Tag Archives: NBA

One and Dumped.

One and Done Pauley Pavilion at Duskslam167_cover1The very best thing about the first weekend of March Madness is that so many of the all-too-hyped freshman “one-and-done” NBA prospects were bounced from the NCAA Tournament.

Schools with squads laden with upper classmen earned upset victories over programs that rely on rented hoop mercenaries, whose only interest in college is as a one-season showcase for their talents.

When Mercer beat Duke and Stanford knocked out Kansas, maturity and team play proved superior to the ballyhooed skills of freshmen like Jabari Parker, who made only 4 of his 16 shots and was 0-3 from 3-pt range against Mercer —  and Andrew Wiggins, who managed just 4 points on 1 of 6 shooting against Stanford.

w&P

John CalipariIf only Wichita State had been able to close out Kentucky — whose coach, John Calipari, has embraced the “one and done” phenomenon.

In recent years, Calipari hasn’t so much recruited as reloaded, stocking up on NBA-bound prospects for short-term success. He started 5 freshmen against Wichita State.

Wichita State, led by senior Cleanthony Early’s 31 points, fell just 2 points shy of sending Kentucky home short of the Sweet-16.

coursey-parker-ap2Still, March Madness has already taken some of the overheated air out of the puffed-up one-and-dones. In fact, after Coach K’s Duke powerhouse – a 3 seed — got clocked in the first round by Mercer – a lowly 14 seed — USA Today is reporting that Jabari Parker is now “unsure” of the NBA draft.

fc28a0e298abf1f1fdfd3980e6ff99f1_crop_northFor years now, the NBA and the college game have struggled with the growing problem of student-athletes leaving school early to go pro. Largely it’s a problem of the NBA and NCAA’s own making.

But that problem may finally be getting solved in the best possible way: on the basketball court.

1380746998000-USATSI-7153278I’ll be rooting for UCLA – whose starting five include two seniors (Travis and David Wear), one junior (Norman Powell), two sophomores (Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson) – and not one freshman one-and-done!

If that makes me a grumpy old man, so be it.

2 Comments

Filed under Sports

The Biggest Man in Pro Sports Today…

k-bigpicWhat a great day for professional sports.

DownloadedFileThe film “42” is in theatres, celebrating the transformational story of how Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Today, 66 years later, professional basketball player Jason Collins overcame another taboo in pro sports by announcing to the world that he is a gay man – becoming the first openly gay man active in a major American professional sport.

xxx-stanford---usc-3_4_r536_c534A first round pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Jason Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran. An All-American center at Stanford, Jason and his twin brother Jarron both enjoyed decade-long careers in the National Basketball Association. Jason’s dozen years in the NBA are further proof – as if needed – that it’s not if there are gay men in pro sports – but how many pro athletes are gay? And why should we even care?

COLLINS THOMAS WEATHERSPOON HARRINGTONThe New Jersey fans that cheered for Jason Collins during seven seasons with the Nets – and the ticket buyers who rooted for him in his NBA stops since leaving New Jersey – weren’t cheering for a heterosexual man or gay man. They were cheering for a talented and durable big man who fought for rebounds and scored consistently in the paint. Team player Jason has also always been considered a good guy in the locker room.

975820-jason-collinsTrivia note: The Dodgers played in Brooklyn NY when Jackie Robinson made history in 1947. The Nets, the NBA team that drafted Jason Collins in 2001, is now playing its first season in Brooklyn. (Significant? Probably not. But us sports fans love us some trivia.)

la-me-ln-jason-collins-aunt-20130429Jason’s revelation regarding his sexuality reminds me of the silly debate over gays in the military. There have always been gay men in the military – and there have always been gay men in sports. From the first moment men clashed in battle – whether in war or on the playing field – a percentage of those men have been gay. That’s only natural. Completely natural.

jason-collins-siSo, congratulations, Jason Collins!

I’m honored that Jason attended the same San Fernando Valley grade school that my daughters attended. Sierra Canyon School should be prouder than ever of Jason.

His college and NBA basketball achievements have been laudable.

His honesty and courage today make him an American hero for the ages.

2 Comments

Filed under History, Sports, Truth

Heat Make History in My Hometown!

Heatbannerdm_130320_Heat_CavsOkay, last week I admitted that my head was buried in the NBA season as it drove toward the playoffs — and that my favorite teams were the Los Angeles Clippers featuring Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

Well, on a night like tonight – March 20, 2013 – it’s easy to see why I’m captivated by the drama playing out on the NBA hardwood.

