SportsNet - May 2012
Buried deep within the madness of the end of the spring football season last week was the shocking announcement that the Scottish Football Association was cobbling together a late attempt to bid for the right to host Euro 2020. Encouraged by UEFA, the SFA approached its Welsh and Irish counterparts to register its intention to put forward a joint bid, that will be finalized and presented in April 2013.
Ten days have passed since the sacking of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool's seventh manager since their last league title in 1989 and apart from one season (2008-09) under Rafael Benitez, the club hs not gotten any closer to the Premier League title than when Dalglish left for the first time, and now look as far from it as they will ever be. Like Erwin Schrodinger, Liverpool's owners sit in the middle of two futures: ruin and reward. Both, it seems, are at this stage eminently plausible. In these days of seismic change for the club, decisions taken could render short-term success or long-term failure, or vice versa, but not both. The choice of new manager could have profound implications.
Manchester United ended their season without any silverware when the Premier League title was snatched away by Manchester City in the astonishing final minutes of the season. As a result, United will be making drastic changes to their current squad by signing a plethora of players during the summer transfer period. More summer signings would also lead to a few players on their current squad being jettisoned away to make room for new talent.
The United striker has made it very clear recently that he would be leaving Old Trafford despite having an additional year tacked on to his contract as he was not given a chance to play regularly this season after Danny Welbeck was given the first preference over Berbatov. The Bulgarian was not even on the bench during last year's Champions League Final defeat against Barcelona.
Last year, it was a sweep by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
This year, it's the on-the-rise Thunder, and potential champs themselves.
Game 5 was, in many ways, a microcosm of what we saw all series. Throughout each game, the Lakers kept it close, nearly winning games 2 and 4, but a lack of execution down the stretch showed that the Thunder have an advantage; whether it be youth, talent, or even coaching, they had an edge that allowed them to survive in late game situations.
Game 5 played out in similar fashion. The Lakers kept it tight through 3 quarters. But unlike LeBron, who recognized that he must play nearly all 48 minutes in their last game to ensure a victory, Kobe can no longer fill that role. He needs his requisite rest to start the 4th quarter. A chance to recharge before the final push. But last night, that rest allowed the Thunder to put the game out of reach. Of course, in years past the Lakers had a supporting cast that was prepared for the potential onslaught, but between foul trouble, shrinking from the moment, and general lapses, it was not to be.
When does easy become too easy? It's surely our nature to relax when the path ahead seems clear; when the light shines bright because you're close to the end of the tunnel. We're all victims of leaning back a bit when things are good.
Over the weekend, the Kings lost their first playoff game in nine tries, and the first in their Western Conference matchup against the Coyotes. Not only was it their first loss of the series, but it was the first time they've been held scoreless in these playoffs. Pretty impressive stuff from a team that finished the season ranked 29th in goals scored for the regular season.
But the real question is: what does this loss tell us? We've been trained by the NBA and baseball to believe that once you hold a 3-0 lead, the series is a lock; with the Red Sox being a one-in-a-million exception. But in hockey, we've seen this phenomenon 3 times, the most recent being in the 2010 with the Flyers over the Bruins.