SPORTS w/The Jock 5-27-11

by Tom Weppel
Looks like we’re getting closer and closer to a Heat/Mavericks NBA Finals. For Miami, it has been their one and only goal, since they acquired Lebron James and Chris Bosh last summer. For the Mavericks, it gives their veterans one more chance to capture a championship.
These two franchises played each other in the NBA Finals a few years ago, with Miami taking the series. Of course, now the players are completely different, so you can’t necessarily look back on the past to predict the future.
What I find interesting is in trying to figure out how basketball fans are taking Lebron James now. It seems there are some that still have a liking for him, simply because they have always gotten into his abilities and style of play. Its obvious he has his cache’ of followers, especially with TV ratings playing well for the Heat/Bulls series.
Then there are others who simply cannot accept his personality and quirkiness, feeling his ego simply has not taken its proper step back, while not consistently producing on the basketball court.
The confluence is one of intense conflict. Whatever the case, the bottom line is James has certainly had a lot to do with the Miami Heat getting to the point where they currently stand. For Lebron to gain total respect, he most likely needs to win a title, which is very possible. We shall see…
In the meantime, other ‘players’ involved in the Heat have taken slight roles. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has been a total anomaly all season. He rarely is seen in the spotlight whatsoever. As a result, he doesn’t pull much attention, and is not given much credit for the Heat success this year. Even Chris Bosh has been looked at as the ‘third wheel’, for all intents, showing occasional numbers that have impressed fans. Otherwise, he has simply been a solid big guy who has done a decent job.
The bottom line here is that the Heat season has been all about Lebron and Dwyane Wade, with everyone else simply being a ‘guy’ that is along for the ride. Whether that is fair, or correct, can still be debated…we shall see how Miami finishes off their season.
Going to the finals, they’ll take on a Dallas Mavericks club that is loaded with veterans wanting to win a title. Nowitski has been stalwart in his play this postseason, putting great numbers on the stat sheet. G Jason Kidd has done a good lob running things on the court, doing what needs to be done at the time, whether its passing, defending, or scoring. F Shawn Marion has played well, also, playing good ball when asked. Guards Jason Terry and JJ Barea have provided energy and scoring off the bench, as have C’s Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler. Even Peja Stojakovich has come in to contribute.
So, overall, this Dallas team has a lot of talent and depth. It’ll be interesting to see how they work in the Finals…

Every year, the Memorial Day weekend gives us the Indianapolis 500 racing. It has been a tradition now for about a century, with Sunday’s race being the 100th edition for us to enjoy.
Of course, the cars are much different than the stock cars most NASCAR fans are used to seeing. A lot of the drivers are different also, with quite a few of them coming from international origin to perform their stunts of driving.
There is no question INDY car racing is not as popular as the NASCAR circuit has been over the past few decades. Racing fans are much more attuned to the NASCAR drivers, the weekly races, and the ins and outs of what goes on within that sport.
For the INDY circuit, people can only get a feel for the names and car sponsors right before the race itself begins, as they do during the parade laps on the Indy track on Sunday. In some ways, it is quite unfortunate, but more simply a matter of choice in popularity as to which races to follow.
If there is one driver the general public keeps an eye on within the INDY circuit, it might be Danica Patrick, the female driver. That, despite the fact she hasn’t really had tremendous success. It is more a matter of her being a female driver in what is known as mainly a man’s sport.
She will once again be driving this weekend at Indianapolis, in Row 9. We shall see if she can make some noise during the race so that fans can cheer her on. The more interesting aspect for this year? The fact there will be FOUR female drivers on Sunday, including Patrick, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, and Ana Beatriz. There will also be two Andretti brothers, including John and Marco.
and so we shall see how this historic Indy 500 turns out. Hopefully it might ignite interest and excitement, and not simply because of some horrific wreck.