Blake Griffin, Lavoy AllenBy the time my Western Conference team, The Clippers, walked off the court after trouncing the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center in downtown L.A. by 29 points, 101-72 – my Eastern Conference team had already come back from a ridiculous, impossible-to-overcome deficit to earn its 24th consecutive victory.

LeBron James and The Heat were playing The King’s former team, The Cleveland Cavaliers (my hometown franchise). LeBron & Company were behind by 27 points with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter – and still managed to pull out the victory to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, surpassing the 2007-08 Houston Rockets.

Miami Heat v Cleveland CavaliersWith a roaring, rabid, sellout Cleveland crowd of 20,562 taunting their former hometown hero at the foul line — with the game on the line — a cold-blooded LeBron, the reigning NBA MVP, drained two free throws to win the game 98-95.

The moment was ridiculously dramatic. The irony was exquisite. That LeBron should cap such a furious, historic comeback cooly at the foul line was one thing — but that he should do it against the team that he left so infamously a few years ago was the final scene of an almost preposterously perfect script, played by the greatest actor currently performing on an NBA court.

Even though I’m a proud Clevelander, I gotta give props where they’re due.

Now, LeBron and The Heat are within nine games of matching The Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 33 consecutive wins during the 1971-72 season – a mark of excellence once thought to be untouchable.

28881ce4e59d4828b272e73ff34f5a18-97853ab7c7a4492bab5da78724f98aac-1“This was one of the most bizarre, unique days of my life with everything that happened,” said James, referring to the fact that a fan ran onto the floor, wearing a t-shirt encouraging him to re-sign with Cleveland next year. “It also was one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of. The streak wasn’t on my mind, but us getting blown out was.”

LeBron, of course, scored a triple-double — with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

L169_CIFR8bfd2ef1fe6d2e87beb90f4a0628dc1aMiami’s 27-point comeback was the largest collapse in the Cavaliers’ 43-season history. Miami, down 23 points at intermission, set a franchise record for its largest halftime comeback.

WlQ7t.Em.56How special was Miami’s comeback?

ESPN just informed me that in the long history of the NBA — in games where a team was behind by 23 points or more at halftime — the team that was losing lost the game more than 2,000 times.

And only a dozen of them hung on to win the game.

What a wild, historic night.

Can’t wait for the playoffs!play_r_cap0320b_mb_576

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports

Why My Head is in The NBA…

Bballbannerbanner201obama18-950x594I have to admit that after the exhausting, exhilarating and ultimately victorious contest that was the hotly contested 2012 Presidential Election. I’m taking a breather from politics to immerse myself in the NBA Basketball season.

Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel at thThough I’m paying close attention to the Papal Conclave, the Sequester melodrama, Rand Paul’s drone strike filibuster, the Chuck Hagel affair, Paul Ryan’s continuing budgetary impudence — and everything else that Lawrence O’Donnell is covering on MSNBC — the fact is, I don’t have much disposable time.

Between my day-to-day work in television, writing The New Vic & Paul Show with my hilarious wife, the imminent graduations of my two younger daughters (Eva from Louisville High School in May and Emilia from Northwestern University in June) — and trying to develop some new TV shows to pay for it all, I have scant time for recreation and vicarious emotional release.

That’s where the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers fill the bill.

Let’s be clear. I am not a front-runner. Never have been.

Austin_carr_top_000As a Cleveland native and Cavaliers fan since the days of Austin Carr in the Cleveland Arena during my grade school years, I was nonetheless completely supportive of LeBron James’ move to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat.

After seven years of servitude under an owner who surrounded The King with nothing better than Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, LeBron had a right to pursue a championship in Miami.

So, in the East, I am rooting for LeBron James and The Heat.

In the West, my preferences are just as personal and idiosyncratic.

