Sometimes perspective can be a tough teacher. Take Garth Brooks for example. When Garth landed on country music he changed the game. He took it to new places and caused an entire generation to open their eyes to country music. He also was part of the first wave of the metamorphosis of country music, and he drew a ton of criticism from "old-school" country music fans for it.
But in retrospect, while he may have been among the first Brooks was no where near as offensive as some of these pop singer posers who are lining up outside of Nashville. (And yes, one of our firm rules is a male country music singer should take a baseball player's approach to his job — when it's time to work, he needs to be wearing a hat — ball cap or cowboy. This is non-negotiable.)
So today, because we love a good theme show and the story of last night was the OKC Thunder, we present the Garth Brooks edition of the 5-at-10
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...
San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) go after a loose ball during the second half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Monday, June 4, 2012, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
These NBA playoffs have been the type of back-and-forth excitement normally reserved for the final five minutes of the McGlothlin Group, a spastic parrot or a Forrest Gump pin-pong exhibition. Crazy.
The fever hit new heights Monday night when the too-young, too-small market and too-inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder went into the belly of the beast and slayed the San Antonio Spurs. Not only did OKC steal a win and head home for Game 6 with the chance to clinch its first trip to the finals — remember the Thunder have never lost a home playoff game — they did it in a battle-tested way that says more about their chances to win the whole thing than the 108-103 win itself.
After an inspired fourth-quarter charge gave the Thunder a 101-88 lead and silenced the San Antonio crowd, the Spurs made a run. Hey, it's the NBA and everyone makes a run.
"We never thought we're supposed to wait our turn," OKC star Kevin Durant said. And he's not waiting on much — Durant scored 22 of his 27 points after the half and made nine of his 13 second-hald shots.
While Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook are the Batman and Robin of the NBA's next big thing, reserve guard James Harden may be the best thing in a beard since Zach Galifianakis in the Hangover. In the final three minutes, Harden connected on a four-point play and drilled a 3-pointer that gave the Thunder a five-point lead with 28.8 left. In the 35 minutes Harden played Monday night, the Thunder outscored the Spurs by 24 points.
And with Harden rolling, the Thunder appear to have the hottest "big three" of an NBA's final four dominated by talented trios. Plus, if the Thunder handle the Spurs on Wednesday night, OKC had a better record than either of the East finalists, so the Thunder would have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. Giddy-up.
Friends in low places
Your Atlanta Braves are 29-25. So, at 54 games, we're a third of the way into the baseball season. Crazy, huh?
Here's what we know about a team that is filled with questions and is in fourth place in the NL East despite being four games over .500:
— Closer Craig Kimbrel is the best in the BID-ness. Period;
— As good as this team was in late April, they are fortunate to be only two games back of the the first-place duo of Washington and Miami;
— Chipper Jones is a professional hitter;
— This bunch is pretty clutch. They lead the league in two-out RBIs and are seventh in runs scored despite being 13th in batting average.
As for the rest, well, it's hard to know.
Sure Brandon Beachy has looked like an all-star, but this time last year Jair Jurrjens looked like a Cy Young front-runner, and now Jurrjens couldn't get wrinkles out with an ancient Chinese secret.
The lineup has been ravaged by a river of nagging injuries, including some to the two hitters — Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman — in the heart of the order.
And we all know that Jason Heyward maybe the biggest enigma wrapped in a riddle in baseball since Steve Sax couldn't throw to first base. Physically, Heyward looks like a cross between Claudell Washington and Ken Griffey Jr., but he's hitting like U.L. Washington and Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings.
That said, does anyone else feel like the baseball season is FLY-ing by us?
In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach charged with sexually abusing boys, speaks to the media at the Centre County Courthouse after a bail conditions hearing in Bellefonte, Pa. Alleged victims of Sandusky will not be allowed to avoid disclosure of their names by testifying under pseudonyms, and tweets or other electronic communications by reporters will not be permitted during the trial, the judge ruled Monday, June 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Jury selection in the Jerry Sandusky trial begins today, and while we do not plan on covering this topic daily, we wanted to spend a little time here today.
Everyone knows the back stories and the horror and the pain the the child molestation accusations against Sandusky have brought. And here's hoping justice is served — and if he's guilty that he receives the same pain, anguish and emotional terror he inflicted.
That said, we have a funny feeling that there will be a few more shoes to drop in this real-life "Law&Order" considering this is a U.S. courtroom not an NCAA conference room. So many times in so many lesser scandals, the details the NCAA releases appear fuzzy or soften or down right hidden.
That will not happen here, and would anyone be surprised if there were more details of cover-ups from the previous regimes — including former Penn State legendary coach Joe Paterno?
This and that
— Face to Face: Kurt Busch was suspended by NASCAR for being Kurt Busch. Busch will miss this week's race for making threatening comments to a sports reporter. Know this, though. If Busch opened his pompous yapper in our direction, NASCAR would be the least of his concerns. Dude is 5-11 and talks like he's Kembo Slice in his prime. Puh-lease. Dude needs
— Much too Young (to feel this old): Go Casey Martin. Martin, the 40-year-old Oregon golf coach, qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday. Martin, who if you remember was the former Stanford star who sued the NCAA to use a golf cart since he suffers from a birth defect in his lower right leg that makes it difficult to walk, will use a cart next week at the Olympic Club, just like he did 14 years ago when he finished tied for 23rd in his only major championship appearance.
— More than a Memory: After losing Richard Dawson over the weekend, there were two more deaths to favorites of the show — Kathryn Joosten and Pedro Borbon. Joosten was Mrs. Landingham on "The West Wing" and Borbon was the central figure in the classic "Airplane" quote "Pinch-hitting for Pedro Borbon, Manny Mota...Mota."
— Victim of the Game: The New Jersey Devils have no answer to the L.A. Kings, who won again last night and have a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. Good night.
As we mentioned in the beginning Garth Brooks forever changed country music.
Who would be the all-first-team of the Garth Brooks all-stars. That's right pick five athletes regardless of sports that forever changed their sports — good or bad.
We'll start: Jackie Robinson (for obvious and historical reasons), Lawrence Taylor (for bringing speed to the pass rush, a factor that influences every NFL play now), Jose Canseco (for being on the cutting edge of the steroid revolution that will define baseball stars and stats from about 1990 to today), Muhammad Ali (for bringing the brash to boxing and being the first TV star in sports), Tiger Woods (for bring golf to the masses and showing the benefits of training to the golf world).
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 ...