Your morning roundup for May 24, the day we masturbated in Row 18 on the flight to Denver. Photo of Tottenham's Harry Redknapp's motivational techniques from the Guardian's year in soccer photos. H/t Michael T.
What we watched: Hockey, and basketball too, flipping back and forth. Because that's what you should be doing now, if you're a fan of compelling sports. The semifinals are inherently better than the finals in any non-NFL league: there's a game on every day, and there's enough on the line to make it feel important. And right now, at this moment, we are blessed with four competitive series, each with fascinating teams and players, each in an unlikely yet perfect matchup, with the promise of a great finals in each sport no matter who moves on. Just last night saw a 3-2 series lead for Boston thanks in large part to Tim Thomas's stick, and Dirk dirked Dallas to within a game of a rematch with Miami(real talk) and the ghost of 2006 refs past.
So, you know, we live in 2011. You've got TV and a remote, you've got the internet, with all its attendant video and Twitter chatter, so there's really no reason you can't watch more than one game at a time. So hockey and basketball fans have no reason to get jealous or territorial toward each other, and should really just join together for a nice domestic beer and a hug.
What we're watching: Possibly, a historically lost rookie class. Because of the lockout, the league is canceling the annual Rookie Symposium, best known as a place to totally get stoned with a bunch of other dudes.
Schefter says the symposium "is designed to teach rookies life lessons on dealing with football, finances and their new lifestyle." Without it, we can presume every rookie on down to Mr. Irrelevant will be purchasing Bentleys for family members and hangers-on, catching multiple STDs before the season starts, and possibly holding up convenience stores. Because remember: the only thing standing between a draft class and totally anarchy is a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation.
We're not going to blame this on Durant, are we?: "And after his 3-point bomb ripped through the net, giving his team a 15-point lead with 5:06 left on the game clock, the Oklahoma City Thunder's star looked toward his bench, put both hands in front of his waist and motioned as if he was fitting his hips with a championship belt. Big shot. Big celebration. Big mistake. It was that youthful exuberance that eventually became the Thunder's downfall." [The Oklahoman]
We're not going to blame this on Smith, are we?: "By night's end, Boucher was vindicated even if he wasn't rewarded. The Lightning lost 3-1 to the Bruins in Game 5 Monday night, and it was because Boston goaltender Tim Thomas was significantly better than Smith. Which is not the same thing as saying Smith was the reason the Lightning lost. Smith was more than solid in his first start of the playoffs, it's just that Thomas was incredible. So where does that leave the Lightning today? Boucher wouldn't say, but my guess is back in Dwayne Roloson's hands." [St. Pete Times]
This is a wonderful and wonderfully bat-shit multipart statistical argument for Dennis Rodman as the single-most valuable player in NBA history: "While I may not be ready to conclude that, yes, in fact, Rodman would actually be a more valuable asset to a potential championship contender than Michael freaking Jordan, I don't think the opposite view is any stronger: That is, when you call that position crazy, conjectural, speculative, or naïve—as some of you inevitably will—I am fairly confident that, in light of the evidence, the default position is really no less so." [Skeptical Sports, via WSJ; the full series is outlined here]
Fight the real enemy: "In the New Yorker article, Wilpon seems genuinely pained by what the team has become, and knowing that he is in large part responsible for it. But his regrets are placed solely on signings and in-game failures. What he should also recognize is that the Mets' woes under his stewardship have never been confined to the field. It is dumb stuff like this article, and Walter Reed, and punching grampas, and a million other idiotic distractions that have defined the Mets for the past few seasons, every bit as much as Beltran's called strike three. Another day, another needless crisis for the Mets. This could be 2002, Grant Roberts and his bong hits. This could be 2007, Billy Wagner and his "effin' shocker" sneers. This could be 2004 and Rick Peterson offering to fix Victor Zambrano in 15 minutes. This could be any time. Every day is the same day, it seems, in the world of the Mets, and will probably remain so until the man who loves them so much-to no good effect-is gone." [Amazin' Avenue]
No one does passive-aggressive like the Mets: "Quote of the day — Mike Pelfrey to @DavidWaldstein: ‘Maybe next spring when we have our media workshop, Fred can come and sit in.' [Twitter]
You can't ice the iceman: "Love everything about this. Love that Dirk and Nick Collison are so sweaty that them falling on the ground requires two mop bros to clean up the mess. Love James Harden pointing out various spots that need cleaning in order to give Dirk a little more time to think about the game-tying free throw that he's about to shoot. Love Serge Ibaka, Scott Brooks and an assistant coach getting in on the fun. Love that none of it matters and Dirk sinks the freebie anyway. Nice job, everyone." [TBJ]
Time to get psyched for college hoops: "Kentucky Sports Radio reported yesterday that the folks from UK Media Relations are already out of media credentials for UK vs UNC. This is a matchup that has traditionally happened in December.It's May. That's seven months. The game doesn't even have an official date set for it. The build-up of this thing is already like that which used to come with big-time prize fights in the 70s and 80s. Heck, we're wondering if formal attire should possibly be required for fans in attendance." [Rush The Court"]
PTI invented the internet, or something: "The most 'web' product in the history of sports media came from a TV show that launched even before the initial popularization of blogs: Pardon The Interruption, which launched in 2001 with its implicit refutation of windy sportswriting cliches and its marriage of accessible personalities and a user-friendly format. I cannot think of a sports-media product that is more highly regarded by fans and 'pros' alike. PTI accurately foreshadowed — down to its on-screen graphics — the 'stream' that would become the dominant visual metaphor for both Facebook and Twitter (and thus the dominant visual metaphor for news consumption in the 21st century)." [Nieman Journalism Lab]
Yes, the whole damn ‘sport' is just blind stupid luck: "But even this surprised the real life Happy Gilmore. While golfing for a charity event, Ben crushed not just one hole in one... but two... yes - two. Even more amazing, they were both on the 324-yard par 4, seventh hole, at North Kent Golf Course." [Fox17]
Vuvuzelas will make you sick: "A new study reveals the vuvuzela to be about as effective as a sneeze in transmitting airborne illnesses, the BBC reports. Each spittle-flecked burst of their noise pollution carries with it the possibility of flu or TB. Put thousands of them together in a crowded arena, and you're looking at a virus's idea of heaven." [Gawker]
A brief history of Zubaz: "The men started doing a pretty brisk business selling Zubaz out of their gym solely on word-of-mouth hype. When it came to promotion, Truax and Stock had a pair of aces up their gaudily printed sleeves: wildly popular professional wrestling tag team the Road Warriors were partners in the designers' gym. Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal looked right at home in Zubaz; the flashy pants meshed well with their trademark face paint and spiked shoulder pads. Then, Zubaz caught another break: after a J.C. Penney manager saw a fan sporting a pair of Zubaz at a hockey game, the department store chain began distributing the brand nationwide." [Mental Floss]