We are going to move quickly today. Buckle up — and remember the mailbag. You know you want to.
From the "Talks too much" studios, our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.
Tip of the 5-at-10 Tam O'Shanter to Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, who is delivering in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. There were extended periods of time that Stephenson was the best player on the floor in Miami's narrow 87-83 win over the Pacers last night, even with future Hall of Famers LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the game.
But when the fourth quarter arrived and everyone pushed their chips in, the Heat had the two best weapons. James and Wade combined to score 20 consecutive points for the Heat in the final period as Miami pulled away and evened the series. The two — who Norris Cole accurately noted "they are the $100 million guys" — went on a 10-0 run to stretch the lead to nine in the fourth quarter.
Two things beyond Stephenson resonated from this win:
First, the Heat's tentative approach to the regular season — making sure they were rested and that Wade, who missed 28 games, was healthy — that mirrored the Spurs' plan looks better by the day. Wade looked like a top-10 player in the league, something that has rarely been the case this year because of his creaky knees and assortment of ailments.
Two, has there been a more unselfish great player than LeBron James? That said, when he decides to go to work on the block, he is virtually unstoppable. Physically he is impossible to check and if you are going to double-team him, he'll find the open teammate. That's enjoyable to watch.
Moving forward in this 1-1 series, you have to feel that Miami's win Tuesday was huge. Now the next two are on South Beach.
NFL gets on moving
Nobody touches Roger Goodell's NFL. Nobody. Just like nobody puts Baby in a corner.
With a potentially serious lawsuit dropping from the sky about the league covering up injuries and forcing players to take pain killers, the league approves moving the PAT back to the 15 for the first two weeks of the preseason, tables postseason expansion and gives the Super Bowl to Minnesota, which means parka companies the world over are gearing up for 2018 to be the official winter wear of Super Bowl LII.
It leaves us with a slew of questions we'd like to discuss:
The lawsuit, brought by several former players including Jim McMahon, Richard Dent and others, claims teams kept injuries from them and made them take pain killers. Some players such as J.D. Hill say they became addicted to pain killers because the NFL forced them on him.
OK, off the top, if these guys have evidence that the NFL or a specific team withheld injury information or falsified it, there is going to be some major checks written by a lot of folks. Aside from that though, this seems somewhat frivolous. The $1 billion-plus debt the NFL will owe about concussions is because the courts ruled the NFL was not forthcoming with the dangers of concussions and the likelihood of players getting them.
Players taking pain meds to play do so 99 percent of the time because
A) They want to play
B) They do not want to let their team down
C) They do not want to lose their job
And the pressures to med up are every bit as internal as they are external.
As for the rest, well, who cares about the PAT, but OK. We're stunned that New Orleans did not get Super Bowl LII. And we are tickled that the NFL tabled the postseason expnasion talk. Oh it's coming for sure, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.
When they do expand the postseason from 12 teams to 14, man that's going to put a huge premium on getting the No. 1 seed in each conference since that will be the only bye.
The next step in the college-athletes union debate has been made.
The North Carolina public works employees union has offered an invite to college athletes in the state.
If this expands, the for sure and overwhelming changes that are on the horizon of college sports become tripled.
Unionizing college athletes becomes a complete and total game-changer that could and potentially would convert the model into nothing more than minor league sports in a lot of areas.
Would kids even have to go to class at that point? And forget the NCAA rules, the coaches and administrators of teams with unionized athletes would have to become familiar with federal and state labor laws.
This and that
— Julio Teheran has legit ace stuff. Dude was aces last night in the Braves 5-0 win. Well-played indeed.
— Congrats to all the local folks who made it to Spring Fling. Good for you.
— Masahiro Tanaka got his first loss in the majors when the Cubs — Yes, those Cubs — beat him and the Yankees 6-1. It was Tanaka's first loss in 42 starts and snapped a 34-0 run here and in Japan. Considering that this was the Yankees, is this the most undercovered cool thing that has ever happened in New York? How have we not heard more about this?
— The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery despite having the ninth-best chance at getting the No. 1 overall pick. This means that maybe God doesn't hate Cleveland and it means Andrew Wiggins will spend the next four-to-five years there before opting out and finding a team that could win a title.
— Did you see that California-based band Spirit is claiming that Led Zepplin ripped off parts of "Stairway to Heaven"? Uh, Spirit, it's not like Stairway was released last week. Where have you guys been? Is this the first time you've turned on a Classic Rock station in the last, oh 40 years? What's next, someone saying Twain copied Huck Finn
— Happy birthday to Notorious B.I.G. (who would have been 42), Bobby Cox (73), Ara Parseghian (91) and Mr. T (62). Asked for a prediction for his birthday celebration, Mr. T scowled into the camera and said, "Paaiinnnnn."
— Did you see the sinkhole at Austin Peay's football stadium? Here's some photos via Yahoo — and side bonus that the Mocs got some photo love on a national website.
This is a cool day in history.
It's the 100th birthday of Greyhound buses.
It's also the 34th birthday of "Empire Strikes Back" which is so cool the 5-at-10 Jr. is now into Legos Star Wars stuff. Crazy.
In honor of Empire Strikes Back, what is our Rushmore of sequels?
We know ESB is there and Godfather II is far left. From there, discuss.
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 ...