Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) passes around Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) from Republic of Congo during the first half at Game 4 of the NBA finals basketball series, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Don't forget our mailbag Friday
From the "Talks Too Much" studios, here we go...
Heat on the brink
Much-maligned Miami star LeBron James was not on the floor at the end of the Heat's 104-98 Game 4 win Wednesday. The cramps and pain in his legs had left him barely standing on the Miami bench in the final minute.
What he left on the court in his 44 minutes of play was every bit as noticeable and noteworthy as his absence in the end. James was a rebound shy of a triple-double (26 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists) and was the catalyst of a Miami team that rallied from a 17-point deficit to move within one win of the NBA title. Limping late in the fourth quarter before coming out of the game, James hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play that gave the Heat a 3-1 lead — a lead that has never been overcome in NBA Finals history.
While James was impressive, he was not the most impressive player in a Miami uniform. Our expectations for James — a three-time NBA MVP — are off the charts, but when Mario "Superintendent" Chalmers does an Andrew Toney impression and scores 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, well, that's an eye-opener.
And neither Superintendent Chalmers nor James was the best offensive player on the floor Wednesday. That was Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who simply willed his way to the rim on his way to 43 points. Westbrook, who has entered James territory as a target for criticism, became only the third player in the last 25 years to score 43 or more points and shoot better than 60 percent from the field in a finals game. (Shaq and MJ are the other two.)
And LeBron's leg ailments were not the most painful aspect of Wednesday's Game 4. No that goes to Thunder guard James Harden, the final prong on the OKC trident who has been as dull as your Uncle Ted's story about vacationing in Oak Ridge. Harden was 2-of-10 from the floor and played with such an absence of confidence that Andrew McCartney's movie characters from the '80s were saying, "Wow, he looks pretty tentative."
Grab this stat: In 11 minutes without Harden on the floor, OKC did not commit a turnover and shot 57 percent; in Harden's 37 minutes OKC had 11 turnovers and shot 46 percent. Ouch-Standing.
Harvey Updyke arrives with his wife Elva at the Lee County Justice Center in Auburn, Ala., Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in his trial where Updyke is accused of poisoning Toomer's Corner's historic oak trees on the campus of Auburn University. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Need a law degree to work the Auburn beat
So much for the slow time in Auburn. There are some really good dudes and better professionals working the Auburn football beat. We know, we keep up with the Auburn football beat.
There are two professional truths about covering a college football team. August through the end of November, you're going to be working. A LOT. If things fall right, though, you can get a chance to catch your breath in June and the first part of July.
Well, in Auburn right now, the cast and crew from Court TV could set up a satellite office.
Imagine if you're covering the Tigers. In the course of the last two weeks you have been responsible for reporting on a shooting at a party that killed three people, including two former Auburn football players, the sentencing of Antonio Goodwin, the former AU receiver who was sentenced to 15 years for his role in an armed robbery with three other former AU football players, and the jury selection for Harvey Updyke, the accused tree Alabama fan/nut job who reportedly confessed to the Auburn student newspaper about poisoning the trees at Toomer's Corner. And yes, that may be the single longest sentence we've ever written and when you work from the "Talks Too Much" studio, that's saying something.
Side note: As we discussed late Tuesday with Mr. 962, it's fun to image the Voir Dire process at the Updyke trial in Auburn. Let's set the scene... very few smiling faces and let's pretend the air conditioner has stopped working.
Updyke's attorney: "Juror No. 1, do you know my client?"
Juror 1: "Nope, never seen that tree-killing S-O-B before in my life." (As the entire court room nods and three potential jurors shout "War Eagle.")
Updyke's attorney: "Strike Juror No. 1."
Judge: "This is the 13th jury pool we've tried couselor, how picky are you going to get?"
Jerry Sandusky arrives the courthouse for the second week of his trial at the Centre County Courthouse, in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 18, 2012. The defense is to begin presenting it's case in Sandusky's trial on 52 counts of child sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a period of 15 years on Monday. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
The prosecution has rested and the defense has called a slew of "character" witness to defend alleged child sex predator Jerry Sandusky.
