Starting with one of the most fun to watch first rounds I have ever seen (save for the Rockets’ heartbreaker), this year’s NBA playoffs have been quite intriguing.
The Western Conference, loaded with star power, has provided great basketball, while, on the other end of the spectrum, the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed Indiana Pacers have been a schizophrenic train wreck the likes I have never seen in a top-seeded team.
About midway through the first round, unfortunately, the great story of the playoff’s games and players took a back seat when the owner of one of the postseason teams, the Clippers’ Donald Sterling, was caught on tape spewing now well-publicized ignorant comments.
After a lame attempt at a protest by the Clippers players (turning your practice jerseys inside-out, really?), the NBA took decisive action and banned Sterling from the league for life. It didn’t end there, though.
National media outlets went on to grant Sterling follow-up interviews where the 80-year-old unsurprisingly continued to make additional ignorant statements, which were then analyzed and reanalyzed by sports talking heads to the point where it was barely noticeable that the playoffs were still ongoing.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Clippers from the playoffs in the conference semifinals, there were probably many who felt relief, believing focus would finally shift back to the games, teams and players in the conference finals.
Well, then Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban opened his word-hole to discuss the topic of prejudice, and gone was discussion of the dominant play of the San Antonio Spurs, what the Thunder could possibly do to compete against the Spurs, or what twist or turn the topsy-turvy Heat-Pacers series would take next.
While Cuban’s overall point was hardly debatable, that many people harbor prejudices in one way or another, the “Shark Tank” judge made a very poor choice in words in making his point by evoking a “hoodie” reference that stirred up the high levels of emotions that fueled last year’s Trayvon Martin murder trial.
With no actual playoff games on the schedule Thursday and Friday, this topic ballooned into a full-blown freakout.
In some cases on ESPN, entire hourlong shows were dedicated to Cuban fallout.
Maybe there are just too many days between playoff games.
After a Spurs’ blowout of the Thunder on Wednesday, the playoffs didn’t resume until Saturday with Game 3 of the Heat-Pacers series.
That much down time may be good for the NBA in extending its postseason as long as possible, but it leads to the consequences of overblown coverage.
Time to move on
Speaking of full-on freakouts, minds were blown Thursday when the U.S. World Cup roster was released and American soccer legend Landon Donovan was not on it.
There was some outrage in the sports world, which was kind of surprising to this observer.
Donovan, the U.S. team’s all-time leader in goals, is 32 now (old in soccer).
Donovan’s play of late has done nothing to disprove his best years are behind him, going without a goal since October.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was still forced to hold a press conference Friday explaining the move, and put it in pretty simple terms, saying Donovan was just not in top form during recent qualifying workouts.
Any roster for the U.S. has its hands full just to get out of the World Cup’s “group of death” which includes powerhouses Germany and Portugal, as well as underrated Ghana.
But good for the coach for not making a decision just based on a player’s name value alone.
There’s nothing much more to it than that.
James LaCombe is the Sports Editor of The Daily News. Contact him at 409-683-5242 or email@example.com.