5-at-10: NBA's pickle, Braves clarity, breathing right and dynasty Rushmore

5-at-10: NBA's pickle, Braves clarity, breathing right and dynasty Rushmore

May 20th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, have you sent your mailbag question? Time is running out.

From the "Talks too much" studios, Serge is a cool name.


The NBA finds itself in a bit of a mess. Follow along.

First, tonight we have the NBA draft lottery, a celebration and reunion of former stars celebrating the tanking and losing that teams wisely order to get as good a draft pick as possible in hopes of landing a difference maker. War Tanking.

United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to watch a women's beach volleyball match between USA and Austria.

United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Second, the NBA has potential for a non-major market dream matchup in the Finals. League MVP Kevin Durant and the young and fun and talented Thunder against the league's best player LeBron James and the Heat's bid to become just the fourth franchise to three-peat would be an ideal championship series, especially considering the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics will each be at the loser's celebration tonight rather than the postseason.

That said, the first games of the conference finals portend a different version to that happy ending. As much respect as we have for the Spurs - arguably the biggest dynasty of the 2000s in all of team sports - a San Antonio-Indiana title series will send the masses to the remote.

Finally and most importantly, we know that Donald Sterling is a fool. And a racist. And a billionaire. The NBA has vowed to its customers and its employees to terminate its relationship with Sterling. Sterling has vowed to fight it to the end of the legal food chain.

The league has started the process, sending the first shot at Sterling with a statement that ""All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA constitution and related agreements." Once that's translated from the legalese, it means, we're trying to pluck your ingrown toenail-ness from the foot that is the league.

The hearing is June 3 and Sterling asked for a three-month extension, which likely will be denied. After the hearing, which will include Sterling's rambling, nonsensical interview with Anderson Cooper in which the Clippers owner covered an array of topics including Magic Johnson's place as a role model, "The Aids" and how Jews help fellow Jews, the owners will vote.

A hidden under current of the NBA's tenuous position is it has now put the other 29 owners in a tough spot. No one agrees with what Sterling says or believes, and few think he has many redeeming qualities whatsoever, but it's a fair debate to have that should one privately taped conversation cost a man his property. It is certainly a fair discussion among the other 29 men who own similar properties, especially when almost none of them want people to go digging through closets looking for skeletons and worrying about who may be taping what and when.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right,...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

But the league has pointed its entire arsenal at Sterling and the players have backed them up, and while you may loathe the person Sterling is, it's entirely possible for an owner to wonder if the league's version of a nuclear weapon is over the top here and viable for any non-criminal offense.

But, if you are one of the owners, and it ever got out that you voted not to eject Sterling, it would in a lot of people's eyes be a vote in support of Sterling, rightly or wrongly. Thus, it would make running said owner's NBA team much more difficult since few if any black free agents would consider to sign with the team that supported Sterling, the biggest boil of an owner since Marge Schott was dismissed.

So, there's that. We know how Roger Goodell would handle this - "Hey, we're thinking of making a touchdown worth EIGHT points and making a field goal worth the mathematical equivalent of pi. Thoughts?" - but the league's immediate future could be filled with peril.



Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works in the first inning of a baseball game against Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, May 19, 2014 in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Nothing gets by Frank Wren. Speaking to Mark Bradley of the AJC, Wren says the Braves offense is struggling.

Well, yes, yes it is. Thank you doctor, would you like to see his chart.

Wren also said there is no immediate plan to move Danny Struggla, which makes since considering he would have to get on base for him to move. Wait, that's something different.

Granted a night when the Braves score a week's worth of runs in a 9-3 win hardly seems the time for sarcasm but, hey, that's what we do.

The good: Hey, hitting can be fun. So can scoring. (Shut it Spy.) Every Braves starter got at least one hit save Chris Johnson and the Braves roughed up a quality starting pitcher in Wily Peralta. Good times. And Ramiro Pena got two hits, which means at .213, the Braves now have a second baseman hitting about the Uggla line. Yay.

The bad: Very little. Nice win. Complete effort against a good Brewers bunch.

The Uggla; Maybe it's a coincidence, but also very little. We're sure Danny Struggla was aces in BP and shagging flies before the game. Through the Braves 43 games, Uggla is 19-for-107 (.178) with two homers and 10 RBIs. Both homers and five of those RBIs game in an April 14 win over Philadelphia, which was the last time he drove in a run. Ouch-standing.


Breathe easy

So California Chrome gets to wear the strips over its nose.

If were part of team I'll Have Another (and in truth, we likely are an honorary member of any team named "I'll Have Another") we'd be running pretty hot right now, considering I'll Have Another was in this exact spot two years ago - one win from a Triple Crown - and the New York Gaming Commission did not allow that horse to use the breathing strip.

Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome is bathed after a workout at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The Preakness Stakes horse race is scheduled to take place May 17.

Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome is bathed after...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

But Chrome was given a pass - and the sport's need for a potential Triple Crown winner was renewed.

What if Chrome decided that horse shoes with spikes were more comfortable? What if Chrome decided a jock strap made him more comfortable on long hauls?

Hey, we know very little about horse racing, and having Chrome involved certainly makes it more fun. But there was a clear and applicable precedent for this.

Heck, you know what they say in NASCAR - if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying. Maybe that's all of racing, huh?

Here is what Scott Palmer, New York State Gaming Commission equine medical director (that would fill a business card), wrote:

"I recommend that the stewards at state-based thoroughbred racetracks discontinue their ban on equine nasal strips. Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated.

"While there is research to indicate that equine nasal strips decrease airway resistance in horses and may decrease the amount of bleeding associated with EIPH to some degree, I am unfamiliar with any research indicating that equine nasal strips enable a horse to run faster with nasal strips than without them. In other words, there is no evidence they have a performance-enhancing effect."

That is roughly translated to, "Duh, we have to Chrome here. Do whatever it takes. Giddy-up"

Whatever. And if you are waiting for more of an explanation, well, don't hold your breath.


This and that

18-year-old Peyton Manning arrested

18-year-old Peyton Manning arrested

Photo by The Tennessean /Times Free Press.

- Peyton Manning was arrested Monday. No a different one. It made us think of that ESPN commercial where the delivery guy knocking on Michael Jordan's door and the limo driver holding the "Michael Jordan" sign. What relatively common name of a celebrity would be the best? What would be worst?

- Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Open. Lucy Li is 11. Read that again. What were you doing the summer between fifth and sixth grades? We played a lot of Intellivision and ate a bunch of junk food. Wow.

- Tiger Woods said there is no date for his return. That's no good for golf, which has been consumed by faceless winners like Brendan Todd - SAA-Loot - and just crowned a new world No. 1 in Adam Scott, who ascend to the top spot after taking last week off. Grand.

- Brandon Marshall signed his three-year extension with the Chicago Bears on "The View" TV show. Take that Oprah.

- The Spurs overwhelmed the Serge-less Thunder. Difficult match-up for the scrappy Thunder in this one, no?


Today's question

In honor of the Spurs - side note: We have mistakenly typed Spurts and Lackers for NBA teams in today's ramblings; thought that as strange - let's name a Rushmore of dynasties since Y2K.

First we have to answer if an individual can be a dynasty? If the answer to that is yes, Tiger Woods is far left and Jimmie Johnson is next to him. If we are only talking team sports, we think it's UConn women's hoops then a mixture of the following of Tide football, the Spurs, the Pats and who else?