back coaching the Phoenix Suns 10 years ago.

2. The New Yorker Takes Aim at a New Yorker

My words are not needed here. This is clever, except for the fact that all of the passengers have their shoes on and no one is wearing leggings.

Below: He never learns, does he? This isn’t, to use one of your pet phrases, small potatoes any more. You’re not hustling a contractor from Queens out the door.


3. SI Lays Off Five

On Tuesday I attended a lunch and sat next to someone from ESPN who is on-air. As he knew where I once worked, he asked me sincerely if I thought that Sports Illustrated could survive. Not having any inside info, I provided my standard response on print journalists/journalism: “We’re all just polar bears looking for an iceberg to stand on.”

Yesterday SI laid off five staffers. The only name I know of right now is Seth Davis, and he’ll be fine since he’s had his fingers in other pies for more than a decade. Seth is terrific on CBS’ college basketball coverage, so I think he’ll make his mortgage payment next month.


There are a lot of things SI has failed to do since former Time Inc. chief Norm Pearlstine famously uttered, “Print is dead” upon seeing a demonstration of the internet. Inevitably, though, the manner in which readers consume sports news changed. SI had a chance to purchase ESPN in 1987 and whiffed (this was before Pearlstine’s comment) and that was the first of many grave mistakes. But again, this is Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox going up against Bleacher Report. You know what I mean.

I still have many good friends at SI. Okay, I still have a good friend or two at SI. Most of the people I cared about are long gone, from someone who went on to write a story that turned into a book that turned into a Disney film (SI turned down his story pitch originally) to my current boss at Newsweek, who’s the best dude I’ve ever worked for in this business.

Will SI survive? I don’t know about the magazine. I do wonder when some of the writers from my generation and above will finally understand that Peter King is the only holdover from the 1990s who truly gets it. King, when I was there, was universally loved as a guy and respected as a reporter, but no editor ever swooned over his prose. Now the average joe thinks “Peter King” first if you ask about great SI writing. Why? Because he rolls up his sleeves and writes for the web prolifically. That should have been happening with all of SI’s top writers a long time ago.

Here’s fellow alum Jeff Pearlman’s “eulogy.”

4. But Whom Will They Call To Handle The Suit?

Everyone’s favorite cheesy law firm that advertises on TV (this side of Jimmy McGill), Cellino & Barnes, are breaking up. Ross Cellino is suing Stephen Barnes. This is, for those of us who watch too much TV, catastrophic. Next you’re going to tell us that the 1-877-Kars-4-Kids band is breaking up (there is only one VH-1 “Behind The Music” that I still want to see, and this would be it.)

5. Bunny Wisdom

Yes, I’m extremely late to the jam, but I’m finally working my way through The Wire (almost finished Season 3), which is absolutely, pardon the term, addictive. And because everyone who’s watched the HBO show has a favorite character from it, I’ll name mine so far: Howard “Bunny” Colvin, the police chief in charge of the Western District whose revolutionary plan to curb violent crime in his area scares the hell out of his superiors.

I love everything about Bunny: His integrity, his ability to place the needs of community over his career, his courage, his candor, everything. THIS is what a leader looks like (I don’t yet know what will happen to him, so no spoilers, please), but this is my favorite scene of his.

Music 101

I Am The Key

Dang, but I do love The La’s. Lead singer and tortured genius Lee Mavers, who gave us There She Goes, also wrote this little gem. They never even released it on an album. The La’s would be by far the best band ever from their hometown if that hometown were not Liverpool, England.

Remote Patrol

Master Of None


So if you have the Netflix, Season 2 of Aziz Ansari’s terrific and comically unstable series drops today. You could watch Game 6 of Celtics-Wizards, but who cares? Cleveland is headed to the NBA Finals in, at most, five games.

