SportsNet - June 2012
Normally the figures that sportsmen earn these days for their craft offend my left leaning sensibilities, but I make an exception for the hard working superstars of tennis. I begrudge Andy Murray not a dollar for his $20,376,752 career earnings, though this might in part be because his lifestyle isn't ostentatious or obnoxiously decadent, unlike the stars of other professional sports.
Tennis is played for nearly 11 months of the year, with a genuine off season of just 6 weeks, three of which are spent in conditioning training preparing for the start of the new season. It is one of the few truly global sports in terms of its calendar. Formula One may be the only sport that can claim to hold more premier events in wider flung destinations.
The Boston Celtics would not go down easy, however, in the end youth prevailed as the Miami Heat used a late fourth quarter surge to make a return trip to the NBA Finals. On Tuesday, June 11, the Heat will take on a rested and eager Oklahoma City Thunder squad. The Heat and Thunder split the regular season series, both winning at home. This should be a terrific Finals matchup.
These two teams are the most talented in the NBA. Miami's players are in the prime of their careers. The Thunder have been billed as the team of the future. The future is now and the Thunder look poised to contend for years to come. The Thunder were put together through great draft picks, Miami came together primarily through free agency. LeBron James was the regular season MVP, Kevin Durant was the runner-up MVP. The Heat have a super trio of their own in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Thunder have their own in Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the player whose game and appearance represents all old school ballers, 23-year-old James Hardin.
After being forced to withstand knee-buckling blows to the head and defending himself against lightning fast punches against welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley was chosen as the new WBO welterweight champion in a controversial split decision Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The MGM Grand was filled with boos upon the decision and Pacquiao appeared confused while Bradley roared with approval on top of the ropes. Bob Arum, the promoter of the fight, was visibly upset.
"I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am right now." Said Arum. He did say there would be a rematch in November, however, because of a clause in Bradley's contract.
Throughout the fight, Pacquiao was in control. He found opportunities to land some vicious jabs on Bradley and landed his power punches efficiently. For example, Pacquiao landed two consecutive blows to Bradley's head, which caused him to stumble aimlessly for a moment. Then, in the sixth round Bradley was backed into a corner while Pacquiao bombarded his side with a couple of mean hooks.
What a week it has been for Maria Sharapova who has returned to being the world's No. 1 and completed a career Grand Slam in the span of five days. It's been a long journey back for Sharapova, who won her first Grand Slam at 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.
Sharapova's perseverance in regaining the No. 1 overall ranking embodies the tail of a truly great athlete.
Sharapova now has a new confidence that she can carry through into future majors. She has achieved the impossible such as coming back from major shoulder surgery, including a lengthy rehabilitation phase and dropping in the world rankings. Her rise has been remarkable to say the least and that confidence will carry her a long way in the future.
At 25 years old, Sharapova is now just in the peak of her career. The next five years of her prime will determine her legacy. Armed with her newfound confidence, her ability to overcome her mental lapses, her top fitness and her ability to overcome the odds, Sharapova will be the favorite in many Grand Slams to come.
After a few weeks of guessing games and Internet rumors, the guessing game is over and former Swansea City manager, Brendan Rodgers has been named to the same position for Liverpool. Now it is time to 'get down to work.'
Rodgers will now take up the challenge of shaping once perennial league champions into worthy contenders. The Liverpool players, those already at the club, and those certain to arrive over the close season will return to discover a training regime that will be more rigorous than before.
Rodgers has said in the past that when 'when you don't have the ball, you have to work very, very hard to get it back.'
As football lessons go, this is an obvious statement. Anyone who has ever kicked a ball understands that the game is far easier when you have the ball than when you do not. But it is equally analogous to where Liverpool finds itself today.