Life is based on a few simple rules. Gravity. Supply and demand. White Castle hamburgers are always tasty. George Carlin is always funny. And eventually, youth and passion will always beat out age and experience.
We witnessed the latest example of this last truism over the last few days as the Los Angeles Lakers dismantled the San Antonio Spurs in a surprisingly short five game Western Conference Final. Twice in the series — in game one and in game five — the Spurs built up what should have been insurmountable leads. But their aging players couldn’t play at the same level and intensity they played at in the first half and lost games that should have been nearly impossible to lose.
Now of course the talk starts of what the Spurs will have to do to keep their remarkable streak of winning the NBA Championship every other year — they won in 2003, 2005, and 2007, so I guess it was silly to think they’d win it in 2008 — alive. The most obvious answer is to get younger.
One of the veteran free agents likely to be purged in any youth movement in San Antonio is former Badger standout Michael Finley. Finley — who’s been in the NBA for 13 years already — is still a very productive player: He averaged nearly 27 minutes and over 10 points per game in 2007-2008 in his primary role as Manu Ginobili’s backup. As Ginobili was nursing a sore ankle, Finley played 25 minutes in game five and scored 13 points.
Finley can still definitely play — or should I say “shoot,” as he hasn’t averaged more than two assists per game since 2004-2005 — and it will be interesting to see where he lands should the Spurs not re-sign him. And if he decides to retire, the two-time NBA All-Star will have a lot to reflect on: How he won a championship before former teammates Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, the 2007 playoff game against Denver during which he shot eight of nine from three-point land, and, yes, the groin punch he received from Jason Terry during that same series. Pardon me while I wince and grimace in pain in remembrance of that NBA moment.
Speaking of former Badgers, Jolene Anderson started off strong in her first two games for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, but did not have a good night on Tuesday — 2 of 11 from the floor, including zero for seven from beyond the arc. But hey, she’s still the team’s fifth-leading scorer and has 21 percent of the respondents in an on-line poll asking “Which new Sun player has impressed you most?” And she’s not playing for Lisa Stone anymore, so she has to be happier. And there you have it — with this paragraph, I have officially exceeded the amount of WNBA coverage available anywhere on the Internet. Don’t believe me? Check out ESPN.com, where WNBA is listed lower than mixed martial arts, poker, and lacrosse.
Getting back to the NBA for just a second, I didn’t watch any of the Lakers opening round series with the Nuggets (figured the matchup was a joke, which it was) and not much more of their second round against Utah (other series were more interesting), so the Spurs/Lakers series was the first good look I got. All I can say is, as much as I personally revile the Lakers, as much as I think Kobe Bryant’s a egotistical crybaby adulterer, as much as I think Phil Jackson is just plain goofy, and as much as I would love to see them stink just to bum out Pat Sajak, David E. Kelley, Dyan Cannon, Adam Sandler, Cameron Diaz and the rest of the Hollywood intelligentsia that descend on the Staples Center during the postseason, I have to say that the Lakers look very, very, very impressive. As intriguing as the Boston/Pistons series is, I’m afraid that Los Angeles will wipe the floor with either of them in no more than six games. And yes, I know that either Boston or Detroit will have home court. It won’t matter.
Don’t look now, but the Brewers have survived three straight series without dropping one (two wins, one split). Look at the bright side: Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan were stellar in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s victories. The down side: Five runs in three games. Can’t count on winning too many series with that kind of run production. Despite being the hero of Wednesday’s game, Rickie Weeks is still struggling mightily at the plate. He had three strikeouts on Thursday and is now hitting .204. Bill Hall can complain all he wants, but reducing his role is the right move. Daryl Hall is more effective against right-handed pitching. I like the roster moves. Things aren’t working. The adage isn’t “If it sucks, don’t fix it.” But a sweep this weekend against Houston — and they’re at home, so it’s possible — and the Brewers have new life.
Things that are needed: Instant replay in baseball — Everything but balls and strikes. Rookie salary cap in the NFL. A 17th game in the NFL. A White Castle in Madison.
Things that are not needed: Four NFL preseason games — two’s enough. Horse racing — it’s not dog fighting, but you can’t tell me it’s fun for the horses. Any summer tour headlined by any of these bands: New Kids on the Block, Poison, Stone Temple Pilots, Motley Crue.
Got to go pick up the kids. A lesson to parents out there: Be nice to your kids. Look what Locke and Ben did to their fathers on Lost. (OK, so I’m a little behind on the show. I’m working on it.)