Who needs coffee when there's this to greet you first thing in the morning: "Mavs-Heat isn't must-see TV," blares the headline from the San Francisco Chronicle, where columnist Gwen Knapp says Sunday offered much better sports viewing than Game 2 of the NBA Finals. You know what was better than the Mavs-Heat game? "Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb went to a playoff in the LPGA Championship, in which Michelle Wie stayed in contention until her final green." Sure, and I believe ESPN 14 was broadcasting the National Fifth Grade Hopscotch and Red Rover Competition; couldn't take my eyes off it. The Mavs may be up 2-o in the Finals, but suddenly the coverage has all the enthusiasm of a shrug of resignation: The Eastern Conference sucks, says The National Post in Canada; Shaq sucks, says The Boston Globe; Pat Riley sucks, says the Houston Chronicle (actually, he's just old...at 61); and the Heat suck, says USA Today. And The New York Times ("Has the Heat peaked?"). And the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. ("How much worse can it get for the Heat?")
Aren't these Finals supposed to be fun? And since when are they over? The Heat are down two with three to play, in a row, on their home court at the AmericanAirlinesArena--where the Heat have won eight of nine games during the postseason, including the last five. Alonzo Mourning's right: "We've just got to get ourselves back on track," he tells the Associated Press. It would be nice: Sure, Dallas can go ahead and win this in four--most everyone thinks that's likely now, including a Los Angeles Times piece from this morning that insists "the Heat is falling apart"--but it was fun having Miami in town this weekend; I know a few restaurant owners who'd love 'em back too, even if it means keeping the kitchen open after hours for Shaq. Sweeps ain't no damned fun; they're fascist.
Then again, what Dallas fan--and I was at the first game ever played at Reunion and covered the 11-win Mavs and some of their immediate successors for the paper version of Unfair Park, so don't label me no bandwagon-jumper--doesn't hope it comes down to four-and-out? Better to take care of business than stretch it out and let Shaq and D-Wade and the rest of the Heat catch fire; it's not like Damp and Stack and Diop are gonna get any better than this. Speaking of, David Aldridge of the Philadelphia Inquirer looks away from the stars of the game and focus his telescope on a lesser light: "He could have played with LeBron James for the next 10 years," Aldridge writes about DeSagana Diop. "It would have been a breeze: apprentice for a couple of more seasons behind Zydrunas Ilgauskas, then step in to reap all the reflected glory from the Chosen One." But instead he's in the Finals, two games away from being a champ among champions. And LeBron who, anyway? Says here the Mavs are leading this series because of five reasons, including a scared Shaq and a Dallas team tougher than Miami. Says here Shaq better pull his head outta his ass. Says everywhere the NBA's better than the LPGA. --Robert Wilonsky