Warning: Summer is here but the time is still not right for dancing in the street. It’s dangerous. You may be struck by a motorist. Please exercise caution. Do exercise, though.
1. Try, Try, Try To Understaaaaand: He’s a Magic Man
Jocular, adj., “Given to joking”
Jockular, adj. “Given to obsequious fawning over fellow athletes”
Look…we get it. No one is paying Magic Johnson to be Howard Cosell. And it’s okay if he says, “He don’t.” And of course the man who coached him to four of his five NBA championships, Pat Riley, is now the president of Team Heat. However, at some point during this sublime and memorable NBA Finals, Magic went from being an annoying sideshow to an impossible-to-ignore braying ass.
After Game 6 Magic, in front of his three NBA Countdown-erparts, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons, declared, “I’ll say it: they (the Spurs) choked.” Curiously enough, two days later on Grantland.com, a site that Simmons founded and of which he is the managing editor, Zach Lowe wrote an astute essay on why such a pronouncement was ludicrous. Lowe never mentioned Magic by name, and Magic probably does not even know what Grantland is. Some day, though, someone may connect the dots for Magic and inform him that the jovial Simmons was openly disputing his claim.
Last night, after Team Heat won, 95-88, (outstanding effort by LeBron; more later), Magic basically went Jonah Hill-on-Aldous Snow nuts over the team’s two principal figures. He told James, “You are the only guy that can become the greatest to ever play this game” and then later told Wade, “You are the most unselfish person on the face of this Earth.”
Whether that latter pronouncement is related to the fact that Wade pays his ex-wife $25,000 monthly in alimony was left unsaid.
And, because Magic’s legacy as a player is so deservedly respected, no one on set has the gumption to confront him on his forays into (into? “beyond”) hyperbole.
Cosell, in his later years, used to openly lament the “jockocracy.” Ex-jocks muscling their way into the broadcast booth, devoid of impartiality or incisive commentary. Howard actually hoped he could stem the tide. In a Bristolized republic, that is no longer possible. The most we can do now is to openly point out, and hope that you see, that cheerleaders belong courtside in low-cut tops, not on the set of NBA Countdown.
2. LeBron’s Mettle
37 points and 12 rebounds and, just as importantly, holding Tony Parker to 25% shooting. LeBron James was a beast in Game 7. Were he not saved by Jesus (Shuttleworth) two nights earlier, the narrative might have been that he clanged two three-point attempts in the final 28 seconds when his team needed him most. But LBJ and his team were given a reprieve.
And he took full advantage.
You want to be known as the greatest player on Earth (as opposed to the most unselfish person on Earth)? Then take and bury those open 18-footers San Antonio is ceding you. LeBron did.
For me, the most impressive aspect of Team Heat in Game 7 was its stifling defense. There were so very few open looks. Not just LeBron, but Chris Bosh and Shane Battier and even D-Wade were pests all game long. The defense was the difference.
3. Series Epitaph
A few final Finals thoughts:
–The old Manu Ginobili, as opposed to “an old Manu Ginobili”, might have been the difference the Spurs needed. I went from bellowing, “Ginobiliiiiiiiiiii!” to “Gi-NOOOOOOOOOOO-bili!” in the course of seven games.
–San Antonio, with this quartet of Hall of Famers, is not returning to the NBA Finals. They all know it. That is why this defeat will always sting so much worse.
–The series was everything we could have hoped it to be, and I was calling for this duo to meet back in March. A contrast of cultures, generations and styles, but both excellent teams. In most seven-game series, a dominant team emerges. That was not the case here. One team, by fiat, had to win four of the seven games. It was Miami. And even then it was not decided until the final 30 seconds.
–Nice to watch a series devoid of adversarial melodrama. There was no hostility between the two sides. Just mutual respect.
— “You can only grow so many tomatoes.” Pop. Love Pop. Here’s his Game 7 pre-game presser, just an hour or so before tip-off. He already acts like my good friend, former NBA reporter Marty Burns. And I can assume they’ll even physically resemble one another when Marty reaches this age.
–Danny Green was the big story after four games, but when the palms got sweaty and the pressure built, Kawhi Leonard proved to be the more reliable young player for the Spurs (and, yes, I know that he missed a free throw; I’ll remind you that Mario Chalmers missed BOTH free throws he attempted last night with under two minutes to play).
–Simmons was funny last night. He read James’ stats, noted his defensive prowess on Parker, and quipped, “I thought you could’ve done a little bit more.” James took the joke well. Then Simmons asked him to come clean: if at any point in the waning moments of Game 6 if he thought it was all over. James: “To win a championship, you need a little luck.” Bingo. Well said. And well done, too, LeBron. Well done.
–I still cannot believe the Thunder let James Harden go. That trio was the only entity potentially (I said, “Potentially”) standing between the Heat and five NBA titles. I don’t know who steps in their path now. Seriously.
4. Arrested, Development
An arrest warrant has been issued for New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez. Obstruction of justice in relation to the murder of Odin Lloyd. You hand over a shattered cell phone to police investigators, you’re going to raise eyebrows, you know.
Interestingly, some people tweeted (and then deleted said tweets) yesterday, upon learning of the destroyed cell phone and home-security system, that it was “sad” that Hernandez may be involved in this. No. It is sad that Odin Lloyd was murdered.
Someone else tweeted –and I laughed– that he couldn’t wait for Ray Lewis to join ESPN’s studio shows so that the retired Raven could provide expert analysis on how to avoid being charged with murder.
Finally: Who are the two other people whom Hernandez and Lloyd were with on Monday night? I suppose that’s the first question investigators will ask.
5. “I Thought It Was Great”
The “Morning Joe” crew addresses yesterday’s debacle with Russell Brand. The aforementioned quote comes from Brian Schactman. Mika Brzezinski notes that she has never “gotten so much hatred, so much vitriol.” (I’m raising my hand here). Brian, it was great. And you came off as a boy talking to a man. And, yes, we caught that you noted this morning that Brand notified Katy Perry that he wanted a divorce via text message, something that you wouldn’t have dared say to his face yesterday.
Near the end of the broadcast Andy Serwer, the managing editor of Fortune and one of the plethora of like-minded pinheads who regularly appear on this show, told Mika that he thought she did not have anything to apologize for. He actually thought it was Brand who had been rude.
At the very end of this morning’s show, there was a dedication to the recently deceased dog of one of “Morning Joe’s” behind-the-scenes staffers.
We’ll get through this, America.