Good morning. Let's basketball.
THE STAGE IS SET: The NBA conference finals are all lined up: Pacers vs. Heat in the East and Thunder vs. Spurs in the West. Just like I predicted! (Ignore the three out of eight first round series I missed, please.)
The East finals begin Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. The West finals wait until Monday at 9 p.m. ET on TNT. Which means for the next two days we relax and make Roy Hibbert jokes. Hmph.
DAVID WEST IS THE MAN: The old man of the Pacers popped the Wizards to death in the fourth quarter to give Indiana the Game 6 victory. The Zards took a late 1-point lead on a Bradley Beal three and then went totally ice cold. But after a really neat season, D.C.'s faithful gave the team a standing ovation. That was awesome. See you next year, Zards. Hopefully with Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza still.
KEVIN DURANT IS THE MAN, TOO: KD and Russell Westbrook combined for 4-16 shooting in the first half as the Clippers led by eight at the half. Game 7 seemed predestined. But Durant played the entire second half, scoring 25 on 8-11 shooting (2-3 three, 7-7 line) to lift the Thunder to the clinching win. It was ever bit as awe-striking as it sounds. The MVP for real.
The Clippers should blame Jack Nicholson, who attended because he realizes that's the only way to see playoff games in L.A. these days.
REMEMBERING THE WEIRDNESS OF GAME 5: Remember, the Clippers nearly brought the 3-2 lead back to L.A., but for Oklahoma City's bizarre comeback in Game 5. Jon Bois' Chart Party breaks that game down as only Jon Bois' Chart Party can.
INSIDE THE WARRIORS: Absolutely brilliant conversation between Paul Flannery and Marcus Thompson III on the Drive & Kick podcast about Mark Jackson's dismissal, race, religion and all of that. Bonus: Tim Kawakami talked to Mark Jackson after the Kerr hiring.
YES! Marv Albert reportedly had a role in Steve Kerr snubbing the Knicks. So did golf, per this report from Golf Digest. (Golf Digest Bomb!)
WELPVILLE: Donald Sterling has informed the league he won't be paying his $2.5 million fine and, in fact, he will be suing the NBA. So this should be a fun summer at the league office. Meanwhile, here's a breakdown of the NBA's legal plan from Michael McCann and Larry Coon.
DREAD: Every time I think of Darcy Frey's The Last Shot, I think of dread. Amos Barshad's piece on the 20th anniversary of the book -- replete with check-ins with the living protagonists -- does nothing to change that. But because of the dread it brings, the piece is worth reading. That was, I think, the point of the book, to see how bleak things can be for kids expected to carry the weight of a neighborhood all the way to the NBA, and how that ends up solving little even when it works.
That's a sad way to end a newsletter, so we'll leave you with this very Los Angeles vignette from Clippers-Thunder. Happy Friday, and see you next time.