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One Play Sums Up Magic-Celtics Series

Often times when things are going incredibly well for one team and painfully terrible for another in a playoff series, there are one or two defining moments that we’ll look back on as a microcosm for the entire series.  When the Celtics dominated the Magic last night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals to take a 3-0 lead over Orlando, Rajon Rondo provided us with one of those moments.  Check out the video of Rajon Rondo beating Jason Williams to a loose ball and laying it in, courtesy of YouTube user NBARauf:

It’s pretty rare that you can declare a basketball game over at the beginning of the second quarter, but this play was one that showed everyone which team wanted it more.  Yes, Rajon Rondo is much faster than Jason Williams.  That doesn’t excuse a lack of hustle, and after getting a three-foot head start to chase down the loose ball Williams was completely blindsided by Rondo’s speed and determination. Not only did he not hit the floor to fight for the loose ball; he didn’t even try to contest the lay-up or commit a foul to prevent the easy two.  You would think after all the buzz surrounding Paul Pierce’s twitter and his post-game comments that Orlando would at least go down with a fight if they were going to lose again.  Aside from Matt Barnes’ cheap shot on Kevin Garnett that caused his own coach to get flattened, the Magic showed no sign of life for 48 minutes.  They’re on the verge of going home and they don’t even seem to care.

Video Credit: YouTube user NBARauf

Super Bowl on the Verge of Getting Chilly

A new era of Super Bowl play is on the verge of being secured.  Actually, I guess you could say an old tradition is on the verge of returning to the NFL.  With each passing day, it seems more and more certain that America’s most prominent sporting event is once again headed for potentially harsh conditions.  This Tuesday at the NFL league meetings in Dallas, owners will vote “yay” or “nay” to decide whether or not New Meadowlands Stadium — the brand new, state-of-the-art home of the New York Jets and New York Giants — should host the Super Bowl in 2014.  One owner who has been particularly outspoken in favor of a New York bid in 2014 is Patriots owner Robert Kraft:

Doing it in New York is the right thing for a lot of reasons,” Kraft told the Daily News last week. “I’ve been going to Patriots games for 50 years up here. I personally believe all football should be played outdoors. Our league was founded on winter football with the Ice Bowl. Our sport is about resilience, mental toughness, adjustments. I think it will be a great experience for the fans. A memorable experience.”

Although he insists it has not affected his stance, Kraft is undoubtedly considering his own team’s interests.  If New York hosts a Super Bowl in its outdoor stadium, that would eliminate a major obstacle when it comes time for the Patriots owner to lobby for a Super Bowl to be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.  If, and when, New York breaks the cold weather barrier, harsh conditions can no longer be used as an effective argument against holding the big game in a stadium with the potential for snow and freezing temperatures.

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Washington D.C. Sports Teams Have Lots of Reasons for Optimism

Even though only one major sports team in Washington is still playing right now, things are already looking up for the rest of them. The Washington Nationals are sucking less than usual this year and are currently at .500 with a 22-22 record. (Maybe Obama throwing out the first pitch had something to do with it). The Nats are expected to call up their new ace, number one pick Stephen Strasburg which will only improve their pitching. But their good news doesn’t end there. The Nationals also have the number one pick for this year’s draft, and most people anticipate the team will select Sports Illustrated stud Bryce Harper. The Nats aren’t the only team with a bright future in D.C. — there’s plenty of reasons for optimism with all the teams in our nation’s capital.

First off, the Wizards won the 2010 NBA Lottery despite only having a 10.3% chance of doing so.  Now the Wizards just have to use their number one pick wisely. This will most likely mean drafting John Wall and hopefully getting rid of gun baring Gilbert Arenas. Doing so will potentially free up a large amount of money on the payroll and bring a true point guard to the team.

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Nyjer Morgan Throws Legendary Fit

I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in Major League Baseball but I’ve never seen a play like the one Nyjer Morgan made. The Nats center fielder went back on a ball hit to the wall by Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. As Morgan leaped up to make the catch, the ball hit off his glove. Thinking the ball went over the wall for a home run, Morgan spiked his glove into the ground in disgust and began to stomp around. Little did Morgan know the ball actually stayed inside the park and was sitting on the warning track while he was throwing his fit. Left fielder Josh Willingham came racing over to grab the ball and throw it in, but Jones beat the relay home for an inside the park home run making the score 4-2 Orioles.

