Kobe, the NBA Finals, and Other Thoughts from Around the Sports World

Steve Auger@@Corner_CubeAnalyst IIJune 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The next cab driver I meet that’s as friendly as the cabbie in the Heineken “let a stranger drive you home” commercial will be the first cab driver I meet that’s friendly.

With Nadal out at the French Open, opportunity didn’t just knock on Roger Federer’s door. It kicked the door down. If Federer can capture the trophy at Roland Garros, he’ll tie Pete Sampras for the all-time lead with 14 Grand Slam titles. And he’d do it by winning his first French crown, the only Grand Slam to elude Sampras. How would that be for irony?

Who do you think has grown more tired of discussing his struggles this season, David Ortiz or Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? Both MLB and NASCAR are one third of the way through their schedules and the season probably can’t end soon enough for both stars.

Speaking of Ortiz, now that he’s a shell of his former self, and old teammate Manny Ramirez is under the employ of the Dodgers, is there a better 3-4 combination in all of baseball than Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez?

If Shaquille O’Neal wants to stay ahead of former teammate (and nemesis) Kobe Bryant in the championship ring count, he needs his former coach (and nemesis) Stan Van Gundy and the rest of the Orlando Magic to continue their playoff run. Does this define the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

With all due respect to Darrell Waltrip’s accomplishments behind the wheel, the phrase “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity” doesn’t belong in the English language. And NASCAR wonders why its ratings are dropping?

Charles Barkley once said he’s not a role model. Maybe The Chuckster and every professional athlete out there don’t want to be role models. But the fact of the matter is, they all are thrust into that position, unfairly or not.

As the face of the NBA for the next decade, would it really have been that hard for LeBron James to slap Dwight Howard on the back and then walk off the court?

Andy Roddick, much like his compatriot Pete Sampras, is destined to always struggle at the French Open. His game just doesn’t translate to the red dirt. But at least Roddick shook hands with Gael Monfils despite the Frenchman’s antics during their match.

Which team receives less credit for being a dynasty, the San Antonio Spurs and their four titles over nine seasons or the Detroit Red Wings and their soon-to-be five titles over 12 seasons?

While no horse can win The Triple Crown this year, jockey Calvin Borel has a chance to saddle up on all three winners when he rides Mine That Bird in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

In a sport that conjures up images of old men at the track pouring over a racing form while puffing away on a fat stogie, Borel provides some unexpected intrigue come post time on Saturday.

With all due respect to Matt Hasselbeck, was he the best NFL quarterback EAS could get to peddle their Myoplex protein drink? Matt Hasselbeck? Seriously?

Here’s Rutgers’ non-conference schedule for the upcoming football season: at home versus Howard, Florida International, and Texas Southern. On the road against Maryland and Army. That’s embarrassing. Did their athletic department sign an endorsement deal with Hostess? Sounds like Greg Schiano is worried about bowl eligibility.

In 49 games with the Red Sox last season, Jason Bay hit nine home runs, had 37 RBIs, batted .293, and had an OPS of .897. Through 50 games this season, Bay has blasted 15 home runs, knocked in 49, is hitting .288, and has an OPS of 1.042.

Throw in great defense, no mysterious injuries, and the lack of locker room issues, and Bay has fit in quite well in Boston. Red Sox fans, repeat after me: Manny who?

As I type this, a Brett Favre Wrangler Jeans commercial is airing. He just won’t go away.

The Boston Herald is reporting that Patriots’ safety Rodney Harrison will announce his retirement on Wednesday and join NBC’s broadcast team for the upcoming season. Harrison was suspended in 2007 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy for using Human Growth Hormone, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Given the outrage in baseball over PED usage, one has to wonder if Harrison would be welcomed into the announcers’ booth so quickly if he was putting away his bats and glove?

Hopefully the Astana team will straighten out their finances in time for Lance Armstrong to ride in the 2009 Tour de France. Was there anything more fun in the month of July for seven straight years than seeing the French squirm as Armstrong dominated their bike race? Come on, Lance. You look so good in yellow. Be the Ugly American one more time!

Attention Buckeyes, attention. If you want to stop the big-game bashing, then man up and beat USC on Sept. 12. The Trojans are breaking in a new QB and have a totally revamped defense. Plus, you’ve got them at the Horse Shoe. Same goes for you, Notre Dame.


NBA Finals predictions:

·         Kobe Bryant has at least one game in which he takes more free throws than the entire Orlando team.

·         Jack Nicholson will make a court side spectacle of himself because, well, that’s what he does.

·         Dwight Howard will pick up two cheap fouls in the first quarter of Game One in order to set the tone.

·         If there’s a Game Seven, Bennett Salvatore will be part of the officiating crew. Right, Commissioner Stern?

·         Kobe will be at his absolute best when it comes to complaining to the refs.

·         LA will win in six.

·         The Lakers will vote the Memphis Grizzlies’ front office a ring and a full playoff share for gift wrapping Pau Gasol last season.

·         The day after the championship parade, Kobe will announce he’s changing his jersey number (again), refuse to sign any No. 24 jerseys for fans, and swear it’s not about the money.