5 at 10: NBA survival, Remember us when and Preds rewind

5 at 10: NBA survival, Remember us when and Preds rewind

May 9th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talk too much Studios" here we go...

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) and Boston Celtics center Ryan Hollins (50) battle for a loose ball during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series basketball game Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 87-86. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NBA survival

The Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets staved off elimination Tuesday in the NBA playoffs. Couple-three points if you please:

- First, that 'stave' is a good word. Here's a quick list of enjoyable words: Stave, Mustachioed, Rancho Cucamongo, High-Falutin, Gubernatorial and Onomatopoeia.

- As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer discussed this morning http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/09/maybe-hawks-care-after-all-not-dead-yet/, the Hawks' effort was surprisingly inspired. And as Weeds discussed, the halftime commentary of Chuck Barkley was blistering. (It got to the point where Aaron Rodgers sent Chuck a Tweet, and Shaq and Kenny accused him of name-dropping. Shaq then asked Brett Favre to text him, to which Chuck mentioned that the last time Favre did some prominent texting, it did not work out so well. It was enjoyable TV all around.) That said, the Hawks are posers. Period. Al Horford is a good player and could be a piece on a championship team. Same with Josh Smith, if he'd ever realize he's not a perimeter player. Still, if your best player - your $100 million guy - is Joe Johnson can you win a title? And yes, Johnson is a fine talent, but know this: He has played 46 career playoff games and scored more than 30 points twice. Twice. And the Hawks made him their nine-figure bell cow.

- Kobe Bryant is a hoss. Period. Do we want him watching our kids? Heck no. But when Bryant gets his back against the wall and the Lakers need a bucket, dude delivers. And know this: Listening to his interviews and watching his body language, Kobe knows the window is closing. The West is going to be fun to watch with OKC, San Antonio and the Lakers fighting it out.

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Bobby Knight

Remember us when

Has it really been 10 years since Allen Iverson's iconic, "We're talking about practice, PRAC-tice," rant? A decade ago and that clip seems as fresh as last fall.

Wow. Iverson is a former MVP who may have been the quickest cat with the ball in his hands ever. When he wanted to, he could get to the rim no matter who was checking him. That said, A.I. may forever be remembered for that rant - do-rag and all - above all else. Well, that and the fact that he blew through $150 million.

Iverson's anniversary got us thinking about the best interview blow-ups. Here's our top five (granted this does not include any and all Mike Tyson interviews since dude clearly deserves his own category):

1) Bobby Knight's game face routine

2) Mike Gundy's "I'm a MAN. I'm 40!"

3) Iverson's Practice

4) Dennis Green's "They are who we thought they are"

5) Herman Edwards' "You play to win the game"

Discuss.

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Nashville Predators

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Preds rewind

We discussed briefly the end of the Preds' playoff run Tuesday, and we concur with resident NHL expert Deboman that this was an opportunity lost for Nashville. So it goes.

We're willing to shoulder our share of the blame as a jinx - we were justly called out for turning a blind eye to the Preds' playoff success and then jumped on the bandwagon only to have it come screeching to a halt in the Western Conference semifinals. We're also willing to tip a cap to the Preds for making a couple of trading-deadline deals; we always appreciate teams that push their chips in and try to make a serious charge at a championship since you never know when the cosmic tumblers will align and offer another title run.

Mike Smith and Phoenix got hot at the right time, and that happens. But there appears to be a serious cloud of questions over Nashville right now. OK, let's discuss.

Goalie Pekka Rinne, a huge part of the Preds' success and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy given to the league's best goalkeeper, signed a seven-year extension last November. That's a very good thing.

Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Preds' best skaters, are facing free agency. Weber is a restricted free agent; Suter is unrestricted. Retaining that duo is paramount, especially if this group is going to to sustain any of the momentum built this season.

It's also fair to wonder how much coin can the Preds throw at Suter and Weber, considering Rinne's deal averages $7 million per year.

Plus, Nashville was 20th in attendance among the NHL's 30 teams this season. While that's not where the Preds brass wants it, it's still the best attendance rank for the organization in at least seven years. Could be an interesting off-season in Nashville, huh?

Side note: If you draw a line from the top of Tennessee across the U.S. of A., there are nine NHL teams south of that line. Seven of those teams are in the bottom 10 in NHL attendance. Just making a point. And that's not counting the former Atlanta Thrashers-turned-Winnipeg Jets, who ranked 25th in attendance despite selling out every game in a smallish arena.

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This and that

- Claire Lomas finished dead last in the London Marathon, needing 16 days to complete the 26.2 miles. Lomas was in tears when she crossed the finish line Tuesday with an honor guard behind her and dozens of supporters cheering her every step. Lomas was paralyzed in a horse riding accident five years ago and completed the marathon in a bionic suit that helped her walk. Read more here http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/may/08/paralysed-claire-lomas-london-marathon?newsfeed=true. Race organizers said that since Lomas did not finish the race in the day it started, rules dictate she will not appear in the official results or receive the customary medal given to those that complete the race. Mimicking the memorable scene out of "Rudy" when the Notre Dame team offers their jersey so Rudy can dress out in his final game, at least a dozen racers offered to donate their medals so Lomas could have one.

- Ryan Dempster should sue the Cubs for lack of support. Dempster allowed one run in seven innings Tuesday against the Braves and his ERA rose to 1.02. Still he's looking for his first win of the season after Dan Uggla's two-run, two-out single off Kerry Wood delivered a 3-1 win.

- Cris Carter admitted to being part of a pay-for-pain deal during his NFL days. The NFL better get a handle on this quickly. We'll have more this soon.

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Today's question

Josh Hamilton is the best baseball player not named Matt Kemp on the planet.

Hamilton hit four homers in a game Tuesday night and could win a triple crown.

If you were Nolan Ryan, would you pay him the big bucks? Is his talent and production and his checkered history that included drug and alcohol addiction worth the quarter of a billion dollar risk?

Discuss.