published Thursday, June 20th, 2013

5-at-10: Showtime, slapshots and so long Tony

We're stoked for tonight. Big time.

We're also planning to discuss the big happenings in Game 7 tonight on The Twitter (@jgreesontfp).

Also, we are getting some feedback that the pay wall is being raised for some of you. We'll get some information — like who to call to get your password if you are already a subscriber — and report back.

From the "Talks too much" studios, this one needs no introduction.

Game 7

It's go time. Period.

We'd love to hear your predictions about tonight's happenings.

Either way, this night is about LeBron.

If the Heat win, he delivered. If the Spurs win, he failed.

We predicted he would go for 34-12-10 in Game 6 (he went 32-11-10, which is pretty dang close) in a Heat win. It was fourth-quarter-dominated performance that almost was not enough.

Tonight, we believe LeBron scores more, and if the Heat do not find more ways to post James earlier in the possession, then Doris Burke needs to ask Erik Spoelstra how many gin and tonics he had before tip-off.

All predictions are welcome. We're looking for a dialog because it's been a long time since we've been this excited about an NBA game.

TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer has the Heat winning big here.

We'll share our picks around lunch.

———

Hey, you're hockey

We got sucked into the Stanley Cup game on TV last night. Good times.

The pace was great and the intensity was through the roof. We're pulling for the Bruins because Spy's a big Boston guy and hey, if you can't sport your 5-at-10 clan, who can you support, right? (The Blackhawks won 6-4 in overtime, so if Spy and the rest of the Bruins folks want the 5-at-10 to quit watching because we're a jinx, well we can respect that. A player on a streak has to respect the streak.)

It also dawned on us that the improvements in the TV watching experience in the end could help hockey as much as any sport. We never watched hockey growing up because it was so hard to follow the puck. Now, the clarity and the technology make that a snap.

That said, the two sports that improve the most by actually going remain hockey and NASCAR, and in that order.

———

Tony got got

Rest in peace James Gandolfini, who died Wednesday at the age of 51. Gandolfini played Tony Soprano on the all-time classis HBO series The Sopranos.

Gandolfini's turn as the lead of the Soprano crime family was so pure and true that Tony is a contender on the all-time TV characters Rushmore. He was the face of evil and the guy next door. He was a mafia kingpin who you could see at Little League. He was frightening and fascinating, troubled and troublesome.

  • photo
    Actor James Gandolfini attends the 2009 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards in this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It was one of the rare marriages between roles and actors, that when you see any of Gandolfini's previous roles and work, you think, "I didn't know Tony Soprano was in that movie."

And Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony may be one of the most accomplished and important in TV history.

Think how complete and pitch-perfect and true he was as Tony. And credit the writers for never giving in and letting the pressure confuse the fact that while the public loved Tony, they did not need to like Tony.

Gandolfini deserves a ton of praise for that too, and he paved the way for really bad guys to be the lead of a mega-hit TV series.

You did well James. You left too soon. (And this now forever ends any chance of a Soprano reunion, because without Tony, it's a no go. Even if it's always business and never personal, Sonny.)

———

This and that

— As we discussed a bit on Wednesday, Colton Jumper is not going to Navy. UTC football ace John Frierson tells us more here. UTC could be in the picture — and the Mocs would be getting a very good football player and a good kid; we were impressed by Jumper the two or three times we watched him play last fall. If the Mocs were able to land Jumper and James Stovall in the offseason, well, that would be a home run.

— Catch of the year? You bet. Cristina Torre, the 44-year-old daughter of Joe Torre, caught a 1-year-old baby that fell off a second-floor fire escape Wednesday in New York City. Wow. Group golf clap.

— We loved the way you looked, and we'll miss the way you looked. George Zimmer, the most interesting man in the world of suits, was fired by Men's Warehouse. Yes, he founded the company. Yes, he was the dude on the commercials for a company that was making a profit and listed as one of the 100 best places to work by Forbes. Yes, we believe there is more to the story Paul Harvey.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson, right, celebrates with manager Fredi Gonzalaz after hitting a three-run home in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— The Braves bounced back and beat the Mets 5-3 on Wednesday. And with the plummeting average of Justin Upton — he's down to .239 — and the stagnating average of B.J. Upton — he's at .173 even with two hits Wednesday — the outfield discussion for the Braves needs to happen soon. Throw in Jason Heyward's paltry .214 average and the Braves' starting outfielders are 135-for-642 (.210) with 196 strikeouts. Jordan Schafer is hitting better than .300 and reaching base better than 40 percent of the time and is the best leadoff hitter on the roster and still he sits.