Michael JordanAfter spending my post-Northwestern University, early adulthood in Chicago in the 1980’s, I was a Michael Jordan and Bulls fan who had just moved to Los Angeles in 1991 — when Air Jordan and the Bulls defeated The “Showtime” Lakers for the first of six NBA titles. If I had any money at all that June, I could have made a mint betting against all the overconfident Lakers fans I watched those NBA finals with.

f256fb37612dd205421094a3ce4251bcDespite living in Los Angeles, I was never really a Lakers fan. I loved former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson – and I hated Bulls owner Reinsdorf and his General Manager, Jerry “players don’t win championships, organizations do” Krause. But while I celebrated The Zen Master’s success with The Lakers, I could never embrace Kobe Bryant, despite his incandescent talent.

elton-brand-02So, like Billy Crystal, I turned my attention to the underdog Los Angeles Clippers. I enjoyed the rise of The Clippers during the Elton Brand/Chris Kaman era – but, in the past two years, my devotion to The Clippers has been repaid with interest.

chris-paul-blake-griffinThis year, The Clippers have been the greatest show in the NBA. “Lob City” has been a nonstop showcase of team play, dazzling, high-flying dunks, aggressive, larcenous defense – and the deepest bench in the NBA. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan – and super subs Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe have raised expectations for what The Clippers can do in the NBA playoffs.

So, whoever gets elected Pope – and whatever those a*#holes in the GOP do to President Barack Obama’s agenda – I’ll be rooting for a Miami Heat versus Los Angeles Clippers NBA Final.deandre-jordan-alleyoop-dunk-over-pistons

After that, I’ll get back to what really matters.

But, boy oh boy – would I love to see LeBron James go one-on-one with Paul Ryan…

2 Comments

Filed under Sports

Survivor: The NBA Playoffs

“Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.”

Starting with its second season in 2001, I’ve been an avid, devoted fan of CBS’ long-running reality competition series, Survivor. There’s nothing on television to match Survivor’s gripping mix of offbeat characters, team drama and cutthroat competition — as 16 castaways on a tropical island contend to outwit, outplay and outlast each other in order to win a million dollars.

Unless it’s the 16 basketball teams filled with millionaires contending for a championship in the NBA Playoffs.

Like the contestants on Survivor, the NBA playoff teams run a prime time gauntlet in which only one contender takes the prize. (Though unlike Survivor, backstabbing teammates is not a good strategy for winning the NBA playoffs.) Yet, the best NBA playoff teams are those that can outwit, outplay and outlast their opponents.

OUTWIT

Strategy is key on Survivor but often overlooked in the NBA – a league filled with spectacular athletes who can do marvelous, almost miraculous things on the basketball court.

In the 7-game series format of the NBA playoffs, brains can often outweigh brawn – and savvy game strategy, mental discipline, and smart decisions on the court take on added value.

Great coaching is key. According to conventional wisdom early this season, the old, fading stars on the San Antonio Spurs had little chance to go deep into the playoffs. But head coach Gregg Popovich is a basketball genius with more playoff experience than any coach who will oppose him.

In the NBA playoffs, where a mental edge matters, Coach Popovich is a difference maker. So is Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers – another guy who’s kept an aging ballclub in contention.

As for players who can outwit opponents, there are point guards like the Spurs’ Tony Parker and the Clippers’ Chris Paul who can dissect a defense on the fly, break it down, and create shots for either themselves or their teammates – all in a series of split-second decisions. LeBron James can do it, too.

It’s called “basketball IQ”, and champions have it.

Then there are those talented players who are undone by their lack of mental discipline. Even a smart guy like Boston’s Rajon Rondo – who has a relatively high basketball IQ – managed to hurt his team by chest-bumping a referee with just 41 seconds remaining in a Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, earning him an automatic ejection – and a suspension for Game 2.

Los Angeles Lakers power forward Meta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) momentarily lost his (volatile) mind in the last game of the regular season and sent Oklahoma City’s James Harden crashing to the floor with a vicious elbow to the head. The league hit World Peace with a 7-game suspension, sending The Lakers into the first round of the playoffs without him.

In another mad mental breakdown, New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire, took out his frustration after the Knicks’ Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat by putting his fist through the glass door of a fire extinguisher case. Stoudemire’s lapse of judgment required 15 stitches in his left hand, and his status for Game 3 – and beyond — is in doubt.

The NBA playoffs are a mental endurance contest, and Rondo, World Peace and Stoudemire are prime examples of what happens when players let their emotions overwhelm their judgment.

Remember when the legendary Dennis Rodman played relentless mental games with less-disciplined players and baited them into foolish fouls?

Rodman won 5 NBA championships by getting into his opponents’ heads.

In another sign of the importance of the mental game, Chris Paul led the Clippers to an historic come-from behind victory after falling behind 27 points late in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Grizzlies in Memphis.

When Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro tried to rest Paul early in the fourth quarter of what appeared to be an inevitable losing cause, his All-Star point guard urged his coach to keep him in the game. “Give us a chance,” he implored De Negro. That attitude proved infectious.

