LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Singer Justin Bieber and Floyd Mayweather Jr. pose after Mayweather Jr. defeats Miguel Cotto by unanimous decision in their WBA super welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 5, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Love Floyd Mayweather or hate him, but he puts on a great show. That, plus we're one step closer to seven games of Thunder-Lakers. Here's the Monday Morning Jones, in which we recap the weekend's sports happenings.
LeBron James scored six points in the last 1:15 of what could have been a series-clinching game. And, once again, his late game heroics didn't mean a thing. All you can do is laugh. Now, to the rest of the weekend.
Floyd Mayweather put on a good show. Saturday's card from the MGM Grand was entertaining. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez took "Sugar" Shane Mosley apart, helping him make a name for himself to a larger audience. Mayweather gave us his most watchable fight in a long time, even trading punches from Miguel Cotto from time to time. It seemed Mayweather could have ended the fight early, had he wanted to, but the fans received a show instead.
Mayweather has basically taken the persona of a great counterpuncher from a century ago, Jack Johnson, and modernized it. He's impenetrable in the ring and insufferably flashy outside of it. But where Johnson was fueled by his insistence to do whatever he damn well pleased because he was Jack Johnson, Mayweather is far more calculating.
From his performances in HBO's "24/7" series, wearing a friggin' red, black and green jacket in promos, and coming to the ring with 50 Cent, Triple H and Justin Bieber, this fight was another demonstration of Floyd's branding genius. Sure, plenty hate him, but there's a lot more money for a boxer like him in being hated than loved. He raked in $32 million Saturday, and he dropped a post-fight tease about wanting to fight Manny Pacquiao when he gets out of the pokey. Yeah, fight night was a good one, courtesy of Floyd Mayweather.
One down for the Thunder. I think this tweet explains the Thunder's comeback to sweep the Mavericks Thursday night.
@bomani_jones Watching OKC run the same Harden pick and roll was like watching someone repeatedly get punched in the face.— Trenton Jocz (@TrentonJocz) May 6, 2012
That's right, the upstarts hit the defending champs in the grill over and over. Sure, they were more talented. But there were three games in this series that could have gone the Mavs way, and OKC took all of them. They didn't steal them. They took them, displaying as much urgency as they did poise. They knew they were supposed to win. Their four best players are 23-and-under, but each has been here before.
Each lost in the conference finals to Dallas last year. And each did its part in emphatically slamming shut Dallas' window. That run is officially over.
Up next for the Thunder? A probable matchup with the Lakers.
Speaking of the Lakers ... Los Angeles won't play another game this season where they won't have the two best big men. They have Kobe Bryant. They have a coach who's been to the NBA Finals before. They came up big to put the Nuggets away before that series got more intriguing than necessary. And they'll have Metta World Peace back no later than Game 2 of the Western semifinals. Even if there weren't the World Peace-James Harden angle, Thunder-Lakers is the most fascinating matchup of an upstart and stalwart since Pistons-Celtics in ‘87.
Here's a look at three last-second possessions from the weekend. Mike Conley, with the floor spread and no shot blocker on the floor for the Clippers, stopped and waited to feed Rudy Gay for a contested 22-footer at the end of Game 3. The Grizzlies lost. With the game on the line against the Mavs, James Harden -- with no shot-blocker on the floor -- went straight to the rack for the win.
So seconds after LeBron James fouled Tyson Chandler out of Game 4 of Heat-Knicks by going straight to the rim, down by two ... Dwyane Wade dribbled away the clock and shot a contested long jumper. I don't think I need to say anything else.
BRYCE MANIA! When the Nats put Bryce Harper third in the lineup, it was clear he wasn’t going back to Triple-A. When he stole home Sunday night, it reinforced the fact that we can’t take our eyes off him when he’s on the field. And when Cole Hamels foolishly admitted to "welcoming" Harper to the big leagues, it was clear the 19-year-old has earned the respect of his peers.
Baseball players love to humble the youth, but nobody brags about hitting someone -- with a suspension surely coming -- unless he wanted to show off. Hamels wanted to be the guy that hit Bryce Harper, and that means Harper really is shaping up to be the guy we heard he was.
Junior Seau's family reconsiders donating his brain for research. That decision is the Seau family's business. While they decide what to do, here's a question -- does the NFL care enough about safety to spend money on it? It's hard not to be cynical about fines, suspensions and the NFL's rhetoric about head trauma when every solution they've publicly offered costs the league nothing.
Seau's death spoke more to the need for post-career support for retired NFL players than it did CTE or anything else. Right now, we can only speculate about whatever head trauma Seau endured in his career. However, we know that lots of former players fight depression as they move away from the game.
The NFL has fought against contributing more toward post-career benefits for players (scroll down for a great take on this) without major concessions from the NFLPA. So yes, the NFL is preaching a message about safety, but it still treats those who played before the league's "enlightenment" like sunk costs. The protections for "defenseless players" do little to help those most likely to be hit on each play, linemen. And none of these things cost the NFL a thing. The issues Brandon Marshall discussed in the Chicago Sun-Times are real, and they need real attention and resources.
Until the NFL seems willing to put up what it values most -- money -- then all the talk surrounding safety should be treated as typical CYA-esque lip service.
Finally, Albert Pujols got it done. No need to freak out. Pujols hit his first home run Sunday. Which means ... HE'S ONLY HIT ONE HOME RUN! THE ANGELS SIGNED HIM FOR 10 YEARS! WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO?!??!?!?!?
It's still the conference semifinals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? That's fine. I'll just come back next week. Let ‘em know we're still thinking about ‘em, though.
Here's some perspective on Celtics-Hawks. Al Horford is a two-time All-Star. He's been out since January, and he returned to the Hawks for Game 4. The news of Horford's return dropped before the game ... and it barely made a ripple. Then, the Hawks got beaten by 22 points to go down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. The Hawks got one of the best big men in the NBA back, a third-team All-NBA player from the previous season, and it doesn't matter. No one even cares. These, ladies and gentlemen, are the Atlanta Hawks.
They found a dead body at Churchill Downs? It sounds like a Matlock plotline, but it really happened. I'm not naive enough to think today's sports world is any more pure than yesterday's. But damn, we can't even get through the Kentucky Derby without a scandal? Not a scandal involving the animals or competition, but a homicide? Information is just cheaper than it's ever been, so we know more, and we know it faster. But even the most cynical will be worn down after a while. The other shoe seems on its way down after every major event. This weekend, the Derby proved to be no exception.
Make the Blake Face. The NBA has always had image problems, many of which are the byproduct of ignorance. None of us will live to see the day when "thug" isn't liberally -- and unfairly -- used to describe NBA players. But tell me in what other league you see anything as delightful and heartwarming as this.
Vote below and share your thoughts in the comments.
What was the biggest story of the sporting weekend?
Floyd Mayweather's win (84 votes)
The Kentucky Derby (13 votes)
BRYCE MANIA (9 votes)
Pujols finally hit a baseball far (8 votes)
NBA Playoffs (35 votes)
NHL Playoffs (3 votes)
Some other sports thing (8 votes)
160 total votes