SPORTS w/The Jock – June 3

by Tom Weppel
There’s something to keep in mind while watching this Finals series between the Lakers and Celtics.
Everyone has commented on the history these two teams have gathered in their various histories. And there’s no question these franchises are easily among the top few in the NBA. The Boston Celtics have 17 titles to their credit, while the Lakers carry 14 championships.
The Lakers and Celtics have played each other 11 times in the NBA Finals, most recently in 2008, when Boston beat L.A. In fact, the Celtics have dominated the Lakers in the Finals, winning NINE times! The only two Finals series in which the Lakers won was in 1985 and 1987, during the Magic Johnson years.
Now, that would seem odd, don’t you think? With all the past success Los Angeles has had, you would think they would’ve beaten the Celts more than twice! Obviously, though, its easy to say that Boston has had their number from the late ‘50’s on. Five of those nine Boston wins over L.A. were in the ‘60’s, in the years when Bill Russell, Sam and K.C. Jones, and others were part of their dynasty.
And so you can look at this series and pull for Los Angeles, realizing it will only be the third time they have beaten Boston in the NBA Finals!
It will be fun to take this all in, although my good friend Greg Larson predicts a Lakers sweep! My feeling is it will go longer, simply because the 2-3-2 swing of home games will allow Boston to win at least two games at home!
After its all over, there will be a lot of talk as to what the Celtics will do with their aging roster. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rasheed Wallace are all older than 34! Last time I checked, we all gotta pack it in sometime. That’s why Boston is looking at this series as a last-ditch effort, so to speak.
On the other side, opinion continues to flow as to what Phil Jackson will do in possibly retiring, or coming back to coach at least one more season. Everybody thinks his relationship with Lakers President Jeannie Buss will be an influence. Well, how could it not!
This Finals series should be a good one. We’ll see what happens…
We’re now into the third month of the season, and its becoming quite clear at least to see who has a contending team, who has a mediocre team, and who sucks!
In the American League, the East easily has some strong squads! What’s crazy about the Tampa Bay Rays STILL having the best record in baseball is that the sports fans in Tampa Bay are only giving slight applause and barely caring! If you think I’m joking, then consider the Rays’ average home attendance of 22,915 is BELOW the AL average! Obviously, baseball interest in Tampa is not as hot as the weather…
The Yankees and Red Sox are also playing good ball, as they both continue their push towards once again making the playoffs. New York is winning despite the rash of injuries they have had to deal with, while Boston has come out with good pitching by their starting staff, and also a huge May for DH David Ortiz, whom so many had been trashing!
The only other team really making an impression otherwise in the AL is the Minnesota Twins, who are playing well overall, especially in their new home, where they are 18-9!
In the National League, the Phillies were doing quite well up until the last week or so, when they simply stopped hitting and scoring runs! Philly went an entire WEEK without hitting a HR, and they were scoring only one or two runs a ballgame. They got swept in Atlanta by the Braves, who are conversely on a nice tear, having won seven straight as they head out to the West Coast. In the NL East, Atlanta literally went from worst to first in about two weeks!
But the team with the best record in the National League as we speak is still the San Diego Padres, and its because of the dominant performance of their starting rotation staff of virtual no-names! Of course, playing their games late night on the West Coast means they don’t receive the TV highlight shots every night, and that has an effect on who knows what they’re doing! We’ll see how the Padres perform, as they start a road swing on the East Coast…