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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Tiger inside of you

Are you feeling more capable lately? Staying up late to finish that project you had been putting off for weeks? Actually using that gym membership you paid for in January?

The credit is not all yours, my friend. You can credit Tiger Woods for the newfound worldwide sense of empowerment. Some people complain that he's yet to fulfill his father's prophecy of being a powerful social figure ready to change the world.

Based on the events between last week's US Open and this weeks surge of duty, I disagree.
You can't say with a straight face that you weren't inspired by a man with a torn ACL and a broken leg winning the most important golf tournament in the country under the toughest annual playing conditions in the world.

Suddenly that hangnail doesn't seem like a valid excuse take a break from typing that report. Get that finger out of your nose and get back to work.

I bet Big Brown's even feeling a little embarrassed for not giving it a better run in Elmont, N.Y. Then again, Tiger knew he wouldn't get shot for revealing a broken leg. The horse would've been in a tough position.

This should also muffle the naysayers who quip that golf isn't a real sport. If a sport's best player tears his ACL because* of that sport then its a real sport. (*I know he actually tore it running but the damage was done on the course.)

Remember the time you didn't feel like mowing the lawn because of a long day at work? Tiger probably didn't feel like playing a 91st hole against a middle-aged comedian after all he'd been through. For heaven's sakes, get a riding mower, sit on the damn thing, and turn the steering wheel, it's that easy.

But if what Tiger did were that easy, it wouldn't have meant so much to everyone who witnessed it.

It was his best win ever, and for me, it was the best tournament I've ever watched. The Monday playoff was the second-best same-pairing duel I've ever seen (next to Tiger vs. Bob May.) I'm only 21, but if I were 121 I don't think either ranking would drop much.

The 14th major title of Tiger's career was courageous, heroic, insane and above all -- inspirational.

You don't have to be a golfer to feel the fire from within to pursue what matters most to you.

Whether it's golfing, digging holes, crunching numbers or even mowing the lawn, watching Tiger this weekend probably made you want to do it to the maximum. That passion inside of you may become extinguished soon, but don't worry, Tiger doesn't have that problem.

So if you missed this weekend's performance, expect more like it in the future. Hopefully without the whole season-ending injury thing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Low blow on Kobe by Denver columnist

Turns out the people of Denver still haven't forgiven Kobe Bryant, at least not Mark Kiszla.

Bryant scored 30 points last night (despite missing eight minutes due to foul trouble) and led what almost amounted to one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history, yet Kiszla's Denver Post headline indicates that Bryant failed.

That headline turned out to be a prelude to a masked bashing of the greatest player on the planet.

Kiszla couldn't disagree more though, what with his apparent ranking of Bryant as the fourth-most valuable player in the league: "While there were probably more deserving candidates from among New Orleans guard Chris Paul, Boston forward Kevin Garnett and LeBron James of Cleveland, this season's MVP award was given to Bryant, apparently in recognition for finally reaching maturity at age 29."

Give me a break. (Personally my MVP ballot would have read: 1. Kevin Garnett 1-A. Kobe Bryant 3. Chris Paul 4. Tim Duncan 5. LeBron James.) But how can you honestly put Kobe anywhere outside of the top two, or even three players? And questioning his maturity? There's a big difference between being highly-competitive and simply immature (an unfortunate, but not overbearing facet of most competitive people.)

Here's another favorite line of mine: "Bryant did score 30 points in Game 2, but is shooting an unremarkable 41 percent from the field in the series."

Sooo, you're criticizing his field goal percentage "in the series," so far -- a series that is only TWO games long? That's a reach that Inspector Gadget couldn't even make.

And one final dig that made absolutely no sense: "But the league MVP never got a meaningful touch of the basketball again while the Lakers desperately searched for a way to steal a victory during the last precious ticks on the scoreboard clock."

Well no kidding, Mark. You're completely correct, the league MVP should have the ball in his hands at the end of a close game, but you have to blame Sasha Vujacic for shooting a hybrid fadeaway-side-shuffling-off-balance-desperation 3 as Kobe stood open on the right wing.

Did Bryant grimace at his teammate for taking the shot? Of course he did, but not before going in for a rebound looking more possessed than Arnold Schwarzenegger in End of Days.

Bryant scored nine of LA's last 15 points -- all in the final 2:53 -- and had 13 points and five assists in the fourth quarter. If that's not doing his part to help the team win, if that's failure, then LeBron was a failure when he scored 45 points in a game 7 loss to Boston on May 18.

OK, so Kobe's not perfect. But neither is the Pope. It would be nice if the analysis of his performance this postseason was not only objective, but inspired purely by his play on the court, instead of his foreplay in the past.