Later in the quarter, with less than nine minutes in the clock and The Clippers trailing by 24, the team huddled – and reserve forward Reggie Evans stepped up to say, “C’mon, man, we’re not quitting.” And, according to Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin,  “That was the attitude we had the rest of the way.” It was an attitude that Chris Paul reminded Griffin about when he stepped to the line to shoot two critical free throws in the closing moments of the game. “Give us these two. Just give us a chance,” Paul told Griffin – and the usually unreliable free throw shooter knocked them both down to cut Memphis’ lead to one before the Clippers closed out the Grizzlies 99-98 to steal home court advantage in the series.

The Clippers kept their wits about them – and the Grizzlies lost theirs. Thus, the Clippers survived.

OUTPLAY

Contestants on Survivor talk a lot about wanting to be respected as players of the game. But to be a great Survivor player, you’ve got to excel at both sides of the game: in the challenges and back art camp. A skilled and athletic player can win rewards and immunity in a challenge – but if they don’t watch their back at camp – where alliances are made and schemes are set in motion — a treacherous blindside might await that player at Tribal Council even if he or she has won immunity.

There have been few challenge players better than big, strong James on Survivor: China in the show’s fifteenth season.  James managed to win one immunity idol and he found another – but he was a lousy strategic player in camp and got blindsided in spectacular fashion: getting voted off the island while holding both immunity idols because, overconfident and out-of-the-loop, he failed to play one at Tribal Council. It was the first (and probably the last) time that happened to anyone on the show.

The best Survivor challenge competitor ever, Ozzy, won five out of six individual immunity challenges on Survivor: Cook Islands. At the final Tribal Council, he was praised for his physical skills, yet criticized for being a loner at camp. So, despite the fact that host Jeff Probst said Ozzy had dominated physically like nobody ever has, he finished in second place. On Survivor: Micronesia, after dominating the challenges again, Ozzy managed to get himself voted out while holding an immunity idol.

In Survivor, champions must excel on both sides of the game.

Likewise, the NBA Playoffs require great play on both ends of the floor: offense and defense.

You don’t make it to the NBA Playoffs if you can’t play. At this level, everyone on the floor is a skilled player. But if you want to win an NBA title you must play at a high level consistently, minute-to-minute, quarter-to-quarter, game-to-game – on both the offensive and defensive end. You’ve got to do the pretty work and the dirty work.

Why are the exceptionally talented Oklahoma City Thunder, blessed with the young and gifted Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, struggling to stay just one lousy basket ahead of the aging Boston Celtics? Because The Thunder doesn’t bring intensity to the defensive end. And on offense, The Thunder is not doing the hard work of getting into the paint, drawing contact, and taking the ball to the rim. Jump shooting is nice. 3-point shots are really cool. But NBA championships are won by hard-nosed play in the lane.

Everyone knows the Miami Heat have great players. In fact, they have three of the league’s best in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. But it’s not Miami’s highlight reel offense that wins games – it’s their suffocating, athletic defense. As amamzing as LeBron James is on the offensive end – he plays even bigger on the defensive end, often taking on the role of stopper against the other team’s best player. That’s not something you’ll see The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony do. And that’s among the reasons you won’t see Carmelo getting a ring anytime soon.

The Lakers’ playoff chances rise when their defense stiffens – and their title hopes soared when their mercurial center Andrew Bynum blocked 10 shots in their Game 1 victory over Denver. Bynum doesn’t always play defense (or offense) with that kind of intensity. He’ll have to play consistently at a high rate on both ends of the floor if the Lakers hope to have a shot at the title – despite how well Kobe Bryant plays. (And you know killer Kobe will bring his A-game each and every night.)

OUTLAST

The third key to Survivor and NBA Playoff victory is not always in the player’s control: just like when this season’s nasty, scheming villain Colton was forced off Survivor island due to appendicitis.

Colton was carried off on a stretcher by the Survivor medical team — still clutching his now-worthless immunity idol.

Sometimes, an NBA player, like Stoudemire, will take himself out of the playoffs with an injury he could have easily avoided. But far more often, fate deals a shockingly cruel blow – as it did to Chicago’s star point guard, Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in the closing moments of the Bull’s Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, ending his season and, perhaps, the Bulls title hopes in 2012.