———

Today's question

We're all pretty much in agreement tonight is about LeBron, right?

Well, today's question is a little more of a long-answer than the normal lists or what have you.

Why does the "ring is the thing" criteria change depending on the player?

We acknowledge — and the 5-at-10 agrees — that Jordan is the best player ever, but he didn't win as much as Bill Russell. We acknowledge Barry Sanders as the best of his generation, but he was transcendent talent that languished in team mediocrity. But he also played in the same generation as the game's most statistically accomplished running back who won three titles as the linchpin of a dynasty, yet Emmitt Smith gets no where near the love Sanders does.

Yes, surrounding cast plays a part in that. Sanders was surrounded by sheep in Lions clothing; Smith by a slew of fellow Hall of Famers. (Side note: We acknowledge your cohorts are supremely important, yet James gets slammed for leaving a dead-end situation Cleveland. And in truth as great as Jordan was, if his cast had not gotten better — and the league noticeably worse in the mid-1990s — and he had not won a title or six, he would be the Dan Marino of basketball.)

Why the double standard? Winning is the ultimate goal, but should it be the ultimate gauge of greatness? And yes quarterback is a different beast, but Terry Bradshaw is in talks as the best QB ever, but in truth how many guys in that era would have been a multiple Super Bowl champ with those super-talented Steelers teams? If Bradshaw had been with the Bengals and Kenny Anderson had been in Pittsburgh, are we talking about Anderson in the same context. How about Joe Montana, who landed in the perfect system with arguably the best coach ever?

So we all concur that tonight's LeBron's stage. It's his moment. But Col. Jessup, why the two orders, why the two standards? Do we use them, like most arguing tools, at our discretion? Sure we do, but where's the line? Winning one or three or five?

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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chas9 said...

It's not personal, but there's a cosmic connection between Gandolfini's death and the AMA making clear that obesity is a disease.

Yesterday JMC asked me to come again regarding my reference to Serena's rape remarks. My network was down, so I couldn't. Here it is.

USA Today reports that the designer of skimpy tennis clothes was sad about "what happened in Steubenville." She thinks the convicted rapists deserve sympathy, too:

"Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don't know. I'm not blaming the girl, but if you're a 16-year-old and you're drunk like that, your parents should teach you—don't take drinks from other people. She's 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn't remember? It could have been much worse. She's lucky. Obviously I don't know, maybe she wasn't a virgin, but she shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different."

Ms. Williams should know we don't blame rape victims. How is whether she was a virgin relevant? Or drunk? She's lucky? Serena's a talented athlete, but she has loose lips.

June 20, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
jomo11 said...

If the Mocs get Jumper to go along with other Navy transfers Stovall and Mayes. . . . Moc fans might be a little nervous if you lived on the Tennessee river, could be attacked. . . . . James Gandolfini belongs on Mount Rushmore of leading stars in long time TV series. Right up there with Perry Mason actor Raymond Burr, James Arness of Gunsmoke. . . . And who else, Jay ?

June 20, 2013 at 10:28 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Chas9 —

About Ms. S. Williams. Let's just say that she was not our favorite BoP speaker, and any and all stupid statements that come from her, well, we will not be surprised.

She is a world-class athlete, and loose lips... and less-than-good judgement — ask the tennis back judge. You know the one.

Jomo —

Forget Air Raid (yes, we went there), this will be the River Rats.

Great Rushmore... we're smelling mailbag.

June 20, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
orangeguy said...

Soon as the game ended the other night I figured Game 7 will be all Heat. Granted, I haven't watched a ton of NBA basketball this year, but it just felt like the Spurs emptied the gun. Pop & Duncan won't go down without a fight, but a determined LeBron is darn near unbeatable. Better not turn the ball over multiple times in the 4th tonight tho.

