Monday, February 9, 2009

The Week That Was

The Los Angeles Lakers had quite the week. It started off with the seemingly disastrous news that C Andrew Bynum would be out 8-10 weeks with an injured kneecap. People immediately began writing off the Lakers as title contenders, using last year as a template, as the team showed they could dominate the West without him, but couldn't overcome the Boston Celtics in the Finals. Then the games kicked into gear and the Lakers showed that they aren't going anywhere. It started Monday as Kobe Bryant lit up the New York Knicks with 61 points, including going 20-20 from the free throw line. Wednesday, they held off the Toronto Raptors, then turned around the next night and defeated the Celtics in overtime in Boston. Yesterday, Bryant was sick with the flu and not his usual dominant self. The Lakers went into the half down 10 and it looked like the Cleveland Cavaliers would remain unbeaten at home. Then Lamar Odom hearkened back to his Rhode Island days and completely took over the game. Odom finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds and Bryant hit a beautiful floater over LeCrab James in the final minutes to give the Lakers a 101-91 victory. Of course you can't take too much out of a regular season game but this road trip definitely had to give the Lakers some confidence.

In college basketball, I proved over the weekend that The Alley-Oop will be essential reading for anyone that watches college basketball as I called upsets by both Nebraska over Texas and Florida State over Clemson. I wasn't so fortunate in believing that George Mason could actually win a road game against a half decent team, as they fell again on the road, this time to "rival" James Madison. Mason trailed 44-30 early in the second half, then clawed their way back to take the lead, before giving it up again and losing 68-66. Dre Smith and Cam Long were non-existent and once again there was no clutch player for Mason to turn to with the game on the line. Tough loss to swallow but really at this point they are just playing out the string, as their only hope for an NCAA Tournament berth is to win the CAA Tournament. Mason travels to Delaware on Thursday in a game televised by ESPNU. Delaware is atrocious but it is on the road so it definitely can't be taken for granted.

North Carolina spent the week beating up on Maryland and Virginia at home. They renew one of the greatest rivalries in American sports on Wednesday when they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to meet Duke. I will be back Wednesday with an extensive preview of that game.

Baseball was in the headlines as it was revealed that Alex Rodriguez, now better known as A-Roid, tested positive for steroids in 2003. The positive test result was never supposed to be public, the tests were merely a survey to see if mandatory performance enhancing drug testing was needed in baseball. Someone didn't do their job, the tests were never destroyed and now Rodriguez will be known as a cheater for the rest of his career. A-Roid was seen as the person who could take the home run record from Barry Bonds and bring dignity back to it, with the news that came out Saturday those hopes are dashed. I was initially surprised when I heard the news than remembered that Jose Canseco said that A-Roid took steroids and realized that anytime Canseco says someone has done steroids it has turned out to be true. I come down somewhere in the middle on this topic. Technically, none of these guys were cheating as there weren't any rules against steroid use. However, I can see how it is a slap in the face to the guys of years past who played the game completely clean, and have seen most of their records wiped out. After 6 years of this steroids story dominating headlines I am ready for it to go away, but with this revelation about Rodriguez and the prospect of 103 other names being leaked at some point we are in for more of this story.

The other big news was American hero Michael Phelps being photographed taking a massive bong hit at a South Carolina party. Some people were dismayed to see a 23 year old being dumb, while others saw it for what it was, a guy doing what a lot of other people at that age have done. It is always fascinating to me to watch the media throw stones at people, and then flip out when their misdeeds or even their daily actions are captured and dissected by sports blogs. Phelps was an idiot for being so brazen about his marijuana use but it doesn't diminish any of his accomplishments from over the summer. He also came out and took responsibility right away, instead of trying to hide from it, which is the best thing he could have done. If anything I gained some respect for him from this ordeal, as I had grown tired of seeing him and his social awkwardness the last few months as he was clearly trying to be something he was not.

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