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! Hold the phone! You’re telling us you were NOT surprised that the Rockets, with MUCH touted MVP wannabe Harden, in a CLOSE-OUT playoff game AT HOME lost not by 3 or 5 or 10 or even 20 but by 39 FREAKIN POINTS?! WITHOUT Spurs Kawhi & Tony Parker? Come on, jdubs. Who are you – Nostradamus?! 🙂

    I didn’t see the game or even the result till this morning & thought my TV was LYING to me! There I was, ‘counting up’ 25 + 14 & gulp, that’s 39, the Rockets lost by THIRTY-NINE? And Harden scored only 10? I thought he must have not played the entire game OR he was sick or injured throughout OR he had just found out he lost a family member in a tragedy OR that a loved one was being held ransom. Something! If he is crowned this season’s MVP, oooh, can’t you hear the blowback already? This, ahem, “failure” will stick with Harden for a loooooong time, i.e. the media & NBA fans will never let him forget until he wins a championship.

    So, Nossie – will the Superteam Villains lose even a game to the Spurs? I HOPE but am not optimistic.

    As for Celtics-Wizards, I have NO idea who will emerge the victor of their series. I THOUGHT it would be the Wiz until the last game & now, not sure at all. I also can’t decide who will be the ‘best’ (i.e. easier!) opponent for the Cavs.

    And puhlease, PLEEEEZE don’t be one of those bitchin how these playoffs & the eventual 1st-time-in-history Finals 3-peat have been & will be “boring” because the Cavs & SV are 16-0. Don’t you WANT to see the BEST compete for all the marbles?! If people want to bitch about the Superteam Villains going after & absorbing KD Borg-like, go right ahead. Just don’t forget to bitch about Durant ASKING to join the Borg! The guy whose previous team had the 73-game winning Warriors down 3-1 in the WC Finals & LOST the series! Compared to that, Harden’s no-show doesn’t look that bad!

  2. Susie B.,

    We’ve discussed this already. We’re coming up on one month of the NBA playoffs. The Conference Finals haven’t even begun yet!

    And I agree with JW on the Spurs/Pop stance. Also, Susie B., that team down south is one Ray Allen missed three away from leaving that Miami team with only one NBA championship ring.

    The Spurs, to rub a little more salt on it, defeated the Heat by an average of 18 points in the 2014 NBA Finals. The Finals, not the semifinals. The closest loss was by 15.

    So, if this Spurs team took the Warriors to 6 or 7 games, no one should be shocked. It is in the pregame Kool-Aid.

    • Hi Jacob – I’m confused over your reply. Are you saying you were also were NOT shocked at the COMPLETE ANNIHILATION of the Rockets on their HOME FLOOR IN A MUST-WIN Playoff game? And that MVP wannabe Harden would be outplayed by the person selling soda in the stands? Well, you & jdubs should forget what you’re doing now & go full-time into sports betting as you’ll be gazillionaires in no-time! Seriously, I don’t think the Spurs themselves thought that outcome was possible! Without Kawhi? Come on!

      And it wasn’t just that Ray Allen 3-pt shot, it was the Bosh rebound & perfect pass to Ray too! And that the HEAT OUTPLAYED THE SPURS the rest of that game AND Game 7 to win that championship!

      And sure, go ahead & bring up the dreadful 2014 Finals. I STILL have nightmares! The Heat completely OUTPLAYED the Spurs on their home floor in Game 1 UNTIL the AC “broke” (wink, wink) & LeBron cramped up so bad he had to be carried off the court. The Heat then won Game 2 & were going back to Miami for what EVERY damn TV “expert” (cough, cough) thought would be 2 “easy” home wins. I STILL can’t explain what happened except I saw it coming the whole dang season – LBJ overworked like a plough horse & the rest of the team barely functioning.

      BTW, what happened to the 2014 Champion Spurs in the 2015 Playoffs? Hmmmmmm? 🙂 LeBron was back once again in the Finals (with an old now new team) but the previous year’s champs couldn’t even get outta the 1st Round. Which *I* was NOT surprised as I’d said right here the year before that the Spurs made a deal with Satan to get back to the 2014 Finals & beat the Cavs. Heck, based on what happened last night in Game 1 of the 2017 WC Finals, they might STILL be paying that deal off!

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