Morgan explained after the game that he thought he knocked the ball over the wall and that’s why he lost his head. Anyone who sees the play can understand the explanation because there’s no other reason why he would get so pissed off. It was obviously a stupid play by Nyjer — one he regrets — but as manager Jim Riggleman says, it wasn’t done with malicious intent. I doubt Morgan ever does something like that again but I’m certainly thankful he did it the one time. It gave us this incredible video that we probably won’t see at the major league level ever again:

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Danica Patrick Booed for Blaming Car: ‘That Hurts My Feelings’

After going quite some time without controversy, Indy Car driver Danica Patrick has opened up a treasure chest of gold for her haters. Danica struggled through Indy 500 qualifying averaging just 224.217mph placing her 23rd heading into next weekend’s race. In an interview broadcast over the PA system following her qualifying run, Patrick blamed her car’s setup for the poor performance. The AP says Danica was fighting back tears after the run and you can tell in this Danica Patrick video that she was having a hard time:

Danica was complaining that her car was too loose and the rear tires weren’t gripping the track well:

“I wasn’t flat out the last two laps and I was scared to death flat on the first two,” Patrick said, her words booming out to the sizable Pole Day crowd around the 2.5-mile track. “I’ve never been bad here before. I’ve never been outside the top 10 on a finish or qualifying, so, it’s not my fault. The car is not good.”

In this case I do believe the fans were in the wrong because Patrick wasn’t calling out her team, she was stating facts about her car. Danica definitely needs to get some thicker skin so she doesn’t let fan reaction get to her too much. In several interviews I’ve heard from her she cares way too much about public perception. She needs to disregard what people say and just concentrate on what she does.

Sources:
Danica hears boos after poor qualifying at Indy [AP/FOX Sports]
Danica Patrick Booed, Struggles in Qualifiying at Indianapolis [FanHouse]

Kevin Garnett Runs Into Stan Van Gundy

Looking at Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, you figure the guy probably had a background as a football player, specifically a lineman. I don’t know if Stan ever played football but I do know that he has enough size to body up Kevin Garnett — we actually have proof. In the third quarter of Orlando’s Game 3 debacle against the Celtics, Matt Barnes elbowed Kevin Garnett in what seemed to be an intentional foul. The result was this video of Kevin Garnett running into Stan Van Gundy who cushioned KG’s fall:

I don’t know if you caught it too, but it seemed to me like SVG tried to give KG a little forearm shiver. He slipped it in subtly so it’s hard to tell, but I think it was definitely there. The sad thing is that was the most uncomfortable the Magic were able to make the Celtics the entire game.

Chicago Blackhawks: Don’t Rest Easy Yet

On Friday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finally came home after an extended road trip from Vancouver to San Jose.  The San Jose Sharks were looking to win their first game of the series and avoid going down 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Well that’s exactly what happened.

The Sharks tied the game with about four minutes left in the third period and both teams failed to score before the clock wound down. It was time for some overtime hockey and at 12:24 in OT, Dustin Byfuglien scored his seventh playoff goal to win it for the Hawks. It was a good feeling to know that the Blackhawks could win a game at home.

Now, I didn’t see any looting Friday night like the fans of Montreal do after a win, but I did hear a lot of “We’ve got the Cup” talk.  No, we don’t. If the 2010 NHL playoffs have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Who would have expected the Washington Capitals to be knocked out in the first round? Who would have expected it to be by the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens? Who would expect those same Canadiens to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champs — the Pittsburgh Penguins? And who would expect it to be so hard for teams to win on their home ice during the playoffs?

All I can say is that it’s not over yet. The Blackhawks are within reach of their first shot at the Stanley Cup since ’92 and the Sharks are on the brink of being eliminated earlier than expected once again. Still, nothing has been finalized yet. The Boston Bruins have already proven that a 3-0 series lead can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images