Speaking of crowning the next Jordan, remember when Jason Heyward was the next Junior Griffey? He still has time to realize his enormous potential, but can the Braves afford an OF hitting .210 while raking in nearly $30M this year?

Gotta get Schafer in the lineup somehow.

Tried to watch hockey (again). Can't do it.

June 20, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

I've always been confused by the championship thing, myself. How can anyone say that Dan Marino is not one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, just because he didn't win a Super Bowl? John Elway won Super Bowls his last two years in the league, when his team had become a run first offense. Elway was less responsible for the overall team performance those two years than any other time in his career. Yet, because he won two Super Bowls, we throw him into the conversation of greatest QB ever. Personally, I think Elway and Marino are roughly equal, if not Marino slightly ahead. Yet, because of the two rings, Elway is almost always considered better than Marino.

I've heard more and more people recently saying that Russell is better than Jordan because he won eleven rings. Are people losing their minds here? Is Robert Horry better than Dwayne Wade because he won more championships? It's absurd. It really is.

I'm not happy. This argument really ticks me off. Partly because I feel this need to cheer for the Heat so that Lebron can get another ring so that people will realize that he IS one of the Top Five NBA players of all-time, if not the greatest. He belongs in that discussion, and the people who just dismiss him out of hand because he hasn't won six rings are missing watching and enjoying one of the greatest players they'll ever see because of their obsession. I would be cheering for the Spurs if not for that. Lebron is unpopular because he donated millions of dollars to a charity (all the money from the decision went to a charity) and got people fired up at a pep rally. (What would you have had him say- "I think maybe we could win a championship here if we're really lucky. We didn't get together to win a championship. We did it because it looked like fun and because I always wanted to play basketball with a giraffe, I mean Chris Bosh.") And yet many of the same people have completely forgiven Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Tiger Woods, etc. who were charged with or convicted of far more morally repugnant things. How did everyone get so far off base? Lebron's a truly elite player that we won't see many of ever again- and everyone is so caught up in trying to prove that he's not that they are missing the show.

Rant over. Sorry about that.

June 20, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.
Buschleague said...

5- It's hard to ignore accumulated hardware and multiple titles (2 plus)sets you apart-far apart. Somebody is the champ every year but back to back or another one down the line really makes a difference especially in the bigger team sports. I hope the refs let em play tonight. Parker plays 40 min. Ray Allen scores less than 10, Leonard comes up huge and Spurs win getting one for the thumb.

-Stay thirsty

June 20, 2013 at 11:17 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Chase-

Thanks for the response post. I actually stumpled on said comments later that day via CNN.com. O_o <----My facial reaction after reading said quotes. Seriously Serena?

Everyone else-

Unfortunately, I never watched an episode of the Surpranos during it's height. Mainly due to the fact I don't have HBO (technically I don't even have cable anymore). But as the saying goes I have bigger fish to fry. Case in point:

Tuesday: 8:45 - 5:15 (day job); 7:15-9:00 (open mic at Dallas Comedy House) Wednesday: same time (day job); 7:00-9:30 (voiceover meetup group and network) Today: 12 hour max shift on day job. Tomorrow: 10 hour shift

Reason: Trip home (half of 1st week of July through all of the 2nd week of the month). Family, Friends, Food, and to see Video Games Live with said friends. Chattanooga/Vietnam heat be damned. So making extra $$$$$ for said trip.

Also, got booked (via open mic showcase) at the famed Laughing Skull in Atlanta on July 9th. It's not like the 3+ hour cat-herding fests we have here in Dallas. Over there it is 15 comics max per showcase and they book 3-4 weeks in advance.

In case anyone is wondering, Vaudeville Cafe turned me down, never heard back from Alfonso's place over in the Bee-nard area, and do know about the Tuesday Night Open Mic at JJ's but still need to contact them.

Watching television? What's that?

June 20, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

James Gandolfini was only 51. Wow.

So when the Men's Wearhouse folks called in Mr. Zimmer for a little chat, did they tell him, "You'll be looking for a new job. I guarantee it"?

