Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon Fast Break

Last night we witnessed a once in a generation basketball comeback when the Dallas Mavericks overcame a 15 point deficit, with 5 minutes remaining, to stun the Chokelahoma City Thunder on their home court. Dirk Nowitzki, or as I like to call him, Larry Legend 2.0, continued his dominance by adding to his legacy with another 40 point performance, essentially sticking a proverbial sword through the hearts of the Thunder players. As the series stands now, Dallas needs to win just one of the remaining 3 games (two of which are at home) to advance to their second N.B.A. Finals.

In all likelihood, a return to the Finals would mean a rematch of their '06 duel with the Miami Heat. It only took seven months, but the MoHeato's are finally playing to the level many predicted they would after "The Decision" last July. A rejuvenated and healthy Udonis Haslem has done a great job of neutralizing the benches in the Chicago series, where Miami sits with a comfortable 2-1 lead heading into tonight's game at American Airlines arena. Miami is 7-0 at home this postseason, and it would appear that their embarrassing Fan Up promotions are finally starting to pay off.

The most surprising turn of events in the Conference Finals has been Bosh Spice's offensive Resurrection. Here is a player who in a 10 day window, went from admitting that he was scared to play in Boston, to dropping 34 points on a front-court heavy Bulls team. Bosh is showing glimpses of his days with the Toronto Rapture's, when he could essentially score at will. If you're a Heat fan you'd still like to see him up his rebounding numbers, but a few more games like Game 3 and a trip to the Finals would go a long way in justifying that max contract.

No amount of championships in the world will ever justify what took place at the "Heat Welcome Party" last July

To stick with today's hoops theme, I present you with three of my favorite basketball related celebrity lookalikes. To my knowledge, these comparisons have never been made before, but then again in the age of the internet- all bets are off.

Jay Hernandez, star of Hostel (left) and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

Mr. Walsh, Brenda and Brandon's dad on 90210 (left) and Coach K

Bodie from "The Wire" (left) and Russell Westbrook

Despite the Russell Westbrook lookalike being my favorite of the three, I put it last so I could touch on what has become one of the most interesting storylines of this postseason. In the five weeks since the playoffs started, no player has been more polarizing to watch and critique than Westbrook. In today's in-your-face, over the top, 24/7, Tweet fulled, looping Sportscenter media-sphere, no player has received a wider variety of negative and positive analysis. At times he has been referred to as "D Rose South", at other times "Russell WestBRICK".

So far in these playoffs Russell Westbrook has experienced the highest of highs, like when he become the first player since Scottie Pippen in '92 to record a triple-double in a Game 7. But he has also seen the lowest of lows; getting benched for the entire fourth quarter in a pivotal game 2 in Dallas, a game that his team would go on to win without him. Prompting the media and fans alike to question his worth, decision making and skill level.

We truly are living in a time where with the over-saturation of media, you really are only as good as your last game. A point that Rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin, admirably tweeted yesterday afternoon in regards to the constant scrutiny of Westbrook.

Putting all the turnovers and questionable decision making aside, Russell Westbrook is still a 22 year old All-Star that every team in the league would do anything to have. A guy who can hang 40 on you if you're not careful, and a guy who's not afraid to take and make the last shot. Just watch the tape from that epic 3-OT, Game 4 victory in round 2 over Memphis, in which he dropped a 40-5-5 and was the only player that seemed to have any legs left during that last overtime. We've seen what he is capable of, and although this may not be the year the Thunder win it all, they will most certainly be back in the mix for years to come.

And besides, I feel it is my journalistic duty to stick up for any athlete that used to rock hair similar to my '08 mohawk.

-fresh (@danye33)

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