In the very immediate aftermath of Game 5, so we might be a little hot...
In the Moment: Celtics-Lakers Game 5
I liked what I saw from Boston tonight in terms of what I've come to expect - a team that played hard, played together, played well...except for a few defensive lapses that you can argue is really what cost them the game. The first quarter stuff, two games in a row, I don't really understand, and there was another spurt in the second half where the Lakers just scored on possession after possession after possession...but back in Boston, I don't see that happening. The Celtics had their chances, and most of the initial reaction from the expert agrees - that the C's should be disappointed and the Lakers should feel fortunate to have won.
And now, here comes the pain.
First of all - to Nameless Laker #15 sitting on the end of the bench, who's classing up the joint by throwing a towel to his equipment manager/personal lackey/should be ex-Laker employee on the baseline right when Boston players are shooting free throws: try that in Boston on Tuesday and I hope somebody comes out of the crowd and introduces the back of your head to an $8.50 beer bottle. I don't even know if the Celtic players could see that and I don't care. I could see it. And that's the Lakers for you.
Secondly, when the announcers and experts say "a superb defensive play by Kobe Bryant" on the "game deciding steal", what they really mean is "when Kobe reached in and fouled Paul Pierce and never touched the ball".
Thirdly, when Mike Wilbon, who I find myself agreeing with about 80% of the time, starts comparing Kobe Bryant not to Michael Jordan, but to Tiger freaking Woods, and TiVo says verbatum:
"The Celtics oughta be disappointed, they had every opportunity to close out the Lakers tonight, did not do that, and they have to play again without Perkins (good and important point), so what you do is, you give Kobe Bryant another chance. You are a fool if you keep giving Kobe Bryant chances to beat you. Because he will. Cause it's like, you know, how many chances are you gonna give Tiger Woods to make a putt on 18? You keep letting Kobe Bryant chip away at you, he'll do it, and now the Celtics have a little bit more pressure because they're expected to close this thing out at home."
Tiger Woods has 13 majors, all of which he won without Shaquille O'Neal.
So, we're just going with it. Kobe is Jordan. When he wakes up in the morning, he's going to look at himself in the mirror and say "I am Tiger Woods." The Celtics, aside from that lapse in the first quarter tonight and the better parts of Game 3, have played the best individual and team defense on Bryant he's seen, ever. Paul Pierce outplayed him tonight, by far. But none of this is consequential, because the media has already made up their minds.
You know what this is? This is Charles Woodson all over again. And that makes me want to watch all the games on mute from now on. The media has decided, and the facts be damned. Kobe Bryant is Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Barack Obama and the Second Coming all wrapped into one. Remember that the next time he disappears from the action for 2.5 quarters. Again. Don't trust your eyes. Trust ESPN.
When the Celtics win this series in The New Garden, the way it should be - and I defy you to present me a logical reason why they won't based on what you've seen in these first five games - I'm going to enjoy it in ways I can't even fully comprehend right now. I always dreamed of what it would've been like to hate Magic Johnson every time he smiled. But I never dreamed it could be this good to hate the Lakers. On Tuesday, there will be blood.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant hit a 10 foot birdie putt to force a playoff at the US Open
...okay, we have to stop. Because Tiger Woods doesn't deserve it.
Two years ago, while he was on his way to winning the 06 British Open, I wrote how Tiger was on his way to joining the pantheon of the greatest athletes of all time. But the one thing that's largely been missing from his story is drama - usually, he wins and he wins big. There have been a few moments, a few clutch shots on the back nine to separate, that putt at the 2000 PGA in the playoff. But usually, he kills everyone.
What we've seen in the last two days at the US Open - if he ends up winning tomorrow - will do more for Tiger's legacy than just about anything else.
The pain on his face and the shots he made yesterday are documented in video beneath. Today - and I didn't get to see anything except 18 - but he was human, between his knee and the sheer test of a US Open. But with the chips down and a ball in the rough, needing birdie to force a playoff, Tiger Woods spun one to within 10 feet, then did this:
That roar is a Tiger Woods roar. No one else, even in these circumstances, gets that roar. And even if you want to see someone else win...you can't deny Tiger's greatness. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is a valid comparison to Jordan - he was so good, you couldn't help but like him, at least in part.
So he goes to an 18 hole playoff on a bum knee with Rocco Mediate, who gained favor with the crowds as well this week and will attempt to become the oldest man to ever win the US Open at 45. His attitude, I think, will serve him well in the spotlight against Woods, who is still human (we think) and does have the knee and a spray driver so far this week. But since I take Mondays as my sabbath, I couldn't be more thrilled about spending four hours in front of the TV tomorrow (12:00-2:00 on ESPN, 2:00-4:00 on NBC) to watch Tiger be Tiger, and do things that I could only imagine. This is greatness in our time. Tiger Woods is the one athlete that demands your attention in our generation, right here, right now. And this chapter might end up being his best one yet.
A tip of the cap to Jorge Campillo and the Braves in Anaheim
While Chipper Jones is in the midst of an 0 for 11 slump that we're going to blame on that batting practice mishap, the Braves took the first two games in Anaheim, and even though they lost 2-0 tonight, Jorge Campillo went eight very solid innings and gave up only the one homer that ended up deciding it. So there's some hope - Atlanta's goal should now be to get back home above .500, which would mean taking three of four out of tomorrow's makeup with Colorado and a three game set in Texas. Do that, and they'll be okay moving forward.
I'd love to go to bed now, but these 9:00 Finals tipoffs keep me wired until well past 1:00. Thank God for the sabbath.