The Sports Hangover recovers from the best weekend in sports–five NBA Game 7s, the second round of the NHL playoffs, Mayweather-Maidana, the Kentucky Derby, and more–that you’ll see all year. May the fifth be with you.
Donald Sterling’s Silly Rabbit
If Donald Sterling’s mistress adopting the twenty-second letter of the alphabet as a first name or donning a Cobra Commander visor for outdoor activity doesn’t clue you in on V. Stiviano’s mental state, the 20/20 interview should. “I’m Mr. Sterling’s right-hand arm man,” the Clippers’ mistress airily tells Barbara Walters. “I’m Mr. Sterling everything. I’m his confidante, his best friend, his silly rabbit.” Should she take medications or get off them? She doesn’t seem a particularly malicious person or stupid. But she does appear a bit confused. He wants his basketball team back. She wants her married man back. Neither seems likely.
Floyd Mayweather Not-So-Junior Anymore
Fighters age before our eyes. Father Time doesn’t always announce himself in losses. Sugar Ray Leonard noticed a flaw in Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s game in the middleweight champion’s 1986 victory over John “the Beast” Mugabi that he exploited in his fight against Hagler the following year. Marcos Maidana didn’t beat Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night. He exposed him as beatable. The 46-0 fighter has remained undefeated, in part, because of superior quickness and athleticism that serve him both offensively and defensively. Like Bernard Hopkins, Floyd relies on the shoulder roll to avoid strikes and counterpunching to inflict them. But unlike the Alien, Money’s boxing requires speed. At 37, he isn’t as quick as he was at 27. He got hit by Maidana about as much as Maidana hit him on Saturday night. The Argentine, defeated by the likes of Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, and Andrei Kotelnik, isn’t the best fighter out there. He surely isn’t the best fighter ever to trade blows with Floyd. It’s just that he isn’t trading blows with the best Floyd. The “0” will go if Floyd doesn’t.
The Can Man
Adrien Broner followed up his “sparring match on TV” against Carlos Molina Saturday night with another jaw-dropping interview. When I asked Broner a few weeks ago at Showtime’s boxing card at the DC Armory to put a pricetag on his gaudy bling, he refused to do so on the grounds that he has “baby mamas” preying on his paychecks (I ask him about potential matches against Floyd and PacMan below). He has elsewhere pulled such stunts as a fake postfight marriage proposal in which a-down-on-one-knee Broner asked his girlfriend if she would “brush my hair” instead of marry him and carted around a former Paulie Malignaggi girlfriend to press events promoting their fight. After defeating Carlos Molina Saturday night, Broner told Jim Gray that his earlier loss to Marcos Maidana “definitely humbled me in some ways.” He then showed the ways in which it didn’t by dubbing himself the “can man.” He loudly explained the meaning of the new nickname: “Anybody can get it–Africans, I just beat the f— out of a Mexican.” Gray, and others online, took offense. “Oh, no. No, no,” Gray interrupted. “Let’s show some class and dignity.” Did he think he was interviewing Jacqueline Kennedy?
Best NBA Playoffs Ever
The NBA featured three Game 7s on Saturday, an occurrence that has never happened in the 47-year history of the league. Sunday night, the Spurs and Nets ended two seven-game series in their favor. There’s no ’86 Celtics or ’96 Bulls in today’s NBA. It’s good for fans when they don’t know the teams playing in the Finals before the playoffs start. Instead of the expected, fans don’t know what to expect. Paul Piece, for instance, went from goat to hero in a few seconds on Sunday. After taking a ball off his leg that went out of bounds and temporarily saved Toronto’s season, Pierce blocked a Kyle Lowry shot with seconds to go to preserve the 104-103 victory. KG and the Truth head down to Miami for a Tuesday night Game 1. We have been down that road before–and we go willingly once again, particularly given the 4-0 record the Brooklyn Celtics, I mean Boston Nets, boast against the defending NBA champions this season.
Hitting’s Difficult. Hitting 24 Games in a Row Is Really Difficult.
Pete Rose hit in 44 consecutive games in 1978. Paul Molitor compiled a 39-game hitting streak in 1987. And just eight years ago, Jimmy Rollins reached base with his bat in 38 games in a row. So Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has a long way to go before his hitting streak sparks conversation beyond this season. He’s not even halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak and still four games away from surpassing Michael Cuddyer’s club record of 27 games. But when he jacked a double in the fourth inning against the Mets on Sunday, Arenado’s 24-game hitting streak had extended to seven games better than anyone else this season.
Houston on the Clock
The Houston Texans can use a quarterback and already have one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Even taking their needs into consideration, they would be crazy to take Johnny Manziel over Jadeveon Clowney–or over any of the several other QBs in this draft’s slim-pickings of passers. The Detroit Lions trading up for receivers Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans strikes as absurd but in an entirely different way. Whereas the Texans shouldn’t pass up a once-in-a-generation talent in Clowney even though they boast a marquee pass rusher in J.J. Watt, the Lions shouldn’t trade up for a receiver because they already have the best in the game. Why waste a #1 pick on a #2 receiver?
Original Six Classic
Tuukka Rask may be the best goalie in the NHL. I’m not sure Rask is the best goalie in the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series. The Bruins have peppered Carey Price with 85 shots on goal over two games. He seemed to stop just about everything in Game 1. If you watch the goalie-cam from Game Two, he lets in one puck that from his screened position he couldn’t possibly see coming and another one from a bad hop–they have those in hockey, too–from a divot on the ice. The double overtime victory for the Canadiens in Game 1 and the come-from-behind dramatics by the Bruins in Game 2 will keep me glued to my television Tuesday night. This is the 34th time these teams have met in the playoffs. And as it has always been, the current clash plays as the best.