Later that same day, The Knicks’ valuable rookie guard Iman Shumpert injured his knee during their brutal 33-point Game 1 loss to the Heat, tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus. (Ouch!)

Without Stoudemire and Shumpert (and Jeremy Linn who’s also out with a severe knee injury) it doesn’t look like The Knicks will outlast anyone in these NBA playoffs.

The Clippers resounding comeback victory in Game 1 against The Grizzlies was marred by a late-game injury to their starting forward, Caron Butler. A key piece of the Clipper’s winning puzzle, Butler is set to miss the next four to six weeks with a broken left hand, which he caught in an opposing player’s jersey. It was a freak injury – and a blow to the Clippers’ playoff hopes.

A team has got to stay healthy to outlast the field in the NBA Playoffs.

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

That’s what I love about Survivor – and the NBA Playoffs.

1 Comment

Filed under Sports

10 More Rays of Sunlight

With earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns in Japan, House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP Teahadists threatening to shut down the government, and fabulous Pia Toscano getting voted off “American Idol” — things can seem pretty bleak. But, as I’ve said before, it’s does no good to retreat into the darkness of despair. We must seek the light. No matter how black the landscape appears at night — there are rays of sunshine rising just below the horizon. Here are 10 rays of light that, for me, provide illumination in the current gloom

1.  Boehner Plummets in the Polls

Speaker John Boehner, meet Speaker Newt Gingrich.

It didn’t take very long for John “Crybaby” Boehner to lose favor with the American people. Blubbering Boehner’s approval rating has fallen 18 points since early January. Weepy John celebrated the New Year with a 35% job approval rating. Three months later, his approval rating is falling like bitter tears – down to 25%. And that’s before he blunders into a government shutdown. Americans actually seem to be paying attention to just how bad a job Boehner is doing of governing. Boehner and Gingrich. Together forever.

2. The NBA Playoffs

The real pro basketball season is about to begin: the NBA playoffs. Let’s face it. The regular season is just an 82-game tournament seeding process. Now things get serious. And this could be one of the best NBA playoffs ever. The first four teams in each conference all have a legitimate shot. (Okay, maybe not Dallas.)

The storylines could hardly be more compelling. Will the aging veteran Boston Celtics reach the finals and deny retiring Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson his fourth and final NBA title three-peat? Will LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the star-studded Miami Heat deny the Chicago Bulls and MVP candidate Derrick Rose a return to their first NBA Finals since the Michael Jordan era? And you can’t ignore the consistency and professionalism of the San Antonio Spurs or the explosive youth and athleticism of the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder.

3. Survivor: Redemption Island

I am an unabashed Survivor fan – and this season is shaping up to be one of the best. The Redemption Island twist has added a new and intriguing wrinkle to what is already the best television game show ever produced. Bringing back classic villains Russell Hantz and Boston Rob didn’t work out as well as the producers might have hoped – but, then again, did anyone expect to see bad boy Russell reduced to tears?

Boston Rob & "The Former Federal Agent"

Boston Rob seems to be in charge of the game, but if Bible-toting Matt can return from his second stint on Redemption Island, he may yet be a factor. Meanwhile, Phillip the “former federal agent” just might be the craziest character in the game’s history. Will the girls ever turn on Boston Rob? Damn, I love this show.

I’ll go tally the votes. The tribe has spoken.

4. Baseball Season Begins

All I need to say is this: at this moment in the 2011 Major League Baseball season my Cleveland Indians are in first place in the AL Central.

There’s a whiteboard hanging in Indians manager Manny Acta’s office upon which is written, “The road to success is not a freeway. It’s a tollway and it’s always under construction.” The Indians are a work in progress, indeed. They’ve got a young roster and a parsimonious payroll – but they just swept the wealthy superstars of the Boston Red Sox with bunches of home runs and a suicide squeeze bunt. However, even if the Tribe finishes the season with a stunningly unlikely World Series victory, I’ll never refer to The Jake as “Progressive Field”.

5. NU Dance Marathon Sets Fundraising Record

It’s not just that I’m proud of my daughter Emilia and her fellow NU Dance Marathon emcee Jesse Swedlund for keeping more than 900 student dancers moving for thirty straight hours in early March — although their energy, enthusiasm and good humor were prodigious, indeed. But to top off the whole experience, the 2011 Marathon raised over a million dollars for The Children’s Heart Foundation. ($1,019,130 to be exact.) It was inspiring to go back to campus and see so many great young people having so much fun working up a sweat for a worthy cause.

