It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We’ve got college hoops and college football, Tiger Woods and Pop Warner, Tom Brady and the CWS. But first, Game 2…
Most of my lifetime, the NBA Finals has exposed the league’s deficiencies more than highlighted its strengths.
Even when a Finals series was close, it was ugly. (Remember the seven-game slog between San Antonio and Detroit?)
Those days are over. Thursday night, toward the end of another incredible game, I sent a friend a text message:
“What a series”
His response: We haven’t even left Oklahoma City yet.
I’m not an NBA apologist. When the product stinks, I admit it. And over the years, I have. But right now, the action is better than anything in at least 20 years.
The skill. The athleticism. The intensity. The desperate comebacks. (Games 1 and 2 felt like a 100-yard dash where Big Brother spots Little Brother a 20-yard head start.)
At the simplest level, this series is about two stars going back-and-forth for the title of “Greatest Player on Earth.”
Yes, LeBron James fouled Kevin Durant on the last shot. Had the officials been in better position, it would’ve been called and Game 2 might have been remembered as the Heat’s ultimate demise. But it didn’t.
The biggest momentum games in a close series are generally Games 2 and 4. That’s when you have critical swings: 2-0 versus 1-1; 3-1 versus 2-2. The Thunder could have slammed the door on Miami last night. Instead, it’s a new series.
And potentially, the signature series of the post-Jordan era.
>> The winner of Saturday’s nightcap between Florida and South Carolina will win the 2012 College World Series. That’s my prediction. Florida State advances from the other side of the bracket.
>> Keep an eye on run production at TD Ameritrade Park. Last year’s CWS was downright boring until the second weekend. Teams could not score. I have a feeling you’ll see similar numbers in 2012 — you may not see a ball hit over the centerfield wall all series. Sooner or later, the NCAA/Creighton needs to consider bringing in the fences.
>> A huge change in college basketball recruiting rules starts today. Coaches can make unlimited calls or texts to prospects who have completed their sophomore years — Akoy Agau’s phone beeped 128 times at midnight. Bob Huggins compared it to ending Prohibition. While most coaches approve of the change (they don’t have to monitor texts anymore) Greg McDermott isn’t so sure: “I think I’m probably still on the fence. It can be a disruptive process if you allow it to become that.
>> The only man in front of Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open is playing in his third major championship. Why do I get the feeling Sunday is gonna be a Tiger victory lap? One thing is clear at Olympic. If you’re wild (I’m looking at you, Phil and Bubba), you won’t break 73.
>> We talk college football playoffs A LOT in the Chatter, so I’ll be brief with the latest updates from Wednesday’s BCS meetings. Dennis Dodd expresses concern that commissioners will be able to get a deal for a true four-team playoff. Andy Staples says they have no choice. Jon Wilner says the people to watch are Pac-12 and Big Ten commissioners.
>> Pop Warner football is changing its rules to improve player safety. This will affect thousands of kids across the country, including in Omaha.
>> The No. 1 football recruit in America chooses…Clemson? That news alone may provoke the SEC to annex Clemson.
>> Haven’t heard the name Logan Thomas? You will. How the Virginia Tech quarterback transformed from a tight end to one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
>> Why are Tom Brady and Carson Palmer working with a former MLB pitcher?
>> Count me among those who say David Stern crossed a line with Jim Rome on Wednesday. One of Stern’s biggest critics says the NBA commish continues to damage his reputation.
>> Don’t blame Oklahoma City for providing a landing spot for the broken Sonics, says Bill Simmons.
>> I said Wednesday that Miami had no chance if Russell Westbrook outplayed Dwyane Wade. Wade did his part in Game 2. And Shane Battier improbably canceled out James Harden. I’m rooting hard for the Thunder, but I predicted the Heat in 6. Probability suggests they’ll return to OKC with a 3-2 lead. Can they win again on the road?
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.