It was a wild weekend, so let's get to it. From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, foreground left, redirects the shot of Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, foreground center, as Heat's Dwyane Wade, foreground right, watches during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals basketball series on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Chicago. The Heat won 85-75. (AP Photo/Charlie Arbogast)
Two things have become crystal clear about these NBA Playoffs after this weekend:
First, there is no way to handicap the Western Conference finals; everytime there appears to be a trend -- that trend ends and the exact opposite happens. Dallas dominated Game 1 (and Dirk Nowitzki looked like 1985 Larry Bird, minus the short-shorts and the whispy mustache). The Thunder stole Game 2 in Dallas without using four starters for the majority of the fourth quarter. So returning for Game 3 in Oklahoma City -- one of the NBA's most raucous settings that was hosting its first conference finals game -- what did we expect?
Raise your hand if you thought Shawn Marion would be the difference in a surprising Mavs' win. Yeah, we thought so.
The second thing we now know is if Chris Bosh plays like he did Sunday, go ahead and take your title talents to South beach. Bosh, the renowned No. 3 of Miami's Big 3 (and the small portion of the humorous nickname "Two and a Half Men," which is how some were describing the Miami Trio of LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh), showed out Sunday night with 34 points on 18 field-goal attempts. Nice.
Oh yeah, there's one other thing we know: If you're frustrated and need to vent, cover your mouth or scream into a towel. Joakim Noah's homosexual slur that was caght on TNT last night was very similar to the diatribe that cost Kobe Bryant six figures. For the record, Noah had as many slurs (1) as he did points Sunday night.
Hold on, there's one more: Prepare for the fallout of flopping after OKC super-sub James Harden took a dive that drew a technical on Tyson Chandler on Saturday night. Did Harden take a dive? Sure, but be very careful trying to legislate "flopping" in sports. Granted outlawing the flop would cut about 30 minutes of most soccer games (which is a sure-fire plus), but where would they draw the line? Flopping on charges? Acting like you caught a pass when it may have skipped on the turf? Acting like you tagged a sliding baserunner at second?
Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, right, celebrates with Eric Hinske after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010, in Chicago.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Braves headed home hurting
OK, the 5-at-10 has had a window seat on the Braves bandwagon from the start. Well, there are plenty of good seats still available.
After losing two of three to the mediocre Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County, California in these United States of America on this planet Earth, the Braves are three games over .500 and three-and-a-half games behind the Phillies. Even worse is the news on the injury front.
Philadelphia is expecting all-star second baseman Chase Utley to make his return from the injured list this week.
The Braves are going in the opposite direction. Jason Heyward is on the DL. Tim Hudson, who was shelled Friday night, has a sore back. Lil' Nate McLouth left Sunday's game in the first inning after straining a muscle on a check swing.
The next three weeks could be very telling for this Braves team.
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. waits while his crew makes adjustments to his car during practice for the Daytona 500 auto race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Edwards sprinting to the front
Are we ready for the Carl Edwards era in NASCAR? Well, we better be.
Granted, Jimmie Johnson is the five-time reigning champ and until somebody beats the man, he's the man (Shoutout to Macho Man Savage -- RIP).
But Edwards appears to be the fastest thing this side of Lance Armstrong's spin cycle.
He won the All-Star Shoot-Out Saturday night, and it was not really that close. In fact, Edwards was so dominant that some people think he wrecked his car on the victory lap on purpose so the post-race inspection would not show whatever "edge" Team Edwards was using. Poppycock. Edwards is riding the rocket right now and playing a million-dollar game of "Catch me if you can."
Three quick racing side notes:
-- NASCAR is on the right track when there are talks of conspiracies and rule-breaking. NASCAR, where "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin.'" happens.
-- They had qualifying for the Indy 500 this weekend. Some foreign guy (Alex Tagliani ) is on the pole driving a Honda. Danica will start 26th.
-- Dale Jr. finished the All-Star Shoot-Out 14th. What do we make of Dale Jr.'s career to this point? Is he more a victim of overhyped expectations? Is he only on the track because of his last name? Is he going to become a NASCAR version of George Hamilton and become the modern-day face of being famous for being famous? More on this later this week.
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the US trains on the time trial track in the center of Rotterdam, Netherlands, Friday July 2, 2010. The race starts on Saturday July 3 with an individual time trial over 8,9 kilometers (5.5 miles) in Rotterdam. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)
Liar, liar, Lance on fire
OK, two former teammates and close friends of cycling legend Lance Armstrong told "60 Minutes" that they each saw Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs and/or use blood doping techniques.
There are two striking numbers that stand in complete contrast to each other. Now that former teammate Tyler Hamilton has come forward, there are at least five former cycling stars that have come forward and said they have first-hand knowledge of Armstrong using PEDs. There are hundreds of tests Armstrong has taken and passed in his cycling career.
The 5-at-10 watched the "60 Minutes" report, which Armstrong and his lawyers refused comment to the show and then went on the attack after it aired.
There seems to be no shortage of former cyclists (Why is it not cyclers? And if they're cyclists, does that make the 5-at-10 a "recyclist" when we take our newspapers to the recycling center?) who are willing to step in front of a camera and say the used PEDs and then say Lance used PEDs. Lance has never failed a drug test.
The questions from this are limitless: Do you believe Hamilton and Co.? Do you believe Lance? Do you care? Can you name any cyclers/cyclists other than Lance? Even if he's the biggest fraud in sports, at what point do they just let it go? What should we have for lunch?
We do believe this -- there were so many subtle details in Hamilton's story to "60 Minutes" that either he was telling the truth or he was working off a well-constructed script.
File photo of Ultimate Fighting Championship 40 taking place in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch, File)
This and that
-- Did you see what Ray Lewis said about the NFL work stoppage? Lewis said crime will go up if NFL games are interrupted. Well, Lewis would be one of the sporting world's experts on crime. That is all.
-- Spring Fling is this week, and Holy I-24 to Murfreesboro, there are a bunch of area players and teams headed that way. Follow all the action here.
-- MMA update: It appears that Jon Finch has a burn that only fighting BJ Penn and then some dude named George St. Pierre can cure. Finch may have to wait, though, because GSP may fight Nick Diaz, the 170-pound belt holder that Finch called a paper champion. And gang, the MMA dudes can do all the trash talking they want. In other news, Tom Watson TKO'ed Murilo Rua this weekend and Rua announced his retirement. Man, who knew golfing legend Tom Watson was that big of a tough guy. Huh, it's a different Tom Watson?
-- Shackleford officially ended horse racing as a spectator sport by dashing Animal Kingdom's Triple Crown hopes at the Preakness. Don't you know that the race officials at Belmont are miffed. Any word whether Shackleford was named for former N.C. State basketball star Charles Shackleford?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...