Some sporting notes.
I rarely watch golf anymore. Mostly because I haven’t swung a club in over eight years.1 And when Tiger flamed out I suddenly had no real rooting interest. The wave of new, young players all seemed like only slightly different versions of the same guy. Which, to be fair, is always kind of the case in golf.
But I did watch healthy doses of Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open. I always like it when professional golfers are bitching about the conditions at the Open, for starters. And the late start meant I could watch into the evening.
I was able to watch the last half-hour or so uninterrupted. Which was a solid 30 minutes of televised sports drama. Jordan Spieth has the tournament won, leading by three strokes with two to play. Then, suddenly, he’s tied with Dustin Johnson as he walks to the 18th tee. Then he calmly birdies and heads to the clubhouse to watch Johnson hit a massive drive and perfect approach to give himself an excellent shot to win, and a nearly 100% chance of forcing a playoff. So of course he three-putts to hand the Open to Spieth.
Wacky, wild stuff.
Like I said, I don’t know much about these guys. I know Spieth won the Masters but gets very little credit from other golfers because his game lacks any “Wow” factor. I know Johnson is engaged to Paulina Gretzky, has tons of talent, but may have some self control issues. But if those two, and Rory McIlroy, who I know plenty about, are always in contention in majors, I just might start watching golf a little more.
First off, a pretty entertaining Finals series this year. I love the way both teams made the most of their talent and relied on ball-movement, motion away from the ball, and outside shooting to win. And I really like how NBA referees call the game compared to college refs. There wasn’t a whistle every single possession and replay reviews were much brisker than in college.
I was pulling for the Warriors, because how can you not like Steph Curry and the rest of the Splash Brothers,2 but would have been fine with Cleveland winning, too.
Which brings us to the biggest issues following the series: the criticism of LeBron.
Man, people be crazy.
How can you criticize a guy who lost his two best teammates during the playoffs and still willed his team to a 2-1 lead in the Finals? A guy who was a triple-double machine in every game, often before the third quarter had ended. How is he supposed to do more than he did? Yeah, he wilted in the fourth quarter of game six. But it’s shocking he didn’t fall apart sooner given all he was asked to do. Replace him with a second-tier NBA star, and the Cavs were a lottery team after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving went down.
But because LeBron isn’t the ruthless competitor that Jordan and Kobe were, because he seems to actually treat his teammates with respect and give them the chance to succeed, because he still has moments of humility. Because of all of that, and our Hot Takes media environment, he gets blasted for being 2-4 in his Finals career.
Oh, and it was very amusing to listen to the ABC broadcasting team tiptoe around the difference in the Warriors this year. Sure, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green developed into key contributors. Steph was the MVP. And Klay Thompson rivaled Russell Westbrook for the league’s best sidekick.
But the real difference was the coach. Firing Mark Jackson, who returned to ABC, and replacing him with Steve Kerr was the biggest factor in Golden State’s improvement. I loved the way Kerr ran his team, made adjustments both within and between games. And I loved how he gave credit to his coaching staff for coming up with ideas for how to change their attack. As a broadcaster, you could always tell he had a great understanding of the game. It’s been cool to see that he can turn that knowledge into great coaching.
It’s a shame that Jackson’s presence on the ABC team kept them from acknowledging Kerr’s effect on the Warriors.
Women’s World Cup
L. and I stayed up to watch the sloppy 2-1 U.S. win over Colombia last night. That was hardly an inspiring effort. Although L. thought the whole thing was pretty cool. She put on her Stars and Stripes hat from her school program and found a red pompom she waved around. She also told me she was going to play in the tournament one day. Although that was only after she said she wanted to play in the MLS. I told her that was only for boys, which was stupid. Since professional women’s soccer can’t seem to survive in the U.S., why shouldn’t she dream of playing in the MLS?