by Tom Weppel
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
We’ve gotten down to the Conference Finals in the NBA, with the winners of these two series going straight to ‘THE’ Finals. With that said, there is no doubt in my mind that the NBA wants to have the Lakers and the Cavaliers playing in the end.
That would bring the two stars of the NBA, Kobe and Lebron, right into the spotlight, offering tremendous exposure and guaranteed fabulous TV ratings. And, as I’m sure you all know, that is EXACTLY what the NBA and the networks have wanted to see, from the very start of the season last October.
If the opposite were to occur, with the Magic and the Nuggets getting in, then you might as well have the games played out on your local neighborhood playground. Not too many fans would care. I hate to say that, with no disrespect at all to those two teams. But it’s the simple truth.
However, I think the two series that are being played right now will be quite competitive. The Denver Nuggets are featured with forward Carmelo Anthony and guard Chauncey Billups. Those two guys are the keys to the Nuggets success. Also, look for power forward Kenyon Martin to get physical down low.
Will they have enough to compete with L.A.? During the regular season, the Nuggets only won one game (and lost three) against the Lakers. If Los Angeles can find good play out of their entire roster, and not just Kobe here and Pau Gasol there, then look for L.A. to move on.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have essentially been on vacation the last week and a half. Having swept their first two playoff series, they have had the luxury of resting their bodies for a while, waiting for opponents to battle it out.
And it took the Magic seven games to beat out a competitive Celtic squad, but they did. And now, Orlando needs to have Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and especially C Dwight Howard, all come through.
Obviously, they must also shut down Lebron James, who has emerged as essentially the best player in the League, at the age of 23. James can simply dominate games when he needs to and wants to. And now, with the Cavaliers showing us some decent talent on their roster, including G Mo Williams, it looks like they will be very tough to beat. So, look for the Cavs to come through and win the series.
That, in turn, will give us all what we will enjoy seeing…Kobe versus Lobron for the Championship!
Not too long ago, the Indianapolis 500 was THE race in America! It was head and shoulders above anything NASCAR did, including Daytona. The race was so traditional and respected, it seemed all sports fans simply built their Memorial Day weekend around watching the race.
And then, we saw a couple of idiots try to do too much, with an attempt to take over the sport and the event itself, including the owners of the Indy track. That led to total division within the sport, and, with the emergence of NASCAR, open-wheel racing simply went right down the toilet.
While the Indy 500 is still held at this time of year, millions of Americans who used to love watching it now could simply care less. There are no more ‘names’ driving, like we used to see, with AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti. No one even knows about the drivers, or any of the other races that are held for this series. Couple that with NASCAR having their own race, in Charlotte, on the same day, and I think its fair to say that the Indy 500 is not even close to what t used to be, and I doubt it will ever get close in popularity to what it once was.
NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
The winners of the two series being played right now will face each other for the Stanley Cup Final in the NHL. We see the Penguins and the Red Wings, who both played in the Finals last year, still going after it. Pittsburgh is being challenged by the pesky Carolina Hurricanes, while Detroit is facing their traditional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks.
This is the time of year where playoff experience can really make a huge difference. That, and damn good Goalie play, are the two main factors in determining who will come out of these two match ups. And that is why Detroit and Pittsburgh have the edge, especially from what we’ve seen so far in their play. While Chicago has good talent and some solid lines, I think you will see the Red Wings come out on top and move on. On the other side, I think Carolina has some great veterans on their roster. However, I don’t know how much gas is left in their tank. That’s why I see the Pens coming through.
And that would give us a great rematch from last year.
by Tom Weppel