6. Glenn Beck Leaving FOX

What could be better than the news that Glenn Beck’s god-awful show will be off Fox News Channel later this year? It’s like Christmas in April. It’s like an early birthday present. (April 16th, by the way.) Beck’s ratings have sunk 30% from their peak, and an advertiser boycott also took its toll. Crazy Beck was reduced to hawking gold coins and dubious workout products. Of course, FOX softened the blow, saying they’ll still be in business with Beck, starting with some Beckumentaries — but no longer having to endure a daily dose of Beck’s chalkboard ravings is reason enough to smile.

7. Casey on American Idol

I was shocked when Pia Toscano got voted off, but I’m glad that “Idol” judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler had already used their one and only save to keep Casey Abrams on the show. I dig Casey’s style, his voice, and his groovy bass playing. He’s unique. In fact, Casey’s so cool, I’m amazed he’s still in it. It’s gratifying to know there are so many “American Idol” watchers with good taste. (Even if they did make a mistake booting Pia.) But, seriously, Paul McDonald? Really? That dude’s raspy, one-octave voice is wearing as thin as his smile is wide.

8. Michelle Bachmann for President

The fact that Michele Bachmann, the wacky Tea party darling and GOP Congresswoman from Minnesota, is seriously considering running for the Republication Presidential nomination is a gift that will keep on giving. I can’t wait see her on the GOP primary ballot in Iowa. Man, I hope she wins in Iowa. Then, she can ride her crazy train to New Hampshire. With Michelle ranting and raving on the extreme right wing, just imagine how far toward the fringe Newt and Huckabee and the Donald will have to go. And could there be room on the GOP crazy train for both Bachmann and Palin? How about Palin-Bachmann 2012? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Could anything that fun actually happen? It would be the death of satire, true. But it would also spell doom for the Republican Party.

9. The Vic & Paul Show Goes to Chicago

After a 22-year absence from the Chicago area stage, my wife Victoria and I will perform “The Vic & Paul Show” at The Prop Theatre from June 9-12. It’s going to be great fun doing comedy in Chicago again – and even more fun to be doing it with the brilliant Steve Rashid at the keyboard. If you don’t have your tickets yet – don’t wait too long. It’s a limited engagement (5 shows) and The Prop’s an intimate space (70 seats). For reservations, go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/169351

10. Easter Will Soon Be Here!

For untold centuries, after the darkness and cold of winter, human cultures have celebrated the return of life and light in the spring. That’s why The Easter season is such a profound holiday. It’s a celebration of life’s annual victory over death. Which is why it’s fitting that Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at this time. This is one of those years when “regular” Easter and Greek Easter are on the same day. Since my wife is Greek Orthodox, we always enjoy a big Greek Easter dinner with our close circle of friends. Legs of lamb on the barbecue grill, dyed red eggs, pastitso and baklava. Oh yeah, some Ouzo, too. I’m in heaven just thinking about it. Opa!

4 Comments

Filed under Random Commentary

Lakers goeth before the Cavs…

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

A little over a month ago, the Los Angeles Lakers drubbed my downtrodden, LeBron James-abandoned, hometown Cleveland Cavaliers by 55 points. It was the worst night of a dismal basketball season for a humble NBA franchise that had come close to greatness while witnessing the rise of King James.

In the long months since LeBron left Cleveland, I’ve had to endure a steady stream of Los Angeles sports radio blather about the inevitability of another Lakers championship.

Even when the Lakers lost games they should have won against inferior teams, the rationale was that, come the playoffs, the Lakers will “hit the switch”.

And that could still happen, but…

Cavs head coach (and ex-Laker) Byron Scott must have enjoyed the upset victory over his former team.

Last night, on the glorious evening of February 16, 2011 – the Cleveland Cavaliers rose up on their home court and regained a measure of civic and personal pride by beating the defending NBA champs 104-99. The Cavs’ emotional upset of the Lakers was Los Angeles’ third loss in a row going into the All-Star break.

That’s why so many of us are passionate about sports. It’s partly about the action and the stunning athleticism – but mostly it’s about the drama, the stories – and transcendent moments like what happened to the Goliath Lakers at the hands of the Cavaliers last night.

For one night in Cleveland — in the middle of an otherwise abysmal season — the Cleveland Cavaliers were giant-killers.

Pride goeth before the fall…

And sometimes just before the All-Star break.

2 Comments

Filed under Sports