His team’s back is against the ropes and their legs are wobbly, so Dwight Howard pulled the only card he had left in the motivational playbook: He made a guarantee. Sort of. “You want me to get up here and say the season is going to be over tomorrow? That’s not what anybody should do or anybody should think,” Howard told reporters going into today’s Game 5. “I believe that we’re going to be going back to L.A.” So it didn’t exactly have the bravado of Jim Fassel‘s “We’re GOING to the playoffs” poker speech, or even Mo Namath‘s “We’re the best team in basketball” line from the Cavs/Magic series, but Dwight got the point across … Stan Van Gundy did his part (and aged himself) by telling the Magic the story of cyclist Greg LeMond‘s come-from-behind win in the 1989 Tour de France. “(LeMond) had come from behind and then taken the lead and then lost it on one of the late stages, and people started to write him off,” Van Gundy said, relaying what he told his players. “And at the end of the stage he looked beaten, and he and his wife were talking when they left, and they asked his wife what he had said. And he said, ‘It’ll just make the story all that much better when I come back and win it all.” … (Speaking of bikes, did you hear about UConn coach Jim Calhoun‘s ultimate badass bike ride yesterday? With 16 miles to do in a 50-mile charity event race in New England, the 67-year-old Calhoun hit a pothole, fell and broke five ribs — then FINISHED THE RACE. Current and future Huskies officially have no excuse ever to tell Calhoun they can’t finish a drill.) … Throughout these playoffs, we’ve repeated that Kobe doesn’t need to put up Hall of Fame numbers to get this legacy-defining championship, so long as his team is getting wins. And while it doesn’t even seem like he’s been dominant in the Finals, Kobe is averaging 33 points, 5.5 boards and eight assists in this series. Don’t be surprised if Mamba comes out tonight (ABC, 8 p.m. EST) trying to really put the nail in the coffin like he did in Game 1, gunning for 40 and wanting to deliver the fatal blows himself … It’s almost unfair that everybody in the world with a laptop or a microphone can raise hell about the poor officiating in the NBA, but guys like Phil Jackson — the ones actually being affected by the refs — still get fined $25,000 a pop for even the most tame referee criticisms. Jackson took a $25K hit for talking about the refs in Game 4, even though it’s clear to even an Orlando fan there were some terrible calls in that game and that the whole series has been called comically inconsistent. Do you think the NBA should stop fining players and coaches for talking about the refs? … Silver lining for the Magic even if their season ends tonight: Team president Bob Vander Weide said ownership wouldn’t be against stepping into luxury-tax territory in order to keep Hedo Turkoglu (if Hedo opts out this summer). “We’ve always avoided the tax, but winning has a crazy effect on people,” Vander Weide said … NBA Draft updates/rumors: Jrue Holiday is signing with an agent and staying in the draft; South Carolina guard Devan Downey and Texas forward Damion James are going back to school; the Bobcats (#12) like DeJuan Blair, so much so that Larry Brown compared him to Larry Johnson; and the Celtics really like Tyreke Evans, so much so that they may dangle Ray Allen ($19.7M expiring contract in 2010) as trade bait to move up and get him … What is it these days with people whining about superstar athletes and post-game handshakes? Ever since Friday’s Stanley Cup finals Game 7, there’s been a growing non-story about Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby not shaking hands with the Detroit Red Wings on the ice. And it’s not even that Crosby didn’t shake hands at all — it’s that he didn’t shake in a timely manner. “That’s ridiculous, especially as their captain,” said Detroit’s Kris Draper. “And make sure you write that I said that!” Who knew hockey players could be so sensitive? … We’re out like Downey …
Smack / Jun 14, 2009 / 12:03 am
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