MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17: (L-R) Dwyane Wade #3, LeBron James #6 and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat celebrate a play in the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Remember when the Thunder looked unbeatable in the NBA Finals ... after one game? One more loss for Oklahoma City, and the Heat will be impossible to beat. That, and much more in the Monday Morning Jones.
My, how things have changed. Less than a week ago, the supposedly knowledgeable determined the Heat had to win Game 2 against Oklahoma City to have a shot at a championship. Not this championship, mind you, but any championship at all. Like, ever.
A few days later, and the Thunder are down 2-1 with the following anvil over their heads -- no team, out of 30, has ever won the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1. It was silly to start counting OKC's rings after one game, and it would be just as silly to bury them after two losses. Lose the next one, however, and get ready for questions on whether OKC will ever win a ring itself, given how either James Harden or Serge Ibaka will have to leave town soon. Isn't it funny how quickly the media can turn on a team?
In case you forgot who's the best player in the league. While the series remains in doubt, Game 3 should have illustrated how silly it was for anyone to think, at this moment, there's a debate over who's the best player in this series. And as unstoppable as Kevin Durant can be on the floor -- and downright lovable off it -- he's got a ways to go before he's LeBron James.
In Game 3, no one in white played especially well but James. Dwyane Wade looked out of control for much of the night. Chris Bosh shot 3-12 from the floor. Shane Battier's dark horse Finals MVP campaign took a hit after he scored a mere nine points. So James, on a night when the Heat could hardly buy a jumper, scored 29, pulled down 14 rebounds, helped get Durant in foul trouble. Oh, and he held KD to 1-5 shooting in the fourth quarter -- as Miami pulled away and established a grip on the series. James has been everywhere this series, and he's coming out on top of his matchup with Durant.
So, is Tiger back? Not back to the top. It was silly that people asked after Tiger's win at The Memorial, just as it was silly when they asked after he won at Bay Hill. But since it came up then, is Woods now back to being just a guy on the PGA Tour? Hey, he's been good this year, and it would stand out more were there not such high expectations surrounding him. But nothing says J.A.G. like 69-70-75-73, including a six-hole stretch on Sunday that prompted Tiger to, visibly, check out mentally. The public will always hope for Tiger's "return" because golf is way more fun with him on firmly on top, but how much longer will it be before people acknowledge how unlikely it is that will ever happen?
Oh yeah, the guy who actually won... Olympic has been described as the "graveyard of champions," but it's doubtful anyone had Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell in mind when they came up with that. But they were champions, and they were felled by the might course, leaving the championship to Webb Simpson. It's easy to look at how Furyk and McDowell collapsed, but credit Simpson for immediately recovering from his second bogey of the final round, a 5 on the 498-yard fifth hole, and carding four birdies in the next five holes. That stretch, plus going bogey-free the rest of the round to shoot a 68, was enough. Oh, don't forget -- that's Raleigh's own Webb Simpson. On behalf of the rest of the 919 -- get on our level.
Why the horror of the Sandusky trial must continue. Perhaps Jerry Sandusky's attorney will present a case that will blow a jury away, but it seems clear the former Penn State defensive coordinator is guilty as sin. Witness after witness has made that clear in the most unsettling terms, detailing the exploits of a monster and those around him who did too much to make sure they didn't know anything. Simply reading about it has been disturbing, so much so that it makes me wonder what's the good of paying attention to the proceedings. The best I can come up with -- hearing the worst is what's necessary to make sure this doesn't happen again. Dozens of people around Penn State football acted as if they didn't notice Sandusky had a problem, and who knows how many dozens were hurt as a result. So, as uncomfortable as it may be to do, we need so soak up as many horrific details of this case as we can. It's the best chance for never having to find out so much, so late, ever again.
We still don't believe you, Roger Goodell. The Saints accused of participating in the team's now-infamous bounty system present their appeals Monday. Of the 50,000 pages of evidence it has connected to Bountygate, the NFL has turned over 200 to players Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita. Both Vilma and Fujita's lawyers claim there is no real evidence in what they were sent, and Hargrove's agent says something similar. Yet and still, fans and media alike insist upon taking the league's word on all things bounty-related. For months, I've used this space to implore the NFL to make public whatever it has to demonstrate the integrity of its investigation. And each week since, the NFL has looked less and less credible, even with arbitrators ruling in its favor. These suspensions could permanently endanger the careers of the punished players, none of whom seem to be receiving any help from the Saints. The stakes are too high, and the circumstances surrounding them are fishy. No matter the results of Monday's proceedings, the NFL owes the players and the public more transparency than its given so far.
It's about time! So you know how I don't care when Tiger Woods wins regular tournaments because he has established that majors are the standard by which he should be evaluated? Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the exact opposite case. Time to party! Dale Jr. actually won a race! Doesn't matter how. Doesn't matter what happened. Hell, it wouldn't have mattered had the caution flag come out immediately after he took the lead. Junior won a race!
The AL East and NL East, in a nutshell. Those two divisions faced each other in interleague play this weekend. The Yankees, now winners of nine straight, swept the Nationals in Washington, and they needed all those wins to hold on to their 1.5-game lead over the Orioles. Those same Nats? Still four games up on the Braves who, as Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, did nothing on a homestand it could have used to move to the top of the division. In the AL East, winning is a necessity. In the NL, it would be nice ... but what's the rush?
In case you missed it. San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker was injured in a barfight while hanging out with his friend Chris Brown at a New York night club. Police believe Drake was involved in the ruckus, which involved bottles being thrown, among other things. Seriously, which one of those details seems the least likely? Yet and still, they're all involved in the same story! What will we find out next, that Rihanna was on the beach with Tim Duncan when all of this happened? They're both from the islands. You never know. And it would be no more absurd than what we already know.
We've all heard the expression "pissed away." As in, "That guy just pissed away his scholarship." But when a couple of guys literally piss away their scholarships, isn't it fair to ask if someone's going too far? That's what happened at Ohio State. This would probably be a good time to remind Urban Meyer that enforcing rules like these isn't what won him two national championships.