No, 5, no jinx from last night. I'm just glad you got to enjoy that which makes the Stanley Cup playoffs riveting to watch. Would be nice if it ended before, you know, summer starts (it starts tomorrow. Look it up).

And be glad that Chattavegas is getting a Ruth's Chris. It's pricey, which is like saying Tony Stewart's car accelerates OK, but it are good eating.

Have we discussed Wes Durham leaving The Flats this week for a TV gig? Talk about some shakeups in the Atlanta media scene this week. Mayhem trio kicked to the curb and Wes giving up the Georgia Tech broadcast booth. To quote the Black Keys, Strange times indeed.

June 20, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Orange —

Great call on the price tag of the Braves outfield power outage. Sure one of the Uptons carried them in April, but since it has been a collection of whiff.

And doing the math this a.m., do you know that B.J. Upton is in such a hitting hole that Jason Heyward would have to go something like 0-for-his-next-70 to get down to where B.J. Upton is. OUCH-standing.

Stuck —

That's a great, Great, GREAT rant.

If we were Jim Rome, we'd say, "Rack him." (But if we were Jim Rome, we'd have no friends and try to sew our mouth shut.)

Serious moonlight.

Busch —

Agree that titles can and more than likely should make a difference, but a big part of our question is the selected scale in which they are used.

Take Barry Sanders, who never won a title, but he is loved and adored. And Stuck's point about Elway is 100-percent spot on.

Or take Charles Haley, a great player who won 5 Super Bowl rings, but he's never mentioned as one of the best defenders. But LT is. So is Derrick Thomas.

It's a good debate.

JMC —

If you catch a gig in the Noog, feel free to post it here.

And we religiously watched the Sopranos — but that was B.K. (before kids). Now if an actor is going to be respected for his chops at the 5-at-10 compound, he or she likely will be on the Disney Channel. So it goes.

June 20, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Thirty seconds left in the Super Bowl, Patriots down by 4 and at the 49er 5. Brady scrambles but is pulled down by the facemask short of the goal line. No flag. Betters go nuts, Brady goes nuts, announcers claim it's fine since it's at the end of the game, and the referees shouldn't decide it, the players should decide it.

That wouldn't happen in football, why does it happen in basketball?

June 20, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Here's a hunch that Mr. Men's Warehouse may have used the "You'll like the way I look, I guarantee it" a little too often around the water cooler. Thoughts? Hmmmm... how about a Fresca?

The hockey was fun — and man the Hawks and B's are not congregating afterward for catfish and Co-Colas, huh?

Remember when 51 was old? Man, 51 is much too young.

LB —

We see you point and you bring up an interesting topic.

Facemask is a bad analogy because that is blatant and obvious. Change it to pass interference and then you raise an even better discussion.

Well-played indeed.

June 20, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Ginobli's non-foul when his arm was pulled down, and the non-foul on Bosh's block on three in the corner brought that up, clearly. Related to that I've seen more than one response on how those should be called earlier in the game but not late.

Rushmore, Dr House and Jack Bauer, weren't they on 7 or 8 years, that might qualify for long series these days.

June 20, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Ginobili was mugged. Clearly.

I thought Bosh's play on the 3 was pretty clean, especially for a game that was as physical as that Game 6 was.

And we don't buy into the call-it-early-not-late theory. We support the "Be consistent" theory in hoops and especially in balls and strikes.

June 20, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

Dully noted on the posting.

I guess "upstairs now!" doesn't work with your kids yet huh? My mom was a huge fan of "The Hitchhiker" on HBO when I was a small tike but older then the current age of your son (we're talk 7, 8, 9ish at the time). And I can still remember seeing that thumb on screen right before "Jody! Upstairs Now!" and that was it. Why? disobey = belt (versus mommy advice columnist [Nooga.com] who tells her daughter if she doesn't go to sleep she'll be sold on Craigslist). Different times I guess.

June 20, 2013 at 12:20 p.m.
chas9 said...

JMC--Good to hear from a working man.

Today cbssports.com has a good look at Butch Jones.

And in his way-too-early look at SEC basketball, Gary Parrish's all-conference team includes no-brainers Marshall Henderson and Jordan McRae, joined by three Kentucky players. He says the KY pieces will be WC-S, Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison, but IMHO it could as easily be three others. We'll see.

