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

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

June 20th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

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.

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

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.

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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.

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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.

Actor James Gandolfini attends the 2009 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards in this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/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.)

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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.

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/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.

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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.