The defense has even hinted that Sandusky may testify, comparing the proceedings to a soap opera like "General Hospital" or "All My Children." (Yes, the defense attorney actually used the "All My Children" reference, which is a world-class poor word choice.)
As for the decision of Sandusky to testify or not, and we know the legal factors in that choice because we have seen more than our fair share of "Law&Order," Sandusky's silence may be louder and more damaging than anything he could possibly say. If we were the prosecution and Sandusky does not testify, we'd center a big part of our closing argument on the following questions: "If you were accused of these evil and devilish acts, and were innocent, wouldn't you be fighting through a brick wall to get to the stand to proclaim your innocence? Wouldn't you be looking for the tallest tree from which to shout you didn't do it?"
That said, the bulk of the defense has been deflecting the evidence rather than refuting it. Character witnesses have said there's no way the Sandusky they knew could have done this. Well, of course not — the Sandusky those folks knew was not molesting pre-teen boys. That's as reliable as the neighbors of serial killers saying, "Well he was always quiet and kept to himself."
The closest thing to denying the charges has been the testimony from his wife Dottie Sandusky, who refuted at least one victim's allegations that he was assaulted in the basement of the Sandusky home while Dottie was upstairs. Dottie, who used to live in Sale Creek, said she remembered several of the victims and that some were "clingy" around Sandusky and one was "charming." Dottie said nearly all would spend the night in the Sandusky home and Jerry Sandusky "would tell them good night."
The defense reportedly scored some points by noting that the investigators had shared details with interviewees about other victims and people who had come forward.
At this point, does anyone outside of the Sandusky inner-circle think this guy didn't do this? Seriously?
This and that
— Saw this morning that the Jacksons are going back on tour without Michael. Uh, OK. There will be at least tens of people excited about this. Who possibly thinks this is a good idea? This is the 1992 Bulls getting together and saying, hey, let's challenge the Heat without Jordan.
— A criminal in North Carolina this week was trying to allude authorities and bit a police dog's ear in an escape attempt. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that would be the famous "Man bites Dog" headline we've heard so much about. Read more here http://www.wbtv.com/story/18824432/police-man-bites-dog-stitches-needed
— Excellent win for your Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. Timmy Hudson delivered and on a comfortable scale from 1-to-10 with 1 being an IRS audit and 10 being your dad's recliner growing up, how comfortable are you with Craig Kimbrel on the mound and a one-run lead? It has to be about 12.5 right now right?
— Les Miles met with a bigwig from Marvel Comics recently and discussed his want (copyright Les Miles) to be included in a comic book. How about a mega-hat-sized, grass-chewing Super Hero who uses crazy schemes and fake field goals to topple his opponents. Uh, Les, you'll forever be a comic book character to us. We need more Les. Period.
— OK, those of you who know the 5-at-10 know we're a pretty luck lot. Well, there's the Mrs. 5-at-10 for starters, and there's also the fact that we have won drawings that have yielded a 1930 Model A Ford and two invites to play Augusta National. Yes, we have a lucky streak. Well, so does Phil Massey apparently. According to prep ace Stephen Hargis' story in today's TFP http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jun/20/canadian-qb-star-enrolling-at-baylor/, Massey, the Baylor School football coach who three years ago welcomed transfer Jacob Huesman (the current UTC quarterback who was an all-state player with the Red Raiders), will welcome in another transfer quarterback. Rising prospect Michael O'Connor, who already has scholarship offers from Michigan State and Mississippi State, is set to enroll next month.
Thursday night the Heat will try to win the title. The championship would mean the world to LeBron James' career and assassinate the 800-pound monkey on his back.
Our question today, who is on the Marino Rushmore of best players of the last 25 years without a title in the big three sports?
We'll take LeBron, Marino, Bonds, Griffey Jr.
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 ...