Parrish thinks Cuonzo's bunch are top -25 caliber. I do, too, but they won't crack the elite eight because their PG is a weak spot. I liked Downtown's piece today on Darius Thompson.

And what about the kidnapper Devonta Pollard? That goes way beyond the usual dumb college athlete shenanigans.

June 20, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
Buschleague said...

lebron is great clearly, gonna have to wait till he's done to rank all-time though. At one time Jordan was just a smaller D. Wilkens then- 6 rings= discussion over.For sure he's immanently more likable than Jordan ever was! Different eras/competition always throw a wrench in these debates.. Much easier to compare Marino to Elway. Same time same league same conference. 5 SBs(TWO Wins!!) vs.1SB-really not even close.

June 20, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I'm sticking with my pick of the Heat in 7, though I am still pulling for the Spurs to upset LeBron and Co.

Agreed with Jay and LB that the hackfest on Ginobili in the final moments of OT was a blatant missed call. And that was huge because it would have sent Manu to the line with the Spurs down 1. Agreed with Jay that Bosh's block on Green at the end was clean. The momentum of the block is what knocked Green to the ground.

I think it's fair to tie winning and stats when determining the greatest ever, but only to a certain point. In basketball, each player plays both sides of the ball, so the ability to affect and determine the outcome of the game is much greater in that sport than it is for any player in football. That said though, in football, it still might be fair to tie winning with stats for just the position of QB. The QB is only an offensive player of course, but he is the undisputed leader of the team, and he touches the ball on every offensive play.

I'm not buying that LBJ left a "dead-end situation" in Cleveland. They had one of the best (if not the best) records in the NBA his last two years there and he simply blew it. Outplayed by the Magic in '09 and then he quit on his team against the Celtics in '10. Enough talent was there, but the will to win was not. The Cavs did everything for him and you can't tell me they weren't willing to make a good team even better had he stayed.

June 20, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Sam Waterson was on Law and Order for more than a decade and a half and it was a show that remained watchable during that time as well. Bonus points.

They need to change the chant to "Up, Up, and a Hey, get yalls heads out of your..."

JMC, what I envision open mic at JJs... "Hey uhhh, dude, whos that onstage. Is he on the list?" "Wow man, we have a list? He seems cool. That's see how this plays out..."

June 20, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

The inconsistency is what I dislike on the three point try. Ray Allen made two four point plays in San Antonio with a lot less contact, and I just can't seem him not trying three foul shots if he had been sent flying on his three try at the end of regulation. And yes that goes back to the same argument on things not being called at the end, which would have been earlier.

June 20, 2013 at 2:35 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Way too much contact. There would have been zero chance for it to go in even had the shot not been blocked.

http://sinbapointforward.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/danny-green-nba-finals-game-6-san-antonio-spurs.jpg?w=600&h=425

June 20, 2013 at 2:40 p.m.
Stewwie said...

LB, the ball would have had little chance of going in because Green had to alter his shot simply due to Bosh closing in on him. If there had been more than 1.9 seconds on the clock, he surely would have pump-faked, then gotten a good look. But both of them knew the shot had to get up quickly, and I thought that Bosh made a good play on the ball. To be fair, I wouldn't expect that play to be called a foul earlier in the game either.

The fouls on Ray Allen were slightly different because the Spurs defenders didn't give him enough room to land cleanly. They were ticky tack calls, but I think they were right.

June 20, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Todd,

Thanks for the heads up. Thankfully as badly as sometimes the open mic at Hyena's here in Big D is parellel with cat herding, the people actually operating it are a little more competent.

I hope to land something in the 'Noog. No promises though.

June 20, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I remember seeing a commercial for Rutgers University featuring James Gandolfini during a football game a few years ago. The marriage between the actor and his portrayal of Tony Soprano was so strong I remember thinking "I'm glad we don't play Rutgers this year." The thought of our starting lineup being decimated by Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts wielding lead pipes and piano wire was a bit troubling.

As for 51 being old...I turned 49 in May, so fifty-one is right around the corner. Age comes at you quick when you stop paying attention to the numbers.

June 20, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.
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